Caveat Emptor


Consider the contradiction we pilots face between the ultimate responsibility as PIC and working in an environment where the successful completion of our tasks requires us to trust those around us.

As PICs we’re responsible for … everything. It’s the ultimate “buck stops here” situation where everything falls on our shoulders. We’re responsible for the condition of our craft, the behavior of our passengers, the safe execution of all the tasks we must perform in flight, etc. Yet, those responsibilities cannot be fulfilled without help. Consequently, we pilots must also be a trusting bunch.

We trust our mechanics. We trust air traffic controllers. We trust fuelers, weather briefers, our instructors, even the unseen technicians who maintain the National Airspace System. We must, because we’re the ones at the pointy end of an entire system.

That’s why it’s especially distasteful when one of those trusted parties betrays that trust. Most of the time transgressions against our trust are innocent and can easily be overlooked. But, what if they’re deliberate?

News flash: There are bad actors in aviation, just as they lurk everywhere. In an industry where trust is a critical element in safety, there are some who deliberately abuse that trust, starting companies, walking the thin line of propriety for a brief period before falling over to the “take your money and run” side of that line.

I’ve patronized one particular avionics shop for over two decades. They were superb at what they did, charged
fairly, and backed up their work. Then the owner retired and the business came under new management. The rest of the shop was mostly the same, with many of the same excellent people. But the one person acting as general manager was a contradiction.

People (okay, “I”) trusted him to do what was requested. He didn’t. He’d pad my bill, charge for items never done, and add items not requested. My aircraft was even damaged while under his care. When I pointed this out, the answer was a blatant, “On, no. It was that way when you brought it in.” It wasn’t, but without hard proof, I could only walk away. (That story has a happy ending.
The rest of the ownership of this onceethical shop fired that one shareholder/ employee who was the problem. He still owns his share, but is no longer an employee
or representative. The shop is now trying to pick up the pieces and recover from his mismanagement.)

In an effort to build, retain, and refine my skills—another trait we “accomplished” pilots share—I purchased a simulator. I’ve talked about this before. I paid around $50K for the sim, yet after years of promises and corporate troubles through which delivery was continually assured, it never came. Unknown to me (because I trusted and didn’t really investigate), that company earned a lot of exposure for taking orders and never delivering.

Other than to whine, what’s my point? Simply this: None of us has risen to where we are as pilots and/or aircraft owners without a certain savvy view of life. Be sure to bring that to aviation, lest your necessary trust otherwise be betrayed. Trust; but verify.


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