United Airline
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Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:10 am

I know the accident was due to a faulty repair but could the pilots have done anything to land the plane? Was the plane 100% uncontrollable?
 
okay
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:31 am

What I have understood the pilots did manage to keep the crippled plane in the air for quite some time before it crashed.

I watched an episode of Air Crash Investigation covering the accident. It should be available on youtube.
 
zkokq
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:34 am

I think the pilots flew better than most expected.

I dont think they had much chance once they got into the mountains.

And may they RIP.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:35 am

It was just barely controllable with engine power. However, this was not a trained procedure and had not even been used before to semi-successfully crash-land a plane on flat ground, e.g. UA 232. So they would have been making it up as they went along, and they were stuck in the mountains. They did actually make some attempt at getting out of the mountains but they couldn't do it before losing too much altitude, which was unavoidable. Their flight path was not entirely random.

Who knows what might have happened if they'd been over flat land near an airport. Even crashing into a mountain, there were many survivors initially.

There's not a whole lot they could have done that they didn't do, despite the apparent hypoxia. They were in an impossible situation.
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United Airline
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:04 am

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 3):
It was just barely controllable with engine power. However, this was not a trained procedure and had not even been used before to semi-successfully crash-land a plane on flat ground, e.g. UA 232. So they would have been making it up as they went along,

What could have done to control JL 123 apart from engine power? Why was it uncontrollable?
 
brons2
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:34 am

Quoting United Airline (Reply 4):
Why was it uncontrollable?

No hydraulics in the tailplane I believe...
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spacecadet
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:39 am

Quoting United Airline (Reply 4):
What could have done to control JL 123 apart from engine power? Why was it uncontrollable?

Nothing could have been done apart from engine power. They had no hydraulics.

Even with using engine power, they had terrible phugoid effects that eventually culminated in at least two major dives. UA 232 suffered from this as well but I'm just guessing the DC-10 doesn't suffer from this problem quite as badly without working control surfaces. Also, UA232 was trimmed for cruise, whereas JL123 was trimmed for climb. Even so, it was the phugoid effect that drove UA 232 into the ground right at touchdown. That's what really doomed the passengers that died on both planes.
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Siren
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:09 am

Something else, too, which others haven't mentioned - when the rear pressure bulkhead on JL123 gave out, not only did it take out the hydraulics, but most of the vertical stabilizer was separated from the plane. That had to have caused additional aerodynamic instability that the crew of UA232 didn't have to face- they had an intact airframe minus hydraulics. JL123 was a seriously compromised airplane missing an entire control surface, plus hydraulics.
 
sq_ek_freak
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:46 am

My understanding was that the pilots kept the 747 in the air much longer than can be reasonably expected, especially because they were missing a sizable chunk of vital machinery. Given that they were in a situation that no pilot was trained for, and had to use off the cuff thinking and their years of piloting experience, they did extraordinarily well. They were desperately trying to get over flat land but also avoid populated areas so it was always going to be near impossible.

The real tragedy here is that many more passengers survived the initial impact but died overnight after search and rescue was called off for the day, leaving only the five that survived.
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bluewhale18210
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:58 am

My roommate is a FedEx pilot. He claimed that he could land that DC-10 intact with no casualty.
He also said Al Haynes and company could have done better.
I just rolled my eyes...
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zkokq
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:00 am

Quoting bluewhale18210 (Reply 9):

Oh yeah of course he could have. What a hero!

Have to feel for pilots and so forth in this situation, knowing its now if, but when.
 
United Airline
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:36 am

Quoting brons2 (Reply 5):
No hydraulics in the tailplane I believe...

Why?

The tail came off right?
 
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Aaron747
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:17 am

You cannot maintain stable flight in a 747 or any other large aircraft with most of the vertical stabilizer gone.
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peterjohns
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:26 am

Quoting bluewhale18210 (Reply 9):
My roommate is a FedEx pilot. He claimed that he could land that DC-10 intact with no casualty

What sometimes isn´t quite recognized, is that the Crew of UA232 actually DID manage to land the DC 10 at the airport.
The bad outcome of it came due to the after-landing flip, we all know from several MD11 crashes, due to the high sink rate, as they couldn´t flare (remember-no hyd. no elevator). The main gear on this type is known it can damage the spar resulting in wing failure.

If the JAL flight could have had a better outcome is very speculative. The only thing they could have done "better" is immeadiatly put on their oxygen masks in order to have more concious time to do something. If that would have saved the day, I personally doubt.
 
David L
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:57 am

Quoting United Airline (Reply 4):
Why was it uncontrollable?

Yes, it's Wikipedia, but it's a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Airlines_Flight_123
 
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SpaceshipDC10
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:17 am

Quoting peterjohns (Reply 13):
What sometimes isn´t quite recognized, is that the Crew of UA232 actually DID manage to land the DC 10 at the airport.

No, they didn't. As soon as engines were idled, the right wing dropped, as it was locked in a right turn configuration, and its tip touched the ground just before the runway. The outer wing broke and the aircraft turned upside down. We all know what happened next.
 
bennett123
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:28 am

Why was SAR called off for the day.

If I recall, the crash was not far from the Airport.
 
peterjohns
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:41 am

Quoting SpaceshipDC10 (Reply 15):

You´re right about the right wing touching. I thought the wing failure however was caused by the gear after the impact.
I´m probably wrong then.

However - that makes it even more unlikely for that FedEx roomate to do a better job....
 
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SpaceshipDC10
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:20 pm

Quoting bennett123 (Reply 16):
I thought the wing failure however was caused by the gear after the impact.

When the wing tip touched the ground, it was to the left of the runway centerline. Then the landing gear impacted heavily the ground of the runway's left hand edge and was sheared off. Then as the aircraft was skidding to the right at high speed and tumbling on its back, the outer part of the wing was demolished.
 
Slcpilot
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:24 pm

Here are some folks that did "do it better"! It is important to note; however, that all of the crews were very motivated to do their best.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_...d_DHL_attempted_shootdown_incident

It is worth it to hear Al Haynes' presentation if he's still doing them!

Fly Safe,

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pvjin
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:52 pm

Quoting Slcpilot (Reply 19):

Yeah, but we should remember that the DHL flight only lost part of their wing which surely didn't make the plane even nearly as unstable as losing most of the tail like JAL123 did.

I think it's amazing that crew of JAL123 managed to keep their plane in the air that long, I'm sure they couldn't have done any better.
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David L
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:35 pm

Quoting pvjin (Reply 20):
Yeah, but we should remember that the DHL flight only lost part of their wing which surely didn't make the plane even nearly as unstable as losing most of the tail like JAL123 did.

The DHL aircraft also lost all hydraulics, leaving the crew with only engine thrust to control it.

Quoting peterjohns (Reply 17):
However - that makes it even more unlikely for that FedEx roomate to do a better job....

Yes, I'd be interested to hear the views of other experienced heavy transport pilots on that one. It's possible, of course, but if you tried it ten times, how many times would you get it just right?
 
Flaps
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:31 pm

Each time an incident of a particular type takes place (ie total hydraulic loss or airframe compromise) we have an opportunity to learn something from it. Hence each subsequent crew facing that issue has a better chance of succeeding than the one before. The JAL 123 crew undoubtedly helped pave the way for the UA crew and both for the DHL crew etc.

I have done some some fairly extensive research on this over the years and can only admire the efforts of the JAL 123 crew. A truly heroic and inspirational effort. IMHO a successful landing in their case was likely impossible regardless of the terrain. Without the vertical stabilizer they had no lateral stability and as speeds decreased during an attempted approach
that lack of stability would have doomed them.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:42 pm

Quoting David L (Reply 21):
The DHL aircraft also lost all hydraulics, leaving the crew with only engine thrust to control it.

The DHL flight did not seem to suffer from phugoid effects nearly as badly as JAL 123 and UA 232. I have seen the Air Crash Investigation episode on the DHL incident, and externally there didn't seem to be any evidence of phugoid effects at all that I remember - there was plenty of footage of the plane in the air and it seemed to be flying straight and level. The pilots did mention that initially after the missile hit, they had to get the phugoid effects under control, but they seemed to manage to do that pretty quickly.

For one thing, the A300 is a lighter plane than either the DC-10 or certainly the 747. For another, every airplane just has different aerodynamics - it's going to behave differently with dead flight controls. That's further exacerbated by the trim system. I don't recall if the DHL pilots were able to adjust their trim after the missile hit - initially they did have limited hydraulics and they would have immediately leveled off after the explosion, so the trim may have been adjusted at that point. JL 123 was stuck in climb trim and UA 232 was stuck with ailerons set for a turn.

And of course, JL 123 was missing most of its tail, leading it not to just oscillate up and down, but to yaw side to side uncontrollably. Yumi Ochiai, the surviving off-duty flight attendant, said it felt like they were falling like a leaf.

In other words, you can't directly compare all of these situations and say the DHL pilots just did a better job and all of these planes could have landed safely. I do recall simulator tests being done for both JL 123 and UA 232 and none of the trained pilots was able to safely land either plane - most crashed much earlier.
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rwy04lga
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:50 pm

Quoting aaron747 (Reply 12):
You cannot maintain stable flight in a 747 or any other large aircraft with most of the vertical stabilizer gone.

I remember seeing a photo of a B-52 in flight with about 90% of its vertical stabilizer missing. I don't recall the outcome of that, whether they landed safely or ejected.
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trent772
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:52 pm

Quoting bluewhale18210 (Reply 9):

My roommate is a FedEx pilot. He claimed that he could land that DC-10 intact with no casualty.
He also said Al Haynes and company could have done better.

He MUST be kidding (I hope he is), if he's not the he just lacks professionalism and thorough knowledge on the matter.
He's way off on this one.

All three crews (JL123, UA232, DHL) did an excellent job given the circumstances, they all displayed exceptional airplane control and systems knowledge but the best thing is they all showed superb CRM skills.

Quoting David L (Reply 21):
I'd be interested to hear the views of other experienced heavy transport pilots on that one.

A few years back I had the chance to practise mechanical reversion landings on the A330 simulator which is somewhat close to what these guys experienced, one huge difference was I had both engines operating and all control surfaces intact, the results? Well, out of several attempts I landed safely (no crash on the sim) only a couple of times and they were really rough landings to say the least.
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jetjack74
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:23 pm

Quoting trent772 (Reply 25):
He MUST be kidding (I hope he is), if he's not the he just lacks professionalism and thorough knowledge on the matter.
He's way off on this one.

All three crews (JL123, UA232, DHL) did an excellent job given the circumstances, they all displayed exceptional airplane control and systems knowledge but the best thing is they all showed superb CRM skills.

What he and other Monday morning quarterbacks fail to realize is, they didn't have training like that back then because it was almost inconceivable to have lost ALL hydraulics. It was after that incident that these procedures were adopted by the airlines for CRM training. Captain Haynes and the a JAL crew had to relay on basic airmanship and rudimentary science to figure out how to control the aircraft

Quoting bluewhale18210 (Reply 9):
My roommate is a FedEx pilot. He claimed that he could land that DC-10 intact with no casualty.
He also said Al Haynes and company could have done better.
I just rolled my eyes...

So your roommate is probably right, he probably could land it better than Al Haynes and his crew, becus the CRM syllabus training he received was probably derived from that incident.
Made from jets!
 
thrufru
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:50 pm

The FedEx pilot. Ha! Funny. I got into a discussion about redundant systems with some coworkers recently, too. It morphed into a discussion about the AA crash at ORD in 1979. One of our F/O's gave a 15 minute dissertation on the difficencies of AA's training and how had he been on the flight deck, he would have known what to do. Yep, sure. This coming from a guy who goes into an absolute panic when he's cleared for an RVAV after setting up for an ILS.
 
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TheRedBaron
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:53 pm

Jal 123 could not be saved, the damage was way too extensive, and in my view it is incredible that the whole tail section did not separate with the aft bulkhead rupture and decompression. Remember the China Airlines that was lost in Taiwan in 2002? same problem, a badly repaired plane.

The fact that they flew the crippled plane for so long its a testament for the airmanship of the crew, and its willingness not to be defeated.

May they rest in peace, they are Heroes.

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rc135x
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:09 pm

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 24):
Quoting aaron747 (Reply 12):
You cannot maintain stable flight in a 747 or any other large aircraft with most of the vertical stabilizer gone.

I remember seeing a photo of a B-52 in flight with about 90% of its vertical stabilizer missing. I don't recall the outcome of that, whether they landed safely or ejected.

The crew was able to land safely.

http://www.talkingproud.us/Military/B52%20No%20Tail/B52NoTail.html
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pvjin
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:46 pm

However I think this B52 crew didn't lost their hydraulic like JAL123 did?
"Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable." - Voltaire
 
Flaps
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:16 pm

Quoting trent772 (Reply 25):
He MUST be kidding (I hope he is), if he's not the he just lacks professionalism and thorough knowledge on the matter.
He's way off on this one.

A not uncommon attitude among FX's finest. In my 16 years there I found a much higher level of arrogance and holier than thou attitudes than at other carriers. I always thought it was because of the high ratio of ex military pilots among the senior flight crew there. Heck I've seen ABX and Astar crews help with the loading to make an on time departure. NEVER saw that at FX.

The JAL 123 crew was incredible. The CVR transcipts detail their performance quite well.
 
NDiesel
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:31 pm

Controlling an airplane in this state to the extent that they did was incredible. This photo always gives me the chills.



Edit: I can't verify the authenticity of the image but it's claimed to be of JAL123

[Edited 2013-04-27 14:34:09]
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bueb0g
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:01 pm

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 6):
UA 232 suffered from this as well but I'm just guessing the DC-10 doesn't suffer from this problem quite as badly without working control surfaces.

Remember that JAL 123 lost its tail.

Quoting United Airline (Reply 11):
Why?

The tail came off right?

Yes, and took out all the hydraulics for the whole a/c.

Quoting trent772 (Reply 25):
A few years back I had the chance to practise mechanical reversion landings on the A330 simulator which is somewhat close to what these guys experienced, one huge difference was I had both engines operating and all control surfaces intact, the results? Well, out of several attempts I landed safely (no crash on the sim) only a couple of times and they were really rough landings to say the least.

Is manual reversion on the A330 just rudder and stabiliser trim?

Quoting jetjack74 (Reply 26):
What he and other Monday morning quarterbacks fail to realize is, they didn't have training like that back then because it was almost inconceivable to have lost ALL hydraulics.

Generally you still don't get training for total hydraulic loss, even today.
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stratosphere
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:06 pm

Quoting Flaps (Reply 31):
A not uncommon attitude among FX's finest. In my 16 years there I found a much higher level of arrogance and holier than thou attitudes than at other carriers. I always thought it was because of the high ratio of ex military pilots among the senior flight crew there. Heck I've seen ABX and Astar crews help with the loading to make an on time departure. NEVER saw that at FX.

Considering that FX pilots in the recent past have had their fair share of bent metal with aircraft that have not suffered a catastrophic mechanical event should make them take pause when commenting on other pilots outcomes.
 
trent772
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:36 pm

Quoting bueb0g (Reply 33):
Is manual reversion on the A330 just rudder and stabiliser trim?

The correct name is Mechanical Backup, not manual reversion. Sorry about the brain fart.

Yes, just rudder, stab trim and engine thrust to control the airplane, and while really tough it is nowhere near the level of challenge these pilots experienced in each of their doomed flights.

Whenever I see footage of UA's 232 landing I find it hard to believe people actually walked away from the wreckage after dusting themselves off.

I'll always stand strong on my belief that the performance displayed by these crews was just Epic.

As many have said before, Heroes.

Quoting stratosphere (Reply 34):
Considering that FX pilots in the recent past have had their fair share of bent metal with aircraft that have not suffered a catastrophic mechanical event should make them take pause when commenting on other pilots outcomes.

I think every pilot should take pause when commenting on other pilots outcomes no matter their level, experience or skill.

[Edited 2013-04-27 15:41:11]
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cbphoto
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:08 am

Quoting stratosphere (Reply 34):
Considering that FX pilots in the recent past have had their fair share of bent metal with aircraft that have not suffered a catastrophic mechanical event should make them take pause when commenting on other pilots outcomes.

Touche, I was about to say the exact same thing! Fedex has a hard enough time keeping their working machines in one piece, much less one that is crippled. While I hope they would be able to pull it off, it's a lot easier said at a bar over drinks, then when you are actually faced with the dire situation in real life!

I have met Al Haynes and heard his presentation on the UA 232 incident and he is by far the most professional, humble pilot I have met, even more so then Sully! There is no question what he and his crew did that day was short of miraculous and is in many peoples book a hero, yet he said it himself, he still feels for the passengers and crew who didn't make it that afternoon in Souix City! Class act if you ask me!
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rwy04lga
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:58 am

Quoting rc135x (Reply 29):
The crew was able to land safely.

http://www.talkingproud.us/Military/....html

Thanks for that info and the link....fascinating!
Just accept that some days, you're the pigeon, and other days the statue
 
PGNCS
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:10 am

Quoting zkokq (Reply 2):
I think the pilots flew better than most expected.

They did an amazingly good job given the cards dealt them.

Quoting United Airline (Reply 4):
What could have done to control JL 123 apart from engine power?

Nothing.

Quoting United Airline (Reply 4):
Why was it uncontrollable?

No hydraulics to any flight controls; the majority of the vertical stabilizer was missing.

Quoting bluewhale18210 (Reply 9):
My roommate is a FedEx pilot. He claimed that he could land that DC-10 intact with no casualty.

Oh, please. If he really believes that I do not want to fly with him. That may be the most arrogant claim I have ever heard in a traditionally arrogant profession.

Quoting Slcpilot (Reply 19):
Here are some folks that did "do it better"! It is important to note; however, that all of the crews were very motivated to do their best.

VERY motivated to give the performance of their lifetimes.

Quoting Flaps (Reply 31):
In my 16 years there I found a much higher level of arrogance and holier than thou attitudes than at other carriers. I always thought it was because of the high ratio of ex military pilots among the senior flight crew there.

I can neither confirm or deny the relative arrogance of FedEx crews, but my carrier has a very high percentage of ex-military pilots (I am one of them) and I have never heard one of them make a claim like that.
 
toobz
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:18 am

Long story short. No. they did an amazing job with the condition they had. Have u googled the incident and seen the recreation of the incident!?? kind of a random question if u ask me. Do u feel they could have done more?
 
PC12Fan
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:40 am

Quoting bluewhale18210 (Reply 9):
My roommate is a FedEx pilot. He claimed that he could land that DC-10 intact with no casualty.
He also said Al Haynes and company could have done better.

Your roommate is a risk. Is he even aware that there were several attempts in simulators by professional DC-10 pilots that didn't even get it close to the airport let alone land it? Throw him in a sim under the same circumstances and tell him to get back to us after. I have a sneaking suspicion he would become very quiet.

Quoting SpaceshipDC10 (Reply 15):
No, they didn't.

Yes they did. They got it to the airport. To criticize the fact they didn't pull off a "greaser" is asinine.
Just when I think you've said the stupidest thing ever, you keep talkin'!
 
JAGflyer
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:24 am

If I understand correctly, the 747-100/200 had more of a "fly by cable" system with hydraulic assist. Would it have been possible to control the aircraft with only cable inputs? No doubt it would be physically very difficult but I think it would have been possible at least in regards to aileron input had the tail section been intact.
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YYZatcboy
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:56 am

There was also an electra that had something similar.

On 8 June 1983, Reeve Aleutian Airways Flight 8's propeller separated from the aircraft and tore a hole in the fuselage over the Pacific Ocean causing an explosive decompression and loss of control. The pilots managed to land the aircraft safely at Anchorage, Alaska and all 15 passengers and crew survived. Since the propeller fell into the sea the cause of the separation is undetermined.
- Source wikipedia

I did not know about this until I saw a Mayday episode about it. It was similar in that they had limited flight controls due to the cables being pinched or severed due to shedding the prop into the fuse which opened a huge hole in the cabin. really neat story that no one seems to know about.
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7BOEING7
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:57 am

Quoting jagflyer (Reply 41):
If I understand correctly, the 747-100/200 had more of a "fly by cable" system with hydraulic assist. Would it have been possible to control the aircraft with only cable inputs? No doubt it would be physically very difficult but I think it would have been possible at least in regards to aileron input had the tail section been intact.

All they would have done was stretch the cables.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:41 am

Quoting NDiesel (Reply 32):
Edit: I can't verify the authenticity of the image but it's claimed to be of JAL123

That is a real photo but it's been edited to look even worse than it was. Here's an interesting comparison of the original with the edited version:



I've seen the original from other sources and that is it. There was still about 1/3 of the tail remaining. Whether that was enough to provide any real lateral stability to the aircraft has been debated for a long time. Obviously they had no actual lateral *control* either way.
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David L
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:06 am

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 23):

I'm not saying the DHL crew did a better job. I'm saying they didn't only lose a small past of a wing, they also lost all hydraulics. It may have been easier to keep in the air but descending and landing safely on (or in the region of) a runway using only engine thrust is no picnic.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:08 am

Some background first. I was stationed in Yokosuka near the mouth of Tokyo Bay at the time. I was doing some video work from a US Navy helicopter that evening, and we heard of the JAL-123 emergency. We refueled at Camp Zama and circled a bit west and south of Yokota to be available for SAR standby.

I heard the radio calls of the JAL 123 crew, and the ATC. Though in Japanese, you could hear the emotions in their voices. Not frantic or paniced, but becoming more and more resigned to a bad ending as the emergency progressed. We had a Japanese national on the helo who translated what was said to us.

We flew over the crash site about 15 minutes after the plane crashed. We could see the two impact points in the dark because of relatively small fires. There were close to a half dozen US military helicopters near the crash site, including a USAF helo with a trained crew to go down on penetrators into heavily forested mountain areas.

The next day, I was called in to go to the crash site from a helicopter (on a cable) with video and still photography gear shortly after the US military had put their first people on the ground.


Quoting bennett123 (Reply 16):
Why was SAR called off for the day.

If I recall, the crash was not far from the Airport.


The crash was on some steeply sided mountains - hitting a ridge and bouncing off largely intact to crash on the upslope of the next ridge a few hundred meters away.

While a relatively short distance from Iruma is was still a very difficult, remote spot to get to.

The SAR was under the responsibility and authority of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. Who frankly did not have the equipment or training for such a SAR effort. The authorities made the decision the crash was not survivable, and that it could cost the lives of rescuers to attempt to reach the crash site at night.

The USAF argued they could put people on the ground safely, but were denied permission. US military helicopters were ordered away from the crash site as 'interfering' with Japanese rescue efforts. Though no Japanese SAR helicopters were in the air. I heard much of that argument on the radios of the helo that I was in.

That battle escalated to the diplomatic level, and caused a lot of animosity in the months following the crash.

At daybreak - which was about 4:30 am the next morning, Japanese TV helicopters quickly found the smoking remains, and began to broadcast live from their helicopters. At 8 am the Tokyo Metropolitan Police leadership held a press briefing, describing how they were going to attempt to locate the crash site. That all SAR would be done from the ground.

About 9-9:30 am the USAF was allowed to put the people on the ground who were trained and ready to go in the night before. I was on the ground before noon.

Since that day, a lot of people have worked very hard to prevent the real truth from being told.

Quoting Flaps (Reply 22):
IMHO a successful landing in their case was likely impossible regardless of the terrain.

Tokyo sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains. There is really not a good way to take a damaged aircraft into one of the three possible airports - Haneda, Narita or Yokota - without having to maneuver and avoid terrain. Yokota was best but has more terrain issues. Haneda was where they were trying to go, but there was concern about allowing the aircraft to overfly some of the most crowded areas of Tokyo.

And as several people have mentioned - they has 'some control' they did not have stable directional control. They did not have any altitude/ pitch control except for slowing the aircraft down enough to let it descend on its own.

Quoting NDiesel (Reply 32):
I can't verify the authenticity of the image but it's claimed to be of JAL123

A badly doctored photo which has removed the about 1/3 of the vertical stabilizer which was on the plane when it crashed.

Quoting jagflyer (Reply 41):
If I understand correctly, the 747-100/200 had more of a "fly by cable" system with hydraulic assist. Would it have been possible to control the aircraft with only cable inputs? No doubt it would be physically very difficult but I think it would have been possible at least in regards to aileron input had the tail section been intact.

Even if the crew had been able to physically move the control surfaces, it would have been uncoordinated. The bigger issue as far as a landing would have been the complete lack of pitch control. They would not have been able to flare the aircraft, or even accurately control their rate of descent.

The very limited directional control was what kept them in the air so long. The lack of pitch control except with power is why the plane was certain to crash.

Yes, if it had crashed on level terrain, where rescuers could have gotten to the aircraft quickly, likely many more people would have survived, maybe as many as half.

Japan ain't Iowa. Level terrain for several miles to try a light setdown is impossible to find.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:07 pm

Quoting United Airline (Reply 11):
The tail came off right?
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 46):
Quoting NDiesel (Reply 32):
I can't verify the authenticity of the image but it's claimed to be of JAL123

A badly doctored photo which has removed the about 1/3 of the vertical stabilizer which was on the plane when it crashed.

What does the official accident report say about the tail separating? Did they find tail wreckage a long distance from the main crash site?
 
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SpaceshipDC10
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:23 pm

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 47):
Did they find tail wreckage a long distance from the main crash site?

I haven't read the official report, however in my Air Disater book, it is said that parts of the tail were found floating in Sagami Bay. In a straight line, the distance between the point where the bulkhead ruptured at about the western end of Sagami Bay to where the aircraft crashed is about 60-70nm. The rupture happened at 6:24:35 and at 6:56:28 the aircraft crashed after flying over about 120 nm without tail.
 
jc2354
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RE: Could The Pilots Have Saved JL 123?

Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:00 am

I always enjoy these "what if" discussions. Thanks to everyone for their contributions.

It seems we all agree that it was inevitable that JL123 would crash. If not for the mountains, would more people survived? With the luxury of time, would the flight have been more of a controlled flight into terrain?

Should KL485 Captain, Veldhuyzen van Zanten, survived his mistake, what would have happened to him?

Quoting bluewhale18210 (Reply 9):
My roommate is a FedEx pilot. He claimed that he could land that DC-10 intact with no casualty.

Your roommate, I believe, is quite right. Captain Haynes and his crew rewrote every book there is. An inflight incident thought impossible by every airplane systems engineer, followed by an unthinkable landing that should have killed everyone on board. The factors and circumstances of flight 232 have been programmed into every simulator I've flown (in Florida and California). Many pilots can now fly and land successfully, without casualties. Many can not, too!

I've always found it ironic that to ensure an aviation system as safe as possible, there has to be a lot of bent metal and bloodshed.

Jack
If not now, then when?

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