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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, February 19, 2021

You are Invited to...

A Place At the Table

My friend and editor Nathan Everett released yet another book: A Place at the Table. 

Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference (PNWA) 2017

Of the many things I appreciate about Nathan, other than his creativity, integrity, and honesty, is his ability to write a variety genres with exquisite skill.  His art is such that each of his books are written with a voice crafted for the particular story. When I learned he had yet another book, my curiosity got the better of me to see what he was writing this time. And this book was no different from his standard of excellence.

In that I have been consumed playing lawyer, training, writing the next novel, studying the LSAT, caring for my husband, and driving forty hours each month to see my father, my reading for pleasure has been waning. The last time I read a novel was during A350 pilot training (that had a purpose beyond fun). I have realized that it was time to start reading for fun again because I believe: 

It's always a good time
to take time to read!

Imagine a world where ten classes existed that were not based upon wealth, occupation, or heredity, but assigned to you and would determine the course of your life... 

A Place at the Table, a literary work, is a coming of age story where a young man born into privilege is assigned to the class of a leader on his eighteen birthday. Unbeknownst to him his childhood nemesis, a young lady who punched him in the face in elementary school, is assigned to be his assistant. As their professional and personal relationship mature, the story focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the young protagonist Liam. With his assistant Meredith at his side, and the wisdom of his grandmother, Liam evolves from a self-centered boy to a true leader who legitimately earns the trust of all.

This was such an unusual work from Nathan I asked him what prompted him to write this book. 

Nathan stated: 

When we look around America, and the world, we see ever-increasing divisions of people, creating a society of classes and sub classes. I got to wondering what the country would be like if we really did have established classes that were widely accepted and acknowledged. At first I thought of the idea of American royalty assisted by servants. But the more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea of classes being an accident of birth, or of wealth, or of occupation. The result was a class structure based on aptitude, motivation, and character, which would all be considered equal. The question was, "Would they stay that way?"

I highly recommend 
A Place At the Table! 

Learn more about the author at:

Enjoy the Journey
Wherever it may take you!
XO Karlene 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Improving Aviation Safety

One Word at A Time!

Mental health is no joke, especially in today's world. But what happens when your mental health is challenged because you provided your company a safety report? What happens if the management you trusted to do the right thing, reacts so violently to your concerns that they challenge your mental health and remove you from duty? Not because you were wrong, but because you were telling them something they already knew to be true. They needed to silence you at all costs, otherwise your report to senior management would impact their far-reaching, longterm plans. Plans that would benefit a few at the very top, but ultimately costing thousands of pilot jobs worldwide and risking the lives of thousands more. 

For all who have started the series at the beginning with Flight For Control, we already know that Darby's sense of humor is part of her survival toolkit. The concerns that Darby possessed regarding training began in Flight For Safety, and was inspired by the tragic accident of AF447. Darby's concerns for Global Air Lines reactions manifest in Flight For Survival. But not until Flight For Sanity does the reader learn the tactic used by management when they can't get rid of an employ because of performance or policy violations. This is a story where Darby Bradshaws world is ripped apart because she provided a safety report to her senior managers. Then follows Flight ForTruth, Darby's battle to return to duty, despite all odds. 

Murder? Mystery? Historical Fiction?

The journey begins here with 
Corruption deep within the Union 

Why Darby was compelled to report safety concerns
are found in Flight For Safety

After Darby reports her safety concerns,
she finds herself fighting for her sanity

The Truth Shall Set you Free?
You'll find that answer in...

Catch up on your reading
As the battle continues 
when Darby Fights for Justice  in
the 6th Novel: 

(ETA...August 2021)

Throughout the series you will wonder where the heck the union was with all this, and why didn't they help Darby. You are about to find out, as the drama continues to unfold. Flight For Appeal will follow, including all the legal drama that ensues after Darby's trial. 

As Darby always says...
"It's better to be lucky than good.
Unless of course you are good and lucky!"

All books can be found in kindle, but
if you choose paper, hard or soft, 
purchase your autographed copy on this blog.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Journey

 Road Trip Again...

The end of each month, since training ended, I've received a week of vacation, and with days off my husband and I have been driving to Southern California to visit my Dad and youngest sister. We are willing my Dad to hang on for one more month, each month. Tonight, I'm sitting in Lincoln City on the away back home, having arrived shortly after the lightening and a 12-hour day on the road. 

What is normally a 40 hour drive round trip on I-5, this time, is turning into a 47 hour round trip. We hit the beginning of the snow storm on the way down, therefore we are taking the Coastal route back to Seattle.  Storms have played havoc with the Coastal roads, too, so many areas stop and go with a single lane. To entertain us, we are listening to John Nance's Phoenix Rising. John definitely weaves a great story. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it! But the scenery never ceases to amaze me.

We drove 5 days, played bridge for four days, and golfed two of the mornings. Ate. Drank. And had fun times. Birthday trip is next month. 

Enjoy the photos of a beautiful world... Seattle to Palm Desert and back. 

Sometimes in life you are not dealt the best hand
But as long as you keep playing...
Life is good. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Captain Linda Pauwels

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Captain Linda Pauwels

B-707 Southern Air Transport Captain
The youngest women Jet Captain 
At the Age of 25

That was many aviation lives ago. Today Linda is a B787 Check Airman for American Airlines, with many years of experience in between. Arriving at American she started over as a B727 second officer, typical in the day, and then moved to the right seat on the B727, B757/B767, A300 and B777. She upgraded to Captain on the MD88 and then A320, and currently flies as a Captain on the B787 as a check airman. She has flown thousands of hours over her career, and yet, she has found a way to do so much more in life outside the flight deck.  

Linda was born in San Pedro, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and after the death of her father, at the age of six, she came to the United States. She faced great adversity in her young life, but never allowed life issues to hold her back. Her experiences taught her even greater resilience, a fabulous trait for any pilot. 

A forty-year marriage to a pilot, two adult children, pets, an Asian garden, flying, and she even made the time in the mid-2000s to write a column for the Orange County Register titled: From the Cockpit. 

Linda's little secret was that she also wrote poetry. 
And she was so kind to send me a copy of her book!

I have to brag a little more about Linda due to her Awards and Honors, before I tell you about her poetry:

  • Alumni Hall of Fame Miami-Dade College, 2005
  • 100 Most Influential Hispanics, Hispanic Business Magazine, 2002
  • Tribute for Excellence in the Field of Transportation Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, 2002
  • McKnight Scholarship, Miami-Dade College, 1985
  • Divisional Award for Outstanding Achievements in Operations Careers Miami-Dade College, 1985

This highly educated woman has a Bachelors of Science from ERAU, a Masters of Science, Education from Azusa Pacific University, and plans on including a PhD from ERAU, as she was accepted in the first cadre of doctoral candidates. 

Pilot, Presenter, Consultant, and Author!

Linda bests describes BEYOND HAIKU, Pilots Write Poetry, when she says: 

Beyond Haiku peeks through the cockpit door to reveal the poetic heart of airline pilots... a selection of haiku and short poems by men and women who fly airplanes for a living. The writing is niche and empathetic. The humor is characteristically wry, befitting the pilot persona. Beautiful illustrations, by children of pilots aged 6 to 17, bring this flight of fancy in for a smooth landing. Proceeds from Beyond Haiku will go to the Allied Pilots Association Emergency Relief and Scholarship Fund, to provide support for pilots furloughed due to the industry effects of COVID-19.

A noble gesture from an amazing woman giving back to her industry and those pilots impacted by COVID.  

What is Haiku you ask? "A Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world." Linda evokes images of the world of aviation, and she is bringing those images to you, and helping pilots in the process.  

Order your copy of BEYOND HAIKU on Amazon

She even included pictures of the kiddos who did the artwork and the pilots who contributed:

What's Next? 

Linda's second book is underway: Beyond Haiku: Women Pilots Write Poetry. She is looking for women pilots to submit an original, unpublished haiku or short poem before March 31, 2021. You can submit up to three! Please send your original work to: in an attached "word" document.

I'm going to submit a poem or two...
How about you?

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Strength in Numbers

You are Not Alone! 

Yesterday I spoke with the FAA and the subject of the ASAP program became a topic of discussion. The FAA investigators I spoke to, do not have access to these events. One of the inspectors said that ASAP was a successful program because of the anonymity. 

I asked, "Is it?"  

What indication identifies 
ASAP is a Success?

I proceeded to explain the numerous events that could have been complete hull losses, as they came within seconds of impact and the associated fixes that did not address the underlying problems. I explained that ASAP reports were at an all time high, and the fixes at an all time low. I shared that a retired FAA prosecuting attorney, who is now an Administrative Law Judge, held the same concerns regarding rise of ASAP reports without the associated fixes. 

Pilots need not be concerned, the FAA will not prosecute pilots for human factor errors.  Unfortunately, it appears the ASAP program may be protecting airline management, as the root cause of the major incidents are due to substandard training, scheduling related events resulting in fatigue, and known mechanical deficiencies. These events won't be adequately addressed, because of the ASAP program. Those who could enforce airline compliance are not allowed to see what is really happening. 

Point in example. The exact events that took down AF447 and the MAX crashes had occurred prior to those crashes and were reported as ASAP events. Nothing was done until after the same events resulted in crashes, where 574 people lost their lives. What about the Colgan Air crash of 2009, how many ASAP reports could have predicted that event? 

Tuesday's post was about Reporting Culture versus an ASAP program. But also, how to report safety concerns and how to protect yourself if the company decides to take action against you. You are not alone, so please don't fear trying to make the system safer for all. 

Accidents are not Surprise Events
They could have been prevented 
But they are hidden by the ASAP system

"Status quo is Latin for, 'The mess we're in.' "

Ronald Reagan

Enjoy the Journey
XO Karlene

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Reporting Culture

 A Key Element of Safety Culture

Chain of Events

The intent of my doctoral research was to learn what predicted manual flight. However, what I learned had a far greater impact on safety. What was learned could have prevented the Lion Air Flight 602, 2018 crash, Ethiopian Flight 302, 2019 crash, Atlas Air Flight 3591, 2019 crash, and even prevented the Air France Flight 447, 2009, crash.

There is never one reason an accident occurs, but always a chain of events. By breaking a link in that chain we have a chance to avoid the crash. At the core of all of the aforementioned accidents there were failures in safety culture, with a causal link to a reporting culture. People had knowledge that could have prevented the accidents, but they were fearful to speak out and airline management, manufacturers and/or regulators had information and chose not to act. 

Reporting Culture

A reporting culture is when employees are both encouraged and rewarded for reporting safety related concerns. Unfortunately, retaliation against reporting creates an environment where employees become fearful to report anything. While it is difficult to understand why an employer would be reticent to accept an idea to improve operational safety; it's disconcerting to believe they would retaliate simply because the employee provided an internal report. Perhaps it is simply ego of those involved. Perhaps the company is well aware of their operational practices but they identify the risk of life not worth the cost of the fix.  Far too often the business decision is to finance silencing the employee versus doing the right thing. 

Of 7491 Pilots Surveyed: 

Overall 54% of the population was unsure or did not believe their suggestions would be taken into consideration, 34% were unsure or unlikely to critique their training program, 41% lacked a belief or were unsure if the leadership in charge of developing training programs had the expertise of learning, 54% were unsure or believed it was best to keep quiet, and 46% were unsure or did not believe their company would exceed regulatory compliance.

The above responses identify a negative safety culture worldwide. Management may argue, but if the employee's believe it to be true that is the culture.  Without a reporting culture it is impossible to have a safety culture because there is no information sharing, no flexibility, and learning will not occur. If employee's are retaliated against when they bring information forward, the culture is not just. Therefore, of all the elements of a Safety Culture, a reporting culture is key. 

Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)

ASAP is a pilot self-reporting program to encourage pilots to report information for system improvement without fear of disciplinary action from the FAA. "The goal of the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) is to enhance aviation safety through the prevention of accidents and incidents. Its focus is to encourage voluntary reporting of safety issues and events that come to the attention of employees of certain certificate holders" )

The concern is, when airlines allege that they have a robust reporting culture because of their ASAP program, is whether or not they have one at all. Do these leaders lack knowledge of the difference between ASAP and a Reporting Culture, or is this simply an excuse to use the FAA ASAP program because they don't have the required reporting culture?

ASAP Versus Reporting Culture

An ASAP program is a component of a Safety Management System (SMS), but not the Reporting Culture component of Safety Culture. The ASAP program became an FAA order (8000.82) on September 3, 2003; whereas SMS became a federal regulation in January 2018. An SMS demands a foundation of Safety Culture, to include a reporting culture. However, when the ASAP program became law over 14 years earlier, the ASAP program was designed for pilots to report themselves to the FAA with the claim that the errors were unintentional, and we would learn from them in order to create a fix. The fact is, ASAP is a program that was designed for pilots to report their own errors, or mechanics to report their errors, or the company to report their errors...

While there is more hidden within this program than most pilots are aware, due to evolution, airline management can report themselves and pilots can report to the FAA more than their own operational flight issues. It has been brought to my attention that some airlines do not have their ASAP program designed to allow this part of the program to work. However, for the most part, pilots are in a continued effort to mitigate risk by self reporting their flight mishaps.

Reporting Culture

A Reporting Culture, is where the pilot, or any employee, can report the company for anything they deem unsafe. Rarely do employees run to the FAA as their first course of action. Pilots want the best for their airline, so they report internally to help with that fix. But, often airline management and associated egos don't always have the same safety alignment as the front line employees.

Because the government realized that airline employers retaliate and the union grievance process is ineffective for addressing safety concerns, the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR 21) was enacted to protect all airline employees for internally reporting "federal standard" safety concerns to their management, or if the employer refuses to listen, to the FAA. The AIR 21 statute became law in 2000, prior to the ASAP program, and prior to SMS.  

Because the AIR 21 statute was enacted in 2000 and SMS became law in 2018, AIR 21 dictates the report must be a federal standard violation. However, the federal regulation SMS mandates a reporting culture, which enables employees free to report anything to mitigate risk and prevent an accident, even if it's not a Federal Standard.  This conflict with laws will be addressed. 

But who protects manufacturer employees?

Sadly employees of manufacturers were not protected under the Air 21 Act. And, the lack of a reporting culture and fear of retaliation had everything to do with the Max crashes. Therefore, on December 22, 2020, congress enacted the Aircraft Certification, Safety and Accountability Act, as a result of those who were fearful to report failures of their manufacturer employer.

Unfortunately, today, those good people at the FAA are not protected for reporting violations and failures within the FAA.  In that we have FAA leadership who has retaliated against a pilot for reporting safety, it's my opinion that FAA employees may be fearful of reporting their employer's actions and will not come forward. We have work to do. 

History of Protection:

  • 2000: Air 21 protects all employees at airlines for reporting company-based violations of federal standards.
  • 2003: ASAP protects pilots from FAA action for reporting their flight mishaps.
  • 2018: SMS: Federal Law was enacted improve organizational performance, mandating a Safety Culture heading into NextGen.  This nothing short of CRM (Crew Resource Management) for the company, now alias: Corporate Resource Management.

If management at your airline hangs its hat on having a robust reporting culture because they had 25,000 ASAP reports, be very wary as to whether or not you have a reporting culture at all. That high number of events without the fixes is a sign that the system is not working as it should. The goal is to ensure ASAP reports decrease annually, not increase.  If your online ASAP reporting system does not clearly provide direction and means to report the company under non-flight related issues, this may also indicate a non-reporting culture. Management may not understand that they, too, are protected under this program if the lapses are unintentional. And then... therein lies the answer.  If pilots or the company intentionally violate the law, the ASAP program will not protect you. 

How to Report

  • Report to your employer in good faith your concerns in writing, and if able, provide a potential solution to the problem. 
  • Provide the federal standard of the violation for reference. 
  • Copy a number of managers to ensure there is adequate record if they choose to retaliate, or one person decides to ignore the concern.
  • Never report anonymously, at least in the US, or you will not be protected. I personally do not believe there is anonymity within any organization.
  • If you report to the company and they fail to listen, placing lives at risk, in the U.S. you can report to the FAA on the FAA online hotline.  
  • Make a copy of your  FAA report prior to posting it, with the date on the document. Do NOT report anonymously. Save the number provided, as you'll use that later. 

Retaliated Against?

Under the Air 21 statute you only have 90 days to file a complaint through the agency: Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st (AIR 21). If you need assistance, contact Attorney Lee Seham, he knows the law and will guide you. 

If you would like to learn more about SMS, Safety Culture, Pilot Training, Learning, Understanding, and the history of accidents, or want to read the comments pilots worldwide contributed, you can download the doctoral research here: doctoral research  

If you prefer to read the book that resulted from the research, you can order a paper copy on this blog or find an ebook on Amazon: Normalization of Deviance, a Threat to Aviation Safety. 

Safety is Everyone's Responsibility!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene