Getting a pilot’s license is no easy feat. Even those who only have a private license to operate a small plane have to have many hours of training and hands-on experience before they can fly by themselves.
While most training focuses on handling a plane appropriately and learning about its crucial systems, some training involves simulation work to prepare people for system failures and rapid descent. After a recent and surprising tragedy involving a pilot exiting a plane making an emergency landing, pilots and executives at aviation companies may need to start asking whether more training could potentially save lives.
What led to this recent fatality?
On July 2, 2022, a medium-sized cargo airplane had to perform a sudden emergency landing at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina. There were reports of damage to the fuselage and also to the landing gear which forced the emergency landing. At this time, publicly-available information does not identify the source of that damage.
When the pilot received clearance to approach for an emergency landing, something unexpected happened. Their co-pilot intentionally exited the plane. They jumped without a parachute or other safety gear, possibly in a panicked attempt to avoid the emergency landing.
They may have known that fatalities are 1,600 times more likely in forced landing scenarios than in precautionary landings and thought that this was the safer option. Whatever drove their decision, it was unfortunately the wrong choice. The pilot who exited the plane suffered fatal injuries, and an investigation is underway.
How training could help
Fear can lead to panicked and haste decision-making. If all someone can think of is the risk involved, they may engage in even more dangerous actions, as is evidenced by this recent tragedy. More training to override impulsive actions may make a difference.
Aviation companies, including educational facilities and companies that provide private flights, may need to consider expanding their training modules to help people control their emotional reactions in the event of an emergency. The right training and internal procedures will help a business substantially limit its liability in the event of an unforeseeable incident.
Keeping yourself apprised of major aviation industry news can help executives and other professionals employ the best practices for the protection of their company.