Swiss RJ captain "struggled" to fly without a flight director to tell him what to do
Flight International 11-17 December has published its correspondent's story on the Swiss investigation of the near loss of control by the captain and first officer of their Avro RJ100 after take off.
Extract: "Given the copilot's mistrust of the attitude indicators after a failure of a single reference system, the captain took over using the standby ADI but had problems flying on the standby ADI due to parallax error. The aircraft underwent a series of "changeable and unstable" attitudes oscillating with rates of climb and descent of about 1500 fpm which then increased to some 2500 fpm. Safe control of the RJ100 was at times no longer guaranteed, says the BFU. The report said the changes in attitude shows the captain was temporarily "overburdened"
The report goes on to say "with the assistance of ATC and eventual re-engagement of the autothrottle and flight director the pilots guided the aircraft to a safe landing."
The report said the aircraft sustained a brief instrument failure shortly after take off but the pilots incorrectly suspected a fault in the flight guidance computer.
So there we are. Flight director and automatic throttle saved the day. Thank God for the miracles of automation. Forget the need for pilots to fly using basic instrument flying skills when one ADI goes out, as long as the flight director tells the pilot how to recover from unusual attitudes. And of course full marks go to the autothrottles to unburden the captain.
I would have thought the last thing the captain needed was a flight director and autothrottles to save the day. This is yet another instance of poor instrument flying ability coupled with automation dependency causing a near loss of control. Parallax error is no big deal. Live with it.
"Safe control of the RJ100 was no longer guaranteed" said the investigators. What an indictment of the company training system that would allow the captain and copilot to get into such a mess. I guess the passengers wouldn't be too impressed, either
To put a little balance on this, and not defending the performance, but flying on the standby A/H is not easy and nor is it regularly practised. Whether or not it was needed as the attitude reference is another matter, but it was 'chosen'. Those of you who have not tried to fly IMC on the stdby A/H with a big AI possibly giving you different attitude information might want to try it in the sim and see how you get on?
If you have an errant main AI a priority is to find a way to cover it. Harking back to the days of the Lightning with its HUGE AI and small standby, you would have seen most pilots had a 'sticky' AI sized patch stuck on their bone-domes, and that was the next item used after control was re-established.
The company? Nahhhh, as long as it's cheaper to reduce training, to keep it to the legal minimum imposed by the regulator everything is fine. Because the moment there's a smoking hole you can simply blame the individual pilot. In terms of bad publicity the beancounters long ago have determined that such an effect fades quickly, that you can have an accident every 7 years and the savings in training vs. momentary loss off revenue still prevail.
The regulator? Nahhhh, they merely stipulate the very minimum of training, assisted by heavy lobbying of the airlines. If there is a loss of skill they shove it back to the airlines because they are responsible to detect such and to take action -> thus refer to above.
The customers? Nahhhh, as long as the price is right and the incidents not too widespread they take it that it happens to others only. They'd rather pay less than enhance safety. They believe that the regulator has to oversee safety. -> thus refer to above.
The pilots? Nahhhhh, as long as they can get a seat, trained or not, as long as they can upgrade and bypass others, capable or not, they will shut the f### up.
So there is only the abhorrent cynical "hope" that more incidents happen, otherwise nothing changes at all.
...... the needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before .......
there is the hard fact that even if the captain does not allow hand flying, the F/O can mentally focus and observe as if their life may soon depend upon it, just what that autopilot is doing. and memorise it for various necessary events.
just last night, the F/O was flying a descent and approach, and i silently renewed my "mental notebook" by taking careful effort to dig into my head the various pitch and power settings that were achieving the various segments. we never know when we will get a loss of airspeed. but we don't want the real event to be the first time in a long time that we have gone through that mental exercise, nor do we want to wait for when the system brings it up in a sim session.
hard fact is, we have the opportunity to be better simply by our mental choices and determination regardless of exterior restrictions.
funny, when i try to get the F/O's to hand fly approaches, many decline. and those that do, suddenly start moving the controls fast and furious the second they disconnect the autopilot. i remind them that they have never seen the autopilot do that.
much can be learned by actively watching the autopilot when not allowed to hand fly.
Last edited by stator vane; 18th Jan 2013 at 14:37.
Hey all you 'aces' - read the OP - no-one is talking about 'raw data' flying! The incident I am reading about involves 'difficulty' flying on the Stdby AH. How many of you obvious aces have done that recently and accurately? Remember it takes only a degree or so of pitch to generate a 2500' RoC at high speed. Can you ALL read the stdby AI to that accuracy? No, I didn't think so.
I am prepared to be mightily impressed at the obvious skill sets you obviously all possess (but a touch dubious..........).
Let's leave 'raw data' out of our posts as irrelevant, shall we?
My criticism was not only about the lack of skill of manual flying, I agree that doing so with the SAI is not easy, but look at the values good grief! It is more so about the wild and random switching by presuming what went wrong, instead of analysing correctly, going by the real indications and doing the correct checklist.
That's just as much about training and standards of today as about manual skills.
If you criticise others of not reading the article, at least read the report yourself!!
- Hmm! Did I miss the link to the report? We are all discussing the OP.
"the captain took over using the standby ADI but had problems flying on the standby ADI due to parallax error. The aircraft underwent a series of "changeable and unstable" attitudes oscillating with rates of climb and descent of about 1500 fpm which then increased to some 2500 fpm. Safe control of the RJ100 was at times no longer guaranteed, says the BFU. The report said the changes in attitude shows the captain was temporarily "overburdened"
Why not post a link so we can all be wise?
Edit: Out of interest, does the RJ100 have a stdby 'ADI' or 'AI'?
Hey all you 'aces' - read the OP - no-one is talking about 'raw data' flying! The incident I am reading about involves 'difficulty' flying on the Stdby AH
Steady the Buffs, BOAC if squinting at the small standby ADI is not raw data, I don't know what is..
Nevertheless, I bet my left ball withered though it may be, very few pilots will ask their simulator instructor if he minds if they practice flying on the standby ADI just to keep in practice. Most will avoid it like a plague because they know they will f..k up in front of the instructor. It is a fact of life in discussions like this on PPRuNe that generalisations are inevitable. Otherwise PPRuNe would just be blank pages since most of us do not know what really happened in these sort of incidents until the official report surfaces a year or more later.
A competent crew member will make bloody sure he remains up to scratch on basic instrument flying - one way or another. Reading through some of these replies it is self evident that there are captains out there scared fartless of letting their first officers hand fly "raw data" (ie no FD)
On the other hand I too have offered my co-joe the opportunity to practice raw data while line flying and the majority say thanks- but no thanks. Why is this so? It's a generational thing I believe like wearing base ball caps on the side or back to front as well as dark sunnies over the scone at night. It is called technical arrogance - or simply can't be bothered, Mate.
Seems to me from reading the Flight International report on the RJ incident, the crew were out of their depth with a relatively simple instrument failure. Or as the report put it "the captain was overburdened" Nonsense. As the commander of his flight he simply displayed gross technical incompetence.
Tee - I still would be interested in a link! I did say in my post "Whether or not it was needed as the attitude reference is another matter, but it was 'chosen'" so the jury as ever remains out on that until we all see the 'full report'.
'Raw Data': To me, that means no 'artificial' aids to pitch, power and bank so yes, the stdby AI will absolutely be 'Raw Data', but most posting here, pound to a pinch of ****, I'm sure, just understand FD or AP/AT off, main instruments.
Location: In some hotel downroute or in some hotel doing union negotiations.
A lot might depend on the type of standby ADI/AI. The old electromechanical displays are indeed not easy to read and fly if not trained so. The newer PFD-style LCD displays are much easier to use. There is no parallax error to begin with and the display is very familiar as it is nearly the same as the "big" PFD. Those i know do not offer a FD, however they do an ILS/BC approach display if desired.
Raw data flying has something to do with it of course as it offers a cheap training in scanning, hand to eye coordination and building up of muscle memory not to mention the application of simple pitch and power technique. If one is not used to raw data flying and not trained on the standby AI the results will not be pretty, as displayed in this case.
Summary On 20 July 2011, at 08:53 UTC, the AVRO 146-RJ100 aircraft, registration HB-IXP, took off under flight number LX 5187 and radio call sign "Swiss five one eight seven" on a ferry flight from Nuremberg to Zurich. Shortly after take-off, at a height of approximately 400 ft above the ground, when the aircraft was still under manual control, the autothrottle (AT) and the flight director (FD)1 failed simultaneously. These could subsequently be regained, together with the autopilot (AP).
After an otherwise uneventful flight, the crew assumed that all systems were available with- out any restrictions. LX 5187 then received clearance for an approach on runway 14. When lined up on the localiser and at an altitude of 4000 ft AMSL, at 09:51:40 UTC the autopilot, the autothrottle and the flight director failed. A few seconds later the acoustic alert "bank angle" for a high bank angle sounded. At 09:52:04 UTC, the red ATT (attitude) and HDG (heading) warnings appeared on the commander's electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) and the navigation data disappeared. On the copilot's EFIS displays the indications remained stable and allowed the aircraft to be controlled manually. The copilot no longer trusted his indications; the commander took over control of the aircraft using standby instruments and also continued to conduct radio communications. Shortly afterwards, he reported to air traffic control that there were navigation problems and that no heading indication was available. During the subsequent flight phase, significant oscillations in attitude occurred and the rate of climb and descent, as well as the aircraft's airspeed, var- ied considerably. The air traffic control officer (ATCO) guided the aircraft with left/right in- structions into a position for a repeated approach. In addition, arriving and departing traffic on Zurich Airport was halted in order to provide flight LX 5187 with optimal support. In accordance with the abnormal checklist, the crew switched the EFIS selector to the "BOTH 2" position and at 09:58:52 UTC reported that they would shortly have the indications available again. A little later the ATCO gave clearance for an approach on runway 14 and the crew, who had reengaged the AT and the FD, reported at 10:03:21 UTC that they were "fully established". The approach was carried out manually. The subsequent final approach and landing were uneventful.
The serious incident is attributable to the fact that after the failure of a single system the crew did not use the remaining systems appropriately and safe control of the aircraft was at times no longer guaranteed. The investigation identified the following factors which led to the serious incident:
- The crew had a fundamentally unfounded picture about the technical problem causing the system failure.
- After the loss of the autopilot, autothrottle and flight director, the copilot did not manage to continue to control the aircraft manually.
- The commander was able to fly the aircraft only to a limited extent with the aid of the standby instruments.
- Crew resource management (CRM) was unsatisfactory.
- The crew did not carry out a sufficient analysis of the situation.
- An exercise which had been practised in the simulator using standby instruments and raw data could only be partially implemented in the actual case.
hahemmm....so they knew that they might have an AT/AP/FD problem.... thats a crew of a well respected airline? A capt with 9400hrs of nearly 4000 on type? The F/O with 1500/1000 on type?
Last edited by His dudeness; 18th Dec 2012 at 12:01.
BOAC, I have been told that the only disability that a man can have is a Bad Attitude. And you seem to have proven the point more than adequately. My suggestion is that you stop riding on your past laurels and the fact that you have 15k + posts on PPRuNe. I might have double that number amongst half my other handles alone. Cut the attitude son. Gonna get you nowhere.
I don't like to quote, cause its a sign of weaknesses. So this will have to do..
"'Raw Data': To me, that means no 'artificial' aids to pitch, power and bank" So what you're trying to say is that VSI for pitch, N1 for power and the standby horizon for bank are all the instruments that you would authorise for your 'standard raw data'. Of course the FD's would have to be off and the AT's disengaged! You little imbecile, sitting in your little microsoft armchair. Do you even realise the complications that would hazard in a very regular jet such as the 380 flying a normal regular RNAV sid out of ZRH...! No you don't. Which is why, I guess, you have all the time in the world to make those 15,800 odd posts on PPRuNe. Do you have even a tenth of those in flying hours matey. Having said that, please respect what the other ppruners might have to say. Don't simply dab it aside just because it doesn't appeal to your sense of (in)sanity. Make space and then comment. Your comments are far too harsh for ppruners son. Tone down. The next guy might just be your mentor ..
Raw Data means FD's off. Raw Lateral and Raw Vertical guidance only. And nothing else.
Why don't you knock off a couple of engines too in your next sim session. Just to simulate 'Raw Data' eh .. Off now.
I've been flying on DC-9-32/33/34/51 for five years - the FD was almost unusable and the primary horizon looked like a RJ100 standby horizon. We flew ILS approaches as monitored approaches to the minimum in dense fog and survived it:
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. (wikipedia)
Ours didn't have any navigation box, just NDB, VOR, DME & ILS...
I think every pilot flying those planes should be able to carry out a line-up and an ILS approach to the minimum with those standby instruments and a ILS LOC and GP indication.