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The Line Between Safety And Regulations  
User currently offlinec5load From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 917 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 2178 times:

I watched the "Air Emergency" on AA 1420, the MD-80 that crashed while landing at LIT in severe weather. Now, I'm not sure how factual the show is, but it mentioned that the weather at LIT was rain, winds were 280 at 28 G44 for rwy 22. The crew had to calculate crosswinds and mentioned that they were "pretty close" to the limit. My question is with all elements considered, was this a safe approach?

I know what caused the crash was the lack of the spoilers being armed, but if the elements were in the legal field for landing, when does it become a personal safety call? If they had abandoned the approach and diverted, would they have been reprimanded b/c their approach was within regulation?

Edit: They mentioned in wet weather the crosswind limit for the MD-80 was 10 kts, so that obviously wasn't within regulation, but I guess my question goes for all situations is when does it become a safety issue?

[Edited 2010-07-12 11:54:57]


"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 2158 times:

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
My question is with all elements considered, was this a safe approach?

They should've diverted. Had I been in that situation the most I would've done is do an approach just to get a feel for the conditions, and gone missed early, but I probably would've diverted right there and then.

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
when does it become a personal safety call?

Every prudent pilot has his own personal minimums, which of course should never be lower than what the law says.

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
If they had abandoned the approach and diverted, would they have been reprimanded b/c their approach was within regulation?

They may have had a talk with the chief pilot, but otherwise if the PIC does not feel comfortable with the conditions, be it CAVOK or in the midst of a hurricane, he has every right to divert.


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6343 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 2132 times:

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
Edit: They mentioned in wet weather the crosswind limit for the MD-80 was 10 kts, so that obviously wasn't within regulation, but I guess my question goes for all situations is when does it become a safety issue?

Are you sure about that? That sounds more like a tailwind limitation to me...the MD-80 must be rather operationally limited if it can't take x-winds greater than 10 knots in the rain   As I recall, wasn't a tailwind a factor in this accident?



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineAviopic From Netherlands, joined Mar 2004, 2681 posts, RR: 42
Reply 3, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 2119 times:

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
They mentioned in wet weather the crosswind limit for the MD-80 was 10 kts

That can't be correct.
Must be 30 kts if my memory serves me right.



The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2820 posts, RR: 45
Reply 4, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 2062 times:

Quoting Aviopic (Reply 3):
Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
They mentioned in wet weather the crosswind limit for the MD-80 was 10 kts

That can't be correct.
Must be 30 kts if my memory serves me right.

Correct unless braking action is reported less than good; max demonstrated is actually higher, and I have no doubt that the aircraft can deal with greater than 30 knots of xwind in a steadystate condition (though I'm not going to be the one to do it), but gusts can make it vastly more difficult to control of course.


User currently offlinesaab2000 From Switzerland, joined Jun 2001, 1610 posts, RR: 11
Reply 5, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 2054 times:

Crosswind limitations are different depending on levels of runway contamination and/or possible MEL limitations, which might (might only) have been in place. I don't know. And that leads us to the next point.

None of us was there so it's easy to say we should have done something different. I can personally say I've landed in conditions like that so it would be easy for me to have an opinion. But I wasn't there flying that airplane that day so I can neither condemn nor condone what happened. All we can do is learn from what happened and the odds are strong that a commercial TV program will not have true objectivity as its goal. It is sensationalism. Read a real accident report or go to NTSB hearings. They are dry and very clinical in nature and unless you understand the specifics they can be exceedingly boring.

There is little doubt that AA pilots are well trained professionals. But every single approach and landing is a new opportunity for your luck to run out or for a momentary split-second loss of judgment or a gust or whatever and the next thing you know you're the subject of sensationalist 'journalism'.....



smrtrthnu
User currently offlinec5load From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 917 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 2050 times:

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 5):
I can personally say I've landed in conditions like that so it would be easy for me to have an opinion.

But, if the facts of this incident hold true, why would you put yourself in that type of position? At what point do you stop waiting for the weather to pass or for the winds to die down before you finally say "Ok, that's it, let's go somewhere else."



"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2820 posts, RR: 45
Reply 7, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 2044 times:

Quoting c5load (Reply 6):
Quoting saab2000 (Reply 5):
I can personally say I've landed in conditions like that so it would be easy for me to have an opinion.

But, if the facts of this incident hold true, why would you put yourself in that type of position? At what point do you stop waiting for the weather to pass or for the winds to die down before you finally say "Ok, that's it, let's go somewhere else."

In retrospect the approach and landing were not a good idea, but we get paid to evaluate and fly in bad weather. It's fair to say now that it was a bad idea, but obviously it was the best plan in the view of the operating crew at the time. It didn't work out, so we learn from it. I don't get paid to fly on beautiful days with no wind, weather, or traffic in aircraft with perfectly operating systems; you could find someone with a lot less experience to do that for a lot less money. I get paid to fly in terrible weather at all hours of day or night, with a myriad of possible malfunctions and problems after a 12 hour crew duty day. My colleagues and I do so very skillfully, but have to make the correct decisions at the correct times to have a favorable outcome. With as many operations as the US sees in a day, we do a pretty good job, but there are times when you can look back and say that some guys made a mistake. I don't want to crash, and neither does any other pilot, so we try to learn from others when they were put in circumstances that were beyond their capabilities, as was this crew, who were extremely fatigued (among the other problems they were dealing with).


User currently offlinelowrider From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 3220 posts, RR: 10
Reply 8, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 2040 times:

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
My question is with all elements considered, was this a safe approach?

There are two ways to look at that question. Was that particular approach safe? Based on the outcome, probably not. Was is possible to conduct a safe approach in those conditions? Obviously that crew thought so. Presented with the same set of circumstances others may have come to the same conclusion, but a different outcome.

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
but if the elements were in the legal field for landing, when does it become a personal safety call?

If the conditions exceed what you believe you are capable of managing.

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
If they had abandoned the approach and diverted, would they have been reprimanded b/c their approach was within regulation?

Possibly, depending on the Chief Pilot and the mood of management at the time. Hopefully the union would have defended the decision as within the scope of PIC authority.

Quoting c5load (Reply 6):
But, if the facts of this incident hold true, why would you put yourself in that type of position?

The short answer is, because you believe it is the best option at that time. Before making the decision to divert due to weather, you have to look at what the wx is at your alternate, and any other airports in your ever narrowing diversion circle. Use up 10 minutes doing that, and that is 10 few minutes of flying you have to get somewhere. So a decision has to be made in a fairly expeditious manner. If I have any critque of accident review boards, it is that they rarely seem to consider how this sort of pressure can affect decision making.



Proud OOTSK member
User currently offlineAaron747 From Japan, joined Aug 2003, 8021 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2030 times:

Quoting c5load (Reply 6):
At what point do you stop waiting for the weather to pass or for the winds to die down before you finally say "Ok, that's it, let's go somewhere else."

Quite a different call to make in a piston single, but my personal minimums are pretty simple: if you start thinking something is a can of worms and don't like how it feels, it probably is. There are a lot of conflicting pressures on professional crews but at the end of the day, there's still the knowledge that the cockpit is usually the first thing to hit stuff. There's not a lot of time to decide, but better to try going somewhere else if you don't like how things are going - explaining what you did is better than having no chance to tell your story.

Quoting lowrider (Reply 8):
If I have any critque of accident review boards, it is that they rarely seem to consider how this sort of pressure can affect decision making.

Perhaps not but there are certainly others at NASA and myriad private research groups who spend a lot of time looking at the effects of fatigue and its impact on the whole garden variety of human factors issues. I'm glad someone is out there studying it because we certainly learn more all the time.



If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
User currently offlinefxra From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 705 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2023 times:

Quoting lowrider (Reply 8):
Possibly, depending on the Chief Pilot and the mood of management at the time. Hopefully the union would have defended the decision as within the scope of PIC authority.

If i recall correctly, in the LIT accident the captain was a management pilot called out to take the trip after ebing in the office all day. I think there was a little bit of "get home-itus" involved, and that happens with a lot of crews. Was the approach and landing unsafe... in retrospect we say yes knowing the outcome. In the cockpit, based on wht he and the f/o saw, they thought it was acceptable to continue.

Did they have all the facts at the time??? I believe the outcome of the investigation revealed the tower's weather radar was lacing, and the crew wasn't aware of runway contamination levels from the passing TSRA. Had the spoilers been armed would the airiplane have stopped?? We'll never know really.

in a failure of a complex system (such as aviation), there is very rarely one single catastrophic failure that results in the accident. But a chain of smaller issues. The plae was delayed, the original captain was unavailable for whatever reason, a management captain (not covered by union work rules) was called to fill in. He may have been tired from a day in the office and jut wanted to get there, but he can't say no as he is a management crewmember. Being a company man he's not fatigued enough to feel it's an issue. The weather at LIT deteriorated. We thought we could beat it. the dispatcher thought they could make it. LIT tower didn't have the best radar available. They changed runways a couple times due to wind changes... a high workload in the front room may have led to the overlooking of the spoiler arming.

IN the end the captain can always say "hell no, we're going some where else or we're going to wait if the fuel allows it" and, while he should be able to explain his decision, should not necessarily be reprimanded unless it's found to be gross (and I mean seriously GROSS) incompetence. I have never known a captain with a reasonable concern for safety to be disciplined. I hope that's true everywhere, but fear it's not.



Visualize Whirled Peas
User currently offlineAlias1024 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2744 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (4 years 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2016 times:

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 5):
But I wasn't there flying that airplane that day so I can neither condemn nor condone what happened.

Exactly. It's easy to say we wouldn't do it while sitting at our keyboards looking back at it with the advantage of knowing how it turned out. It's totally different when you're up there trying to make the decision.


Quoting KELPkid (Reply 2):
Are you sure about that? That sounds more like a tailwind limitation to me...the MD-80 must be rather operationally limited if it can't take x-winds greater than 10 knots in the rain   As I recall, wasn't a tailwind a factor in this accident?
Quoting Aviopic (Reply 3):
That can't be correct.
Must be 30 kts if my memory serves me right.

The crosswind limitation was 10 knots due to the low visibility. During the approach tower advised of 1600 RVR, where company policy placed a 10 knot crosswind limitation for approaches below 1800 RVR.



It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems with just potatoes.
User currently offlinemrocktor From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1668 posts, RR: 50
Reply 12, posted (4 years 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1909 times:

There are regulations that add to safety. There are regulations that do not. There are cases where following regulations is sufficient to fly safely. There are cases where it is not.

Bottom line: regulations do not replace pilot (or engineering) judgment.


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6343 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (4 years 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1896 times:

Quoting Alias1024 (Reply 11):
The crosswind limitation was 10 knots due to the low visibility. During the approach tower advised of 1600 RVR, where company policy placed a 10 knot crosswind limitation for approaches below 1800 RVR.

Ahh, thanks for that. This is the kind of thing you learn with only a bit of inside knowledge   I knew the MD-80 was more capable than that...



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3465 posts, RR: 47
Reply 14, posted (4 years 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 1791 times:

Quoting Alias1024 (Reply 11):
The crosswind limitation was 10 knots due to the low visibility. During the approach tower advised of 1600 RVR, where company policy placed a 10 knot crosswind limitation for approaches below 1800 RVR.

Not sure where you are getting your information from, but the above is simply not true.

AA company-wide policy for approaches with visibility less than 3/4 mile / 4000 RVR is 15 knots. AA MD80 CAT-II/III (low visibility) approach x-wind limit is 15 knots. The only 10 knot x-wind limit we (AA) have is with braking action reported as "poor" (or worse).



*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
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