Friday, 15 August 2014

Oh dear, my arm has just become detached!

Now, before anyone gets in a fluster and starts having a rant because they think this post is having a go at people with disabilities, let's just get one thing clear.
It's not.
I'm all for people with disabilities following their dreams and achieving whatever it is they want to achieve - good on 'em, I say. They've got a hell of a lot more guts and determination than a lot of people I know!

I thought I'd put up this image of a cool prosthetic arm, rather than a photo of a Flybe plane landing or taking off or taxi-ing. It was done on a 3D printer, by the way!

However, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have been the only person who was more than a little perturbed to hear about a man with a prosthetic arm flying a commercial aircraft, and in particular, the incident in February of this year when, as a Flybe flight with 47 passengers on board approached Belfast City Airport, the pilot's prosthetic arm fell off (okay, so it didn't quite 'fall off', but I've used 'became detached' in the next paragraph and I loathe repetition…, and the use of the words 'fell off' enables me to try and get a cheap chuckle - I know, I'm pathetic!).
Anyway, can you imagine it?
The pilot has one hand on the yoke and one hand on the power levers, battling against gusty winds - then he turns to his co-pilot and says 'Oh dear, my arm has just become detached.'
Firstly, I just hope the co-pilot was aware that the pilot had a prosthetic arm!
Secondly, how do you respond to a statement like that?
Mouth wide open, eyes staring in disbelief, I'd imagine.
Apparently, the pilot had to let go of the power levers and land the plane with his good arm, and then power down once he as on the ground. It was, so the reports suggest, a heavy landing and the plane was, for a moment, 'not under control'.

For me,  this incident and the accompanying revelation that there are four pilots with prosthetic arms currently employed by UK airlines, raises a couple of interesting questions:
1. What other disabilities do some current pilots have, apart from a missing arm? Dyslexia, partial blindness/tunnel vision, hearing loss, narcolepsy?
2. How are decisions made (and by whom) on whether a disability (or a piece of equipment designed to help with a disability, such as a prosthetic arm) makes no significant additional contribution to the risks associated with flying?
If anyone out there knows the answers to either of these questions, I'd be very interested to hear them.

BBC News Article

Oh, one other thing - the eagle-eyed amongst you who read the BBC's article (link above) will no doubt spot the following 'Ooh Matron' double entendre caption:

An innocent coincidence, or something deliberate? You decide.