Two Boutique Air pilots were fired after failing to complete their pre-flight safety checklist. The result: an emergency exit door was ripped off moments before takeoff, sucking a passenger’s carry-on bag with it.
Emergency Door Flies Off During Takeoff After Pilots Get Careless
Standard protocol, including the mundane tasks like pre-flight checklists, that may seem necessary when everything “looks” fine are critical in the airline industry. But for reasons not disclosed, a pair of Boutique Air pilots tried to cut a corner…only to get run over.
The flight, operated by a Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12, was traveling from Minneapolis (MSP) to Ironwood (IWD) in Michigan’s upper Peninsula. Shortly before takeoff, the aircraft’s emergency exit door flew open then flew off. Startled passengers screamed and one piece of cabin baggage reportedly flew out through the opening.
This prompted a meeting before the Gogebic-Iron County Airport Board on Monday, in which passengers shared about their experience onboard. Shawn Simpson, the CEO of Boutique Air, was also present and minced no words:
“We’re not trying to hide or deny anything.”
This was not an act of nature or a mechanical issue that could have not have been anticipated. Nope, it was pilot error pure and simple and Simpon gowned up to it. The two pilots, based in San Francisco, were terminated.
Simpson also announced that Boutique Air would suspend service from Ironwood, which was probably a much bigger agenda item than the freak accident. Boutique is the only commercial carrier serving Ironwood under a federal Essential Air Service grant. Boutique promised to continue service to IRW until another airline was lined up.
I’ve sat in the pilot’s seat before (back in my US Air Force days) and gone through checklists. After awhile, especially as you know your aircraft, they seem tedious and redundant. But they are there for a reason. What really struck me abut this story was how neglecting something so small can cause something so big. And I don’t mean the door flying off or a passenger losing his bag…I mean these two pilots lost their job because of a careless error. And that was appropriate.
If if they carelessly did not complete their pre-flight checklist, who knows what other corners they cut? The pilot job is fairly unique one in that there is no room for error: lives depend upon it.
image: Botique Air