Skip to comments.How Panic Doomed an Airliner
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 oclock 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 airliners 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 traininga well-known failing that has proven all too difficult to eliminate.
(Excerpt) Read more at jeffwise.net ...
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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.
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.
Seconds from Disaster
I like that show.
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”
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.
Je ne sais pas!
Remember the Gimli Glider?..whoever would have thunk that a modern airliner could RUN OUT OF FUEL 35,000 feet in the air...
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.
Air France accident ping!
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.
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.
Well there you can blame the metric system. (always a good scapegoat)
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.
The metric system? Well, I always thought that the metric system was up to no good. I’m glad we found the culprit.
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.
Not in IMC conditions, including a TX.
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.
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