I'm Not Allowed To Land In Fog

  The Brigadier 16:38 18 Dec 2008

A pilot with more than 30 years experience has been forced to turn his plane around - because he was not qualified to land in fog.

Passengers on the 8.45am Flybe flight to Paris were just minutes away from landing at their destination when they were told they would have to go all the way back to Cardiff.

One passenger from Bristol missed a job interview in France because of the incident.

Cassandra Grant explained: "Twenty minutes outside Paris, the captain said, 'Unfortunately I'm not qualified to land the plane in Paris.

"'They are asking for a level two qualification and I only have a level five. We'll have to fly back.'"

A spokeswoman for the airline said Flybe backed the pilot's decision "100 per cent".

He had recently switched from flying a Bombardier Q300 to a Bombardier Q400 and has not completed the "requisite low-visibility training," she said.

The dense fog covering Charles de Gaulle airport had not been there when the flight took off, she added.

The plane was already three hours late due to bad weather in Wales.

The pilot's situation is "quite unusual but probably not unheard of," according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

  The Brigadier 16:48 18 Dec 2008

The Pilot converted from a Q300 to a Q400.
Conversion over normally takes in to count low-visibility training.
Someone screwed up & the pilot was not up on the training.
Budget airline, budget training?

  PalaeoBill 16:55 18 Dec 2008

Its nice to know they had enough fuel onboard to fly back again.
It does beg the question, what would have happened had Cardiff been fog bound?

  oldbeefer2 17:16 18 Dec 2008

Now come on, pilots have to progress their training as they gain experience. He was fully qualified for the forecast conditions. Fog is particularly difficult to forecast, and the slight possibility was allowed for by carrying sufficient fuel to return. PalaeoBill - a number of weather diversions are planned, so there would have been somewhere else to divert to if Cardiff had been out in fog. However, that is very unlikely as radiation fog can only form over land and coastal airfields are usually clear. Very inconvenient for the passemger, of course, but the pilot's decision was spot on.

  dagbladet 18:12 18 Dec 2008

...and with a handle like 'beefer' I'm guessing you're well qualified to comment.

  tullie 18:35 18 Dec 2008

Of course the pilot was right.

  oldbeefer2 19:20 18 Dec 2008

Only 35 years as a 'beefer' and 40 years as a 'driver' (OK, so it's rotary)- and they still let me fly!

  flycatcher1 21:53 18 Dec 2008

There are bold pilots and old pilots but not many old and bold pilots !
Always best to fly with old pilots - but not too old. Ah, Hapy Days !

  wiz-king 22:12 18 Dec 2008

I had the same problem once, coming back from the Falklands in a Hercules, no instrument rating, but the flight engineer had so we were able to land!.

  Colin 22:50 18 Dec 2008

"Budget airline, budget training?"

Not at all. All airlines of whatever stature have to follow the same procedures and standards.
Flybe is a well established and respected airline and they would not risk skimping on anything.

Other budget airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair will be of the same high standard.

  Forum Editor 23:18 18 Dec 2008

I have a vivid memory of landing in dense fog at Paris Orly airport in a small twin-engined aircraft. It had been a crystal-clear morning when we left Kent, but after we crossed the French coast the fog became apparent.

It was long ago, and the company I worked for had its own 10 passenger aircraft. I used it to fly a regular business trip from Biggin Hill in Kent to Paris and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol every week. In those days there was a pilot, but no co-pilot, so when I was the only company passenger I sat in the right-hand seat and listened to the radio chat.

On this occasion we were inbound to Orly and the fog became very dense very rapidly. The captain told me we had no chance of a diversion - we had to go into Orly or return to Kent. I had an urgent meeting that morning in Paris, so I said 'let's land'. He didn't look too happy as he asked for the runway lights and disengaged the auto-pilot, but in we went; all I could see was this streamer of strobe lighting zipping along the centre of the runway - no indication of where the ground was at all. It was the hairiest landing I have ever made, and the sense of relief when I felt the undercarriage thump onto the concrete was immense.

I can well understand why the pilot on this flight decided to turn back, and so should his passengers. Fog wasn't forecast for Paris when he left Cardiff, and if he didn't have the type rating for fog he didn't - there's no room for compromise with air safety

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