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Home > Air Travel > Propeller planes, metal fatigue and female pilots issues…
Propeller planes, metal fatigue and female pilots issues…
Flying - Air Travel
Monday, 16 May 2011 15:55

ATR 72 turboprop of FireFly

Hi Captain Lim,

Fears of Flying as per The Star newspaper (14.5.11) is an interesting reading.

What I wish to ask - I take FireFly flights regularly as Subang airport is convenient for me. However, I wonder how safe are propeller planes?

Secondly, I note that though the cabins are refurbished, the exterior body of the planes appears old even though they have been painted.

There was a case of a plane in US, a few weeks ago, when in flight, there was gap owing to metal fatigue. The plane landed safely. In your article, you do state that planes are checked for metal fatigue, so how are the FireFly planes checked for this condition?

And finally, female pilots: Females are generally panicky in situations. I would think there are times when split-second decisions have to be made.

I would like your comments on Female pilots.

Thank you.

L. Letis

Hole on a Boeing 737
Hi Letis,

Propeller planes can be a piston propeller (such as a Flying Club Cessna 172) or a turboprop (propeller engines run by a smaller jet engine such as the ATR 72 planes as operated by FireFly.)

Turboprop airplane technology has been around since the jet age. Turboprop airplanes use engines that are gas turbine to drive a propeller. The turboprop engines are the same as a jet engine except that it is smaller and therefore cheaper to operate because it consumes lesser fuel.

In my opinion, turboprop airplanes are just as safe as jets. I used to fly turboprop planes in the past before I moved onto the jets – Boeing 777 and the Airbus A320/330/340. Like any other planes, turboprops can be flown just as safely as jets planes. However, the best safety against any misfortune in any airplane is still well-trained pilots with the knowledge to operate their planes safely as human errors are the major contributor of air accidents.

Please read what I wrote “Are older planes less reliable” here . Good maintenance practices on planes are in place for all airlines and when an incidence such as the metal fatigue incident as happened in the US, human aspect needs to be looked into as well. Even the latest state-of-the-art Airbus A380 planes can still have issues with its new engines.

I am sure you would not be very popular with the 'opposite sex of the air' with your comments that ‘females are generally panicky in situations’. Well female pilots are a different category as they have to run through the rigorous mills during the selection process when being recruited. Most are generally good by the time they are promoted after training.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, please follow my new Twitter @CaptKHLim

Female pilots of Air Asia


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