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Old 11th Jun 2009, 18:30
  #83 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 1,847
falconer1 – “…we all are too cozy with all the new technology nowadays and fly closer to storms more often than in earlier times…”

Absolutely, Yes !
Investigations of several of the engine incidents (pre 2000) indicated that the fight crews, who had moved up from commuter / older aircraft, were using the ‘new’ digital radars without appropriate conversion training. Thus they flew in the ‘green areas’ closer to storm centres than they would have done previously.
Other crews, brought up on the new equipment showed some complacency. Avoiding a clearly defined storm edge on the WXR could be finessed; crews did not question if they had generated the picture correctly, nor that some storms are much more severe than others – ‘they forgot to be afraid’ (James Reason).
More recently the trend is reversing with the focus on turbulence, but even this is challenged with the economics of operation and airspace constraints.
IMHO crews lack deep knowledge of systems operation and limitations, particularly in relationship to the threat of weather – we all lack time for additional learning, and suffer to some extent from commercial pressure.

The atmosphere hasn’t change, except that perhaps we are flying higher and thus experiencing a different set of conditions (a little bit colder, a little thinner air, ‘just small changes’, etc).
Also, other aspects of technology have changed. Many of the ‘supercritical’ technologies have been applied to engine components and possibly probes; modern systems use smaller, fine tolerance parts, which proportionately might suffer ice (or other particle) contamination more readily. They may require higher standards of maintenance.

Like many aspects of safety, hazards originate from change, particularly when we don’t notice the changes.
What is disappointing in this accident is that it appears that many of the probe problems were known and the hazard severity identified even by the regulator, but the safety activities were not applied proportionately or in time.
No blame, just seeking an understanding from which we might learn.
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