Focusing is about saying No, No, No……


Why would the crew accept to land an aircraft under 20 kts tailwind condition? The recent Pegasus Airlines accident at Istanbul while landing under tailwind conditions beyond the limitations and failure to discontinue landing after a long flare brings back the focus on “Focus!”.

I have written a paper on “Cognitive lockup”, a theory where the crew is unable switch from the current task to a much more important task. The current task here would be the approach to land and the more important task would be the evasive manoeuvre of a go-around.

The paper on “Cognitive Lockup”

Cognitive miser

“Given the option of deciding or not deciding, deciding is always the far more difficult and effortful choice. It’s cognitively wearying to study options and make choices—literally, much like lifting weights—so it’s much more efficient most of the time to simply not decide, to punt, to stick with the status quo, norms, traditions.
Defaulting is one of the simpler cognitive tools we have at our disposal, but that does not mean it isn’t powerful in its effects.”

Focusing is about saying “No”

Steve Jobs WWDC97

“About 28 percent of Americans are potential organ donors. That is, if they died tragically today, their kidneys, liver, and other organs would be available to the long list of people waiting for transplants. In France, 99.9 percent of the citizens are potential donors. Why would this be? Do the French have a particular character trait that predisposes them to give? Is their early moral training superior? Is there perhaps an altruism gene that runs in the French population?
Well, it’s likely none of those. The answer is almost certainly much simpler. In most states in the United States, the default position for organ donation is no donation. That is, you must actively choose to be a donor by signing something. You must make the effort of deciding. In France it’s the opposite. Unless you make the effort to opt out, you are by default an organ donor. And because it’s easier for the brain to default than not, most of us don’t stop to weigh such choices or to question such policies. As a result, it’s better to have kidney failure in Paris than in Washington, D.C.
Because the default heuristic basically means doing nothing, most of the time we don’t even know we’re making a choice or decision. Yet we are—probably many times every day. ”

Hear Capt. Sully saying Unable, Unable…

Saying yes when you should say no

It’s not surprising that people say yes to requests when they probably shouldn’t, says social psychologist Susan Newman, PhD, author of the 2005 book “The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It — and Mean It — And Stop People-Pleasing Forever.”

Most people have a hard time turning down requests, says Newman.

“As young children and teens, we have had ‘no’ drummed out of us,” she says. “We’re taught to do what our parents say and what authority figures tell us.”

Plus, she says, people often believe that saying yes will make others like them more or help them avoid appearing selfish, uncaring or lazy. Others may not like even the mild confrontation involved in saying no to something. For others, says Newman, the habit of saying yes has become almost an addiction. “They simply can’t say no to people and just pile more and more responsibility on themselves,” she says.

mindFly analysis

Our default programing is to say “yes”. All the documents available to us onboard the flight are made to facilitate the flight in a safe manner. With SMS in place, there is nothing which is “Black & White”, everything is in “Grey” since its all about the acceptable level of risk performance.

The final approach is about saying “Yes’ or “Continue” at every gate. We check by default “Stabalised?” or not. So, the default yes or continue comes before we think about “Unstabalised” or go-around. What if we reverse the logic and at every gate we check “Unstabalised?” if NO, then we continue.

If we are focused on the approach and are in the thinking mode, we need to say a “No” if things don’t qualify or seem right.

About Capt. Amit Singh

I think therefore I am Airlines Operations and Safety balance expert. A former head of operations/training and safety of successful LCC's in India. An experienced member of the startup teams of these airlines has hands-on experience in establishing airlines systems and processes.

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