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Silk Air MI 185 - Court commences in Singapore

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Silk Air MI 185 - Court commences in Singapore

Old 13th Jul 2001, 06:13
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An emergency descent gone wrong, says expert

Cockpit crew could have been acting to deal with a sudden loss of cabin pressure on board the fatefulflight, says SilkAir expert witness

By Alethea Lim

A SUDDEN loss of cabin pressure could have been the reason Flight MI 185 lost height, an aeronautical expert for SilkAir said yesterday.

The expert, Captain Robert Galan, said the pattern of rapid descent taken by the plane was consistent with what pilots would do in such an emergency, which is to bank away from the original cruising height of 35,000 feet and make an emergency descent to 10,000 feet.

But if the plane dived too steeply as a result of the emergency, it would have been impossible to regain control of the plane, he said.

Capt Galan, 64, a former French test pilot who has investigated more than 20 major aircraft accidents since 1994, is the first expert witness called by SilkAir to defend legal suits from families of six victims who perished in the MI 185 crash in Palembang, Indonesia, in December 1997.

The families claim that the plane was downed by 'intentional pilot action'.

Yesterday, Capt Galan said while he agreed that someone in the cockpit could have manually caused the plane to dive, this was done as a counter-measure to an emergency.

'It started as an emergency descent and the descent was right.

'The plane inadvertently went out of control and could not come back.

'For me, it was not deliberate,' he said.

The families' lawyer, Senior Counsel Michael Khoo, in his cross-examination, pointed out to Capt Galan that according to Boeing's flight manual, the emergency descent could have been carried out safely in a 'simple' three-step procedure.

Disagreeing, Capt Galan explained: 'It may be very easy in the book.

'We have to remember the actual conditions and we can't assume it is easy to do.'

He then cited an occasion when he and his co-pilot were flying in a simulator and were subjected to a sudden drop in cabin pressure.

'You are so afraid. There is no time to think and you try to descend,' he said.

Referring to MI 185 which fell from 35,000 to 19,500 feet in just 32 seconds, Mr Khoo said: 'It does not look like an emergency descent because it was three times the rate of a safe emergency descent.'

Replied Capt Galan: 'In the beginning it was and then...it lost control.'

He disagreed with Mr Khoo's suggestion that what the pilot did was 'reckless' or that the action which he carried out was done wrongly.

'There is no possibility of recklessness,' he said.

Suicide? It doesn't make sense

IF MI 185 pilot Tsu Way Ming had wanted to commit suicide, he would have done so on his first flight and not on the return leg, said French aeronautical expert Robert Galan.

Debunking the intentional-crash theory that was expounded by the experts of the crash victims' families, he said that if Capt Tsu, 41, had wanted to die, he would have crashed the plane when it left Singapore on Dec 19, 1997, and not waited until he departed from Jakarta later that day.

On the allegation that the captain had crashed the Boeing-737 into the Musi River in Palembang to hide evidence of the suicide, Capt Galan said that the man could not have plunged the plane deliberately into the river as it was then flying at 35,000 feet.

'In fact, if the alleged aim was to hinder effective recovery of the wreckage, crashing the aircraft at sea, which was along MI 185's flight path, would have made more sense,' he said.

While suicide was clearly ruled out in Capt Tsu's case, he cited three other air crashes to show how investigations had found that suicide was a possibility:

Last year, a pilot who had work problems crashed his plane and killed himself in Botswana. There were no passengers on board.

In 1994, a Royal Air Moroccan pilot burdened by family problems crashed his plane into the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, killing all 44 people on board.

In 1982, a pilot with mental troubles crashed his DC-8 plane into the sea near Japan. He survived, but 24 of his passengers died.

First Officer may have been alone

FIRST Officer Duncan Ward could have been the only pilot in the cockpit when SilkAir Flight MI 185 went into a dive during an emergency, Captain Robert Galan suggested yesterday.

The expert raised this possibility because the last voice recording in the cockpit indicated that Capt Tsu Way Ming had intended to leave the cock- pit.

The cockpit recorder next captured the sound of a seat belt being unbuckled. After that, the recording stopped.

While the official probe team did not establish if Capt Tsu actually left the cockpit, it found that it was First Officer Ward who had made the last radio transmission to Jakarta air-traffic control two minutes before the plane started to descend.

Based on the scenario that there was only one pilot in the cockpit then, Capt Galan said this pilot would have had great difficulty in handling the sudden drop in cabin pressure.

The 'workload' for him to make a recovery would be 'quite substantial', he said.

The situation could have been made even worse by the subsequent electrical failure in the plane's systems, he said.

Another expert, Professor Denis Howe, is expected to give his opinion on the cause of the power failure today.

12 July 2001 1246 hrs (GMT) 2046 hrs (SST) MediaCorp News

Cabin depressurisation caused SilkAir crash: defence witness
by Dominique Loh

A suicide attempt was a "highly unlikely cause" of the crash of MI 185, said a French aeronautical expert and former French Air Force fighter pilot in the SilkAir lawsuit.

Captain Robert Galan, who has more than 40 years' experience in aviation, was the first expert witness called by SilkAir's defence lawyer in the lawsuit being heard in the High Court.

Captain Galan said the most likely cause of the crash was cabin depressurisation, but he could not offer evidence from the final report to prove his point.

Captain Galan testified the initial dive profile looked normal when the plane started its descent.

But moments later, for whatever reason, the remaining dive profile looked like a badly executed emergency descent, he said.

Captain Galan also said an emergency descent is not an easy manoeuvre to perform.

He said there is no evidence why the flight crew executed an emergency descent and why the plane went into an unrecoverable nose dive.

He added that a former fighter pilot like himself would not "induce a dive by pushing the trim forward".

Instead, he would flip the aircraft upside-down and make a half-loop to dive quickly.

During cross- examination, the plaintiff's lawyer Michael Khoo asked Captain Galan how he would describe Captain Tsu Way Ming as a pilot, taking into consideration Captain Tsu's past incidents like the S-turns and the Manado incidents.

Captain Galan said that he considered Captain Tsu as a dangerous pilot and could not say that his flying was safe.

But during questioning by SilkAir's lawyer Lok Vi Ming, Captain Galan said looking at the CID report, there was no indication that Captain Tsu had any suicidal tendencies in the days leading up to the crash.

The defence will call their second witness to testify on Friday.

July 13, 2001 The Business Times

Court hears debate on possible pilot bungle

Beth Jinks

THE court hearing on the lawsuit against SilkAir turned its focus from possible pilot suicide to a debate on tragic pilot bungle.

French aeronautical expert Capt Robert Galan, testifying for the airline, put forward the theory that SilkAir flight MI 185 co-pilot Duncan Ward had attempted to execute a rapid descent after either suffering a loss of cabin pressure, or detecting a false sign of lost cabin pressure, and had lost control of the aircraft.

Yesterday was the first day of defence witness testimony on the SilkAir crash case.

Capt Galan said he believed from transcripts of the voice recorders that it was likely First Officer Ward was alone in the cockpit during the incident, a point he conceded could not be proved.

'If there was only one pilot in the cockpit, he would have to complete alone an emergency descent, and the fact that he was alone could explain why no emergency message was sent to ATC (air traffic control) as well as why the aircraft was flown inadvertently out of the normal flight envelope,' he said in his affidavit.

The witness is a test pilot with more than 40 years of flight experience involved in European certification of aircraft. He consults on pilot selection for airlines, working with psychologists on the 'human factors' in flying. Describing himself as a 'freelance' expert, Capt Galan has testified or given opinions on about 20 crash cases.

Referring to a diagram he created from radar data of the ill-fated flight's descent, Capt Galan insisted the first part of the dive was consistent with an attempt to drop to 10,000 feet, a textbook response when depressurisation is detected.

However, after lengthy cross examination where it was highlighted no bottled oxygen appeared to have been used - which would not have been the case in normal depressurisation scenarios - Capt Galan acknowledged there was 'no direct evidence' to back up his theory and at one point exclaimed in frustration 'there is no evidence' to prove any theory.

Plaintiff counsel also got the witness to admit that of the three standard steps necessary to successfully execute a safe rapid descent - reduce throttle, apply the speed break and aim down - the only one that the person controlling the plane managed to carry out was aim the nose down.

Arguing that the stressful situation could have confused the pilot, Capt Galan said the cockpit experience was very different from the instruction book, and added that about 20 per cent of simulated rapid descents were bungled by pilots he tested.

Building a case for recklessness, plaintiff counsel asked the collective experts to calculate the speed of descent from available data, and forced Capt Galan to admit the plane had been flown downwards at least double the safe, recommended speed almost from the first second of descent.

Capt Galan refused to concede either pilot had been suicidal, instead suggesting 'something went terribly wrong' when his proposed rapid descent was attempted.

The civil case was brought to court by the families of six of the 104 people killed when the 10-month-old Boeing 737 crashed en route to Singapore from Jakarta in December 1997. They are suing Singapore Airlines' regional subsidiary on the grounds that either reckless pilot behaviour or suicide caused the tragedy.

The case continues today.
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Old 13th Jul 2001, 15:32
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And today...Expert Witness says that the Original Radar Data was altered by the US investigators..

If I knew how to attach the report/article to this posting, I would. Unfortunately, my computor skills are a little limited..

I assume it will be posted here by someone else..

The plot thickens..
Old 13th Jul 2001, 15:57
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All this "emergency descent" stuff is a smokescreen surely. It is a basic piece of handling, either on AutoPilot or Manual. Shut the Throttles, Lower the nose , deploy the speedbrakes. If you have the time and the mental agility - turn off track to avoid traffic.

Anything below 15 degrees nose down is a no brainer and even the most retarded of pilots can do this simple thing. But the throttles get SHUT and the speedbrakes get DEPLOYED - always. There are lots of other things that pilots forget to do - but these two are quite instinctive. All other variations of configuration are offside.

Sorry - but all this "aerobatic trained pilots would roll and pull" crap doesn't wash a hanky. It takes very little to initiate a descent (in the pitch sense) and we all know that.

If this is the best the defense can field then it is a done deal for the good guys....

[ 13 July 2001: Message edited by: MasterGreen ]
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Old 13th Jul 2001, 20:10
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Does anybody know the email addresses of Mr Lok Vi Ming, Mr Ng Hwee Chong and Ms Joanna Foong, of SilkAir defense team or how I can contact them otherwise?

John Barry Smith
(831) 659-3552 phone
551 Country Club Drive,
Carmel Valley, CA 93924 www.corazon.com
[email protected]
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Old 13th Jul 2001, 20:34
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Latest News - Singapore
13 July 06:06PM -- Singapore Time

SilkAir radar data was altered, says expert

SINGAPORE -- A US investigation into the crash of a SilkAir jet altered crucial data before concluding the pilot deliberately put the plane into a death plunge, an expert witness told a Singapore Court on Friday.

Professor Denis Howe of the College of Aeronautics at Britain's Cranefield University, also disputed findings that the aircraft's stabiliser trim was in the maximum position for a nosedive.

Prof Howe, a veteran with 50-years experience in aeronautical engineering, was giving evidence for SilkAir which is being sued over a 1997 crash in which a Boeing 737 dived from 35,000 ft into an Indonesian river, killing all 104 people aboard.

The relatives of six victims claim the plunge was the deliberate action of a troubled pilot who should not have been at the controls.

The expert witness told the court that the failure of the plane's cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder and radar transponder during the final moments was due to 'progressive' power supply failure rather than an intentional act by the pilot.

He said the original radar data he obtained from SilkAir, a Singapore Airlines subsidiary, showed the jet initially fell at a speed consistent with an emergency descent before apparently spinning out of control.

That data differed significantly from the information used by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which assisted an Indonesian-led inquiry into the crash, and the plane manufacturer Boeing, which plotted a steep plunge.

'There appears to be significant discrepancy between the initial data of radar transponder responses that I had received when first briefed, and that reflected in the final report,' he said.

He said the NTSB had made 'corrections to the original data' but he did not know why.

The amended data 'reflects a steep descent almost immediately from 35,000 feet to 19,000 feet in about 32 seconds.'

This 'incidentally would be more consistent with the NTSB's hypothesis that the descent was due to intentional pilot action,' he said.

But based on calculations from the data he received, Prof Howe said the plane fell at a rate consistent with an emergency descent in the first few seconds when it departed from its cruising altitude.

'This is consistent with the aircraft being in controlled flight during this period,' he said.

His testimony bolstered a theory by another defence witness, French aeronautical expert Robert Galan, that the pilot most likely executed an emergency descent due to a sudden loss of cabin pressure or wrong signals of depressurisation.

The manoeuvre, however, went out of control, sending the plane hurtling down, according to Mr Galan's theory. -- AFP
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Old 14th Jul 2001, 01:56
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John Barry Smith

I can supply the information you require on Monday when I get to my office...

Will e.mail you rather than post the information on this site..Perhaps Picard can do it sooner ?? Over to you Picard if you can supply sooner..
Old 14th Jul 2001, 04:53
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Power failure may have caused dive
Airline's expert witness says the malfunction could have affected the cabin pressure in the plane, and cockpit voice and flight data recorders

By Alethea Lim

POWER failure and a sudden drop in cabin pressure could have caused SilkAir flight MI 185 to plunge while cruising over Palembang in December 1997, a British aviation consultant said yesterday.

In explaining to the High Court how the incident could have occurred, Professor Denis Howe, who is SilkAir's second expert witness, said the power failure could have affected the plane's cabin-pressure system, prompting the pilots to make an 'instinctive' recovery dive.

The situation could have been made more critical by signs of a possible pressure drop, such as cracks appearing on the plane's outer windscreen panel.

Prof Howe noted that this 'progressive' power-failure theory could also explain why the plane's black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder - had stopped working one after the other.

The power failure also cut off the plane's radar transponder, which stopped sending out radar signals after the plane plunged to below 19,500 feet, from its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.

The British professor, whose career spans more than 50 years in aeronautical engineering, was called by SilkAir to refute claims made by experts of the plaintiffs that MI 185 Captain Tsu Way Ming had stopped the two recorders manually by pulling their circuit breakers.

Prof Howe also disputed that MI 185 had plunged as fast and as steep as the plaintiffs have maintained.

It is the plaintiffs' case that the plane fell from 35,000 feet to 19,500 feet in just 32 seconds.

But Prof Howe said that based on his calculations, there was no way a Boeing 737 could fly so fast.

Questioning the accuracy of the final radar points obtained after the crash, Prof Howe said if the data were correct, it meant that the plane was travelling at more than 1.2 times the speed of sound, or more than 1,000 feet a second.

He noted that even the plane's manufacturer, Boeing, said 737s could not travel beyond the speed of sound.

The plaintiffs' lawyer, Senior Counsel Michael Khoo, suggested to Prof Howe that evidence from the plane's wreckage suggested that the pilot had put the plane in a full- powered steep dive and this was not a recommended recovery procedure.

Prof Howe said: 'The pilot could have initiated an emergency descent and, in his enthusiasm, he overdoes the descent and wishes to reverse it.'

Then, Mr Khoo said that both the MI 185 pilot and co-pilot were trained not to act on instincts and should not have acted instinctively by doing a steep dive.

He said: 'If they do something contrary to what they are trained, it would be recklessness.'

Disagreeing, Prof Howe replied: 'Recklessness would be when they know something they are doing is wrong and put the passengers and plane in danger.

'They thought they were doing something right even when they were wrong in doing it.'

The trial continues on Monday.

Were pilots reckless?

SENIOR Counsel Michael Khoo, the lawyer representing the families of six crash victims of MI 185 who are suing SilkAir, and SilkAir's expert witness, Professor Denis Howe, were locked in an exchange yesterday on whether the pilots were reckless when they made an emergency descent.

It all started when Mr Khoo accused the pilots of being reckless in pushing the plane on a steep dive to make the attempted recovery.

This is how it went: Prof Howe: 'When something suddenly happens, your actions are instinctive.'

Mr Khoo: 'But they were reckless.'

Prof How: 'They were not. They were reacting to an emergency...and their instinct was to get down quickly.'

Mr Khoo: 1 'But pilots are trained not to act on instincts.'

Prof Howe: 'Unfortunately, we do act on instincts. We, human beings, react differently from what we have been trained.'

13 July 2001 1312 hrs (GMT) 2112 hrs (SST)
(MediaCorp News)
Depressurisation may have caused SilkAir crash: defence witness
by Dominique Loh

In the lawsuit against SilkAir at the High Court Friday, the second defence witness, Professor Denis Howe, testified that flight MI 185 could have crashed because of cabin depressurisation or some other mechanical failure.

Professor Howe has more than 50 years of experience as an aeronautical engineer.

His work includes the design and testing of aircraft.

Professor Howe testified that one possible reason the plane started to descend from cruise flight was due to cabin depressurisation.

Another possible reason could be a fault in the system, leading it to indicate there was a fall in cabin pressure and prompting the pilots to take reactive action to a problem that did not exist.

He said prior to the crash, the plane in question had a fuselage dent in April 1997 which was repaired; but Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee had ruled this out as a factor for the crash.

Professor Howe also said there could have been a progressive electrical failure that resulted in the failure of the black boxes minutes before the plane fell from 35,000 feet.

The witness also doubted the accuracy of the revised radar points, saying these were inconsistent.

He said the report's data implied the plane was diving over the speed of sound, something the Boeing 737 was never designed to do.

Professor Howe was also critical of the US National Transportation Safety Board's findings.

He said the American agency had been erroneous in stating intentional pilot action as the cause of the crash when its conclusion was based on the absence of substantial evidence.

On Monday, the final expert witness will testify for the defence.

July 14, 2001 (The Business Times)
Defence witness reiterates bungled descent argument

Steering part could have instead moved just before impact

By Beth Jinks

THE SilkAir defence team challenged the plaintiffs' key evidence of pilot suicide and recklessness in Singapore's High Court yesterday.

Expert aircraft designer Denis Howe argued that the part of recovered wreckage which appeared to prove the plane had been steered as directly down as possible could have moved on impact, or slightly before.

All 104 people on board SilkAir flight MI 185 were killed when it crashed en route from Jakarta to Singapore in December 1997. The families of several victims are suing the Singapore Airlines (SIA) regional subsidiary, claiming pilot recklessness or suicide caused the crash, as suggested by US investigators.

Testifying that the plane would have shuddered violently within 5,000 feet of the ground, Prof Howe said an analysis of a jackscrew actuator - requested by SIA - cast doubt on the fact that the plane had been steered into a nose dive, suggesting that the angle of descent input by the pilot could have been much less than the maximum dive claimed by the plaintiffs and indicated by the recovered steering material.

Prof Howe maintained he believed the most likely theory was the same as had been put up by the defence team's first witness, Robert Galan - that the pilot had lost control of the aircraft during a deliberate rapid descent, which he executed because of either a real or false sign of cabin depressurisation.

Under cross-examination, Prof Howe said he believed 'the pilot initiated an emergency descent, for whatever reason, and in his enthusiasm or his anxiousness', had not been able to control the plane or carry out other basic steps needed to safely execute the manoeuvre.

Prof Howe agreed no evidence existed to support the loss-of-cabin-pressure-sign theory and said it was unlikely there was any real pressure problem. But he refused to accept the plaintiff counsel's assertion that the emergency descent had been carried out 'recklessly'.

'He (the pilot) would have been instantly reacting to a perceived emergency which would not have been reckless . . . he was doing a natural, instinctive thing,' he said.

Recently retired as dean of engineering at Britain's Cranfield Institute of Technology, Prof Howe is not a pilot but an aircraft design expert.

The source of his theory was also scrutinised by the plaintiff's lawyer, who discovered Prof Howe had prepared a report after receiving a 'mysterious' box full of evidence from SIA Engineering, which the witness said had 'apparently' been collected during the initial crash investigation. The plaintiffs have requested a copy of the report from SIA. The case continues on Monday.
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Old 14th Jul 2001, 19:28
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The New Paper
14th July 2001

Mysterious meeting...and 'diagram from a box"

Jul 14, 2001

AN English professor had a meeting in Singapore with the head of the Indonesian team investigating the crash of MI 185.

That, in itself, shouldn't have raised eyebrows.

Only, the Englishman happened to be Prof Denis Howe, an expert witness for SilkAir, the defendant in the suit now being heard in the High Court.

The Indonesians were interested in the report on the crash drawn up by the professor for Singapore Airlines (SIA), which owns SilkAir.

And so, Prof Howe was invited to Singapore in August last year where he attended a meeting at "an office in Changi Airport".

Prof Oetarjo Diran, head of the Indonesian investigators, was present. So, too, was "someone" from SilkAir or Singapore Airlines and a "few others", the court heard yesterday.


Prof Howe could shed no light on who the others were as "no-one recorded the minutes of the meeting".

The professor is a distinguished-looking 73-year-old with a long list of credentials related to the aviation industry.

Sworn in as a defence witness, he said that sometime early last year, someone from SIA approached him in London.

It seemed SIA was interested in what Prof Howe had to say about the setting of the plane's stabiliser trim.

"I believe SIA had done their own calculations from photographs taken at the wreckage of MI 185 and they wanted confirmation from a third party," said Prof Howe.

He was that "third party" and they wanted him to come up with a report on that crucial bit of wreckage.

The setting on the stabiliser trim could determine how steep the high dive taken by MI 185 was on that fatal descent into the murky depths of the Musi River on Dec 19, 1997.

Until yesterday, no-one knew of the existence of that mysterious document.

And the revelation that there was such a report commissioned by SIA and compiled by a witness for SilkAir brought out the hackles in senior counsel Michael Khoo.

Mr Khoo, who is acting for the five families suing SilkAir, demanded a copy.

But Prof Howe stood his ground and said that he was not obliged and would not hand it over.

He said: "It is a confidential document compiled by me for a client."

Mr Lok Vi Ming, SilkAir's lawyer, was also quickly up from his seat. He said that the plaintiffs had no claim on the report.

It was then left to Justice Tan Lee Meng to say that the matter could be taken up in chambers.


The mystery deepened when no-one could guess how the confidential report had landed in the laps of the Indonesians.

Mr Khoo had, in the morning, provided the court with a light-hearted interlude when he addressed the witness as "Prof Diran".

This reference drew laughter as Prof Diran is the person who compiled the Indonesian report.

In fact, Prof Howe has challenged some of the findings of that report.

Mr Khoo asked Prof Howe: "Did you tell Prof Diran that SIA had commissioned you to do a report?"

Prof Howe shook his head. "I didn't," he replied.

Then, he added: "At the meeting, which lasted about an hour, it was made known to Prof Diran that I believed the stabiliser trim was set at 3.05 units."

When the Indonesians tabled their final report, there was no mention of Prof Howe's conclusions.

And it had the setting at 2.5 units.

If that was correct, the nose of the plane would have been fully down and MI 185 would have plunged into the river at an angle close to 90 degrees.

Prof Howe had told the court that he reckoned the more likely setting was 3.05 units, which would have made the descent more gradual - but still deadly.

Mr Khoo asked what else was discussed at that mysterious meeting where no minutes were taken.

Prof Howe replied: "Many things. What? I cannot remember."

Earlier, Mr Lok had tabled as an exhibit a diagram of radar data - complete with altitude points and curvatures. It was given to him by Prof Howe and it turned out to be another "mysterious" document.

When asked by Mr Khoo how he got it, Prof Howe said that someone from SilkAir had given it to him. "It was found lying in a box," he said. "Where it came from is a mystery."

Asked Mr Khoo: "The diagram you gave us and which is a court exhibit was retrieved from a box in someone's office?"

"Yes," said the professor, who must have wished that good ol' Sherlock Holmes was around to help tidy up some of the mysteries.

[ 14 July 2001: Message edited by: Picard ]

[ 14 July 2001: Message edited by: Picard ]
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Old 14th Jul 2001, 19:59
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John Barry Smith

SilkAir defence lawyer is Rodyk & Davidson. You'll find all the contacts on this webpage:

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Old 14th Jul 2001, 21:55
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Thank you very much Crockett and Picard for info on defense team for SilkAir. I am following up on it.

John Barry Smith
(831) 659-3552 phone
551 Country Club Drive,
Carmel Valley, CA 93924 www.corazon.com
[email protected]
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Old 16th Jul 2001, 09:08
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Can anyone tell me if it is true or not whether a Boeing 737 can exceed 1.2 times the speed of sound...

Whether put into a vertical dive deliberately or not...

Thank you
Old 16th Jul 2001, 13:58
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It can be done, as operating condition is always lower than design condition. i.e. an equipment may be design to higher capacity as safety factor reasons, but (operating condition)seldom stretch the usage to the max. limit as this will shorten the life span of the equipment. Also, not forgetting that with the aid of gravity force here.

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Old 16th Jul 2001, 14:14
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What's the Vne\Mmo of the 737? Surely it must be less than M 1.2?

And when Vne\Mmo is exceeded, doesn't the plane start to bend?

[ 16 July 2001: Message edited by: training wheels ]
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Old 16th Jul 2001, 14:47
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Crockett, I would have thought that a 737 can easily exceed 1.2 times the speed of sound.

In level flight you would need a lot of power to do it, but point the thing nose down and you get help from gravity.

If the height is sufficient, any object falling through the atmosphere will eventually obtain what I think is called "terminal velocity" This is where the downards pull of gravity is balance by the resistance of airflow. For a skydiver in freefall, with arms outstretched, this is, if my memory serves correctly, about 120mph. I have no idea what it would be for a 737, but with all planes the areodynamic profile is surely designed to be as "slippery" as possible along the nose/tail axis, so, as I said, point it nose down and it will start accelerating very fast. Whether the airframe will stand the eventual stresses is another matter - try pulling out of a steep dive and you get strong g forces.
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Old 16th Jul 2001, 15:01
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What is Vne/Vme etc... please explain...

Many thanks
Old 16th Jul 2001, 19:04
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Latest News - Singapore
16 July 04:16PM -- Singapore Time

Tsu was a good pilot, says SilkAir

SINGAPORE -- The pilot of SilkAir flight MI185 that crashed in 1997, killing all 104 people on board, had made mistakes in the past but never compromised the safety of passengers and was a good pilot, an investigator from the airline said on Monday.

Capt Anthony Leong told a court in an affidavit that he had helped investigate Singapore pilot Tsu Way Ming after three unusual flying incidents scared his co-pilots.

The incidents include turning off the voice data recorder during a flight, making 'S-turns' one pilot described as severe, and failing to report making an overweight landing in Singapore.

SilkAir demoted Capt Tsu for the incidents.

Capt Leong said the demotion was fair punishment and that Capt Tsu was a good pilot. He was a talented man who rose through the ranks of SilkAir quickly, airline officials said.

Capt Leong's affidavit included numerous letters of promotion and pay rises from the airline.

The SilkAir jet plunged from 35,000 ft into an Indonesian river on Dec 19, 1997.

Lawyers for six families suing the airline have argued that Capt Tsu should not have been allowed to fly because of a history of disciplinary problems. -- AP
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Old 17th Jul 2001, 05:03
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Pilot had not told airline about S-turn
When SilkAir promoted Capt Tsu in May 1997, it was unaware that he had failed to land on first try during a flight to Indonesia two months earlier

By Alethea Lim

THE SilkAir flight management did not know that MI 185 pilot Tsu Way Ming had failed to report an 'unusual occurrence' during one of his flights when they promoted him in May 1997, the High Court heard yesterday.

The management found out Captain Tsu had failed to land the plane on the first try during a flight to Manado, Indonesia, two months earlier only when another pilot queried why he was still being promoted.

The airline's then Boeing-737 fleet manager, Captain Anthony Leong, told the High Court yesterday that he was 'very surprised' when he heard that Capt Tsu had done an 'S-bend' manoeuvre in Manado in March 1997.

The pilot had taken an S-like flight path, which was not a common procedure, as the plane was travelling too fast and too high then.

Despite that, he still failed to land and had to make a turn-around. The plane later landed safely and Capt Tsu did not report the incident although he should have done so.

Yesterday, Senior Counsel Michael Khoo, the lawyer representing the families of six people who died when flight MI 185 crashed in Palembang, Indonesia, in December 1997, asked Capt Leong why Capt Tsu had made the 'glaring' omission of not mentioning the S-turn in his written report. The families are suing SilkAir.

Capt Leong, 49, now SilkAir's deputy chief pilot and fleet manager of the Airbus-320, said: 'He could have forgotten. The incident was in March. The report was in June.'

When Mr Khoo asked him whether he would have tried doing an S-turn if he were the pilot, the witness, who is also a trainer, said: 'I don't do S-turns.'

He added that these moves, although uncommon, were made to lengthen the final approach.

When Mr Khoo said that Capt Tsu had been wrong in making such manoeuvres, Capt Leong said: 'One would have to be in the cockpit to see what was going on.'

He added that one would also need to consider what the airport conditions were like and the visibility at that time.

But Mr Khoo noted that the flight's first officer, Mr Lawrence Dittmer, had said he and some passengers were scared by the moves then.

But the witness disagreed, noting that passengers would have been 'screaming' if the turns were violent.

He added that if Capt Tsu had indeed put the plane to violent turns, passenger complaints would usually come 'quick and fast'.

'We would then be reading about it in the newspapers,' he added.

The hearing continues.

Capt Tsu 'capable of reckless stunts'
SENIOR Counsel Michael Khoo yesterday said that MI 185 pilot Tsu Way Ming was someone who was capable of pulling 'reckless' stunts to protect his own interests.

He said this after referring to an incident in June 1997, six months before the crash.

Captain Tsu had then deliberately stopped the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) just before the flight left Changi Airport because he wanted to download its content.

He and then co-pilot, Mr Lawrence Dittmer, were discussing the landing in Manado in March 1997.

Capt Tsu wanted to preserve this conversation in case there was an inquiry about the alleged S-turn that he had made then.

The conversation happened just before take-off but Capt Tsu asked the Changi air control for permission to return to the bay so that he could download the CVR tape.

But he later changed his mind. He reconnected the CVR after Mr Dittmer protested and piloted the plane out of Singapore.

Yesterday, Mr Khoo said Capt Tsu did not consider the convenience of his passengers and of the airport when he asked to return to the bay - this would have delayed the flight for about an hour.

During the cross-examination of Capt Tsu's supervisor, Captain Anthony Leong, Mr Khoo said the pilot's conduct was 'unbecoming of a commander'.

Capt Leong agreed and said that was why SilkAir later suspended and demoted Capt Tsu.

But he disagreed with the lawyer that the pilot was reckless, noting that the flight still left on time then.

On why Capt Tsu wanted to download the CVR tape, he said: 'He is unhappy with all the rumours about him that were flying around. Maybe he wants to seek the truth.'

Monday July 16, 10:22 PM (Channel NewsAsia)
MI 185 pilots were competent: SilkAir's fleet manager

SilkAir's defence on Monday called its last witness, Captain Anthony Leong, to the stand.

Captain Leong is SilkAir's Fleet Manager, in-charge of all matters relating to Boeing-737s, as well as 737-cabin crew.

During cross-examination, Captain Leong testified that both Captain Tsu Way Ming and First Officer Duncan Ward were competent and professional pilots.

As the hearing comes to a close , the focus again shifted to the early days before the crash.

In a last-ditch attempt, the plaintiffs tried to discredit pilot Captain Tsu.

In the case of the Manado incident when Captain Tsu was reported to have executed a series of S-turns while landing, Captain Leong felt that not reporting the incident was not a breach of safety procedure.

The witness, however, agreed that Captain Tsu had acted inappropriately by pulling a cockpit voice recorder circuit breaker before a flight.

Captain Leong concluded that by all accounts, these incidents were "no big deal".

Before the court was adjourned, Justice Tan Lee Meng reminded the lawyers that the lawsuit should not be an inquiry of Captain Tsu's employment record.

Although it is relevant, it must be linked to the crash of MI 185.

The defence team is expected to wrap up its examination of Captain Leong on Tuesday.

[ 17 July 2001: Message edited by: Loner ]
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Old 17th Jul 2001, 13:41
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Latest News - Singapore
17 July 05:11PM -- Singapore Time

SilkAir aware of concerns over pilot, says ex-captain
By Alethea Lim and Tan Ooi Boon

A FORMER SilkAir captain had apparently voiced concerns over the unsafe behaviour of MI 185 pilot Tsu Way Ming just days before the crash and wanted its management to hold a meeting to discuss this.

And on Dec 18, 1997, the High Court heard that the management wanted to hold the meeting with some of its pilots.

But that meeting never went on because on the next day, flight MI 185 went down in Palembang, along with Capt Tsu and 103 other people.

On Tuesday Senior Counsel Michael Khoo, the lawyer for victims' families who are suing SilkAir, told the court that the pilot who made the initial complaint was Captain Mohan Raganathan.

He said that in December 1997, Capt Raganathan had decided that he would not want to renew his contract with SilkAir because he could 'handle any emergency but would not tolerate any abuse of aircraft by Capt Tsu'.

In particular, Mr Khoo said Capt Raganathan was disturbed by the fact that Capt Tsu had proceeded to take off to Kunming on Nov 20, 1997 although one of plane's twin engines did not have sufficient power.

By insisting on the take off, Capt Raganathan felt that Capt Tsu was 'firewalling' the engines by pushing them to the limit.

The lawyer noted that the former later complained this to SilkAir's flight operations manager, Captain Leslie Ganapathy.

But on Tuesday, Capt Ganapathy said that he did not recall receiving such a complaint from Capt Raganathan.

Replying to questions from Mr Khoo, he said while he agreed that the management had agreed to meet some of the pilots, the meeting meant was to discuss routine operational matters.

He disagreed with Mr Khoo that Capt Tsu was one of issues that would be raised in the meeting.

The trial continues.

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Old 17th Jul 2001, 14:14
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There was a lot more evidence that came out in the court than the media could possibly report due space. For instance the UK Professor (on Silk Air's side) stated that the reason why the engines were at high thrust when the aircraft crashed was that it was a known fact that when you apply power in a jet the nose rises. Therefore, said the esteemed Prof, the pilot went to full power in the steep dive (to counter a cocked up emergency descent)in order to pull the nose up. He conveniently avoided saying that full power in a steep dive will only accelerate the aircraft downwards until the whole game is over. Nice one, Prof -
The other expert witness for Silkair a French test pilot (a mouth for hire?) told the court that there was no problem with firewalling a sick donk on brakes release as long as it met min N1. He later told someone else that he knew that was crap, but as he was witness for the defence he had to say it!! Pretty sick. eh?
Old 17th Jul 2001, 18:55
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The New Paper

Pilots turn up to show support

Jul 17, 2001

YESTERDAY I counted seven. Last week there were three.

And when it all began some 15 days ago, there was just one - maybe two.

Yes, slowly - but surely - they have been making their presence felt and filling up the seats in Court 19 where the suit against SilkAir is being heard.

I'm not talking about the relatives of the victims seeking damages from SilkAir over bthe crash of MI 185.

Rightfully so, they have been there since Day One - huddled in groups and listening intently as lawyers for both parties argue the merits of their respective cases.

The new faces in the gallery comprise pilots of both the national carrier and SilkAir.

For the last week, they've been making their way to the courtroom on the fourth floor of the City Hall building to take in, first-hand, all that has been happening.

In between proceedings, I asked one of them why he was there.

He looked at me quizzically. Then he replied: "It's a pilot they're talking about. And it's SilkAir that is being sued. And even though I fly for Singapore Airlines, it concerns me."

Turning to his friends - all pilots - who were seated on the court's hard, wooden benches, he added: "It's a solidarity thing.

"Sure. The crash was a sad, sad thing. No-one wanted to see it happen.

"But it happened. And we sympathise with the families who lost their loved ones.

"As for us, we're here to lend gentle support to a colleague.

"Captain Tsu (Way Ming) was one of us and we've got to stand behind our own."

I asked if they knew Capt Tsu, the pilot of the Boeing 737 which crashed into the Musi River on Dec 19, 1997.

"No, I didn't. But some of my friends did.

"Still, what does it matter? Like I said, he was one of us. He was a pilot. We've got to stick together."

So, would they be around to see the final outcome, I asked.

"We're working pilots," they reminded me. "But we will try to make it when we're between flights.

"But even if we're not here, we believe others will be here. You see, we posted a line on the pilots' union website encouraging members to make an effort to show up.

"We hope they do because aside from the solidarity bit, this is a great experience for us. We can identify with plenty that has been exchanged in this court."

Yesterday, they listened as SilkAir's lawyer, Mr Lok Vi Ming, introduced as his third defence witness, one of their own.

He was Capt Anthony Leong, SilkAir's deputy chief pilot and fleet manager of its Airbus A320 division.

They heard Capt Leong say that Capt Tsu didn't breach any safety regulations when he did a "go-around" before landing his aircraft at Manado in Indonesia.

In earlier testimony, Capt Tsu's co-pilot on that flight, First Officer Lawrence Dittmer, had said that, to "go around", the plane needed extra power to climb.

But not enough power was applied.

Asked by Mr Lok if this was acceptable, Capt Leong replied: "The only breach was not reporting it."

"What about taking off without sufficient target thrust on that flight to Kunming on Nov 20, 1997?" Mr Lok asked.

"It was a good decision,"said Capt Leong. "It was a judgment call. A split-second decision. That's what we pay our pilots for."

I turned to steal a glance at the airmen in the gallery.

I saw them nod. They were in agreement.

Later one of them pulled me aside and said: "Capt Leong was right. We're paid to make those split-second decisions.

"You know, there's a saying. It goes like this.

"Surgeons bury their mistakes. If a pilot makes a mistake, he gets buried with that mistake."
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