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Be nice or be safe?

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I'm currently in a battle with maintenance about some recent issues that I think are pretty serious. (See my thread in Maintenance Ops titled "UH-1Drag Brace") It is unfortunate that things have gotten to the point of "battle" but here we are. In typical after incident fasion I wonder; no, I'm certain that this would have gone differently if I had done or said things differently earlier.

The question I'm throwing out here is how do we decide which things are worth fighting for regarding safety and which are not so important. The easy answer that the safety preachers give is "safety first". But is it? Is this thing worth my career? Is that thing worth costing someone else their career? Anyone who has been in the utility helicopter business for a while knows that the lines are not so clear most of the time.




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Having faced this repeatedly, and being considered a bit of a rogue, I tend to bite my tongue to get the job done, within reason.  I tend to apply the following far too often;

“Rules are for the guidance of wise men and for the obedience of fools - Douglas Bader”

I believe common sense is sorely lacking these days, but you have to stick your neck out pretty far sometimes to apply it.

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Thank you, Diaper_Pin for illustrating my point. It seems so simple. Exceed limitations=ground it. But what about getting the job done? Isn't that why we have something to fly at all?

Example: You're lifting logs or moving drills or whatever you do in an aircraft that requires you to log the torque events or lifts or whatever. About your seventh fuel cycle you lose count of these things and you try to remember, but at the end of the day it doesn't seem to matter much so you log your "best estimate". There's no room in the manual for estimates so should the mechanic ground the aircraft?

Same applies to the mechanic that has been in the field for three months and his torque wrench is out of calibration. Rules are rules and limits are limits right?

Not so simple. When we work the helicopter for a living, the pilot/mechanic relationship is ultimately about trust. We think we know what the limits of that trust are... Until we let something slide to finish the day or the job. How far do we push it?

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Here is what I do, and I teach the same,  I send emails, to everyone. . DOM, engineer, ex wife, CP, OPS, QA, SMS.  If your questioning it, they should respond, via email. I'll tell ya what, once that trail is in there inbox, and it goes wrong, I'll see them in ****, and my ex wife gets rich. 

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At the risk of sounding like a “Safety Preacher”:

A few years ago we added an excellent series of videos to our PDM and Hunan Factors training that touches on the basis of this discussion.

If you accept the “shortcut” or “deviance” once (to get the job done”, before long the shortcut becomes the norm. It’s only human nature.

When the shortcut becomes the norm, it leads to “predictable surprises” and a hazardous environment.

If you look at some of  recent TSB reports from our industry, this normalization seems to be getting worse (and it’s costing people their lives).

According  to NASA astronaught and Airforce flyer Mike Mullane: the best defences are “Courageous Self Leadership” and “Executing to Standard”

Best of luck with your situation. I vote for being a “Courageous Self Leader” and “Executing to Standard”

Fly Safe,





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Wow how we get old. I remember when this site started many years ago. I believe I was member 29 or close to it and a moderator. Lost the login, old email address and password so here I go again RDM 1. 

Old members like Blackmac, CTD, Winnie, DJ61 and even Bladestike were all here. Fun days with a lot of jousting. Forum has somewhat changed since then and slowed down. 

I still visit occasionally but a search of my old login (RDM) has shown my last post in 2009?!

Regardles, this topic struck a cord with me. 

The original poster commented that 

23 hours ago, onemorepilot said:

how do we decide which things are worth fighting for

I believe after 30+  years in the business some things you must FIGHT FOR, as a PIC / Capt you will be challenged on many many aspects of the job. Weather, Customer, maintenance the list can go on. But your job is to challenge that if you feel safety is at risk for any reason. That is why you have the license and privilege to do so. 

In my career of 18k I had to many safety challenges to remeber. But from day one my old and I mean old instructor and mentor said.... "Ask or you fail for not asking". I lived by that and sit thinking I had the right to challenge and it saved my behind so many times. Also, remember that at times you may make a challenge and it may be proven wrong. I had to be educated more then once on - maintenance, duty times, regs, limits etc etc. But, yet I asked. A good operator will just clarify your point with no predigust and you both move on.

But if I may, if the point is really strong and you disagree (your right) be sure to catalogue it. 

Short story....

I joined company xxx coming from a totally VFR company. I was a  helmet user from day one. The owner then president of the new organization  was a stand up man the best. But his marketing twit (ex pilot) was about image. In my first week after a spray job I was tasked to do a VIP trip. Customers arrived I greeted them and moved to the AC, as I was walking to the AC twit approached me and said you can not fly with a helmet as it will make them feel (VIPs) unsafe. No problem, I handed him my brain dome and walked toward the hanger (lmao right now as I will never forget his expression) twit says:  "were are you going" me: "be right back, have to make a call". And I did... called wife at work "darling, make a call. Inform our legal counsel that at this moment I am refusing a flight for personal safety readons and if I am wrongfully dismissed we have it documented" 

Proceeded back to hangar floor, twit is now in a spin. "Where were you?" Me" on phone with my lawyer" him: "why?" Me "you figure it out!"

The look was worth it.  By this time the owner was down.... the story was told in seclusion of the client. 

Moral of story  I challenged what I thought I should fight for... the  "twit" who needed to be educated on safety.  The owner backed me 100+ percent and i still and he will always be a man I respect. The "twit" had to move one shortly after because he never could he educated.  

Well, I can still rant.


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