SYDNEY: Some Qantas pilots are making mistakes returning from long breaks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an internal note reported by Australian media on Wednesday January 5.
Among the errors listed in Qantas pilot reports: Starting takeoff with the parking brake on and misinterpreting altitude as airspeed, according to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s Age.
He also said the cockpit panel switches were in the wrong position and the crew were looking back at an event and “didn’t realize it was overloaded or lost situational awareness.”
The note from the Qantas fleet operations chiefs reportedly said the flight disruption linked to COVID-19 meant pilots had less recent flight experience, a requirement known as “recency.”
As a result, according to the memo, the expert pilots “suffered a subsequent reduction in their cognitive abilities.”
“Airlines around the world are working on the complex process of returning to pre-COVID operations, including the return of pilots who have spent long periods on the ground,” a Qantas spokeswoman said.
Qantas recognized early on that it needed to reassess the recent and current flight time needs of pilots as well as its “refamiliarization programs,” she said.
“We have designed an enhanced return to work program to meet the unprecedented challenge facing our industry,” added the spokesperson.
“Safety is our number one priority and all the data shows our pilots are coming back with the skills and confidence to do their jobs safely.”