Those of us on the line side of flying or maintenance always here the following words from crew scheduling, maintenance control and our chief pilots. “It’s Legal” my response has always been but is it “safe”.

Let’s take a look a the formal definitions of the terms courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Legal: of or relating to law a: deriving authority from b: having a formal status derived from law often without a basis in actual fact c: established by law3: conforming to or permitted by law or established rules 4: recognized or made effective by a court of law as distinguished from a court of equity 5: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of the profession of law or of one of its members 6: created by the constructions of the law.

Safe: free from harm or risk: 2 a: secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss b: successful at getting to a base in baseball without being put out 3: affording safety or security from danger, risk, or difficulty 4 obsolete of mental or moral faculties: healtly, sound 5a: not threatening danger: harmless b: unlikely to produce controversy or contradiction 6 a: not likely to take risks: cautious b : trustworthy, reliable.

I don’t know about you but I certainly would want to fly in an aircraft and with a pilot that is safe.

Let’s discuss a common example of legal v Safe. Please feel free to share your own.

A reserves pilot wakes up at 7 am local time in NY even though his call window does not start till 8pm that night. At 1145 pm crew scheduling call and assigns him a trip (2man) to Europe at 2am. The flight will land in Europe at 11am NY time. The reserve pilot will be up 26 hours at the time of his landing in Europe. Is this legal? believe it or not yes however we all know this is not safe. Management will say that they would never ask this pilot to fly however how many times do you think a pilot can say he is too tired to fly before he is ask to go for one of those witch hunt physicals called fitness to fly. Of course this pilot will not be paid for the trip.

Flight operations Management must remember actions speak louder than words

Legal is not the  minimum standard to use to when running a Safe flight operation.

Ivan Klugman