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dalgetty 27th Jan 2019 19:27

My attempt at an air crash investigation:

Without an IFR rating, his only option was to go for it with Night VFR, flying much lower than the safer flight levels many have already suggested.

When things got really tricky - poor visibility, iced-up controls responding heavily, instruments behaving strangely - he preferred to go down looking for warmer air than up into IMC. Not only was he not trained for IMC, but ATC would be aware that he was entering IMC and intervene.

Communicate/Conserve/Comply was not an option, because ATC would no doubt divert him to a nearby airfield. Sala would miss his first training session and bring the world's press, the CAA and his controllers down on him like a ton of bricks. Under pressure, he decided to press on at 2300ft - fly low, get home. But there was cloud all the way down.

I am not IFR rated and have been caught in IMC twice. It is disorientating, and it tends to make you rely heavily on the few instruments that you have at your disposal.

In this case it is possible that icing blocked the static port, with disastrous consequences, affecting the altimeter and the VSI. This from Wikipedia:

"One of the most common causes of a blocked static port is airframe icing. A blocked static port will cause the altimeter to freeze at a constant value, the altitude at which the static port became blocked. The vertical speed indicator will read zero and will not change at all, even if vertical speed increases or decreases."

When descending from 5000 feet to 2300 feet, with poor visibility, the above phenomena could result in a quick descent to sea level, with the pilot thinking he's still on level flight.

The only way to prove this would be if they find the wreck with flaps up and the altimeter reading 5000ft. Otherwise it's just speculation.

what next 27th Jan 2019 19:33


Originally Posted by Livesinafield (Post 10372717)
... we need to find out why these two unfortunate chaps met their end

Even if the aircraft should be found, the chances of determining the reason for the accident are not good. Especially if it was either related to icing or lack of instrument flying skills in difficult conditions. Engine problems, which can be seen by analysing the wreckage, would probably have been communicated by the pilot who was in radio contact with ATC.

Sam Rutherford 27th Jan 2019 19:33

dalgetty , might be best to steer clear of air crash investigation!

With apologies, the quantity of errors and assumptions in your post are too numerous to list.

I will, though, do the first one. There is no such thing as an IFR rating, it's simply an IR.

Sorry!

Ancient-Mariner 27th Jan 2019 19:59

I have a PPL but do not have either Night or IMC ratings. Also I have never been a PAX in a SEA or twin during darkness. So please be gentle with this question!
Normally during night flying, are the lights of towns/cities of any assistance other than the navigation? In other words do these lights give any visual reference to help situational awareness so as to reduce the total reliance on the AI?
Reason I ask, is that from departure Nantes, there would have been the lights of villages and towns towards Rennes and then similar to the coast. Then after Guernsey, just darkness ahead. (just like for me being mid-ocean at sea) Rain, sleet, snow swirling across the windscreen; trying to ignore it and concentrate on the AI....... I wonder if Sala's fear was the vibration of a iced up prop?
Clive

Gertrude the Wombat 27th Jan 2019 20:40


Originally Posted by lilflyboy262...2 (Post 10372513)
I understand what you mean that the left engine has the same probability of the right engine as quitting, but unless you didn't put enough go juice in the plane, you are essentially doubling down on your odds of getting to the destination with one engine still working.

I don't think so - I'm sure I've heard of other common mode failures besides running out of fuel. "Water in fuel" is one I remember - after one engine failed the boss said "carry on, I need to get to this meeting" but his pilot said "no, we're landing on that runway down there", and the other engine failed on the ground. (Something like that, may have misremembered details from some decades ago. There is almost certainly no documentation of this particular incident.)

Chronus 27th Jan 2019 20:40


Originally Posted by Ancient-Mariner (Post 10372765)
I have a PPL but do not have either Night or IMC ratings. Also I have never been a PAX in a SEA or twin during darkness. So please be gentle with this question!
Normally during night flying, are the lights of towns/cities of any assistance other than the navigation? In other words do these lights give any visual reference to help situational awareness so as to reduce the total reliance on the AI?
Reason I ask, is that from departure Nantes, there would have been the lights of villages and towns towards Rennes and then similar to the coast. Then after Guernsey, just darkness ahead. (just like for me being mid-ocean at sea) Rain, sleet, snow swirling across the windscreen; trying to ignore it and concentrate on the AI....... I wonder if Sala's fear was the vibration of a iced up prop?
Clive

As a long in the tooth old fashioned old timer I would offer by way of a reply. Within the context of SA, yes as there is no visible horizon, but to a limited extent.
Night flight is instrument flight. However in the UK we have a night and IMC ratings. The latter is sold with the label " will get you out of trouble, my opinion is " it will get you into trouble". My long held personal view is that both are introductions to instrument flight. They are there only to be used in exceptional circumstances, such as when a VFR flight planned to start and end in day time stray into night time and when a climb and descent above cloud cover has become necessary. To me VFR means day, clear of cloud and in sight of ground.
In this instance it may well be that the pilot in question may have held a valid IR endorsement to his FAA airman`s certificate, this may have given him the privilege of IR flight over French airspace, but not UK controlled airspace. I think it has been previously commented that he may have been transiting the Channel Islands airspace on a special VFR clearance and had planned to enter UK airspace VFR. It is therefore possible that having encountered IMC he may have decided to commence a descent to remain clear of cloud in good time before entering UK airspace. I would imagine he would have been using the A/P and from memory I do believe this particular type of aircraft is equipped with a altitude pre-select function. It is possible therefore to speculate that either this failed causing a runaway elevator pitch trim or that the ice build up over the elevator and its trim tab jammed from the ice accumulation during the descent not permitting the A/P to recover at the selected altitude and to cause it to continue its descent.
Only hard and long experience gained in working as a pilot may equip a pilot to know his own and his aircraft`s performance and limitations and the intricacies of the atmosphere within which he and his passengers are to be safely carried from point A to Point B. It is only then that one appreciates the value of humility.

A great book I have always suggested to all those who have an interest in aviation is Ernest Gann`s book Fate is the Hunter. Many say it is the finest book on the subject. I tend to agree.

TRUTHSEEKER1 27th Jan 2019 20:45


Originally Posted by dalgetty (Post 10372737)
My attempt at an air crash investigation:

Without an IFR rating, his only option was to go for it with Night VFR, flying much lower than the safer flight levels many have already suggested.

When things got really tricky - poor visibility, iced-up controls responding heavily, instruments behaving strangely - he preferred to go down looking for warmer air than up into IMC. Not only was he not trained for IMC, but ATC would be aware that he was entering IMC and intervene.

Communicate/Conserve/Comply was not an option, because ATC would no doubt divert him to a nearby airfield. Sala would miss his first training session and bring the world's press, the CAA and his controllers down on him like a ton of bricks. Under pressure, he decided to press on at 2300ft - fly low, get home. But there was cloud all the way down.

I am not IFR rated and have been caught in IMC twice. It is disorientating, and it tends to make you rely heavily on the few instruments that you have at your disposal.

In this case it is possible that icing blocked the static port, with disastrous consequences, affecting the altimeter and the VSI. This from Wikipedia:

"One of the most common causes of a blocked static port is airframe icing. A blocked static port will cause the altimeter to freeze at a constant value, the altitude at which the static port became blocked. The vertical speed indicator will read zero and will not change at all, even if vertical speed increases or decreases."

When descending from 5000 feet to 2300 feet, with poor visibility, the above phenomena could result in a quick descent to sea level, with the pilot thinking he's still on level flight.

The only way to prove this would be if they find the wreck with flaps up and the altimeter reading 5000ft. Otherwise it's just speculation.

In your prognosis you are not taking into account that The deeper you go under the sea, the greater the pressure of the water pushing down on you. For every 33 feet (10.06 meters) you go down, the pressure increases by 14.5 psi (14.5 psi = 999.73980751 millibar) so the reading on the altimeter will tell you absolutely nothing of any relevance because the altimeter will be FUBAR.



EXDAC 27th Jan 2019 20:45

common purpose - contd.
 

Originally Posted by mryan75 (Post 10372556)

FAA letter of interpretation in the Flytenow case.

Thanks for the reference. It includes " In addition, this pro-rata sharing of expenses is further limited by the FAA's "common-purpose" test, which requires the private pilot and all expense sharing passengers share a bona fide common purpose for their travel." . However, I don't see any indication as to where that common purpose test is defined. Perhaps there is additional information in the referenced FAA letter of interpretation but that letter is not disclosed.

I did find a reference to "common purpose" in 91.501 but that reg is specific to "the operation of large airplanes of U.S. registry, turbojet-powered multiengine civil airplanes of U.S. registry, and fractional ownership program aircraft of U.S. registry........"

With cost sharing being quite common it would be good to have a clear reference to a specific regulation, advisory circular, or publicly available FAA letter of interpretation. Not trying to be awkward. I have a genuine interest in the subject both as an owner of an N reg aircraft and as a CFI.




Auxtank 27th Jan 2019 20:57


Originally Posted by Chronus (Post 10372794)
A great book I have always suggested to all those who have an interest in aviation is Ernest Gann`s book Fate is the Hunter. Many say it is the finest book on the subject. I tend to agree.

A great post - and very timely - Let there be no matches struck and held before your eyes on final!

testpanel 27th Jan 2019 20:58


I have a PPL but do not have either Night or IMC ratings. Also I have never been a PAX in a SEA or twin during darkness. So please be gentle with this question!
Normally during night flying, are the lights of towns/cities of any assistance other than the navigation? In other words do these lights give any visual reference to help situational awareness so as to reduce the total reliance on the AI?
A night rating is there for a reason.....
An Instrument rating is there for a reason.

An Instrument rating is a very useful rating for those with limited experience.
Off course city lights may be of help..... only if you know what to look for..
But we are now flying VMC.
If this "pilot" ended up at (a dark) night (over sea, with no horizon) with none of the above ratings/endorsements....

its suiside.....

grmps 27th Jan 2019 20:59

Altimeter
 
My, very limited, understanding of air crash investigation is that analogue instruments with needles can show a microscopic indication in the face of the display that a needle hit it under sufficient “g”. The needle may well subsequently move for whatever reason but may have left a telltale indication at the point of impact.

Mach Tuck 27th Jan 2019 21:13


Originally Posted by Ancient-Mariner (Post 10372765)
I have a PPL but do not have either Night or IMC ratings. Also I have never been a PAX in a SEA or twin during darkness. So please be gentle with this question!
Normally during night flying, are the lights of towns/cities of any assistance other than the navigation? In other words do these lights give any visual reference to help situational awareness so as to reduce the total reliance on the AI?
Clive

Absolutely such lights keep you aware of which way is up. However, a trained instrument pilot would have no problems in relying entirely on his instruments in the absence any visual reference. After all, under instrument conditions it is entirely feasible that the Instrument Rated pilot will lose visual reference as the main wheels leave the ground and not regain it again until at 200ft or less on an ILS approach.

Arkroyal 27th Jan 2019 21:19


Originally Posted by Sam Rutherford (Post 10372743)
dalgetty , might be best to steer clear of air crash investigation!

With apologies, the quantity of errors and assumptions in your post are too numerous to list.

I will, though, do the first one. There is no such thing as an IFR rating, it's simply an IR.

Sorry!

And a second one ATC don’t initiate diversions. Pilots do.

ericsson16 27th Jan 2019 22:06


Originally Posted by grmps (Post 10372810)
My, very limited, understanding of air crash investigation is that analogue instruments with needles can show a microscopic indication in the face of the display that a needle hit it under sufficient “g”. The needle may well subsequently move for whatever reason but may have left a telltale indication at the point of impact.

Like finding a needle in a haystack.Real Pilot Story: Ambushed by Ice


mryan75 27th Jan 2019 22:55


Originally Posted by EXDAC (Post 10372799)
Thanks for the reference. It includes " In addition, this pro-rata sharing of expenses is further limited by the FAA's "common-purpose" test, which requires the private pilot and all expense sharing passengers share a bona fide common purpose for their travel." . However, I don't see any indication as to where that common purpose test is defined. Perhaps there is additional information in the referenced FAA letter of interpretation but that letter is not disclosed.

I did find a reference to "common purpose" in 91.501 but that reg is specific to "the operation of large airplanes of U.S. registry, turbojet-powered multiengine civil airplanes of U.S. registry, and fractional ownership program aircraft of U.S. registry........"

With cost sharing being quite common it would be good to have a clear reference to a specific regulation, advisory circular, or publicly available FAA letter of interpretation. Not trying to be awkward. I have a genuine interest in the subject both as an owner of an N reg aircraft and as a CFI.

This is the place to search:

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org...bSubmit=Search

and check this one out, and this guy had an ATP. And he still needed common purpose with his passengers for the operation ey ran (which the FAA determined he did not have).:

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org...rpretation.pdf


Hot 'n' High 28th Jan 2019 00:42


Originally Posted by Eutychus (Post 10372169)
I never imagined something I perceive to be widespread practice being carried out in this kind of regulatory void.

Eutychus, I suspect you are in very good company - even amongst the Pros on here. I think you'll find all the Aviation professionals who have posted on/read this sad, sad thread, no matter how many years in the industry, will also have shaken their heads in disbelief and sadness on a significant number of occasions reading about this as the wider “regulatory environment” behind this has started to crystalise out - or should that be "started to emerge from the mists". It’s really exposed a number of aspects to the cold light of day – some linked to directly to this flight, but even more which could lead to the same result in various other "contracting models" (using "contracting" as a loose term here for any sort of agreement at any level). And it’s not a pretty sight! That “regulatory environment” aspect will take some sorting out – if, indeed, there is a will to change it.

Sadly, I'd suggest you don’t hold your breath……...

piperboy84 28th Jan 2019 01:33

Even if the pilot had a valid Instrument ticket (hopefully current) and a commercial rating ( a glorified PPL unless further training, hour building and type ratings are added) the fact that he was a full time plumber would just not leave this poor guy the time, on the job training and constant daily real world commercial flying standards experience to be competent enough to be running on-demand “charter” flights safely. I’ve got a FAA CPL IR with all the trimmings and have flown my puddle jumper from Rennes to Swansea a few times in day VRF, to try it at night in low or no viz with ice forecast is suicide.

EXDAC 28th Jan 2019 02:50

common purpose - contd.
 

Originally Posted by mryan75 (Post 10372874)


and check this one out, and this guy had an ATP. And he still needed common purpose with his passengers for the operation ey ran (which the FAA determined he did not have).:


Thanks for that link, it was very informative. It seems that FAA has a stick called "common purpose" that they are prepared to wield when it suits them but it is not linked to any regulation that a private, commercial, or even ATP rated pilot could be expected to know about. 61.113(c) does not mention "common purpose" yet FAA uses it as a reference for their common purpose interpretation.

If they want a rule for pilots to follow it would seem reasonable for it to be included in the regulations that pilots are expected to know about.

cncpc 28th Jan 2019 04:21


Originally Posted by Sam Rutherford (Post 10372743)
dalgetty , might be best to steer clear of air crash investigation!

With apologies, the quantity of errors and assumptions in your post are too numerous to list.

I will, though, do the first one. There is no such thing as an IFR rating, it's simply an IR.

Sorry!

+1.

I have a friend who is very experienced ex Canadian TSB investigator. He tells me that when the actual cause of an accident is determined, it rarely is what everybody originally thought it was. Or was sure it was.


Pittsextra 28th Jan 2019 05:36


Originally Posted by cncpc (Post 10372991)
+1.

I have a friend who is very experienced ex Canadian TSB investigator. He tells me that when the actual cause of an accident is determined, it rarely is what everybody originally thought it was. Or was sure it was.

i dont think recent history supports the broader points. There have been many accidents recently where the basics of what people assume within the first days perfectly align to the basics of a final report several years later. There is little doubt that this accidents cause will focus upon weather and the pilots ratings and the aircrafts equipment with the sub-theme of discussion around the commercials


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