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  • 114

Air France jet 'seconds from disaster' after autopilot fails in drama with chilling echoes of Brazil crash

Soumis
 
An Air France jet was just seconds from nose-diving to disaster after the autopilot failed during 'extreme turbulence' over the South Atlantic Ocean. The high-altitude alert in July chillingly echoed the cockpit chaos that preceded the fatal crash of an Air France Rio-Paris flight two years earlier, in which all 228 passengers died. In the latest drama, the autopilot shut down as the plane hit a storm at 35,000 feet while flying from Venezuelan capital Caracas to Paris. Read more:… (www.dailymail.co.uk) Plus d'info...

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navygray
Graham Miller 0
@Vancouverjake, You forgot a biggie ... AF lost a Concorde, still no blame put on AF, (despite their 'comprehensive' enquiry), yet they didn't install the protective shields adjacent to the tyres, had a wheel with a shim missing, (poor maintenance), causing the plane to steer offline, and the flight engineer shut down an engine without orders from the Captain. Still happy with AF flight crew professional standards? I'm not!!
preacher1
preacher1 0
I ain't a wantin' to start anything here, but didn't 447 take a climb into that stall as the automated systems started going beserk? If that be the case, there is a gremelin there that somebody needs to find and fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
andriy17
Andriy Tsyupka 0
please make sure you or your family does not get into A330 especially if it is AIR FRANCE!
preacher1
preacher1 0
@isma Mal: Go into "Popular Squawks(last week)" and read the 2 articles about automation fear and 50 crashes. Basic skill is becoming a thing of the past, and Airbus is worst in my opinion because it's system will lock a pilot out of certain functions that may be just what is needed. None of the rest have got there yet but it is worrisome that the push now is for pilots to monitor systems and push buttons rather than manually fly the plane. Once your older generation of pilots has retired, you won't have the Sully's and those like him up front anymore. If you are a PAX, you just better pray nothing breaks.
davidtruchot
davidtruchot 0
It's an Airbus, right. Too early to conclude at this time, plus it's a different type of aircraft, A340. Also, automated disasters can happen to Boeings too, recall the B738 in Amsterdam? Faulty altimeters fed into the autopilot the order to reverse thrust, in middair. We rely too much on technology.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
Did you notice the article says this was an A340? Although the picture is of an A330.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@David Truchot: 330 or 340, basic system is the same. I made a comment about Boeing in an earlier comment on another post. Auto thrust and auto pilot relying on data from different altimeters when one went crappy and the results blew everybody's mind. If a pilot is going to rely on the systems to bring you in rather than hand fly it in, they had better damn well pay attention to what it is doing and know how to get out of it if something goes screwey. You are correct in that we are relying too much on automation nowadays. I believe that altimeter thing with Boeing has been taken care of, but that is just another example of somebody not really understanding a system AND not understanding Murphy's law. It seems like any airborne emergency is 3 times as bad as one in a SIM, probably from the time standpoint more than anything. In a SIM, you can let go of everything, crash and walk out the door. In the air, there are those things called altitude, airspeed and the ground. That last one will get'cha if you don't know what you are doing.
linbb
linbb 0
Am always glad that its a nose dive not a tail dive.
FedExCargoPilot
Interesting route, i would have thought the route would be taken over st. marteen and the canary islands into western europe taken it north above tropical weather. And that a previous article i read said that it took that route that i describes and said the turbulence was experienced northeast of the leeward islands not in the area 447 crashed. Could someone clear that confusion?
FedExCargoPilot
yes, i think i was correct the article is wrong, here is a random date this flight flew from caracas and it obviously went northeast to the canaries. I think turbulence was experienced in an isolated thunderstorm
northeast of st. marteen according to the previous article i read.
http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AFR471/history/20110709/2310Z/SVMI/LFPG
FedExCargoPilot
ok this is the previous article i read and this shows the satellite weather and which storm caused the disturbance, 100s of miles northeast of Guadeloupe, not in the south atlantic.
http://avherald.com/h?article=44280b2a
preacher1
preacher1 0
I can't help but weigh in here again. There have been comments here about automation, pilot training, route, weather and several other things. Point is, regardless who is right or wrong, it don't matter whether the plane was over the North Pole or Dallas or the South Atlantic; turbulence at FL350 can happen anywhere and whether or not there is a Tstorm! The similarity with 447 here is that when the AP disconnected, the damn nose went up and shaved off speed to the point of nearly stalling the aircraft, which with 447 it did. While there was intervention after the fact on 447, the report says nothing here about it. My original question: on either plane, what caused it?? Is there a gremilin no one is talking about????????????
alistairm
alistairm 0
Here is another article about it:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/06/uk-france-crash-idUSLNE78503820110906
FedExCargoPilot
To Wayne: That I can't answer since I'am not an a330/340 pilot or expert but just a student almost a private. But I will argue that the plane flew into a big enough storm to cause that disruption which is just not right, getting the weather along the route is vital and if this was a sudden storm which it was, this was not clear air turbulence associated with jet streams, why didn't the plane go around it? It flew into a big storm regardless
if the A/P failed again like in 447, why didn't the plane go around the storm is my question. What concerns me is that Air France again flew into unsafe conditions, this was not a squall line in 447, but a isolated storm, I agree that concern should be expressed for the autopilot. But what about deviating around the weather to avoid getting into a situation like a stall which almost costed AF another airbus?
sheka
mark tufts 0
pull the pilots off and retrain them in case of a system failure (re auto pilot dis engagement)and reteach them how to handle the situation
alistairm
alistairm 0
@FedExCargoPilot: " But what about deviating around the weather to avoid getting into a situation like a stall which almost costed AF another airbus?"

I hope that this statement was written without much thought, for i believe hundreds of lives are far more important that an Airbus!
Aircraft have made it throw terrible storms & turbulence. Despite the fact that passengers got thrown around, the aircraft still made it through. I find it disturbing that there seems to be a theme to two seperate incidents; though, not so seperate in regards to airline and aircraft manufacturer. Something is at play here and i agree with Wayne: there seems to be a gremlin here.
mpradel
Marcus Pradel 0
WHY is it so difficult to take over and fly the aircraft on just Power and Pitch?

it does look like A/T is accelerating the aircraft when the pitot system blocks up. Then, the A/P quits and the aircraft pitches up to a climb at which point the A/T disengages back to a low power manual setting that nobody is looking at. Next, it slows down and stalls..
Contrail727
P.J. Gibson 0
Does the term "Coffin Corner" come to mind, primarily early Lear Jet Flight Crews?? Comments? Similarities in the Flight Regime........
kangforpres
Paul Schiesser 0
Yea, when the autopilot or autothrust disengage, you have to manualy take control of the aiprlane keeping the airplane in apositve "attidue" situation or orientation and and adjust the thrust settings to normal parameters so the auto pilot can re-enguage.

Air France may have some training issues, lots of airlines fly high altitude routes in the tropical convergance zone, where these moster thunderstorms live, but I don't recall hearing any loss of controled flight reports from other carriers, just AF
davidtruchot
davidtruchot 0
I see your point about the glitch in the system. Yet we don't know for sure if it's the autopilot that raised the altitude or if it's the pilot (we need to wait for the French-BEA to confirm/infirm it). On another point, I think that part of the solution is in increased communications. Lufthansa's Chief Pilot proposed earlier last year to use the onboard satellite internet connections to access live satellite weather imagery to ensure a smooth path. That's part of the key (hard to believe that in 2011 pilots don't have access to this key information yet, they have to rely on the onboard radar - which is no way near the precision of the satellite imagery). High altitude stall recovery must now be on all basic training courses.
aaronavtr
Don't take a CHANCE riding in AIR FRANCE!!!!
BlazingPuppies
I don't get how the nose can go so high up, if the autopilot disengaged, wouldn't the trim tabs keep it relatively stable enough for pilots to handle? I know that there is all of those lifting agents in a tstorm, but I don't see how the autopilot being disconnected can cause that strong of a change in pitch
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Brett: That's the gremilin I am asking about
siriusloon
siriusloon 0
How did they get over the South Atlantic Ocean while en route from Caracas to Paris?
ChrisNH
Can the A340 really hold 375 people like this article stated?
alistairm
alistairm 0
@Christopher Van Veen: Yes, it can. An A346 can carry 379 passengers in a three class config.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Alistair: what's the Boeing equivalent of the 340. I'm having a senior moment.lol
alistairm
alistairm 0
@wayne: i beleive it would be the triple 7. I know that Air Canada got rid of their 340's and opted for the triple 7 instead.
genethemarine
Gene spanos 0
B.O.H.I.C.A
preacher1
preacher1 0
Well, that's kinda what I thought, but the 777 with 2 engines and the 340 with 4. How do they compete. I do notice most everone seems to be dumping the 340
davidtruchot
davidtruchot 0
@Jeff The journalist who selected a photograph of the A330 for his article probably drew the map of the trajectory himself!
jicaro
I agree w/alot of you GRIMILINS, that pitch-up deal is interesting, hopefully the real truth comes out not just what the BEA wants us to hear
alistairm
alistairm 0
@wayne: i would imagine it has to do with the almighty dollar. Triple 7 is more fuel effecient and perhaps a few other factors that will save some dollars. Air Canada used to have the A340 on the Toronto-HK route, but now they have the triple 7.
Wingscrubber
Wingscrubber 0
Pilots should be hand-flying through/near storms.
These guys need some Cessna time or something...
kangforpres
Paul Schiesser 0
THe 340 got beat by it's twin the 330 and the 777, I don't think Airbus has delivered a 340 in 2 years? They only keep the product line open becasue it's assembled at the same location as the 330. And with the 787 vs. 350WRX the 340 is really toast.
davidtruchot
davidtruchot 0
Yes, you are right about the A340's sales performance. The last one sold was to Khadafi! And it was a used one....
racerman
larry clement 0
When you are sitting in the front seat of an airplane one of two things is happening- Either you are flying the plane, or the plane is flying you.I prefer the first scenario.In severe turbulence, I always disconnect the A/P and hand-fly the plane.
davidtruchot
davidtruchot 0
Do you hand fly the airplane at FL350 or FL410 when you encounter turbulence? I just started flying, but I read in the paper that at those altitudes, it's very difficult to manually fly the airplane.
chalet
chalet 0
What the hell is going on with Airbus and/or Air France. When an autopilot is disengaged the pilot should be able to take over and take corrective actions but with these guys this seems to be an impossibility. Airbus has crammed so much computer technology into their aircraft just to be able to tell prospective clients that this makes their Airbuses much safer than manual operation á la Boeing. Bu... sh..., time and time again this is proving to be the opposite, the more they computerize their aircraft the more vulnerable they become when something happens. What are they waiting, another Air France 447, God forbids, before they get down to reprogramme the God-damn computers with differente laws and software.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Give 'em hell, Chalet!!! I could not have expressed it better myself!lol

@David: at those flight levels especially, is where the automation is nice but I am like the rest, when you turn the AP off, the control should be in the hands of the pilot, right or wrong and any system that can prevent that from happening is a disaster waiting to happen.
jshark00
Just a wild guess on the pitch-up issue: if the A/P was sensing overspeed, it could have dialed in a lot of nose-up trim to slow the A/C, THEN disconnected leaving the A/C out of trim and nose high.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Jonathan sharkey: that may not be such a wild guess. I don't know if they dissected that out of 447 or not and it hasn't came out on this one yet but it is very plausible. If it did, and a man wasn't paying attention to things as some are prone not to do these days, it could definitely do it and it would bite you in the butt in a hurry, leaving you wondering what's going on. That's probably one of them Murphy's Law things that no programmer or SIM man has thought about(as in not supposed to happen. Most planes, when real airspeed increases, have a tendency to nose up some anyway but this seems a bit much.
BlazingPuppies
Guys maybe the weight and balance was way off? Would extreme turbulence cause the arm to move aft? Or maybe the standard weight needs updating
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Brett: I don't know what Airbus and Air France tell their pilots about turbulence, but if I could see it ahead of time, such as a Tstorm line or similar, off would go my A/P and I'd be hand flying my bird. Some say different but that's just me and flying corporate I could do what I wanted. Automation or not, I wanted our destiny in my hands. That's what I was paid to do and that is what the folks behind me expected. Automation on some functions is nice if all is routine, but in turbulence of any kind, whether off a storm or CAT,nothing is routine. You need to have a hold of your bird and then know what to do with what you got. IMHO
FedExCargoPilot
@Jeff that is the "gremilin" i'm talking about. the flight plan was off. either way the plane went, it took the plane into hazardous conditions for the a/c and MOST IMPORTANTLY...the pax. i wonder why this "gremilin" hasn't happened to all the others thousands of airbuses that fly around the world? and why it happened to AF two times in a row in such a short period in the atlantic routes? should we be blaming airbus? or is it the pilots getting behind the airplane and the a340 taking the pilots for a ride?
preacher1
preacher1 0
@fedexcargopilot:Air France twice, yes, but over 2 years apart and AF and other Airlines fly both Airbus and Boeing everyday and 2 years is not a short time
MikeHannaford
Mike Hannaford 0
I bet it happened somewhere very close to the ITCZ - Inter-Tropical convergence zone.
dgasmire
David Gasmire 0
I don't know about you guys but if I enter heavy turbulence I will disconnect the AP in favor of letting the plane ebb and flow in the turbulence so not to overstress servos and control surfaces. It is similar to flying into icing conditions without boots. DC the AP and fly the six pack, while maintaining a higher IAS and not using flaps. Someone has to fly the airplane and do so when it is really called for. I fly a Garmin 1000 flight deck that has all of the bells and whistles and it does trend analysis and if something goes wrong, it warns you and that component goes off line. It is an excellent system and I don't rely on it saving my life, just use it as a tool so I can save my own.
TomCarroll
Tom Carroll 0
Maybe this is a stupid question, but could part of the problem be with the routes some of these planes are taking in that part of the world? Is it a matter of plotting courses that circumvent (even partially) some of these areas of severe turbulence? (Please forgive my ignorance of air currents in that part of the world, but have any pilots out there who have flown routes from South America to Europe experienced similar events?)
Dannoga
Dan Ciavardini 0
Whats with these AF pilots flying into a TStorm at FL300?? Basic flight knowledge...STAY AWAY FROM STORMS!
Dannoga
Dan Ciavardini 0
AF pilots seem to have a penchant for flying blindly into rough weather in very remote location. Man look at your radar and deviate for goodnesss sake....no storm...no problem.
alistairm
alistairm 0
Get the pilots, the C level people of Air France, the chief pilot(s) of air france, Airbus and the people who train the pilots and haul them infront of a panel and have an inquiry. Grill them and let's get some answers as to why this is happening.
MikeHannaford
Mike Hannaford 0
Guys if you don't understand equatorial weather then google the ITCZ as per my previous post.
MikeHannaford
Mike Hannaford 0
It would be to embarrassing for you 'Qualified Pilots' to end up back in Ground school on a Meteorology brush up course!!!!!
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Mike: whether ICTZ or over Texas, turbulence and weather can come up in a hurry. From myself and a couple of other "Qualified Pilots" on here, there seems to be a few prevailing thoughts. #1. Stay away from it if you can. #2. If you can't, disconnect the AP and fly the plane, but#3. How come we are just hearing about AF???? Bad luck, media staying with them on account of 447??????? All Airbus, All AF. Makes you wonder. On the other hand, it's been over 2 years since 447. Planes fly those routes everyday; their bad luck?????????????
MikeHannaford
Mike Hannaford 0
I totally agree with what you say, but you can't always avoid bad weather when it extends upwards in excess of FL400 and is maybe 100+ Nm wide.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Nope: that's why you got to DC the AP and fly the plane but most important, you need to pay attention to what you are doing and waht's going on around you, which it appears they didn't, in both cases.
ExCalbr
Victor Engel 0
Apparently, it's not just AF. Look at the wikipedia article for 447 <URL:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_447> and read the paragraph starting "The Flight 447 accident may have some relevant similarities to other A330 incidents"
kirkhanson
Kirk Hanson 0
Fedexcargopilot, sounds like a big name for only being a student Pilot, but keep on aiming for the SKY.
CaptainArt
Having been a pilot for over 42yrs, and having been around more than a few in the know, I would never, ever, fly in any french plane. I also never fly in any of those in Africa. The 340 line is starting to get a bad rep. Deserving or not, they are starting to get a track record.
padgettrea
Ronald Padgett 0
Forgive my ignorance, not being a pilot, this article read:

'It will help us to understand whether there was a problem with the Airbus or in the training received by flight crew in manual aircraft handling at high altitude.'

After reading the article twice, it seems to me that the AutoPilot sent the aircraft climbing; not the pilots... where's the problem with the training of the flight crew in manual aircraft handling. I think they need to send the autopilot back to school.
slpceo
slpceo 0
Even if weather is 100 NM wide, deviating around it doesn't seem to be such a big issue. That's a 70 NM deviation (50+20) on a flight of a couple thousand miles. Hardly noticeable in a jet. I'm a Citation and L39 driver, not an airline pilot, but I use the radar, Stormscope, and Nexrad in the Citation (I realize there's no Nexrad over the ocean). I'd be looking out as much as 240 miles with the radar and if I saw stuff that could build up to a threat by the time I got there, I'd be planning a way around it. I'm probably missing something here - what is it?
gearup328
Peter Steitz 0
Just like USAirways crashing in PA just north of the airport, there are gremlins in airplanes. Boeing quietly changed the rudder system of the 737 and I'm sure there were secret meetings in hotels between all the companies involved. Big bucks at stake. Regarless, when an aircraft stalls the pilot should lower the nose--not pull up. This is basic training folks. Yes, the airplane flies you these days but YOU are still incharge of the autopilot. When it does something you didn't tell it to do--disengage it. Evidently, these T'stms have verocious up drafts and can overwhelm an aircraft. They were beyond th envelope.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@slpceo: I personally don't think you are missing anything. Now, down there in that tropical zone, crap can come up pretty quick but I don't think any of these folks have ever flown West Texas either, as they can jump up on you out there. Point is, if you ain't looking where you are going, you have no business in the left seat. I'll partner with the likes of you anytime.
astrojet120
astrojet120 0
Maybe the Airbuses need an Override switch. Or just don't have autopilots
period., after all isn't that why you have co-pilots?
lisejungebloedt
Please accept `new member´, ignorance and old age (83) as an excuse for venting a recent accident here that has nothing to do with the AirFrance affaire. Six days ago a Chilean airforce CASA 212 with 21 people on board (pilot and copilot included), after two failed attempts to land at Juan Fernández island (Robinson Crusoe) crashed into the Pacific with such an impact that only small pieces of the plane have been recovered plus eight victims during the (up to date) six day search. The pilot is described as being very well qualified and having handled herself remarkably during an emergency landing some time ago. However she only had "somewhat over 700 flying hours" in her log book. Have rules changed so much in the last decades that such a pilot can be put in charge of an institutional (FACH) passenger plane on a trip destined to a climatically treacherous, difficult and to boot, short runway? I realize that I am jumping with both feet into a hornet´s nest by questioning the decision of the Chilean AirForce´s decision in the choosing of the pilot of this mission.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 0
Wyane, like in the end of Top Gun---I'll be your wing man anytime. I'll be yours too.
alistairm
alistairm 0
@Peter & Wayne: you guys are getting cheesy!!!
brhett
Bobby Rhett 0
@Jonathan, Wayne, and other nose-up gremlin comments- a very thorough discussion of this was made in the 447 articles, and in the preliminary report. Airbus does not make an an "Autopilot on/off" switch, there are many levels to the automation and they disengage (or remain engaged) in sequence. In 447 it was a loss of pitch control after a strong nose-up trim, and the trim was never manually adjusted back down. Put a nose-up trim and faulty airspeed readings causing autothrust to throttle down, then disengage autothrust and you have an aircraft pre-configured for a stall. Enter a confused pilot who expects the automation to leave the aircraft in a normal flight configuration. It is THAT expectation that needs to be trained out of pilots.
xpylut
Thomas Giefer 0
I think the gremlin being sought is a frozen pitot system due to lack of pitot heat.

If pitot probes are unheated and precip is present, the standard airspeed system, rudimentary as it is, will freeze with ice and the A/S indication system will show erroneous A/S, usually higher if at alt or climbing. It will increase with increased altitude.

At first indication of faulty A/S, the Auto Pilot will dis-engage, leaving the pilot with manual pitch control and Auto Thrust or Throttles, generally on in cruise will sense increased speed and retard. Once this setup is present, its easy to see what inexperience or infamiliarity can breed.

The unfortunate next step is manual nose up to reduce perceived A/S because the A/T are already reduced. Result: The more nose-up is input, the higher the perceived A/S, but the lower the actual A/S, to the point of stall.

This same scenario occurred over Thiells, NY in 1974. (AAR 75-13 or PB245581/4GA if anyone still has it) It was a post ferry repositioning flt with only a 3 man crew aboard. A time when SOP tends to suffer and as a result the pitot heat switches were left in OFF; three fatalities.

I find it difficult to understand why there has been recent discussion of pitot heat failures at AirBus with such a time proven system.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 0
There are very turbulent T'stms in the convergent zone. AF evidently wants their flights to fly right thru them while others go around. Been a pilot since 1965 and a commercial pilot since 1989. FLY AROUND THE THUNDERSTORMS!!! Don't ever dare to go thru one---you'll bust your ass. Companies like AF want to max profits. Less fuel. Straighter tracks. Highter altitudes...etc. Safety comes FIRST..Period. Now they have a huge lawsuit problem on their hands not to mention the PR.
padgettrea
Ronald Padgett 0
@Bobby Thank you. Now I believe even I understand re the pilot training... still think they should make the autopilot attend. :)
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Thomas Giefer: I don't know if pitot tubes came into this one or not. The pitot tubes themselves were called into question on AF447, but not lack of heat. They were on the defective list from THALES, the mfg and 447 was scheduled to have them replaced but they didn't make it
xpylut
Thomas Giefer 0
I neglected the solution to the frozed pitot heat scenario.

FLY ATTITUDE AND ENGINE SPEED (N1).
vblurbs
vance burberry 0
Fly Boeing, never liked the airbus over reliance on computer systems.
CriticalMass
CriticalMass 0
If someone else has called attention to this and I missed it, my apologies. The discussion of potential training issues calls the mind the practice of many European airlines, most notably Lufthansa but others as well, to grow some proportion (unknown to me) of their pilots via ab initio programs. This has always seemed to me to be a way of adhering to a system (and being a system manager as has been mentioned) rather than learning to fly. I know it can be argued that the military trains this way to some extent but stick and rudder have thankfully never gone out of style in the military even though "standards" are rigidly applied.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Larry: It's not really in here but in "Popular Squawks" about a week ago there 2 good articles, 1 on Automation worries and the other on 50 crashes or something like that, but the both came to the same bottom line that you are speaking of here, an over reliance on automation and either forgetting or never learning how to fly the plane. You got to know what you got under you and what to do with it when everything on the panel goes dark. It has happened to all of us in some form or fashion over the years. If you fly long enough it will happen. There are too many war stories to be told here but the bottom line is, you will have to fly the plane or meet your maker.
brhett
Bobby Rhett 0
It sounds like there needs to be a manual flight control check periodically, or at least when ANY layer of automation is disengaged or suspected of fault. It is impossible to "fly" by looking at instruments when there is no awareness of the flight control positions. As an amateur, my thought would be something like throttle, engine speed, elevator trim, rudder trim, then stick/yoke. Then read the instruments (airspeed, VSI, artificial horizon). If you have a faulty airspeed or attitude indication, you will never know it without looking at these things first. The size or complexity of the plane doesn't matter in the basic flight principles. When automation fails, you need to take over as a human pilot, not repair the automation. Don't fly like a computer or you will fail - you don't have the programming. Humans need to fly like humans.
WilliamBarnes
William Barnes 0
Will we go back to circumnavigating bad weather - even it it burns a couple of kilos more?
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Bobby: I missed your earlier post of 4hrs ago. Not being typed in Airbus product I didn't know. If that is the case that is something that needs to be trained out of AB pilots. On a Boeing or anything else, when you DC the AP, the aircraft is yours and what you see is what you got.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@William: At most airlines, it's pilot discretion, and most pilots will go around if at all possible
Pappyjoe
Pappy Joe 0
There are two things I don't do...Swim and Fly....if you stop either you die
Pappyjoe
Pappy Joe 0
There are two things I don't do ....Swim and Fly...if you stop either you die
FedExCargoPilot
It looks to me that the plane was well above the tropical zone, It looked like on the satellite( the website i posted yesterday for those who wonder the location of the plane in the turbulence) was not very wide at all but circular, so a minor deviation could have been made. Since it looks like more people are bringing up why the plane ended up in a storm in the first place before looking at the A/P and pilot training(this too is very important). It looks to me that this plane was talking to Puerto Rico ATC while flying thru the storm northeast of the leeward islands. Could they aid the AF pilots to circulate the storm? T-storms are dangerous with their wind shear and turbulence and icing. Having been from Houston and i fly a lot, whenever there is a cell they close arrivals and Dep.s, which makes sense, and do have planes take a different route into IAH whenever ther're in the vicinity. Still doesn't make sense why ATC and the radar couldn't have made a deviation possible, for a small cell, it wasn't a squall line or a hurricane.
FedExCargoPilot
My mistake it was New york Oceanic
brhett
Bobby Rhett 0
I would comment on the pilot's choice of route or deviation, but I was not there and I do not know what information the pilot had, when. It is easy for me to sit back now and look at what actually happened and find what he "should" have done. It would not be easy for me to sit in the front of a plane taking off today for the same route and predict the best course. Weather is variable...sometimes the devil you know is better to face than the one you don't.
chalet
chalet 0
GUYS HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THAT AIR FRANCE STARTED FLYING BOEING 707s FROM PARIS TO RIO DE JANEIRO AND DOWN TO BUENOS AIRES, AND ANOTHER ROUTE FROM PARIS THROUGH THE CARIBBEAN TO THEIR FORMER COLONIES AND ON TO CARACAS AND BOGOTA SINCE 1960. DITTO LUFTHANSA FROM FRANKFURT AND BRITISH AIRWAYS FROM LONDON, YES FOR SIXTY YEARS (TEN TIMES SIX) THROUGH THE SAME ROUTES AND IT IS ONLY NOW THAT SOME REALLY AWFUL THINGS ARE HAPPENING. ANOTHER AIRLINE IBERIA FLEW FROM MADRID TO ALL OF SOUTH AMERICA (DC-8-50S AND -61s) FOR ALMOST SIX D E C A D E S AND NOTHING HAPPENED. SO DON'T BLAME THE DAMN ITCZ AND EXTREME WEATHER AND THE TSORMS AND RIME ICE AND THAT AF IS NOT USING THE RADAR AND DEVIATE, AND THIS AND THAT. BULL SHIT GUYS, THE PROBLEM LIES SOMEHWERE ELSE, CAN'T YOU SEE WHERE!!!!!!
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Chalet: do you honestly think any of that will come out in that investigation, hearing, trial or whatever they want to call it. We all know that the problem is inherent with the Bus and it's totally automated system, but as a matter of National Pride, do you think it will come out, at least in any big way. Heck no. Everytime there is a bad one and a few killed, they'll try and figure out what went wrong that shouldn't have and quietly fix it. They'll experiment with real live pax though and that is the sad part.
chalet
chalet 0
A correction on my previous blog. The airlines in question started flying the indicated routes to South America in the 50s using Super Connies and DC-7s which flew at 18 thousand ft. sometimes a bit higher where very low temps are usually found too. These same airlines plus Panair do Brasil and Aerolíneas Argentinas started flying 707s and DC-8s along these same routes since 1960 and not catastrophic accidents happened due to weather.
chalet
chalet 0
@ Wayne you have a point insofar National Pride, which is understandable but this can not go on forever so I firmly believe that they are going to get to the bottom of this and take corrective actions more or less in the same manner as they dealt with the crashes of the pride and joy of the British aircraft industry, the much beloved Comet.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@chalet: you are talking about the French here!!!!!!!!!!!Not the Brits!!
preacher1
preacher1 0
@chalet: at least the Brits admitted there was a problem and grounded the Comet. Airbus hasn't grounded anything yet, which means they are still in denial.
matthewhaskett
Perhaps I'm not understanding, but isn't the article a little bit too alarmist? "Seconds from disaster?" So what if it did stall - at such high altitude? Couldn't the pilot simply put the nose down and increase power and fly the plane?, and recover from the stall? Even if thousands of feet were lost, a disaster still is far underneath the plane, right? I'm not saying this isn't a serious issue, but let's keep in mind that this near-stall did not happen hundreds of feet from the ground on final approach or something...
VancouverJake
VancouverJake 0
Don't blame the airplane. I fly Boeings for a US major, but...
-Air France landed long in Toronto and went off the end of the runway.
-Air France couldnt hand fly the airplane when the autopilot disconnected and stalled it into the Atlantic from 35,000 feet.
-Air France taxied into a stationary RJ at a high rate of speed at JFK.
-Air France almost stalled another one into the Atlantic

Anyone else see the pattern here?
navygray
Graham Miller 0
@Vancouverjake, You forgot a biggie ... AF lost a Concorde, still no blame put on AF, yet they didn't install the protective shields adjacent to the tyres, had a wheel with a shim missing, causing the plane to steer offline, and the flight engineer shut down an engine without order from the captain. Still happy with AF flight crew professional standards? I'm not!!
tracker186
James Brasier 0
The real question is "Why won't this airplane recover from a stalled condition from 35,000'"
aliamir
I am AF staff and find your comments on AF447 tragedy particularly unaceptable. You were not on the flight neither do I and for the respect of those in SERVICE in the cockpit, in cabin as well as for the passengers, refrain for judging as we do not have the whole story yet. It is easy to accuse those not here a
aliamir
YOU COMMENTS ON AF447 ARE REALLY UNACEPTABLE. EASY TO ACCUSE PEOPLE NOT HERE ANYMORE TO DEFEND THEMSELVES YOU WERE NOT ON THE COCKPIT NEITHER DO I AND YOU ARE NOT CONFIRMED PILOTS ( OR IF SO THEN IT IS NOT YOUR PRAISE TO CHAYOU NOT
JimmyZ777
Loyd Champion 0
First, I'm not a pilot, but do fly a lot, and know a number of pilots, as well as work in the aviation industry. Additionally I've followed the AF 447 investigation since in my world of thinking a modern commercial aircraft made by Airbus, or Boeing doesn't just fall from the sky at 35,000 feet. Perhaps some common sense is in order here after reading a lot of the comments from folks that know a lot more than I do. Just perhaps there are many things in play here which all connect up to the accident of AF 447 as well as this recent issue.

Part of the older pilots vs. newer pilots skills being different is true. Face it, pilots that started flying 30 years ago did not have the modern computers on the cockpit, and had to depend on their instincts a lot. Today the training, and the insticts are not the same. However I'm not one to think that the software provided by an aircraft maker is perfect. Generally the code is written by people that have never commanded an aircraft, and they, like all of us are human. The A300 / A330 series has had a share of problems that in my opinion Airbus has never admitted to, or made an effort to repair. There was bad weather with unpredictible turbulent air situation in which pilots didn't avoid. Perhaps they had the wrong focus. Today they forget that it is OK to land the plane someplace between point A and B for additional fuel that may be required by going way around a big storm.

The cause of each of these situations may, or may not be the same, but I feel all of the points above contribute. Lastly, as a frequient flyer, I'm not alone in telling you that I will not fly on the A300 or A 330. When I see those aircraft on a route, I take a differnt flight, or select a different airline.
FedExCargoPilot
Mr. Diebate is correct, there is nothing wrong with airbus or AF, and on the ground we don't know exactly why the plane went into the storm, maybe it was a very rapid development, maybe there was moisture before it that blocked the A/C radars from picking up the cell. Wind shear happens to any plane boeing or airbus in the sky, and boeing is flys itself just as much as airbus. We cannot point fingers to the many AF pilots and Airbus a330 pilots and say that they cannot fly. Again, why the plane went into the storm, I don't know, but it was most likely very sudden, the pilots corrected for the increase in speed by climbing, which is correct. It's is indeed better to stall than stress the A/C. The pilots by the way, did not stall the plane but flew it to safety. The pilots succeeded in that case. The questions we should be asking is why the plane flew that route and could not manage to avoid that situation. Lets not forget that thousands of airbuses fly around the world and leave people without a scratch and same with AF, and with the great service AF offers and the professionalism of the crew, I would fly Air France anytime to Paris over its competition, and the a330 which is very comftorable with its 2-4-2 seating and its quiet engines.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@alioune: to say we are not confirmed pilots, you are bad out of line. A lot of us here are ATP's, and those that are not are well qualified to offer an opinion, which is what this column is all about. If you had read the original story on 447 you would have heard a lot more than is here, BUT an underlying factor to all of it, especially from myself, is that WE WEREN'T LOOKING OUT OF THEIR WINDSHIELD, and most of that was because your airline, government, Airbus and insurance companies are trying to lay it off on the pilots because they were dead and not here to defend themselves. If you will find that story and read this one and these comments fully, you will find a common thread that seems to start pointing to the Airplane and Airbus's system. Now, go back to your staff job and let us pilot's talk unless you have something to contribute rather than chastise.
usaerin
@ Wayne Bookout --

I was pretty sure your signature commentary would be all over this one, and so it is. However, I stopped in to ask a question or two: (1) do you recommend against flying Airbus? (2) Or only not flying certain models of same? (3) Or not flying certain liveries using Airbus, i.e., carriers? I hope diplomacy and the United Nations don't forestall an answer, although they might. Blue skies to you.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@KK: I really don't know, but something is screwey somewhere. Both these examples are Airbus and there are many unanswered questions. I just know that a Boeing system won't lock the pilot out of the loop, for better or worse, and I found out the outher day that the AB system does not put the Aircraft in a normal mode when the Auto Pilot is disconnected. That scares me and is a major thing to unlear when going from one A/C to another, BUT look up at the comments about 5-6 up from VancouverJake. Don't know who he flies for but he carries an ATP. He makes an interesting argument.
usaerin
@ Wayne Bookout --

Clearly, some veteran air travelers won't fly Airbus.

I know you're a loyal Boeing man, but even Boeing ain't perfect. LOL Here's an interesting aside, a vignette from the history of aviation: Boeing's very famous B-29, the most advanced recip. airplane in the world in the period 1943/44/45 was, incredibly, (incredible to me anyway) designed without a steerable nosewheel. The nosewheel was either in 'lock' or castered freely. The machine was steered by propellor and maingear brakes. I find that an engineering oversight, although you may not, inasmuch as you hands-on wrestle with the big machinery all the time.

I have forgiven Boeing for that venial sin, and will fly Boeing.

Be careful.
Richard285
I am with the folks that favor deviation when appropriate. The article said EXTREME turbulence while flying in T storms. Same thing happened to 447. It appears other flights in the same vicinity did just that. Just the same, knowing how the A330 AP functions and flying the plane manually is a top priority.
dgfhyrte
Victor Hugo 0
I'be been reading all the tough and sour comments against Airbus. Nothing really serious, nothing based on facts, just technically empty, so I'm wondering...
Maybe because Airbus is world #1 manufacturer, and it's not USan.... so keep your unfair and greedy comments coming, guys, we know what it is all about!
dgfhyrte
Victor Hugo 0
Greedy comments... no solid technical bases... just US ppl bitter against World #1 manufacturer, maybe because it's not American ?

I also appreciated the comments against Air France. Good ol' antagonism, as usual. You guys should evolve (if that is possible!)
usaerin
@ Wayne Bookout --

You directed me to remarks made by VancouverJake, which I subsequently read. Could it be that they don't call it 'Air Chance' for nothin'?
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Victor Hugo: as with anybody in this column, you are entitled to your opinion.Myself and many others have served and are serving their time in order for you to have that right.That said, I can express mine. When you go from student to ATP, then pass your judgement about no tecnical expertise and all the rest. Happy 911 day!!!!!!!!!!!!!
dgfhyrte
Victor Hugo 0
@Vancouverjack just a few ones :
Continental :
Flight 1404 bound for Houston, pulled left and ran off of the runway
Flight 12 ran off the runway at Kansas City Downtown Airport
Flight 1883 landed on a taxiway parallel to runway 29 at Newark Liberty
Continental Airlines was found criminally responsible for the disaster to Concorde

American :
Flight 331 overran the runway in heavy rain at Kingston, Jamaica
Flight 1420 overran the runway while landing at Little Rock
Flight 1340 struck the ground short of the runway at ORD
Flight 965 crashed on approach to Calí, Colombia, due to pilot error

(Google is your friend)
Too easy to make this kind of list...
smoki
smoki 0
Like AF447 (the Brazil crash in June 2009) this airbus flying machine is equipped with all kinds of techno-luster electronic/computer gadgetry and when the auto-pilot and auto-throttles disengage unexpectedly in the middle of a trans-atlantic nighttime crossing at high altitude leading to a sudden climb and loss of airspeed (things always seem to go bump in the night) it can test very quickly the knowledge and judgement of a flight crew. What occurred in this case is commonly referred to in commercial aviation parlance as an upset which can be highspeed induced (transonic mach number) due to a sudden headwind gust or the opposite, i.e. sudden change in wind direction to a tailwind (windshear) and an accompanying loss of airspeed either of which can be associated with turbulent conditions. The reference to coffin corner, the difference between stall and transonic airspeeds, decreases with altitude up to the service ceiling of the airplane.

As with AF447 the airplane climbed suddenly as a result of the auto-pilot's intial input before disengagement. A key piece of equipment, the AOA (Angle of Attack) indicator, functions independently of the pitot static system (airspeed) and will show the airfoil's/wing's relationship to the resultant airflow and thus the stall AOA irrespective of altitude/density/etc. If the driver does nothing else he can manually adjust the nose attitude to a lower AOA by hands on flying and avoid a deep stall which is precisely what the flying pilot (co-pilot) did not do on AF447 and the flight crew of this airbus came very close to duplicating. In fact the AF447 pilot did just the opposite by using his side-stick controller to keep the nose high in a deep stall condition leading to a sink rate up to 10,000 fpm while screaming into the CVR "climb, climb, climb" until silenced at impact. For whatever reason he couldn't bring himself to lower the nose which admittedly would have increased the sink rate initially but more importantly the flying speed thus enabling recovery from the resulting dive. Simple arithmetic says that the airplane would have reached the surface (sea level) in approximately 3 minutes if the proper recovery technique was not applied which it did. The reporter in this case was ignorant of basic aerodynamics and stall recovery techniques thus his sensationalized bogus statement that the airplane would have plunged as if in a headlong dive.

It would seem that the frogies need some sim time/training on aerodynamic upsets at high altitude for heavy jets, particularly slow speed upsets and the recovery techniques required. It cannot be emphasized enough that such recovery techniques cannot be done by relying on a computer. It must be done hands-on.
preacher1
preacher1 0
@Paul Young: Very well spoken and you echo the same thinking of others in this comment string and others that there is no substitute for hands on flying. Automation is so nice and does take a lot of the drudgery out of some things, but when, as you so nicely put it, an upset comes along, you better know where you are at and what you are doing.lol.
Pretty well retired now but doing enough to stay current. It's mind boggling as to a lot of Airline requirements these days in the name of cost savings.
w7mag
w7mag 0
Maybe it's time to retire the Pitot Tube. Darned thing was invented in the early 1700's...


*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitot_tube
w7mag
w7mag 0
Hey Mr Victor Hugo,

How do you like posting on an AMERICAN web site?

Let's all try to play nice.
chalet
chalet 0
FedexCargoPilot why don't you either stop making comments about serious stuff pretending that you are a Fedex Pilot, or change your blogger's name, you are making a disservice to Fedex which is a great company with top flight pilots.
chalet
chalet 0
@ FedexCargoPilot why don't you either stop making comments about serious stuff pretending that you are a Fedex Pilot, or change your blogger's name, you are making a disservice to Fedex which is a great company with top flight pilots.
FedExCargoPilot
To Chalet, I will not pretend to be an ATP, but I'am entitled to an opinion as stated in an earlier comment, many people have different views, few like myself are questioning the weather and the flight plan and why the plane entered similar conditions to 447 in the first place. Some are saying that manuel flight training should be conducted at high altitudes and investigation in the A/P and automation, which I can agree in some aspects. I also respect those who believe we should not be pointing fingers at airbus or AF until we have evidence of why this somewhat happened again over the atlantic. Wanting to pursue an aviation career in my later years and being almost a private pilot, I am not pretending I fly the 777F to Japan and europe, but I can assure you that a do have enough background aviation experience( flying alot) to participate in this discussion.
alistairm
alistairm 0
Now now fellas, let's not cause an international incident here... that's my job!:) lol. Af447 will be discussed for years and years to come and everyone will have a different opinion, which is allowed... right? I will be the blue beret here. Chalet: maybe his ambition is to be a FedEx pilot? Nothing wrong with that. Though, a bit misleading. Victor: There maybe some American pride here - it's all over the website, check out the post about Cargolux - , but there is nothing wrong about being proud. I think most people on here are just scratching their heads and wondering why we are only hearing about Airbus when it comes to these types of incidents. Wayne: would you like a strong Canadian beer? :) Anyhow, let cooler heads prevail. Let's post as if we were amongst everyone else and having a face to face discussion. It's to east to hide behind a computer.
chalet
chalet 0
@ Victor Hugo, except for the Kingston accident, the rest of the American Airlines accidents you mention have been thoroughly investigated and documented: horrible pilot errors, the airline had to accept this (although I personally think that some really strong fines should have been collected, in the millions but were not). As a result of this American redoubled its training, pilot screening manuals and procedures yielding very good results. The Kingston accident is still under investigation and it has all the characteristics of pilot error, but we will see. I am not familiar with the Continental accidents that you listed so I won't comment. But again, Airbus makes excellent aircraft but their "overcomputerizing" the aircraft diminishing the pilot's abilities to disconnect the AP and recover the aircraft from severe situations (like AF447 and several others) is definitely something that cries for deep rethinking.
glallee
Guy AlLee 0
The lack of problem solving discipline really offends me. I really expect better from this industry.

We have missed step 0 in the 8D problem solving discipline. We swept it under the rug with AF447, but now, with a second occurence, we have evidence of a growing problem that MUST be dealt with. It's very simple.

Step1: GROUND ALL AIRBUSSES! (If JAR won't then FAA *MUST*!)
Step2: AIRBUS - get to where you can repeat the problem (simulation or in flight) - you get 24 hours ... GO!
Step3: Get to root cause within 1 week.
Step4: Prove it is the root cause by making the problem appear and then making it disappear.
Step5: Propose Irrevokable Corrective Action within 2 weeks
Step6: Implement Irrevokable Corrective Action within 4 weeks
Step7: If you can't get to Step 6 in 4 weeks, figure out a series of mitigations and prove their % effectiveness.

At any time during the process, as you have DATA, you may propose a mitigation that is less severe than grounding the fleet (from Step 1). But only with 1) the ability to repeat the problem, 2) DATA that *proves* the proposed relaxation of the all-fleet grounding is safe from this defect, and 3) a %effectiveness estimate that you continue to monitor.

Finally, and I made this point in last week's thread. If their is a bug in the computer software, you cannot trust the data that it has recorded. That's real-time system programming 101. Toyota had car computers saying that the driver was flooring the accelerator, and 200+ drivers saying they were pushing the brake pedal to the floorboard. Given that people lie, I might not believe the last driver. But, I sure as heck wouldn't believe the first 20 computers before the story went public.
whester
walker hester 0
The autopilot failed? What's the big deal? Maybe Air France needs to look into hiring pilots and buying Boeing - airplanes that pilots are MEANT to fly
cgriffin33
Why is everyone assuming the plan was seconds from disaster simply because it approached its stall speed? If the instruments are reporting correct airspeed then I'm sure the pilots would have been able to recover from a stall.
cgriffin33
Why is the report assuming the jet was "just seconds from nose-diving to disaster"? If the instruments are reporting correct airspeed, I'm sure the pilots can recover from a stall. From what I read, aircraft hits turbulence, auto-pilot "fails" or disengages sensing overspeed, increases angle of attack to reduce speed, then apparently something goes wrong and it stays at high angle of attack approaching stall speed. As I said, if instruments are reporting correct airspeed, then pilots should be able to recover from a stall at altitude, IMHO.
ismamal
Isma Mal 0
What roles do the pilots have ? dont they monitor the plane onflight or sleep the whole flight?

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