Air France A330 - Missing over Atantic

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by SCCutler, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. Lance F

    Lance F Pattern Altitude

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    The event started when the AP & AT kicked out. The right seat PF grabbed his side stick and did a 7,000' zoom. That'll slow even an AB down.
     
  2. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The trim went max because he held the stick back, push the stick forward and it will trim down again. If a release of stickpressure caused the nose to drop some, there is no reason to suspect it wouldn't keep going because the further nose up is going to be the hardest bit to overcome because the shift in CP, once it moves down, it only gets easier to continue down from there. Even in alternate law, the plane was keeping itself perfectly controllable.
     
  3. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    And from another AB pilot (not here on PoA) to say that the force required to do that much of a climb was low, would be an understatement. It's a joystick with very little feedback and her comment was that most AB pilots have "flying by feel" completely removed from their idea of how to fly an airplane by about the third sim session. She says you fly it much more like a twitchy video game and rely pretty heavily on the screens for what the aircraft "decided to do" with your tiny control inputs.

    Frankly, it doesn't sound much like flying as most people know it, at all. The whole design (badly IMHO) over-emphasizes the pilot interpreting a whole bunch of software output. Exactly the kind of thing a software engineer would love.
     
  4. maddog52

    maddog52 Line Up and Wait

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    I've heard that "video game" theory ever since I first got trained on the AirBus and it's always annoyed me. It's an over simplification by people that are unfamiliar with the "Mysterious Fly By Wire Airbus" and can't seem to grasp that it flys in a fairly conventiona manner.. The control forces are lighter than some of the other large aircraft but they are better harmonized than most others. The large force difference between roll and pitch on a B767-300 is tough to get used to and way different then a 767-200 or 757 that all have the same type rating. True, the stick doesn't move alot compared to a yolk, but geting used to it is a matter of training just like any other aircraft. It doesn't take much pitch change on any aircraft at high Mach numbers to get a large climb and this guy was holding back pressure the whole time.

    "Flying By Feel" when you're in the weather and hard IMC is exactly what you don't want to do. Interpreting your instruments and making the aircraft do what you want it to do based on those instruments is what they should have done. They had valid attitude and vertical speed indications the whole time. The airspeed/mach indications were unreliable at the start but came back after they had flown into a deep stall. Sure these guys were given a tough situation, but given their reaction and inputs, I don't see how it would have made any difference what kind of aircraft they were flying.
     
  5. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Tend to agree, but it might have been contributory that the force required to maintain full nose-up on the stick was de minimis - one wonders whether the PF even realized he was doing it.

    When the instruments stop making sense (as it seems may have happened here), it is easy to get fixated on things other than control position, and the ability to keep full aft stick with essentially hand strength might have allowed that fact to be completely disregarded, until the consequence of that extended deflection caused substantially-greater confusion.

    All rankest speculation.
     
  6. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    The translated cockpit transcript seems to indicate that during the descent the captain and PNF realized the PF was pulling back and told him to stop; but near the end the captain and PNF also resorted to pulling up:

    The BEA said neither pilot followed the manual aircraft handling procedure for high altitudes, for which they had received no training. The crew did not alert each other to the differences in pitch attitude and vertical speed.
    [...]

    Around fifteen seconds later, the PF pulled the nose down. The angle of attack decreased, the speeds became valid again and the stall warning sounded again. Confusion reigned in the cockpit.
    The PNF says: "You're going up. Go down, go down, go down."
    "Am I going down now," the PF said.
    "No, you're going up," the captain said.
    [...]
    02:14:18 -- The captain urged the PNF to pull up. "We're pulling up, we're pulling up, we're pulling up," the PNF said seconds before the recordings stopped.
    http://news.yahoo.com/factbox-final-moments-flight-af447-crash-150127685.html
     
  7. Lance F

    Lance F Pattern Altitude

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  8. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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  9. kontiki

    kontiki Line Up and Wait

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  10. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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  11. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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  12. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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  13. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    I never saw that article. I have read a fair amount but missed that one. Re-reading it today was painful.

    "It's quite possible that Bonin had never flown an airplane in alternate law, or understood its lack of restrictions. Therefore, Bonin may have assumed that the stall warning was spurious because he didn't realize that the plane could remove its own restrictions against stalling and, indeed, had done so."

    ^ Training problem. His training should have taught him to recognize alternate law and it does sound like he was lacking


    "As the plane approaches 10,000 feet, Robert tries to take back the controls, and pushes forward on the stick, but the plane is in "dual input" mode, and so the system averages his inputs with those of Bonin, who continues to pull back. The nose remains high. "

    ^ WTF airbus!!! Also a training and CRM problem but when an airplane goes into "alternate law" in the event of a problem and most likely turbulence and confusion, this makes no sense. What on earth were they thinking when they designed this crap. When in ANY situation does it make sense for the controls to average out? The crew should designate PF and PNF but in the heat of the moment should they forget, they should be able to figure it out when they feel the control inputs of the other pilot, or if that is not possible at least have a warning system of some kind. Like a warning or light that comes on when conflicting control inputs are entered.


    When the **** hits the fan and the plane snaps into alternate mode, and can no longer take care of itself, it should make every effort to become a 'dumb' plane just like every other plane these pilots have thousands of hours in. This means no computer averaging out your control inputs, or messing with them in any way. It was mentioned that the captain had lots of hours in light planes. He was too late, but he did figure out they were stalled and directed them to drop the nose to recover.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  14. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    reading the cvr trans made me squirm in my seat. Their real life sounded like some nightmares I've had.
     
  15. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    Funny, I've never thought about it before you mentioned this but I've never had a nightmare about flying (at least that I remember). I rarely get them but I have had a few about driving.
     
  16. brooklyn26point2

    brooklyn26point2 Pre-Flight

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    Do you remember when you were a kid and you assumed that all professionals were just about infallible. Pilots, doctors, etc. - people in uniforms knew their stuff and wouldn't make a mistake like that. Ah, those were the good days.
     
  17. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    The Telegraph article echoes what I have been saying- the absence of tactile feedback to the PnF of where the yoke / stick is, is a serious design concern.
     
  18. DrMack

    DrMack Line Up and Wait

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    You mean, like the C*££^$?
     
  19. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The plane did exactly what the pilots told it to do every inch of the way and it did it impeccably. What it failed to do was communicate vital situational awareness information to a confounded crew. The mental task load for them was too high. They never understood they were in a stall. With the stall warning off, three proficient command instrument rated pilots could not interpret what they saw on that panel as a stall, nor did they associate that they need to make noise to fly. I personally believe with SVT they could have saved it.

    It was not a training issue either, rather it was a selection deficiency. None of them had been screened in any way for reaction type under stress. All three were dissociative paralysis types. They break into a detached third party view under dire stress. Other people accelerate and focus and undergo a very peaceful & purposeful time of utter clarity during which time seems to dilate. They need to institute culling for for that factor at the captain level.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  20. onwards

    onwards Pattern Altitude

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    Sorry for the stupidity of the question, but what does SVT stand for in this context?
     
  21. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Synthetic Vision Technology; a 3D 'what you see is what you get' perspective view similar to an older MSFS in visual mode with a very accurate terrain database. You see the horizon out there, it all represents the way you normally perceive situational information through your visual sense eliminating the need to interpret and combine multiple analog bits of information and develop your situational picture from that.
     
  22. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I really didn't like reading that the aircraft will average the two control inputs if they differ.

    What is this, "fly by committee"? Should be a PF/PNF selector switch and PF should win.

    Very odd system design choices, the French.
     
  23. Threefingeredjack

    Threefingeredjack En-Route

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    From the folks that brought us the Euro. I do not understand the penchant of Airbus to wrest control from the pilots. How many other traps are waiting to be revealed in this same fashion???
     
  24. maddog52

    maddog52 Line Up and Wait

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    "alternate law" IS one step closer to the aircraft being a "dumb" airplane just like every other plane. It removes the protections that other dumb airplanes don't have and it takes multiple failures of systems to get there.

    As far as dual inputs go. There are lights right in front of each pilot that come on in the event of dual inputs and a loud aural warning "DUAL INPUT" that repeats every 5 seconds until one pilot stops making inputs. The PF can take priority simply by holding down the take priority switch on top of his control stick and that cancels the inputs from the other stick. This is something that is trained and briefed regularly.

    These guys were handed a tough situation to recover from, but they had enough info available to evaluate it. There was nothing stopping the captain from taking the controls and flying it like any other aircraft. This tragedy is more about inadequate training and execution than Airbus flight control laws.
     
  25. Doggtyred

    Doggtyred En-Route

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    Have you not realized that the flight crew is simply a non-majority voting member of the flight control committee??

    George is smarter than ever, and is programmed to be smarter than the pilots. Or so they think.
     
  26. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    It did no such thing. The plane reacted PERFECTLY!!! The plane did exactly what the pilots said and allowed one pilot to wrest control, at least to an extent, just as a pilot can in a Boeing or a C-130 and it doesn't come down to strength. In this case the protocol worked out impeccably. One helped the other recover and the other noticed and handed the plane over gratefully as he had just realized he was really about to die.
     
  27. woodstock

    woodstock Final Approach

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    Painful to read, yes. :-(

    I still find it hard to believe a jet pilot didnt have basic stick n rudder skills. Had he merely let go... Just let go... Would the outcome have been different?
     
  28. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Thanks for the clarification. Apparently the article writers decided to gloss the dual-input thing over a bit for dramatic effect.

    I'm not sure they were handed a tough situation as much as they (well one of them) created it. But I agree with your point that the Captain could have taken over.

    A friend who flies aircraft this large admitted that he was just baffled by the whole thing. He pointed out on the phone recently that in his aircraft, pitch two degrees nose up and full available power is "the best configuration to fix just about anything. Put it there, leave it alone, and the aircraft will recover on its own. It's the normal cruise configuration plus extra power." Even in the high-altitude "coffin corner" this is still the configuration you want.

    We both remarked that "pitch plus power equals performance" and wondered aloud about why this crew wouldn't know a fall-back/failsafe power and attitude that the aircraft could always fly itself out of from memory. If you want to cruise, set cruise deck angle and power, confirm it, and wait... Maybe not the fastest way to your goal, but the aircraft is normally there anyway.

    Very very odd. It still bugs me that even though the AI data was recorded, the only logical reason they wouldn't have flown a known configuration is if the AI information being displayed was erroneous.

    75 un-acknowledged verbal stall warnings. Mother of God. How? Sigh.
     
  29. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    At the beginning had he just not touched the stick and switched from A/P 2 which disconnected to A/P 1 most likely the plane wouldn't have even had a burble in the path, but once he pulled those throttles, the outcome was sealed until they were advanced again.
     
  30. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm not sure SVT would have saved the day here. Any pilot operating under part 121 (or the ICAO equivalent) ought to be quite comfortable obtaining pitch information from the large AI presentations in the Airbus and the unusually nose high attitude should have been rather obvious if any of the pilots in the cockpit bothered to look at their instruments. My guess is that they simply didn't believe what they saw and probably wouldn't have put any more faith in a SVT presentation.
     
  31. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Ought to be, but we do not test or select for that criteria. With SVT you would see yourself nose high sliding down the screen just like out the window. That coupled with an unwinding altimeter would have given them a hell of a clue and they all most certainly needed one.

    If this accident is anything it should be a damned skippy reality check on how people react. If you have not yet been stressed with immediate mortal danger and noticed what type of reaction, freeze or accelerate, you have, you cannot know if this will be you or not. The captain from all his records, training, and experience should have done much better, yet his mind could not function.
     
  32. woodstock

    woodstock Final Approach

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    How do you train for that? Learn what your reactions are under stress, and learn how to cope?
     
  33. ebacon

    ebacon Line Up and Wait

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    iTravel,

    IMO the events that led up to this crash are difficult to train for. It pitted two visceral responses against each other. They were 1) trust your knowledge of aerodynamics and point the nose down to maintain airspeed vs. 2) trust your team mates in the aviation world and pay attention to the instruments which in this case was the stall indicator.

    One says point up and the other says point down. That sucks in the dark.
     
  34. dennyleeb

    dennyleeb Line Up and Wait

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    well not really, they should have known their aircraft better, they pitched up without adding power, I forget the numbers but for example it was 15 degrees up with 80% power to maintain a semi level flight and speed, they had it powered down
     
  35. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    Pretty good description of how different people handle critical situations. Unfortunately, unless you surprise candidates by having someone put them in a life threatening situation during the screening process, I'm not sure how you screen for "Collapse like a folding chair with a bad leg vs. turn into Audie Murphy" qualities.
     
  36. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    It is a cognitive dissonance thing. The gauges seem to tell you one thing, but the sensations (the ambient noise, for instance) are telling you something else. And all the while the altimeter is unwinding, your crewmates are just as puzzled as you, and whatever you're doing doesn't seem to help.
     
  37. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I'm not sure you can learn it, from all appearances it's in how we're wired from birth, some people lock up, some go into overdrive. I've never met anyone that experiences both.
     
  38. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Interesting observation. I'm trying to train folks for the correct response to unusual situations. It's difficult to say the least...
     
  39. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I've been thinking on that. Everytime I was in the simulator for a bit things start feeling 'real', I've walked out sweating before. I think between a sim loaded up for stress and failure coupled with some amphetamines and opiates and you can trigger people without exposing them to death.

    This is what the military did for us before when they provided most of the airline pilots, either it was caught in training or mission flights.
     
  40. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    No kidding, I've been working on that problem for a while myself training seamen. With all the variables and options it's tricky. First you have to teach them triage and in order to do that, you have to teach them to rank risk, before that you have to train them to recognize risk... oyyy. It takes about 5 years to train someone from green to command, and that's if they can hack it to begin with.