I have memories of many aircraft I worked on, but this one, 9V-SFN, is one I’ll never forget, not that the reasons for my memories are all good.

I owe SFN a bit of an apology due to one challenging night over a decade ago. On that night, as operator of the in-plane cargo system, the actions of me and my crew damaged this very airplane twice in the process of loading. Nothing major (puncture of cargo hold lining, and torn off trim around the SCD, and nothing that delayed departure and couldn’t be fix with a little application of speed tape. But she was a fairly new bird, and I was one of the first to ding her up a bit.

She’s been flying for over 15 years now and I’m sure she’s suffered more indignities in the ensuing years, probably looking a bit worn out by now, but then again, so am I. SQ takes good care of their aircraft and used SQ aircraft often command premium prices (if the model is in demand), and once she retires from their fleet, if ever, I’m sure she’ll continue to have a long career with another carrier.

I sadly also learned that night that, while you may be part of the crew, don’t expect the union members to step up and admit their mistakes when there’s a member of management they can lay the blame on. I ended up getting full blame for both incidents when there was actually several of us at fault; I was willing to admit my part in the incidents, but the other guilty parties didn’t do the same. I can’t really blame the guys for selling me out as we had a boss that was all too happy to shitcan anyone for the smallest mistake. But they had their union to fight for them, regardless of right or wrong, whilst I, as management, had no such protection. Thankfully I was on good terms with the boss and the accident investigator and didn’t suffer any career-ending setbacks.

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The funny part in the incident report was that it stated that the problems were caused by a lack of training. Upon seeing this somewhat erroneous conclusion I went to the training department and asked for any and all training materials that we had — books, videos, etc. — so that I could master this aircraft. I was not in the least bit surprised when they came back and told me that they didn’t have any of those things. When asked how I was supposed to learn the systems I was also not surprised to be told that the only way to learn them at our company was hands-on. Yeah, well, that didn’t exactly work out all that well, now did it?..