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Mt Erebus Disaster 40th Anniversary

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Mt Erebus Disaster 40th Anniversary

Old 23rd Nov 2019, 00:25
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by tail wheel View Post
If any post is contrary to the rules or the thread becomes unnecessarily vexatious it will be appropriately moderated or closed, like any other PPRuNe thread.

It is 40 years since the Erebus disaster, we all have 20/20 vision in retrospect, history can't be changed. Remember those who were lost or suffered but it is time to move on.
That's what I was alluding to, well said Taily:-)
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 17:38
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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Am I one of the two contemptuous posters that Megan refers to? If so, I take that as a compliment.

A question for the handwringers out there who babble on about air safety whenever this topic gets too difficult for them: Was Captain Collins blameless? Of course not, yet that is exactly what Mahon found. That does not advance the cause of air safety at all. It has the opposite effect. For example, how is air safety advanced by allowing a pilot to fly visually into an area that the pilot knows that he will not be able to see the terrain. (I could go on, and on, and on.)

Last edited by ampan; 23rd Nov 2019 at 17:56.
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 01:47
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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(I could go on, and on, and on.)
No Need; just reread previous posts
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 02:13
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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Visual Illusions: The Ground May Be Closer Than It Appears

Prevent controlled flight into terrain in flat light and whiteout conditions

The problem Flight operations in geographic areas that are susceptible to flat light and whiteout conditions can lead to accidents, as visual references are greatly reduced for pilots.

• Flat light occurs when the sky is overcast, especially over snow-covered terrain and large bodies of water. In flat light conditions, no shadows are cast and terrain features and other visual cues are masked, making it difficult for pilots operating under visual flight rules (VFR) to perceive depth, distance, or altitude. The photograph in this figure shows how these conditions combine to create an environment where it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the sky from the ground.

• Similarly, whiteout conditions can occur in areas with snow cover. Pilots can experience a loss of depth perception and become spatially disoriented, unable to maintain visual reference with the ground and unaware of their actual altitude. Related accidents The NTSB has investigated many general aviation (GA) accidents involving flat light or whiteout conditions. These accidents serve as important reminders about the critical need to ensure that pilots are aware of the challenges associated with these operating conditions and are adequately prepared for safe operations. The following accident summaries help to highlight the issues involved.

• An Airbus AS350B2 helicopter sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain following a loss of control while landing. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, reported that the weather was deteriorating and he encountered an area with flat light conditions over snow-covered ground. As the visibility decreased, he Figure. Photograph of an accident site showing the visual effects of flat light and snow-covered terrain SA-052 slowed the helicopter and stayed low to the ground; he reported that blowing snow from the main rotor downwash reduced the visibility to whiteout conditions with no ground reference.

• A Bell 206L-1 helicopter sustained substantial damage following the commercial pilot’s attempted precautionary landing due to poor visibility conditions. The pilot reported that while flying over an area of flat and featureless, snow-covered terrain, deteriorating weather conditions with low ceilings, light snow, and flat light conditions reduced his visibility. He said that, while attempting to land, blowing snow from the main rotor downwash reduced his ability to discern topographical features on the snow-covered terrain. During touchdown, the helicopter drifted to the left, the left skid struck the snow-covered terrain, and the helicopter rolled onto its left side.

• A Cessna 182B airplane, being operated on a cross-country flight that included flying through a narrow mountain pass, sustained substantial damage when it collided with mountainous, snow-covered terrain. The commercial pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The typical route through the pass required making multiple turns, and the pass intersected with a box canyon. The airplane’s wreckage was located at the bottom of the box canyon a day after the airplane was reported overdue. A friend of the pilot, who attempted to cross the mountain pass the day of the accident, reported flat light conditions and difficulty discerning terrain features. Another pilot who flew through the mountain pass on the morning of the accident reported 4,400-foot ceilings, severe turbulence, and flat light conditions.

• An Aviat A1-A airplane, being operated on a cross-country flight under VFR, sustained substantial damage after colliding with snow-covered ice (a frozen drainage reservoir). The commercial pilot, the sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. The pilot reported that he intended to overfly an airstrip without landing and that flat light conditions hampered his ability to judge his relative distance to the ground. He further stated that he did not realize he was descending over the snow-covered terrain until he impacted the snow.

What can pilots do?

• If possible, look for, use, and don’t lose sight of multiple visual reference points.

• Obtain an instrument rating and become proficient and comfortable with operating in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Trust the cockpit instruments and develop good cross-check practices.

• Understand that the ability to judge the height and determine the contour of terrain is difficult in conditions where the sky and ground (or water) are similar in colour. When landing on snow-covered terrain, conduct an overflight and consider using weighted flags or other markers that can be dropped from an aircraft and provide contrast. Shorelines may also provide needed contrast.

• If you regularly fly in snowy conditions, become proficient and comfortable with taxiing, taking off, landing, and conducting en route manoeuvres and go-arounds in areas with snow. If visibility drops, use your instruments and land at the nearest suitable airport.
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 05:46
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Dark Knight View Post


No Need; just reread previous posts
interesting stats, oddly enough all the categories bar one (medical, well maybe not) can come under the one heading "poor judgement"!
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 08:17
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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In 1983 a British Airways S61 Helicopter on the regular scheduled flight from Penzance to St Marys (Isles of Scilly) crashed into the water on let down on a warm moist foggy/misty July Saturday morning.
23 were killed - 6 got out.
Haze limited their forward visibility so that they could not see the horizon, they were confident it was in excess of the VFR minimum of 200' ceiling.
Both pilots thought that the plane was still at 250 feet, though one of the passengers, a local, said that the cabin attendant had told her they were flying at around 100 feet shortly before the crash.
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 10:27
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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Erebus Flight 901 is a good listen, seems to point the finger all the way to the top (Piggy).

White Silence delves a whole lot deeper, some of the same people interviewed but more in depth.

What an absolute tragedy for a small nation, an airline that punches significantly above it's weight. I'll travel any day of the week with this mob, above a wanka airline that trades on 'safety' but is a hairs breath away from 'there but the grace of god go I'

It's extremely sad listening to the Captain's widow and oldest daughter.

Don't any of you toss bags spoil this thread. Whilst all of us 'know' about this tragedy, none of us 'know'
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 23:32
  #28 (permalink)  
 
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Ttere's no mystery at all about this accident. It was another example of controlled flight into terrain. As with most of these accidents, the main cause was pilot error. That INS was also a cause, but only a secondary cause. A failure of one navigational aid should not cause a crash.

The real mystery is how an obvious case of pilot error, once put through the New Zealand legal system, was turned into a finding that the Captain was blameless. Is anyone game enough or stupid enough to agree with that?
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Old 24th Nov 2019, 23:53
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by ampan View Post
Ttere's no mystery at all about this accident. It was another example of controlled flight into terrain. As with most of these accidents, the main cause was pilot error. That INS was also a cause, but only a secondary cause. A failure of one navigational aid should not cause a crash.

The real mystery is how an obvious case of pilot error, once put through the New Zealand legal system, was turned into a finding that the Captain was blameless. Is anyone game enough or stupid enough to agree with that?
Because Mahon found that the Air NZ Navigation section changed the flight plan but didn't specifically tell the operating crew.

Captain Collins spent sometime plotting the previous tracks, which led past Erebus instead of right into it, so that he had a mental picture of where he would be.

To my mind Brick Lucas should not have been removed to the cabin to make room for Peter Mulgrew whose presence on the flight deck must have been a distraction.

Remember that Mahon's "orchestrated litany of lies" was directed at Air NZ management, not at anyone else.
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 02:11
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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Quite simply - the questions have not been answered.


My questions, said without emotion or provocation, quite simply are these;

Why did both Air New Zealand and the Air New Zealand Government lie? If the PIC is the sole root cause of this accident, then the evidence would overwhelmingly and categorically have supported that supposition. It didn’t. But why the lies from the Government and airline if the PIC was the root cause?

Why was Capt. Collins home broken into after the accident and crucial documents stolen? Who would sponsor such a devious and covert act of dishonesty? Again, if Capt. Collins was the sole root cause of the accident, why would a burglary and theft of evidence be orchestrated? For what purpose?

Why did the Erebus disaster trigger a chain of events from which the anomaly of ‘white out’ was robustly studied and new and improved systems, policies and training was the end result, which has improved safety, exposed the hazard of ‘white out’ and enabled airlines to mitigate the risk. Why bother to do that if the sole root cause was Capt. Collins flying skills, not the snow covered mountain.

I am not denying that there were multiple failures on that fateful day and James Reason’s Swiss cheese holes sadly and regretfully lined up. There is almost always multiple causal factors surrounding and connected to the main root cause of an accident. But it is the actions of Air New Zealand the Government that have left such a bitter and palpable taste in the mouths of the families and friends of several hundred people killed. In fact the legacy and pain of that day does continue down to this day and it personally affects many many hundreds of people, if not more. I find it abhorrent that some people continue to say ‘forget it’, ‘leave it be’, ‘don’t rehash it’. That’s a bit hard when a criminal act has never had the criminal brought to justice, and the loved ones of those whose lives were taken have not received full closure as a result of the coverup and malfeasance.
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 03:15
  #31 (permalink)  
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I see the Black Caps are well on top of the Poms in the 1st Test match.
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 03:49
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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To blame 100% on Air NZ is wrong, to blame Capt Collins 100% is wrong. No individual party is blameless here, on a sliding scale though with Air NZ at one end and the Crew at the other it will always be a matter of opinion where the blame falls. In my opinion the strongest evidence that the crew played a relatively small part in the accident is the fact that Air NZ and the Government went to such great lengths to obscure, hide or wipe from history the systemic failures that lead to the crew being set up to fail. It would have been an extraordinary act of airmanship to have been sitting there plotting your course when nothing would have given cause for concern for the first 4 hours. My biggest learning from this incident is that if ANY one on the flight deck starts making comments like ‘I can’t see this’, ‘I don’t like this’ ‘the rad alt is descending’ then I am going around immediately to sort it. Having said that I am almost certain that given the same variables it is highly likely I would have done exactly the same as this poor crew, we are lucky in that we have more information, experience and CRM training built off the back of many unfortunate accidents. Our best tribute to this crew would be to try and learn something from he whole situation.
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 20:14
  #33 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks to this thread I've taken a renewed interest in this air disaster and started listening to the podcast. My wife joined me in my listen and raised the following concern: This crew flew all the way from NZ to Antarctica to find themselves at destination in clouds with a ceiling of 1500' and, onboard, 250+ fare paying passengers whose only purpose was the experience of seeing the ice. Throughout the crew training, passenger expectations beyond departing/arriving on time and a smooth landing are usually not the main concerns. This flight however was different as seeing Mt Erebus could admittedly be considered the crux of the whole flight, the reason passengers paid extra for their tickets, thus adding to the pressure of the crew. I want to tread carefully here as I've read that both pilots had extensive experience and were held in high regard by their peers. Without questioning their decision making skills, had the airline briefed them or given explicit instructions on the required course of actions to take should conditions at Ross Island be marginal? If not and therefore left at the captain's discretion, one could hypothesise that the PIC could have had a chain of thoughts along this: "The current conditions don't favour flying below LSALT, so my training and experience dictate that I should remain at 16,000' and head back home, as I would on any other flight. However I'm in a radar environment and the passengers' expectation is to see Mt Erebus, hence I'll make the call to descend below clouds. Otherwise I might face backlash from the airline if they all come home having paid this much for their tickets and seen nothing".

Therefore my question: Did Air New Zealand issue explicit directions to follow if conditions at destination precluded seeing the volcano?
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 22:04
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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There was an alternative route, to the South Magnetic Pole. The alternative route was available if the bad weather was known about before getting to Cape Hallett. After Cape Hallett, the captain had a free hand as to the track and could go to other areas. While heading towards McMurdo Station after passing Cape Hallett, Captain Collins was informed of the bad weather at McMurdo Station.. He was just about to go somewhere else when McMurdo Station offered him a radar- assisted descent. Collins gladly accepted the offer, announced the plan to the passengers, and waited for the radar operator to make contact. While waiting, Collins was told that the weather over the Dry Valleys was perfect. His response? "I prefer here first." So he kept on the track to McMurdo Station and he kept on trying to make contact with the radar operator. Then, he came to a large hole in the cloud layer, so without any discussion with his crew he started descending from 18000 feet in a figure-of-eight track. There had been no contact with the radar operator so there had been no confirmation of his position, but he got around this by pretending to be flying visually. The word "pretending" is accurate because Collins knew about white-out and knew that he would not have visual conditions below the cloud layer. What he was actually relying on was the aircraft's inertial navigation system - but the INS was not to be used to go below the height of a nearby mountain. Why? Because it might be wrong, and in this case, it was.
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 22:45
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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I could go on, and on, and on
And on, and on, and on, and on; Again, and again, and again, and again...........ad infinitum......

Changing Nothing
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 23:24
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That's a little bit better then a picture of rocks, but only a little bit. Why don't you try answering the question: Was the captain blameless?
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 23:57
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@ampman: Thanks for clarifying this. You seem to know heaps more about the subject than many a ppruner here. When you say:
The word "pretending" is accurate because Collins knew about white-out and knew that he would not have visual conditions below the cloud layer.
At that time of the year, what would you expect to see when looking straight down? Ice or water? Was there any chance that they could have distinguished the shoreline at Lewis Bay as they were approaching it or was it simply imperceptible?
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Old 26th Nov 2019, 00:11
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Lewis Bay at that time of year was mostly sea-ice, but you would be able to see the black parts where there were gaps in the ice. They may have been able to see those black parts as they flew towards the mountain at 1500 feet, but they could not see the mountain itself. Vette postulated that what they saw was an open expanse, just like the middle of McMurdo Sound would look like. Vette, however, had a barrow to push. What the captain actually saw was nothing. No horizon. Like being inside a ping pong ball. He should have climbed back out immediately. Instead, he carried on for 120 seconds. Count off 120 seconds. It's a lifetime. That was the last of a series of bad errors.

Last edited by ampan; 26th Nov 2019 at 01:23.
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Old 26th Nov 2019, 04:49
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Originally Posted by Dark Knight View Post
And on, and on, and on, and on; Again, and again, and again, and again...........ad infinitum......

Changing Nothing
Ad nauseum?
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Old 26th Nov 2019, 05:15
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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Was the captain blameless?
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