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I was reading up on the Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 crash and a few questions came to mind, in summary the captain (PF), conducted an unsafe approach in which he did not heed multiple warnings from both the aircraft and the copilot (PM), and landed 860m past the threshold and at a speed of 221kts.

The wiki article also states: "The copilot failed to take control of the aircraft ... as required by airline policy". This just got me wondering, what policy/procedures exist in outlining how to take control of an aircraft from an "unsafe" pilot. I know the procedure under normal circumstances is "my aircraft/your aircraft". But how would this be accomplished in a situation similar to Flight 200, where it seems the captain would have of been reluctant to hand over controls given his blatant disregard for all other safety measures.

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    $\begingroup$ For completeness, that was PK-GZC, a Boeing 737-400. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 20 '17 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ And there is also a difference in how command inputs to the sidesticks of pilot and copilot are processed in a Boeing aircraft versus an Airbus. $\endgroup$ – user7241 Dec 20 '17 at 9:59
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    $\begingroup$ Unless you have a copy of that airline's SOP, this may not be answerable. as required by airline policy I'll recommend that you look up the search term "cockpit gradient" or "authority gradient" to get a feel for this non trivial CRM challenge. $\endgroup$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 20 '17 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ As Korvin says, that's going to be hard to answer because it will vary by airline and boils down to the individual FO. (In the opposite situation where the captain is PM there wouldn't be any hesitation) I suppose if the FO felt his life was in jeopardy then policy and procedures might go out the window anyway. That said, most major airlines will have a set of parameters that define a "stable approach." Outside those parameters the FO will have authority to call it off. What happens if the captain refuses to cede control is the kind of pickle you probably can't make policies for. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Dec 20 '17 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW Last sentence of your comment nails it. :) Well said. $\endgroup$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 20 '17 at 20:23
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This is a true "nightmare scenario" and really approaching -- if not beyond -- the limits of the realm of CRM. The assumption of CRM is that while pilots can get task saturated, focused on "making it (the approach) work out", and otherwise lose track of the situation, everybody is willing to listen to reason, if it is just presented with sufficient clarity. If a pilot is so far gone beyond that point that he is absolutely determined to take his approach to its completion, you're approaching a different scenario.

Let's stipulate at the outset that this sort of a scenario is incredibly rare. Good pilots can get so focused on making things work that they lose situational awareness, but a clear statement like "we're 40 knots fast & two dots high on glide slope, GO AROUND" will typically snap pretty much everybody out of it. The captain who is so wrapped up in his authority that he's willing to ignore an FO's repeated direction to go around is pretty rare.

That said... in the nightmare scenario, the FO's options become:

  • Keep making callouts, more directive, more urgency, yell louder.
  • Tell ATC that "we need to go around" on the hope that ATC directing "Flight 123, go around, fly runway heading, maintain 3000 feet" may accomplish what the callouts didn't.
  • Raise the landing gear.
  • Push the power up or otherwise fight for control of the aircraft.
  • Attack the flying pilot, perhaps with the aircraft logbook (metal cover) or a heavy flashlight or some other improvised weapon.

At this point, the FO is in the awful spot of having options that have a limited chance of success and in several cases, huge risk of making a bad situation even worse. There is no "policy" solution to this sort of a scenario. That a captain would have ignored repeated GPWS callouts and FO callouts is beyond the realm of what policy ever imagines.

As I said before, this sort of scenario is almost unimaginably rare. Pilots just don't often reach the level of being an airline captain without sorting out the need to accept a "Go Around" callout from their First Officer. Are there arrogant pilots out there? Absolutely. Arrogant enough to get to the situation mentioned in the OP? Very, very, very few, and very far between.

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  • $\begingroup$ Fortunately, they are " Very, very, very few, and very far between." or aviation wouldn't be as safe as it is. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Dec 23 '17 at 3:00
  • $\begingroup$ and yet it happens. $\endgroup$ – Richard Feb 7 '18 at 3:17

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