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Author Topic: New FRO requirements  (Read 13629 times)
MajTbird
Recruit

Posts: 18

« on: December 29, 2017, 02:19:06 AM »

Fellow members,

I hope to read your thoughts about the new Flight Release Officer requirements.  I am particularly interested in your views and concerns regarding liability and how the FRO "responsibilities" are being changed (without member input).

I have been a FRO for several years.  I find that acknowledging a CAP pilot's plans to fly a CAP aircraft, review some basic transaction details with that pilot and be on watch for the pilot's return is a reasonable volunteer activity.  I received an email several weeks ago from CAPNHQ letting me know that a "refresher" FRO course would be required by the end of the year (calendar 2017) in order to retain FRO privileges.

First, it was not a refresher course.  There are a LOT of new requirements.  And some disturbing language.  So much so that I will not be continuing as a FRO.

There is wording that the FRO position is a "contract" to perform certain oversight duties in order to release a flight.  Too, it says that the FRO becomes the "conscience" of the PIC.  This is clearly shifting a great deal of liability for any incidents or accidents to the FRO (perhaps unintended by CAP, but nevertheless the result of the new FRO functions).

The FAA is clear regarding PIC responsibilities:  The PIC is solely responsible for the safe conduct of the flight.  How can anyone share their "conscience" with the PIC for a flight?  What does that even mean, exactly?  Too, if you look at the numerous questions (in an online form) the FRO is required to answer it is clear that the FRO is setting him/herself up to accept a significant level of responsibility for the flight via taking an oversight position.

Now, I understand that this may not be CAP's intent.  But this is very poorly conceived and ignores any protection for the membership.  It is common knowledge that when accidents occur and lawsuits follow, plaintiff attorneys look to cast their net far and wide for potentially liable parties.  Someone who, by way of simply releasing the flight, likely very innocently, has a solid record of signing off on a number of weather, crew and safety elements as well as having agreed to be the conscience of the PIC and, thus, becomes a dream target in court.

Folks, this is unacceptable.  And dangerous to members and their families who will find themselves at risk every time a flight is released.  Who can possibly agree to do this?  Why has CAP become so cavalier with the well-being of their membership?

I look forward to your thoughts.  And I hope others will join me in pushing back on this vulgar overreach on volunteers.  I concur that CAP has a responsibility to safely conduct operations and protect equipment and members.  But to shift serious liability that can wipe out members' family savings and future earnings and ruin reputations is no way to approach the matter.

- MajTbird
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RiverAux
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 10,974

« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 09:01:56 AM »

If you want to worry about who attorneys might sue you should just stay home and watch tv.

An aggressive attorney may decide to try to sue anyone in CAP who had anything to do with the pilot or plane -- squadron/wing commander, squadron/wing Ops officer, squadron/wing maintenance officer, the person who signed off on their form 5, and the FRO.  Anyone can get sued -- the question is whether or not you would prevail. 

Sadly, unwarranted worry about lawsuits is endemic in CAP and is one of the reasons we're losing relevance in the wider SAR/DR community. 

An interesting question is whether or not CAP would pay for the legal defense of individual members in such a situation. 
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Live2Learn
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 702

« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2017, 01:02:46 PM »

I have no problem whatsoever with an FRO acting as a critical reviewer of the pilot, the flight, and the mission.  My understanding of the "old" rules was that they said as much, though not as bluntly.  Hence after the fact I've observed some FRO's likely abdicated their responsibilities.  For example, is it good practice for an FRO to uncritically release a flight because the pilot "is a big boy" and can decide for him/herself their fitness to fly...?  If obviously congested would the pilot's self assessment be consistent with the intent of IMSAFE?  IMHO the FRO shares some responsibility for the safe outcome of flights they release.
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FW
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 2,182

« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2017, 01:18:32 PM »

FROs are not Dispatchers.  They are appointed to insure a CAP flight is allowed to proceed as per all pertinent CAP regulations.  Worrying about liability or indemnification should not be an issue if you follow the guidelines.   BTW; you always enter into "a contract" when agreeing to serve in a position....
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2017, 01:25:46 PM »

FROs are not Dispatchers.  They are appointed to insure a CAP flight is allowed to proceed as per all pertinent CAP regulations.  Worrying about liability or indemnification should not be an issue if you follow the guidelines.   BTW; you always enter into "a contract" when agreeing to serve in a position....

+1

An FRO is reviewing the available administrative requirements of launching a sortie, reminding the pilot
of their responsibilities, and acting as 3rd-party "where is he?" safety link. Nothing more, nothing less. 

The problem was that many FROs acted complacently or didn't follow the rules - follow them and you will be fine.

Plaintiffs will sue the Dunkin' Donuts a pilot stopped at on the way to the airport if they think they can find a deep
pocket willing to write a check, but as I tell all my members, if a given duty is too much for them, or outside
their comfort zone, simply disengage formally and move on.
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Dwight Dutton
Forum Regular

Posts: 155

« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2017, 01:28:23 PM »

I actually have the reverse problem with the new rules.

In my group we have a member who is probably the most productive and useful member I have ever seen in 43 years of CAP.  He has been the incident commander for just about all of our exercises for the past three years.  He is a pilot with about 700-900 hours.

I, on the other hand, have logged about 50 mission hours as an observer and won't even start learning how to be a pilot until February.

Under the new rules - we have the same FRO authority.

Someone tell me why you can qualify for Incident Commander (and be a very good one) but not be able to perform SFRO duties.
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2017, 01:53:21 PM »

Someone tell me why you can qualify for Incident Commander (and be a very good one) but not be able to perform SFRO duties.

NHQ has decided the few sortie types with higher ORM should be relegated to current pilots with at least 1,000 PIC and who
were at least at one time instrument rated.  Clearly an actuary, lawyer, or insurance adviser decided these individuals
are better suited to act in that manner.

I know more then a few higher-time pilots who never got IFR rated, and lots of more then competent ICs and upper-level
base staff who have been aircrew but not pilots.

I also know more then a few high-time Chuck Yeager types who were poop-hot in their day, but haven't flown a PIC hour in
a decade and don't always make the bets decisions because the consider the GOBC as more important then CAP regs or
making people sad.

The number of sorties needing SFROs are pretty slim, and if you look at the ORM involved in many of them,
an extra set of non-incentived eyes is probably a good idea, and no biggie.
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TheSkyHornet
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,571

« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2017, 02:33:02 PM »

Don't confuse an administrative process in CAP---regarding the sharing of safety information pertinent to flight operations---with Part 91/135/121 operations.

All CAP flights are operated under Part 91. The PIC is the sole authority for the operation of the aircraft. FROs do not have any joint authority in conducting flight operations; they are merely a process in CAP to determine the safety and compliance with CAP standards prior to permitting aircraft operations.

There is no legal basis for an FRO to "release" a flight, which is not conducted. It's based on shared system of operational control, but only in regard to the CAP paperwork, not the FAA paperwork. Huge difference. FROs are not liable for the safety of a flight. If you want to address any civil matters, from a lawsuit standpoint, at most, there may be a negligence in the process by CAP in managing its flight operations, but it's not going to be anything on the level of a civil penalty in violation of a 14/49 CFR.
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Dwight Dutton
Forum Regular

Posts: 155

« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2017, 04:58:04 PM »

The number of sorties needing SFROs are pretty slim, and if you look at the ORM involved in many of them,
an extra set of non-incentived eyes is probably a good idea, and no biggie.

This may be a California only thing, but I have been told certain types of missions can only be released by an SFRO regardless of the ORM score.  I don't know what those are, and wasn't told as I will never qualify to be an SFRO, but thats where the real heartburn seems to be.  As to a regular mission that goes over 15, honestly I would not release it anyway so I'm glad the pressure is off.
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IFLY2
Recruit

Posts: 10

« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2017, 04:58:29 PM »

Having experienced the growth of administrative requirements placed on the people who actually are trying to execute the missions of CAP, I wonder what sort of data or analysis is driving this growth.  I've posed this question before and, in the absence of an answer, I'm left to conclude the development of these regulations is entirely arbitrary.  The comments I've seen here seem to favor more and more administration.  Since CAP deems it appropriate to dump all this on the membership perhaps they'd be kind enough to explain the basis for creating this mountain of paperwork.  Going above and beyond is perfectly fine with me.  After all, CAP owns the aircraft and can impose whatever rules they like for us to fly them.  I'd just like to know there is something that could be shared with the membership that provides evidence validating the need for more regulations.  Most of the membership, in my experience, have proven themselves to be conscientious and trustworthy.  The pilots got to be pilots by rising to the requirements set by the FAA.  The additional layers of regulation which some members defend citing safety concerns should therefore serve to make the safety record of CAP quite a bit better than for general aviation which doesn't have the benefit of CAP regulations.  I'd really like to see the numbers that back this notion up.  Sadly, our safety record is not that good.  I have the suspicion that the process of handling the administrative requirements is lulling members into a false sense of security.  I see this as simply adding stress to flight planning rather than allowing pilots and aircrew to concentrate on the relevant factors.

As a specific example of CAP regulations, I think the new FRO rules are badly worded, ill conceived, and generally not very well thought out.
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2017, 05:17:14 PM »

The number of sorties needing SFROs are pretty slim, and if you look at the ORM involved in many of them,
an extra set of non-incentived eyes is probably a good idea, and no biggie.

This may be a California only thing, but I have been told certain types of missions can only be released by an SFRO regardless of the ORM score.  I don't know what those are, and wasn't told as I will never qualify to be an SFRO, but thats where the real heartburn seems to be.  As to a regular mission that goes over 15, honestly I would not release it anyway so I'm glad the pressure is off.

It can't be enforced without an approved supplement, and it certainly shouldn't be a secret since FROs need to know
what sorties they can't release.

My assumption here is that WMIRS does not vet this.
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2017, 05:18:18 PM »

Since CAP deems it appropriate to dump all this on the membership perhaps they'd be kind enough to explain the basis for creating this mountain of paperwork.

What paperwork?
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RiverAux
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 10,974

« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2017, 06:46:24 PM »

Quote
Having experienced the growth of administrative requirements placed on the people who actually are trying to execute the missions of CAP, I wonder what sort of data or analysis is driving this growth.

Jeez, just recently learned that now even the production of annual histories is a requirement.  I'm all about history, but making this a requirement in an organization that just barely has enough active people to conduct an operation in the first place is just nuts. 
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2017, 06:50:36 PM »

Quote
Having experienced the growth of administrative requirements placed on the people who actually are trying to execute the missions of CAP, I wonder what sort of data or analysis is driving this growth.

Jeez, just recently learned that now even the production of annual histories is a requirement.  I'm all about history, but making this a requirement in an organization that just barely has enough active people to conduct an operation in the first place is just nuts.

Can you cite that?
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MajTbird
Recruit

Posts: 18

« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2017, 07:35:57 PM »

Below is just one part of the new FRO requirements the FRO must complete.  The whole release process takes between 20 and 45 minutes.

Completing this does no more to ensure a safe flight than does completing an ORM form.  If they did we should expect CAP's safety and incident record to be far superior to that of general aviation.  Can we see some data that all of this is paying off?

Note the incomplete options for several questions below and some of the nonsensical questions.  Note also the numerous questions where you are taking responsibility for assuring PIC responsibilities.

Clearly a lot of work went into this.  Unfortunately, not a lot of thought went into it.  Never let activity to be mistaken for productivity.  This is clearly a case where paperwork (Ok, yes, it's on a computer but the analogy fits) is being offered up as some instrument to prevent accidents or incidents. 

While reviewing and acknowledging safety for a planned flight is a wise thing to do, it is the responsibility of the PIC to do that.  No one else.  Even hinting at sharing responsibility is a very dangerous precedent.  CAP pilots are rated by the FAA and have passed a CAPF-5.  That should be enough to expect that they conduct flights safely and responsibly.  Adding another layer isn't helping.  Especially a layer that will result in legal exposure for a well-intending member who announced, by releasing a flight, that he/she knowingly and willfully took on a measure of the responsibility (and liability) for a flight that ended in damage, injury or death.  If you think CAP wouldn't "go there," think again:  CAP routinely reminds us that we can/will be held responsible for damage done to planes when merely moving them in/out of a hangar (watch the ground handling video).  Imagine when the stakes are higher...and you accepted responsibility for the outcome.


FRO Checklist


Date Submitted: 12/28/2017 by: C.A.P. Member Last Updated: 12/28/2017 by: C.A.P. member

Aircraft Information

What aircraft (N number) is the pilot intending to fly?     
N12345

What type of aircraft is this?     
C172

Are there any maintenance discrepancies for this aircraft?     
Yes

Is the pilot aware of the discrepancies, if there are any? If not, review them with the pilot. In either case, did you confirm that the pilot can fly with these discrepancies.     
Yes
No

Is it legal to fly with these discrepancies?     
Yes
No
N/A

Does it make sense to fly with these discrepancies?     
Yes
No
N/A

When was the last time the pilot flew this aircraft and this aircraft type?     
Aircraft 2017-11-28 Type 2017-11-28

Mission Information

What mission is the pilot intending to fly on?     
18-A-1234

What sortie(s) is the pilot requesting a release for?     
A0001

What type(s) and profiles (if applicable) of sortie(s) is the pilot intending to fly?     
A0

Where is the pilot intending to fly?     
OZ RGNL (OZZ Airport)

Is the pilot intending to fly within the local area (50 NM)?     
Yes
No

Is a flight plan filed? If filing a flight plan, remind them to close it when finished.     
Yes
No

Route of flight?     
LCL

Is the pilot authorized to fly this route?     
Yes
No

Does the pilot have permission to fly to destinations outside the wing if required?     
Yes
No

Are all destinations along the route of flight authorized for landings in CAP aircraft?     
Yes
No

What time does the pilot expect to depart?     
16:00:00

How long does the pilot intend to fly?     
120 minutes

What time will the pilot land at the planned destination? Verify times.     
18:00:00

What time will you initiate missing aircraft procedures if not notified the flight has been safely concluded? Establish a time that you will contact the pilot if you have not been notified of the pilot reaching his destination. Note: This time can be no longer than 2 hours after the estimated landing time.     
2000

Verify that you have the best telephone number to reach the pilot to confirm completion of sortie if necessary.     
Yes

What type of weather does the pilot expect to see along the route of flight?     
VFR

Is the pilot current and qualified to fly this type of sortie?     
Yes

If the pilot is not qualified for this type of sortie, is the pilot properly supervised?     
N/A

Occupants

Are all of the aircraft occupants authorized to be on board this type of flight?     
Yes
No

If there are non-CAP passengers or crew members, have they completed the CAPF-9 if required?     
Yes
No
N/A

Where have they been stored for safekeeping?     
na

Operational Risk Management

What is the ORM score for this sortie?     
1.00 (Low)

Are you authorized to release a flight with that score?     
Yes
No

If not, who does the pilot need to contact?     
na

What does the pilot consider to be the highest risk for this flight?     
XXX

What is the pilot doing to mitigate this risk?     
XXX

Has the pilot read and understand the latest hot topics for pilots? If no, review with the pilot, and enter the review in WMIRS.     
Yes

Are you comfortable releasing this flight?     
Yes
No
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2017, 07:37:58 PM »

The whole release process takes between 20 and 45 minutes.

No, it doesn't.  I can't imagine where you're getting that from.
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2017, 07:41:27 PM »

...a layer that will result in legal exposure for a well-intending member who announced, by releasing a flight, that he/she knowingly and willfully took on a measure of the responsibility (and liability) for a flight that ended in damage, injury or death.  If you think CAP wouldn't "go there," think again:  CAP routinely reminds us that we can/will be held responsible for damage done to planes when merely moving them in/out of a hangar (watch the ground handling video).  Imagine when the stakes are higher...and you accepted responsibility for the outcome.

If you knowingly release a flight that doesn't comply with CAP regs, or has other safety issues you ignore, maybe.

If you do your job properly.  You're not accepting responsibility for anything beyond the screen in front of you
and the answers the pilot gives you.

You've already indicated you're not doing it anymore, so move on.  People get so wrapped around the axle
about "not problems".
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MajTbird
Recruit

Posts: 18

« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2017, 10:38:33 PM »

eclipse,

Let me address a few of your comments.

I know about the time a release requires because I've released two flights under this new system and it has taken me a little over twenty minutes to go through all the ORM checking, talking with the PIC, looking at the aircraft MX record and answering the page I posted above.  So, experience (with two straightforward flights) is my answer.  That combined with doing a thorough job.  A friend took 45 minutes to release one; that's where I got that number.

As far as your flippant comments about liability and inviting me to "move on," well, no sir.

First, anything I write or record electronically concerning a flight I release will become part of a court record should a tragic--or even a damaged aircraft--occur.  The FAA rules are one thing; but, civil liabilities are an entirely different animal.  (Ask OJ).  Anything a lawyer can convince a jury concerning my tacit approval or accepting being the "conscience" of a PIC of a flight will become my problem if a jury votes for it to be my responsibility.  That is the problem.  We've moved from checking off an administrative to-do list to being the "conscience" of the PIC.  That's not a subtle move; it is a clear shift of responsibility which carries with it a great deal of liability.  With all due respect, I'd appreciate a more professional assessment of "my responsibility" than your post.  Case law is a good place to start; easy to find if you simply look.  Being in the cross-hairs of a plaintiff lawyer on the prowl for deep pockets is not a place I care to be.  I'm shocked that CAP would expect me to go there.

As far as "move on," I am a member as are you.  We pay the same membership dues and, thus, have the same privilege to question policy as any other member.  And I will question this as it impacts my long-term service as a volunteer who has invested heavily, in terms of both time and money, to support CAP and its programs.  So when I see something I think is wrong or not in members' interest I will discuss it and ask questions--period.  If you don't care for me doing that then you certainly have the option to ignore me and read and post elsewhere.  So, sir, I will not "move on" but, rather, will read what other members have to say and consider their thoughtful contributions to the subject. 

I have already asked for an opinion from CAP's general counsel and will share his response herein.  Specifically, I want his assessment of member liability and want to know if CAP will defend members if they are sued or suffer legal repercussions acting as a FRO.  If this is a sound policy and necessary for operations then I am certain CAP will provide that for its membership.  Though, I won't be continuing as a FRO because, CAP legal defense or not, I don't care to expose myself to the possibility of having to go through it all should a suit happen.  And, it's just a waste of my time to go through all this new FRO stuff.  Regardless, I care because it does impact an organization in which I have invested a lot and care about.
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etodd
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,323

« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2017, 10:49:31 PM »

I've been involved in enough SAREXs and other situations to know that FROs typically operate differently when releasing pilots they do not know. Pilots in their Squadron that they fly with often, they know how they operate. At a SAREX, you may be releasing a pilot you've never heard of that just joined last year.

Some of the things in the Checklist mentioned above seem redundant. Projected TO times and other info has already been entered into WMIRS. No need to have discussions with the pilot getting him to verbally repeat the WMIRS info.

Occupants in the plane is all in WMIRS. Why rehash it?

How long does the pilot intend to fly? Already in WMIRS.

Mission and Sortie numbers ... WMIRS already enters that in the email sent to the FRO.

A two minute phone call or text (yes, text) usually suffices for every flight I've ever flown as a MP.
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MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO
etodd
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,323

« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2017, 10:54:43 PM »

IOW ... if the FRO checks over all the info in WMIRS / ORM  'first', then there should be very little to discuss when the pilot calls the FRO (or vice versa).
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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Aviation & Flying Activities  |  Topic: New FRO requirements
 


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