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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.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Air Asia 8501

What Happened? 

CNN breaking news is live, and the experts are on a roll. One said that  it's normal to climb above a thunderstorm. No it's not! While we may climb to get above turbulence, we do not fly into thunderstorms and think they can out climb them. Other airplanes flew the same route! Yes... but weather changes.

What happened? 
We don't know. 

What we know is:
  • Pilots must get thorough weather briefings. 
  • Pilots must understand the weather challenges in the Intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), and associated weather patterns.
  • Pilots must understand high altitude characteristics. 

What airlines can do:
  • Provide weather training. 
  • Provide jet performance training. 

What Pilots can do: 

Do not get so committed to the plan that you are unwilling to change that plan. If you can't go over it, and you can't go around it, and you can't go through it: Make a 180 degree turn and return to the departure airport and land. 

What Passengers can do: 

When you take delays, thank the airline, your pilots, the flight attendants and the gate agents. Delays are for your safety.
Fly Safe! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Thank You For Reading!


"The power of the pen the Truth in Fiction"
Flight For Control and Flight For Safety 


  1. The most important part of the title is the question mark.

    We know pitiful little at this point. Only fragments of clues. Weather - with scattered storms topping 50,000 feet, the apparent sudden loss of data at 32,000 feet - which appears to coincide with the entry into the Jakarta FIR.

    Any accident is a result of a chain of events and circumstances—often times seemingly unrelated. We can only guess what factors may play a part at this time.

    1. Yes... you are so right! And a big question mark that is. But always a good time to remind us to be aware, prepare and know we are not infallible. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Excellent blog Karlene!
    A lot of the recent plane accidents over the past year happened at Asian airlines which makes me wonder if their pilot training is sufficient enough.
    So I see your degree on Aviation Safety is very much needed.

    1. I'm thinking they fly in a tough part of the country. Many storms. Different regulations... etc. Not sure on the training. But hopefully we'll know and can learn from this one. Thanks for your comment!!

  3. "Fly over a thunderstorm"

    One of the most important lessons I learned in flying about 20 years ago involved me trying to fly my T-38 above a thunderstorm at 45,000 ft. It wasn't that high when I made the decision to go and certainly was committed when the clouds got really thick. I remember chanting to myself "god, I promise I will never make such a stupid decision ever again if I get out of this." Nothing happened--i.e. no lightening, no turbulence, just painfully slow at an impossibly high altitude. I was very lucky.

    Since, I've tried to not make such stupid decisions which is not saying I've been perfect at it. I hope I can say I've learned from that mistake.

    I hope the Air Asia flight is found soon.

    And, I hope our technical experts on news shows get better.



    1. Tom, this is awesome. I'm finishing up my book Flight To Success and your story is a perfect example for the listen and learn chapter! I'm thinking you could write this book. Thank you for the great comment and for sharing the life lesson... we can learn from your getting lucky too.
      I'm not holding my breath on the technical side of the news. Thank you so much for the comment!

  4. Brilliant and concise as ever Karlene. Whilst not in the front seat myself, I do have a wide knowledge of the procedures of flight and the challenges that present during the various stages of flight.

    Speculation is rife, the media have pounced on this over here in the UK as I'm sure they have in the states. But as the massive question mark states...what DO we actually know? At this moment not a great deal. Yes the 'bus has flown in to the storm, skipper requested a course deviation from what we know and that was the last anyone heard. I echo the comment you made above...if in doubt turn around.
    I would rather be inconvenienced as a passenger, knowing that the people at the front made the right decision to turn around and land at the nearest suitable airfield...rather than chance it in a storm.

    Look forward to hearing more from you in the coming days/weeks regarding this accident.

    1. Thank you so much for the comment David! Yes, turning around is the best solution. But most don't. It's called complete the mission, and get there itis. Hopefully something that we can work on. And the impact of weather too. Thank you so much for your comment and being a patient passenger too!

  5. We do not know -- you're right. Those safe on the ground and after the fact can speculate, but we can only pray for all involved. Turning around does seem like the logical course though.

    Best of luck on your soon to be released new book. I came from Heather's blog. Best of sales!

    1. Thank you for the comment! And I love Heather... she is the best!!

  6. Have you heard of the WWII true story, THE DOG WHO COULD FLY? My latest post is about it and Antis and his human Dad, Robert.

    Antis was the only dog to receive the Dickin Medal (sort of the Victoria Cross for animals).

    Happy Skies.

    1. Thank you for sharing this link. I'm thinking you should write a post on my blog. :)

    2. I would be happy to write a post on your blog -- with your check approval of course.

      The ghost of Antis woofed his agreement. :-)

  7. Having flown on many occasions over the skies of SE Asia it's true, the storms are like nowhere on earth. I'm not sure if even the highest levels of training can compensate for.
    Happy New Year to everyone.

    1. Thank you John!!! Happy New Years to you and your family! Health and Happiness!

  8. I'd be suspicious of an airline that NEVER had delays: this must mean that they're CUTTING corners, when it comes to MAINTENANCE, & WEATHER considerations.

    1. Paul, that's an excellent point. Never say never. And there are always delays for safety.


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