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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 A350, 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, October 23, 2020

Inside the Cyclone

Friday's Fabulous Flyer! 

Danny Roach 

A pilot's journey from an arrogant "know it all" teenager, who received a D in his GCSE English Language exam, and had no interest in writing, to writing his first book. He thought that it was more fun to "bait the English teacher, whilst rocking back on my chair (Sorry Mrs. Morgan)." After three years Danny's book, Inside the Cyclone has finally been published. A journey worth traveling. 

"My interest in writing, after my struggles as a student, can be traced back to 2014 when I started to learn to fly. Whilst learning, I decided to keep a diary of each lesson to help me learn more quickly and to keep me, at least metaphorically, grounded. As I grew into the ritual, I quickly found it was extremely therapeutic to write with a pen and paper, and gradually began to expand these business-like notes to include anecdotes and feelings.  It was a small step from here to starting my blog: Danny Roach Flying Author, where I experimented with my writing voice, and learned what worked. 

I then eventually plucked up (no pun intended) the courage to send my article, Forgive me Feather, to Microlight Flying magazine as an exemplar of my style. I expected some critique and pointers from the editor on where I could improve, but what I got back instead was an email saying that it would be published in the next magazine. 

With confidence soaring, I continued to write more and more pieces for the magazine and then got invited to write the introduction to the British Microlight Aircraft Association's Official Guide to Microlighting

You can find copies of both articles to download off my website

During all this time, I was gathering stories and formulating a structure for my first book, Inside the Cyclone'

I'd recently decided to buy an aeroplane and realized I didn't know anything about it, and thought my experience could be a valuable lesson for all. This book is about my journey through buying, assembling and flying my Cyclone AX3 along with all the ups and downs that come with aircraft ownership. I also did some research into the history of the type and managed to get contributions off some of the key people involved in her approval by the UK CAA. There are loads of anecdotes from many of the previous pilots and owners of my aeroplane and it took me a while to weave all of this into a coherent narrative. 

What I didn't realize was that writing the book would be just the start. Formatting and cover design is an extremely painful process too and it has taken me a further 3 months to get from a finished manuscript to a print ready book."

I hope you joy reading the book which is available on Amazon here: 
Paper and Ebook! 

And comments are very much appreciated! 

You can follow Danny on Facebook on Twitter @dannydenfisch  and his Blog

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Training on the Airbus A350

Success is in Preparation

Behind every pilot who is prepared, 
sits hundreds of passengers who don't have to worry.

Human Factors Built into Home Training 

In the midst of Covid my B777 was on its way out the door, but I was one of the lucky pilots who was still employed. Albeit,  transitioning to a new plane. The A350.  I had yet to be scheduled for training, but it would be in the distant future. I decided to see if my doctoral research held true. 

What I had learned in my research was that the level of understanding negatively impacted performance. This negative performance was the result of airline training programs due to a negative safety culture. If these facts were true, and I was responsible for my own learning, then I was in control of the outcome. Furthermore a high level of understanding should improve performance. I began studying even without a start date. Despite the many distractions of life. 

Northwest Airline Pilots unite for 
Kim's Happy 4th of July Birthday! 

I began studying systems in July, hoping to have three months before I would be scheduled for training. As it turned out, I only had one month notification. August, I learned I was schedule for a September 9th start date and the type-ride schedule for October 9th. An aggressive schedule with only the legally mandated breaks built in. My schedule varied from 0200 wake-ups with my body clock at 2300 for a week. Then, just when I shifted to the local time zone, I was moved to an 1800 report time to fly into the night. 

If prepared you can do anything!


There will always be distractions to pull you away from what you should do when training is involved. I began my studying process with the 4th of July birthday celebration for my friend, and our first visit from grandkids since Covid a couple weeks later. My husband was in the midst of heart procedures, and my Dad arrived to Seattle in August for a couple weeks.

Life doesn't stop when training happens,
Sometimes we have to workaround obstacles. 

My Training Process

In order to learn the plane, I defaulted back to old school technology: Flash Cards. I made them for systems, emergencies, procedures, general knowledge, and memory items. The thing about flashcards is that you can take them everywhere. When I found a conflict in information, or something I didn't know, I found someone who did and edited the cards. I wanted to understand this most technologically advanced airplane. 

The first month I sat at the lake and wrote them. Then I read them daily on the elliptical. I read them sitting in the hospital room waiting for my husband to return from his heart surgery. I even read them while donating blood. 

I then wrote a 278 page study guide, and 19 page procedures guide. Once in training, I set up my hotel room to practice flows while bouncing on the exercise ball. I also awoke two hours early to study the day's procedures on the elliptical. 

There was a purpose for the ball and the elliptical while studying. Motion helps store memories. But also, I did a lot of talking to myself. If you were the instructor and had a group of people sitting in your room, what would you tell them to explain what they needed to know? If you can do that, as if you are teaching the subject to others, you are teaching the subject to yourself. You have become the subject matter expert. Try this, it works. Vocalize as if you were giving the lessons. 

A350 Hotel Room Training 

At night I set my alarm to shutdown my studying, and soaked in a hot bath with a cup tea and read a random book that had nothing to do with life. For thirty minutes I escaped to another world of Wizards and Trolls.  Sometime this occurred at 430 pm when I had to get up at 0200. The book I read during training:

Then I cranked up the air conditioning to sleep in a very cold room. The reason behind all this was because memories are formed when we sleep. Far too often in training we believe studying all night will be the benefit of more knowledge. However, without sleep memories will not be stored. So to shutdown the plane and to store what I learned through the day, I created the sleep plan. 

First, shutdown the airplane brain and distract with something else, such as a book you don't have to think too deeply about. Second, the hot bath heats up your body and relaxes you. Third, the cold room, after a hot bath, induces sleep. Yes, the cooling down process is sleep inducing. I also scheduled 8-9 hours of sleep per night. That part didn't always work, simply because I was in a hotel. But if I awoke before I was ready to get up,  due to a slamming door at 9 pm, I would force myself to go back to sleep. 

Ironically, to be at your best performance, research says you should be sleeping during your body clock from 0200 to 0600. However, if that's not a possibility during training, get as much sleep as possible. Research identifies that accumulated fatigue will also reduce your performance. Once you get behind that power curve it might be difficult to catch up. If you have a choice to go to bed two hours earlier during training versus reading something while fatigued, my advice it to choose sleep. 

Commuting home on my days off

Many were surprised I did this with such a long commute and the strenuous program, with only two days off. Logistically from hotel to home took 8-9 hours each direction, so I actually only had one free day. I arrived home and shopped, prepared food for my husband for the week, did laundry, mowed the lawn, played Scrabble, and I actually ate real food. But I also studied while at home, and on the flight back, after my morning golf game, I studied for another 5 hours on the plane.

The important part about taking time off is that like any machine that operates 24/7 it's going to eventually break if you don't take care of it. Your brain is no different. You need sleep to store memories, but you also need to allow a bit of normal to save your sanity. Also, focus on what you can do, not on the challenges. There were times I wanted to complain, but instead I shifted to the positive and spoke my mantra. For example, waking up during maneuvers training at 2300 my body clock, I said, "I can do anything for five days."  And I did.

Newest A350 Type-Rated Pilot

On March 9th, I became the newest A350 type-rated pilot. This makes 9 type-ratings. Not a snag in training. No issues, despite the numerous personal obstacles and challenges that occurred throughout the process. I truly believe it had to do with the level of understanding and the foundation I built at the beginning. But I also had the gift of over a dozen incredible instructors during my training. Each had exceptional knowledge, indulged my daily questions, and were communicative. I cannot say enough positive things about this cadre of A350 instructors. They are proud of their program and interested in continued improvement. Nice to see. 

If you you would like to learn more about my research, I invite you to read Normalization of Deviance, a Threat to Aviation Safety. If you would like to learn more about training and additional study tips you should read, Flight to Success, Be the Captain of Your Life.  Both these books are available on ebook on Amazon, or you can get your autographed copy on this blog (order on right column). 

Flight Training Into the Sky

I am now waiting for Operational Experience, which is estimated to be out more than 6 weeks after the type-rating. Nothing is scheduled, but we know it won't be sooner.  I have a plan to retain my knowledge. I have reorganized my flash cards and am reading them daily 1-2 hours while on the elliptical. Last night I went to bed and had planned to mentally rehearse my flows prior to sleeping. However, I fell asleep prior to reaching the overhead panel during the preflight. The next plan, I'll do this in the bathtub before bed. 

So many things we can not control in this life. But those that we can, we should do our best. I will also be requesting an additional simulator session to practice what I learned before I step into the plane. Now, the million dollar question.... 

What do I think of the Airbus A350?

I love it! 

More to come on that next week... 

Enjoy the Journey
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Big Legal Win

 For Union Employees!  

Mechanics Defeat Covid-Based Furloughs

Life doesn't stop while you're training on a new plane, we just have to deflect to remain focused. However, yesterday a ruling was brought to my attention, which is a huge win during this pandemic environment, a time when airline employees are being furloughed. It's nice to see when a union fights for jobs. Unlike the pilot's union, the mechanic's union has the ability to employe outside legal counsel, which can make all the difference in the world as was proven in this case. 

In a decision dated September 18, 2020, Arbitrator Frederic R. Horowitz rejected Alaska Airlines' position that job security provision negotiated by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) could be nullified in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a force majeure clause contained in their contractual letter of agreement. 

A fore majeure clause typically frees parties from liability when an extraordinary event or circumstance occurs that could be considered an act of God. 

In paragraph 2 of their letter of agreement the parties negotiated a general no-layoff provision for all union-represented employees, which was subject to a force majeure clause, in which Alaska would be excused from the no-layoff provision in the event of a natural disaster. 

However, AMFA subsequently negotiated a supplemental paragraph 4 that created a "No-layoff" protection for its members at six stations (LAX, SEA, SAN, SFO, PDX, and JFK) with no parallel reference to paragraph 2 force majeure clause. Therefore, AMFA argued that the force majeure clause could not be invoked to diminish the no-layoff protections outlined in paragraph 4. 

Moreover, AMFA argued that furloughed employees throughout the carrier's system could use their seniority to bid into these six protected stations, even in the absence of vacancies, without the incumbent junior employees at those stations being displace from their positions.

"Our union negotiated for job-protections that are not subject to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we expect those job protections to be honored," Bret Oestreich, AMFA National Director, stated.  "The final arbitration decision upheld AMFA's position of both counts."

AMFA was represented in this case by Nicholas Granath of the law firm of Seham, Seham, Meltz & Peterson, LLP. If you would like to read the ruling you can do so by going to the following link:  AMFA Beats Covid-Based Furloughs. The ruling link is at the bottom of the press release.

Click here if you need aviation legal advice.

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene

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