Friday, June 12, 2009

Communication Clarity Fail

British AirwaysWhen I'm not writing awesome software (grin), you can usually find me flying airplanes, dreaming about airplanes, thinking about airplanes, or blogging about airplanes.

Yesterday, I was getting ready to make my first solo in a Super Decathlon, and I spent an agonizing nerve-racked hour waiting for my instructor to get off of a conference call. I thought I'd try to work off some nervous energy reading.

Lately, I've been reading The Pragmatic Programmer. It's a really great book and will probably be the subject of several forthcoming posts reviewing the book, but that's not the topic here.

This post is about the coincidence of me sitting there at the airport reading about programming and finding this British Airways memorandum that was published in Pilot Magazine in 2006:
From British Airways Flight Operations Department notice:

There appears to be some confusion over the new pilot role titles.
This notice will hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.
The titles P1, P2, and Co-Pilot will now cease to have any meaning,
within the British Airways operational manuals. They are to be
replaced by

-Handling Pilot,
-Non-Handling Pilot,
-Handling Landing Pilot,
-Non-Handling Landing Pilot,
-Handling Non-Landing Pilot,
-Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot.

The Landing Pilot is initially the Handling Pilot and will handle the
take-off and landing except in role reversal when he is the
Non-Handling Pilot for taxi until the Handling Non-Landing hands
the handling to the Landing Pilot at 80 knots.
The Non-Landing (Non-Handling, since the Landing Pilot is handling)
Pilot reads the checklist to the Handling Pilot until after Before
Descent Checklist completion, when the Handling Landing Pilot
hands the handling to the Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot who
then becomes the Handling Non-Landing Pilot.
The Landing Pilot is the Non-Handling Pilot until the 'decision
altitude' call, when the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the
handling to the Non-Handling Landing Pilot, unless the latter call
'go-around', in which case the Handling Non-Landing Pilot
continues handling and the Non-Handling Landing Pilot continues
non-handling until the next call of 'land' or 'go-around' as appropriate.
In view of recent confusions over these rules, it was deemed
necessary to restate them clearly
Oh, thanks for clearin' that one up fellas!


  1. If it's not the topic here then why is there a big graphic of it?!? And more importantly, WTF does that memo mean? I'd sure hate to be the Handling-Non-Landing pilot.

  2. Mostly 'cause I wanted a graphic of something and the book was the inspiration. Beats the shit out of me dude; it's pretty cryptic and it doesn't help that handling and landing rhyme.

  3. Okay, that's absolutely screaming for a graphic.