The Pilot (VII)

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Pablo Edronkin

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Another fundamental concept regarding aviation is that of the pilot's responsibility: The one who has command of the aircraft is the one who commands, period. In the case of airliners, this person receives the title of commander or captain and the four gold stripes that you see on their uniforms; this is the same as a ships' skipper, but even if you don't work for an airline and you have control of an aircraft, instead of being a "commander" by title, your remain as the captain or PIC (Pilot In Command), and you held the same level of authority, stripped or stripless.

No matter whom your passengers are, even if among them is your Prime Minister or President, you are the one who has the final voice in all matters concerning your airplane's operation. It would plainly be illegal for even the president of the United States or the Pope to give you orders on board the plane in which you are the PIC or commander.

But this statement is not for your personal satisfaction or for snobbery; absolutely on the contrary, it is to stress the fact that the PIC is the person responsible for everything that takes place inside the plane and whatever happens to it, its crew, passengers and cargo. This doesn't mean that you will be assumed guilty for every problem, mistake or accident; however, it is an argument frequently manipulated in order to deviate responsibilities of others that may be involved in serious situations: Insurance companies or airlines that don't want to be blamed or pay any victims may attempt to put all the guilt on - often deceased - pilots by means of this argument, so this has to be handled with care. However, and whatever happens, it is you, the pilot in command who should assume responsibility before anyone attempts anything else.

In this way the whole aviation "system" forces or produces a certain desired behaviour among aviators and pilots, and that is the development of personal responsibility in whatever they do, so pilots must be sober, serious people capable of using their best judgement and technical abilities before taking decisions or acting on impulses.



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