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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, September 11, 2020


The Day Aviation Changed

19 years ago today I was working my second job, in Dallas, training Sun Country pilots at American Airlines Training facility. Twenty years later I am in Atlanta, as the student on the A350. Yesterday I passed my systems evaluation. Today I'm up early to start procedures. But I cannot start the day without a prayer for those who lost loved ones during these horrific attacks.  

Nineteen years ago was the "day" that changed aviation. Now,  we are facing the "year" that changed aviation. However these events changed more than aviation, they changed our freedoms, and how we live. I believe as long as we don't give up, and always strive to be better today than we were yesterday, work toward improvement, and always do our best, we can create a positive change.  This change will lead to a better world. Today, take a moment to remember, and know that your efforts will create a better world and can impact change. Make today worth living. 

Where were you the day of the attacks? 

For those who want a history review... the history channel is always a good place to start. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A350 Training

 Officially Underway! 

I am heading to Atlanta today, to take my test tomorrow! However, I took the old fashioned way of preparation and studied every day... sometimes at the lake, everyday on the elliptical, and often in a bath tub. I even made flash cards. There was lots of information to learn; however, I have proven during my doctoral research that a higher level understanding versus memorizing to pass a test will improve overall safety. In the long run, learning will carry to the airplane and expand to those novel situations that rote memorization will not. 

Not only was I studying, but we were in the midst of a serious and ongoing heart problem with my husband. A week ago they ablated multiple points, isolated chambers and all was successful. Yesterday we had his follow up appointment, and he's doing great!  So then we went to the golf course and he had the best game all year (I did too), and today I travel. 

More Airbus info to come...

From what I have learned so far is that the A350 is very smart, and the differences with the A330 are all improvements in design that make sense logical sense. 

If you're learning the A350... and have questions please send them my way. I'll do my best to find the answers. Until then, I'll be updating my blog on a more regular basis as I take this journey into the next type rating. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Wednesday, September 2, 2020


Is Yours to Give! 

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope 
and somebody who believes in them.” 
Magic Johnson

The Bridge of Hope is in desperate need of resources of food, education, and health care for hundreds of needy children & their families in Sierra Leone, Africa. My childhood friend Geri Brown Jeffery has created a non-profit to help those in need in Sierra Leone. She has combined her love of God, her passion for life and care for humanity, and then built the Bridge of Hope for those in need in Sierra Leone. 

You're invited! 

On Sept 12th she's hosting a virtual event that supports their efforts to help the people of Sierra Leone. She would love it if you could join her by watching virtually. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the great work being done by The Bridge of Hope. 

This is also a fundraiser. You will have an opportunity to contribute by donating a monetary gift or by making a pledge if you choose. There is no pressure to give, and no minimum or maximum gift requested. The funds raised on this day will be invested in saving and improving the lives of families living in poverty and hopelessness in one of the poorest nations in the world. 

Sadly, I won't be able to attend on Saturday because I'll be in Atlanta in an A350 simulator on my third day of training. But you are all invited.

September 12, at 0900-0930 PDT

Giving 30 minutes of your life
Could change the life of others
for a lifetime!

Please let Geri know if you can make it by registering here: 

As much as anything, they want people to come and find out about the wonderful ways the Bridge is saving and changing lives. During these difficult times, Geris says, "it is a blessing to be involved in making a difference in this world." I could not agree more.  While the world is in lockdown, we can virtually be there. I hope you can make Geri's event. And if so... I would love know your thoughts and we'll write another post to include them.  When the world opens up, we can take a road trip together and all meet in Sierra Leone! 

“There is no greater joy, nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone’s life.” 
Mary Rose McGeady

Enjoy the Journey
And make it worthwhile!
XOX Karlene 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Ongoing Training Violations

AQP and Crew Complement

My doctoral research identified a significant problem with Airline Pilot Training that is impacting pilot performance. In that many carriers have adopted the training methodology Advanced Qualification Program (AQP), during my research, I queried pilots as to whether or not they were trained under AQP. Of the 5811 pilots who responded, 49% were positive they trained under AQP, 16% said they were not, and 36% were unsure. I then asked if they were trained with normal crew complement, meaning Captain with a First officer, and 50% said they never were or at times were not. 

Results of my research also identified a negative safety culture, and this negative safety culture impacted training. Among the Safety Culture Questions, overall 41% who responded stated they were unsure that the leadership in charge of developing training programs had the expertise of learning, and 46% were unsure, or did not believe, that their company would exceed regulatory compliance.

Could Negative Safety Culture and the
Lack of AQP Regulatory Compliance
Be the cause of Negative Training?

AQP is a train to proficiency program that was introduced in 1990. At the time, pilot training shifted from individual training and performance assessment to crew-based training and performance assessment. This crew-based performance is a line-oriented training process that enables crews to manage the aircraft while improving team and communication skills. Within the AQP structure, pilot training is a proficiency-based concept focused on an entire system perspective versus individual training components. Airlines who adopted AQP, realized the economic benefit that came with reducing the training footprint due to the structure and mandated requirements. AQP training focused on Crew Resource Management (CRM) and communication skills to eliminate pilot error. 

While AQP is a voluntary program, when implemented the airline is expected to exceed minimum training standards, and adopt a full AQP train to proficiency program that mandates inclusion of CRM, LOFT, and LOE scenarios. For those pilots who are interested if you have AQP, if you hear the terms LOFT and LOE, then you have an AQP program.

Line Operational Evaluation (LOE): LOE is an evaluation of individual and crew performance in a flight simulation device conducted during real-time. 

Line Oriented Flight Training (LOFT). LOFT is conducted as a line operation and allows for no interruption by the instructor during the session except for a non-disruptive acceleration of uneventful enroute segments.

 In addition to scenario requirements, and tracking requirements, AQP, in part, must also:

  • Replicate normal flight operation; and
  • Include a normal crew complement.
Crew Concept and AQP

The FAA identified that while training in a crew concept, that 50% of the training included pilot not flying duties—in the pilot’s respective seat. To meet this crew requirement the Captain must be in her seat as the pilot not flying, and the first officer had to be in his seat when he was not flying. Therefore, if we pair two first officers together 50% of these pilots’ training is not in his/her respective seat. Furthermore, these pilots are not only missing 50% of their training, but the very purpose of AQP is crew resource management during “normal flight operations,” and never is an airliner dispatched without a Captain for takeoff and landing. For this reason, the FAA mandated specific rules that all airlines must obey if they are operating under AQP. While the FAA has provided flexibility in unusual circumstance to provide a “seat substitute”, a non-trained first officer, who is also receiving his training does not meet the intent of this flexibility. Nor does scheduling in this manner to save money at the sacrifice of training, as a valid circumstance.

Substandard Training

As it turns out, AQP carriers may not be following the rules, and the FAA is turning a blind eye, or simply doesn’t understand the rules themselves.

During a conversation with an FAA inspector a few years ago, who is currently on the certificate of an international airline, I had mentioned AQP. He said, “I retired before AQP came about, and really don’t know anything about it.” He had been a captain and instructor at an international airline before he joined the FAA. While I am uncertain if this FAA representative is in the minority, or the agency is overlooking this requirement due to the identified pressure on FAA representatives.  However, there is a problem.

While ignoring the rules may be common practice, the concern during Covid times is that come October, airlines will be furloughing thousands of pilots. In addition, many senior pilots and check airman have taken voluntary retirement. The impact will be thousands of training events industry wide, with the loss of our on-line safety nets of experience. In the interest of safety we cannot afford to shortchange training.

The simple request is:
In the interest of Safety,
Please, Just follow the FAA mandate

For more information on additional requirements please read the FAA website under FAA AQP Mandatory Requirements. 

Crew Scheduling and Pairing Strategy. A basic requirement of AQP is to train and evaluate crewmembers in a crew configuration identical to line operations. In AQP, line crewmembers must be scheduled and paired together, as much as practical, in a standard crew configuration (e.g., line captain with line first officer). The FAA recognizes that circumstances will occur where the initial composition of the schedule cannot be maintained. Hiring requirements, illness, high first officer to captain ratios, or failure of a crewmember to progress, are all situations that would necessitate providing a seat substitute to complete the training (p 31).

If you’re interested in reading the dissertation 

If you would like to read the book based on the dissertation
Please get your copy of
Normalization of Deviance a Threat to Aviation Safety
Autographed book purchased here, 

The following comment arrived yesterday and reminded me of the importance of this research. If you're a pilot or a passenger, this is a must read. 

"I read Normalization Of Deviance with great interest. This was a long-awaited book for me. It was worth the wait. Every pilot should read this immediately. As a pilot of over 43 years, Including time as a major airline Flight Instructor and Line Check Pilot, I too have seen the steady degradation of hand-flying skills of our pilots. It is sometimes to the point of scary. Karlene presents hundreds of true anecdotes from professional pilots around the world, showing the problem is not isolated to one airline, or one region. It is a worldwide problem. The current training situation creates pilots who have very little systems knowledge and get very little "stick" time. It is time to fix the industry."  Captain Rice 

Enjoy the Journey...
Justice is coming soon!
XO Karlene 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

FAA Feels Pressure

What about pilots? 

"Survey Says FAA Inspectors 
Feel Pressure 
To Accommodate Business"

"An independent survey of FAA safety division employees suggests they feel pressure to accommodate industry demands at the expense of safety," was sent to 7000 FAA employees. While only 25% responded the results identified there was pressure to look the other way. As reported, "Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said it revealed “a disturbing pattern of senior officials at a Federal agency rolling over for industry.”  

The article also stated, "FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, who fared pretty well in the survey for his posture of standing up to Boeing, agreed with DeFazio and said the “problems” revealed by the survey will be addressed. “It is completely unacceptable that there are employees who lack confidence that their safety concerns are taken seriously.”

Those in the know cannot overlook the irony the Steve Dickson comment. However, the FAA proposed a $19.68 million dollar fine in March of 2020, and settled on a $1.25 million dollar civil penalty as of August 5, 2020. While $1.25 million is a token penalty, we must all question the FAA as to why they are not fining airlines who pressure employees to look the other way and roll over. Worse yet, when employees are retaliated against for bringing safety forward, why aren't the airlines fined? 

The FAA is the controlling agency, and if they feel pressure to look the other way, imagine how airline employee's feel when their livelihood depends upon their silence. It has become evident as to why there is no accountability at the airline executive level. They make the rules. They break the rules. They terminate employees who push for a safer system. They pressure administrators to look the other way. 

It's difficult when the fox is guarding the henhouse to impose a fine upon the very system that fox participated in creating. Regardless, like Russ Niles reports, "Accidents happen and people get killed.”

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Aidan Lally Flying Strong

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Aidan Lally

This week I received an email from Aidan that began like this...

"In April of 2018 when I was a Junior in high school, my parents and I were traveling from Seattle to Paris on Delta for a family trip to Europe. While waiting at the gate for boarding to begin, I saw the Flight Crew arriving and immediately recognized you. As a frequent reader of your blog, I enthusiastically introduced myself and you took the time to speak with me for a few minutes before heading down to the aircraft."

This trip was very special and memorable to me, and I remember Aidan and I talking. This was my first trip on the B777 after OE, having not flown for two years, and he reminded me of all the good things about aviation and what it truly meant to have the honor to fly he and his family to Paris. 

Aidan told me, "At the time in 2018, I knew I was going to college for Commercial Aviation. However, I was undecided between the University of North Dakota or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to pursue my collegiate Aviation education after high school."

Then he fast forwarded us to today! 

Aidan said, "Following graduation from Olympia High School in June 2019, I earned my Private Pilot (ASEL) Certificate at Olympia Regional Airport. After touring and feeling instantly connected with the campus/program, I ultimately decided to attend the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences double majoring in Commercial Aviation and Aviation Management. That was one of the best decisions I've ever made."

"UND graciously allowed us to continue flight training over the Summer in Grand Forks with appropriate PPE in the aircraft. As a matter of fact, I just completed my Summer Flight Course a few weeks ago!"

Aidan Lally grew up in Olympia, Washington, and travels often with his family. Added to his busy scheduled, he is also an Eagle Scout. In addition to holding his Private Pilot certificate (with privileges in Airplane Single Engine Land) he holds a Remote Pilot certificate for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. I was curious as to what inspired him to fly, what he thinks of UND, the challenges in our current environment, and any words of wisdom he could share. Following are his most insightful answers. 

What inspired you to fly?

"Like many others, my aviation journey began long before I can remember. Even as a six year old, I wanted to be a pilot. My Halloween costume was a homemade, cardboard box airplane and my favorite stuffed bear “Toasty” was co-pilot. Also, having the opportunity to travel with my parents, the “aviation bug” bit me early."

"Being around airplanes, learning as much as I could about flying, meeting pilots, spending time listening to SeaTac ATC, and one particular flight deck tour when I was in sixth grade, led me to pursue a career in aviation. Growing up, all the pilots I met seemed to have one thing in common: They all loved flying. Whether as a passenger or visiting the flight deck, I was inspired to fly because of my love for being in the air. Flying an airplane is an incredible experience!"

What do you love about UND?

"Choosing to study Commercial Aviation at University of North Dakota Aerospace is one of the best decisions I've ever made. UND is a special place for so many reasons. Small class sizes, an exceptional flight program, inspirational professors with years of aviation experience, positive liberal arts/Essential Studies professors, and a supportive, kind community are just a few reasons why I love UND. There is something for everyone on campus!"

How is your education at the University of North Dakota preparing you for your career?

"UND Aerospace combines airline style training and Essential Studies coursework into a comprehensive degree program. At UND, I am working towards earning my Commercial Pilot (ASEL, AMEL, Instrument Airplane) and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI/CFII) certificates. I hope to have the privilege of Flight Instructing at UND Aerospace while inspiring students and working towards R-ATP minimums for the next step in my career."

COVID-19 and College

"COVID-19 has impacted my college experience. From the classroom (Spring semester’s distance learning from home), to on-campus (masks while flying), one’s ability to change and be flexible are even more important now. I am hopeful that I’m early enough in my education that I will be well prepared when I graduate to meet the needs and challenges of the aviation community."

Any favorite aviation memories?

"I have too many to count! That's what makes aviation so special. However, three specific “firsts” come to mind:

  • Earning my Private Pilot Certificate at Olympia Regional Airport with DPE (and UND graduate!) Travis Baker.
  • As a Private Pilot, flying with my first passenger - my mom. (Thanks Mom!)
  • Receiving my acceptance letter to UND Aerospace.

"Thanks Mom!"

Aidan's Advice to Future Flyers

"Inspiring the next generation of aviators and sharing the joy of flight with others is one of my favorite parts of being a pilot. If I could offer advice to aspiring pilots, I would say:

  • Prioritize your academics. At UND, I spend a lot of time studying. However, that hard work does pay off! Being well rounded is important, too. For example, in addition to our aviation core curriculum, we can choose to take courses in everything from accounting to music appreciation in order to earn a degree.
  • Be an involved member of the aviation community.
  • “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” My parents taught me this saying many years ago. Always have a plan and do your best to stick to it. 
  • Learn new things! Have other hobbies, activities and interests in addition to flying. I also enjoy backpacking, road cycling, and hiking.
  • Reach out, and have mentors.
  • Give your best effort.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether in training or coursework, I have found that my professors and mentors are happy to share their knowledge and expertise with me.
  • Set goals for yourself and remain flexible. 
  • Most importantly, as Karlene always says, “Enjoy the Journey!” Aviation is truly a day by day adventure, where you never stop learning. Appreciate today, the little things, and you'll be on your way. I feel overjoyed and blessed to be a pilot living my childhood dream!"

Aidan is the blessing to this tumultuous world we live in today. He shows us that there is hope, inspiration and a future beyond any challenge. What Aidan may not know is that his sharing this story, will impact another. His kind message at the end of his first email to me, touched my heart more than he will know. Aidan wrote... 

"You never quite know how a simple interaction with someone can make such a big impact. Your kindness to speak with me on that day in 2018 helped bring me to where I am today. I'm inspired, blessed, overjoyed to be a pilot. And, I thank you."  

Join me in wishing 
Aidan the best career ever!

Remember to share your story 
and inspire someone today!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Future Aviator

Friday's Fabulous Flyer!
Join me in congratulating Hykie for being featured in Lady Aviator next week, and sharing her love of aviation. While she is just nine-years old, her passion surpasses all. It's refreshing to see such a love of flying as Hykie has. It takes youth and excitement to remind us how wonderful aviation is.

"Hi, my name is Hykie and am nine and a half years old. Karlene Petitt wrote a lot of books my mom loved to read and share with her friends. I’ll read them someday. When I was seven years old, my mom and I went to a shop at Centennial Airport for my first pink logbook. That day I had my first flight lesson with Kristine Wanner in a DA-20 - I LOVE stalls! 

When I was also seven, I got in a helicopter for the first time and helped Dianna Stanger fly it! I flew in SkyHawks a lot with my mom since I was a baby. I also took a ground course from ERAU online during COVID-19 in the spring. 

Last winter, my mom and I flew with my best friend Harper. When my older brother rode in back during one of my lessons, I found out he did NOT like hearing the stall horn! 

I have fun at a lot of Women in Aviation events in Colorado, especially Girls in Aviation Day. I finished a book about Amelia Earhart called Lost Star. 

I also have an autographed copy of Karlene’s kid book especially for me. I practice take offs and landings on my mom’s simulator and hope that one day when I’m 16, in 2026, I can solo as a Student Pilot. 2027 is the year that I will earn my Private Pilot Certificate."

You are are Awesome!
And definitely the 
Captain of your Life.
(but no reading the novels until 2029)

"The presence of passion within you 
is the greatest gift you can receive. 
Treat it as a miracle." 
Wayne Dyer

Enjoy the Journey!!!
XOX Karlene