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18 October 2008

Safety First…Always!

By Dominic

Well, I have been asked many times by various people the following “Is it safe ah? Low cost you know? I heard the maintenance all ah, so so only”. And in one of the blogs, someone asked “Eh, I heard even the baggage handler can be pilot, how can? I hope they get only the good people lar”

So, what do you think? Having flown for the national airline, national cargo carrier, and now with my life in the Asian Budget Airline of the year 2008, I can safely say one thing – only the business model is low cost lar!

To start an airline, one must first obtain an AOC – Air Operator Certificate which is issued by the respective Civil Aviation Authorities. All airline operators, cargo, passenger, low cost, HIGH cost have to meet the same rigid requirements before such a certificate is issued. Operators must meet rigid maintenance practices, flight crew training, and other safety aspects before obtaining such a certificate.

The aircraft maintenance engineers and pilots hold the same professional license as issued by the same Civil Aviation Authority – there is NO LOW COST LICENSE!!! The flight attendants also have to go through the same training as those in the full fledge airlines. In fact, having been through the training where I am now, I realize that being a low cost carrier, we are under the spotlight most of the time as the civil aviation authority does not want us to cut corners where training is concerned, with that, I have to say, somehow, we are more thorough with our training for the engineers, pilots, as well as flight attendants.

For those of you who are worried that we are taking in everyone to fly – bear in mind, to obtain a professional pilot license, the local authorities do have their own criteria – and again, there is only one professional pilot license – there is NO LOW COST CREW!!! The guy who made it as a pilot met all the academic requirements – we are not that LOW COST lar :P

So there you go – the business model is low cost (I would prefer to say, cost effective), but the safety aspect is NOT as there is no LOW COST to safety. If you want to know what low cost business model is – visit Tony’s blog:)

Flying commercial since 1992…

  • Shi Han

    Used to fly with AirAsia and our national airline. The thing that i concern the most during the flight is the landing. Throughout my experiences with these 2 airlines.AirAsia is far ahead from our national airline.

    So I never suspect the quality of AirAsia flight crew. Just hoping AirAsia can pushing himself to the peak.

    Good luck AirAsia!

  • Yip

    Those people who make such “remarks” against low cost carrier definitely doesn’t understand how an aviation business works.

    Continue rocking on AirAsia.

  • Dominic

    Hey Shi Han,

    It is always pleasant to hear from supporters :) Sorry for this late reply as I have been busy with the arrival of my second baby. Anyway, I thought I might clear some common misconceptions with regard to a ‘safe landing’ and opposed to a ‘good landing’.

    The general traveling public usually judges the skill of pilots by how good a landing was, but if I may quote Boeing, “A safe landing is a crash you walk away from!” So, what does Boeing mean?

    Well, basically a ‘harder’ than smooth landing does not and should not be seen as a deficiency in the skill of the pilot flying! The fact is that there are many other factors determining how a pilot should land the plane, for example, for airports with short runways, pilots will not want to waste precious runway length by floating too much to ensure a smooth touch down, and when there is a strong cross wind, or perhaps gusty wind conditions, a pilot will also not muck around and would rather place the plane firmly on the solid ground for better control.

    A smooth landing is good for passengers, and believe me you, it helps the pilots’ ego as well – we do want to satisfy our guests, but when we have to do a firm one, we have to do a firm one, so, here’s an early apology from me if anyone of you felt kinda pain in the back when flying with me – it wasn’t all my fault you see ☺ it was mother nature who blew that last gust of wind as we were landing ☺

    Thanks for the support everyone! Yes, AirAsia rocks, and we will continue so with support from all of you!!!

    Happy and Safe Landings always!

    Dom.

  • Almond

    Good to know that the AirAsia fleet is always safe and after reading this, some of my misconceptions are gone.. thanks!

  • Shi Han

    Hi Capt. Dom,

    Great to get your reply here. I don’t either it is a fast or slow reply, as long as you are replying, then I’m appreciating. :D

    First of all, congratulation for having an October baby,is a baby boy or baby girl? :D BTW, I’m October ‘baby’ too. LOL.

    Thanks for your explanations, you make me so clear about the landing now. So, next time no matter it is a smooth landing or hard landing, I’ll just say thank God, cause it is a SAFE landing. :)

    Capt., I think I’ve flown with you, for a few times maybe. Unless there’s another Capt. Dom with AirAsia.

    Thank you Capt. Dom.

    Cheers…
    Shi Han aka Derik

  • Dominic

    Hey Derik,

    Thanks for the well wishes, baby girl this second time around, first one, turning 5 in Dec is a boy, so I have a pair now :P Well, it is either a Happy Belated or Happy Early Birthday to you then! Hope you had/will have a good one!

    You have? Wow, I hope I didn’t disappoint you! Continue flying with us and enjoy the fun in flying! Do continue giving us your valuable feedback as that is the only way we can improve – it is always the case – others can see us better – so please be our eyes and ears out there!

    Best Regards to all!

    Dom.

  • Shi Han

    Hola Dom,

    You’re most welcome. Good thing, boy+girl=good(in chinese). Work hard for another pair of ‘good’ :D

    Thank for your wishes, it isn’t early or late, but on time! It’s my birthday today. Haha.

    Nah, you never disappoint me, at all. Know why I still remember you? Cause you’ve made an interesting in flight greeting(I’m not sure what does the announcement called actually). That’s why I still remember you. :p

    Don’t worry, I’ve given (quite)many comments here, and a post as well. I think I’ll continue to do so as AirAsia does give me something ‘special’ every time I fly. LOL

    Take care

    Derik

  • Dominic

    Thanks Derik! Keep the info coming!

  • Wai Hee

    Hi Dominic,

    Can you describe to our guests (actually it’s me, just an excuse) what a typical day is for a pilot with AirAsia. I have always wondered how many hours or sectors you guys put in when on duty, starting from the time you leave home to the time you hang up your hat.

  • Dominic

    Hey Wai Hee,

    No problem. I actually wrote you a reply, but it would submitted as a new post altogether. Please leave your comments there. Thank you for your support!

    Cheers!
    Dom.

  • Din Effendi

    I am really scared of flying nowadays after listening and watching a Vlog in youtube with regard to the discovery of the CVR belonging to an Indonesian low cost carrier, Air Adam 574 which was believed to be crashed and disintegrated due to sea impact on 1/1/07.
    As a result of an investigation by Indonesian Transport authority, it was reported that both PIC and Co-Pilot were preoccupied troubleshooting the left IRS(Inertia Navigation System-1)and apparently had neglected other flight instruments. The PIC had ordered the Co-pilot to switch the IRS to Altitude mode and as a result rolling and pitching of the aircraft went unnoticed with excessive rolling up to 100degree. The crew had tried to regain control of the aircraft but it was too late and as a result structural failure occurred and the aircraft was doomed.
    102 people onboard including the flight crews were perished in this incident.

    After listening the CVR for few times I am scared to death and feel like I will never fly again for the rest of my life.

    My question:
    How safe is safe as claimed by Air Asia?
    Do Air Asia has well trained cockpit crews to handle critical situation as precedented above?
    How regular is the maintenance schedule of each aircraft?
    How to regain my confidence of flying, particularly with AA?

    Until I receive a definite and convincing answer, I will definitely fly again with AA.

  • Lim

    Dear Anonymous,

    Below are the answers to your questions…

    How safe is safe?

    This is what Wilbur Wright (the inventor of the world’s first successful plane) said, “If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds.”

    Nevertheless, the airline industry’s main objective is to make flying as safe as can be. It is however fully aware that human factors, as seen in the Adam Air accident, do affect air safety. Therefore, extensive and ongoing training for all the crew in Air Asia is one of the key ways to mitigate human errors.

    Does Air Asia have well trained cockpit crew?

    Despite the global economy downturn where many airlines have reduced investments into training, Air Asia has doubled its effort. Training is a very important strategy to reduce accidents. From just only three, there are now six simulators to address this problem.

    Airlines with poor safety records have been consistently blacklisted and banned into European and American airspaces. I believe the Indonesian authorities have permanently grounded Adam Air. Air Asia, on the other hand, has been expanding and accepted into many countries just like any other major carriers.

    How regular is the maintenance schedule of each aircraft?

    Scheduled maintenance is a very detailed work carried out on the aircraft at specified period or at the expiry dates of the aircraft components.

    The frequency of a typical maintenance schedule on any plane would be as follows:

    • Prior to every flight, the maintenance personnel would conduct a thorough visual inspection of the aircraft, checking for dents, damage or cracks on the body and any oil or fuel leaks from the systems.
    • In addition, after every 3 to 5 days, the plane’s surface controls would also be thoroughly checked. It would also include the landing gears, brakes, various fluid levels as well as the oxygen system.
    • Every 8 months, the internal control system, all the emergency equipment and the hydraulic system are carefully checked.
    • Every 12 to 17 months, the maintenance crew do an even more detailed check using devices to probe for wear and tear, corrosion and cracks in components that are not visible to the eyes.
    • After every 3 to 5 years, the aircraft is taken apart for a major overhaul. This entails the removal of major components that are life expired and replaced with newer ones where applicable.

    How to regain my confidence of flying, particularly with AA?

    Rest assured that with stringent maintenance and rigorous pilot training in the simulator (pilots are checked on all kind of emergencies every six months) Air Asia would make every effort to ensure that safety will always be our priority!

    Safe flying and hope you will continue to support Air Asia!

    Capt Lim Khoy Hing

  • Mohd Muhaimin

    hi sir,

    it’s good to hear from a captain.. kind of feeling a bit shy to talk to someone big like you..

    and more, you ask particular thing about me in entry of “So You Wanna Be A Pilot”

    thank for asking, for giving me motivation.. by knowing you as a pilot.

  • Dominic

    Dear Muhaimin,

    I am no one big, just another guy who happens to fly for a living :) No big deal. No worries, good luck.

    Dom.

  • Gladys

    Dear Capt,

    I need help. I have been flying since 5 years old, progressively into flying alone at the age of 7 (young passenger travelling alone) onto my uni days and up til now. I never had any fear or qualms hoping onto a plane until one uneventful flight frm ho chi minh to lcct during the merdeka break. The flight was piloted by Cap Alex. Not long after taking off, we experienced turbulence. (It was my first time experiencing any sorts of turbulence) And it was BAD. The sky was dark, lightning was visible, the plane was eerily quiet, as i believe all of the passengers were worried and scared. The plane was rattling, shaking left and right. The only sound that could be heard were the sounds of the carts, plastics, etc rattling and the verocious roar of the plane engine. It was the scariest time in my 26 years of existence. After going on for about 30 min, the turbulence was gone. Capt Alex made up for it by giving the smoothest landing ever. The turbulence really shook me up. During the raya hols again, i had to make a trip to HCM. Thankfully, there wasn;t any serious turbulence but i brought along earplugs to somehow block off the sounds in case of turbulence. I was restless before, throughout and after the flight. I was afraid and really scared, again. Even until today, i can’t stop googling articles on flights, airplane news and all that. Ever since the turbulence experience, i can’t stop thinking about the fear of turbulence even for a day and this is really getting out of control. I have no idea how am i going to get on the next flight…

  • Dominic

    Dear Gladys,

    From your letter, I gather that you are having a psychological barrier. I am not sure of any correct method here as I am not an expert in that field.

    Your description of the weather you experienced is something you saw from your seat in the cabin. Our human limitations on perception (in this case, from our sight) could have also caused your fear. The lighting you saw with fading light could very well be at a far distance and posed no danger at all.

    From an aviation perspective however, even if lighting does strike the plane, there will be no damage as the electricity charges will be channelled out via static dischargers (visible at the aft of the wings of the aircraft and other parts of the plane as well).

    As mentioned by Captain Lim, flying is so far the safest mode of transportation from statistics given by worldwide bodies. Many steps have been taken throughout the years to improve further on safety in aviation more than any other fields (not only in transportation). However, there are certainly limits to technology as we are only humans and some things are definitely beyond our control, such as Mother Nature as proven yet again with the recent earthquake which hit Sumatera.

    Hope this helps!

    Dom.

  • Gladys

    Hi Capt Dom, thanks for the reply. I know that sometimes shit happens, so i’ll just have to handle my problem with an open mind. I also came to know that recently, a MAS aircraft’s landing gear collapsed for no aparent reason, prior to taking off from KCH. Hope that maintenance is stringent over at AA.

  • Shi Hong

    Dear Dominic and other pilots of AirAsia,

    If hijacking occurred, or any on board passenger try to make another 911 events to AirAsia flights, are AirAsia pilots and crews trained to handle it? And, how will AirAsia pilots and crews handle it?

  • Dominic

    Yes we do. For obvious reasons, we cannot reveal.