Aviation Investigation Report A98H0003
1.5.2 Flight Crew
Table 3: Flight Crew Information
|Pilot licence||Swiss Airline Transport Pilot Licence||Swiss Airline Transport Pilot Licence|
|Medical expiration date||1 November 1998||1 July 1999|
|Total flying hours||10 800||4 800|
|Hours on type||900||230|
|Hours last 90 days||180||125|
|Hours on type last 90 days||180||125|
|Hours on duty prior to occurrence||3||3|
|Hours off duty prior to work period||27||27|
The pilot-in-command (captain) of SR 111 was described as being in good health, fit, and not taking any prescribed medication. He was described as someone who created a friendly and professional atmosphere in the cockpit and was known to work with exactness and precision. It was reported that there was no tension in the cockpit when flying with this captain.
The captain began flying for recreation in 1966 at the age of 18. In 1967, he joined the Swiss Air Force and became a fighter pilot. He began his career with Swissair in July 1971 as a first officer on the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and later transitioned as a first officer to the McDonnell Douglas DC-8.
He was upgraded to captain status in April 1983 on the DC-9 and flew the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 as pilot-in-command from 1986 to 1994. In August 1994, he completed transition training to fly the Airbus A320, and became an A320 captain and instructor pilot. In June 1997, he completed transition training on the MD-11. He was qualified and certified in accordance with Swiss regulations. (STI1-1) He held a valid Swiss airline transport pilot licence (ATPL). His instrument flight rules (IFR) qualifications for Category I and Category III approaches were valid until 21 October 1998. His flying time with Swissair totalled 9 294 hours. His last flying proficiency check was conducted on 23 February 1998.
The captain had never been exposed to a regulatory or administrative inquiry. There is no record to indicate that he had experienced an actual in-flight emergency at any time during his flying career.
As well as being a line pilot, the captain was an instructor pilot on the MD-11. He instructed in the full flight simulator on all exercises, including the pilot qualification training lesson where the Smoke/Fumes of Unknown Origin checklist is practised (see Appendix C Swissair Smoke/Fumes of Unknown Origin Checklist). The captain was known to give detailed briefings to his students before, during, and after their simulator sessions. To increase his aircraft knowledge, the captain would question technical specialists in the maintenance department about the aircraft and its systems. During "smoke in the cockpit" training sessions, the captain required the students to explain all the steps and consequences of using the "electrical and air smoke isolation" (SMOKE ELEC/AIR) selector prior to conducting the exercise. During these sessions, it was the captain's practice to ensure that the pilot reading the checklist would inform the pilot flying what services he or she was about to lose prior to turning the selector.
During wreckage recovery, a prescription for eyeglasses for the captain was found among the recovered personal effects. The prescription correction was for distance vision. No glasses identified as belonging to the captain were recovered. The available information indicates that the captain did not normally wear eyeglasses except sometimes for distance vision correction. The captain met the visual standard without glasses on his last aviation medical examination. The presence or absence of the captain's glasses would not have affected his ability to deal with the situations that he encountered in this occurrence.
Based on a review of the captain's medical records, there was no indication of any pre-existing medical condition or physiological factors that would have adversely affected his performance during the flight. His last medical examination took place on 29 April 1998; no medical restrictions applied to his pilot licence.
The first officer was described as being in good health and as not taking any prescription medication. He was considered to be experienced, well qualified, focused, and open-minded in performing the duties of a first officer. His cockpit discipline was described as ideal. He was described as a partner in the cockpit, with a quiet and calm demeanour; he was assertive when appropriate.
The first officer started flying in 1979, became a Swiss Air Force pilot in 1982 and completed his full-time military service in 1990. He joined Swissair in 1991 as a first officer on the MD-80 while continuing to fly in the air force part-time as a fighter pilot. In December 1995, he transitioned to the Airbus A320 as a first officer. In May 1998, he successfully completed his training as a first officer on the MD-11. He held a valid Swiss ATPL, which was issued in August 1996.
The first officer had never been exposed to a regulatory or administrative inquiry. There is no record to indicate that he had experienced an actual in-flight emergency at any time during his flying career. He was qualified and had been certified in accordance with Swiss regulations. (STI1-2) His last proficiency check was on 16 April 1998.
The first officer had been an instructor on the MD-80 and A320, and at the time of the occurrence, was an instructor on the MD-11 as a simulator and transition instructor. He had accumulated 230 hours of flying time on the MD-11 and was described as having good knowledge of the aircraft systems. His flying time with Swissair totalled 2 739 hours.
Based on a review of the first officer's medical records, there was no indication of any pre-existing medical condition or physiological factors that would have adversely affected his performance during the flight. His last medical examination took place on 15 June 1998; no medical restrictions applied to his licence.
 The SMOKE ELEC/AIR selector is also known as the SMOKE switch.
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