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Last week there was yet another incident reported where pilots were asleep in the cockpit of a passenger airliner. This time it was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 en route from Khartoum to Addis Ababa. It failed to descend to Addis Ababa due to both pilots being asleep.
Those who have read ‘Pulling Wings From Butterflies’ will know my background is significantly different from most of today’s airline pilots. When many of today’s aviators were flying low level in military jets, I was busy travelling around Europe drumming for the post-punk band B.F.G. Consequently, the differences in mindset are astounding.
Maybe this explains why the vast majority of airline pilots will operate a duty even though they know they will become fatigued during the duty. That is a criminal act. Maybe the years of institutionalised demands that they ‘must follow orders at all cost’ is so ingrained they cannot comprehend that ‘the mission is the number one priority’ is now subservient to ‘keeping their passengers and crews safe.’


Taken From The Forthcoming “Pulling Wings from Butterflies – Tercio de Banderillas”

“Ask yourself the following question. Would you make a stand in the interests of passenger and crew safety if you knew it would likely risk your career and position that you had spent decades and tens of thousands of pounds building? A career which, at least for the first few years, meant having no money and required two jobs to survive? Would you risk your family’s financial future and the probability that you could no longer service your financial commitments? Would you risk having your good name and reputation trashed, marked as “difficult”, labelled “dishonest” and have your “integrity” challenged by the industry establishment, all for doing the right thing?
If you concluded that no, you would not take a stand because of the enormous personal ramifications, don’t feel too bad. If you are reading this book sitting on an aircraft as a passenger, it will therefore come as no surprise that the two pilots currently sitting a few feet away from you in the cockpit will have quite likely come to the same conclusion, on more than one occasion. It’s not worth the personal upheaval to do the right thing. It’s just not worth upsetting management. Now, sit back, relax and enjoy your flight”


Those of you who have already read Pulling Wings from Butterflies will be fully aware of the incident shortly after my court case. Two out of the three pilots on an Airbus 330 were asleep in the cockpit moments before landing into Manchester. On board were more than 365 passengers and crew. It would be reasonable to expect the pilots reported the situation to not only the airline but also the CAA. They did not. They referred directly to my case and stated that they had reasonably concluded that no action would be taken against the airline for planning flight duties resulting in such fatigue it directly placed passengers lives at serious risk. They were right. 

Kathryn Jones is the ‘safety improvement manager’ at the CAA. According to Jones LinkedIn profile her “specialist area of knowledge is fatigue management, including flight time limitations”.
Jones stated in a BBC report “We have no evidence of significant safety concerns with regard to crew and fatigue”, adding;
“The evidence the CAA has is that the fatigue of crew is not a significant safety concern.”
An interesting view from Jones that completey contradicts the evidence. Indeed The CAA claim they have only had two reports of both pilots being asleep at the same time in the cockpit.

Compare the above statement by Jones with a survey conducted by the pilot union BAPLA. 

The BALPA survey involved 500 airline pilots. The question asked; “Have you ever involuntarily fallen asleep on the flight deck during two crew operation?” Forty-three per cent stated that they had.
They then asked, “and if yes, have you ever woken to find the other pilot asleep?” Thirty-one per cent stated that this had happened to them.   


The situation is dire. As happened in my case, neither the regulator, the CAA, or the union BALPA supported an open an shut case of an airline attempting to bully one of its most senior pilots to fly, even though it’s own software predicted the pilot would be flying at an equivalent effectiveness of that of a drunk driver. Given this systemic failure, was it any surprise that within the union forums, the following comments were made by my colleagues?
  • “FATIGUING. Another report going in, for all the good it may do. Our Company have no interest in flight safety, it appears.”
  • The company claim that a clear day in GOI is more knackering than a bullet. NASA state otherwise. An 18-30 is the worst rest scenario . I presume our management will next be refuting that the Apollo space programme enacted lunar landings”
  • “It is our responsibility to look after ourselves to a large extent and when individuals are singled out for that special treatment that Scadeng and his cronies believe is an effective way to manage a group of professional people, BALPA should offer more support than has been offered to members in the recent past.”


A breach of any of the following  is a criminal act.
The choice is clear for all airline pilots. Either comply with the bullies and empower them or grow a backbone and inform them of the following laws that both you and they MUST comply with.
  • “EU. Ops 2.2 ‘An operator will ensure that for all its flights, flights are planned to be completed within the allowable flight duty period taking into account the time necessary for pre-flight duties, the flight and turn-around times.”
  • ANO 146 (1) ‘A person must not act as a member of the crew of an aircraft to which this article applies if they know or suspect that they are suffering from or having regard to the circumstances of the flight to be undertaken are likely to suffer from such fatigue as may endanger the safety of the aircraft or of its occupants’.
  • ANO 145 (2) ‘The operator of an aircraft to which this article applies must not cause or permit any person to fly as a member of its crew who the operator knows or has reason to believe is suffering from or, having regard to the circumstances of the flight to be undertaken, is likely to suffer from, such fatigue as may endanger the safety of the aircraft or of its occupants.’
  • E.U. Ops 3.6. ‘Operators shall ensure flight duty periods are planned to enable crew members to remain sufficiently free from fatigue so they can operate to a satisfactory level of safety under all circumstances. ‘



Two pilots are believed to have fallen asleep and failed to commence their decent during a flight from Sudan to Ethiopia on Monday.
The incident took place on board an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 en route from Khartoum to Addis Ababa.  It is reported that the aircraft maintained its cruising of 37,000 feet on autopilot when air traffic control were  unable to wake the crew despite making several attempts at contact. The pilots finally woke when the autopilot disconnect was was triggered when the plane overshot the runway and continued along the route.
The aircraft subsequently began to descend, landing safely around 25 minutes later. 


It has been reported widely today that  pilot working for Italy’s state-run airline, ITA, has been fired for allegedly falling asleep at the controls during a flight from New York to Rome last month.

The co-pilot stated he was taking “controlled rest” at the time. The captain of the flight was also unreachable by air traffic control for just over 10 minutes, with the plane cruising on autopilot.

Italian politician Michele Anzaldi apologised for the incident on the Italian state-run airline.

“What happened on the ITA flight from New York, where both pilots fell asleep, is very grave,” he said. “The company has a duty to guarantee that this will never happen again and must apologise to the passengers.”

Of course there was the obligatory statement by the airline stating that there was “no evidence of any external flight activity” and reiterated that the safety of the flight was not compromised.

Please note, the second book in the ‘Pulling Wings From Butterflies’ series is to be released once the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK complete their review of the case surrounding information brought to  police attention that are contained within the three book series


I am pleased to announce that the foreword for the second book in the “Pulling Wings From Butterflies” trilogy has been written by Karlene herself. 

The book is to be released once the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK complete their review of the case surrounding information brought to  police attention that are contained within the three book series


The year was 2016 when I first connected with Captain Mike Simkins and learned of his case that ultimately became the story on which you are about to embark. 

While these events in Mike’s life are nothing short of a legal thriller, I was not surprised at the depths that Thomas Cook management dove to sink him for refusing to operate a flight while fatigued. I was not shocked that the CAA provided management with the oxygen tanks to ensure his drowning. 

I wasn’t even stunned when BALPA stood smugly on the shore, watching the attack without assistance. However, I was slack-jawed as I read the details of this courtroom drama that paralleled a tragedy on the other side of the world, one of which I was personally involved. 

Mike’s story is not unique to the UK. Airline management is attacking pilots in the US for reporting Federal violations that impact safety, calling in fatigued, or refusing to operate an aircraft illegally. Be it a letter of warning, suspension, termination, or a fabricated psychiatric evaluation that would ground a pilot for life.


EBOOK £5.99


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Due to repeated demand, it was decided to re-print the book ‘Pulling Wings from Butterflies – Tercio De Varas’.

Due to repeated demand, ‘Pulling Wings from Butterflies – Tercio De Varas’ has been reprinted in hardback.

‘Pulling Wings from Butterflies’ tells the true story the aviation establishment DON”T want telling; those dreaming of becoming pilots and cabin crew WON”T want to hear; and passengers NEED to know.

Purchase direct from the website for a signed copy.

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part one - Tercio de varas

The first book in the trilogy begins by following the unique journey of Captain Mike Simkins from touring Europe as a drummer and performing with some of the most prominent musical artists of the late ’80s, to becoming a commander on the world’s most advanced passenger aircraft.

Ultimately, the wings were pulled from the butterfly of a dream career when, Mike stood alone to confront a multibillion-dollar aviation establishment when he refused to place profit before safety.

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PArt TWO - Tercio de banderillas

Will the pilot union BALPA and the regulator, the CAA, support a legal case of major significance to the safety of airline passengers and crew? 

What’s the reason unions and regulators allow airlines to have  ‘Cash Cadet’ pilots with zero jet experience pay them to fly fare-paying passengers?

Why do pilots agree to fly when dangerously fatigued that directly places not only themselves but their passengers and crews in danger?

What was the answer from the Thomas Cook CEO to the question ‘did the company put profit before safety’ in relation to two children’s death in Corfu?

How will a pilot with zero legal experience confront a multimillion-pound multinational at trial?

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part three - Tercio de MUERTE

Crews admit that they are knowingly flying duties in the full expectation they will suffer fatigue. They are committing these criminal acts due to the “Bullying” culture at one of the UK’s biggest airlines.

The CAA is provided with irrefutable proof that duty times are knowingly falsified to make it appear they conformed with strictly laid down maximum times and that pilots are flying at the equivalent effectiveness of a drunk driver. Their response? ‘Get over it.’ . 

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