Pilot error, turbulence & bad weather

Most of my friends have their own horror stories about flying but most of it is about the plane being shaky and uncomfortable mid-flight. Once on a 5J trip to Coron, Palawan, turbulence was so bad for the whole stretch that my seatmates were retching to death on the barf bags and I was trying to humor myself by talking to the stewardess and asking her why the pilot has been quiet throughout 🙂

However, I’ve figured out that turbulence is not really the culprit for most air accidents, although this one doesn’t paint a pretty picture either.

Aftermath photo of the chaos onboard an SQ A380 plane after it hit clear air turbulence & dropped to 100 feet in a flight from Singapore to London last May 26, 2013. (via Facebook)

SQ turbulence

When things like this happen, it doesn’t matter whether you fly budget or Star Alliance, you see. But the records would show most incidents happen during takeoffs, landings and the state of the weather.

The pictures appearing on the web of the Cebu Pacific flight 5J 971 that closed down Davao International Airport for several days give one the goosebumps. Everyone is lucky and it seems that the heavens were really blessing everyone on board this flight because nothing worse happened (like an explosion).

Photo via The Aviation Herald (av.com):

5J 971  in Davao

Funny because I also took a Cebu Pacific flight on this same weekend (Manila-Cebu v.v.) The civil aviation body’s initial findings show pilot error as a likely cause of 5J 971’s missing the runway. This flight’s passengers found it weird that the pilot used the toilet four times in a span of one hour. Whether LBM or other troubles caused his error in judgment remains to be seen 🙂

Now I can compare another airline’s handling of the same situation. Two weeks ago, I was on a Philippine Airlines flight from Hong Kong. The pilot already announced that we were about to land and indeed, I thought we were less than 5 minutes short of touching the runway. But then again, heavy rains and a thunderstorm came which made our plane stay on the air and divert to Clark International Airport for refueling. It was a hassle thinking about a trip taking five hours instead of two but as a traveller, safety is paramount and it’s indeed supremely better to arrive at your destination in one piece than in several (ouch!)

Post script: The latest incident makes me think Cebu Pacific may have the youngest fleet and the youngest crew but they are also the youngest in experience. Hope the fiasco makes them a better airline 😉

Read also my previous blog posts:

Safety risk assessment of Philippine airlines

Counterfeit plane parts, fake pilot licenses and other ills plaguing RP aviation industry

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