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Old 10-25-2014, 09:53 AM   #1
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Default Air France 447 - Interesting article

Should Airplanes Be Flying Themselves? | Vanity Fair

Apologies if already posted; I did not find it.
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Old 10-25-2014, 07:15 PM   #2
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It's tough reading that article, and the official reports. I guess good 'ol fashioned quality flight experience comes in handy after all.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:46 PM   #3
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Thank you for posting that!

I have to give a lot of credit to the author, he really did his research and avoided stupid speculations. He also aired the dirty laundry which needs to be aired--though not enough, IMHO.

Airlines want MPL, they want 300 hr pilots flying jetliners and the aircraft manufacturers are saying we can give a plane so safe, that a marginally competent pilot can fly it with no problem. The Airbus design philosophy has been that you can take a guy from the developing world who never even drove a car, and put him at the controls.

This accident proves there is no substitute for experience. It also highlights, in my view, the importance of flight instructing for a while. As a CFI you learn to be very precise with your words and how to convey instructions and concepts well (if you care about your students).

There seems to be a whole lot misunderstanding about the word "speed" amongst the crew. A/S, VSI, what? Also, they had the knowledge, but did not correlate it well. I think it also shows the problem wit the rote style of instructions espoused by airlines nowadays. Everyone of us is programmed to read a checklist. This is what Robert was doing, instead of making sure the aircraft was stabilized first. It seems Bonin was terrified and was begging for Robert to take control.

Finally, how did they know that Capt. Dubois only got one hour of sleep the night before, since everyone perished in the crash?

This article also bravely tackled the problem at Asian airlines, with over reliance on autopilot and cultural issues of CRM implementation.
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Old 10-26-2014, 03:51 AM   #4
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Default Air France 447 - Interesting article

I think it's a great article , missing some information but overall a good read , very scary stuff. Makes me wonder how many guys in that exact scenario would have screwed up . It's easy for everyone to play Monday night quarterback and say oh just pitch for 2 1/2 degrees and set 1.4 ish EPR...

Another sh*tty part is the GPS ground speed read the correct ground speed the whole time , clearly they didn't catch that for a clue , which I think many would have missed as well.

I also agree , can't replace experience with anything other than experience .
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Old 10-27-2014, 02:56 PM   #5
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William Langewiesche is an outstanding writer and a former commercial pilot himself. His father, Wolfgang Langewiesche, wrote "Stick and Rudder."


William wrote another article about the Legacy/737 collision over Brasil a few years ago - here's the link: William Langewiesche on the Amazon air crash | Vanity Fair
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Old 10-27-2014, 03:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bedrock View Post
Thank you for posting that!

I have to give a lot of credit to the author, he really did his research and avoided stupid speculations. He also aired the dirty laundry which needs to be aired--though not enough, IMHO.

Airlines want MPL, they want 300 hr pilots flying jetliners and the aircraft manufacturers are saying we can give a plane so safe, that a marginally competent pilot can fly it with no problem. The Airbus design philosophy has been that you can take a guy from the developing world who never even drove a car, and put him at the controls.

This accident proves there is no substitute for experience. It also highlights, in my view, the importance of flight instructing for a while. As a CFI you learn to be very precise with your words and how to convey instructions and concepts well (if you care about your students).

There seems to be a whole lot misunderstanding about the word "speed" amongst the crew. A/S, VSI, what? Also, they had the knowledge, but did not correlate it well. I think it also shows the problem wit the rote style of instructions espoused by airlines nowadays. Everyone of us is programmed to read a checklist. This is what Robert was doing, instead of making sure the aircraft was stabilized first. It seems Bonin was terrified and was begging for Robert to take control.

Finally, how did they know that Capt. Dubois only got one hour of sleep the night before, since everyone perished in the crash?

This article also bravely tackled the problem at Asian airlines, with over reliance on autopilot and cultural issues of CRM implementation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightside02 View Post
I think it's a great article , missing some information but overall a good read , very scary stuff. Makes me wonder how many guys in that exact scenario would have screwed up . It's easy for everyone to play Monday night quarterback and say oh just pitch for 2 1/2 degrees and set 1.4 ish EPR...

Another sh*tty part is the GPS ground speed read the correct ground speed the whole time , clearly they didn't catch that for a clue , which I think many would have missed as well.

I also agree , can't replace experience with anything other than experience .
Respectfully, I don't I agree with you two.

Yes, there is value in being an instructor. But clear communication is not only relevant to instruction. The article was very painful for me to read. The author did speculate, as if reading the minds of the folks involved, instead of just laying out the facts. This is Vanity Fair, and the author needs the drama and speculation in order to capture the normal VF reader, not a group of industry insiders who expect a just-the-facts accident report.

I don't believe this crash is much about experience because pilots with experience also make mistakes and kill. There's plenty of flying entities who put 300 hour pilot wonders into complex aircraft and they're not crashing airplanes. The Captain was experienced, and from the time he entered the cockpit there was plenty of time for him to analyze and correct the situation. In my opinion, this crash is a referendum on the Airbus flight deck design and perhaps the training program at Air France for "Company Babies."

The FO was a company baby, lacking prior legacy experience. This by itself is not dangerous. The situation depends on what type of training Bonin received. Likewise, the RFO was also a company baby but more importantly lacked proficiency due to flying a desk for the company. They probably should not have been flying together, at least until after the aircraft passed the bad weather. Lastly, the Captain was fatigued because he had no rest prior to the flight. Every one of these issues are relevant and casual. However, I think the Airbus design is mostly at fault.

As the article said, we'll never know why Bonin kept the stick aft during most of the event. Was it because he falsely believed the Airbus was in Normal Law and wouldn't let him stall?

The lack of repeating tactile or visual feedback to the opposite stick is in my opinion directly causal to this accident.

"But worse—far worse—was what Bonin did in the vertical sense: he pulled the stick back. Initially this may have been a startle response to the false indication of a minor altitude loss. But Bonin didn’t just ease the stick back—he hauled it back, three-fourths of the way to the stop, and then he kept on pulling."

Anyone flying a yoke and column aircraft would have immediately questioned a pullback and climb like Bonin initiated, especially with a yoke/column in your lap while flying at or near your maximum altitude. Worse, in conjunction with the unusual climb, the aircraft warned of a stall and neither pilot reacted properly.

Although they initially corrected the situation, Bonin once again stalled the aircraft and a proper stall recovery was not flown by Bonin nor directed by Robert. Worse, Bonin kept pulling the nose up while Robert kept trying to reach the Captain. Once the aircraft got so slow, a correct stall recovery led to confusion because of the Airbus design rejecting slow airspeed as invalid, lowering the nose and attaining airspeed triggered the stall warning. Bonin was incorrectly flying the airplane and Robert couldn't immediately determine that from the lack of tactile or visual feedback. Then both of them were fighting for control of the aircraft while not understanding was in control.

Then enter the Captain. He's fatigued and was probably startled from a sleep. He too can't see that Bonin had the stick pegged to the aft position. All he knows is that they've lost control, they're descending, and their airspeed (which by then was correct) was way too slow, but the aircraft was not properly warning them of a stall.

You can sum it up to this; Bonin made a mistake, Robert didn't direct and ensure a correction, the mistake worsened and went outside the design parameters for a stall warning, the lack of feedback to the other control stick kept the other pilot(s) ignorant of Bonin's incorrect inputs, worse the stick design led to them overriding/neutralizing the other's input leading to more confusion.

The author is correct. Had Bonin let go and not touched the controls for 2 minutes, they'd be alive. Knowing pitch and power settings was important in handling legacy aircraft. They gave you a target to shoot for and help lessen pilot induced oscillations. However, in glass aircraft, they're absolutely vital when the autopilot/autothrottles decide to give up and the information presented on the displays doesn't make sense.

My two cents!
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Old 10-28-2014, 08:25 AM   #7
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I agree that there were lots of factors in this accident. High on the list was the lack of visual feedback on Bonin’s flight control inputs, as you mentioned.

However, inexperience was absolutely a HUGE part of this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleToolBox View Post
I don't believe this crash is much about experience because pilots with experience also make mistakes and kill.
This logic is a little flawed. So, I put my 4 year old in my car and ask him to drive around the block by himself. He crashes. Using your logic, his crash is not due to inexperience because someone else with 30 years of driving experience crashed in another neighborhood?


Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleToolBox View Post
There's plenty of flying entities who put 300 hour pilot wonders into complex aircraft and they're not crashing airplanes.
I think this is more of a testament to the aircraft/automation design than to the “entities” choosing to put such pilots in their aircraft. If the event script stays in the heart of the envelope day after day, of course those pilots aren’t going to crash. The automation is reliable and modern aircraft have advanced to reliability levels with miniscule failure rates. It’s what we can expect from those 300 hours wonders when event diverge beyond their limited experience that’s really in question.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleToolBox View Post
The Captain was experienced, and from the time he entered the cockpit there was plenty of time for him to analyze and correct the situation.
So, it sounds like you saying that an airline Captain is essentially operating single pilot. Every airline I’ve worked at has emphasized teamwork, CRM and all the jets were certified requiring a two pilot crew. There has to be trust and confidence in each other. If, as a Captain, I can’t even assume my FO has a basic level of aerodynamic knowledge and flying ability, then he’s not touching the jet. How’s that going to work on an augmented, long haul flight?


Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleToolBox View Post
In my opinion, this crash is a referendum on the Airbus flight deck design.
Absolutely a factor, yes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleToolBox View Post
……..and perhaps the training program at Air France for "Company Babies."
Now it sounds like you’re saying inexperience is a factor in this accident after all. I guarantee their training program was a factor. Not for some lack of syllabus content or instruction. Rather, simply by pursuing the goal of an ab-initio training program and putting minimally experienced pilots into their jets. They are rolling the bones and hoping the Captain’s experience, the high reliability of the aircraft and automation will keep these newbies out of trouble for their careers.
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:46 PM   #8
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Read Understanding AF447 by Bill Palmer if you want good insight to the accident.
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Old 10-31-2014, 06:43 PM   #9
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30 years-ish (10 mil/20 airline) with 3 narrow body CA and 8 yrs wide body intl FO.

Langwiesche is a well known pilot hater, famous for throwing Sully under the bus to sell some books and make a name for himself. His opinion: Sully & Skiles deserve none of the credit for carrying out one of the few successful ditchings in history, the computer deserves the glory. With AF447, the instruments/computers deserve none of the blame, only the pilots. Sorry Lang, you can't have it both ways.

Let's throw his ass in the box at night, no horizon, no sleep, never flown with, etc...THEN add in the (IMO) worst scenario ever: conflicting information from your flight instruments. The other FO hadn't flown in 90 days (legal), the PF was (relatively) new and inexperienced, the CA was on break. Having flown through the ITCZ 100s of times, it is not a big deal. It can be, especially if your equipment is failing, giving bad information, your training didn't include the scenario, you're new, the other guy hasn't flown in 90 days, and the other guy is on his break trying to wring out a few precious minutes of rest hours off his home body clock time.

Like any accident, it's always a chain of events and circumstances. But to speculate, conjecture, and ultimately blame these 3 men for this accident is a disservice at best, and a slander at worst.

The pitot/anti-ice system suffers from a well known design flaw. As Lang states, the new pitot tubes were waiting to be unpacked and installed. Additionally I'm pretty sure, NOBODY was EVER training pilots for a high altitude, night, no horizon, conflicting instrument failure in the ITCZ. V1 cuts out the wazoo, but not this.

Perhaps the greatest homage we can pay to these pilots and their families/passengers, is the fact that NOW, pitch/power settings and stick/rudder are finally being spoken of and talked about.

Last edited by ayecarumba; 10-31-2014 at 06:45 PM. Reason: ha, forgot the recent upgrade, 3 CA seats...
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:04 PM   #10
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Default Langewiesche and Sullenberger-what bus, where

OK, ayecarumba, I'll bite.

You state, "[Langewieshce's] opinion: Sully & Skiles deserve none of the credit for carrying out one of the few successful ditchings in history, the computer deserves the glory."

I pulled out my copy of "Fly by Wire" last night. I skimmed basically the entire book. I could find nothing remotely approaching your assertion. Instead, I found several instances of Langewiesche effusively praising the crew. Perhaps you could quote to me the exact language where you contend Langewiesche throws Sullenberger and Skiles under the bus.

As far as throwing his ass in the box with someone he's never flown with, etc., you do realize that Langewiesche was once an airline pilot?

I will agree with you that Langewiesche was a bit over-the-top in praise of the Airbus design philosophy. He does address the paradox of the "uncrashable" airplane having a mishap record no better than the 737 in the chapter "The Paradox" in "Fly by Wire."

Once the truth of AF447 came out, it conflicted rather uncomfortably with some of Langewiesche's praise of the Airbus system. I would have liked to see him address that issue more forthrightly in his most recent article. Instead, he avoided it.

As for AF447, the aircraft suffered a simple, basic, easily handled malfunction. I've had two airspeed indicator failures, both in Navy airplanes, which is nearly a non-event in AOA-gauge-equipped aircraft. All the Air France crew had to do was hold the same attitude and power setting they'd been staring at for over an hour and everything would have been fine. The fact that these three Air France pilots crashed a perfectly good airplane after a transitory airspeed indicator failure is outrageous, and in my opinion every pilot should be ashamed of the performance of this crew. The airspeed indicator started working again within a couple minutes; the criminally incompetent pilots held the airplane in a full stall for many minutes thereafter, crashing a perfectly good airplane.

Why this mishap has not prompted the FAA and other regulatory agencies (or airlines themselves) to mandate AOA gauges in commercial airliners beggars belief. AOA is the single most direct and valuable measure of the aerodynamic health of the wing, and commercial aircraft hide that information from the pilots. I have no idea why. It's idiotic.
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