View Full Version : "Trust this equipment" A310 Pilot

5th May 2004, 05:36
Pilot 'hero' faces jail
04/05/2004 21:42__-_(SA)__
Hanover, Germany - A pilot who was regarded by passengers as a hero when he successfully landed a stricken Airbus A310 is facing the prospect of a prison sentence as a result of the incident.

Wolfgang Arminger, 59, appeared on Tuesday at a court in Hanover on a charge of "dangerous encroachment of air traffic" in connection with the emergency landing of the plane in Vienna almost four years ago.

If convicted he could face a jail term of between six months and 10 years.

Arminger was piloting a Germany Hapag-Lloyd charter plane carrying German holidaymakers from Crete to Hanover on July 12, 2000 when both the aircraft's engines stopped owing to a fuel shortage.

Without any engine performance, Arminger managed to glide the last 20 kilometres to Vienna's Schwechat airport, making an emergency landing next to the runway which resulted in one engine and a wing being ripped off.

Passengers were evacuated using emergency chutes, with 13 of the 151 people on board being treated for minor injuries in hospital.

Prosecutors allege the pilot put passengers and crew at risk after the aircraft's landing gear failed to retract after take-off.

As a result of extra drag from the landing gear, the plane was consuming extra fuel, but instead of making an unscheduled landing at Zagreb in Croatia the pilot decided to continue the flight and head for Vienna.

The aircraft ran out of fuel before reaching Vienna causing both engines to cease.

Arminger, whose flying licence was rescinded a year after the incident, told the court he had relied on data from the plane's flight management system (FMS) and thought the plane had more fuel.

Incorrect readings

"The accident was and is for me a terrible thing. However, I do not feel guilty alone for this near catastrophe," he said.

Arminger, an experienced pilot with 8_490 flying hours on the Airbus 310 alone, said he had not realised the FMS, because of the still-lowered landing gear, was not delivering correct data on fuel consumption.

"In all our training we were told: trust this equipment," he said.

The co-pilot told the court he was unhappy at the decision to fly to Vienna but the captain decided otherwise.

"As captain I would have flown to Zagreb," he said.

However, he said he was also unaware the FMS did not function accurately in such a situation.

Arminger said that after the landing he was praised by his company for his skill in bringing the plane down safely.

"I was treated very positively at the investigation into the accident - it was said my flying performance had saved many lives," he told the court.

The trial is expected to take two days. - Sapa-dpa.Hanover (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_1521804,00.html)

5th May 2004, 06:11
The trial is expected to take two days

is that all. Good grief its a highly complex accident how can a jury have a hope of understanding whats involved after just 2 days.

5th May 2004, 06:17
Hardly complex.
The turkey ran out of fuel, after having bypassed suitable diversion airfields.
He certainly should have known better.
The co-pilot apparently did.
He deserves to have the book thrown at him...bigtime.

5th May 2004, 07:14
Interesting to have such clearly defined " Masonic and non Masonic " perspectives.
I doubt a wooley hat and secret handshake will help in this case.

5th May 2004, 07:41
411A, it's difficult to argue with that brief yet highly perceptive analysis!

Bearing in mind that the A310 has ample Fuel Quantity Indicators, Fuel Flow Indicators, an ECAM fuel page and low fuel state warning lights and does not just rely on FMS fuel-at-waypoint predictions, there seems little mitigation. In fact none whatever.

Perhaps the FMS should be required to be capable of displaying fuel at waypoint values for any conceivable a/c configuration to make it more idiot-proof?

Would it not be better to delete fuel-at-waypoint information completely - or display "NOT AVAIL" if the performance degradation is outside the range which the FMS can display?

This case holds a professional interest for me as I have concerns about the FMS fuel remaining information in modified versions of the a/c which can carry more fuel than the max value assumed by the current FMS - and which also have greater drag than the baseline A310. My view is that the FMS must be modified to accept the actual fuel value from the volume in tanks corrected by the Cadensicon (Fuel SG sensor) for all fuel loads - and that the assumed burn rate must represent the modified a/c's actual burn rate. If that can't be done, then N/A or NOT AVAIL should be displayed on the FMS fuel prediction column - rather than optimistic lies! Currently the FMS only displays fuel predictions based upon the PERF FACTOR used during preparation. Interestingly, the FCOM advises

" PERF FACTOR: It reflects the A/C performance status. The FMC makes all the calculations and predictions upon the value of the PERF FACTOR. It is defaulting to zero but may be changed by WRITING/INSERTING the new value in line 6L. This value should not be changed by the crew."

So it is pretty clear to me that if the ac is in a condition which does not reflect the pre-loaded PERF FACTOR, and the crew is recommended not to change that value, then the fuel on board predictions will be incorrect.

5th May 2004, 08:23
mmmm, have to say that flying around with the gear down is not a thing i would do, was he after a good pat on the back for a job well done ? I presume that the 310 was over weight for a landing back into crete ? Athens springs to mind !!
Boeing qrh states not to use fmc fuel flow predictions with non standard configurations.

5th May 2004, 08:32
The Boeing QRH was only recently modified because of concern regarding misinterpretation of FMC fuel predictions in non normal configurations.

I have a great deal of sympathy with this crew - the Captain states that he was told to 'trust' the fmc . In my experience, this is a common emphasis in glass cockpit training. Pilots are being intentionally 'dumbed down', and the emphasis is on the infallibility of modern aircraft systems.

Surely we must return to using 'common sense', i.e. airmanship?

5th May 2004, 09:11
FMS Universal question paper

Applicants have one flight to complete the paper.

The FMC uses an embedded performance model which assumes a particular aircraft configuration. If the actual configuration differs from that used to programme the FMC, en-route Fuel On Board values will be:

A. Unaffected
B. Automatically adjusted by magic fairies
C. Incorrect

(Extra paper is available)

5th May 2004, 09:20
I am mearly pointing out that in trials of a technical nature it is normal for a considerable time to be taken such that experts both for prosecution and defence have an opertunity to brief the jury/judge(s) on what may have happened. Users of this website may use their years of aviation knowledge and the published facts to come to a conclusion. I think a tyre fitter from salzburg may need some help understanding it. So I am surprised to see only 2 days allocated.

His dudeness
5th May 2004, 09:40
What I HEARD was:
1) F/O argued against flying further than Zagreb. Was overruled by Capt.
2) Capt was Senoirity no 1 with Hapag. - enough experience to cope with something like that faulty Gear Leg.
3) Company wanted him to fly as near to Hannover (DEST) as possible. (They planned to go to Munich apparently)

For once I agree with 411A. Pretty straight, just one unclear thing: did the company "order" him to continue ? If so, why did he do it, especially when his F/O showed signs of "resistence" ?

5th May 2004, 10:27
Amongst the limitations 'applicable in case of in-flight landing gear retraction failure', the A310 FCOM Chap 2.18.40 (Rev 30) Page 1 does indeed contain this statement : Fuel predictions of FMS must be disregarded

Perhaps this was introduced after the event? In this litigation-hungry era, I'm not surprised that Airbus have had to spell such things out in order to cater for total idiots whose slavish obedience to the book have displaced any airmanship they once had.

The F/O should certainly have spelled it out to the Captain and backed up his concern with accurate fuel measuremens. Didn't it occur to either of them to cross-check the Fuel Quantity Indicators, ECAM fuel page and engine fuel flowmeters in order to resolve the clear discrepancy between FMS and FQI which must have been manifestly obvious? And why did his 'Company' not think to suggest it??

5th May 2004, 11:04
Extracts from the earlier thread:

I had the pleasure of flying with the FO of that Hapag Lloyd flight the other day. He no longer flys for them but is on 747s with a different company now. No need to name our company. Interesting to get some first hand information. If I can condense his version into a few sentences it would go something like this:

Captain is seniority number one at the time and very company minded. Dispatch and maintenance put a lot of pressure on the crew to make it to Munich or Vienna (both have Airbus maintenance) According to the FO the Airbus FMC fuel page has a title that would lead one to believe that it uses actual fuel flow. This is what the captain based his decisions on. Despite the FO's best effort to convince the captain they were not going to make it he pushed on (the military has a nice phrase for that: "target fixation") The FO's saving grace was the fact that the voice recorder still had him on it, insisting that they head for Graz as they were not going to make it to Vienna. Shortly thereafter it went awefully silent.

As I say, a very interesting experience to speak with someone who saw the whole thing from the front row!

I've got about five ACARS messages. I don't want to
put them in the public domain but what I can tell you is
that is is from "HLF Ops". I've got no idea who the
actual person was. It was a very interesting discussion though
because HLF keeps asking which airport he can reach.
The a/c responds first with airfields in central Germany and
than later during the flight they give alternate airfields
much more south. So they very well new that something
was wrong fuel wise!

From the site that has the picture:

"Att haj please call us on HF 10069. We can't retract our left gear. Pushing on to MUC."


5th May 2004, 11:19
If the crew's understanding of the basic engine and aerodynamic models hosted within the FMC was so fundamentally incorrect, it simply beggars belief.

What would be the point of having a FMS which merely duplicated the ECAM, FQI and engine fuel flow figures? Isn't the idea to compare actual (ECAM/FQI) against predicted (FMS) values?

5th May 2004, 12:19
411A is quite right. I really dont understand people clouding the issue. Only the truth matters, P1 made a poor decision.

5th May 2004, 12:48
If convicted he could face a jail term of between six months and 10 years.

Not withstanding the clear cut culpability that so many point out above, civil punishments of this magnitude serve no protective purpose other than to encourage non-cooperation of crews with accident investigating authorities.

5th May 2004, 13:27
lomapaseo is right, incarceration would serve no useful purpose. Six months of community service mowing grass, trimming hedges and picking up litter in public parks would be more apt. He was very lucky to have got away with material damage only. His passengers and crew should congratulate themselves on having chosen to fly in an aircraft piloted by someone with sufficient experience to assure that the drama turned crisis did not not turn into catastrophe. And hoping that whoever looks after his pension plan has calculated things rather better...?! :E

Few Cloudy
5th May 2004, 14:42
It used to be a standard question on line checks, "How is your range affected by gear down?" and you would get out the tables and do a calculation - there is a huge difference - basics.

More basics is to do a fuel check every now and again - so even supposing the decision to continue had been made - the high consumption should have been picked up on route.

Other reasons for avoiding long flights with gear down include lousy 1 eng performance and service ceiling.

Then you bust it and you are a hero. Sorry but it wouldn't have acheived even a marginal pass in a sim ride.

5th May 2004, 15:00
One thing that changed in our company when going from traditional airplanes (MD80) to "high-performance" FMS airplanes (A320), is that SOP no longer required crews to fill out and follow up on the "routing" part of the paper flight plan, because the predictions of the FMS regarding time enroute and fuel available were much better 99% of the time...
After an incident like this, I do reflect on the wisdom of such a policy, if it's going to reduce awareness of fuel consumption and actual fuel state.
In an abnormal configuration, fuel-checks should not be done "now and then" but almost constantly, to get a feel of how the aircraft is performing in actual conditions. Doing this for the first part of the flight would have told those guys how terribly wrong the predictions of the FMS were.

5th May 2004, 15:10
One thing I will say about this thread.

I assume that most of you airbus drivers are commenting based on your A320 experience, but let me tell you something, the A310 fms is Lousy when compared to the A320 FMS (though it does have a useful place/distance ability that the a320 inexplicably doesn't have...) The bottom right corner of the FMS does not display fuel at destination in the 310 like it does in the 320. That number will update (incorrectly, but it will get closer to correct the closer you get and the longer you burn too much fuel) but it is not visible ANYWHERE on the usable FMS pages. You have to go to a subpage from the prog page. The 320 is much improved and the crew would have seen the number shrinking eventually to a negative number and could have called it a day earlier.

The accident is unforgivable. However, there is more than the pilots that need to be looked at here. Was this a case of "Pilot pushing"? What were the orders given to the flight crew? (yes I know they should have disregarded them), but the company should bare MUCH responsibility, dispatch has all the fuel figures and excellent computers and should most certainly have known that the plan was unworkable. If they didn't then what is the point of having dispatch? Is it not to have a second set of eyes looking over the flight crews shoulder? Well if that second set of eyes was pushing them, then it would be better not to have them at all!

Furthermore, the configuration of the aircraft may not have matched the charts. Is there a one leg extended fuel burn chart (My A310 manuals don't have one) ? Could they have been ACARSed a new fpr (flight plan review, with fuel burns) that reflected 3 gear extended and had the crew exceeding that by a wide margin? Of course one would assume that would have been for a shorter destination.

Presumably they couldn't land right away because of the heavy weight condition so they might as well have gone somewhere else. They went too far, no question about it, but far more than the crew needs to be in the dock over this. The ENTIRE system failed. This wasn't a case of the pilot saying "Screw it, I'm bringing her home." over the instructions of the company. In fact, so far it looks like only ONE voice of many (the copilot) was saying "Don't go there".

Few Cloudy,
That's a dangerous question in a base check, because you may wind up with the gear in a condition not listed. (Sequence valve fails and the gear doors are open for example, MUCH higher fuel flow than simply gear down)


White Knight
5th May 2004, 16:01
It pains me, but 411A is right here. NEVER trust a computer:oh:

5th May 2004, 17:08
When I recently converted to my Airbus, during Sim LOFT training the exercise included a scenario where we had to G/A off an approach, enter holding, and estimate our time to diversion. Straightforward stuff.
But when I used my old iron dial pilots brain to do the numbers the instructor quite rightly pointed out that the FMS would do all that for me. I suggested I'd usually to do my own gross error check anyhow as a matter of course, especially given what had just happened to Hapag that same month.
His answer was he knew nothing about the Hapag incident, and just forget about wasting time with mental arithmetic...trust the FMS.

Naturally I still do my mental arithmetic. :suspect:

Lu Zuckerman
5th May 2004, 17:21
The conversation between the A-310 FO and the captain is very similar to the conversation between the FO and the captain of the Air Transat A-330 that ran out of fuel over the Atlantic. The first officer ran several hand calculations checking the fuel consumption against the tank readings. While he was doing that and telling the captain of the problem the captain insisted that it was a computer error. This was further complicated by the readings of high oil pressure and the low oil temperature. The cold fuel spraying on the oil cooler caused this. This situation was never covered in the simulator nor was it covered in the manuals.

:E :E

5th May 2004, 18:02
Interesting to have such clearly defined " Masonic and non Masonic " perspectives.

I shot coffee out of my nose with that one! I'm still laughing....

411A nailed it. His stock's up a few points (and it needed to be!)

The plaque on the wall of my flying club in the late eighties said it all: under a photo of the club's geared-up T-34A, it said, "All the excuses in all the world will not help you if you run your aircraft out of fuel."

5th May 2004, 18:31
The FO is now flying on the 747?. He should feel a lot safer if its a "classic"--For the obvious reason!:O

View From The Ground
5th May 2004, 21:44
I am interested by Few Cloudy's comment that the Captain's flying would not have got even a marginal pass in a sim ride. That seems to be a sensible perspective. Any sim instructors care to comment on how they would have judged the Captain's real life actions if it had happened in the sim.

5th May 2004, 21:59
Airmanship - Unsatisfactory
CRM - Unsatisfactory
Knowldge of ac systems - Unsatisfactory
Ac handling - Satisfactory
Command decision making - Unsatisfactory

Overall assessment - Fail

Remedial training required - Technical refresher training. CRM training.

.........or words to that effect.

5th May 2004, 22:05
view from the ground, I am sorry but that is one of the most inane questions I have seen , even on pprune!

Look , quite simply the guy stuffed up big time and wasting bandwidth asking questions like that is in my opinion plain silly.

Who cares what some sim instructor may think? The point is is that for whatever reason the guy pressed on, he made a very poor decision and luckily no one was killed.

Asking for an opinion as to whether or not he would have failed a sim ride in those circumstances is akin to asking someone if they would like more money or not, what do you think the answer is going to be??

5th May 2004, 22:37
Who cares what some sim instructor may think? faheel, a bit harsh!! Don't forget that in many airlines, "Sim Instructors" are also line training captains who spend half their time in the real world, not just pushing the "V1 Cut" button!

If you consider all the circumstances (under JAR 1.965 I think it is?) for CRM assessment in the Simulator these days, then what if Captain X had flown a LOFT scenario like that at some stage prior to his epic flight? Had he perhaps shown weaknesses in systems knowledge or CRM before? If so, what actions were taken? Are there maybe lessons to be learned that are similar to those from the CrossAir accident at ZRH?

5th May 2004, 23:28
Don't forget that in many airlines, "Sim Instructors" are also line training captains who spend half their time in the real world, not just pushing the "V1 Cut" button!

Douglas thats an interesting point, and without wishing to digress too much from the issue at hand I wonder just how many companies have now split the 'Line Standards' section from the 'SIM Checking/Training Section'. Thats what has been done in my own company and I just wonder now what possesses any sane individual to dedicate their lives almost entirely to (as you say) pushing the V1 Cut button, day after day....

6th May 2004, 00:49
Back to the original posting on this thread and "the trial is expected to last two days". Can anyone elucidate on the trial procedure in Germany? Presumably it won't be a selection of people off the street.

Assuming it's not, and that the "jury" will actually be a board of impartial and knowleagable people, two days shouldn't be too many to reach a conclusion. It'd be difficult to find three knowlegeable people in the world, let alone in Germany, who were unaware of this accident.

If that's the case, I would just guess that most impartial observers would have come down close to 411's comments, and some time ago. Which would mean that the trial is really about establishing what punishment should be meted out to the crew.

I'd be for community service - if punishment were to be meted. Jail would be ridiculous.

Ignition Override
6th May 2004, 04:00
If your headwinds seem to be increasing over the Montana Rockies, and your Boeing 757 FMC shows a constantly decreasing amount of Arrival Fuel (the A-310 won't show such unwelcome changes in arrival fuel?), then there is a problem. The Captain chose to descend from about FL 330 to 280 after asking ATC about lower altitude winds, and after about 10 minutes or so, the Arrival Fuel increased to a much healthier amount.

We always compare total fuel to the paper flight plan fuel at one or two fixes on short legs, more on long ones. Wasn't the Boeing FMC's PLANNED FUEL numbers very similar to Dispatch's flight plan fuel? Believe we entered known winds at numerous fixes and a cost index of about 55, and a cruise enroute temperature or such.

With a major ATC or weather re-route (June-August...even in March), we can send the new route to Dispatch and let them calculate destination arrival fuel as a back-up.

A narrowbody aircraft barely made it to a divert airport with maybe emergency fuel (!) onboard, not far short of the destination, when the uplatch check was done too quickly during climb, and hanging a bit below the gear well it caused lots of extra fuel burn. Just ONE gear door!!:uhoh: :yuk:

Toulouse Recluse
6th May 2004, 11:52
411a has perfectly summarised the essence of this thread.

The A310 FMS calculation can be corrected for aircraft individual fuel burn under Ref>Ref Index>A/C Status>change the consumption value.

The FMS would have been aware of the increased fuel burn. It could have been checked under Prog>Fuel Pred>EFOB at EDDV.
Assuming that the mode was the default FF+FQ (calculation based on fuel flow and fuel quantity) then the value shown would have been minus or with a warning 'Entry out of range'.

As for Few Cloudy and his marginal standard simulator check questions - get back on yer bike and ride off to the STCM!

6th May 2004, 12:38
Two questions if I may......

1. Is there anyone who is going to post "I would have made the same descion/s as the Capt."?

2. Was/is there any way the F/O could have releived the Capt. of his command?

what next
6th May 2004, 13:48

> SLFguy: Is there anyone who is going to post "I would have
> made the same descion/s as the Capt."?

If my calculations - or instuments that I have learned to trust -would have indicated that the fuel was sufficient, I would have done the same. I already have made a similar mistake once, but in a much smaller aircraft (Cessna Golden Eagle) and luckily with some lbs of fuel (not many though) still in the tanks after landing: I had relied on the figures of a fuel totaliser (accurate to the last digit during several years of flying this aircraft!) that were incorrectly entered by someone else.

> SLFguy: Was/is there any way the F/O could have releived the Capt. of his command?

If he had bothered to calculate the endurance exactly, based on actual consumption figures (!), and thereby proven to the Captain that they wouln't make it to Vienna; and the Capt. had still tried to press on, then maybe. But he didn't and surely the Capt. would have believed him, if he had (my guess).

> broadreach: Can anyone elucidate on the trial procedure in Germany?

I will give it a try, but I'm more familiar with aviation terms than with juridical ones!

> broadreach: Presumably it won't be a selection of people off the street.

But it will!
Jurors are always 'selected from the street' here. More precisely, they are elected by a comittee for four years from a preselected 'cross section' of the population in a way, that all groups/sexes/ages/professions are represented in more or less equal numbers, one of the few prerequisites being of course that they are german citizens.

In a trial like this one, there are usually two jurors and one judge, all three have equal weight when it comes to decide on the verdict. None of them needs to know anything about the subject of the trial, but if they do, this is _not_ a reason for excluding them from the trial. Therefore, it does not matter at all if details of the case have been reported by the press or not.

> Which would mean that the trial is really about establishing what punishment should be meted out to the crew.

Exactly. But a punishment has already been established before the trial, however: The Captain has received a summons (I hope, that 'babelfish' gave me the correct translations for 'Strafbefehl'!) over 10 months imprisoment on probation. This is intended to save the taxpayer and the accused the time and expense of a court case. Only an option in 'minor' cases though.

He has elected not to accept this summons, therefore he has to face trial now. I assume, that his lawyer (defendent) sees a fair chance of getting a better verdict than the 10 months, otherwise he would have talked him into accepting the summons. Lawyers are not paid so well here that they will go to court in any case, like in the US for example, so there is no big financial interest on part of the lawyer in this trial.

Therefore we can consider these 10 months as the absolute maximum he will possibly get (and since it was 'on probation' in the first place, he will definitely NOT got to jail!); if his lawyer is worth his money, he may get away with a fine or even an 'innocent' verdict in the end!

The 'experts' mentioned by broadreach will be questioned as witnesses during the trail, but they have nothing to do with the verdict itself. And, if I have read my newspaper correctly, not 'the crew' is under accusation, but the Captain alone. The First Officer will be heard as witness only.

I hope I got everything right...

Greetings, Max

6th May 2004, 16:34
Completely agree with 411A........you don't need a computer to tell you that gear down = increased drag = increased fuel comsumption!!

Lu Zuckerman
6th May 2004, 16:50
A Lufthansa A-310 on its’ first revenue flight landed in Cairo and they were unable to retract the flaps. The aircraft had to fly back to Frankfurt in a non-revenue status and I believe they made at least one pit stop on the way back.

:E :E

View From The Ground
6th May 2004, 21:51

So its not wasting bandwidth to berate me then! Anyway I thought it was a reasonable question, since there was some discussion on the thread about whether the Captain deserved to be hero or zero. My point was that if you take the skill of his save out of the equation how would his actions otherwise be judged in the cold light of day, i.e. in a sim. My understanding is that Airline Sim instructors are usually qualified to pass or fail someone's sim check and therefore affect their ability to fly. Therefore there opinion is surely relevant.

7th May 2004, 14:03
Not often I agree with 411A but on this one he's spot on
The book... thrown at him.... big time

Few Cloudy
7th May 2004, 14:46
Hi Toulouse Recluse,

Those were the days! Actually, if you look I didn't ask any questions - I made the statement that the guy's performance was below standard - in so many words.

No STCMs these days - or SRQMs either - but the bike is still pumped up!


7th May 2004, 15:48
What Next:
Thanks for your lucid explanation.

Jump Complete
7th May 2004, 18:16
Okay, the FO expressed his unhappiness with the Captains decision, but did not press his opinion enough to prevent what would seem to an outsider to be an inevitable incident. I have not yet made it to a multi-crew flight deck so I would be interested to hear what experienced crews think about how culpable the FO is in this incident, despite apparately being the 'lone voice' of discent?

7th May 2004, 20:42

Finally noticed that the Captain was working of the FMS fuel readings. Quite important for my personal wellbeing as I worked on a lot of the software on the A300/310 FQIS for Smiths in the early 80s and I'm not sure if my household insurance covers this sort of thing..........

Back breathing again....

Can't work out why the Captain would work just off the FMS when he would have clear FQIS read-outs showing fuel burning away at a hell of a rate (plus fuel flow readings to back this up if he got his pocket calculator out). While the landing sounds like great airmanship he does seem to have been "foolhardy" to get in that position in the first place. Can't believe anyone would use the "I'll make it to the next service station" technique I use on motorways at 25,000 ft!

The FO bit sounds more like 70s/80s flight deck management issues than what I'd expect to see now (well 5 years ago).

As for putting the guy through the courts - I can't see what it serves.

Still Joe Public likes a hanging
:( :(

square leg
7th May 2004, 21:48
I THINK that the "E" on the fuel tank gauge was misinterpreted as "ENOUGH" instead of "EMPTY".

7th May 2004, 22:48
The Capitan Hannover's Court

The Capitan of Hapag-Lloyd's A-310 who realized an emergency landing in July, 2000 on having remained without fuel in Vienna, has appeared before Hannover's court accused of a crime rash recklessness. In case of being condemned it faces a between six months and ten years.

Review of the flight

The flight 3378 went out from Khania, Greece, to them 10.59h with destination Hannover. In the moment to re-bring the landing gear they could not, due to a problem with the principal right train. The crew decided to continue the flight with the widespread landing gear and they requested to the control to turn to Munich. As the flight was advancing with the calculations of the FMS (computer of I approach that between other missions it calculates in real time the consumptions and requirements of fuel), there was adopted the decision to turn aside to the airport of Vienna since, according to these calculations there was no sufficient fuel to come to the second destination, Munich. In the approximation to Schwechat's airport (Vienna) to 4.000 ' of altitude, both engines stopped (due to the lack of fuel) not being able to reach the runway, and remaining to 500 meters of the threshold runway 34. For fortune, none was necessary to be sorry about human loss.


7th May 2004, 23:09
How sorrow...for fortune none was necessary to be sorry about translation. Better than my crime rash German, however.

Remember to land on the head-board;)

8th May 2004, 14:57
It looks like a babelfish translation from Spanish or Portuguese. "Head Board" would be "Cabecera" or "Cabeceira" which also translates as "Threshold". "Track" is "Pista", which also means "Strip". And "Sorrow" is "Pena" which also means "Sentence". All of which I'm sure you already know:O

10th May 2004, 08:44
Did the crew have a paper flight log, or was it all done via computer ? If it's all computerised, surely there must be some method of checking gross errors on fuel. If you go overhead point "A" with enough fuel, point "B" with a little less than you need, and point "C" with a lot less than you need, don't mental alarm bells start going off ? Presumably before the thing became a glider, there were fuel low level alerts. How much fuel remaining once they are displayed ?

As regards the F.O., I would hope that anyone I fly with would firstly stop me from getting even close to this position, and secondly, if I was "commanding" enough to force the issue, would take control. Not an easy decision I know, but better than being flown into a hole.

Passenger 9
10th May 2004, 10:02
Well hallo all you professional pilot types out there.

Yes I am a pilot too.

BUT, when I am a passenger too, I DO expect to the two guys at the sharp end of the bus to get it right.

How many pilots out there think of the 1 to 350 or so passengers behind them when flying.

Please remember you are not just flying around in a nice plane.

Get up, walk back 10 or so meters to where the people who really pay you are sitting and have a look around, then in a loud voice say to them.
"The gear wont go up and we may run out of fuel before we land. What do you all think, shall I divert and suffer big embarrassment or shall we crash with no risk of fire and I'll just say the FMS was wrong?"

Get real guys, be professional aviators for a change.

Send him to jail. Thats what I say send him to jail.

Oh and promote the Copilot to Cpt. and then demote him for not being strong enough in expressing him point of view and averting the crash.

Oh and to all the rest of you out there, thanks for all the times you get it right.

Passenger 9 has spoken.

Right Way Up
10th May 2004, 12:53
"As these are anonymous forums the origins of the contributions may be opposite to what may be apparent. In fact the press may use it, or the unscrupulous, to elicit certain reactions."

I guess I'll leave passenger 9 post well alone then.

10th May 2004, 16:58
RWU - I'm with Passenger9 in his sentiments, albeit somewhat forceful. What difficulty (as a pilot) do you have with it?

Right Way Up
10th May 2004, 18:59

"Get real guys, be professional aviators for a change"

Still not biting!

11th May 2004, 18:34
Captain has been found guilty today of "bringing the plane to a near-catastrophe" and "endangering the life of 150 passengers." He has been sentenced to 6 months jail on probation.

12th May 2004, 05:41
Those Masons amongst you are hereby cordially invited to damn the severity of this sanction. :ok:

12th May 2004, 07:35
with considerable time as a trainer on A310 i insist that despite the FMS fuel predictions must be checked against 'paper' values in normal circumstances, and basic data (FF, FQI) used during non std config.

on 'normal' flights there is a discrepancy between fuel predictions and flight plan values which null out as the flight progreses. this despite the perf factors being incorporated in the FMC, this for instance could cause problems when checking trip fuels for lower levels.

observing the fuel predictions during a long hold (1 hr +) can be quite instructive - the values keep changing, and much more than expected changes due to changes in holding altitude.

i do remember being told to trust the equipment' many aeons ago, i guess the manufacturer has probably moved away from the simplistic 'trust the equipment' statement especially on these early glass cockpit aircraft.

12th May 2004, 10:24
Seeing Passenger9's hypothetical question to the passengers ("The gear wont go up and we may run out of fuel before we land. What do you all think, shall I divert and suffer big embarrassment or shall we crash with no risk of fire and I'll just say the FMS was wrong?") makes me think of a few others - e.g. Kegworth:

"We seem to have an engine on fire, not sure which, so we'll shut one down - no sir, please don't look out of the window and tell us it's the wrong one - and now we could divert to the nearest airport and do a high circuit and approach so we are within gliding range all the time, or we could fly on hopefully to East Midlands where it's much more convenient for maintenance, and when we get there go real low, out of gliding range, because a 3 degree approach is so much more comfortable".

And no doubt something along those lines could be constructed for what became the "Atlantic Glider" incident, Staines Trident, and some others.

Two things occur to me from such incidents, in addition to the CRM stuff etc. others have pointed to. One is, most people make mistakes sometimes, rarely on purpose, but we humans are fallible. I suppose we have to have some system which draws a crude and variable line between a slap on the wrist and being fired plus a prison sentence, and there is little point in fulminating over which is appropriate in this case. It's a tragedy for all concerned, whatever the legal process.

The other thing, however, is whether more could be done by aircraft and system designers, and their customers the airlines, to help avoid human errors or to spot them earlier and in many cases alert the person at the sharp end. After Kegworth, I was wondering why the reluctance to want or accept external CCTV to look at the plane from the outside and figure which engine is on fire (and if the wheels are really down or not, and other things which might be useful - make your own list). After the fire in the fuel tank caused by old wiring, why wasn't the technology in place to fill tanks with a mesh of wire wool or something (I saw a TV program demonstrating something, which largely or totally stopped fires - but the makers and airlines won't have it). After Manchester, why wont the airlines have bags for passengers to put over their heads while escaping to avoid being poisoned by smoke fumes? And why have poisonous plastic in the seats etc. anyway? Why does the RAF have rear facing seats which save many injuries in crashes, but makers/airlines won't because passenger comfort and appeal are thought to make forward facing preferable? Try constructing the hypothetical questions for these and putting them to passengers!

I guess I know the answers most of the time - short term profits are thought better than long term lawsuits and compensation that might not happen.

But are the cost/weight/passenger appeal decisions drawn in the right places vs compensation potential and (dare I say it) what is morally right? Are enough "what could go wrong - what could we do about it?" questions put, and correctly answered, in design and specification stages? (I.e., more FMEA - Failure Mode Effect and Analysis - with a bit wider brief that just the mechanical functioning of parts or systems.)

By the way, I am not sheltering behind anonymity - the N is for Nicholas, and I'm a BGA regional safety officer and easily contacted. No flames please, my questions are seriously meant, even if apparently stupid to some.

Chris N.

12th May 2004, 15:22
No flames please, my questions are seriously meant, even if apparently stupid to some.

Although a bit off the core topic of this thread, I don´t find your questions stupid at all.

Most of your questions touch one of the major aspects of my current work. "Why won´t..?", "Why does not...?" etc., all these whys have a lot to do with the way a given society, or a system of experts for that matter, translates potential dangers into risk. Now note: there is a difference between danger and risk. The concept is as follows: Only when a given danger is "decoded" or "deciphered" into risk, it can be calculated, handled, coped with, avoided, etc. The culture of this "risk translation" is, therefore, crucial to avoid or cope with dangers/hazards in the first place. Disaster will occur when this translation or decoding process goes wrong, or does not take place. So much for the theory.

Now you are argueing that "short term profits are thought better than long term lawsuits". You might be right, but the main problem is: it ain´t so simple. In order to have a successful danger-risk-translation, you need "transmitters" = people or institutions powerful enough to
a) notice a potential hazard
b) initiate danger-risk-translation
c) thereby find a code that is
....... i) understood
....... ii) accepted by a given society or expert system
d) enforce adequate danger-avoiding measures which are based on that translation process.

Who and where are these institutions, and are they powerful enough? Rhetorical question!
(However, in the aviation sector (I don´t want to use the fashionable term "industry") and its expert system it is at least reassuring to know that some of the world´s most efficient danger-avoiding-systems are in place.)

It´s interesting that the general danger-risk-concept can also be applied to what apparently happened in the cockpit of that ill-fated flight. Danger-risk decoding went wrong, and no powerful tool/institution/process/procedure was available in time to alter the outcome.

All, please excuse this long post and its rather general contents. Thought that discussing that concept might stimulate some new ideas...

Lu Zuckerman
12th May 2004, 16:41
To: chrisN

in design and specification stages? (I.e., more FMEA - Failure Mode Effect and Analysis - with a bit wider brief that just the mechanical functioning of parts or systems.)

The requirements for the Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analyses (FMECA) set down in the product assurance section of the A-310 specification required the vendors to examine their respective elements down to the smallest element within the component including screws and lock wire. This was done to get Canadian certification.

Not all of the vendors complied with this requirement and one major supplier of a critical unit in the flap slat system didn’t even bother to perform an FMECA because it was too time consuming and it cost too much. This unit failed on the first revenue flight of the A-310. This same manufacturer did not properly support the manufacturer and supplier of the flap drive system and as such the flaps were certified on the basis of inadequate testing. BAe was fully aware of all of this but did nothing.

So much for ‘Pilots trust your equipment”.

:E :E

Willit Run
12th May 2004, 17:31
When all else fails use the FMC, In my book, that stands for Frickin Mental Calculation. You know, the ole number 2 pencil and arithmatic still works pretty well!

13th May 2004, 11:34
>>>If they didn't then what is the point of having dispatch? Is it not to have a second set of eyes looking over the flight crews shoulder? Well if that second set of eyes was pushing them, then it would be better not to have them at all!

I've been intentionally staying out of this thread (up until now) as I wanted to wait until the final accident report was released, but the gent's questions above from a couple of pages back in the thread require a couple of comments and observations.

All airline dispatch schemes are NOT alike. Certainly, every airline operation has individuals that work their computers to produce computer flight plans, and also file with ATC and handle W+B issues, but the names for these individuals can be varied. Assuming they may be called "dispatchers" at some places, their functionality is often viewed as "clerical" in the context of initiating the flight. In many places, that's where the dispatcher's involvement ends, and the aircraft essentially becomes a "fire-and-forget" instrument.

In the USA, FAR Part 1 defines "operational control" as the exercise of authority over initiating, conducting, and terminating a flight. Under Part 121 Domestic/Flag rules here, the aircraft dispatcher plans the flight in the customary ways, generating a flight release signed by both the dispatcher and PIC, with the signatures indicating their joint concurrence that the flight can be accomplished safely as planned. Deviation from the plan requires that concurrence be re-established.

All the above covers the "initiating" aspect of operational control here, but the policies, procedures, and authorities dealing with the "conducting" and "terminating" aspects of operational control are not widely used outside the USA. Here, a dispatcher keeps the PIC updated, and should a problem arise, is also there as a crew resource in dealing with the problem itself. If, in the rare event, that a PIC's plan of action handling a problem is deemed unsafe by the dispatcher, the dispatcher also has an ability to independently declare an emergency and terminate the flight short of the original destination, if need be. Anyone is interested can check out FAR 121.557(b) -AND- 121.627(a).

As far as "pushing" a PIC/crew to do something, the scheme here in the USA under FAR 65 dictates that aircraft dispatchers be trained and licensed by the FAA, and the dispatcher certificate here is about 98% common to the PIC's ATP, the difference being purely flying-related items. The license is a requirement to work, just as the pilot needs their ATP to fly.

Whether someone is a dispatcher "over there" under whatever non-US Part 121 rules, or over here, operating under Part 121, "pushing" a PIC/crew is unacceptable, and has the added risk of license sanctions here, which the dispatcher here needs to work. Not saying that it -never- happens, even here, but there is less incentive to do so than in non-licensure situations because of the potential sanctions.

IMHO, the US Part 121 Domestic/Flag type of dispatch system provides the highest level of decisionmaking cross-checks possible. The fact that other individuals around the globe are called "dispatchers" but are possibly not operating with any legal authorities or responsibilities in the "conducting" or "terminating" realms of operational control is a more systemic problem, and as such don't accurately lend themselves to such statements as "what is the point of having dispatch? Is it not to have a second set of eyes looking over the flight crews shoulder?"

Currently, it's an apples and oranges comparison. If the standards were the same, one could indeed make a direct comparison. Until then, no...

Personally, I think the issue of improved operational control standards will be an issue discussed in the final Hapag-Lloyd report, but I guess we'll know soon enough..

Lu Zuckerman
13th May 2004, 13:41
To: chrisN

I just pulled the FMEA for the Command Sensor Unit (CSU) and it consists of 234 A size pages not including the cover sheet. If I remember correctly the FMEA for the Power Control Unit (PCU) was twice that of the CSU FMEA.

By contrast the FMEA for the Flap Slat Computer was ten pages or somewhere near that amount.

The Flap Slat Computer is a thousand times more complex than the CSU and they crammed the FMEA into ten or so pages. That Flap Slat Computer is riding on every A-310.

:E :E

13th May 2004, 18:00
Lu Z, EDDNH, SeniorD, thanks for your postings - very informative.

Lu, maybe it's inevitable that FMEA's (or FMECA's if that is now the vogue terminology) will be done down to more detail by some design teams than others. I would expect some standardisation of approach to be sought by corporate policies, training, etc. and your post suggest that was aimed for but not delivered. The refusal of a contractor to comply seems bizarre, as does the prime manufacturer and subsequently presumably the certification authorities accepting that situation.

SeniorD, the USA version of dispatcher sounds like a positive contribution to the danger-risk-solution process crystallised by EDDNHopper. Seems to me a pity it is not more universal. I would guess (again) that it is perceived (if thought about at all) by others as another up-front cost with uncertain future returns.

So the issues seem to me still to be that danger/risk management is all too often imperfectly performed and with widely varying effectiveness (FME[C]A is a special case of this wider concept, I think); and some people - individuals, corporations, even regulatory bodies, exhibit this variable approach. I remain convinced that where technology (and now I would add some formal processes) could help, it is often resisted for short term cost reasons among others.

13th May 2004, 20:01
And to think it could all have been avoided with some choice words in the Captain's ear from a professional Flight Engineer. :E


13th May 2004, 23:23
Quite agree my friend,

The beancounters decided to remove the 3rd set of eyes (and ears!) from the flight deck, and no doubt produced reams of statistics on paper to prove that the cost saving was worthwhile.

Anybody who has flown with a professional Flight Engineer, or with a 3 Pilot flight deck, will know that those statistics were flawed.

Just my opinion of course.


Lu Zuckerman
14th May 2004, 00:47
To: chrisN

There are FMEAs and FMECAs depending on the contract. The C in FMECA means Criticality. In the FMECA the analyst determines the criticality of the failure and if it will migrate upwards to the top level. The criticality level can range from I to IV with I being the most critical or from IV to I with IV being the most critical depending on if you are working a civil program or a military program. In the case of the A-310 program it was a specification requirement that the FMEA be taken to the very lowest level. All level 2 contractors complied with this requirement except the manufacturer of the Flap/Slat computer, which was the most critical component in the secondary flight control system.

Another requirement of the contract was that when a problem was uncovered relative to reliability, maintainability or systems safety Airbus had to be notified. I uncovered two major problems and carried them up to my management, the next level and then up to BAe. At the two lower levels the management would not tell Airbus of the problems because they did not want to incur the cost of the modification. The top level (BAe) said they sympathized with my problem but they could not help. They were responsible for the certification of the wing. The two lower levels of management felt that if Airbus discovered the problem they would write a change order paying for the change. Airbus never discovered the problem because they never tested for it.

I worked on another program where the department manager in a pique decided that there would be no catastrophic failures in the FMECA. This meant that the Safety Hazards Analyses did not consider catastrophic failures. This aircraft was certified in the USA, Italy, Canada and the UK and it has suffered several catastrophic failures all of which had been removed from the FMEAs.

Shall I continue?

:E :E

14th May 2004, 16:57
Lu Z, see your pm's. Regards - Chris.

14th May 2004, 17:10
And to think it could all have been avoided with some choice words in the Captain's ear from a professional Flight Engineer

Tyro/exeng - do you think it would have made any difference? I understand there were 'choice words' from the F/O!

I grant it would have been easier to overpower him and restrain him in his seat with 2:D

To the experts: Whatever 'exotic' programmes there beasties do or do not have, and regardless of whether it was working on 'programmed fuel burn' or 'actual', would it not have shown a decreasing amount at planned destination and eventually 'not enough'? That surely is the change that focusses our minds.

15th May 2004, 03:42
Suspect it wouldn't have made a difference, BOAC, expect el Capitan was of the opinion...don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.:sad: