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"Trust this equipment" A310 Pilot

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"Trust this equipment" A310 Pilot

Old 5th May 2004, 05:36
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"Trust this equipment" A310 Pilot

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Arminger, whose flying licence was rescinded a year after the incident, told the court he had relied on data from the plane's flight management system (FMS) and thought the plane had more fuel.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
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Old 5th May 2004, 06:11
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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.
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Old 5th May 2004, 06:17
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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.
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Old 5th May 2004, 07:14
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Interesting to have such clearly defined " Masonic and non Masonic " perspectives.
I doubt a wooley hat and secret handshake will help in this case.
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Old 5th May 2004, 07:41
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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.

Last edited by BEagle; 5th May 2004 at 08:02.
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Old 5th May 2004, 08:23
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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.
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Old 5th May 2004, 08:32
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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?
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Old 5th May 2004, 09:11
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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)

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Old 5th May 2004, 09:20
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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.
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Old 5th May 2004, 09:40
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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" ?
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Old 5th May 2004, 10:27
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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??
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Old 5th May 2004, 11:04
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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."

 
Old 5th May 2004, 11:19
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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?
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Old 5th May 2004, 12:19
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The answer is simple.

411A is quite right. I really dont understand people clouding the issue. Only the truth matters, P1 made a poor decision.
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Old 5th May 2004, 12:48
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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.
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Old 5th May 2004, 13:27
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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...?!
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Old 5th May 2004, 14:42
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Cor Blimey

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.
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Old 5th May 2004, 15:00
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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.
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Old 5th May 2004, 15:10
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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)



Cheers,
Wino
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Old 5th May 2004, 16:01
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It pains me, but 411A is right here. NEVER trust a computer
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