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Fast Jet Display Safety

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Fast Jet Display Safety

Old 15th Aug 2018, 19:21
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Fast Jet Display Safety

Whilst watching a video of the tragic fatal loss in September 2017 of an Italian Air Force Typhoon at an air display, I wondered if there could be a system developed for use during display flying that could have avoided such a crash and fatality. The crash does not appear to be a failure of the aircraft but due to pilot incapicitation or error. In watching this tragedy a couple of things came to mind: -

1) The aircraft systems had data that if utilised would show that the crash was approaching.
2) A fast jet pilot on the ground would probably have seen that crash coming a significant time before it happened.
3) A ground based system comparing the intended display with the actual display (e.g. via radar or onboard GPS data, inertial, etc.) would be able to spot significant deviations from the intended display and generate warnings.

With all of todays technology could not a system be produced around these points that could have avoided the crash and fatality? Both onboard and ground based systems. * I stress that these systems would only be used for display flying *.

A)
ONBOARD SYSTEM (Automatic initiation of crash avoidance or of crew escape)
The aircraft systems know what the aircraft is doing and what it is capable of doing. Put this data together with knowledge of where the ground is and that is the basis of a ground avoidance system.

Once the aircraft detects that a crash inducing position is fast approaching, would it be acceptable to have automatic initiation of recovery to a safe attitude?
If a crash is unavoidable, is it acceptable to have the aircraft automatically initiate ejection at the last second?

B)
GROUND BASED SYSTEM (Monitoring of air display and generation of warnings)
Pilot on the ground acts as observer and can command the display pilot to abort any manoeuvre.
This could be assisted by utilising point 3), a ground based system displaying warnings of deviations from the intended display (height, speed, etc.).

I have no experience of flying or of air display procedures and requirements. It just seems doubly tragic to see a pilot killed in such a way while surrounded by technology that potentially could have been utilised to have saved him.

The history of pilots staying with a doomed aircraft in a bid to save it goes back to the dawn of aviation and will continue until the end.
With advanced fast jets being both highly sophisticated and immensely expensive is it now not viable to spend the money to utilise the technology to make an advanced safety system to avoid these tragedies.

It would be of great help to get comments from fast jet pilots on the viability of such systems.
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Old 15th Aug 2018, 19:29
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With advanced fast jets being both highly sophisticated and immensely expensive is it now not viable to spend the money to utilise the technology to make an advanced safety system to avoid these tragedies.
...or indeed stop display flying.
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Old 15th Aug 2018, 21:16
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Wingless Walrus, without close scrutiny, much of what you say is true and has merit. However Google Mulhouse Crash.

I think that answers the question.
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Old 15th Aug 2018, 21:28
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I doubt that anyone would pay to write special software JUST for displays so you would have to work with normal flight envelope protection. As PN says this probably caused the Mulhouse accident. More recently I heard of a pilot displaying a modern fast jet who was demonstrating a dirty slow speed pass at low level past the crowd. The software decided that he was too slow, so what did it do? Lowered the nose!

Last edited by Timelord; 15th Aug 2018 at 21:50.
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Old 15th Aug 2018, 22:01
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Companies that make fighter aircraft put their efforts in to making the most lethal aircraft they can within their budget. Why would they spend a certain amount of their budget on protecting display pilots when it is not required in the mission set or the aircraft requirements. Yes it would make display flying safer, of that there is no doubt. Would it sell more fighters or give it the edge in some kind of competition? Almost certainly not, so they take that money and put it in to developing better sensors,weapons and avionics for fighting.

Display flying is a by product of fighter design. Love it or hate it, it is the way Business works.

Cheers,

Mr Vice.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 00:34
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Wouldn't that automatic fly-up software thingy that the Swedish use and the Spams have tried do the job?
Or are most airshow sequences inside it's "...don't do that, I'm taking over control..." envelope?
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 02:49
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Might as well have the safety system fly the display.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 08:05
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That manoeuvre starts going wrong the moment the pilot decides to pull a loop without enough altitude.

KKoran is spot on. Sadly, by the time my kids have kids, I suspect that most national air forces will compose of a tame, and heavily protected historic flight, and a deployable force of UAVs in every role from A2A, through strike and recce, to transport. We are in the last decade or two of fast jets being flown with humans in the driving seat. Why bother writing software to protect against incompetence?
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 13:02
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How does one pull a loop without enough altitude?
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 13:12
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Originally Posted by Runaway Gun View Post
How does one pull a loop without enough altitude?
By starting to pull up into the loop from a height that would result in a heavy landing/arrival ?

It's basic stuff, surely. Or, am I misunderstanding the question?
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 13:26
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Originally Posted by AnglianAV8R View Post
By starting to pull up into the loop from a height that would result in a heavy landing/arrival ?

It's basic stuff, surely. Or, am I misunderstanding the question?
Iím with Runaway Gun on this one. Itís basic stuff, for sure.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 13:38
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Grrr

Originally Posted by Peter G-W View Post


Iím with Runaway Gun on this one. Itís basic stuff, for sure.
Ah, perhaps I misunderstood the tone of his question. Maybe he meant " How on earth does anyone consciously pull into a loop from a height that makes it impossible" ?
If so, I concur. The sky is perfectly safe, so long as you keep away from the edge.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 14:07
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Originally Posted by AnglianAV8R View Post
If so, I concur. The sky is perfectly safe, so long as you keep away from the edge.
That's the truth. Nicely put.
Watch the video.

Even as a low-hours Cessna driver, I can tell it's going to go horribly wrong from about 00.20. And I bet the poor pilot knew it from before that.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 14:50
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I saw this with horror at the time, and wondered why no ejection attempt was made (incapacitation excepted)? I accept that the sink rate may have been outside of the seat parameters, but surely it was worth taking the chance? Given the obvious alternative. I'm not aware of any BOI findings on this incident-it may be covered in there. Apologies if this is the case.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 14:54
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Originally Posted by Timelord View Post
I doubt that anyone would pay to write special software JUST for displays so you would have to work with normal flight envelope protection. As PN says this probably caused the Mulhouse accident. More recently I heard of a pilot displaying a modern fast jet who was demonstrating a dirty slow speed pass at low level past the crowd. The software decided that he was too slow, so what did it do? Lowered the nose!
I believe that on certain FJ displays now, the undercarriage is lowered during their high alpha low speed passes, to prevent the automatic systems kicking in to lower the nose, as the computer thinks the aircraft is in landing configuration and hence wont activate the flight envelope protection system.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 14:56
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As my Boscombe tp mate said: looping at low altitude is very dangerous. Think about it, it starts at low level and fast. The loop is entered with much stick-pulling and unless the top half has the same (or less) radius, you will crash. It's the top half that will kill you.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 16:08
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Simple-enter the loop at 5000 feet.Never failed me yet.Bit dull for folks on the ground though.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 16:14
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It's called proper training and situational awareness. Technology is not required.

I didn't have any in my jet display days.
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 16:42
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Funnily enough Dook a Lightning pilot talked me through my first loop from the front seat of a Chipmunk in 1984.All went well until I felt the stick wrenched from my hands as I almost entered a second loop at about 90 knots.Didn't know where the hell I was
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Old 16th Aug 2018, 17:05
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It's the top half that will kill you.
You are right there fantom. A couple of us were the closest people to 'that' Typhoon loop at RIAT. Between us, maybe 60 years of watching displays and as he started to pull over the top we both turned on our heels and ran, quite sure that we would hear an awefull noise and feel the heat. We didn't, thankfully, but even before he had reached the critical point we just knew it was going to end in tears. We were about 20' out in our estimationand the pilot walked away.
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