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Spanair accident at Madrid

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Spanair accident at Madrid

Old 18th Sep 2008, 22:56
  #1841 (permalink)  
 
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I don't think at this point we can be accused of being "wildly speculating" any more. I think this thread is just analyzing, discussing, and expanding on the topic surrounding this accident, including using ficticious or unproven similar scenarios as part of these discussions. Each of us share his own opinions, views and experiences.

The outcome, hopefully, is a better understanding of these issues that may even contribute to avoid fatal events in the future.

I think we all greatly respect the victims and their families, and I don't think our discussion is in any way disrespecful. Others may think otherwise, of course, but my conscience is clear.

Boeing did react to the NTSB recommendations after the Detroit accident by issuing a recommendation to all operators of similar planes to test the TOWS prior to each take off. I also have the feeling they could've done a bit more given the somewhat "fragile" nature of the TOWS (i.e. little redundancy, hard troubleshooting diagnosis, subtle failure warnings, etc), but, realistically, if the TOWS system operation is tested prior to each take-off, the safety improves exponentially and is probably adequate.

I believe that, if Spanair had "known and interpreted" the recomendation clearly, it would've been a non-issue for them to comply with it. No operator wants to ignore simple-to-implement, almost "free", safety recommendations by manufacturers.

The "blame" is gonna go back and forth. Boeing is going to say that they were never "required" by a formal FAA order to implement the measures recommended by the NTSB and that they "fixed it more than adequately" by warning people to test TOWS more often.

Spanair is going to say they knew nothing about it and their procedures are approved by spanish authorities. I won't even go into how, even if the FAA would've made the recommendation mandatory, which it didn't, it wouldn't have had authority in Spain.

Civil prossecutors are going to say that Spanair should've known what the current manufacturer's recommendations were.

Spanish civil aviation authorities are gonna say that they leave on the hands of operators to implement whatever procedures they feel appropiate and basically just stamp an approval on them with little review on their side.

European authorities are going to say that the recommendations weren't mandatory.

And around in circles we go.

Lesson learned: from now on, probably, civil air regulations bodies in most countries are going to demand that the TOWS in airplanes with similar designs undergo a mandatory operational check prior to each takeoff, resulting in somewhat higher safety.

As we saw in LAPA accident, having a working TOWS doesn't prevent the accident, of course, but hopefully would help tilt the decissions of most pilots to abort the TO/correct the configuration under such circunstances.

Alas, the TOWS could fail from the time it is tested til the time the actual take-off happens. Testing it 10 minutes before TO doesn't guarantee they'll work during TO.

And if a pilot forgets to configure wings and doesn't follow checklist (Northwest), then chances of them skipping the TOWS test are also high.

In Spanair case, it looks at this point like they did follow the checklist, but missed/missread the flaps. They could've, just as well (but realistically less likely) have missed a TOWS inop test also.

So what is the "real" solution? How do we make sure the pilots read the flaps indicators and settings very carefully before each take off w/o significantly re-designing older planes to include near-infallible alarms or devices the inhibit the acceleration unless flaps are deployed during take-off or flaps that open automatically (and reliably) at certain speeds/etc?

Last edited by justme69; 19th Sep 2008 at 01:29.
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 23:04
  #1842 (permalink)  
 
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Video

"¡Ha habido un accidente en la cabecera de la 33 izquierda, creemos que de aviación!" · ELPAÍS.com
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 23:04
  #1843 (permalink)  
 
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To PPPPilot and the rest

If an american lawyer read this, Boeing could have troubles...

Boeing is already being sued by the Spanish families, a firm from Miami is representing them. I believe they have a case. You can here the article here only if you know Spanish If you don't, I can help you, I am originally from Spain living in the USA...
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 00:30
  #1844 (permalink)  
 
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So what is the "real" solution? How do we make sure the pilots read the flaps indicators and settings very carefully before each take off w/o significantly re-designing older planes to include near-infallible alarms or devices the inhibit the acceleration unless flaps are deployed during take-off or flaps that open automatically (and reliably) at certain speeds/etc?
Well, a very cheap and cheerful but extremely useful modification would be one or two vidcams around the plane, with the ability to flip a screen from one to t'other; a wide-angle view from top of fin, and along the belly (and possibly looking inwards from both winglets, if fitted)...
Not only could a glance at a fin-top camera image before TO have provided a quick backup check of config, but in this day and age (mad rush to get loaded, leave gate and get airborne), be useful in other contexts as well... e.g. engine trouble, there'd be little doubt which one had surged.or taken a bird, looking straight into jet-pipe (and I believe that has been mistaken before with tragic consequences, equivalent to a surgeon cutting off the wrong (good) leg!)
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 00:42
  #1845 (permalink)  
 
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The "blame" is gonna go back and forth. Boeing is going to say that they were never "required" by a formal FAA order to implement the measures recommended by the NTSB and that they "fixed it more than adequately" by warning people to test TOWS more often.
I believe there's still concern in some NTSB quarters that some of their recommendations are not taken seriously enough by the FAA; one example being those after the post 9/11 Airbus vortex wake/fin failure incident..
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 01:36
  #1846 (permalink)  
 
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Rananim post 1867
I'm retired a while now, and a long way back to McDiesels, but was not the windshear/loss of performance after V1 procedure along the lines you mentioned?
I seem to remember part of the procedure was to ensure that the flat/slat handle was actually physically in the 15 degree detent. ( Good hard rattle of the handle and lock)
Also, not sure about DC-9 30 series, but MD-80 series does have auto-slat as I recall, (except in up-retract mode?) Oh dear its been a long time!

Last edited by ZQA297/30; 20th Sep 2008 at 00:07. Reason: grammar error
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 01:43
  #1847 (permalink)  
 
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HarryMann:
Well, a very cheap and cheerful but extremely useful modification would be one or two vidcams around the plane, with the ability to flip a screen from one to t'other; a wide-angle view from top of fin, and along the belly (and possibly looking inwards from both winglets, if fitted)...
The unfortunate thing is that it sounds cheap and cheerful in theory, but then you have to factor in the number of DC-9/MD-80/90/717s currently in service, of which a significant number are well past their median service life. It's not just a case of fitting cameras too - you'd have to retrofit a sturdy area to the airframe to attach them, they'd have to be reliable enough to deal with the rigors of extreme temperatures and moisture levels, and you'd still have to plumb the camera output back to the flight deck and affix a suitable display.

These costs add up, and on this particular model there's a perfectly good gauge telling you the surfaces are deployed - and it seems like there's an equally good 'killer items' check that should be performed before the take-off roll that should maybe considered mandatory on this, if not all types. At the end of the day, a pilot under sufficient pressure could still miss the camera as a final check, so really you'd just be providing another backstop.

Having said that, the ease of switching some aircraft systems into 'air mode' does trouble me, and I wonder if a non-functioning configuration warning system ought to be a no-go item. However, as an admitted non-pilot I wonder how practical that would be.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 02:41
  #1848 (permalink)  
 
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there are a couple of things to think about...ZAGORFLY

IT IS A HIGH ANGLE OF ATTACK THAT CAUSES A STALL (exceeding the critical angle of attack = stall)

AND YOU CAN'T SEE ANGLE OF ATTACK...what you are seeing is pitch attitude. (naval aviators might even say "deck angle")

I encourage all you non pilots to read: "Stick and Rudder" by wolfgang langweische. And all of you pilots who haven't read this book, why not?

You will learn about angle of attack and relative wind and all sorts of nifty things.

There was nothing wrong with the engines that caused this plane to crash...a multitude of things came together...including IMHO:

poor training of mx people (by this I mean not understanding that the RAT probe being heated on the ground was a symptom of plane being in "air mode")

poor cockpit discipline (checklist, concept of killer items...and my favorite, muscle memory...holding flap handle until gauge reads properly and not letting go until then)

hiring a copilot with very low flying time

not following boeing procedures (to check takeoff warning system prior to each takeoff)

and it all comes down to NOT SPENDING ENOUGH MONEY TO FLY RIGHT. (right as in correct, as in "straighten up and fly right")

The big problem is all of these things came together on the same day, same flight and a tragedy resulted.

Those who do not remember the past are destined to repeat it.

(by the way, if you want to "see" the slats/flaps, just stick your head out of the DV window prior to takeoff and look back at the wings)

Last edited by sevenstrokeroll; 19th Sep 2008 at 05:13. Reason: clarification of concepts
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 03:10
  #1849 (permalink)  
 
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Since the flightpath relative to the ground is visible in the video, it is possible to construct a flight-path vector (at least approximately) for each frame. So one can make a pretty good estimate of the angle of attack, based on the video images and some simple geometry.

E.g. this picture taken from the video shows the aircraft shortly before impact, with the aircraft slowly descending:



The angle of attack shown in that frame would have been slightly larger than the pitch angle.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 03:18
  #1850 (permalink)  
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sevenstrokeroll;

Excellent summary of the real truth; - thanks for posting.

Contrary to almost every opinion and speculation here, it wasn't "slats" or a failed TOCW system that "caused" this accident.

"No slats" was the result of an earlier series of commissions/ommisions, some with antecdents that were years in the making, most occurred in the hours and minutes before the accident. I agree with you that we cannot discount low-time/inexperience. Whether it is a factor may or may not be determined by the investigation; it depends on how far the judges are willing to go I guess but it would be both a shame and wrong to stop at the cockpit door.

Any other attributed "cause" is a form of tautology and not a solution to why this aircraft crashed. The key is, why did this crew not extend the high lift devices? The rest are details. The pilots failed. Why?

Last edited by PJ2; 19th Sep 2008 at 03:31.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 04:42
  #1851 (permalink)  
 
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The fuselage angle relative to the runway is 23 degrees.

The angle of attack shown in that frame would have been slightly larger than the pitch angle.
.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 06:18
  #1852 (permalink)  
 
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I encourage all you non pilots to read: "Stick and Rudder" by wolfgang langweische. And all of you pilots who haven't read this book, why not?
Because I was issued a copy of "Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators" by H.H. Hurt. It was also good gouge for the (recently bankrupt) Delta interview.

Sadly, as you speculated a couple of weeks ago, it does look like the Northwest Romulus crash has been repeated.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 07:05
  #1853 (permalink)  
 
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Once In taipei with my horrific realization the A300 did take off without any flap setting. (probably only the slats)
@zagorfly

Most take offs on A300 are slats only.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 07:55
  #1854 (permalink)  
 
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Because I was issued a copy of "Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators" by H.H. Hurt.

Airbubba, though not a pilot nor even an aspiring one, I have read Stick and Rudder and consider it a classic for any literate person, right up there with Hound of the Baskervilles and Wind in the Willows. Nathless I must inquire if Aerodynamics is better, supercedes, improves upon, or was just there first, or what? If better than Stick and Rudder, how do you know if you didn't read it?

Not wanting to argue, just to inquire.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 08:19
  #1855 (permalink)  
 
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A. My question to you is do you if you find strange or not that at such FD angle the plane didn't bounced of the ground?
To bounce off the ground, the wing Lift has to be close to the acf Weight.
(or the gear needs a high spring constant). None of these were the case here.

slats or not slats an airplane accelerate at the same rate therefore could you esplain why those poor guys rotated the plane so late if there where no speed /acceleration problem. That Pull Up was estreeme and desperate, do agree on this?
My interpretation the information given;

They did not rotate late, according to the FDR/CVR they rotated at the correct Vr.
Having no slats/flap, the acf was not able to lift off, so they continued
the TO roll (in a pitch) for about 10 sec and gained enough speed to lift off.
Chord dominated ground effect helped them lift off, but this effect will disappear of around 20' AGL on the MD80. Also there will be an increase in induced drag (span dominated). So, after about 4 sec, the acf entered a stall. The rest is in the video.

XPM
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 10:03
  #1856 (permalink)  
 
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Well, now the CIAIAC, with one of its member's resignation (it was not accepted), two advisors also leaving and a more complicated job ahead as just about nobody agrees with their preliminary report, is now saying that it will take them more time to complete it.

Not to mention the report is rather short, doesn't include a lot of fundamental data that they already have, etc. We could probably write a better one from the pages of this forum, and we don't even have access to the data

So no longer are they expected to publish it today or monday. They now say it's going to take longer (surprise). I just hope it doesn't take over a year as it has taken the INCIDENT in Lanzarote of OE-LMM, to which it had devoted 1 paragraph explaining ... nothing.

The media is gone into "full circus mode" with all kinds of contradictory and convoluted, unlikely, (if not directly false) interpretations of facts, etc.

Oh, well.

It is quite obvious, to me at least, that the CIAIAC is not up to the task ...

They know the media sucks, so they need to produce a report that, whatever it states, states it clearly. Taking 2 pages about a relay (which actually may end up having nothing to do with it, although it likely does, but there is no proof) understandably makes a lay person think that there must be a "technical culprit".

And then not mentioning anything at all about slats, airspeeds, CVR, etc (even if only to say "we don't know yet") ... makes it look like they are "hiding" something.

Yawn.

Thankfully the judiciary investigation will have access to just about all the data and it will become public at the end.

Last edited by justme69; 19th Sep 2008 at 17:18.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 10:19
  #1857 (permalink)  
 
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sevenstrokeroll

You have issued your final report of the accident.

Incredible how someone can affirm at this time so many things without all the information. Maybe you are right, maybe not, but what is extremly clear is that you can NOT AFFIRM AT THIS POINT the reasons why the AC crash.
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 11:19
  #1858 (permalink)  
 
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LiveLeak.com - New video released from planecrash Madrid

Here's the video
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 11:45
  #1859 (permalink)  
 
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When do spanair select the flaps - as part of the after start checks or during the taxi out? Most 737 operators now do it as part of the after starts as this gives 2 check lists / opportunities to catch the error.

Do spanair MD80 crews fly different cockpits on the fleet ie) some EFIS / some non EFIS or different variants? Is the flap gauge the same on all?

On the 737 it's level with the N1 gauges which means I tend to glance at the flap indicator as we set power as a final check they're down. I also look at the ailerons out the window as I do the full and free check and can see the slats are down too - not sure you can see wingtip on Md80 though.

Finally, we're taught to check the top of the PFD as we line up to check a V of A/T, 'eyebrows' (or PLI's) are displayed and then FD on the top right FMA.

Forgetting the flaps is one of the few single omission that will kill you. (I don't if the Spanair crew did forget or whether the flaps didn't deploy).
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Old 19th Sep 2008, 15:07
  #1860 (permalink)  
 
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737 flapless take-off successful in sim.

I am not an aerodynamics expert, just a line capt.
Had some time left on our 737-800 simulator session the other day and tried a few take-offs with clean wing:
High TOW, appropriate deration for a long runway.
With normal rotation technique (for an next generation 737 that is), and rotating to approx 14deg attitude, pitch stays just below the PLI.
The roll must be longer, but the take-off was successful. Not even a stick-shaker.
Rotating too fast and further than normal triggered the stick-shaker for a second, but was easily recovered by lowering a degree or two.

I do not know whether the software or behavior of the simulator is accurate, but considering its generally very realistic behaviour, I assume it is.

Surely severalMD-80 pilots must have tried the same experiment in their simulators since the likely cause of the Madrid accident emerged. I may have missed an earlier posting, but it would be interesting to hear the results of their tests.

Perhaps the 15 years of development between the MD-80 and the 737-NG make a difference?
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