Moderators: jsumali2, richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
Anonz263x
Topic Author
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 10:35 am

Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sat Jan 23, 2021 10:20 am

If the horizontal stabilisers trim were not touched on Alaska flight 261, would they have not crashed as I did read that the horizontal stabiliser being freed caused it to pitch down or would it have failed any ways regardless if the trim wasnt touched and the pilots avoided trying to free it?
 
KFLLCFII
Posts: 3610
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2004 7:08 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sat Jan 23, 2021 11:25 am

Anonz263x wrote:
If the horizontal stabilisers trim were not touched on Alaska flight 261, would they have not crashed as I did read that the horizontal stabiliser being freed caused it to pitch down or would it have failed any ways regardless if the trim wasnt touched and the pilots avoided trying to free it?

The jackscrew issue was a hole in the ground waiting to happen.

It just happened to be Alaska 261.
"About the only way to look at it, just a pity you are not POTUS KFLLCFII, seems as if we would all be better off."
 
cedarjet
Posts: 8880
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sat Jan 23, 2021 12:38 pm

The crew were criticised because of a couple of lines on the CVR about trying to be test pilots, and in answer to your question, it is possible the tail might have held together if they hadn’t touched anything but the aeroplane was basically unflyable. Really awful accident. Shame on Alaska Airlines because it really was related to cost cutting and insufficient maintenance (albeit of course that like the pilots experimenting, if they’d known the outcome of their actions I’m sure they wouldn’t have taken that path).
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
Anonz263x
Topic Author
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 10:35 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sat Jan 23, 2021 1:31 pm

cedarjet wrote:
The crew were criticised because of a couple of lines on the CVR about trying to be test pilots, and in answer to your question, it is possible the tail might have held together if they hadn’t touched anything but the aeroplane was basically unflyable. Really awful accident. Shame on Alaska Airlines because it really was related to cost cutting and insufficient maintenance (albeit of course that like the pilots experimenting, if they’d known the outcome of their actions I’m sure they wouldn’t have taken that path).


Awful accident indeed.
 
OldB747Driver
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:40 pm

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:23 pm

Anonz263x wrote:
If the horizontal stabilisers trim were not touched on Alaska flight 261, would they have not crashed as I did read that the horizontal stabiliser being freed caused it to pitch down or would it have failed any ways regardless if the trim wasnt touched and the pilots avoided trying to free it?

The pilots' awareness of a problem began when they determined that the stabilizer trim was not functional. While playing the game of "what if" can be a dubious undertaking, with the investigation completed, we know that the problem was a stripped stabilizer jack screw and the trim froze at a position near one of its normal limits - near the "nose down" limit typically only reached in high speed cruise (compared to the stab trim setting during takeoff and landing with slats/flaps extended which is typically much more "nose up").

The result of "trim [not] touched", further assuming that the stabilizer with a stripped jack screw would not move on its own from the forces imposed by the air loads upon it (which would include the elevator being used at its "nose up" limit for a prolonged period to compensate for the failed stab trim as well as any air turbulence) AND that the aircraft would have been able to be safely flown with the stabilizer trim stuck in that position while configuring the aircraft to land safely (slats/flaps, airspeed) MAY have produced a survivable scenario. A lot of "ifs", but technically, yes, there would have likely been a more favorable outcome if they had not attempted to further move the stab trim in the manner they did.
 
WayexTDI
Posts: 2035
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:38 pm

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sat Jan 23, 2021 4:28 pm

KFLLCFII wrote:
Anonz263x wrote:
If the horizontal stabilisers trim were not touched on Alaska flight 261, would they have not crashed as I did read that the horizontal stabiliser being freed caused it to pitch down or would it have failed any ways regardless if the trim wasnt touched and the pilots avoided trying to free it?

The jackscrew issue was a hole in the ground waiting to happen.

It just happened to be Alaska 261.

Basically, the structural integrity of the jackscrew was hanging by a thread; I know it's a very bad pun, but it pretty summarizes it.

Had they not touch the trim, the jackscrew might have held... MAYBE.
But, a burst of wind on final might have popped it as well.
 
Anonz263x
Topic Author
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 10:35 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?p

Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:00 am

WayexTDI wrote:
KFLLCFII wrote:
Anonz263x wrote:
If the horizontal stabilisers trim were not touched on Alaska flight 261, would they have not crashed as I did read that the horizontal stabiliser being freed caused it to pitch down or would it have failed any ways regardless if the trim wasnt touched and the pilots avoided trying to free it?

The jackscrew issue was a hole in the ground waiting to happen.

It just happened to be Alaska 261.

Basically, the structural integrity of the jackscrew was hanging by a thread; I know it's a very bad pun, but it pretty summarizes it.

Had they not touch the trim, the jackscrew might have held... MAYBE.
But, a burst of wind on final might have popped it as well.


I remember a Delta Airlines L10-11 which had an issue with the stabiliser being stuck upwards causing it to pitch upwards and they had to avoid an airport due to the weather as any strong wind couldve made it a disaster for the plane.
 
ozark1
Posts: 873
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 4:38 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:26 am

I have such enormous admiration for these two men. I am not a pilot, but you could hear that they were extremely experienced and tried to think of anything they could to save their aircraft. I read where the movie “Flight” incorporated some of the events on 261 into the accident scene (like flying inverted). I know there have been so many times when incredible flying skill has been nothing short of heroic, Alaska 261 and United 232 are the first to always come mind.
 
catiii
Posts: 3745
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:18 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:42 am

cedarjet wrote:
The crew were criticised because of a couple of lines on the CVR about trying to be test pilots


Criticized by whom? Where? There weren't a "couple of lines" in the CVR, there was one line where the Captain said, "I'm test flyin' now" AFTER the airplane's initial dive, after they regained control, and as they were checking responsiveness. They weren't acting like cowboys, and I'd like to see where anyone criticized them.
 
User avatar
CrewBunk
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:12 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 7:42 am

The stab jammed during the climb out of PVR. They hand flew it for about an hour before the autopilot could be re-engaged. Trouble shooting as they went.

The only “what if” that could be raised, is if they would have lost control had they returned immediately back to PVR. Clearly they didn’t realize the severity of the issue, as they flew another 2 1/2 hours before the crash.
 
r6russian
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2020 4:12 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 8:25 am

An airliner is impossible to fly without working elevator trim, not with the huge range of speeds and loads and CoG. Hell, even drilling holes in the sky in a 172 with a whopping 80 knots difference between stall and overspeed and 2 people and full tanks Being the difference between empty and mtow, I couldn't imagine flying with elevator trim set at takeoff trim and not touched the rest of the flight, let alone in a jet airliner. Besides, I'm pretty sure it'd be human nature to hit the trim thumbswitches back and forth if they didn't respond, or spin the trim wheel/move the trim handles so there's no point to speculate "what if they didn't touch the trim"
 
FlyHappy
Posts: 1156
Joined: Sat May 13, 2017 1:06 pm

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:02 am

It seems crazy to lay any criticism at the feet of the pilots, only being clairvoyant could they have avoided touching the trim. They did so in conjunction with direct consultation in real time with company engineering.

Aside from the people that lost their lives, I find the treatment of the mechanic whistleblower to be particularly egregious. Profits over people mentality will never change until such a time that whistleblowers are more rewarded vs punished. The fact that he called for jackscrew replacement a mere 5 years after the aircraft was delivered (yes, disputed by a subsequent mechanic), and 3 years before the crash, strongly suggests a serious problem with the maintenance culture.

The FAA didn't shine, either.
 
User avatar
CrewBunk
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:12 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:48 am

FlyHappy wrote:
It seems crazy to lay any criticism at the feet of the pilots, only being clairvoyant could they have avoided touching the trim. They did so in conjunction with direct consultation in real time with company engineering.


Not to mention the Jammed Stabilizer checklist in the QRH specifically mentions and directs various methods of regaining use of the pitch trim. Switches on the yoke, suitcase handles, and the autopilot itself commanding the primary and secondary trim drives.

The Jammed Stabilizer exercise is often practiced in the simulator. I am sure the pilots thought that’s what they were dealing with. If it can’t be “unjammed” there really is no hurry to land .... just follow the checklist and look for a long, relatively wind free runway. Which is why they chose to divert to LAX over continuing to SFO. It’s a bit of a handful, but a successful landing usually results.

It jammed at .4° nose down. A workable scenario. It then released to full nose down, (around 2.5° ?). I’m not sure how a landing with full ND trim would work. But .... they never had the chance to try as the stabilizer let go finally.

20 years later I still have to commend their actions, as did a lot of people. It was a valiant effort to maintain control. Alaska Airlines though got a lot of (well deserved) bad press for its shoddy maintenance practices. As noted, the FAA weren’t stellar either.
 
tu204
Posts: 2204
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:36 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:52 am

Pretty sure IF they knew what the problem was they could have landed it safely.
In particular slower speeds to reduce the load on the jackscrew. Plus wouldn't extending flaps a bit create a nose-up tendency that would have partially lessened the nose-down attitude due to the trim being stuck?
I do not dream about movie stars, they must dream about me for I am real and they are not. - Alexander Popov
 
n729pa
Posts: 1200
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:16 pm

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 10:39 am

Most accidents the words "had" or "if" are often used, of course with the luxury of a great deal of hindsight and from the comfort of an armchair, not troubleshooting with sometimes just seconds or minutes to act. On another time had they not tried some of these things then those questions would have been asked too. I don't think any criticism was due, as many posters have already said, but the airline's maintenance policy was totally at fault and out of order, the FAAs conduct also at best poor.
 
User avatar
CitizenJustin
Posts: 780
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:12 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 11:51 am

When did the pilots first notice the problem? I’m assuming the incoming flight had no issues? This is one of those truly haunting accidents. I can’t help but think what the passengers must have gone through.
 
User avatar
CrewBunk
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:12 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:56 pm

CitizenJustin wrote:
When did the pilots first notice the problem? I’m assuming the incoming flight had no issues? This is one of those truly haunting accidents. I can’t help but think what the passengers must have gone through.


The aircraft took off at 1337. The last movement of the stabilizer (before the first dive 2 1/2 hours later) was at 1349, jammed during the climb. The first indication of a problem was about 4 minutes later when the autopilot disengaged.

If not hand flying, generally the first indication to the pilots of a jammed stab will be the autopilot kicking off as it can no longer control pitch.

The aircraft crashed at 1621.

It IS haunting. The NTSB report, while governmentally factual, reads like a novel. It’s hard not to feel emotion when reading it.

https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/Acc ... AR0201.pdf
 
USAirALB
Posts: 2450
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:46 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:24 pm

AS261 was a terrible tragedy on so many accounts. I've read the NTSB report multiple times. I truly don't believe the aircraft could have been saved. They had no way of knowing what had occurred to the jackscrew when the the autopilot was first disengaged, so I believe they had no choice but to troubleshoot the issue. They radioed maintenance and they too were unable to figure out the issue. They weren't "test pilots"...they were just attempting to troubleshoot an issue for which there was essentially no procedure. They fought until the very end, and even made remarks to ATC that they had requested to fly over unpopulated areas on their approach to LAX. Very commendable.

I always considered this accident to be one of the worst in terms of pain/suffering, given the aircraft's inversion. The captain made a PA announcement stating that they had a control issue and they were diverting to LAX, so they were aware what was going on and likely knew what was coming.

In addition to the company's actions towards the whistleblower, another internal issue that is disturbing is it seemed that AS dispatch kept pressuring the flight crew to continue to SFO rather than divert to LAX as they were worried about flow control.

What I find most fascinating is how the incident essentially occurred "randomly"...meaning the flight crew of the aircraft that flew the plane to PVR that day noticed nothing out of the ordinary.
RJ85, F70, E135, E140, E145, E70, E75, E90, CR2, CR7, CR9, 717, 732, 733, 734, 735, 73G, 738, 739, 744ER, 752, 753, 762, 763ER, 772, 77E, 77W, 789, 319, 320, 321, 332, 333, 343, 359, 388
 
PANAMsterdam
Posts: 315
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:45 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:11 pm

Anonz263x wrote:
If the horizontal stabilisers trim were not touched on Alaska flight 261, would they have not crashed as I did read that the horizontal stabiliser being freed caused it to pitch down or would it have failed any ways regardless if the trim wasnt touched and the pilots avoided trying to free it?


If it hadn't jammed while operating as Alaska 261 then it would have jammed and caused the plane to crash while operating as Alaska 262. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
Every country has an airline. The world has Pan Am.
 
Tack
Posts: 192
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:13 pm

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Sun Jan 24, 2021 5:59 pm

FlyHappy wrote:
It seems crazy to lay any criticism at the feet of the pilots, only being clairvoyant could they have avoided touching the trim. They did so in conjunction with direct consultation in real time with company engineering.

Aside from the people that lost their lives, I find the treatment of the mechanic whistleblower to be particularly egregious. Profits over people mentality will never change until such a time that whistleblowers are more rewarded vs punished. The fact that he called for jackscrew replacement a mere 5 years after the aircraft was delivered (yes, disputed by a subsequent mechanic), and 3 years before the crash, strongly suggests a serious problem with the maintenance culture.

The FAA didn't shine, either.


Agree on all points. The pilots, Ted and Bill, were two of the best we had. I was in LGB with them for a few years. They were given a sht sandwich, which was prepared for them by our VP maint. at the time , John Fowler. This guy was notorious for being tough , (that’s the nicest thing I can say) to work with. Every Monday morning system wide ops meeting this dude would challenge each maint delay. It was all the other departments fault, up to and including pilots that were basically told they suffered from FoF. But it was never his department who couldn’t get a jet dispatched. Those in maint that tried to speak up, were shut down. Totally toxic. I had the “pleasure” of seeing him in action when I was assigned to VVO in the early 90’s. This accident is laid squarely at the feet of Fowler, as well as AS for letting this idiot have unchecked free reign in running the most critical department for any airline. It’s a day I’ll never forget and, infamously a VP maint. I’ll never forget.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 6965
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:29 am

I went thru an ERAU safety course with the former AS MD-80 fleet Mgr, a guy named Dennis. He couldn’t talk about it years later.
 
United857
Posts: 122
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:37 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:07 am

tu204 wrote:
Pretty sure IF they knew what the problem was they could have landed it safely.
In particular slower speeds to reduce the load on the jackscrew. Plus wouldn't extending flaps a bit create a nose-up tendency that would have partially lessened the nose-down attitude due to the trim being stuck?

Flaps actually create a nose down tendency, as it shifts the center of lift rearwards (further away from the center of gravity), which means you need more downward force from the stabilizer to balance the plane.
A319 A320 A321 A333 A343 A346 A388 B712 B733 B737 B738 B739 B744 B748 B752 B764 B772 B77L B77W B788 B789 CRJ2 E145 E75S E75L E190 MD88 MD90
AA AC B6 CA CX CZ DL EK FM HU JL KA LH LX MU NH NK TK UA US
 
SteelChair
Posts: 1481
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:37 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:25 am

I've always wondered if had just accepted that the stab was jammed, if they could have landed the aircraft at an extremely high speed ala Delta 37. Especially if they had enough fuel (unlikely) to get to Edward's long dry lake bed runway.
 
User avatar
CrewBunk
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:12 am

Re: Would Alaska 261 not crash if the stabiliser trims werent touched?

Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:06 am

SteelChair wrote:
I've always wondered if had just accepted that the stab was jammed, if they could have landed the aircraft at an extremely high speed ala Delta 37. Especially if they had enough fuel (unlikely) to get to Edward's long dry lake bed runway.

If they had fuel for SFO, they could have made it to Edwards.

Historically, a jammed stab is just that. I think they accepted that at the end. It would appear that on the way to LAX, the Captain was selecting slats, flaps and speed brakes, varying speed, to see how it reacted at slower speeds. All good things to do.

If it had stayed at 2.5°ND, they stood a pretty good chance of a successful landing. Even better had Edwards been considered. But I don’t think anyone ..... the pilots, ATC, dispatch, maintenance, etc. thought it was anything other than a jammed stab, and such a dire diversion necessary.

Then the sumbitch let go .......

Who is online

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos