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23 July 2009

A simple decision made…

AirAsia Social Media team

By AirAsia Social Media team

Johan’s posting on “Decisions. The Right, The Wrong.. And?” is an interesting topic that is worth looking into again. As an airline student pilot, he has a very good grip of what the CRM (Crew Resources Management) program is all about, albeit coining it in a different way (P.I.L.O.T instead of C.L.E.A.R)… (Sorry… it’s a pilot’s language for those not familiar with flying)

Ah… he is talking about his childhood mistakes on women again! Never mind, I hope he will make the right choice when he comes flying with the airlines soon! (hehe!)

Seriously, in his last posting, Johan touched on two very bad decision making episodes that were very troubling. When it comes to the topic about bad judgment, pilots are often reminded to learn from the mistakes of others as they wouldn’t live long enough to make all of them by themselves!

Captain Dom (see dinner photo below – we met up at the end of my A340 course whilst he and Capt Reiza arrived to start their A320 instructors course in Toulouse) is the man who is involved in enhancing flight safety in Air Asia through CRM or more specifically, discussed under “Threat and Error Management” (TEM) – something Johan mentioned about in his previous posting. The TEM concept will definitely help to cut down mistakes made in the air. I will leave this to him when he can find the time to share his knowledge with all on the good job that he is doing at the moment.

Chinese dinner with Captain Dom (2nd right), Reiza and FO Chang at Toulouse, France

Talking about decision making, I made a very simple decision, yet a memorable one last week as I flew back from London Stansted on the Airbus A340. As the commander of the flight, it was my responsibility to fly the plane safely home, taking into considerations the comfort of the passengers and every other aspects of the flight.

On receiving the Flight Plans from the flight dispatchers (they are not pilots), my eyes immediately homed onto the route that we were taking across the Bay of Bengal. Oh dear, it routed smack through the center of a massive thunderstorm spreading about 300 nautical miles around! I told myself that I must reroute to avoid the ferocious weather when I thought of the previous Air France flight over the Atlantic.

It was my decision, but nevertheless, I consulted with my other crew (one Captain and two other First Officers) on the wisdom of flying further to the North about 150 nautical miles to the left. Who knows… others may come up with something that I was not aware of! However, all agreed. That’s what we call CRM coming into play – a team effort on a simple decision!

A change of route meant that we had to reject the Flight Plans and make recalculations that would result in a delay of about half an hour on that day. This was because the documentations were not done on the spot but had to go through a series of emails 5900 nautical miles away.

In the end, we found that we made the right decision though it took us an extra two minutes longer. Other planes over the Bay of Bengal were “screaming” (communications with the air traffic controllers around this area were not very satisfactory at that time) for 100 miles deviations off the thunderstorms! We were only on the edge of it. It was still a little bumpy but at least we were only there for a short duration. Well, we were pleased that we were not in that rush to get out, especially when contact with the air traffic controllers was quite a hassle at the Bay!

Yes, I remember this saying, “You start off with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck!”

Nevertheless, where safety is concerned, we have to work towards it and not depend on luck. On this note, I have written an article titled “How Safe is Safe?” for the August issue of Air Asia’s Travel 360 in-flight Magazine. So if you happen to fly next month in any Air Asian planes, I hope you will get a chance to read it.

Till the next posting, Bye! Bye!

Captain Lim

My first Airbus A340 flight to London Stanstead on the “Oakland Raiders”

With FO Navin on Xcellence with the “Oakland Raiders”

  • Aaron

    U r really the man,safety 1st,that is Air Asians’ spirit of course.
    Hope i can be a good PIC like u all,flying wide body a/c like A340..

    Well done & keep it up always whenever u fly,cheers,Aaron Hiew

  • Mohamed Ghouse

    Captain Lim! Thanks for sharing this story. Excellent reading. Hope you will be able to share many more stories with us in the future and Have a safe flying always!

  • Angeline

    Thanks to AirAsia Blog team for bringing up previous post. It’s an interesting article indeed!

    We all err because we are human.
    But sometimes the brain can do fabulous things that human are not aware of.

    I do have a suggestion for the AirAsia people.

    A simple brain challenging exercise every morning (with all team members) for a few minutes before serious work starts sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

    Experiences may train the mind to work more quickly and efficiently but if you are already training the brain to think more quickly and efficiently every day with various quizzes, puzzles, maths…etc…. the mind will naturally be thinking faster and making simple decisions more efficiently.

    Don’t you think so?