Richard Champion de Crespigny AM

Personal Aim

“to have fun with the highest technologies (top six disruptors), to improve the planet and to inspire our young

Affiliations

Patron, Disabled WinterSport Australia

Ambassador, St Vincent’s Hospital Ambassador for Quality and Safety

Visiting Lecturer, Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security, Charles Sturt University

Patron, Uiver DC2 Memorial Community Trust

Ambassador, Bloodhound SSC

Ambassador, STEMnet UK

Fellow, Royal Aeronautical Society  (FRAeS)

Graduate,  The Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD)

Member, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

Member, Flight Safety Foundation (FSF)

Education

  • Melbourne Grammar (Victoria, Australia)  (Matriculation)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)  (Physics and Maths)
  • Post Graduate Diploma of Military Aviation  (DipMilAv)

Awards

  • AM – Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia, by the Governor-General His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) for “significant service to the aviation industry both nationally and internationally, particularly for flight safety, and to the community”.
  • HonDUniv – Doctor of the University (honoris causa), Charles Sturt University
My family on Sydney harbour (Mariea sadly not present)

Me, Coral. Alexander, Sophia, Neil, Dad on Sydney harbour 2011

Neil Armstrong, me, my father Peter on Sydney harbour 2011

Neil, me, my father Peter on Sydney harbour 2011

(Photo: Richard de Crespigny)

Sully (Photo: Richard de Crespigny)

45 comments

  1. Jeremiah Chin · · Reply

    Dear Richard,

    I recently reread your book and I found something which confused me. On Pg. 182, you mentioned you checked the Tail camera and the camera mounted beside the main landing gear bay. What confused me was the fact that if the Fan Disk slashed the belly of the fuselage then wouldn’t the slash mark be visible on the camera? Correct me if I had mistaken.

    1. Jeremiah,

      The the camera mounted centre and just forward of the main wheels has a narrow angle, and so would not provide views of our fuselage damage.

  2. Gwen K. · · Reply

    Would the aircraft have been able to fly on autopilot after the uncontained engine failure if Propulsion Controlled Aircraft control system was integrated into the A380, or would the other failures rendered a Propulsion Controlled Aircraft system somewhat useless?

    1. Good question Gwen,

      • The engine’s thrust line is below the drag line and so thrust will pitch the aircraft (good)
      • Flaps, slats, fuel distribution-jettison, pax distribution (50 pax forward/aft to wing root ~ 2% A380 CG change), spoilers, ailerons, slats, stabilisers and elevators all effect the CG
      • PCA on Airbus aircraft would only be relevant where the flight controls have degrade down 2 or 3 layers to direct law or electrical backup mode
      • Software must prevent complex phugoids

      UA232 and DHL Express are exemplar examples for aspiring PCAs.

      The challenges for PCA are enormous especially when multiple complex systems fail (QF32). Also remember if you build it, you have to train it. Training a pilot to conduct PCA operations for all the options would be a mammoth challenge. This is the reasons why manufacturers are loath to add complexity that add costs, complexity or additional failure modes. (This was the reason Airbus did not integrated the Armstrong Spiral into their FMSs).

      Ultimately it comes down to risk. Events of a probability of fewer than 10^-9 are not considered in aviation. You are thousands of times more likely to have a preventable death in a hospital than in a commercial aircraft.

      Pilots who want to be resilient to complex flight control failures must research:

      For example, to understand how to move fuel to effect a cg change, pilots would need access to, and know how to apply a different version of the following graph (that are not commonly available) for their aircraft type:
      A380 fuel tank CG vectors

      Military fighter jets have a great capacity to reconfigure for battle damage. I remember seeing an F/A-18 fighter at Williamtown AFB in the mid 1980s that landed with half a wing missing after a mid-air collision during a dogfight (the Sidewinder of one F/A-18 cut through the wing off the other F/A-18).

      If you wish to review more about PCA then please refer to the March 2017 edition of the The Aeronautical Journal of the RAeS that has a 31 page chapter starting at page 341 titled, “Reconfigurable Dynamic Control Allocation for Aircraft with actuator failures”.

      1. Gwen K. · ·

        Given the events of UAL 232, JAL 123, DHL attempted shootdown, KAL 007 (flew several minutes without hydraulics before crashing), THY 981, BKL 130… loss of three hydraulic systems is not unthinkable. NASA was able to develop the program and an MD-11 landed normally (no damage to the aircraft), Software prevented complex phugoids. Usually after a few accidents changes in design are made (like the DC-10 after AAL 96 & THY 981) Would PCA on an A380 be worth it considering the potential for the worst aviation disaster of all time if crash? (Given capacity of aircraft) Would it be logical on other major new airliners like the A350 and 787?

  3. Thanks for a great flight from Dubai to Sydney on the 16th of April. You are a great captain and I remember that you came out of the cockpit and walked around the cabin talking to passengers during our meal time. Always remembering your great job to land QF32 safely. You are true legend ..!

  4. Hi Richard,

    My husband, Milo, and I had the privilege of flying with you from London to Dubai on the 6th February 2017.

    We thought your go around added another bit of de Crespigny skill to the flight! Thanks for your care in getting us safely to our destination.

    1. Thanks Barbara.

      I’m glad you share our passion flying our wonderful A380s.

      First Officer Anthony Gill did an excellent job flying the Go Around at Dubai, that started from 300 feet above the ground.

      Go Arounds are extremely busy events with lots happening inside and outside the cockpit. Go Arounds are historically the most miss-managed events in aviation – mixing too much (maximum) engine thrust with too little aircraft weight, fatigue and a massive dose of the startle (surprise) effect during the most busy phase of flight. Many things can (and do) go wrong. In our case, we had to go around because the previous aircraft in front of us was too slow vacating the runway.

      I have never flown a real Go Around in my 30 year commercial aviation career. However …

      Be prepared. Expect the unexpected.

      We were prepared. Anthony had mitigated for a Go Around one hour before the approach. We briefed then “armchair flew” the Go Around during our briefing before the top of descent. Anthony also called for a silent “Go Around” review two minutes before the event. Anthony was prepared when the air traffic controller called (very loudly) “[callsign] GO AROUND!” Anthony remained calm and flew the aircraft deliberately, smoothly and accurately. There was no startle effect.

      This is an example of threat and risk management, “chronic unease”, decision making and leadership in action. Anthony has it all in spades. It’s always a pleasure to fly with him.

      This was one more day in the lifetime of learning for an airline pilot.

      Rich

  5. Thanks for a great flight from Dubai to Sydney on the 24th of January. You were a great captain and I remember that you came out of the cockpit to talk to all of us about the A380.

    1. My pleasure Owen. Great to have you on board! Best Rich

  6. Working with what you have…

    My friend sent me this article on Captain Richard de Crespigny and the QF32 flight from Singapore to Sydney.

  7. Omar Naibkhil · · Reply

    Hi, Richard, i just have a few questions to ask you about becoming a pilot for qantas. How long does it take to become an a380 pilot, this is my only dream in life to become. i have the passion, determination, and dedication of becoming a pilot, im now in yr 12 and going to apply to a university, and set my way from there of becoming a pilot, and what it actually takes? thnks!

    1. Omar All the answers are in my book and at Aspiring Pilots. Good luck. Rich

  8. Hi Richard,

    I am making a video for a school assignment, and have chosen you as a leader in our society. I would love to know some more information on how you led the team on QF32 and if there was much tension in the cockpit, I have already read the book and absolutely love it.

    Can’t wait for your next book. Aviation is my passion, and I hope to join the RAAF when I graduate and see where my flying career can take me.

    Thanks,

    Oscar

    1. Oscar there is more information about Leadership, Teamwork and Human Factors coming out in my next book. The book will unfortunately be too late for your assignment.

      Best wishes for school and your future career! Rich

      1. Thanks for your reply, that’s all fine. I’ll go through the book again and keep looking at the air crash investigations episode to find qualities of leadership, I’m sure you have many. Can’t wait for the next book, keep them coming!

      2. Hi Richard, me again.

        I handed in my video today on the sixth anniversary of the flight! I thought this was a pretty nice coincidence. I’d love to show it to you but can’t put it on YouTube as it is under a school licence and has lots of copyrighted material in it. It’s truly amazing what you did on that day six years ago, and I am now convinced you are the role model for my life.

        Thanks once again,

        Oscar

      3. Congratulations on your completion of your video Oscar. I have high hopes for you becoming a successful producer in our exciting and disruptive new world. Rich

  9. Gianluca Pangallo · · Reply

    Hi Richard,

    I read your book and watched air crash investigation and must say what a saviour you are to all the people on board!

    Regards, Gianluca

  10. Hi Richard,

    I wanted to again thank you and all the onboard crew and support staff on QF010 from London to Melbourne a few days ago.

    The service, professionalism and general warmth shown by everyone was the highlight of my first international trip, and just when I thought it could not get better you chose to spend some time with me one-on-one which I can say I will never forget (and when I was able to tell my wife during the stop over in Dubai it went a very long way to lifting her concerns).

    The whole experience has reinforced two of my core beliefs; strength in unity, and it’s not about the destination but the journey.

    My utmost thanks to you and all crew for a great job and for all the passion and dedication shown.

    I can say without a doubt I agree with you 100%, the service and experience is the best it’s ever been.

    Kind regards,

    Shane.

  11. Allan Davies · · Reply

    Dear Richard,

    It was a privilege to have you as the Captain on QF10 from London to Dubai on Wednesday. Your professionalism and passion for the job really shows with the extra information about the engines and the ailerons. Also taking the time to wander through the cabin during the flight and meet some of the travellers was a really nice touch.

    Being a descendant of Sir Fergus McMaster, I have always enjoyed the wonderful history associated with QANTAS and we’re lucky to have people like yourself taking us on our journeys across the globe.

    Kind Regards

    Allan

    1. Hi Allan, it was our pleasure to have you on board our great A380 two nights ago.

      Our fourth A380 (VH-OQD) and the 26th A380 built at Airbus is named “Fergus McMaster” after your ancestor, the founder and first Chairman of Qantas.

      If he were alive today, Fergus would be proud of the efforts by over 100,000 people who advanced the airline over the past 96 years to its iconic state today. I am very proud of everyone in uniform and in the teams that advance our airline. Everything we do is to continue Fergus McMaster’s vision and to keep our passengers safe. The airlines values and customer care have never been better.

      Heading into the deserts in the 1920s, the first pilots in Fergus’ time sketched their own dynamic maps of toilet paper that they rolled out as the flight progresses. They rolled the toilet paper back up as they reversed their route home.

      Today between 1 – 1.4 million passengers are airborne in 3,000 Airbus, 3,000 Boeing and 3,000 other commercial aircraft at any time.

      Pilots operate with an attitude of chronic unease expecting the worst, and hoping for the best. In 2014, there were 641 fatalities in 12 flights out of 3.3 billion passengers on 38.0 million flights. That’s a 5.07 sigma or 0.00002 percent failure rate – unequalled in any transport industry. Having a chronic unease explains why, even with our 99.99998 percent success rate, pilots still reinforce the message – “Safe Flying”

      Safe Flying

      Rich

      Christmas - Dubai - 2015

  12. Charlotte de Crespigny · · Reply

    I am proud to share our family name and history and feel privileged to know what you’ve achieved so bravely – your art and love of flying AND superb technical skill and lateral thinking saved lives and demonstrated how technology alone can’t necessarily ‘save the day’.
    Your cousin Professor Charlotte Francis Champion de Crespigny, Adelaide

    1. Thank you Charlotte.

      We all have exciting ancestors. Sir Claude CdeC was a keen aviator. In 1881 while trying to break a balloon world record he instead crashed into a wall breaking his leg (QF32 p 14). This was twenty two years before the Wright brothers took their first flight. Claude was a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).

      The RAeS celebrates its 150th Anniversary this year. The RAeS was formed in 1866 and held its first meeting in London on the 27th June 1866. The RAeS formed when balloons were the only aerial vehicles. A lot has changed in aeronautics over the last 150 years. As we transitioned from balloons to air then to spacecraft, the opportunities that lay ahead broadened and also our necessity to continue adapting.

      His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia will soon host a reception on the occasion of the150th Anniversary of the RAeS. Military, aviation, political and other industry leaders will attend the event. It will be a great opportunity to remember and share the intrepid stories of Claude, his peers and those magnificent men of the RAeS and their flying machines.

      I’ve diverted from the topic, however your message is a segue to our aviation ancestors and the pride I have for their great achievements.

      Best wishes Rich.

  13. Craig Fulton · · Reply

    Dear Richard,

    I am a Masters student from the University of New South Wales and I am writing a project on risk management using your QF32 flight as my primary case study.

    I just wanted to say that I was absolutely astonished with how calm you and your flight crew remained throughout this terrifying ordeal and in awe of your decision to complete risky control checks before you approached Changi Airport in Singapore. It must be some feeling knowing that you played a significant role in saving the lives of 468 people on the plane.

    Despite the excellent of outcome of landing the plan successfully and getting all the passengers home safely, do you have any recommendations about how such an in-flight situation like this could be managed better from a risk management perspective?

    Any help would be very much appreciated.

    Kind Regards,
    Craig

  14. Good evening

    I just watched Mayday Air Crash Investigation episode which features Qantas Flight 32 “Titanic in the Sky”.

    It became very apparent to me that you are not only a talented pilot, but also an exceptional leader.

    You Sir maintained a calm atmosphere where everyone knew and performed their roles. At one point in the crisis, you re-set the flight deck team to focus on what systems were working rather being focussed on the endless alarms and lists of things that had failed. You also communicated clearly and dealt with the realities but focused on the positives. You managed the risks by making sure others didn’t rush and that they triple-checked all calculations.

    Because of that proof of leadership, you not only saved 440 passengers and the crew, you showed a great love for flying and that deserves nothing but respect and admiration.

    Speechless I am for this.

    Sincerely my respect for you Sir

    1. Thank you Khris,

      I am humbled by your comments, but wish to add that QF32 was a team win. I could never have accomplished all that was done on my own. I owe all the members of the many teams that helped us my highest respect and gratitude. I am proud and honoured to share your praise with them.

      Best wishes, Rich

      1. Hi! and thank you so much for answering.

        Well yes, it was a team work; of course the rest of the crew were also amazing. Flying that “monster” required not only a brain but more and it the Q32 – 5 brains.

        Thank you again!!!

        Blessings😊

  15. Tejaswa Mishra · · Reply

    Hello Richard
    I’m doing an undergraduate in law in India. I however aspire to be an aviator. Please advise me as to what career options I have in order to pursue my zeal.
    Thanks.

    1. Look at here Tejasw Aspiring Aviators

      Best wishes!

      Rich

  16. Lawrence Hanna · · Reply

    Hi Richard, I am 16 years old and I want to become a pilot.
    What should I do in order to get started?

    1. Dear Lawrence,

      Click here for your checklist for career in the skies.

      Good luck!

      Rich

  17. Stacie Wallis · · Reply

    Hi Richard!!

    I want to take a moment to say thank you for your kindness the other day when you took me on a long in-flight tour of the A380 (I was the terrified girl with the fear of flying who was on your flight from Dallas to Sydney).

    You were so sweet and made the flight much more bearable. We fly back home to Sydney tomorrow to the horrendous storm and I am praying your the pilot 😀. Thank you again for everything and all the best to your wife Coral as well. She was a sweetie!!!

    1. Hi Stacie,

      Relax. You are in safe hands. The pilots know their limits, the A380’s limits and they will have updates on the Sydney weather every 30 minutes from the Bureau of Meteorology and company meteorologists if required.

      Your crew will divert the aircraft to an airport that has better weather If the weather at Sydney is outside any pilot, company, aircraft or regulatory limit.

      If the weather and other conditions are safe and inside all limits, then the pilots will probably make an approach. They will always maintain the ability to go around and try again if things get a bit rough.

      I explained to you during our in-flight tour of the A380 that you can’t pull the wings off modern aircraft in turbulence, that the A380 is incredibly strong, indeed more capable to absorb turbulence than your body. You are always safe if you keep your seat belt fastened.

      I also explained the fly by wire systems on the A380 and the A380’s “dance of the ailerons” that makes the aircraft so controllable, smooth and resilient. If you are seated near the wing then please watch the “dance of the ailerons” as you come in to land. This will be the best time to view it. This dance is an amazing exhibition of advanced fly-by-wire computers making flight smooth and safe.

      You’ll be fine Stacie. You now have the knowledge and experience now to understand flight and to know that you are safe. You have confidence in the crews and the aircraft to do the right things.

      You can now take control of your emotions, and thus keep CALM.

      Your flight is just another flight to the pilots in my airline. We practice these sorts of approaches regularly. It might be a little more bumpy than normal tomorrow, but you can be confident that you are in the safest hands.

      Sit back and be sure to watch a few movies to pass the time.

      I’d be very pleased to have my wife Coral on board your flight again to keep you company.

      Best Regards Rich and Coral (in London coming home).

  18. Hi Richard,

    I am writing a biography on you at school. I have read your book but I cannot find all the information I need. So would you please answer my questions:

    1. When were you born?
    2. What were your First Jobs?

    1. Hi Oliver,

      My best wishes to you as you compile my biography. Here are the answers to your questions:

      1. I was born on the 31st May. I was 17 when I joined the RAAF. (See QF32 page 28)

      2. I had my first job when I was six years old. I cleared tables at the Frying Pan Inn, a small cafe on the snow at the base of the Summit Ski Run at the Falls Creek ski resort in Victoria, Australia. Being a waiter was a tricky job at the age of six as my entire left leg was cast in plaster. I had broken my leg just two hours into the my first day of the first year that I went snow skiing! That year (1963) we were accommodated just 50 metres away from the Frying Pan Inn, in a small apartment that was located on the top floor of the “Power House” building, that housed the motors that powered the Summit and Village T-Bars.

      Times and attitudes of the 1960s were different to the same today. Mum never objected to my employment as a waiter at the age of six years, probably because she was not told. Mum was otherwise busy at that time back in Melbourne at the Richmond Hospital, giving birth to my brother Christopher. Dad, my brothers and I tried to keep my injury a secret from Mum, however a mischievous nurse in that hospital informed Mum that her third son had recently been a transit visitor in the same hospital’s emergency ward for four hours being treated for a fractured leg, before being whisked away on a four hour drive back to the snow fields. Mum was not amused. Hence my comments at QF32 page 26.

  19. Zachary Johnson · · Reply

    Hi richard
    I was just wondering if i may ask some questions about a career as a pilot
    1. Are you still flying today.( as a airline pilot)
    2. What to do after high school and where to go from there
    3. And what are the very detailed stages to getting there

    Yours sincerely Zachary

    1. Hi Zachary,

      1. Yes
      2. Please read my book (http://qf32.aero)
      3. Please read my blog (https://qf32.aero/2013/09/17/aviation-pathways/)

      Best Wishes Rich

    2. Zachary Johnson · · Reply

      Thank you they were very helpful.
      I hope to be where you are one day.
      Also, your book is the best book I have ever read.
      Thanks, Zac

  20. Richard, is becoming a pilot a difficult job?

    1. Yes it is very difficult to become a pilot. It is a career and life choice and you have to be prepared to commit your body and soul towards learning for life with the aim to master the profession.

      You can do it if you are determined.

      Click here to see my article: Aviation Pathways for Aspiring Pilots

  21. John Clark · · Reply

    For what reason did Richard fail his flight check? I have just read Richards book. Is he still flying?

  22. Michael Nykanen · · Reply

    Richard,

    I am trying my absolute best to excel in my new school and I want to gain employment with the RAAF as a pilot.

    I am having trouble coping with the stress of School (currently doing 3 Unit Maths, Extension English and all the sciences.)

    Is there any advice you can give me to help me cope with the workload?

    1. Hi Michael,

      Please click here to see my answers to your questions.

      Best of luck. Let me know how yours studies progress.

      Rich

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