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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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Clear Air Turbulence Technology Exists!

 NWA Invented it! Delta Buried it?

Singapore Airlines hit severe turbulence at 7:45 today, and everyone is asking, "How could this happen?" "Why is there no technology to identify turbulence?" The answer is:

"It Does Exist!" 

In 1957, Dan Sowa, a Northwest Airlines meteorologist, invented such technology to avoid clear air turbulence. And it worked! 

Turbulence Prediction and Warning System

Because of this technology, Northwest dispatchers flight planned their aircraft around the turbulence, even at the added fuel expense. Never did I experience such an unexpected surprise as Singapore Airlines, at NWA. Then we merged with Delta and they, the proud owners of this technology, decided not to use it. Why? Because, it's far more expensive to flight plan an aircraft 200 miles around something (clear air turbulence) that can't be seen. Money over safety appears to be an industry standard. 

What we don't know, won't hurt us, right? 

Until it does!

Never had I experienced unexpected turbulence at NWA, but I did twice at Delta. I was on one flight when unexpected wind slammed us so hard the airspeed shot to redline. The captain, pilot flying, pulled the speed brake so fast, that he captured it. Another time, we were many thousands of feet above the cloud tops that looked like a valley below, the moon illuminating hundreds of miles in each direction. A quite and peaceful night. Nothing forecast, that we knew about. And without warning it felt like a sledgehammer slammed into our plane. As fast as I could, the seatbelt sign went on, and we shook for only a few moments, and then everything felt silent. Thankfully nobody was hurt. But we flew on edge, the remainder of the night, wondering what else was out there. 

TPWA was invented in 1957 and improved upon as the years passed, as all good technology is. But after the merger with Delta, overnight we were flying into turbulence that we had never experienced at NWA. The question was why. But those from NWA knew that answer.  

A Message To The Public: 

Don't let Anyone Fool You... 

There is technology to see and avoid turbulence. 

Whether or not they use it, is another story. 

And if they simply flew through a Thunderstorm, they had the technology to avoid that too!

Enjoy the Journey and remember to buckle up!

Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Hope Filled Cafe

Making Life Better For Others

When pilots follow their faith to help others, this is what happens. Captain Andrea Ratfield is far more than the circumstances life has thrown at her. She is proof that the hardest of times can be your greatest strength. Difficult times and life challenges will either break you or provide the fuel to create change. Andrea has opted to view her life challenges as gifts from God that gave her strength. Her faith has guided her through the most difficult journey. 

Her kindness and compassion shine through in all she does. Andrea is a single mother of two sons, one of which is autistic. She has identified the need for children with challenges to have a safe place to grow, learn and become positive members of society. Therefore, Andrea formed the Non-Profit company Hope Filled Cafe

A café with a unique purpose. But she needs your help to make this a reality and get it off the ground.  

"We're on a mission to make hope happen by creating a space where everyone feels welcome and valued. Did you know that individuals with autism and cognitive disabilities face an 85% unemployment rate, with support services ending abruptly on their 22nd birthday?  This reality leaves them feeling hopeless and disconnected. But together, we can change that!  We're raising funds to build our first storefront, where we'll offer specialized employment training and opportunities. Your support and donations will turn our community dream into a thriving coffee, bakery & gelato shoppe.

Our café plans to be a welcoming hub near the Orono School District, (Minnesota) providing essential job skills training and fostering meaningful connections. Not only will Hope Filled Café be a local hangout for our youth to go after school and on weekends, but it will also be a place for parents to come during the school day, enjoy a nice cup of coffee or smoothie, and a pastry while working or connecting with others. We believe in inclusivity, shared learning, and exceptional service. " Captain Andrea Ratfield. 

Founder, Captain Andrea Ratfield

Please go to Hope Filled Cafe and DONATE HERE. Note, that when you select an amount, the platform adds a percentage. You can select "other" and add zero or a fixed amount. This platform (unlike Go Fund Me) is a non-profit organization. So, you can add whatever you want and ensure 100% of your donation goes to this incredible business that is about to take flight. 

The circumstance of life brought Andrea into this present life, and nothing is stopping her. Perhaps it's time she is gifted with assistance, as the hard times are left behind. 

From sleeping in a trunk as a child, she understands how children need a safe space. Emancipated as a minor, working to put herself through college, becoming a flight attendant and then a pilot, Captain Andrea Ratfield has navigated adversity and achieved success. Never a victim, she accepts what God gives her and creates change where necessary. Being raped at an aviation event was another trauma that found her down yet a different path. Once again, not a victim, despite being thrown into the HIMS program of which she did not belong. Unwilling to look the other way to the injustice of others being harmed by that program and non FDA approved blood tests that produce false positive results, she is fighting back to help those in need. She's working to create positive change. 

Andrea is a single mother of two, an airline pilot, a volunteer for special needs kids, provides tours to assist parents who travel with children with challenges. If she's not captaining her plane, she is parenting her boys, one of which is autistic. She does mission work in Haiti and is continuing her education for a purpose; to help those in need. She is a woman of faith and her unlimited power shines through. 

Andrea recently earned a Masters in Transformational Leadership Development (MATL) from Bethel Seminary, and is now working on her PhD in Organization, Management & Leadership with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship. She chose Bethel University because it is biblically rooted, like her Seminary degree. She is continuing her education to learn skills beyond flying an airplane, to ensure the success of Hope Filled Cafe to help our children. 

"My PhD will be biblically based, too, and I chose the Entrepreneurship Concentration because of my efforts with Hope Filled Café. I figured as a parent of a child with significant disabilities, and how terrifying it is for me with my strengths, I can only imagine how much more terrifying it is for parents who don't have a college degree or business background or nonprofit background and are sitting around hopeless with their kiddos at home with no face to face connection or meaningful employment.

So my dissertation will be along the lines of: How do we create more employment opportunities for adults with autism and cognitive disabilities to address the alarmingly 85 to 90% unemployment rate within that demographic?" Captain Andrea Ratfield 

Andrea and the team are amazing. You can meet them here. To make Hope Filled Cafe a reality they need donations. If you can help, please do so. As I watch the new generation of pilots who feel entitled, who don't make an effort, or think they can use their religion to show up to work but not do the job, it's nice to know people like Andrea are representing our profession. 

I am so proud to have met and traveled this journey with Andrea, and to have the opportunity to watch her continued success. To see that her convictions never waiver. She is accepting of all, and gives more than takes. We all have people in our lives that there is nothing we wouldn't do for them. Andrea is one of those people. 

Let's All Give Andrea a Helping Hand

Hope Filled Cafe 
Will become reality, and YOU
Can be part of Positive Change!

Please go to Hope Filled Cafe and DONATE HERE. Note, that when you select an amount, the platform adds a percentage. You can select "other" and add zero or a fixed amount. This platform (unlike Go Fund Me) is a non-profit organization. So, you can add whatever you want and ensure 100% of your donation goes to this incredible business that is about to take flight. 

Thank you!

Enjoy the Journey
Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727

Monday, May 13, 2024

Does This Training Count?

Open for Discussion! 

"I didn't work, but I deserve to 
be signed off for training!"

I receive calls weekly, sometimes daily, to help pilots. But last week I received three calls in one day. All from the same airline. This is the situation from one of those calls, and I am curious what you think as the argument is deeply concerning. 

A new hire pilot requested religious accommodation for training. He cannot work on Saturdays. The airline gave it to him. But as things happen, pilots drop out, schedules change, he was rescheduled to train on Saturday. He called me for advice. He is adamant that he would never work on his religious day, no matter what. That was non-negotiable. Thus, he is a man of faith, not just faking to get off on Saturday.

His plan was to show up to training, in a fixed base simulator, and tell the instructor that he could not push a button or raise the gear, but he would have the first officer do this for him, and ask the instructor to sign him off.  I said, "Do not ask the instructor to sign you off. That is falsifying records. That will put him on the spot and could cost him his job." Then I said, "What if you did that, and he said no?" 

He said he would sit there with his arms folded. "Do not do that!" I said. "If you get terminated, and this goes to court that will haunt you. Then I explained why. I connected him to my favorite attorney to see if he could write a letter on his behalf. The attorney suggested he show up and explain why he couldn't work. Then if action was taken against this pilot, he could then write that letter.

I said, "Explain the situation, and ask the instructor to give you an incomplete, and ask if he would call the scheduler to reschedule." 

Then, on Mother's Day Sunday, the pilot called to tell me what happened. 

He had asked his sim partner to push the buttons and move the gear. He would sit there. She was okay with that, so he told the instructor the same. He did not ask for the incomplete, and whatever was said, this pilot was signed off. My jaw dropped when I heard this. But then he said that he was pulled out of training the next day (this Sunday) because he was not complete. I said, "Of course you were incomplete." Then we argued that point for more than 30 minutes.

They are rescheduling him. The scheduler asked what days won't work. He told her Friday sunset to Saturday sunset for his faith. I asked if he explained why he needed to be rescheduled. He did not. I assumed transparency might go a long way here, as schedulers would not want this to happen again. 

Now the Questions

I explained that was not legal training. He argued it was and believed he deserved to be signed off.  

I explained that the training syllabus does not say, the first officer will demonstrate "and/or command". This is a procedures trainer. Moving the switches is the lesson, or why not just sit in a classroom and talk about the plane on a panel on the wall and save airlines lots of money? He argued that it was no different if he told the other pilot to do it, or he did it.  

I explained AQP means we train like we fly. He argued that too, as in the plane a captain will command an engine start. 

What do You Think? Was this legal training?

Then I queried that if he got a ride to his place of business, sat in the chair, discussed and told others how to do that business, was paid to be there, and believed that he did the work to be signed off, was that not violation of his belief? He said his Rabbi said it was okay to do all that, as long as he don't touch a switch. 

I believe in accommodation for all. I believe in faith, and conviction, and doing what you believe. But this feels contrived and a workaround. I said, "You can't have it both ways. You don't believe what you did was work, but then you want to be paid and get credit for work you said you did not do?" He argued that too. 

What do You Think? Is this work or not work?

He said that ALPA told him that once he was signed off for training they could not take it away. Is that true? He also has no idea how the company found out. I told him what more than likely occurred. 

What I believe happened, is that this instructor had buyers remorse, and questioned what transpired. Then he asked someone who said, "No way is that legal." This was not legal training, and because the instructor went along with it they are allowing him to do the entire event again. 

I had questioned how he was going to manage an airline career on an International airplane, without working on a Saturday. There are time changes, cancellations, weather and maintenance delays. Is he going to cancel a flight because he finds himself in Europe and can't work on Friday at Sunset? And is that Sunset in his timezone or Europe? 

He said it won't be an issue. After what transpired here, and the ensuing debate on legality, I suspect he could show up to the plane and tell the other pilots he can't push a button or do anything but sit there. The question is, would the pilots allow that behavior if they all want to get home after a delay? Probably, depending upon the situation. 

He should have been accommodated for training. There is no undue hardship to the company for that. But a cancelled flight would be another story. The question is, if this would have been a violation of an FAA approved training program if the pilot sits there and commands procedures instead of doing them? If it's not, and we are required per AQP to train like we fly, then would this behavior be allowed in an airplane? And if the pilot believes it was legitimate enough to be signed off and to be paid for the event, was that not work? 

What Do You Think?

Enjoy the Journey
Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727