holzmann
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:25 pm

Two years after the Airbus 330 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, Air France 447's flight-data recorders finally turned up. The revelations from the pilot transcript paint a surprising picture of chaos in the cockpit, and confusion between the pilots that led to the crash.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/tech...ened-aboard-air-france-447-6611877
 
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pu
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:36 pm

But neither Bonin nor Roberts has ever received training in how to deal with an unreliable airspeed indicator at cruise altitude, or in flying the airplane by hand under such conditions....and the reason may be that they believe it is impossible for them to stall the airplane.

Frightening stuff. The passenger experience must have been utterly terrifying.

Of course in the transcript it seems so clear, they only had to drop the nose and recover from the stall, a lesson from early pilot training....and we've seen so many inexperienced pilots like this try pulling back on the yoke/stick instead of letting it nose over to gain speed. But certainly other things were going on, partly human factors, partly equipment factors, that kept the pilots from realising what was going on. I'd put this at about 90% human error contributed with about 10% from software and hardware features that just served to reinforece their lack of situational awareness.


Pu
 
Grid
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:51 pm

It says the plane was climbing at a rate of 7000 feet per second. In normal situations, when pilots are increasing altitude when already at cruising speed, what would the climb rate be?
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planespotting
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:53 pm

That is a chilling article, especially the summary of the flight control inputs and instrumentation readouts in between the quotes:


02:13:40 (Robert) Remonte... remonte... remonte... remonte...
Climb... climb... climb... climb...

02:13:40 (Bonin) Mais je suis à fond à cabrer depuis tout à l'heure!
But I've had the stick back the whole time!

At last, Bonin tells the others the crucial fact whose import he has so grievously failed to understand himself.

02:13:42 (Captain) Non, non, non... Ne remonte pas... non, non.
No, no, no... Don't climb... no, no.


The poor captain, sitting in the jumpseat watching in horror as his airplane plunges through 5,000 feet, finally understanding why they've literally fallen out of fthe sky.

It kind of breaks your heart.
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EDICHC
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:26 pm

Quoting Grid (Reply 2):
In normal situations, when pilots are increasing altitude when already at cruising speed, what would the climb rate be?

Depending on a/c type anything from 1200-1800 fpm.
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spacecadet
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:42 am

Quoting Pu (Reply 1):
The passenger experience must have been utterly terrifying.

The passenger experience was probably nonexistent. There's no indication anybody would have known anything was happening. All indications from the BEA are that it wasn't even all that turbulent - certainly not abnormally turbulent. And a passenger would have no way of "feeling" a sustained stall in a large airliner - there's no way to feel angle of attack. Their attitude was not all that abnormal except for being somewhat nose-up through most of the descent, and with engines at full power. I suspect most people simply thought they were trying to climb to a higher altitude to get out of the turbulence, as is normal. Then they suddenly hit the water, at which point it's unlikely anybody knew anything further.

Quoting Grid (Reply 2):
It says the plane was climbing at a rate of 7000 feet per second

Gotta be 7000 feet per minute; 7000 feet per second, you'd need a rocket engine attached to the plane.
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ltbewr
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:20 am

One of the issues discussed in this fine article is how the pilots didn't even plan to try to avoid the worst risk weather/environmental area in a place infamous for that while other flights did so. I have long believed that had they made an adjustment of as little as 5 miles, or a few degrees north, as other flights did in the region of the South Atlantic, they could have avoided the worst of the storm and been able to never be in trouble. One has to wonder if the PIC was afraid to deviate due to overly strict rules as to flying routes to limit fuel use and to limit the need for a refueling stop.

The article notes the unusually warmer weather at their cruising level, that they knew of the risks of that, which in part resulted in the icing conditions they flew into, icing the pitot tube speed sensors and inaccurate speed readings with the scenario that some experts believe led in part for the flights doom.

I wonder since the AF 447 disaster, AF and other airlines have changed their polices as flying routes in the South Atlantic Equatorial zone to allow PIC's to change routes to avoid the highest risk situations as was with AF 447 even if shorten range and require a refueling stop.
 
Grid
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:26 am

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 5):
Gotta be 7000 feet per minute; 7000 feet per second, you'd need a rocket engine attached to the plane.

Yep, that was a typo on my part.
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spacecadet
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:50 am

Quoting ltbewr (Reply 6):
One has to wonder if the PIC was afraid to deviate due to overly strict rules as to flying routes to limit fuel use and to limit the need for a refueling stop.

Well, that was discussed (and if I remember right, debunked) in the many other threads on this accident. But what it says in that same area of this article - and it's a detail I hadn't known before - is that the radar was set in an "incorrect mode". Now, this article is not bad but I still think it was written by a non-aviator and therefore has a few oddities about it, and so I wonder if they really meant wrong "mode" or that it just wasn't optimally set - aviation weather radar is complex, and it may have been in the right "mode" but just not set in a way that could identify the weather ahead of them until they tried some different settings. But this seems like it would be at least another link in the accident chain in either case, though not necessarily the fault of the pilots.

However, as both this article and the official interim report have made pretty clear, the weather was not the cause of this accident, so diversion or not wouldn't have mattered. The weather they actually flew into was not really that bad. Or who knows, maybe if they'd been just 10 feet to the left, their pitot tubes wouldn't have frozen over and they'd still be here today. But they'd still be flying around with inadequate training and experience and with pitot tubes that can too easily freeze, and this would still be an accident waiting to happen, and at some point, the same thing would happen to them or somebody else. Murphy's Law applies to aviation more than anything else I can think of. The actual problems that led to this accident needed to be addressed.
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RIXrat
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:01 am

I'm not pro A or B, but I think that that the sticks for both pilots should indicate forward or backward movement. The second pilot didn't have a clue until the very end that the junior FO had pulled the stick all the way back during the whole incident. That could have done them in.
 
UALWN
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:41 am

Quoting RIXrat (Reply 9):
The second pilot didn't have a clue until the very end that the junior FO had pulled the stick all the way back during the whole incident.

This is not true, and it has been discussed here a number of times. The PNF was constantly communicating with the PF about what he was doing. Read the report.
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nighthawk
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:58 am

Quoting UALWN (Reply 10):
This is not true, and it has been discussed here a number of times. The PNF was constantly communicating with the PF about what he was doing. Read the report.

The article linked in the original post specifically states that the PNF was not aware of the fact that the PF had pulled the stick back, and they suggest this contributed significantly to the accident.

Is this article therefore incorrect?
 
UALWN
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:03 am

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 11):
Is this article therefore incorrect?

Again, read the official BEA report and draw your won conclusions.
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tommytoyz
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:13 am

Quoting UALWN (Reply 10):
This is not true, and it has been discussed here a number of times. The PNF was constantly communicating with the PF about what he was doing. Read the report.

The voice transcript does indicate there was confusion, as the pilot was told to go down and he didn't, even though he said he would, etc....I really have an issue with those side sticks as there is no tactile feedback for the monitoring pilot and no easy visual cue either. With the yokes just about everybody else uses (not just Boeing), there are much better tactile and visual cues for the monitoring pilot.

I know many people think I am wrong. But that's my opinion. And I think it's pretty clear and the AF447 incident provides a lot of food for thought on that. I've heard a lot of arguments against my opinion and nothing has convinced me to change my opinion. Clear and strong tactile and visual cues to monitoring pilots as to the control inputs are critically important, especially in emergency situations.
 
airproxx
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:58 am

Quoting holzmann (Thread starter):
Two years after the Airbus 330 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, Air France 447's flight-data recorders finally turned up. The revelations from the pilot transcript paint a surprising picture of chaos in the cockpit, and confusion between the pilots that led to the crash.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/tech...11877

I thought before that guys posting articles on A.net were a little concerned about aviation matters in a good way. NOT about tabloids released by poorly informed and biased press.

There's actually a lawsuit filed by AF biggest pilots union, SNPL, to find how this transcription can now be found that simply on the internet, and most of all, how it has been leaked from the so called "respectable" BEA.

This institution is a shame for civil aviation, this type of info should have never been leaked on any book, or any publication of any type before the official report was released. I'm curious to see what the investigation about this leaks will conclude.... But again, Otelli is a stupid ass, with no other concern than his own profit on this story. He is not a pilot, not even a man. No respect for pilots and their families.

Starting a book entitled "erreurs humaines" (human errors) to treat of a fatal crash which conclusions have not be published yet it, to me, criminal. This man should be treated like a criminal.

I'm ashamed that Otelli is french, I'm ashamed the BEA is french, I'm ashamed to see that France is still under the influence of a downgraded press, manipulated by bigger interest, and first of these, the Airbus reputation worldwide.
I'm ashamed to be french.

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nighthawk
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:56 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
I know many people think I am wrong. But that's my opinion. And I think it's pretty clear and the AF447 incident provides a lot of food for thought on that. I've heard a lot of arguments against my opinion and nothing has convinced me to change my opinion. Clear and strong tactile and visual cues to monitoring pilots as to the control inputs are critically important, especially in emergency situations.

I completely agree with you, the fact that there is no feedback to the PNF is rather weird to me. The concept that if one pilot pulls back, and the other pushes forward, the plane chooses to average these out is also a little weird. Clearly one of them is right, and one wrong, so to do nothing seems counter productive.
 
UALWN
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:58 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
The voice transcript does indicate there was confusion, as the pilot was told to go down and he didn't, even though he said he would, etc..

That was the PF's problem, not a feedback problem.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
I really have an issue with those side sticks

We know that.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
I know many people think I am wrong.

Indeed.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
I've heard a lot of arguments against my opinion and nothing has convinced me to change my opinion.

So I won't try again.
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murchmo
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:03 pm

Am I the only one that remembers that there was a possibility of the weather radar showing a small cell that blocked the larger storm behind it? That all previous flights diverted around but 447 didn't because the smaller cell may have blocked their radar from seeing the worse weather behind it. Ring any bells?
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fsnuffer
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:19 pm

The question I have for the group is once your instrumentation becomes unreliable when do you trust it again? They had no outside visual references, unreliable instrumentation, at an altitude with very little stall/over speed margins, and in a violent thunder storm. I guess this accident falls back to the advice I got from one of my instructors when he said always trust your instruments. When I asked him what if they were unreliable his response was "you're dead anyway at that point"
 
tommytoyz
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:33 pm

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 15):
I completely agree with you, the fact that there is no feedback to the PNF is rather weird to me. The concept that if one pilot pulls back, and the other pushes forward, the plane chooses to average these out is also a little weird. Clearly one of them is right, and one wrong, so to do nothing seems counter productive.

I don't think it works that way, where both can input at the same time. At least not how AB has it programmed. With AB, only one or the other is in control at one time, but not both.

But that does not change the fact that the tactile and visual cues have been almost totally removed - by design. Like I posed before, what happens for instance in a smoke filled cockpit? And probably other situations were flight monitoring is much more difficult, compared to interconnected yokes or sticks. At the very least, I think AB should interconnect the side sticks somehow, to allow at least the tactile feedback for the PNF.

I am not saying this would have saved AF447, but I am not ruling it out either, as it is not perfectly clear that the others were completely aware of the stick inputs by the PF. And I don't think this can ever be answered definitively. This is not an AB bash or pump for Boeing.
 
tommytoyz
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:37 pm

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 18):
The question I have for the group is once your instrumentation becomes unreliable when do you trust it again

The only instrument unreliable was the airspeed and they called out unreliable airspeed. Something to the effect of...so we've lost the speeds...They still had everything else and nothing else was called out as unreliable. What went through their heads, is another matter, especially the Pilot Flying (PF).
 
Revo1059
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:04 pm

Just out of curiosity, would having GPS based instrumentation onboard helped with the airspeed issue? I would think that it would not be affected.
 
washingtonian
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:30 pm

Quoting murchmo (Reply 17):
Am I the only one that remembers that there was a possibility of the weather radar showing a small cell that blocked the larger storm behind it? That all previous flights diverted around but 447 didn't because the smaller cell may have blocked their radar from seeing the worse weather behind it. Ring any bells?

Yes, I remember this from a few months ago. I am confused by the Popular Mechanics article though--it alludes three times to other airliners diverting around the storm that night, but 447 not doing so. No explanation given except that pehaps their weather radar was on an "incorrect" setting, whatever that means. Can anyone elaborate?

Also, I'm confused by how the two pilots could have been yanking the controls in different directions. If both pilots are doing that, which one does the airplane computer accept?
 
5MillionMiler
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:50 pm

Might be helpful to have an indicator on the primary display reflecting each side sticks input direction. Side sticks are nice that they give space, but yokes with sympathetic movement and moving throttles in auto do give you a reassuring sense of what is happening mechanically.

I appreciate that human error post equipment failure is a big factor here, but the number of factors that hit them quickly and overwhelmed them undoubtedly created a situation which is much easier to judge from the safety of an armchair on the ground. When you are flying in the dark, in cloud, in turbulence and you cannot trust your instruments that would be chaos. Look at the ANA 73G that rolled on its back and they did not even notice it until they were inverted. Gs, AOA hard to sense and the human gyro gets confused.

Hope that this scenario is trained for now. Can anyone comment on whether this is scenario is done in sim checks like DL 191 was profiled for training in the sim for microbursts? Two 757s have been lost due to PITOT issues resulting in disorientation at night, so it's not just an Airbus or a computerised plane issue.

But getting into that situation in the first place perhaps could have been averted altogether as the start of the chain of events begins with a flight through an area with significant weather considerations that others wisely chose to avoid. Flying into an area of severe weather is always asking for trouble.

QF 72 had the AIRDU issues in clear air in daylight. Had that been at night in weather it could have been much worse. Fortunately in that case, when machine failed, man quickly took control and recovered the airplane.
 
daviation
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:28 pm

One item that caught my eye was the pilots' (short-lived) happiness that they were flying the 330 rather than the 340. Supposedly, the 330 has better performance at altitude than the 340. Why would that be? I was under the impression that the performance characteristics are virtually the same.
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BladeLWS
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:36 pm

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 20):
The only instrument unreliable was the airspeed and they called out unreliable airspeed. Something to the effect of...so we've lost the speeds...They still had everything else and nothing else was called out as unreliable. What went through their heads, is another matter, especially the Pilot Flying (PF).

From the transcript it looks like the airspeed was only out for a short time in the begining, and that they had airspeed on both sides as they descended. Unfortunatly the PF did not have the training/knowledge of what to do in this situation and failed to yield the controls/listen to the other pilot.

My questions is that since the aircraft went into alternate law, should it not have reenabled normal law once the pitots unfroze? From the looks of it the aircraft stayed in alternate throughout its descent and did not take over from the pilots during the stall.
 
roseflyer
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:07 pm

The article is definitely journalism by a non aviation person and therefore not a technical read like a full accident report, but nonetheless I find it an interesting read.

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 18):
The question I have for the group is once your instrumentation becomes unreliable when do you trust it again? They had no outside visual references, unreliable instrumentation, at an altitude with very little stall/over speed margins, and in a violent thunder storm. I guess this accident falls back to the advice I got from one of my instructors when he said always trust your instruments. When I asked him what if they were unreliable his response was "you're dead anyway at that point"

I don't think that question can get answered. I think the fact that the stall warning system went off and was going off on and off for 4 minutes and the fact that the pilot trimmed the airplane nose up and had some nose up pitch throughout the final minutes will never make sense. I don't understand why they lost all trust in the system since you'd hope that the stall warning system has enough checks to deal with erroneous information that if it is going off, the airplane should be pitched nose down. We are not talking about the whistling kazoo in a Cessna. I don't understand the fly by wire control logic since there are so many various modes, but I do understand mechanical airplanes and almost every mechanically driven airliner has an automated system to deal with stalls (stick pusher on Bombardier, stick nudger on 767, autotrim on 737, pitch augmentation system on 747-8, etc) and force the nose down. However we will just not know. A similar incident happened with the Colgan crash in Buffalo New York. The pilots pitched the airplane up and retracted flaps when the stall warning went off. The result was the same. As a result the FAA has recommended changes in pilot training and certification regarding stall recovery.

Quoting 5MillionMiler (Reply 23):

Hope that this scenario is trained for now. Can anyone comment on whether this is scenario is done in sim checks like DL 191 was profiled for training in the sim for microbursts? Two 757s have been lost due to PITOT issues resulting in disorientation at night, so it's not just an Airbus or a computerised plane issue.

Very good point and all 4 main manufacturers have been working together on ways to improve the pitot static systems as part of an industry steering commity. They have regular meetings together in the wake of AF 447 and is an area where Airbus and Boeing engineers are working together alongside Thales and others. What the manufacturers do with the pitot static information is unique to each model, but the mechanical system itself is very similar between models.
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ikramerica
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:18 pm

Quoting airproxx (Reply 14):
No respect for pilots and their families.

The actions of the pilots caused the deaths of over 200 people. I am so tired of this idea that we must "respect" people who do harm simply because they also died. Respect for the dead is silly because they are dead. Respect for their families is no excuse to not report on what actually took place.

I'm glad the transcript is public. It stops the "are the a330s safe" witch hunt and indicates that while some improvements might be made to feedback/logic avoid confusion among panicking pilots, what really needs to happen is for pilots to be trained in more high altitude failure modes so they don't panic is such an epic way.
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OB1783P
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:21 pm

In my mind, I have classified this among the accidents that would not have happened in the daylight hours, like quite a few others: Kenya 431, Ethiopian 409, Aeroperu and others.

Offhand, are there crashes that occurred during daylight which would not have happened at night? The Tenerife collision perhaps?
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Type-Rated
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:24 pm

I'm just shocked that the F/O just held continuous back pressure on the stick. Maybe he was frozen with fear? All they would have needed to do would be to let go of the controls and the static stability of the aircraft could have recovered on it's own, maybe?
And after the airspeed indicators came back, did nobody look at them?
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garpd
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:16 pm

Quoting ikramerica (Reply 27):
The actions of the pilots caused the deaths of over 200 people. I am so tired of this idea that we must "respect" people who do harm simply because they also died. Respect for the dead is silly because they are dead. Respect for their families is no excuse to not report on what actually took place.

I'm glad the transcript is public. It stops the "are the a330s safe" witch hunt and indicates that while some improvements might be made to feedback/logic avoid confusion among panicking pilots, what really needs to happen is for pilots to be trained in more high altitude failure modes so they don't panic is such an epic way.

  
My sentiments exactly.
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robsaw
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:13 pm

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 5):
And a passenger would have no way of "feeling" a sustained stall in a large airliner - there's no way to feel angle of attack.

I guess there is no gravity then. Of course we humans can feel all sorts of directional forces and roughly interpret angles as long as too many things aren't happening at once.
 
tommytoyz
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:35 pm

Quoting UALWN (Reply 16):
Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
The voice transcript does indicate there was confusion, as the pilot was told to go down and he didn't, even though he said he would, etc..

That was the PF's problem, not a feedback problem.

No, that is the problem of everyone on board. There is a reason why there is a monitoring pilot on all airliners and he has to be able to monitor in real time all the time. The throttle levers do move coupled with the auto throttle for this very reason.

There is always the very very small possibility that the PF was having a medical incident at that very moment, making him act irrational. When some people are in the process of having a stroke for instance, it is not always physically visible and the affected person is often not aware what is happening and they can act strange. I know this from my father. So who knows. Again, that's why the monitoring pilot needs to monitor and intervene if necessary in a timely fashion.

Another issue I think is the audible stall warning. I don't know how it is on other aircraft, but on the A330, it can be confusing in my opinion, because it stops below a certain airspeed and goes on again when you go above it. And I don't think there is a tactile stick shaker or equivalent either.

I don't think the audible stall warning should ever be cut off by the computer at high altitude due to low airspeed, if actually triggered. Nobody is landing at 39,000 feet. Secondly, it should distinguish between approaching a stall and an actual fully stalled condition.

The easiest way improve safety and probably would have avoided the AF447 incident - is training on using the Angel of Attack indicator, in my opinion. This would have clearly shown the pilots their approaching stall and then their fully stalled condition, regardless of what the stall warning was doing.

So as a priority, I think training on the use of the AoA indicator would vastly improve safety. In the case of AF447, the monitoring pilot would have immediately seen what was wrong, as it happened, by seeing the angle of attack, even without seeing the stick inputs. I am sure, he would have been extremely alarmed and would have made sure the nose was put down immediately, seeing AoA indicator like that. But to my knowledge, almost no civilian pilots are trained on using AoA.

Once the US Navy started to train their pilots on using AoA for carrier landings, the accident rate on carriers were cut in half.
 
slvrblt
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:45 am

Quoting ikramerica (Reply 27):
I'm glad the transcript is public. It stops the "are the a330s safe" witch hunt and indicates that while some improvements might be made to feedback/logic avoid confusion among panicking pilots, what really needs to happen is for pilots to be trained in more high altitude failure modes so they don't panic is such an epic way.

   Exactly . Because this was an epic example of panic. Why the PIC wasn't instantly energized, upon realization of the predicament, to jump in, knock these rookies out of the way, and fly the airplane to safety, is beyond me.
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ukoverlander
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:01 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 20):
Just out of curiosity, would having GPS based instrumentation onboard helped with the airspeed issue? I would think that it would not be affected.

GPS unfortunately only gives you ground speed, not air speed. That is not going to help you in a potential stall situation where air speed is the critical value.
 
flyingturtle
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:54 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 20):
The only instrument unreliable was the airspeed and they called out unreliable airspeed. Something to the effect of...so we've lost the speeds...

In any case, they never called for the unreliable airspeed procedure... they were trying to solve all the stuff ad hoc. They never formulated a clear hypothesis on what was going wrong. They were only sure the aircraft wasn't in a stall.   
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garpd
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:57 am

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
The voice transcript does indicate there was confusion, as the pilot was told to go down and he didn't, even though he said he would, etc....I really have an issue with those side sticks as there is no tactile feedback for the monitoring pilot and no easy visual cue either. With the yokes just about everybody else uses (not just Boeing), there are much better tactile and visual cues for the monitoring pilot.

I know many people think I am wrong. But that's my opinion. And I think it's pretty clear and the AF447 incident provides a lot of food for thought on that. I've heard a lot of arguments against my opinion and nothing has convinced me to change my opinion. Clear and strong tactile and visual cues to monitoring pilots as to the control inputs are critically important, especially in emergency situations

I don't want to fan the flames on this debate, but I've spoken to 3 pilots now, all of whom have read the transcript in the linked article.

They all agree that a control stick or column with a clear visual and tactile response to any input given could have helped prevent this incident.
2 of the pilots are on Airbus equipment and although they like the side stick and general cockpit ethos of Airbus, they do not like the lack of indication regarding what the PF is doing with his/her stick.
The Boeing pilot says that in his cockpit (777) he would see that the PF is pulling back on the yoke.

So, seeing the yoke being pulled back, coupled with better CRM could, and in all probability would, have prevented this crash by allowing the PNF to see the PF was pulling back on the controls when he should have been pushing forward. Better CRM would have allowed him to communicate more effectively what needed to be done.

This opinion is formed based on what 3 people I highly respect told me about their thoughts on AF447.
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Tugger
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:17 am

Quoting planespotting (Reply 3):
02:13:40 (Bonin) Mais je suis à fond à cabrer depuis tout à l'heure!
But I've had the stick back the whole time!

I ask this genuinely: Do side sticks NOT match each other, meaning the sides sticks move in unison (regardless if only one is the one in command)?

Quoting RIXrat (Reply 9):
I'm not pro A or B, but I think that that the sticks for both pilots should indicate forward or backward movement. The second pilot didn't have a clue until the very end that the junior FO had pulled the stick all the way back during the whole incident. That could have done them in.

Side sticks, like yolks must match each other. I find it impossible to believe that they do not match each other.

Quoting UALWN (Reply 12):
Again, read the official BEA report and draw your won conclusions.

Why? My conclusions would be neither those of a professional nor one of someone with the knowledge or patience needed to decipher it. Why should I read it? Most people cannot and do not read the technical details of stuff and instead read the conclusions and summarizations of those "in the know" and then make decisions based on that. And there is nothing wrong with that.

I take it you think that CEO's should read all the accountants, business, marketing, and other various reports and then make their own decisions only.

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 15):
I completely agree with you, the fact that there is no feedback to the PNF is rather weird to me. The concept that if one pilot pulls back, and the other pushes forward, the plane chooses to average these out is also a little weird. Clearly one of them is right, and one wrong, so to do nothing seems counter productive.

It can't be that both inputs are used and "averaged". That would be nuts. Either both move in unison with each other (and therefore the "stronger" person in control wins) or one or the other is "in command" and in control but the other is machine controlled to match the command stick and as such its movement cannot be affected by the PNF.

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 18):
The question I have for the group is once your instrumentation becomes unreliable when do you trust it again? They had no outside visual references, unreliable instrumentation, at an altitude with very little stall/over speed margins, and in a violent thunder storm. I guess this accident falls back to the advice I got from one of my instructors when he said always trust your instruments. When I asked him what if they were unreliable his response was "you're dead anyway at that point"

There are always two sets of instruments available: The fully automated suite of instruments that the screens etc present to you and the three or so "manual" emergency instruments. I would think that an additional independent instrument that relies on GPS would also be helpful in today's cockpit.

Quoting Revo1059 (Reply 21):
Just out of curiosity, would having GPS based instrumentation onboard helped with the airspeed issue? I would think that it would not be affected.

Yes, a separate GPS based system would have helped in this situation. It would have provided unique and independent information.


Quoting ikramerica (Reply 27):
Quoting airproxx (Reply 14):
No respect for pilots and their families.

The actions of the pilots caused the deaths of over 200 people. I am so tired of this idea that we must "respect" people who do harm simply because they also died. Respect for the dead is silly because they are dead. Respect for their families is no excuse to not report on what actually took place.

I'm glad the transcript is public. It stops the "are the a330s safe" witch hunt and indicates that while some improvements might be made to feedback/logic avoid confusion among panicking pilots, what really needs to happen is for pilots to be trained in more high altitude failure modes so they don't panic is such an epic way.

  


Quoting robsaw (Reply 31):
Quoting spacecadet (Reply 5):
And a passenger would have no way of "feeling" a sustained stall in a large airliner - there's no way to feel angle of attack.

I guess there is no gravity then. Of course we humans can feel all sorts of directional forces and roughly interpret angles as long as too many things aren't happening at once.

We don't really feel "directional forces", we feel the change in directional forces.
In a constant speed fall the passengers would not feel anything much, and beyond the possible initial discomfort felt when entering a descent nothing much more would be detected.


Quoting ukoverlander (Reply 34):
GPS unfortunately only gives you ground speed, not air speed. That is not going to help you in a potential stall situation where air speed is the critical value.

Actually GPS can also give you altitude and descent information. GPS notes location and any change thereof in your location on the globe, so anything related to that could/would be communicated. What it can't give you is airspeed (though it could if it were interlinked and able to communicate with other nearby aircraft's GPS systems and compare values).

Tugg

[Edited 2011-12-09 18:22:50]
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
 
airtechy
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:35 am

I like the idea of joysticks.....on Microsoft Flight Simulator. They have no place in an actual cockpit....at least the way Airbus has implemented them. There is no way they provide the visual feedback and force coupling that yokes do. It will be interesting if the final accident report attributes any blame to them.....I doubt it considering the affect it would have.

Jim
 
spacecadet
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:54 am

Quoting OB1783P (Reply 28):
In my mind, I have classified this among the accidents that would not have happened in the daylight hours, like quite a few others: Kenya 431, Ethiopian 409, Aeroperu and others.

Why don't you think it would happen in daylight hours? The pilots were well aware of their altitude and attitude. They were not aware of their speed, which being in daylight wouldn't have helped.

Quoting robsaw (Reply 31):
I guess there is no gravity then. Of course we humans can feel all sorts of directional forces and roughly interpret angles as long as too many things aren't happening at once.

We cannot feel "directional forces", we can feel acceleration. If you're moving in one direction at a constant velocity, you have no idea how fast or in what direction you're going. This airplane was not accelerating downward, it was in a more or less continuous flat stall, the beginning of which probably wouldn't have felt much different than the feeling of leveling off at a higher altitude after a climb to reach more stable air. (It would have just been a little bit longer on the negative g's, but the g-force itself wouldn't have been very strong or very long.) In the middle of turbulence and storms, any frequent flier probably would have identified it as such, at most thinking the extra long negative g-force was kind of an odd feeling compared to most flights they'd had. Any inexperienced flier wouldn't know anything and would just trust the pilots to know what they were doing - after all, planes don't just suddenly crash and they'd have little reason to suspect that's what was happening this time. Some passengers probably were scared in the turbulence and jostling around, but they would have been just as scared regardless, even if the plane was just flying normally through turbulence at cruise. Some people are just scared of turbulence.

Remember, this was not a nose over type stall. This stall was flat. The passengers would only have felt the initial stall, but that would have been lost in the feeling of turbulence and unstable air, and once that initial acceleration was over, the rest of the flight would have just felt like normal flight through turbulence. Most passengers' first thought when experiencing an odd sensation during turbulence is not automatically "this plane is going to crash!" but is instead "well, that was odd and I'm glad it's over. Hope this turbulence ends completely soon." Because again, planes don't just fall out of the sky for no reason and passengers understand that.

There is no suggestion anywhere that any sounds were heard from the cabin or that any of the flight attendants called the cockpit after they were told to sit down.

I don't really know why some people seem to want to believe these passengers had a horrific final 4 minutes, but it's very likely they had no idea anything was wrong at all until impact with the water.
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Birdwatching
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:17 pm

Wow, I just read the whole transcript. I can't believe Air France puts pilots in their cockpits who pull up for minutes when the plane is stalling. Isn't it a basic instinct of a pilot that speed is your life insurance and if anything is strange, you first try pushing down? I learned this when I was about 15 years old in one of my first flights in a glider. Maybe Air France's flight training should be seriously re-organized.

Soren   
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UALWN
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:00 pm

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 32):
Quoting UALWN (Reply 16):
Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 13):
I've heard a lot of arguments against my opinion and nothing has convinced me to change my opinion.

So I won't try again.

This has been discussed in a.net to death by professionals: pilots, test pilots, accident investigators, etc. You can continue to tell us what you think. I won't try to argue again with you. I just give more credit to pilots, test pilots, and accident investigators.

Quoting tugger (Reply 37):
Quoting UALWN (Reply 12):
Again, read the official BEA report and draw your won conclusions.

Why? My conclusions would be neither those of a professional nor one of someone with the knowledge or patience needed to decipher it. Why should I read it?

To inform yourself? The report is very easy to understand. Plus, there have been endless threads in here analyzing the report in gory detail. If you refuse to read it, why should anybody pay attention to your opinions if you don't want to read the facts your opinions should be based on?
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tozairport
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 6:04 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Reply 40):
Wow, I just read the whole transcript. I can't believe Air France puts pilots in their cockpits who pull up for minutes when the plane is stalling. Isn't it a basic instinct of a pilot that speed is your life insurance and if anything is strange, you first try pushing down? I learned this when I was about 15 years old in one of my first flights in a glider. Maybe Air France's flight training should be seriously re-organized.

I tend to agree. Air France obviously has a very serious training/safety problem that needs to addressed. They have had too many incidents/accidents over the past decade to be ignored, with 447 being the most egregious. Every pilot should know a pitch/power setting that will keep you in the air while you sort things out. What these guys did shows that they had some serious skill deficiencies.
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Revo1059
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:32 pm

Quote:
What these guys did shows that they had some serious skill deficiencies.

Which makes me wonder, with todays planes having so much computer control and the pilot not required to do as much during normal flight these days I wonder if it actually hurts when things go south

Not trying to insult anybody, just a ?
 
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Tugger
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:48 pm

Quoting UALWN (Reply 41):
To inform yourself? The report is very easy to understand. Plus, there have been endless threads in here analyzing the report in gory detail. If you refuse to read it, why should anybody pay attention to your opinions if you don't want to read the facts your opinions should be based on?

While I understand that and have read the various releases to some degree and have continued to go back to them when needed, my comment was to yours indicating that we should read and draw our own conclusions when in fact "we", the general public (even aviation fans), do not have the knowledge and experience to truly draw an educated conclusion. The report also does not answer some simple questions that have been asked, such as mine about the inter-connnectedness of the sidesticks.

I have read quite a bit of the thousands of post on this topic and I am not trying to rehash things, but like reading the BEA report, trying to reread the thousands of posts when trying to discover a small bit of information, it is not the most efficient nor best way to find information. Often times the best way to get real, relevant information is to seek out those that have read the detailed information and, combined with their personal skills and knowledge, can draw out and provide far more detailed and relevant information that one can by just reading a report.

So I want real, useful information for my opinions. Data is part of that but it is not the only part, interpretation of data is the most important part of that and for that I need the help of others. Again, this is why most people do not "read all the data" for everything they want to know and act on but instead go to relevant "experts" that have interpreted the information.

So can anyone answer my question on the sidesticks and how they act/react to differing pilot inputs? How they communicate this info to the pilots? And how the systems determine which pilot to accept input from? Thanks.

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
 
UALWN
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:57 pm

Quoting tugger (Reply 44):
The report also does not answer some simple questions that have been asked, such as mine about the inter-connnectedness of the sidesticks.

This has been answered and discussed a number of times in the numerous AF447 threads.

Quoting tugger (Reply 44):
Often times the best way to get real, relevant information is to seek out those that have read the detailed information and, combined with their personal skills and knowledge, can draw out and provide far more detailed and relevant information that one can by just reading a report.

Unfortunately, those people are so far missing from this thread. But you can still read their old posts.

[Edited 2011-12-10 11:58:26]
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tommytoyz
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:29 pm

Quoting tugger (Reply 37):

I ask this genuinely: Do side sticks NOT match each other, meaning the sides sticks move in unison (regardless if only one is the one in command)?

The side sticks are not coupled. When one is moved, the other doesn't.

Quoting UALWN (Reply 41):
This has been discussed in a.net to death by professionals: pilots, test pilots, accident investigators, etc.

First of all, if it were such a great idea, then why does it continue to generate so much discussion - to this day, even among pilots? It is a legitimate discussion and I hope you don't mean to stifle it, because lives can be at stake. I bet no AB pilot actively looks at what the other pilot is doing with the stick. Because If they were to do that, it would take their attention off everything else. This makes monitoring the flight controls difficult. Why AB decided to take away the monitoring of the PF's control inputs, is beyond me.

Secondly, all airliner pilots should be trained around using Angle of Attack (AoA indicator), especially the monitoring pilot should keep an eye on it in critical situations and on landing and take off. On take off for instance, if the AoA is paid attention to, tail strikes could be avoided. As you can only do that by exceeding a certain AoA on rotation, regardless of weight or speed. At altitude, only the AoA indicates the flight condition, not the airspeed and not the stall warning.

The AoA was actually recorded by the flight data recorder on AF447, but not displayed to the pilots. The stall warning itself is a poor mans AoA indicator, it gives an aural warning and nothing else. That's not enough information. If you are going to warn the pilots of excessive AoA via an aural stall warning, then show them exactly what the AoA is. My suggestion is that every time the stall warning sounds, to also show the AoA indicator prominently, so they know the exactly value and help in situational awareness.

Thirdly, I am also sure the constant on/off of the stall warning did nothing to help AF447 pilots, and probably contributed to their confusion. The stall warning behavior should be changed and the AoA indicator should be used when it does go off at altitude, as a matter of procedure. Alternatively, two different stall warnings should sound, one when merely approaching a stall and another to indicate that "you are now stalled". The computer knows this via the AoA values. So if the AoA itslef is nor going to be displayed, this would be a poor mans alternative. These are my personal opinions of course.

[Edited 2011-12-10 12:41:15]

[Edited 2011-12-10 12:50:27]
 
COEWR787
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:02 pm

Quoting ikramerica (Reply 27):
The actions of the pilots caused the deaths of over 200 people. I am so tired of this idea that we must "respect" people who do harm simply because they also died. Respect for the dead is silly because they are dead. Respect for their families is no excuse to not report on what actually took place.

I'm glad the transcript is public. It stops the "are the a330s safe" witch hunt and indicates that while some improvements might be made to feedback/logic avoid confusion among panicking pilots, what really needs to happen is for pilots to be trained in more high altitude failure modes so they don't panic is such an epic way.

I fully agree with that sentiment. It is always better to publish critical information than to hid and massage it to serve the purposes of small groups.
 
Qazar
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:05 pm

Uhhhhh...... I feel a hole in my stomach after reading this article.... What a terrible terrible terrible way to die... The passengers, the crew, even the flight deck crew who all had no ini cation of what was going on.... How terrible must have these last few seconds been for the 3 pilots between the instant they realized they were doomed to the instant the aircraft actually impacted the water....

t breaks my heart... It simply just breaks my heart ... so many wasted innocent lives....

May their passing be consoled by the simple fact that their death was not in vain and may lead to future similar accidents being avoided...

I'm assuming Air France is pretty much preparing for a massive law suit where billions of dollars will have to be dished out to the families....
 
tommytoyz
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Popular Mechanics: AF447 Article

Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:11 pm

It's interesting to note that the aircraft computer on AF447 knew it was stalled, but didn't do anything with that information. Here again, if the aircraft would have transmitted to the pilots what it already new, this accident would probably not have happened.

The A330 measures the angle of attack. That is how the flight data recorder has that information on AF447 - but the pilots never knew.

So at the very least, an extra aural warning should be transmitted to the pilots when actually stalled. The stall warning as it is now warns of an approaching stall - or excessive AoA. But once the stall occurs, the warning sound should change to clearly communicate to the pilots that they are no longer flying now and are fully stalled and it should keep sounding until no longer stalled. All AB aircraft already get the information needed to program this. It's a poor mans AoA indicator, as the aircraft would know this from the AoA.

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