PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - Jet goes down on its way to Medellin, Colombia
Old 6th Dec 2016, 09:38
  #721 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Germany
Age: 72
Posts: 1,561
Don't you suppose that the accident flight crew did not have a Plan B? Plan A probably was to arrive in a critically low fuel state, get cleared for a straight-in approach, and land with just enough fuel to taxi to the stand on two engines. Sorted!

Plan B would have meant figuring out how to cope with being put Number Three for the approach with instructions to hold: an unforeseen yet easily foreseeable situation.

There were various options available, but none seem to have been thought of, let alone used. Most basically, to have just told ATC what the problem was, declaring an emergency in good time, would probably have worked just fine in terms of landing safely.

The ironic thing is that Plan A must have been highly illegal, although it probably would have avoided trouble for the flight crew. Plan B, on the other hand, would have been perfectly legal: to declare an emergency because of a critically low fuel state, to get cleared for a straight-in approach, and to land, but with trouble almost sure to follow.

From that point, having landed safely, the flight crew might have been in a whole lot of trouble, since it might have been quite clear that the flight had been using Plan A, an arrival with almost no fuel.

Something I have seen and experienced is an escalation of risk bringing a feeling, a false one, of increased safety. That is because of what might happen becoming catastrophic, becoming literally unimaginable.

In this situation there would have been the imaginable risk to the crew of being ramp-checked, interrogated about how they came to arrive with far too little fuel, compared to the unimaginable risk of crashing the aircraft and killing themselves and most of those aboard. The imaginable risk was being avoided by courting the unimaginable risk, so to speak.

It's sort of like running from the cops by crossing six lanes of motorway traffic. If you stand there, they've surely got you; if you run you might get away with doing that. Some people go for the unimaginable risk over the imaginable risk then; it's human nature to do so, but something a pilot is supposedly trained to avoid doing.
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