More Hurry – Less Speed

The old adage, “more hurry – less speed” is true in many aspects of personal life but in aviation operations this sometimes results in tragedy. Often, this syndrome is accompanied in private operations by another well know aviation affliction called, “get home itis.”

How often have we seen pilots, engineers, air traffic controller and yes, even airport firemen hurry to the extent that they make critical safety errors? In our personal lives we sometimes look back and ponder why we put so much effort into saving seconds at the risk of endangering something more important. I find this question fascinating but it is a question for human factors experts.

The “hurry mode” (as I call it) and its dangers, are no more aptly demonstrated in the crash of an Ilyushin – 76 scheduled for a cargo flight from Khartoum in June 2008. The crew members were reported to be in a hurry and this observation is consistent with the evidence of poor checking, minimal use of checklists, a lack of awareness of the aircraft’s take-off weight, and reversing the aircraft from a tight parking bay rather than requesting push back assistance.

The “hurry mode” was further reinforced by the crew’s apparent use of an undocumented procedure of starting the take-off roll with the flaps retracted and extending them progressively in stages until reaching the required take off setting. Unfortunately, the crew forgot to set the take-off flap and slat setting before take-off resulting in the aircraft stalling at about 7 metres and subsequently pithing up and rolling to the left and crashing with no survivors.

The crew members were reported to be at the end of their tour and this was the last flight before returning home. Whilst I’m sure other safety cultural issues were at play, I wonder was this a case of “get home it is” and “hurry mode”? Each syndrome is dangerous but the combination is really serious.