Doofus Of The Day #1,063

Last month I wrote an article titled “This is why you don’t fly in Third World nations… unless you have at least one First World pilot in the cockpit“.  In it, I pointed out:

There are incompetent and/or inadequately-trained and/or completely untrained pilots in many Third World countries, where a bribe to the examiner can ensure that you pass written tests and check flights with little or no difficulty.  The results are obvious if you examine accident statistics for those countries.  The number of accidents put down to “pilot error” is phenomenal – and in many cases it wasn’t error so much as incompetence.

. . .

That’s why pilots from most Third World nations, coming to the USA to upgrade their licenses, must start the gamut of qualifications all over again, from private pilot, through instrument rating, through commercial license, and only then be allowed to sit for an airline pilot’s rating … The US aviation authorities dare not assume that everybody from Nation X or Country Y is, indeed, qualified, because they’ve learned from bitter experience that many of them are not.

There’s more at the link.

As if to prove my point, we learn of a Moroccan ATR 72 commuter airliner that flew into the surface of the sea – and, amazingly, survived intact, along with everybody on board! – thanks to its pilots’ incomprehensibly stupid actions.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Investigators have determined that a Royal Air Maroc Express ATR 72-600 twice struck the surface of the Mediterranean Sea during an extraordinary botched approach to Al Hoceima airport, badly damaging the turboprop before its crew diverted to Nador.

Analysis of the incident showed the pilots had proceeded with an unstable approach, after a lack of preparation, and descended below minimum altitudes without visual references.

But Moroccan investigation authority BEA also found the ground-proximity warning system had issued ‘terrain’ and ‘pull up’ alerts during the crew’s previous approach to the same airport.

As a result, prior to the accident, the pilots turned off the system, believing it had been giving nuisance alarms.

After the aircraft hit the water, the crew executed a belated go-around, telling the tower controllers that they were aborting the approach because of a bird-strike.

Again, more at the link, including a picture of the ruptured underside of the aircraft.

No, the ground-proximity warning system had not been issuing false alarms – they were real ones, caused by the crew’s incompetent flying!  Note that their reaction was not to say, “Oh, I guess we’re too low”.  Instead, they shut off the system warning them that they were flying too low!  One can read their attitude from miles away.  “We’re high-status pilots!  We know what we’re doing!  Why do we need, and why should we listen to, aircraft systems telling us that we’re not, and we don’t?  Who do these systems think they are?”

Remind me not to fly on that airline if I can help it!  Ye Gods and little fishes . . .



  1. I was in the offshore oil exploration business for 30 years and took many a trip to the 3rd world.

    Sometime in the 90s, I flew from Dakar to Lagos, with stops in-between.

    Quite a few of the seats had broken backs, so on every landing the seat-backs would flop down, and before every takeoff the stewardess would have to flip them back upright.

    Before every landing we would hear the pilot calling the tower several times over the intercom, until he realized his mistake.

    Another time, again in Africa, I would see some young guys wiping the engine nacelles with a filthy rag.
    I jus hope one of those rags didn't get sucked into the air intakes, but I'll bet that sometimes happened.

    I saw many scary things during my career…

  2. I had a tax client who contracted to fly for some airline in Africa after the regional airline he flew for shut down. Don't remember which. They paid well enough that it was worth it for him to commute from the US to Africa regularly.
    His smarter friend went to work for Southwest instead after the regional shutdown. He seems well paid and can be confident aircraft maintenance is up to snuff.

  3. I am amazed that they had sufficient power to execute a go around from a landing configuration with the landing gear in the sea….

  4. some many years ago, my first hand experience with third world airlines maintenance was horrific. spit and baling wire best describes but that would be me giving the benefit of the doubt. a component overhaul consisting of painting until the leaks stopped. grade five bolts holding an engine pylon on the wing. one out of three generators actually putting out current and that on on a apu. inoperative trim tabs on ailerons. inoperative outboard ailerons on on both side of a Boeing 707. leaking brake deboost valves. running fuel leaks. leaking pressurization valves. life rafts missing. time change items never replace but freshly painted. all this on their flagship aircraft.
    the pilots were excellent systems managers but had very poor piloting skills when it came to hand flying. cockpit crew resource utilization was not practiced. the pilot was master all others his knaves. tires were an almost every other flight change item when crosswind landings occurred. they constantly violated cross wind component limits, once scraping off a surge tank and wing tip. they had several used spares on hand. I suspected more than one of their first officers to be just a warm body and that was substantiated by the one and only flight engineer they used who I would trust(his pay was VERY good).
    the owners of the line were also gov officials. doing guess what. I will never say. they hold a grudge a long time.

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