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Old 12th Aug 2011, 20:04   #1961 (permalink)
 
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DozyWannabe

I have come late to this crash thread, and apologies if I repeat what has been said before, but when Airbus were trying to induce my airline away from Boeing and McDonnell Douglas use in the late-1980s, their sales pitch was very much that automation would also save flight crew training costs (this was long before the entire AB family became a reality, and easy conversion training thereafter became important). Whether this was intended at the corporate boardroom level is another matter altogether but, to be fair, the previous post did say "implicit". It wasn't the main thrust of their sales pitch, but it definitely was in the mix. Overconfidence in automation (can easily) = underconfidence in crew training needs. Two sides of the same coin, which is how I interpreted the previous post........
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 20:31   #1962 (permalink)
 
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DozyWannabe

I accept your good point re: conversion across a range of aircraft, but I recall that my airline (when it spoke with AB before retiring its BAC1-11s) clearly was left with the impression that less training costs would be incurred separate to the conversion costs issue.

It shouldn't have, but more automation equals less crew training costs did enter the mix and it can't be blamed purely on the press. AB's (then) salesmen had to compete with the Boeing and MD duopoly.

The issue is whether the PF and PNF were properly trained to deal with the problem they encountered, UAS leading to A/P disconnect under the flight conditions encountered by AF447, because nobody would argue that it was the time for their manual flight training (in alternate law)? I have my doubts, on what I have so far seen......

If not, it is not conveniently "pilot error" but rather a deeper / wider systemic problem for the industry.

If the A/P cuts out, which admittedly is very rare, manual flight must still be second nature (or at least not an absolute novelty) to have a better than even chance of a happy outcome.

Last edited by Welsh Wingman; 12th Aug 2011 at 20:48. Reason: Typos
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 20:52   #1963 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Welsh Wingman View Post
I accept your good point re: conversion across a range of aircraft, but I recall that my airline (when it spoke with AB before retiring its BAC1-11s) clearly was left with the impression that less training costs would be incurred separate to the conversion costs issue.
Firstly, was that BCal? If so then my first ever flight would have been on one of those 1-11s.

Quote:
It shouldn't have, but more automation equals less crew training costs did enter the mix and it can't be blamed purely on the press. AB's (then) salesmen had to compete with the Boeing and MD duopoly.
Maybe so, but the fact is that neither of us actually *know* what exactly was said.

Case in point - I've spent the last few weeks struggling with a project and got a fairly good demonstration together - it fixed all the issues brought up at the previous demonstration, and showed that we'd made some headway with new features that had been mentioned, but not specified at the beginning. The feedback from the group was good, but halfway through the meeting the supervisor came in, looked at it for five minutes, said it wasn't enough and that he was told the product does something out of the box that we know it in fact does not. The salesperson involved left the company a short time ago, so we'll never know if he was willing to bend the truth to get sale or whether this supervisor simply misunderstood.

Quote:
The issue is whether the PF and PNF were properly trained to deal with the problem they encountered, UAS leading to A/P disconnect under the flight conditions encountered by AF447, because nobody would argue that it was the time for their manual flight training in alternate law? I have my doubts, on what I have so far seen......

If not, it is not conveniently "pilot error" but rather a deeper / wider systemic problem for the industry.
Which is in fact what the BEA is implying if you read the report, as opposed to press articles that are all saying "pilot error".
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 21:25   #1964 (permalink)
 
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DozyWannabe

Thank you.

(1) No, not BCal - you can work out my former airline from my profile.....
(2) I spoke with two BAC1-11 captains who went to Toulouse (shortly after their return to the UK), and I know exactly what was said to them. And their unease at the "sales patter", even if they had no doubt that AB's flight training experts would have also been uncomfortable. Let's not forget that the duopoly in those days was an all-American affair, and AB was facing a huge challenge to break in.
(3) Most contributors to this thread well know what the BEA has said, and many are also concerned by what it will become in a 50 second BBC/CNN/Sky/Fox soundbite report. Pilot error, or pilot error with a long caveat to the effect that this really means training shortcomings rather than an inexplicable error by a perfectly trained flight crew? In this forum, of all places, "pilot error" should be very carefully used....

It was not the easiest of environments, in the absence of thorough high altitude manual flight training (CMB in ITCZ, no moonlight, early hours of the morning (PNF had just come off rest), no CDB on the flight deck, UAS leading to A/P and A/T cut out and the loss of flight envelope protection). The many comments on the SS inputs (NU), THS and trim, absence of stall recognition and cockpit discipline (particularly the non-reporting to the CDB upon his entering the flight deck) should all be read in this context.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 21:31   #1965 (permalink)
 
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TJHarwood

Yes, good way of putting it - flip sides of a coin (implied automation savings, separate/additional to conversion costs across the later range of Airbus aircraft).
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 21:51   #1966 (permalink)
 
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Cool

Hi,

Quote:
Maybe so, but the fact is that neither of us actually *know* what exactly was said.
This is what is exactly said now ...
Quote:
OPERATIONAL BENEFITS


Operators benefit greatly from this key innovation, which allows for simplified crew training and conversion. In addition, pilots are able to stay current on more than one aircraft type simultaneously without supplementary takeoff/landing requirements, recurrent training and annual checks.
Quote:
INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY


Airbus’ unique commonality results from pioneering use of fly-by-wire technology, along with application of standardised cockpit layouts and operational procedures.
With Airbus’ Cross Crew Qualification concept, fly-by-wire qualified pilots are positioned for an easy transition among the single-aisle A320 Family, the twin-aisle A330 and A340 aircraft, as well as the A380 through straightforward and rapid differential training – rather than full type rating training. For instance, transition training from A320 Family to the A330/A340 is 27 days, compared to a full course A330/A340 training duration of 49 days.
Such streamlining results in lower training costs for airlines and considerably increased crew productivity, with annual savings in training and payroll costs of up to $300,000 for each new Airbus aircraft added to the fleet. It is also more economical for an airline to recruit new pilots who are already Airbus-qualified; for pilots, this benefit provides greater mobility and better prospects for employment.


More to read:
A CORNERSTONE OF AIRBUS
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 22:02   #1967 (permalink)
 
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IMO, what marketing does cannot be used as concrete evidence there is a lack of line competence, period.

Manufacturers build a tool that is sold to a second concern, one that is directly responsible for folding the machine into its useful life.

It is naive and misleading to think that salespeople have degraded hand flying skills. A trustier airframe does allow for changes in procedures and focus.


I keep in mind that airmanship and flying skills are acquired as we train, not after conversion to heavy and fast.

There is some inexplicable evidence to be explicated here, but to think that Typing on a widebody shoud include a refresher in Gliders, aero, or other for goodness' sake basics is a reach.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 22:05   #1968 (permalink)
 
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jcjeant / welsh wingman

Simplified crew training and conversion, not just simplified crew conversion - and from the horse's mouth! Not operational design, almost certainly, but no doubt the unintended consequences of cut-throat commerce.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 22:11   #1969 (permalink)
 
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Cool

Hi,

Quote:
0210:11: PNF: - Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça?
Look, it is 6 seconds after A/P disconnected... It is a very common reaction in French in such case. Don't you really think that they could not be quite surprised to hear this alarm sounding, considering that, before this point, they might never have heard a single stall warning during a real flight?

Your "warning of death" will certainly add a lot of drama into it... with 100% hindsight. What most other crew did, in the very same circumstances, was to disregard the alarm as spurious. It did not last long enough, only few 10th of second, as it was due to very short flight spikes exceeding alpha treshold.

Additional note for any conspiracy theorist still unable to read what is reported:
- AP disconnected at 2:10:05
- 1st Stall Warning is recorded exactly (CVR) at : 2:10:10.4
- PNF comment is recorded at : 2:10:11
Comment was made with a 0.6 second interval (not 3 hours later) and was obviously due to this alarm, not because he heard aircraft structures falling appart.
And, of course,... everything (SW+comment) happened 5-6 seconds AFTER autopilot disconnected. It's perfectly clear from the report for anyone sober enough, or one not reading it up side down on purpose.
Just for vent ....
Indeed .. all the CVR reported conversations are typical (syntax and words used) of a common animated conversation between some friends in a bar (ou au zinc) and easy to understand by any french speaking people but seem's not common for professional pilots in a event who require all their technical knowledge and analysis power ...
It's another language for that (at least .. other words .. even in french)
That's was about the conversation...
Now .. about the acts performed ... they were in a language not understand by many professionals pilots ....
They still struggle for understand why they acted like .. that night.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 22:14   #1970 (permalink)
 
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Stall, whats that? Round 2.

@takata,

I don't understand your comment "conspiracy theory" etc. Let's stick to the data and refrain from presumptions and personal accusations.

I am trying to understand why they ignored the stall warnings. I leave the blame game to others.



Here are the data points:
  1. On first stall warning they say "What is that?". You state a better translation of the meaning is "What a surprise, probably just a blip".
  2. The pilots talk like school boys arguing over a bicycle, hardly consistant with the grave situation of master warning and stalls.
  3. Not once does any pilot say the word "Stall" or "Décrochage" in 4 minutes of blaring stall alarms and master warning.
  4. Not once do any of them call for any procedures.
  5. Not once do they consistently respond to the stall with a strong nose down or even change what they are doing.
  6. No regular call outs.
Can you forgive me for joining the 6 points that are all consistant with the pilots not understanding "Stall". Do you have any data points that convince you that they did understand "Stall"?
The pilots are with the flag carrier, i.e. "gold standard" pilots. Here is the big question: if they thought stall was false then why would they not articulate that?
I am the first to admit that I am a fool, but hopefully a fool can learn.

These kind of mistakes happen all the time. Contracts get made in Europe with mil. meaning 1000's in french but in english that means millions - fail. The hubble telescope was designed in euro cm's but was built in USA inches - fail. Sorry but sometimes the obvious mistakes happen to those most qualified. I subscribe to the mess up theory, not the conspiracy.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 22:20   #1971 (permalink)
 
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Lyman

Salespeople can't do anything by themselves, from whichever manufacturer, but you had line management directors (particularly in finance) looking at deregulation and casualty after casualty (Eastern/Pan Am/TWA/Sabena/Swissair).

You can't blame them for selling planes as "planes that fly themselves" and (implicitly or explicitly) save on (expensive) piloting costs, because they knew they were sowing on fertile ground. The real problem was within line management, and also the aviation regulation authorities.

To a pilot who never flies his plane at high altitude by hand, was the scenario facing AF447 ideal non-simulator practice? The position was not quickly brought under control in the first minute after A/P disconnect, and it got a whole lot harder thereafter......

Over to PJ2 on this subject....
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 22:33   #1972 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by excitation
I don't understand your comment "conspiracy theory" etc. Let's stick to the data and refrain from presumptions and personal accusations.
Someone posted in between my answer to your post, this was not aimed at anything you said. Read it (post above mine).
Quote:
Originally Posted by excitation
Here are the data points:
Beside, I only corrected your interpretation for other readers; crudely said, that meant WTF!
That's all. You can try to paint the dark side of the moon bright yellow with it, this is not my concern anymore, whatever conversion from metric to imperial caused whatever disaster...
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 22:42   #1973 (permalink)
 
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WW

The best sales people don't sell, they teach their client to sell himself. I make my point that the responsibility lies with the Line to incorporate all new equipment into the culture that exists. As you say, the ultimate responsibility is with the Line; not even pilots need to step up any longer, should they memorize the SOPS well enough.

Can there have been a blunder at AF large enough to potentiate these outcomes? If as you say the monopoly was Binary, and strictly American, Airbus had to supply something competitive, Another Banana is just another Banana.

It is not for want of a reason "new" is attractive. Was it oversold? Or was it merely undersupported, and then neglected, left to achieve its marketing claims, or not, In the vacuum of false confidence?

Sometimes in "Anticipating", and selling (FBW), what turns out to be an evolutionary trend in the long haul, means rushing technology? And if not a rush to technology, then a rush to new crew capabilities? Some disciplines are not well served by "hurry". Fast, yes, not Hurry.....

xcitation

I cannot attest to the accuracy of the CVR timetable. A STALLSTA.... takes longer than .6 seconds, and recognizing it, processing one's awareness of it, forming a question, and speaking must mean the PF started his "What was that" perhaps before, the Warning.

In any case, is it not possible that the PF was vocal in re: something that happened before the STALL Warn chirp, and that they "coincided"? Perhaps the focus of his remark something that may have preceded the WARNING? That is a pretty well packed 1/2 second, NO?
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 23:08   #1974 (permalink)
 
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Lyman

I think the history is the key - AB was developing in the context of 1985, a truly horrid year for the aviation history e.g. Boeing had lost several 747s, part of the US 101 Airborne Div had been decimated on a MD DC8 at Gander and Lockheed lost a L1011 at DFW. The design philosophy was safety through automation, including "protection" against pilot mistakes. The marketing took a different twist, as competitive industry pressures shortly afterwards came to the fore and training/conversion/fuel cost savings became critical. The question of what airmanship skills were still needed in the (rare) circumstances (such as AF447) where the flight envelope degraded slipped through the net. The industry has not proceeded on the basis that automation training is a bolt-on to underlying airmanship, which is my gripe (as you may have worked out!).
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 23:14   #1975 (permalink)
 
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welsh wingman

Yep! I bet you never expected to see me on a network like this, so many years after my retirement?! I will e-mail you privately, to spare the readers of this thread.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 23:33   #1976 (permalink)
 
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WW

Automation most definitely should be seen as an adjunct to airmanship.

I am not persuaded this fellow was not a competent sort. What shouts to me through all the noise here, is simply an airman who is not familiar with his a/c. That is first call (Along with flying Catch up). Second is what you elegantly describe as the "environment". Thank you for that; I doubt but a few here have experienced the type of sky these gents encountered.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 23:41   #1977 (permalink)
 
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The pilot and CRM aspects are quite clear to me.

Deeper questions relating to how the automation mileau (visually, culturally, psychological) has interacted with the pilot to produce the accident MUST be explicitly addressed , item by item, in the final accident report.I still feel there is insufficient respect for the power of sensory disorientation, for example. There is no mention of the likelihood of it in BEA report, even though the PF made clearly disoriented command inputs that are classic for a somatogravic illusion.

What is it about the alarm system that leads top of the line pilots to ignore or not belive it?
Is the altitude indicator tape, VSI and Artificial Horizon hard to INSTANTLY comprehend when one most needs to ? Did the dangerous autotrim full aft despite high nose attitude contribute?How much did the reversed/paradoxical stall actives and inactives further confuse at the last possible moment for saving the flight?Is this a an engineering concept unsuited to LOC management, or is it a human intereface problem?Why is it so important in the design concept that control inputs NOT be visibly dual/ linked?

The accident is a fascinating case of everything that could go wrong did go wrong.....many layered aspects.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 23:59   #1978 (permalink)
 
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Lyman

When the computer computes "I do not compute", as it did on AF447 (due to UAS data), you should always have the underlying airmanship upon which to fall back on...

There are one or two clues early on that PNF was on the right track, despite the CRM issues, but this did not happen over Western Australia at midday with clear visibility and no CMB as with the A333 in QF72. PF troubles me, particularly as he was the "alert" pilot.

I will wait the final report, and more detailed CVR, before taking a final view on whether this crew could have recovered the situation once the death plunge began at FLT380. Intimacy with hand flying their aircraft was missing.

My experience of the ITCZ and CMBs was more en route to Southern Africa than to South America, but invariably overnight (particularly after the 747-200s were re-engined for non-stop).

Last edited by Welsh Wingman; 13th Aug 2011 at 00:34.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 00:10   #1979 (permalink)
 
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CaptainGef, I agree with David Learmount on everything within his field of excellence and experience. It's perhaps coincidental I came to most of the same conclusions.

The chief item I'd take issue with is his lament that there will be a drive to push pilots out of the cockpit completely. That is an ongoing phenomenon. Military pilots may last a lot longer than transport pilots. They fly under completely different "rules of engagement"; and, military pilots face far greater problems with things like landing an aircraft under real or potential enemy fire.

Strangely enough the requirements for safe flight in the AF447 situation were well known. And the computer had full access to data, some of which was not but should be available to the pilot. I believe it was politics and limitations of the rather antiquated (in computer terms) computers and software on the AF447. No, this is not a "bit rot" thing, not a software bug. It's more a slow computer, political limitations issue, and knowledge about what to do sort of issue.

I get the feeling that it is known that pitch and power is how you fly when airspeed is lost but it is not trusted that this is enough. Therefore pilots are thrust into the loop. For the time being they are in the cockpit anyway because humans are still somewhat better than machines at picking their way between bad weather conditions if they actually use the radar properly.

The progress I see is along the lines of UAS being handled by the computer since it is becoming more and more obvious that computers don't face "instinctual drives". They face biases that are not built into the software and can be very complex. More and more the pilot will become a cockpit executive. "Plane, go there. Make it happen."

This will be followed by computers able to thread the needle based on radar and other instrumentation to the point that any condition the computer cannot literally learn to handle would be way beyond any human's capabilities - someday.

I note the Google has a self driving car that uses video cameras for situational awareness. The Chinese have stepped in with their version. Neither is ready for prime time. One of Google's cars suffered a collision lately. It was under manual control with the driver trying to get into a very tight parking place. Apparently something as mundanely complex parking may be "the final frontier" for computerized cars. I wonder what will be the final problem with fully automated flight. I suspect much of the increased automation I mentioned will come with the next generation of aircraft based on A380 and Dreamliner experience.

I've been watching the computer industry because I am in it. A time will come when pilots are as obsolete as people who know how to drive a car or make a buggy whip.

I cannot say I am emotionally pleased at this. And I see this as part of a completely destabilizing trend for society. But, it's going to happen regardless of my emotional reactions.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 00:22   #1980 (permalink)
 
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JD-EE

The problem with a cockpit executive, and many of the old timers on this thread no doubt believe that AF447 proves that we are already there (at least with some flight crews), is that there is no Plan B when Plan A goes wrong. We are a long way from safe automated pitch and power flight (groundspeed GPS?), without reliable airspeed.
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