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How Panic Doomed an Airliner
jeffwise.net ^ | December 7, 2011 | Jeff Wise

Posted on 03/07/2012 11:45:08 AM PST by BenLurkin

On the evening of May 31, 2009, 216 passengers and 12 crew members boarded an Air France Airbus 330 at Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The flight, Air France 447, departed at 7.29pm local time for a scheduled 11-hour flight to Paris. It never arrived. At 7 o’clock the next morning, when the aircraft failed to appear on the radar screens of air traffic controllers in Europe, Air France began to worry, and contacted civil aviation authorities. By 11am, they concluded that their worst fears had been confirmed. AF447 had gone missing somewhere over the vast emptiness of the South Atlantic.

How, in the age of satellite navigation and instantaneous global communication, could a state-of-the art airliner simply vanish? It was a mystery that lasted for two years. Not until earlier this year, when autonomous submersibles located the airliner’s black boxes under more than two miles of water, were the last pieces of the puzzle put together. What doomed the 228 men, women and children aboard Air France 447 was neither weather nor technological failure, but simple human error. Under pressure, human beings can lose their ability to think clearly and to properly execute their training—a well-known failing that has proven all too difficult to eliminate.

(Excerpt) Read more at jeffwise.net ...


TOPICS: Travel
KEYWORDS: af447; airbus; airfrance; aviation

1 posted on 03/07/2012 11:45:13 AM PST by BenLurkin
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To: BenLurkin

Bump to read later ...


2 posted on 03/07/2012 11:48:53 AM PST by BlueLancer (KOMEN PINK: The color of the water in the basin after Pilate finished washing his hands)
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To: BenLurkin

Turns out that pilots of these modern airliners are very good managers, and not very good pilots. As the process becomes more and more about managing the machines as they do the flying, the “stick and rudder” instincts of the pilots becomes less and less important... until it becomes suddenly very, very important.


3 posted on 03/07/2012 11:53:37 AM PST by Haiku Guy ("The problem with Internet Quotes is that you never know if they are real" -- Abraham Lincoln)
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To: BenLurkin
I sez...In experinced pilots not dealing correctly(overcompensating) for a stall......
For years our all pilots had loads military training,train train train...these kids now a days have zero and freak out and over compensate for all kids of crap
4 posted on 03/07/2012 11:54:41 AM PST by CGASMIA68
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To: BenLurkin

Thanks. BTTT.


5 posted on 03/07/2012 11:54:48 AM PST by texas booster (Join FreeRepublic's Folding@Home team (Team # 36120) Cure Alzheimer's!)
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To: BenLurkin

Wow, this is something I’ve wanted to hear about. When they say “earlier THIS YEAR”, do they mean this young calendar year? Incredible.

So sad. Waiting for the “Seconds from Disaster” episode.


6 posted on 03/07/2012 11:58:16 AM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

“Seconds from Disaster”

I like that show.


7 posted on 03/07/2012 12:05:20 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: BenLurkin

Wow. I read the full Popular Mechanics article. Anyone who’s played Microsoft Flight simulator knows about stall.

I wonder if it is brain freeze or simply over reliance on technology. Per article: “The flight control computer under normal law will not allow an aircraft to stall, aviation experts say”


8 posted on 03/07/2012 12:08:14 PM PST by Barney Gumble (A liberal is someone too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel - Robert Frost)
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To: BenLurkin
The proper thing for Bonin to have done would have been to keep the plane flying level...no, the proper thing to do would have been to wake the senior pilot form his nap, now that they found they had encountered a "large tropical storm" - but then I'm not a pilot, so what do I know?....
9 posted on 03/07/2012 12:08:14 PM PST by Intolerant in NJ
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To: the OlLine Rebel
The black boxes were recovered last April and early May, and the preliminary findings released a couple of months later. There were several threads about it: Pilot errors outlined in 2009 Air France crash
10 posted on 03/07/2012 12:12:28 PM PST by Bubba Ho-Tep ("More weight!"--Giles Corey)
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To: BenLurkin
Airbus features “asynchronous” controls

Even worse, it averages the two inputs, which is a terrible design. One pilot was pushing forward, while the other full back, so the airplane's computer did neither up nor down. Who designs an airplane to operate by democracy? A chain of mistakes combined to cause this accident but bad socialist engineering played a large part.

11 posted on 03/07/2012 12:15:59 PM PST by Reeses
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To: Reeses
"Who designs an airplane to operate by democracy?"

Je ne sais pas!

12 posted on 03/07/2012 12:24:34 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: Barney Gumble

Remember the Gimli Glider?..whoever would have thunk that a modern airliner could RUN OUT OF FUEL 35,000 feet in the air...


13 posted on 03/07/2012 12:36:14 PM PST by ken5050 (The ONLY reason to support Mitt: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will appear at the WH each Christmas)
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To: BenLurkin

That wonderful GEE-WIZZ glass instrument panel is what killed those folks. That and not training and making the young pilots to fly the airplane without all the electronics.

To be certified, the aircraft must be able to fly and land safely after a total electrical failure. It can be done, but not if you neglect this configuration in training the pilots.


14 posted on 03/07/2012 12:43:48 PM PST by wrench
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To: SirKit

Air France accident ping!


15 posted on 03/07/2012 12:50:33 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: Reeses
Even worse, it averages the two inputs, which is a terrible design. One pilot was pushing forward, while the other full back, so the airplane's computer did neither up nor down. Who designs an airplane to operate by democracy? A chain of mistakes combined to cause this accident but bad socialist engineering played a large part.

Ok, genius, how does 'conservative engineering' handle control inputs? Ignore the copilot? What if the pilot passes out and slumps over the wheel? There is a lot of 'democracy' in a redundant system. You don't want any single failure to bring down the plane. If you don't know how these things are designed then refrain from insulting engineers you have never met.
16 posted on 03/07/2012 2:16:39 PM PST by TalonDJ
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To: BenLurkin
In the case of Air France 447, it appears that Bonin, in his panic, completely forgot one of the most basic tenets of flight training: when at risk of a stall, never pull back on the controls. Instead, he held back the controls, in a kind of panicked death-grip, all the way down to the ocean. Ironically, if he had simply taken his hands away, the plane would have regained speed and started flying again.

In IMC, if the air-speed sensors voter was erroneously indicating a high A/S, then the pilot would (properly) be trying to reduce speed to avoid exceeding the NTE speed, which is much more dangerous than a high-altitude stall. Once you exceed NTE the plane will start to lose a wing or elevators and it is doomed. A high-altitude stall can be recovered from, but there is no recovery from a lost wing or tail.

The triply-redundant fly-by-wire flight control system on the Airbus is unable to handle two erroneous data streams (e.g., two bad sensors) and instruments are then lying to him.

17 posted on 03/07/2012 2:23:26 PM PST by expat2
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To: Haiku Guy

Humans are very good at handling complex situations, but are very poor at monitoring systems over long periods. Unfortunately, the engineers have tried to use computers to handle complex situations and use humans to monitor the computers, the reverse.


18 posted on 03/07/2012 2:26:04 PM PST by expat2
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To: wrench
No, the glass cockpit didn't kill them - it was the bad air-speed sensors that did it. And the Airbus cannot be flown without the electronics -- there are no steel cables between the controls and the flying surfaces, everything is electronics with electrical signal from the controls to the computers and electrical signal to the control-surface electrical actuators.
19 posted on 03/07/2012 2:33:19 PM PST by expat2
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To: ken5050

Well there you can blame the metric system. (always a good scapegoat)


20 posted on 03/07/2012 2:49:18 PM PST by Barney Gumble (A liberal is someone too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel - Robert Frost)
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To: TalonDJ
Ok, genius, how does 'conservative engineering' handle control inputs?

I can't speak for the French but in America two Boeing pilots are trained to have only one pilot in 100% command at one time. There is no 50/50 commune command option. A pilot taking control announces something to the effect "It's my plane" and the other lays off the inputs. If the second pilot does interfere, and especially if they are French or Muslim, the pilot in command has the legal authority, and responsibility, to punch their lights out. Any vehicle designed to operate by secretly averaging the inputs of two co-equal pilots is an accident waiting to happen, and in this case it happened.

21 posted on 03/07/2012 3:10:00 PM PST by Reeses
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To: Barney Gumble

The metric system? Well, I always thought that the metric system was up to no good. I’m glad we found the culprit.


22 posted on 03/07/2012 5:36:41 PM PST by fini
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To: expat2

That plane can most certainly be flown with inop air-speed sensors. Many documented cases of that very make and model doing just that.

Over reliance on electronics is the fault here and inability to fly the aircraft buy the poorly trained crew.


23 posted on 03/07/2012 8:59:43 PM PST by wrench
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To: wrench

Not in IMC conditions, including a TX.


24 posted on 03/08/2012 5:50:30 AM PST by expat2
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To: BenLurkin
I wish I could remember where I saw this article but I read recently where the passenger airline industry has a long term goal of literally having the planes fly themselves from point A to point B and the cockpits will be sealed off and unmanned. Instead of pilots in the planes, they will be stationed on the ground where they will monitor multiple flights at once and have the ability to control the plane remotely if necessary.

Apparently the technology already exists to do this, the main obstacle is that most people in their right mind would never board a passenger plane without having live pilots in the cockpit. However, as we become more reliant on technology, the resistance to this will gradually get lowered.

There is already much research being done on having motor vehicles drive themselves and then we will have the same situation on the ground. During rare instances of equipment malfunction, the "driver" will find him/herself suddenly in control of the vehicle and panic/confusion will ensue.

25 posted on 03/08/2012 7:30:06 AM PST by SamAdams76 (I am 66 days away from outliving Phil Hartman)
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