Turkish Airlines – again!

The report published last week on a near-miss over London in 2009 has caused some concern amongst the pilot community. A misunderstanding between a business jet and a controller at London City Airport led to the small jet being set on a collision course with a passenger jet. BALPA has pointed out that the business jet was not fitted with the latest type of collision avoidance systems which are mandatory on passenger jets. The union is – quite sensibly – calling for business jets to have the same systems as passenger aircraft since they fly in the same air space.

All very wise – but the most sophisticated type of system is of no use if pilots ignore it. In this instance, the pilots of the passenger jet ignored three separate warnings and it was a pilot in the jump-seat (behind the operating pilots) who spotted the business jet and made sure his colleagues took the necessary action.

Somehow, it is not a surprise that this was a Turkish Airlines aircraft.

The airline has made huge efforts to improve its dreadful safety record and is trying hard to establish itself as one of the world’s leading and most progressive carriers. Yet, as this incident shows, they still have serious problems with some of their flight crew. Safe flying is all about following the routine and being disciplined. At least some of Turkish Airlines’ pilots appear to have some difficulty with this concept.

If Turkish Airlines want to be taken seriously as a major airline, they not only have to improve pilot training and monitoring, but show the world they have done so.

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