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Westjet Aircraft Plunges 20,000 Feet In A Minute  
User currently offlineVS340 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 12991 times:

I came across this article today in the Edmonto Sun http://www.canoe.ca/EdmontonNews/es.es-12-06-0003.html

CALGARY -- A minute-long nosedive by a plane which left Calgary International Airport had a Cochrane man praying for his life.

The Winnipeg-bound WestJet flight descended almost 6,100 metres (20,000 feet) in a one-minute span after encountering problems about 20 minutes after taking off from Calgary. The aircraft has since been taken out of service.

The plane plunged from a near-cruising altitude to 2,440 metres (8,000 feet) - dropping the aircraft's air masks from overhead compartments - before recovering and returning to Calgary.

"I felt the G-forces on my stomach, my chest ... all over my body," said John Perry, a Cochrane salesman and a passenger on Monday's flight.

"It took us 20 minutes to get up to more than 25,000 feet (7,620 metres) and only about one minute to come down."

Perry, a father of three- and five-year-olds, said the experience left him "making peace with God."

"I thought, 'Please forgive my sins' and 'look after my family,' " said Perry, who was flying to Winnipeg to visit a friend when the plane started to plummet.

He described the atmosphere as "eerie" and "surreal."

"But no one knew anything ... even the (flight attendants) didn't know what was going on."

Perry said most passengers turned to quiet reflection as the plane continued to drop.

"In the movies, you always hear people screaming and crying, but here it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop," said Perry.

A stiff 180-degree turn also added to the concern of the passengers, he said.

Once the aircraft stopped its dive, Perry said the captain explained the plane had fallen victim to a pressurization problem but had levelled off at 2,440 metres.

When the plane recovered from the plunge, it was forced to return to the airport, where passengers were transferred to another aircraft.

That plane was taken out of service in Calgary and a replacement aircraft was brought in, said a WestJet official who asked not to be identified. Passengers were reloaded onto the waiting plane and carried on to Winnipeg.

WestJet couldn't offer any details relating to the incident or what caused the plane to aggressively lose altitude.


Does anyon know anything further about this incident?

53 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineN79969 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 12875 times:

These numbers (either the duration of the emergency descent or the amount of descent) do not sound right.

This sounds like the media and understandably terrified passengers exaggerating what was a dramatic event. (e.g. use of the word "nosedive")

The airspeed required to descend 20,000 feet in a minute has got to be very high and is probably more than enough to overstress a transport airplane.

If anyone reads more, please post it.


User currently offlineFlyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 12834 times:

Sounds like they have they have some things confused.

Once the aircraft stopped its dive, Perry said the captain explained the plane had fallen victim to a pressurization problem but had levelled off at 2,440 metres.

Sounds like the aircraft had a depressuization and there was a pilot initiated, controlled (although very fast) descent. I can see how the passengers would've thought the plane was going to crash and would've been very fearful, but there is no reason to report it like it was going to crash and just make a one sentence mention of the real problem (much less explain what was going on).


User currently offlineLN-MOW From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 1908 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 12822 times:

Doesn't sound like the plane was out of control, but merely a precautinary rapid decent due to a pressurisation problem ...
Dramatic for the passengers, but not dangerous. If the cabin pressure drops, the aircraft must decend to below 10.000 ft as quick as possible. However it sounds like the pilots could have done a better job explaining this to the passengers once the situation was stabilized.




- I am LN-MOW, and I approve this message.
User currently offlineFlyingbronco05 From United States of America, joined May 2002, 3840 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12782 times:

Can somebody figure this out?

If a plane dove 20,000 ft in one minute, what was the angle of that dive.

It, to me, seems impossible unless it was straight down.

When you climb, the angle is about 6 degrees in most jets (plus or minus a few degrees) and they are climbing between 1500 and 3000 feet a min.

Any help would be appreciated.

FB05



Never Trust Your Fuel Gauge
User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16259 posts, RR: 56
Reply 5, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12763 times:

Was it a 732 or 73G?




Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
User currently offlineFlyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12747 times:

20000fpm down is a vertical speed of 198kts. This would equate to a 45 degree nose down pitch if the aircraft were travelling 279kts, or a 30 degree nose down pitch if the aircraft were traveling 396kts.

[Edited 2003-12-07 06:16:41]

User currently offlineCanadaEH From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 1341 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12747 times:

No comment by Westjet yet. The numbers sound a little exaggerated to me, 20K ft in a minute? Says who? Expect details on Monday.


EH.
User currently offlinePilottim747 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1607 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12723 times:

I'm with you N79969.

There is now way that this plane could descent 20,000 ft in one minute. Maybe it seemed like a minute to a passenger or the media played it up a little. It sounds like a rapid decompression descent.

pilottim747



Aviation Photographers & Enthusiasts--Coordinate your life.
User currently offlineVS340 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12667 times:

yah it seemed very strange to me when i first read it, i can understand dropping the plane to a safe altitude as fast as u can when a pressurization problem occurs, but the way this article makes it sound is that a sudden pressurization problem caused the plane to fall 20000 ft.

I guess it can be attributed to ignorance on the part of passengers and the media. I just wish the media would get things right in the first place because making a huge deal out of a problem that may not be that big in the first place makes an airline and the aircraft manufacturer look really bad when they both are known for good reputations.


User currently offlineA330marcus From Canada, joined Nov 2003, 31 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12631 times:

What can cause a pressurization problem?

User currently offlineMiles_mechanic From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 137 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12635 times:

yeah to me it sounds like it was a bit exaggerated also. I do know that when you are up at the normal cruising altitude of 30,000+ that if you loose pressurization that you only have about 5 to 8 seconds to get your oxygen mask on or you will pass out. I learned that from a training course, of course the lower you are the longer you have. Everyone remember the Payne Stewart Learjet incident from a few years ago. That is why when 1 pilot leaves the cockpit of the aircraft the other pilot is supposed to have his oxygen mask on his head, or at least in the company I worked for they had to do that.

User currently offlineN79969 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12623 times:

Flyf15,

Those calculations you did make the airspeeds seem almost doable (but not the pitch).

Can a transport airplane safely descend at 279 kts constant-speed with that much nose-down pitch? My own intuition (and limited hours in a Cessna) makes me think 'no.' But I do not know the true answer.


User currently offlineFrequentFlyKid From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1206 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12597 times:

If they descended 20,000 feet in one minute that means that they would have travelled 1,200,000 in one hour. That equates to roughly 213 miles per hour. However, that's on a vertical axis and obviously the plane wasn't in a vertical dive. So either that plane was doing over 400 miles per hour at a 45* down pitch or the numbers are incorrect.

User currently offlineMog From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12544 times:

Would something like this be done on manual or would the auto-pilot and other avionics take over? Hmmmmm . . .

User currently offlineWjv04 From Canada, joined Jun 2001, 584 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12490 times:

I belive i saw this flight, i was starting my shift at the airport about 8am, and went out for a smoke with my crew awaiting the emery 727 to come in (im a cargo ramper at yyc), and all the fire trucks were waiting on the runway for some reason. But at the same time we saw a America west taxi down, do a 180 and went back to the terminal so we assumed it was this. However we never bothered to see what it was...
im assuming after hearing the story it was the westjet. But like i said our plane came in and we never heard anything about it.

I belive this is total media bullcrap, I mean if a plane were to "nose dive" and loose 20000 feet, im really sure the captain would be able to pull it out of the the dive without ripping the wings off. Its sad really, I mean it was a text book cabin depressurization checklist desent with a turn back to Calgary. But the general public will never hear that. And now WestJets public image is tainted.
I think im gonna stop watching the news period.

[Edited 2003-12-07 07:01:28]

User currently offlineGoose From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 1840 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 12403 times:

If it was a pax saying they had decended 20K feet, then I might suggest that his sense of distance might be somewhat skewed. He has no idea what altitude he's at, aside from what he can tell from looking out the window - not a great measure of distance.

And how did he have the presence of mind to time the event - giving us the one minute decent? Hrm, sounds funny.....



"Talk to me, Goose..."
User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4200 posts, RR: 37
Reply 17, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 12318 times:

"Can a transport airplane safely descend at 279 kts constant-speed with that much nose-down pitch? My own intuition (and limited hours in a Cessna) makes me think 'no.' But I do not know the true answer."





In a word... no.... Jets are way too slippery. You'll be dropping like a rock, just not 20,000 feet a minute. Nor did they drop 20,000 feet... in a minute. A 10,000 fpm descent is not out of the question for a short while, even a bit higher than that....but it is unsustainable as the aircraft would go supersonic and have structural failure. Here is what happens:

Emergency descent procedure: oxygen masks-don and 100%...establish communication, no smoking seat belt sign on...twist the altitude knob to a lower altitude, set a IAS descent down at Vmo or Mmo (335 knots or .85 Mach in the CRJ- varies from bird to bird, the 737 is a bit slower), thrust levers idle, flight spoilers extend...F/O declares and emergency and gets permission for lowest safe altitude or 10,000 feet after strapping on his mask.




This manuever was obviously an emergency descent....and another unfortunate misconception from the news media by not asking the right people. Its amazing how little people know when they think they know alot.

[Edited 2003-12-07 07:11:12]


Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlinePiedmontGirl From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 1124 posts, RR: 12
Reply 18, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 12207 times:

XFSUgimpLB41X:

I'm with you. This sounds like a rapid decompression and the crew made a very controlled emergency descent.

I've been through decompressions and this is what it's like.

For those folks who think the Captain should have made a better announcement: Right then he is concerned with getting his bird safely on the ground. He is a busy as a one armed paper hanger and does not have any time for public relations right then.

The announcement he did make was primarily to let the flight attendants know that the rapid descent was over, that it was a descent following a decompression, and that it was safe to move about without a mask and take care of their passengers.

And, as someone else, noted the pilots at the carrier he worked for were required to wear the oxygen mask if one of them left the cockpit. That's the way it was at mine, too. I think that's probably pretty universal.



User currently offlineBO__einG From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 2771 posts, RR: 18
Reply 19, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 11993 times:

I was at the airport for a few hours today spotting. Maybe I may of spotted that plane land and took a picture of it.??
My spotting time was from 11:30-1pm..

Was that Winnipeg flight departed/arrive around that area?
Good to hear that all is safe at the end. A close call for WestJet indeed but the crews acted professionaly and followed all guidelines for such an emergency. Well Done!



Chance favors the prepared mind.
User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 6
Reply 20, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 11749 times:

If they descended 20,000 feet in one minute that means that they would have travelled 1,200,000 in one hour. That equates to roughly 213 miles per hour.

Let's see... 20,000 in 60 seconds is something like 4 miles a minute...

Sorry to disagree with *everyone's* math, but:

Actually, it would be 227.27 mph. I am sure, however, that the aircraft was not in a dive for exactly sixty seconds. It may have been shorter or longer.

For example, if the aircraft had been in a dive for 80 seconds, the vertical airspeed would have been 900,000 feet per hour, or about 170.45 mph. In a 90 second dive, 800,000 feet per hour, or 150 mph.

So let's say it took just over a minute: 70 seconds. That equates to a vertical airspeed of just over 1,000,000 feet per second, or about 194 mph (approximately the same speed that Flyf15 posted earlier).

This means that (and my geometry and physics are a little rusty), travelling at 274 mph (or about 238 kts), the aircraft must be in a 45 degree dive (it travels one foot down for every foot forward, so travelling 194 mph forward and 194 mph downward makes a velocity vector of 274 mph). At at 30 degree angle, it must be travelling at approximately 349 mph (appx 303 kts).

The math is actually quite simple. It's basically Euclidean Geometry: Vertical speed (squared) plus horizontal speed (squared), and take the square root of the result, assuming no accelleration.

So even if the aircraft fell like a stone, I think this is well within a 737's flight envelope, even if it is a bit dangerous.

Given: Hypotenuse of a traingle: c= sqrt(a^2 +b^2)

One mile: 5280 ft

One nautical mile: 6076 ft

One minute: 60 sec

One hour: 3600 sec

For a graphic representation, e-mail me.



Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineAWspicious From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 11428 times:

Here we go again, folks...  Yeah sure

He described the atmosphere as "eerie" and "surreal."

"But no one knew anything ... even the (flight attendants) didn't know what was going on."

Perry said most passengers turned to quiet reflection as the plane continued to drop.

"In the movies, you always hear people screaming and crying, but here it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop," said Perry


Not exactly the kind of calm attitude you'd expect to find during a minute-long nose dive, is it...
I sense media/passenger over-sensationalism at work, here. (ie: cough cough*bullshit*cough cough).
The aviation industry has been battered enough. Why is it, the media (and some people) scrutinize airlines under a microscope then run around making claims about their careless and fallacious findings?!!!

"It took us 20 minutes to get up to more than 25,000 feet (7,620 metres) and only about one minute to come down."

How the hell did he know this?! Did he have one of them there new fangled ACME all-in-one scanner/altimeter/stop-watch gadgets that's all the rage, and a must have for every airplane passenger and wanna-be aviation enthusiasts?!?! This isn't one of you guys in here, is it?!!

Sheesh... For the kind of bad publicity caused by stories like this, people like him should ride the bus.



A.W.


User currently offlineEZYAirbus From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 2460 posts, RR: 52
Reply 22, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 11273 times:

You guys all aviation experts? seems to me you lot calling westjet officials liers!

Glenn



http://www.glenneldridgeaviation.com
User currently offlineVS340 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 11188 times:

Nobody is calling Westjet officials liars because the Westjet Officials never made any comment other than

"That plane was taken out of service in Calgary and a replacement aircraft was brought in, said a WestJet official who asked not to be identified. Passengers were reloaded onto the waiting plane and carried on to Winnipeg"


This whole story was based on the account of 1 passenger who is obviously not an expert.

The media is the liar here, sensationalizing something that isnt all that sensational and basing their entire story on the account of a single passenger


User currently offlineCanadaEH From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 1341 posts, RR: 4
Reply 24, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 11165 times:

A Winnipeg-bound WestJet Boeing 737 had to abort its journey and return to Calgary last week after an air conditioning unit malfunctioned, causing the airplane to slowly lose cabin pressure.

Officials said the matter prompted the crew to put the plane into a steady, eight-degree descent, returning to Calgary without incident last Monday.

A commercial plane typically lands with a descent of about three degrees.

Clive Beddoe, WestJet's chief executive, said there was never a danger and bristled at a media report of a "nosedive" that alleged a plunge of 5,100 metres in only a minute.

Tim Morgan, the airline's senior vice-president of operations, said the descent would have lasted at least three or four minutes, adding the manoeuvre was a standard process in such a situation.

He said WestJet had experienced a similar incident once before.

"It's certainly something you would not normally experience, but you're not hanging from your seat-belt heading towards the ground," he said. "It was by no means dangerous."

Morgan said the air conditioning unit was fixed and the airplane is flying again.


There you go.



EH.
25 LN-MOW : A gentleman in Mexico sent me the following via email: ''I often read airliners.net forums and this one seems interesting... However, I never write to
26 Sllevin : All this said, you CAN get a pretty doggone rate of descent once you roll to get the lift vector off vertical. Check our skydive operations -- a lot o
27 Post contains images OPNLguy : The original media story (presumably originating in Calgary, and carried elsewhere) highlights a problem in covering in fast-breaking stories, that is
28 VS340 : recently there was an incident at YEG where there was thought to be a chemical spill inside the pit of a plane. It turned out to be a bottle of hair s
29 Post contains images OPNLguy : Oh brother... Maybe the next time YYC fogs in they'll report it was a chemtrail attack by UFOs... I'd love to know where the original story re: the su
30 USAFHummer : "Did he have one of them there new fangled ACME all-in-one scanner/altimeter/stop-watch gadgets" -since this was a pressurized airliner, an altimeter
31 Post contains images OPNLguy : Greg, Everyone -knows- these Acme gadgets never work. I mean, they never seem to for Wile E. Coyote......
32 FrequentFlyKid : The math is actually quite simple. It's basically Euclidean Geometry: Vertical speed (squared) plus horizontal speed (squared), and take the square ro
33 Goose : And all this was over an outflow valve and depressurization? Makes you wonder how'd they cover a blown tire, bird strike, or aborted takeoff... As a m
34 Crj 900 : Actually 14000ft is sufficient for an emergency decent. O2 levels are fine at this altitude. Further descents can be made after this initial loss of a
35 Whiteguy : This is funny, Westjet gets some bad press and everyone is all over the media for make it look worse than it really was. But when its about Air Canada
36 PiedmontGirl : Whiteguy: I wouldn't have matter to me if it had been Air Canada or some airline, I had never heard of, I would have thought the same thing: That it w
37 Post contains links Fallingeese : The original story originated in the Calgary Sun on Saturday. In the Sunday issue of the Calgary Herald was a much more develloped version of the same
38 AWspicious : No one caught the reg# of this aircraft, yet? A.W.
39 Behramjee : Once again the question is asked was it a Boeing 737-200 or Boeing 737-700 or -800?
40 Post contains links A340pilot : Here is another incident that happened to westjet, IM assuming that the media coverage would have said that it came within 12 feet of the ground or so
41 Fallingeese : It was mentioned in the Calgary Herald article that something similar had happened once before. This case was a malfunctioning air conditioning unit.
42 Redngold : If nobody else has posted this yet... I would bet that there was some screaming and hollering. However, between the effect of rapid depressurization o
43 CanadaEH : Who really cares? The plane landed safely, the pilots followed procedure, and the passengers got to their destionation [delayed].
44 Midway2airtran : Gotta love the media and their stories. If passengers still got on the replacement aircraft, then I guess it couldn't have been that horrifying.
45 OPNLguy : >>>at which time the auxiliary power unit was shut down. Within minutes, there was a loss of cabin pressurization. About the only similarities between
46 Wjv04 : We should write a letter to this guy, and let em have it.
47 BO__einG : In the Sunday Sun, there is a picture of the arrogant Cochrane Salesman guy. But if I were to be a pax expereincing such a rapid descent, my ears woul
48 Post contains images USAFHummer : OPNL - I actually have one of those altimeter watches... Works pretty decently for me Greg
49 Navigator : This was an emergency descent made by the pilots. The descent was probably in accordance with routines. This is normal procedure when planes encounter
50 Solnabo : IMO a jammed rudder, as usual, w/ 737! Michael/SE
51 Brons2 : Excuse me Solanabo? What is your source? If it had been an A320, it probably would have settled into the BC forest!
52 Post contains images JBirdAV8r : Solnabo is just blowing off some of his usual uninformed steam, pay him no heed From the passengers' description of the oxygen masks deploying and the
53 Paulc : I was at a lecture given by an ex Concorde flight engineer and he told us of an incident where the aircraft he was crewing on had to make a descent be
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