Finweek English Edition - - Front Page - CHAR­MAIN VAN DER WALT

I STARTED READ­ING the let­ter from “Anony­mous” head­lined “Fit to fly” (28 Au­gust) with great in­ter­est. That is un­til my eyes glanced over his last para­graph and I did a dou­ble take. A per­son should only speak with au­thor­ity on any mat­ter when he’s ac­tu­ally done his home­work.

Un­for­tu­nately, that isn’t al­ways the case – as Anony­mous clearly proved. (I think stay­ing anony­mous served more than one pur­pose.) He put it so elo­quently that pi­lots “just get in and fly!” And this from some­one clearly ed­u­cated and in­formed, as you’d ex­pect of read­ers of Fin­week.

A com­mer­cial pi­lot can only per­form his pro­fes­sion when he con­forms to lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional reg­u­la­tions, as stip­u­lated by the avi­a­tion au­thor­ity of the coun­try where he’s based, as well as the coun­try where the air­craft is reg­is­tered. (And the FAA has its own reg­u­la­tions for air­craft en­ter­ing its airspace.) That en­tails pi­lots should be of fit mind and body (pi­lots are re­quired to un­dergo a med­i­cal exam once a year; twice a year if they’re older than 40) as well as be­ing able to per­form to the high­est stan­dard of me­chan­i­cal, tech­ni­cal and phys­i­cal ex­per­tise of the par­tic­u­lar air­craft that they have a li­cence to op­er­ate. That li­cence is kept up to date by con­stant ex­am­i­na­tions.

The worst that could hap­pen to a tech­ni­cian when he doesn’t com­ply with the task at hand is an en­quiry and a pos­si­ble sus­pen­sion or loss of his qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Com­mer­cial pi­lots are ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble not just for their own lives but also for the lives of their pas­sen­gers.

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