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CL-415 crash firefighting in Italy, 27/10/22

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CL-415 crash firefighting in Italy, 27/10/22

Old 31st Oct 2022, 05:10
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Surely pilot fatigue leading to errors in judgement both in the planning and execution of the task has to be a factor here. How else to explain what we see? Blancolirio’s analysis is valid, but how did they ever get into that predicament when it seemed to have been not really necessary for protection of either life or assets anyway? Perhaps the inquiry will reveal whether they were operating under a request to drop at that spot, or operating under their own initiative ....

A further point if I may.... Without having even the faintest idea of how aerial fighting is 'managed' outside of my own involvement in one of the 'down under' regions, it used to be (and possibly still is) a requirement here for lots of hours (thousands I seem to recall) in aerial ag operations before one could strap on an aircraft loaded with fire fighting product and head off towards the smoke on the horizon. The reasons are / were that you need a lot of experience operating a loaded aircraft close to the ground in a wide variety of situations and terrain in relatively benign conditions before entering into the additional unknowns of variable visibility, extreme turbulence, heat, and often windy conditions in totally foreign terrain. I don't know how many hours the PIC had in low level fire operations, but somehow he was seduced into a manoeuvre which was destined to end badly.

Finally, does anyone know the crew configuration for these ops? - two pilots or pilot and observer / mission director? If only one of the crew was PF, and was flying from the LH seat, it seems probable that the precise location of the target for the drop would have been partially or totally obscured for much of the approach. Perhaps that could explain the sudden increase in bank once it actually became visible - too much - too late as it turned out.

PS Incidentally, I run a desktop Windows 10 box at this desk and all links have been present for the duration of the thread - confirmed on Firefox, Edge, Chrome and Vivaldi browsers - strange.
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 17:14
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Downwind of a ridge can be a very bad place

Analysis of my recorder data produced this chart of wind velocities. The y-axis wind component could not be determined from the available data.

From the chart we can infer a vortex followed by a downburst.

I was very lucky.

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Old 1st Nov 2022, 01:07
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Originally Posted by RatherBeFlying View Post
Analysis of my recorder data produced this chart of wind velocities. The y-axis wind component could not be determined from the available data.

From the chart we can infer a vortex followed by a downburst.
A bit more background to what we are looking at please..
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Old 1st Nov 2022, 06:31
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Originally Posted by RatherBeFlying View Post
Analysis of my recorder data produced this chart of wind velocities. The y-axis wind component could not be determined from the available data.

From the chart we can infer a vortex followed by a downburst.

I was very lucky.

The terrain the aircraft was flying over and the wind do not glaringly suggest a rotor entry. If the aircraft was on the less side of a ridge that had a fairly defined ridge line, and a strong wing was present, particularly if the wind flow is oblique to the terrain, then a rotor could be an interesting option, but, then the attitude of an aircraft entering a rotor with an open loop control is quite predictable. The images show enough resolution to not suggest that the aircraft entered into a rotor. Always a consideration, was an item that came up with UAL 585...

The trees in some of the photos suggest that the camera is not level with the horizon, so the actual bank angle is open to more analysis by the investigators, but it was steep, looks close to 90 but is probably at least 70.... and that adds a pretty high AOA requirement for level flight and more for a pull out. The roll into the run has a high bank angle, but a descending flight path initially, so AOA is modest, then the bank is increased and a pull out is conducted, and AOA is going to spike, about the time that the aircraft does a rapid right roll, and the nose slices downwards, which is characteristic of an incipient spin entry.

I would remain concerned with the loss of awareness of the horizon by the crew in the path that they flew, they may have had little awareness of how close to a bad day their banked pullout was going to take them. The problem with experience is that it increases our confidence that we are on top of the risks that exist, and so the SOPS such as bank limits, crew crosschecking etc are not necessary, (didn't hurt us before, etc) Nothing in LL ops around fires is trivial, fixed or rotary. The guys doing it are darned good, and it is still dangerous, basics still apply every time.
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Old 1st Nov 2022, 07:17
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Originally Posted by fdr View Post
Ö

The trees in some of the photos suggest that the camera is not level with the horizon, so the actual bank angle is open to more analysis by the investigators, but it was steep, looks close to 90 but is probably at least 70...
​​ Ö
Agree. The power poles in video #2 clearly show the perceived tilt of the camera reference the aircraft. Is the perceived tilt due to camera tilt or looking down/up to the aircraft - donít know.




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Old 1st Nov 2022, 19:55
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Airflow over varied terrain can produce up and down flows as well as vortices with axes anywhere from vertical to horizontal.

We can't see what the air is doing downwind of obstacles, but it's instructive to observe water flow over rapids. Lots of vortices and waves.

​​​​​​A vortex with a horizontal axis can produce a shear of twice the wind aloft.
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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 08:18
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A follow up on my comment left above. There are plenty of videos, and data to help the inquiry come to conclusions, this will take time. The final report will be published, but not before 2 years. There have also been reports that the aircraft hit some power lines. So better not speculate here.

However there are rumors, within the firefighters community and an old Tornado pilot who was flying decades ago with the captain involved, that the captain may , I say may, have been trapped by it's own bravado.

While certainly a very skilled pilot, he had a reputation of having the the wrong behaviour and mindset.
He was involved in a crash years ago with a Siai 208 airforce trainer in which a young navigator died and he survived. And the inquiry concluded in reckless flying.
There are suspicions that he was lacking the discipline necessary to stay safe. So one cannot dismiss an complacent and over confident attitude.
This is a risking activity, which being also repetitive does not allow for any deviance. And "normalisation of deviance" in this framework will eventuall bite.

There is an article about the crash in the regional sicilian issue newspaper "La repubblica" titled..."The hero and the reckless".........
https://palermo.repubblica.it/cronac...nia-372087352/

Last edited by markkal; 2nd Nov 2022 at 14:57.
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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 11:12
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I opine that the final report will contain a statement which more or less says: "Failure to maintain flying speed". It's up to we pilots to anticipate conditions in which variable winds and other topographic factors could affect the flight, and make allowance for them. This pilot, for whatever reason, cut a corner too tight. The task could have been competed with a very different and more safe approach - there was room.
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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 12:46
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Originally Posted by markkal View Post
"La repubblica" titled..."The hero and the reckless".........
https://palermo.repubblica.it/cronac...nia-372087352/
"l'eroe e il temerario"

Even though reckless is indeed one of the words of 14 CFR 91.13 - Careless or reckless operation.
A finding of recklessness (e.g., a willful disregard of other people's safety) carries a considerably greater burden of proof than does a finding of carelessness.

The word temerario in this non-aviation newspaper article would probably be better translated with fearless, daring or even courageous.

https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-1.../section-91.13

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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 13:45
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Originally Posted by avionimc View Post
The word temerario in this non-aviation newspaper article would probably be better translated with fearless, daring or even courageous.
I think in this instance "reckless" is closer to the newspaper's intended meaning. It appears to be a reference to one of the pilots having previously been jailed after being convicted of culpable homicide following a fatal aviation accident in 1997.

ScampÚ alla tragedia di Monte Lupone, pilota muore 25 anni dopo in un incidente aereo (ilmessaggero.it)
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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 14:04
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
I think in this instance "reckless" is closer to the newspaper's intended meaning. It appears to be a reference to one of the pilots having previously been jailed after being convicted of culpable homicide following a fatal aviation accident in 1997.

ScampÚ alla tragedia di Monte Lupone, pilota muore 25 anni dopo in un incidente aereo (ilmessaggero.it)
From what I know, he was charged, but did not serve time in jail. Anyway let's wait for the final conclusions of the inquiry. There may well be other issues which we don't know at this time.

Last edited by markkal; 2nd Nov 2022 at 14:58.
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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 14:14
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Exactly.
And, charges for the 1997 crash were subsequently dropped and he was reinstated, as mentioned by markkal earlier.
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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 21:04
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Originally Posted by markkal View Post
A follow up on my comment left above. There are plenty of videos, and data to help the inquiry come to conclusions, this will take time. The final report will be published, but not before 2 years. There have also been reports that the aircraft hit some power lines. So better not speculate here.

However there are rumors, within the firefighters community and an old Tornado pilot who was flying decades ago with the captain involved, that the captain may , I say may, have been trapped by it's own bravado.

While certainly a very skilled pilot, he had a reputation of having the the wrong behaviour and mindset.
He was involved in a crash years ago with a Siai 208 airforce trainer in which a young navigator died and he survived. And the inquiry concluded in reckless flying.
There are suspicions that he was lacking the discipline necessary to stay safe. So one cannot dismiss an complacent and over confident attitude.
This is a risking activity, which being also repetitive does not allow for any deviance. And "normalisation of deviance" in this framework will eventuall bite.

There is an article about the crash in the regional sicilian issue newspaper "La repubblica" titled..."The hero and the reckless".........
https://palermo.repubblica.it/cronac...nia-372087352/

Hmmm… I think some are trying to hang two innocent pilots. For starters, which one were actually flying at the time of the prang ?

From the limited info presented to this thread so far I can see no deliberately ‘dangerous flying’ as such from the pilot. There are some who think flying aircraft just above the tree tops, in hill country, in gusty and low vis conditions is a dangerous activity - to the fire bomber crews it is just another day at work.

I suspect the prang were merely a simple mistake that could have happened to any crew.

Looking at the limited information available on the two videos in this thread we can ballpark wind direction and visibility and what the sight picture of the pilots might have been. Wind direction indications for the valley at the time of the prang can be found at the end of video #1. Sun glare effect can be found at the beginning of video #1.

We don’t know the actual location of the fire the pilots were targeting. The smoke seen in the video could be well down wind of the actual fire.

Reference the aircraft turning right starting at the beginning of the videos you can note the ‘flow’ of the terrain leading up to where the aircraft crashed. You can see a valley just behind the water drop and after that what appears to be a protruding ridge that caused the aircraft to veer away from and stall. From the limited video info there appears to be no houses or power poles on that protruding ridge. Houses are important for getting that ballpark distance ‘feel’ in low vis. i.e. house big = close.

The lead in flight track around the hill top ridge line seemed prudent to me considering the apparent wind direction. The track would have kept the aircraft in the relatively ‘clean’ updraft wind coming up the valley whilst positioning the aircraft for a down valley water drop - except the protruding ridge got in the way. How did they not see it?

Noting the through smoke sun glare effect at the beginning of video #1 I would guess the pilots would have had a similar degraded view looking towards their flight path. Looking through smoke degrades depth perception. Looking through smoke at a dull green-brown back ground of hills with sun glare gives a pilot an extremely limited depth perception - unless, there be a distance reference of a house for example.

Whilst depth perception issues are just another thing in the day to day of air fire fighting I suspect that little protrubance of a near invisible, to the crew, green-brown protruding ridge were just not noted by the crew until the last moment. A simple innocent mistake.

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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 21:08
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Originally Posted by avionimc View Post
Exactly.
And, charges for the 1997 crash were subsequently dropped and he was reinstated, as mentioned by markkal earlier.
Thanks for the update - I stand corrected re the prison sentence.

That said, the "reckless" reference appears to be a direct quote from the sentencing remarks of the Tribunale Militare where he was described as a "pilota avvezzo a condotte spericolate". It's not clear whether that was before or after he had also been disciplined for instances of unauthorised low flying while piloting AMX's.
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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 21:35
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Critics involve the captain. Not a single reproach to the co-pilot. Who was praised and respected among the group. During operations it is always the captain flying according to what I've been told by crews.
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Old 2nd Nov 2022, 22:57
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Originally Posted by markkal View Post
Critics involve the captain. Not a single reproach to the co-pilot. Who was praised and respected among the group. During operations it is always the captain flying according to what I've been told by crews.
The co-pilot is not just sitting there sight-seeing. It is a two crew operation.
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Old 3rd Nov 2022, 08:27
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Originally Posted by Flying Binghi View Post
The co-pilot is not just sitting there sight-seeing. It is a two crew operation.
You'd be surprised....Firefighting and scoops are handled by captains
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Old 3rd Nov 2022, 08:37
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I keep on thinking back to the C130 accident in the Snowy Mountains NSW in January 2020 with the loss of all on board. Despite the different aircraft involved, there are parallels in that both crew were undertaking a fire bombing task which went wrong and both aircraft and the brave crew were lost. These were dedicated aviators at the top of their game and yet the circumstances caught them out. Much of the science of aviation safety relies on us learning from other peoples mistakes and making changes in operational procedures and other factors to avoid a repetition of previous errors. I am sure that will happen in this instance also.

In the meantime, the report of the C130 tragedy may be of interest: https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications...r/ao-2020-007/
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Old 3rd Nov 2022, 09:19
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Originally Posted by FullOppositeRudder View Post
I keep on thinking back to the C130 accident in the Snowy Mountains NSW in January 2020 with the loss of all on board. Despite the different aircraft involved, there are parallels in that both crew were undertaking a fire bombing task which went wrong and both aircraft and the brave crew were lost. These were dedicated aviators at the top of their game and yet the circumstances caught them out. Much of the science of aviation safety relies on us learning from other peoples mistakes and making changes in operational procedures and other factors to avoid a repetition of previous errors. I am sure that will happen in this instance also.

In the meantime, the report of the C130 tragedy may be of interest: https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications...r/ao-2020-007/
Aerial firefighting is a risky activity which allows for nearly zero error margin.
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Old 3rd Nov 2022, 09:39
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Originally Posted by markkal View Post
You'd be surprised....Firefighting and scoops are handled by captains
Iím not blaming either pilot as such. Thatís for the accident investigators. I offered up a scenario of a simple mistake. Others in the thread have offered up plausible considerations reference rotor turbulence.

It will be interesting to see if the accident investigators fly the track of the crash aircraft (in a helicopter) to get a pilots eye view of the lead in to the prang.
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