Organizational Culture

Do you have any ideas about how airlines might assess this ‘cultural fit’ factor better?

The following are excerpts from Human Factors studies at ERAU, DB:

“In an environment where the culture is strong, people may tend to go along to get along creating a phenomenon known as “groupthink.” Groupthink was described by Irving Janis as ‘a quick and easy way to refer to a mode of thinking that people engage when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in group, when members’ striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternatives of action.’

What this means is that people will often go along even if they disagree with the issue. This environment can lead to a reduction in innovative thinking. Edgar Schein defines culture as ‘the residue of success’ within an organization. Schein believes culture is the most difficult organizational attribute to change. It can outlast the company’s products or services, people, and all other physical attributes of the organization. Schein’s model describes three cognitive levels of organizational culture.

The first level is the outward appearances of the organization, buildings, offices, furniture, dress codes, and in visible personal interactions. This level is what an outside observer might notice.

The second level gets into the professed culture as depicted by slogans, mission statements, values statements and other attitudes expressed within the organization. To get information on this level, employees are generally interviewed or surveyed to gather their attitudes and opinions.

The third and deepest level in Schein’s model is where the tacit assumptions are found. Cultural elements at this level are often unseen and not cognitively identified in everyday interactions among members of the organization. Some of these elements of culture are often not discussed and may consist of many ‘unspoken rules’ existing without the conscious knowledge of the membership. People who have been around the organization long enough become acclimated to them and therefore reinforce them by their actions and other behavior. Because of its silent or invisible nature, these underlying and driving elements culture at this level are often missed by those trying to study the organization.
The value of understanding Schein’s model is gaining an understanding of conflicting organizational behaviors. A company can profess at the second level that it values openness about safety and yet can have an unspoken rule about not being the bearer of bad news because someone will usually get in trouble. This conflict may not be apparent to a casual observer of the organization or even to a new employee. You may find yourself moving into a management position in a new organization. During your indoctrination you were told about how the company values openness for safety. So, you gain a certain expectation that your subordinates will be willing to mention anything that is safely related to you. However, you soon noticed that this was not the case. You would notice things and yet no one brought them to your attention. You have run up against the unspoken rule of not being the bearer of bad news. You are a victim of the conflict between the stated values and culture at the second level and the existing culture at the third level.

Successful corporations strive to maintain their culture by design. They continually reinforce their values and culture by training and reinforcing communication. Recognition and reward systems are designed to continually reinforce the company’s values and culture. Human resource policies and procedures are consistent with the stated values. Hiring processes are focused on finding people who will make a good “fit” into the culture and will embrace and support the stated values. What may be an ideal employee for one organization may not be successful in another. Corporate cultures that are not carefully developed and maintained can erode into one that is negative and ultimately detrimental to the overall success of the organization. When an employee sees a contradiction between the stated values and the company’s actions, confusion and frustration on the part of the employee are often the result. It is crucial that the actions of the organization be consistent with its stated values. A strong culture exists when employees act in accordance with the company values on their own because of their beliefs and alignment with those values. Little external motivation is needed to govern employee actions. A weak culture exists when there is little alignment between employees and the company’s values. In this case, control is exercised through bureaucratic means, extensive rules and procedures, and constant oversight by management.”

Self: The primary focus is the organization which in my opinion bears more responsibility for performance lapses related to standards professed. I think greater emphasis should be laid on organizational culture rather than crew members in motivating them to a more introspective, self-critical, and reflective outlook on past performances and lapses. If we are discussing cabin crew, then the argument is more valid.

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In the first six to twelve months of war with the United States and Great Britain, I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success—Admiral Yamamoto in an interview with Shigeharu Matsumoto, a member of the Japanese cabinet, 1940.

Odd as it may seem, in the 1930s when Japan was arming furiously and seemed bent on the conquest of Asia, one of the most vigorous opponents of war was a young admiral who was generally regarded as the rising star of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Isoroku Yamamoto. He was a navy man through and through, and always a Japanese patriot. But he knew the United States and Great Britain as did few Japanese military or naval men, and far more than any others, recognized Japan’s strategic inferiority to these great nations in terms of raw materials and financial staying power. For a dozen years—-all the time that Admiral Yamamoto had been rising in the councils of the Empire-—he had opposed any Japanese expansionism that would lead to war with the United States and Britain. Now, in August 1939, Yamamoto who had been serving as vice minister of the navy, was appointed chief of the Combined Fleet, the operational head of Japan’s fighting navy. The irony was that although Admiral Yonai, first as navy minister and later Prime Minister, had been Yamamoto’s mentor and was largely responsible for Yamamoto’s views, these two men would be given the task of preparing Japan for just the war they hated.

In the past few years, the Imperial Japanese Army had been moving closer and closer to gaining absolute power over the Japanese government. The Kwantung Army had first arranged the murder of Warlord Zhang Zoulin of Manchuria, and then in 1931 had staged the “Mukden incident,” a shooting along the South Manchurian railroad that had enabled the army to seize Manchuria. The army had continued its expansionism and had dragged the navy along with it. The war had begun with China. Admiral Yamamoto, as a principal advocate of naval air power, had found himself sending aircraft against China and deeply involved in the incident on the Yangtze River in 1938 when the American gunboat Panay had been sunk and two British gunboats had been attacked by Japanese air force planes.
Admiral Yamamoto had been aghast at the army’s temerity, and his views had become very well known within the army and among that group of young naval officers who believed that it was Japan’s destiny to rule Asia.

In the summer of 1939, a group of young naval officers began talking about Admiral Yamamoto and Admiral Yonai. Both of them, they said, ought to be eliminated as obstructionists. Since 1932, assassination had been a popular method of eliminating army and government officials who opposed the “young lions,” so the threat was not to be taken lightly. Yamamoto was the most outspoken and thus the most likely target for assassination. A crisis arose when Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non aggression treaty, which many in Japan thought was aimed at Japan. So the cabinet of Prime Minister Hiranuma collapsed (since Hiranuma favoured closer relations with Germany) and his cabinet members resigned with him. This meant that Admiral Yonai was out as minister of the navy. The admiral took the threat to Yamamoto’s life so seriously that as Yonai’s term came to an end, he arranged for Yamamoto to head the Combined Fleet. This would take him out of a Tokyo government office and put him aboard the battleship Nagato, the Combined Fleet’s flagship. Out of Tokyo he would be out of sight, and his views would no longer be heard in the streets.
And so on August 28, 1939, Admiral Yamamoto succeeded Admiral Zengo Yoshida as commander of the Combined Fleet. Commander Motoshige Fujita escorted Admiral Yoshida up to Tokyo from the fleet base at Kagashima. On the morning of August 29, Admirals Yoshida and Yamamoto met at the home of Admiral Yonai, and on August 30 they were received at the Imperial Palace by Emperor Hirohito. The admirals came up to the palace gate in cars accompanied by men of the Kempeitai, or military police. These policemen were known to be spies of the army, which was on the verge of seizing total power over Japan. As Admiral Yamamoto emerged from the ceremonial greeting from the Emperor, he told his aide to get rid of the policemen. Since he was no longer vice minister of the navy, he pointed out, he was not entitled to a police escort. So the policemen were dismissed, and Admiral Yamamoto emerged from the scrutiny of the army into the safer hands of his own navy.

News of the appointment had spread through Tokyo, and as Admiral Yamamoto went to Tokyo station that day, hundreds of people came to see him off. He waited in the special room set aside for very important people and was escorted to the observation car of his train, where a red carpet had been laid out for him. At 1 p.m. the train pulled out from the station with Yamamoto in the observation platform giving a snappy salute to all his well-wishers and then waving his cap at them as the train gathered speed. Admiral Yamamoto, a handsome, athletic figure in his white uniform and medals, fifty-five years old and at the height of his powers, was off to a new adventure. There was no man in the Imperial Japanese Navy just then who was more suitable for command of the most modern naval fleet in the world, for from the beginning of the Japanese naval modernization program, Yamamoto had been deeply involved. Indeed Yamamoto was responsible for Japan’s emergence as the prime advocate of naval air power among the major fleets of the world.

Already Admiral Yamamoto was so well known in Japan that as the train headed for Osaka, crowds came out to the stations en route to have a look at him, and in Japanese fashion, to load him down with small gifts of cigarettes, sake, and food delicacies. He smiled and gestured his gratitude, and the train moved on: Yokohama, Shizuoka, and Nagoya. At Nagoya the greetings ended, and the admiral changed from his formal uniform into a civilian suit. Reporters from the Nagoya Chunichi Shimbun and the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun boarded the train and sought interviews. The admiral, whose views were so well known, suddenly became shy and refused to comment. It would not be proper, he said, for an officer on active naval duty to mix in political matters. And from that point on, for the rest of his life, Admiral Yamamoto refused to discuss political affairs. His friends who had sought to save his life from assassination by getting him to sea had also silenced one of the most vigorous critics of a government that was moving headlong toward war.

Excerpts: Yamamoto by Edwin P. Hoyt, McGraw Hill, New York, 1976

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Success upon Success-post Pearl Harbour

Admiral Yamamoto was a very efficient fleet commander in terms of his attention to detail. He insisted on knowing everything that was going on in his combined fleet. For example, just after the New Year, he led his staff on an expedition to see the lookout post established on Ohmishima and a naval shore battery on Nasake Jima. At one o’clock in the afternoon, they left the flagship in small boats and landed at Wasa. Then they started to climb the steep mountain, the admiral leading. They climbed for an hour on a steep and rocky path, until, panting and perspiring, they reached the lookout post. The view below encompassed the two channels, Moroshina and Kodako that led to the anchorage. Matsuyama castle stood in the background against the blue sea. Then they tumbled down the mountain again, and at four o’clock they were ready for the second part of the expedition. They went by the antisubmarine net and to Nasake Jima, where the admiral inspected the battery of four shore guns. Then they went back to the ship, arriving at 6 P.M.
Such attention to detail was a mark of the admiral. He had sanctioned the use of the midget submarines in the attack on Pearl Harbour, and now wanted to know what had happened. One of the boats was the I-16, and it was ordered to Hashirajima so that its captain could report to the admiral personally about the mission. The captain reported on the difficulties of carrying a midget submarine on the deck, launching it, and then trying to recover it. In fact, all the midget submarines that were used at Pearl Harbour were lost, and the admiral told his staff that there was still a lot to be learned before the next operation in which midget submarines seemed indicated.

Yamamoto was not very sanguine about the submarine and never had been. At the London naval conference he had joined the faction rejecting the British contention that the submarine should be abandoned altogether as a purely offensive weapon. In the naval conference Japan opposed the abolishment of the submarine on the ground that it was a defensive weapon, not an offensive one. Now it seemed to have become true; they were really defensive. At least, that was the Japanese view. And here Yamamoto showed a major weakness as a fleet commander: He did not understand the primary use of the submarine.Consequently, the Japanese fleet never made adequate use of its submarine fleet, although the I-boats were extremely efficient weapons, with longer range and better torpedoes than the American boats of that period. For one who had shown so much appreciation of air power in the war in Europe, Admiral Yamamoto showed no appreciation at all of the effectiveness of the German U-boat in the war against Britain. The concept of commerce destruction as a major factor in the war did not seem to interest Yamamoto.

Before the outbreak of the war in 1939, Captain Karl Doenitz, chief of the German submarine service, had written the high command that if they gave him 300 U-boats he could bring England to her knees in less than a year. Fortunately for Britain, Hitler did not pay attention. The man who did pay attention to the concept was Winston Churchill, who shared with Doenitz a perfect understanding of the importance of commerce destruction. But not Yamamoto. He was constantly telling the Sixth Fleet, his submarine force, to concentrate on the sinking of warships. They did so, and they would sink a number, but within a matter of months the Americans were producing warships so rapidly that the sinkings were not a major factor in the war.

Admiral Yamamoto error here was major, and it had an enormous effect on the outcome of the Pacific war. As Admiral Nimitz said, shortly after his arrival at Pearl Harbour, with their I-boat force, the Japanese could have cut off Hawaii from the mainland, and thus crippled the American Pacific war effort, for many, many months. Yet Yamamoto, who had shown enormous prescience in leading Japan to pre-eminence as the first major carrier power, was not alone by far in his misapplication of the submarine warfare principle. On January 2, 1942, Admiral Ugaki noted in his diary:

“It is regrettable for the officers and men of the submarine service that they have not yet sunk any important men of war except merchantmen.”

So the myopia in the fleet was general, and it was shared in Tokyo. While Admiral Nimitz was pulling out all the stops to bring submarine forces into play against Japan, the Japanese I-boats were looking for American carriers and battleships, and this attitude would not change. A few days later, the Fourth Submarine Division reported the sinking of the carrier Langley, the only carrier in the U.S. Asiatic fleet, and that whetted the submarine force’s appetite for war ships. When another I-boat torpedoed the Lexington a few days after that, the seal was put on the Japanese naval attitude.*

The reports were in error. Both carriers were sunk in the pacific, but just not then. The Saratoga was the ship torpedoed, but she was repaired.

Admiral Yamamoto had promised five dozen bottles of beer to the first torpedo officer of a submarine to sink a fleet-class carrier, and he paid off to the torpedo officer of the I-6, the submarine that torpedoed the Lexington. She was actually not sunk, but the Japanese did not learn that until several months later when she appeared in the Coral Sea. So radio Tokyo triumphantly announced her sinking, and elaborated on the story for several days. And the commander in chief’s approval of the search for capital warships diverted the whole submarine force. No one was talking about commerce raiding after that.

Japanese troops occupied Manila on January 2 and 3. The Americans and the Philippine Constabulary had fled, mostly to the Bataan Peninsula. The invasion was way ahead of schedule, as it was everywhere else. So Yamamoto reorganized the fleet. The Southern Expeditionary Fleet was renamed the First Southern Expeditionary Fleet, and it prepared for invasion of Rabaul because the other moves had been so successful. A new third Southern Expeditionary Fleet was given charge of the Philippine’s operations, which now consisted of mopping up and the reduction of the Corregidor fortress with its big guns that controlled Manila harbour.

Along with the expeditionary fleet, Admiral Yamamoto prepared to send the carrier task force down south to make way for the Rabaul invasion by softening up the Australian defenses. Yamamoto now expected that the Rabaul phase would be complete by mid-March, and some more plans would have to be made. In the back of his mind was a plan for the capture of Midway Island, which bothered him because of its usefulness as an American submarine and air base, and a simultaneous move against the Aleutian Islands, which would give the Japanese a foothold on the North American perimeter. The staff was talking about invading Hawaii, and in Tokyo plans even to the point of invasion currency was being drawn. Yamamoto’s staff officers began studying alternative plans for future operations.

Whatever the plans, they must be kept strictly within the overall aim of the war: attainment of self-sufficiency for Japan, so that she could continue her major effort which was to swallow China. Admiral Ugaki wanted to send submarines far afield, to the Indian Ocean and to the Panama Canal, but he was restrained by Yamamoto. Even the invasion of Hawaii, for which the staff officers were clamoring, would have to wait until that decisive fleet action, missed by Admiral Nagumo at Pearl Harbour, had been brought to successful completion.

The war was going splendidly for Admiral Yamamoto. The army announced that it was ready now to stage the invasion of Java, weeks ahead of schedule. But the problem with all this success was that no one in Tokyo was able to bring it into perspective. Yamamoto knew that the Americans would soon recover from Pearl Harbour destruction. He had not achieved his decisive action, and it haunted him. Navy and army had more than carried out the tasks assigned to them so far. What was needed now was statesmanship in Tokyo to consolidate the victories without waste and strengthen the empire. Looking around him, Admiral Yamamoto saw no such statesman, no one of the calibre of Britain’s Winston Churchill or America’s Franklin D. Roosevelt. And he confided his fears to Admiral Ugaki, who capsulized them in his diary:

However invincible the Imperial armed forces are, and however great their exploits may be, the great achievement done at the sacrifice of our lives will be only in vain, unless statesmen have a great policy for the country.

On January 8, Admiral Nagumo sailed for the south, and the next day Japanese troops moved into Tarakan and the Celebes islands. Yes, the war was going splendidly. On January 14, after four days of hard work, Admiral Ugaki completed the proposal directed by Admiral Yamamoto for the Midway operation, to be followed by the invasion of Hawaii. The justification was the need to destroy the American fleet and bring the war to a quick conclusion. The directive was turned over to the fleet staff officers for detailed study and recommendations. This, as we have seen, was the Japanese system, in which young staff officers were given enormous responsibility and latitude. In fact, they had almost full sway up to the time of final decision. Even Admiral Ugaki, the chief of staff, was not permitted in the junior officer’s councils, lest his presence inhibit their free discussion of ideas.

On January 22 came favourable reports from Rabaul and Balikpapan: the Japanese were marching on Rangoon, Thailand had declared war on the British, and the advance in Malaya had nearly reached Singapore. The future of the Japanese empire had never seemed brighter. On January 27, Yamamoto’s young staff officers came up with their plan. They had considered an immediate attack on Hawaii but had not been able to figure out how to destroy the land-based air force brought into the islands in the past few weeks. So they had opted for Midway, where that problem did not really exist. The plan was taken to Admiral Yamamoto and he began to study it. At the same time, Commander Yamamoto (no relation) of the naval general staff appeared aboard the flagship on other business, and Admiral Ugaki gave him a copy of the proposal to take back to Tokyo.

For some time Admiral Yamamoto had been concerned about the whereabouts and activities of America’s aircraft carriers. On February 1, 1942, he had some unwelcome news. An American carrier force had moved to the Marshalls for a raid, with cruisers and several destroyers. They hit Wotje, Eniwetok, Kwajalein, and Jaluit. They destroyed a number of planes and several ships, and they killed Rear Admiral Yasuhiro Yukichi, the commander of the naval base. He was the first admiral killed in the war. Yamamoto was very upset, because the Japanese had been caught just as much unaware here as the Americans had at Pearl Harbour, and there was really no excuse for it because everyone knew now that there was a war on. The attack had been successful, said the admiral, because the men of the fleet had grown cocksure after their many easy victories. Everyone felt the admiral’s displeasure that day, including Admiral Ugaki, who indulged himself in a long session of self-recrimination.

From the outset of the war, Admiral Yamamoto had been concerned about the day when American naval power would make it possible for planes to raid Tokyo. He read the press, and he knew that the Americans had diverted ten cruiser hulls to become carriers, so it would not be long before the danger became very real. At this time Tojo and the army were boasting that the Americans would never touch Tokyo, but Yamamoto knew these were empty promises. This was one of the major reasons he so urgently sought the decisive battle and looked with such favour on the Midway plan.

On Saturday, February 7, came the welcome reports of the Japanese success at the Battle of the Java Sea, which destroyed most of the remnants of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet and British and Dutch sea power in the area. On February 12, the admiral’s flag was again shifted to the Yamato, and the admiral and staff celebrated a housewarming with chicken sukiyaki and sake. That night they celebrated again, because they learned of the fall of Singapore. This was considered in Tokyo as the supreme victory of the war.

General Tojo made an important speech about the Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere, calling on the Australians and New Zealanders to break their alliance with the Western powers and join up. The call was ignored in Canberra. Then, as if on signal, on February 19, Admiral Nagumo’s task force attacked Darwin, sinking three destroyers, a sub-chaser, and eight merchant ships. The harbour was wrecked, and about thirty planes were destroyed. Afterwards Admiral Nagumo sailed on to Truk to await further orders.

Early in March, Admiral Halsey’s task force raided Marcus Island, and although the damage was slight, it made Yamamoto think again about the possibility of American air raids on Tokyo. The war surged on. In early April, Admiral Nagumo’s carrier force hit Ceylon, damaging the harbour and sinking some ships in Colombo, and then it engaged elements of the British fleet off Trincomalee, sinking the carrier Hermes. Once again Admiral Nagumo did not wait around long enough to complete the job: two other British carriers got away. Admiral Yamamoto happened to be in Tokyo at that point, at the Navy club , where he encountered Prince Fushimi. The prince was all congratulations and smiles about the great job being done by the navy, so Yamamoto could not air his own negative views. Everything seemed to be going better than anyone had dared hope. Nagumo sank two cruisers as well.

The plans had been made, and the navy and army now agreed to begin the second stage of war operations, which involved the attack on Australia and Midway. On April 17, Admiral Yamamoto delivered his message to the fleet, and the task forces set out to make landings in the Solomon Islands and Port Moresby on New Guinea. “With this spirit,” wrote Admiral Ugaki triumphantly, “the foundation of the empire can be said to be safe.”

But the fact was that even as the admiral so wrote, forces were in motion to give the Japanese a great shock, and to bear out Admiral Yamamoto’s most startling fears.

Excerpts: Yamamoto by Edwin P. Hoyt, McGraw Hill, New York, 1976

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Command Training B707/720, July – Aug 1980

  • 21/7/80, AP-AXL, Shaukat Ali, KHI-KHI, 1600-1645
  • 22/7/80, AP-ATQ, Shaukat Ali, KHI-KHI, 1735-1900

 During the command check in the B707 simulator conducted by Capt Idrees Ahmed before flight training, I had on one exercise transferred the horizon below 500 feet to the co-pilot’s side by flicking a switch when he had given me an instrument failure. This is not done at that low height, and I was supposed to overshoot on the occurrence of the problem. After the check, he briefed me on my mistake. This was overheard by Capt. Shaukat Ali, who was there for an instructor’s mutual exercise after my check with Capt. Idrees. Further ammunition for him to use.

Captain Shaukat Ali remarked about my divorce as we checked in the Flight Operations for the training flight. There are always some ups and downs in a relationship, but no divorce was contemplated. He had carried this hearsay to the training flight. I was shocked but said nothing. We did three engine ILS (Instrument Landing System) approaches on both days with a lot of bull shitting. On one 4 engine takeoff, probably the first, Capt. Shaukat Ali sitting in the right seat pumped the rudder pedals shaking the aircraft with opposing yawing motions just to unnerve me. It was not a pretty picture at night and you may remember that an Airbus A300 was lost on takeoff by this very action of the First Officer in New York just after 911. Capt Jawed Aleem who was present in the cockpit for his six landings may remember.

  •  23/7/80, AP-BAF, Mansur Mughal, KHI-KHI, 1850-1930

He remarked that I should buck up as we had to complete the syllabus in the time allotted. Gave me a lot of confidence and was an alert and able instructor. He taught me the circling approach, landing from an off-set position, and overshooting from the deck by saying the aircraft could do it. I remember the circling approach over the Drive-in Cinema with a film going on as I was maneuvering at 500 feet in a tight circle for Runway 07L (zero seven left). We also covered the entire syllabus (engine fire and failure a on takeoff, 4 engine overshoot with a simultaneous engine loss as you applied power, ILS [instrument Landing System] approaches on 3 engines) by zooming from one exercise to another.

  •  25/7/80, AP-BAF, Mansur Mughal, KHI-KHI, 1630-1730, Command check

During start up of engine #3 (the start sequence is 3,4,2,1, with engine #1 the outboard left viewed from the cockpit, and engine 4, the outboard right), Capt Mughal deliberately tried to distract me by trying to engage me in conversation and even lighted a match to grab my attention.  In an engine start as you are injecting fuel by moving the start lever to the open position, the EGT (exhaust gas temperature) has to be monitored closely to prevent a hot start. Any inattention can lead to an engine burn out as the temperature climbs. I managed to keep my focus on the meters.

We had a complete hydraulic failure at the end with Flight Engineer Farooq alerting us all that it was real. Captain Mughal merely cautioned me that the landing gear doors would not retract now, and I had to be careful on the landing with the aircraft attitude.

 Initial Route Command Check B707/720, Sajid Quraishi

  • 31/7/80, AP-BAA, KHI-MCT, 1412-1605.
  • This was a scheduled passenger flight, and an entirely new feeling from the left seat in spite of the flight training and simulator undergone. During descent, the captain instructed me to turn off the cockpit dome light which was interfering with forward vision and airport sighting. An ILS approach was carried out. Aircraft had an oleo leak of the right main gear strut and a technical night stop was done. The timings are GMT, so it would be GMT plus 4 at Muscat.
  • 1/8/80, AP-BAA,MCT-KHI, 0930-1115
  •  On the return sector the next day, the captain switched off the flight director on my side during the VOR approach at Karachi, and a raw data procedure was carried out. I was cleared as captain under supervision after this flight or Capt u/s, or the log book entry, P1 u/s.

 Under supervision flying of fifty hours

  • 15/8/80, AP-ATQ, KHI-JED-KHI, Sajid Quraishi
  • 21/8/80, AP-AXL, KHI-CMB-KHI, Najam
  • 26/8/80, AP-ATQ, KHI-CMB-KHI, Najam (captain did not touch the radio, so flying and radio was handled by me)
  • 29/8/80, AP-AXK, KHI-PEW-KHI, Manzoor (Captain had an abrupt manner with me right from the Fokker days where he had trained me as co-pilot, and was talking or discussing something on another channel after departure from Peshawar. He was probably surprised that the aircraft was still on course when he came back to the moment)
  • 31/8/80, AP-AXK, KHI-PEW-KHI, Bashar (his remark was that you should fire the bullet from your shoulder)
  • 2/9/80, AP-ATQ, RWP-IST, Ejaz –ul- Huk, Chief Pilot 707. Captain briefed me on the ATC clearance to be given at Istanbul. The terminology would be Papa Kilo instead of Pakistan by the controller.
  • 3/9/80, AP-ATQ, IST-RWP-KHI, Ejaz-ul-Huk. Thunderstorm encountered on departure from RWP, and the captain instructed me to penetrate by flying into the weaker portion of the cell from the onboard weather radar.
  • 7/9/80, AP-AXM, KHI-MUX-KHI, Ejaz-ul-Huk, (the tires were smoking at Multan after landing but the captain paid no heed. The air conditioning van supplying cool air was immediately applied on the wheel assembly. A standard practice there in summer considering the runway length).
  • 8/9/80, AP-AZP, KHI-UET-RWP, Wajid Shah (Quetta is the only airfield where I have felt as if the 707 or 720 is hurtling forward towards the runway. It is probably due to the terrain on the approach).
  • 9/9/80, AP-AZP, RWP-KHI, Wajid Shah

 MCT = Muscat; CMB= Colombo; JED = Jeddah; IST = Istanbul; PEW = Peshawar; MUX = Multan; UET = Quetta; RWP = Rawalpindi (Islamabad).

 Final Route Command Check

  • PK 274/275, KHI-BOM-KHI, AP-ATQ, Dara, 0203-0345, 0550-0740

It was an early morning departure ex-Karachi (0703 Local) with Capt. Dara reminding me of the pitfalls of early morning flights, a slow mind. Remember we would have been up from 0430 local for this. I recall the steep climb attitude (Flight Director Indicator) to maintain V2 plus ten on the airspeed indicator (ASI) as we turned left after getting airborne from runway 25R (two five right). The routing took us over Ahmedabad and then south to Bombay (Mumbai now). We crossed into India somewhere beyond Sujawal though at this time the focus is on the clearance into India on HF radio by Ahmedabad, and other instructions they might give. Near Bombay we are handed over to Bombay Radar by Bombay Control. For a pilot, this is the easy bit because you are now following descent instructions and turn headings given by the controller. Of course flying into terrain is your responsibility until the radar acknowledges by confirming radar contact at distance and level.

 On departure from Bombay on the return sector, there were some clouds on our flight path ahead as we got airborne but I did not switch on the weather radar. The captain questioned me on this and I replied that I considered them non-threatening by their look and hence had acted in the manner indicated.

 This is what I remember. We came into the Flight Operations Office and signed out. Captain Dara took out the route check form and started filling it. Capt Pervaiz Saeed, a newly minted 707 captain at that time and present in the office asked Dara if he was clearing me. I don’t know what he replied but then there were congratulations from everybody. But not yet, there was still the first flight to be made for the pay meter to start ticking.

 10616236_10152262930756701_925435304918937672_nThe first flight in command was two days later on Sept 18, 1980 on KHI-PEW-KHI sector with Munir Akhtar acting as First Officer. Captain Munir Akhtar at the time was a colleague from the Flying Academy days having joined PIA with me and also having shared room 212 in Grand Hotel Malir, Karachi where we had been lodged at PIA’s expense.  In a month’s time he too would fly as captain 707, and later go on to command the Airbus A 300 and B 747. The Flight Engineer’s face is imprinted in my mind but the name escapes me (Shujaat?). It was a routine affair with Munir Akhtar doing the return leg. The aircraft was AP-AXM and the flight Pk326

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Licenses and Ratings

Syed Mohammad Husain, 
Address: 1 Anand Road, Upper Mall, Lahore, 
Name and Address of Employer: Pakistan International Airlines Corporation.

Date of Original Issue Aug 3, 1968
Number of Licence 445
Type of Licence:  F.R.T.O. (Flight Radio Telephone Operator)

Date of Original Issue Aug 3, 1968
Number of Licence: 748 
Type of Licence:  Private Pilot 

Date of Original Issue June 17, 1969 
Number of Licence:  442
Type of Licence:  Commercial Pilot 

Date of Original Issue July 8, 1975 
Number of Licence:  441
Type of Licence:  Airline Transport Pilot 

Date of Original Issue: Nov 18, 1982
Number of Rating 2336211
Type of Licence: Airline Transport Pilot-FAA

Date of Original Issue: Oct.22 1995
Number 563
Type of Licence: Flight Operation Officer

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Illusions Leading to Spatial Disorientation

Various complex motions and forces and certain visual scenes encountered in flight can create illusions of motion and position. Spatial disorientation from these illusions can be prevented only by visual reference to reliable, fixed points on the ground or to flight instruments.

The leans: An abrupt correction of a banked attitude, which has been entered too slowly to stimulate the motion sensing system in the inner ear, can create the illusion of banking in the opposite direction. The disoriented pilot will roll the aircraft back into its original dangerous attitude, or if level flight is maintained, will feel compelled to lean in the perceived vertical plane until this illusion subsides.

Coriolis illusion: an abrupt head movement in a prolonged constant-rate turn that has ceased stimulating the motion sensing system can create the illusion of rotation or movement in an entirely different axis. The disoriented pilot will maneuver the aircraft into a dangerous attitude in an attempt to stop rotation. This most overwhelming of all illusions in flight may be prevented by not making sudden, extreme head movements, particularly while making prolonged constant-rate turns under IFR conditions.

Graveyard spin: a proper recovery from a spin that has ceased stimulating the motion sensing system can create the illusion of spinning in the opposite direction. The disoriented pilot will return the aircraft to its original spin.

Graveyard spiral: an observed loss of altitude during a coordinated constant-rate turn that has ceased stimulating the motion sensing system can create the illusion of being in a descent with the wings level. The disoriented pilot will pull back on the controls, tightening the spiral and increasing the loss of altitude.

Somatogravic illusion: a rapid acceleration during takeoff can create the illusion of being in a nose up attitude. The disoriented pilot will push the aircraft into a nose low, or dive attitude. A rapid deceleration by a quick reduction of the throttles can have the opposite effect, with the disoriented pilot pulling the aircraft into a nose up, or stall attitude.

Inversion illusion: an abrupt change from climb to straight and level flight can create the illusion of tumbling backwards. The disoriented pilot will push the aircraft abruptly into a nose low attitude, possibly intensifying this illusion.

Elevator illusion: an abrupt upward vertical acceleration, usually by an updraft, can create the illusion of being in a climb. The disoriented pilot will push the aircraft into a nose low attitude. An abrupt downward vertical acceleration, usually by a downdraft, has the opposite effect, with the disoriented pilot pulling the aircraft into a nose up attitude.

False horizon: sloping cloud formations, an obscured horizon, a dark scene spread with ground lights and stars, and certain geometric patterns of ground light can create illusions of not being aligned correctly with the actual horizon. The disoriented pilot will place the aircraft in a dangerous attitude.

Autokinesis: in the dark, a static light will appear to move about when stared at for many seconds. The disoriented pilot will lose control of the aircraft in attempting to align it with the light

Runway width illusion: a narrower-than-usual runway can create the illusion that the aircraft is at a higher altitude than it actually is. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion will fly a lower approach, with the risk of striking objects along the approach path or landing short. A wider-than-usual runway can have the opposite effect, with the risk of leveling out high and landing hard or overshooting the runway.

Runway and terrain slopes illusion: an upsloping runway, upsloping terrain, or both, can create the illusion that the aircraft is at a higher altitude than it actually is. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion will fly a lower approach. A downsloping runway, downsloping approach terrain, or both, can have the opposite effect.

Featureless terrain illusion: an absence of ground features, as when landing over water, darkened areas, and terrain made featureless by snow, can create the illusion that the aircraft is at a higher altitude than it actually is. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion will fly a lower approach.

Atmospheric illusions: rain on the windscreen can create the illusion of greater height, and atmospheric haze the illusion of being at a greater distance from the runway. The pilot who does not recognize these illusions will fly a lower approach. Penetration of fog can create the illusion of pitching up. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion will steepen the approach, often quite abruptly.

Ground lighting illusions: lights along a straight path, such as a road, and even lights on moving trains can be mistaken for runway and approach lights. Bright runway and approach lighting systems, especially where few lights illuminate the surrounding terrain, may create the illusion of less distance to the runway. The pilot who does not recognize this illusion will fly a higher approach. Conversely, the pilot overflying terrain which has few lights to provide height cues may make a lower than normal approach.

Courtesy: FAA

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Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf

Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf.

The air piracy drama staged by the Government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not have been carried out without the  cooperation of DGCAA. It is immaterial who issued that order. The facilitation by the head of Civil Aviation via Air Traffic Control Karachi through unlawful commands to the captain in flight, were contrary to flight safety and endangered the lives of everybody on board. He could have walked away from the job at that order.

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