Case Study - Stress

David is the owner of a small charter company, and like most charter operations, it has busy times and quiet times. Owning a small aviation business is stressful, what with finding work and the inherent cashflow irregularities.

David doesn’t deal with stress well. His new girlfriend keeps saying to him that his preferred coping mechanisms of alcohol and denial are not valid ways of dealing with stress. He thinks she is over reacting, and anyway, when is he going to find the time to ‘see’ anybody.

David takes his stress out on his employees, most of whom are young pilots just trying to get some flying hours.

One night, a short-notice charter flight comes in. It’s Friday night and David starts ringing around the pilots to see who is available but most of them have had a drink already. Invariably it falls to one of the lesser experienced pilots to take the flight.

As is usual with late-notice charters, the weather is marginal IFR for non-deiced light twins, but work is work. Dave applies the pressure. Being one of the least experienced pilots Janet can’t really say no to the flying hours, and anyway David says it won’t be as bad as the forecast says.

The weather is as bad as forecast and not only does the aeroplane get hit by lightning, Janet falls off the taxiway in the dark and strikes a prop and bogs the left hand gear.

All in all, a bad night for everyone.

David’s initial response is one of fury. How could that stupid girl make such stupid novice mistakes? But on the drive to the incident, he has time to think it over.

Clearly he is as much to blame for this incident. He knowingly sent Janet, his most novice pilot, out in some pretty bad weather. He set her up to fail. Now not only does he have to fix the lightning strike damage, dig out the aeroplane and have the engine rebuilt, he has to rebuild Janet’s confidence and try to restore his own reputation.