Decisions

CAT File No. P-1863-60
MoT File No. 288141

CIVIL AVIATION TRIBUNAL

BETWEEN:

First Officer Kevin Melanson, Applicant

- and -

Minister of Transport, Respondent

LEGISLATION:
Aeronautics Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. A-2, s. 7.1(1)(b)


Review Determination
William Thornton Tweed


Decision: February 22, 2000

The Minister's decision to assess First Officer Kevin Melanson's pilot proficiency check on July 16, 1999, a fail, was not done in accordance with criteria as set out in the Approved Check Pilot Manual. The failure should therefore be removed from his record. I refer the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration.

A Review Hearing on the above matter was held Wednesday, December 15, 1999 at 10:00 hours in the Federal Court of Canada Discovery Room in Vancouver, British Columbia.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Melanson is employed by Canada 3000 as a first officer on the Airbus A320. On July 16, 1999, he was given a recurrent first officer pilot proficiency check (PPC) on the A320 simulator in Vancouver. The check was conducted by Captain Mark Stokes, a Canada 3000 check pilot.

At the conclusion of the ride, Mr. Melanson's performance was assessed by Mr. Stokes as a fail.

EVIDENCE

Both Mr. Melanson and Mr. Stokes testified. Both witnesses impressed me with their candour. All of the notes on the flight test report were reviewed by both witnesses and not surprisingly, their views on the seriousness of the noted discrepancies varied. Mr. Stokes did, however, state on redirect that no single infraction would have led to a failure. He listed eight items under 7B and as a result of the accumulation of those items assessed a U against "Crew Co-ordination". None of the individual items were, according to his evidence, deserving of a "U" (unsatisfac­tory). All the exercises were therefore "SB" (satisfactory with briefing). Interestingly, Mr. Stokes assessed a "SB "in the corresponding box for the captain on the same ride (Applicant's documents tab 10).

Mr. Stokes was critical of Mr. Melanson's performance in a few circumstances where Mr. Stokes's criticism was not consistent with the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and the Flight Operations Manual:

  1. It was noted that Mr. Melanson initiated communication with ATC (air traffic control) during ECAM (electronic central aircraft monitoring) actions while PF (pilot flying) contrary to the SOPs. On cross-examination he admitted that there is no such SOP.
  2. Mr. Melanson was criticized for not declaring an emergency when landing over­weight in direct law. The Flight Operations Manual gives the pilot-in-command discretion as to when an emergency is to be declared in this circumstance, not the first officer.
  3. Mr. Melanson was criticized for not declaring an emergency following an engine fire. Again, according to the Flight Operations Manual, this is the responsibility of the captain not the first officer.
  4. Mr. Melanson was criticized for pushing a button and selecting a back course localizer. This was done when he was the PNF (pilot not flying) to obtain information on the AC (aircraft) position during the approach and was made necessary/advisable as a result of the captain's set up of the navigational aids prior to the commencement of the approach. The evidence also suggested that the simulator's lack of a second ADF (automatic direction finder) (as is standard on Canada 3000 aircraft) may have been a contributing factor in the setup.

CONCLUSION

Mr. Pratt cautioned me in his argument that in coming to my conclusion I should not replace the check pilot's subjective analysis with my subjective analysis. I agree with him but I would go further and say that a pilot's professional qualifications should not be removed based on anyone's subjective analysis. To be fair to the pilots being evaluated, they need to be fully informed as to what is expected of them and be objectively measured against a predetermined standard.

A failure can only be assessed in accordance with the criteria set out in the Approved Check Pilot Manual. Said manual at paragraph 6.8.3 (Applicant's documents tab 5) states:

In order for a checkride to receive a General Assessment of 'Failed', at least one sequence must be assessed as 'U'. It also follows that, when any individual sequence has been assessed as 'U', the PPC must receive a General Assessment of 'Failed'. A PPC for which all sequences have been assessed as 'S' or 'SB' must receive a General Assessment of 'Pass', regardless of how many sequences have received 'SBs' [the italics are mine].

Paragraph 6.8.6 of the same manual states: "When an ACP decides that a pilot has failed during the course of a check, the check shall be terminated. The time remaining in the session may be used as training, provided that... [the underlining is mine]."

The ACP (approved check pilot) in this case, Mr. Stokes, did not comply with either provision. He admitted that every discrepancy was a SB and that there were no "hard failures." Therefore, according to the Approved Check Pilot Manual an accumulation of SB evaluations in any amount is not sufficient to cause a General Assessment of "failed". Mr. Stokes's assessment of Mr. Melanson as failed should be reversed.

The Minister's decision to assess First Officer Kevin Melanson's pilot proficiency check on July 16, 1999, a fail, was not done in accordance with criteria as set out in the Approved Check Pilot Manual. The failure should therefore be removed from his record. I refer the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration.

William Thornton Tweed
Member
Civil Aviation Tribunal