AIN's Tales from the Flight Deck

By Aviation International News

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Furthering aviation safety awareness by exploring first-person experiences.

Episode Date
Grappling with Grief
Pilots are keenly aware about physical issues that might ground them from flying, including vision problems, cancer, and heart trouble. But mental and emotional issues can also cause problems if brought onto the flight deck. One of them is grief—the human response to losing someone or something we cherish. But even though they’re often unwilling to admit they need help coping with grief, pilots don’t have to do it alone.


  • Rob Finfrock, aviation writer
  • Greg Farley, Senior Global Captain for Deere & Company Aviation Services and chairman of the Fitness for Duty Working Group of the National Business Aviation Association Safety Committee
  • Bert Botta, corporate pilot, formerly Professional Standards Committee chairman for TWA’s chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA
  • David Miller, director and co-founder of the Citation Jet Pilots Association and chairman of the group’s Safety and Education Foundation
Aug 15, 2019
DEF Contamination

Mistaking diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) additive for fuel system icing inhibitor PRIST on the flight line is a growing problem on ramps all over the world. This can be disastrous since DEF causes jet-A to crystalize and clog aircraft fuel filters and lines. In fact, DEF contamination of jet-A has already forced several business aircraft crews to perform engine-out landings in the U.S. and elsewhere.



  • Alex Beringer, Chief Operations Officer, Fair Wind Charters
  • Ryan Smith, Captain, Falcon 900EX, Fair Wind Charters
  • Michael Rossi, First Officer, Falcon 900EX, Fair Wind Charters
Jul 12, 2019
Otto's Pilots Part 2

Unable to discern the fate of the small American delegation trying to win the freedom of an injured American college student from North Korea, a Phoenix Air flight crew decides to launch on its own. Says the pilot, “I’m an old Marine and Marines don’t leave our people behind.”



  • Mike Ott, pilot, Phoenix Air
  • Dr. Michael Flueckiger, Phoenix Air Flight Medic
  • Dent Thompson, Phoenix Air Sr. Vice President
Jun 17, 2019
Otto’s Pilots Part 1

A call for help from Washington, DC to Phoenix Air, based at a tiny airport in Cartersville, Georgia: Can you fly a medivac mission right away? The destination: North Korea. This is the first of a two-part episode on the extraordinary mission to rescue Otto Warmbier from North Korea.


  • Dent Thompson, Senior VP, Phoenix Air
  • Mike Ott, Captain, Phoenix Air
  • Dr. Mike Fluekiger, Medical Officer
May 17, 2019
Connecting Planes in Trouble with Ships at Sea

A World War II era bomber pressed into transoceanic service as a freighter is lost. It’s night. The water below is frigid. Whether the crew survives depends on how close to a ship they can ditch their aircraft. Now, a new initiative would put ships and planes together, greatly reducing the time in water for aircraft crewmembers.


  • Dr. Phillip Zeeck, former B-26 freighter first officer
  • Jim Stabile, CEO, ADS
  • Christine Negroni, aviation writer, author of The Crash Detectives
Apr 17, 2019
Episode 19: Flight Deck Automation after Indonesia and Ethiopia

After the Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, the question is whether cockpit automation is working for pilots or pilots are working for the automation. We talk with the pilot of Qantas Flight 72, An Airbus A330 that pitched down without control input and without warning a decade ago. The pilot of that aircraft says of the MAX 8 accidents, “the road is different, but the destination is the same.” Our roundtable of pilots and aviation journalists looks at the growing complexity of flight deck automation, our increasing dependence on it and the lack of training available to pilots for cases in which the automation fails.


  • Capt. Kevin Sullivan, Qantas Flight 72, October 8, 2008
  • Capt. Gary Rower, Airbus A330 international captain and cockpit resource management trainer
  • Capt. Bill Palmer, Airbus A330 international captain and author
  • Capt. Bert Botta, former international captain and flight crew trainer, now flying business aircraft
  • Mark Phelps, executive editor, AIN Publications
  • Matt Thurber, editor-in-chief, AIN Publications
  • Rob Finfrock, aviation writer
Mar 26, 2019
Flight Deck Extra - Do You See What I See

Listen as these aviation professionals discuss how critical it is to not just understand weather but to understand how to know the limits of weather depiction.  As you will hear, that can vary depending on where you are sitting.  

In this conversation we will hear from multiple points of views:

  • Dan Boedigheimer—Business aviation pilot and CEO of Advanced Aircrew Academy
  • Dan McCabe—FAA Air Traffic Controller based at Atlanta Center
  • John Kosak—NBAA Manager of Weather Programs, based at the FAA Air Traffic Control Command Center in Warrenton, VA



Mar 18, 2019
Into the Storm

What makes an otherwise safe pilot believe he or she can pick through the cells of a thunderstorm? In this episode, Wilson Khors and his copilot become so transfixed on making it through a tiny hole in a line of convective weather over San Juan, Puerto Rico, they simply disregard the option of turning around. They’re not alone. Even some of the most experienced pilots have done it. In part, they’re using weather depiction strategically. But is that really wise?

Topics the episode will cover:

  • The hazards of trying to fly through rather than around convective weather.
  • How weather depiction varies tremendously based on who and where you are.
  • The advantages of using weather depiction strategically to avoid storms rather than tactically to pick a path through them.

In this episode you will hear from:

  • Wilson Khors—Part 135 pilot who encountered a thunderstorm in a Pilatus PC-12 over San Juan, Puerto Rico in May, 2014
  • Dan Boedigheimer—Business aviation pilot and CEO of Advanced Aircrew Academy
  • Dan McCabe—FAA Air Traffic Controller based at Atlanta Center
  • John Kosak—NBAA Manager of Weather Programs, based at the FAA Air Traffic Control Command Center in Warrenton, VA
Mar 15, 2019
Emergency Response

When an aircraft emergency situation strikes, as a pilot, how prepared will you be to deal with it? For both an experienced aviator with thousands of hours of stick time and a novice on the first solo flight, proper training, a level head, and the ability to focus on the task can carry the day.

Topics the episode will cover:

  • The importance of emergency training
  • The ability to focus on the task at hand
  • Understanding when to declare an emergency
Feb 19, 2019
When it all Goes Sideways

Having reached their 43,000-foot cruise altitude, the crew of a corporate Citation XLS had their world almost literally turned upside down. Like a rogue wave far out at sea, clear air turbulence can come from nowhere, and a routine flight can instantly become a heart-stopping roller coaster ride. Like many before them, this crew battled not only a gut-wrenching upset and aerodynamic stall, but even more significantly, they experienced the paralyzing effects of shock. In this episode, we’ll hear from one of the pilots, as well as experts in the field of upset recovery training. We’ll also learn how proper conditioning can enable pilots to react quickly and calmly when confronted with a “one in a million” event.


Topics this episode will cover:

  • Upset recovery training
  • Wake turbulence
  • Gravity waves
  • Clear air turbulence
Jan 15, 2019
Familiar Departure, Busted Altitude

After an unanticipated en route stop-over throws a curve to an experienced crew, they fall victim to an error of omission that could have been disastrous. Leaving Denver International Airport for their homeward leg, they trip up on what has become an alarmingly common problem: pilots not briefing for altitude restrictions on standard instrument departures, or SIDs. Fortunately, an alert controller catches the error in time to avoid an imminent traffic conflict. The Gulfstream pilot in this episode owned up to his mistake. This is a larger systemic problem than you might think, a team of aviation experts concurs.

Topics the episode will cover:

  • RNAV approach and departure procedures/SIDs & STARs
  • Altitude restrictions
  • "Climb/Descend Via" terminology
Dec 18, 2018
One Turn of the Wrench Exposes SMS Flaws

While safety management systems (SMS) are powerful tools that are now seeing widespread adoption throughout the aviation industry, if not fully utilized and embraced from the top to bottom of an organization, and without proper reporting, any “near-misses” can go unchecked until disaster strikes.  A U.S. Navy aircraft mechanic, who was seriously injured in a maintenance accident, went on a crusade to find out how the root-cause of such a situation, which previously harmed four others, had slipped through the cracks in the SMS.


Topics the episode will cover:

  • Safety Management System
  • Communication Break Downs
  • Blameless Culture
  • The value of incident reporting
Nov 15, 2018
Familiarity Breeds Complacency

Pilot complacency during preflight inspection nearly led to disaster on a brisk October day in 2008. As an experienced flight crew readying for a short repositioning hop on that crystal clear morning neglected one simple, but crucial task, it soon placed them and their aircraft in danger. What would lead veteran pilots to make such a novice mistake, and how can such similar errors be prevented?

Oct 15, 2018
Takeoff and Landing Assessments, Part 2

On January 19, 2011, a Citation X flying from Providence, Rhode Island, to Waukegan National Airport in Illinois slid off the runway. This was six years before TALPA, the Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment initiative, was created.

According to the National Business Aviation Association, TALPA incorporates the runway condition matrix that airport operators use to assign runway condition codes between zero and six for each third of the runway. However, TALPA is just the beginning.

This episode of AIN’s The Human Factor further examines the dangers of runway contamination, the impact of TALPA, and how the aviation industry can work on improving runway safety standards.

May 11, 2018
Flight Deck Extra: Top-of-Descent Landing Assessment

Listen to a two-member flight crew make a top-of-decent assessment in this bonus episode of AIN’s Tales from the Flight Deck.

Mar 20, 2018
Takeoff And Landing Assessments, Part 1

On Dec. 8, 2005, Southwest Airlines 1248 was completing its trip from Baltimore when it plowed through a runway barrier and skidded onto the streets of Chicago. The Boeing 737 collided with two cars, killing 6-year-old Joshua Woods. The aircraft had been operating in near blizzard conditions and dealt with a stiff tailwind, a short runway, and some technical issues. Ultimately, the pilot did not have the appropriate landing data for Midway International Airport. In the summer of 2006, the FAA convened a two-day meeting with industry safety experts to attempt to implement more safety measures for pilots. How did aviation organizations and individuals in the industry work together to improve takeoff and landing assessments for pilots?

Feb 26, 2018
Flying Under The Influence, Part 2

The second installment of AIN’s The Human Factor, Flying Under the Influence, continues the discussion about pilots who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. Dr. Quay C. Snyder, the president, CEO, and cofounder of Aviation Medicine Advisory Service, explains the recovery process for pilots. Meanwhile pilot Corey Slone, who now serves as the national chairman of the Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS) Program, shares his own story of addiction and how he became a part of the rehabilitation program. According to the HIMS website, the program focuses on identifying and treating commercial pilots with addiction so that they can eventually return to work. Managers, pilots, healthcare professionals, and the FAA all work together to ensure the safety of pilots as well as passengers flying with these pilots.

Jan 12, 2018
Flying Under The Influence, Part 1

Passengers put their lives in the hands of their flight crews when they step onto an airplane. But what if pilots violate the trust passengers bestow? In 1990, Lyle Prouse was the first pilot arrested for being drunk in the cockpit when he attempted to fly Northwest Airlines Flight 650 from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis. Today, a pilot is pulled from a flight for being too intoxicated to fly about once a month, according to experts. In this episode of AIN’s The Human Factor, multiple pilots tell their stories of dealing with addiction while in the cockpit and explain how their actions affected their careers. This episode also explores how the FAA, pilot unions, and companies have worked together to create the Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS) Program to help addicted pilots return to the cockpit.

Dec 15, 2017
Fly - By - Wire Failure, Part 2

While flying an Airbus A330 at FL370 over the Indian Ocean from Singapore to Perth in 2008, pilot Kevin Sullivan found himself dealing with malfunctioning primary flight control computers. The aircraft began to pitch down over the water, which injured some of the 303 passengers on board. Fortunately, Sullivan’s past experience as a Navy pilot helped him navigate to safety. In this second part of this AIN's The Human Factor episode, Sullivan continues his tale of Qantas Flight 72 and how he was able to land the aircraft at the military field at Learmonth Airport. He also speaks about how the experience affects him today.

Nov 20, 2017
Fly - By - Wire Failure, Part 1

On Oct. 7, 2008, Qantas Flight 72 was flying over the Indian Ocean from Singapore to Perth, Australia. Kevin Sullivan, pilot-in-command of the Airbus A330, was flying on autopilot at 37,000 feet when suddenly warnings started sounding throughout the cockpit; the primary flight control computers were malfunctioning. The aircraft began to pitch up, and Sullivan realized he was just another passenger, for a short time unable to control the errant Airbus. After regaining control of the A330, Sullivan then had to decide whether to make an emergency landing at the nearest airport, the military field at Learmonth, or continue another hour and a half to Perth. In this episode of AIN’s The Human Factor, Sullivan recounts how he was able to identify the issues affecting the A330's fly-by-wire flight controls and minimize damage while planning how how to keep his 315 passengers safe.

Nov 07, 2017
The Perils Of Hypoxia

Pilot George Braly recalls a flight in which his portable oxygen line becomes kinked and he ultimately loses conciousness. George is awakened by ATC and is able to increase the oxygen flow and safely descend from the high-altitude flight. In this episode AIN delves into the issue of hypoxia by examining both portable and built-in oxygen systems. Additionally we discuss the FAA regulations that require one pilot when flying in a pressurized aircraft above 41,000 to use an oxygen mask at all times. Studies have shown that 82 percent of business aircraft pilots openly disregard this rule, and this episode discusses the human factors involved in oxygen mask use on long flights and possible solutions to this problem.

Oct 23, 2017
Engine Fire Forces Water Landing, Part 2

After Dennis Murphy delivered five charter passengers to Havana, Cuba, on February 20, 2003, during the return trip one of the engines on his Cessna 402B burst into flames while he was flying over the ocean, far from land over the Straits of Florida, forcing him to make an emergency water landing. In this second part of his recounting of the harrowing flight in AIN's The Human Factor podcast, we return to the tale as Dennis Murphy ditches his airplane in the ocean and follow along with what happens next.

Oct 04, 2017
Engine Fire Forces Water Landing, Part 1

After dropping five charter passengers in Havana, Cuba, on February 20, 2003, one of the engines on Dennis Murphy's Cessna 402B developed a catastrophic engine fire over the Straights of Florida, forcing him to make an emergency water landing. In the first part of AIN's The Human Factor, Murphy recounts how the emergency developed and then delves into the issue of the extreme fear that he faced and how best to prepare for when the unexpected occurs.

Sep 19, 2017
Fuel Emergency—Flying on Empty

How could an instrument-rating student and a flight instructor run out of fuel on a training flight? High-time flight instructor Brian Lloyd recalls his instrument training and an incident that taught him some of his most important aviation lessons. In this episode, AIN's The Human Factor delves into how assumptions and a lack of communication become links in the chain of events that could cause an accident. Whether you are a high-time professional pilot or student pilot, this episode is a reminder of how the wrong decisions can turn into potentially fatal errors.

Sep 01, 2017
Flying into a Thunderstorm, Part 2

In the second episode of AIN's The Human Factor, we pick up with Tim Valentine just after flying his SR22 into the back of a thunderstorm. This is part 2 of Tim's story. If you have not yet listened to part 1, please do so before continuing. Dealing with radio and flight instrument failures and violent turbulence, we follow along as Tim relives the decisions he made that got him safely back on the ground.

Aug 15, 2017
Flying into a Thunderstorm, Part 1

In the inaugural episode of AIN's The Human Factor, we explore the factors that led up-to Tim Valentine flying his Cirrus SR22 into a thunderstorm. On May 16th, 2013 Tim Valentine departed from Addison, Texas en route to Independence, Kansas confident that most storms in the area had passed to the east after delaying his departure by over an hour. But when Tim took off under overcast conditions at 1,000 feet, his IFR flight plan vectored him directly into the back end of the thunderstorms he was trying to avoid. This episode will explore the decisions leading up to this incident.

Jul 25, 2017