Pilot Proficiency with Airline Pilot & Author Karlene Petitt

Flight To Success PV pt1

Airline pilot, author, and speaker Karlene Petitt joins me to discuss pilot training and proficiency as well as her aviation novels and her Flight to Safety Blog. Karlene walks us through flying the A330, with it’s sophisticated flight control system and extensive use of automation. She also illustrates some difference between Airbus and Boeing flight control systems in the context of Asiana 214 and Air France 447 and how daily reliance on automation can dull flying skills.

Addressing our fading stick and rudder skills, Karlene also elaborates on her idea of the FAA allowing a significant percentage of basic flight training to be in gliders.

This blog post and podcast episode 16 is part 1 of  2 parts. In the next episode/blog post we finish our pilot skills discussion and Karlene shares her remarkable career story–one that spans eight airlines and numerous type ratings–and tell us about her two novels, Flight for Control and Flight for Safety. If you enjoy this podcast then please share it with your social media circles and forums.

The podcast has been retired. Please see the transcript below.

Mentioned in the Podcast

  • Flight to Success – Karlene’s blog
  • A330 – A large Airbus airliner
  • Autopilot & auto thrust – systems used to fly an airliner that reduce pilot workload
  • PAPIs (like pappies)- Precision Approach Path Indicator, lights next to a runway used by pilots to maintain the proper glide path to landing
  • Understanding Air France 447  – Book recommended by Karlene to become a better pilot through understanding the AF447 tragedy

Podcast Transcript

Dave: This is the PlaneViz aviation podcast, episode 16. I’m your host, Dave Goodwin. My guest today is Karlene Petitt. Karlene is a well known A330 pilot, author of two aviation novels, and the operator of her blog, Flight to Success, and and all around good sport for being my guest today. Karlene, welcome.

Karlene Good morning, Dave. Thank you.

Dave: Let’s jump right into today’s topic of pilot proficiency and training, and then we’ll check in with you to see what you’re up to a little later on, OK?

Karlene: OK, that sounds perfect.

Dave: We all know by now about Asiana 214, which crashed in San Francisco about a month ago. And it’s not my intention to analyze the crash per se, but something happened after that that raised my eyebrows, I found it really perplexing. The FAA ordered foreign airlines to use a GPS approach to- I guess it would be runway 28 left at San Francisco- instead of the visual approach. And that made me wonder that, if those pilots can’t manage a visual approach, how can the FAA consider them to be proficient pilots?

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4 thoughts on “Pilot Proficiency with Airline Pilot & Author Karlene Petitt

  1. Paul Piliphsen says:

    Great podcast. I’m a little confused about Karlene’s
    statement that, “it’s too bad the FAA doesn’t allow glider time.”
    for the ATP. Unless there’s something in the new rules, my reading
    of 61.159 says they would allow glider time. I think you could,
    technically, have 1250 hours of glider time and 250 hours of PIC
    airplane and meet the Aeronautical Experience requirements of the
    ATP. The CFR doesn’t start talking about Category & Class
    until you get to 61.159 a(3) & 61.159 a(5). Up until that
    point the CFR just mentions “total time as a pilot that includes at
    least: 500 hours of cross-country flight time & 100 hours
    of night flight time.” Thanks, Paul

  2. Great stuff, from a wonderful woman that I’ve followed and
    admired. Awesome podcast, and we look forward to more of this in
    the future. Thanks!

  3. Brent says:

    I just subscribed to this podcast! Very cool! I can’t wait to listen to this episode!

  4. Bill Palmer says:

    Great conversation.
    I think at the beginning of the digital age, we could take pilot skills for granted. The inspector for Karlene’s 757 checkride was probably right – that day, and her concern for being able to fly the airplane was ahead of its time. You couldn’t have gotten to the airline level without those skills. Meanwhile, the complex autoflight systems took time to learn, especially in the days when nobody carried a little computer around in their pocket! It was still important that the pilot know how to operate their own airplane, and that hasn’t change.

    But those skills can no longer be taken for granted, and thank goodness, the pendulum is starting to swing back. Even skills that once were sharp and unquestionable erode over time when we let the flight director do all the thinking and the autopilot do all the work. New pilots brought up with high functioning autoflight systems may never have had the solid foundation of instrument skills derived from 1,000 hours or more of hand flown attitude instrument flying.
    AF447 and OZ214 remind us that we still have to be a pilot and fly the plane.

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