Aeromexico Fires Pilots Involved In Accident (But Not Due To Pilot Error)

On July 31, 2018, an Aeromexico Connect Embraer 190 had a major accident on takeoff from Durango while enroute to Mexico City. The video footage from inside the plane looked terrifying:

Fortunately everyone onboard survived. It’s kind of incredible that we’ve seen several incidents in the past few years where the planes are damaged beyond repair, yet everyone onboard survives. That’s a testament to the procedures in place, and also how well built planes are.

The accident was blamed on a microburst during takeoff (which is a downdraft produced by a storm), and as of now there’s no evidence of pilot error being the cause of the accident. Despite that, all three pilots in the cockpit on this flight were fired.

Why? As The Washington Post reports, it’s because investigators say that a trainee pilot was seated in the co-pilot’s seat when the plane took off, which he shouldn’t have been. I guess the actual first officer was in the jumpseat, rather than the trainee. The captain took over the controls from the trainee just before the accident.

The airline said in a letter to employees that the actions of the pilots were “in direct violation of our company’s policies, manuals and procedures.”

As of now we don’t know for sure to what extent this accident could have been prevented if a more experienced pilot had been at the controls all along. But for now they’re firing all three pilots for not following procedures.

Comments

  1. From the title I thought this would go a different direction, but to my uneducated ear this sounds like the right decision. Even if it’s only barely plausible that a more experienced pilot might have perhaps made the choice to abort takeoff sooner or something else, the fact is that they violated a key safety policy. Having a trainee pilot taking off with real passengers when that is against policy is completely unacceptable and should be a fireable offense.

  2. Yes – I think with issues like this with something as significant as flying a plane, you have to go by the book when pilots don’t follow procedure. Right decision it would seem and reinforces that pilots shouldn’t let rules slip as they become more tenured and potentially care less about issues they don’t think will cause a problem or become a safety risk.

  3. The more senior you are the higher standards you should be held to. Only exceptions are rare cases like the white president of the USA.

  4. Interesting, I thought the standard approach to these situations in mature airlines was to keep the pilots on staff, but suspended, until the investigation is complete.
    On the grounds that once they are sacked they have no obligation or motivation to cooperate.
    Then if policy grossly breached, sacked at the conclusion.

  5. Unfortunate for the pilots, but Aeromexico made the right decision. It’s possible the pilots’ union will get those jobs back, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  6. How could there be such a flagrant disregard for procedures (not in correct seat)? Kinda floored. Usually hear about these things in far less regulated environments.

    And to throw the procedure out the window given the weather makes it’s more so. What the heck were they thinking?

    Then add the weather and it actually seemed to help by keeping the aircraft from gaining altitude. We all know this could have been much worse.

  7. So at what point does a trainee pilot do an actual take off?

    If a trainee pilot cannot do an actual take off then how do they become first officers?

    Or are we to believe that a pilot becomes a first officer without ever taking off in a real plane with passengers on board under the supervision of a captain.

  8. Hmm… this is a Strange one
    In all other Airlines i know off, the procedure for line training of new pilots, is to let them fly the aircraft as first officers in the left seat, with a senior first officer in the jump seat ready to take control if the Captain gets incapacitated. After 40 sectors they are given a Line check and are good to go as first officers. On this occasion the trainee pilot should be at the controls as pilot flying, as they were heading to their home base at Mexico City.
    Smells like Air Mexico is putting blame on the pilots

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