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Polish Government Tu154M crash

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Polish Government Tu154M crash

Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:00
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If there was zero visibility, how did witnesses see anything?

The BBC was showing an interview with an eye witness who claims he saw the aircraft at tree height about 1km short of final resting place. So visibility was not zero.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:01
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Just saw a report on CNN which shows wreckage with large hangar-like structures in the background. The location pinpointed on ASN could be reasonably accurate (though there is a warning: "location accurate to within a couple of kms")
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:02
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criss
Possible indeed, if not too easy in the current market.

IMHO, their perceived "self worth" or "job security" was probably still not enough to cancel out the real AND perceived pressure to land at destination.
Perhaps to this you can even add that other human frailty pride.

Here they are, with your President and all his entourage on their way to a ceremony that is perceived as very important.
Assumedly, they have checked the weather and , as you say probably expected a PAR, and not unreasonably with that type of approach, think 500m is do-able.
If it was the 1st approach, what happened? bad controlling? bad flying? failure to follow an instruction to go-around by the PAR controller when it got out the box, perhaps due to seeing the lights momentarily and deciding to give it a go? something completely different like tech failure ?

If it was in actuality the 4th approach, I think it is more simple to find the cause.

pbogdanovic,
of course you are right, but we are all entitled to our "comfort zones", trouble is , even if this one was "nickel" how many of them are, suspect there are quite a few you wouldn't get on either But, in all likelihood, as I acknowledged way way back in post # 20 aircraft type is probably not remotely a factor here.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:05
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Transcript of a meeting with V. Putin and the emergency response team at the Tu-154 crash site.
Prime Minister of the Russian Federation - Events - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a meeting of the emergency response team at the Tu-154 crash site

The early 97 pax information, instead of 96 comes probably from the fact, that one of them was late and missed the flight.
AFAIK the take of from Warsaw was almost 1 h late.

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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:13
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1hr late = more pressure & less time to pick up the schedule in case of diversion and need for ground transport.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:14
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So in reality their commanders had little power over them, because grounding/firing them would mean they would have to drive everywhere
What makes you think that the president or anyone apart from the air force commander is actually aware of this fact? If the president hates him enough he will find a way to get rid of him. And if that grounds the plane he will just charter another one. After all didn't the Chinese govt charter their planes from Air China for state visits?

One more thing, do we actually know if the airfield equipped with a PAR or just a vanilla military PSR?

It seems strange that while the type is reliable mechanically and while I appreciate the fact that it routinely operates in airports with poor weather/terrain/navaids, there seems to be no shortage of pilots who ends up driving it into the ground or cause an unusual attitude situation. (Pulkovo flat spin comes into mind) Maybe we're looking in a training or culture problem, or perhaps the cockpit is not as ergonomically designed when compared to other types.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:14
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Military vs GA pilots

Hi All,
Interesting reading. I have flown with both brilliant and appalling military and General Aviation pilots. My experience with ranking (above Squadron Leader or US equivalent) officers who have not regularly flown (and I emphasise this) is that you have to watch them very carefully. Be prepared to take control and accept the consequences. I once flew with a Wing Commander who TWICE forgot to lower the gear on approach, both times on the same sortie!!. When I reported his incompetence, I was grounded for a week ( the Squadron Commander had just passed him on his annual competency check, incidentally). I was a Pilot Officer at the time......

But that is an aside. What does strike me as relevant is that when carrying VIP's in the Military, the most senior pilot is the designated PIC. Surmise.... maybe he was not fully current on the aircraft? There seems to be so many conflicting reports. TU154 engines are notorious for in-flight failures. Could it be possible that a catastrophic failure of one of the engines adversely affected the hydraulics, therefore preventing a successful go-around? Witness testimony suggests this. But you have to ask the question - are they expert witnesses? Experience suggests that they are not, especially when the viz is 0/0 (or close to). Only the Accident Investigators will be able to determine this.

Only those on the flight deck will ever have full knowledge of what actually happened. The rest is all conjecture, even though the "black boxes" have been recovered. Although the "Iron Curtain" no longer exists, we may still never know the full story.

My sympathies lie with the Polish People, however. Whichever way you wish to approach this incident, it is a tragedy. Hopefully the full story will be released so that we can all learn from the error(s), and make changes to our own SOP's that would prevent such an accident in future.

400R
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:20
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To stick to facts I will try to sum up a little what the Polish and
Russian media are reporting (witness, briefings):

1. the ac was on approach way to low, on the "antenna", as described
by one witness (probably NDB), instead of 60m they crossed at 8m alt.
It has been not confirmed, that they hit the antenna. They ignored the
ATC (PAR???) orders to pull up. The a/c banked.
2. They then hit a 8m tall tree, clipped it with the wing, lost half of the wing,
eventually hit the ground and disintegrated.
3. Experienced pilots knowing the airfield comment, that the approach is "tricky"
because of the "invisibly" climbing terrain. Shortly before the NDB there is
a gentle slope of a valley app. 40-80m deep. (Compare the google map with
the net of traversing roads on this "slope").

From here on, my speculations:

4. When in doubt about PAR directions to pull up and about the altitude
readings of GPS and ALT, they may have used the radar altimeter readings.
Those showing them the bottom of the valley instead of alt. above threshold.
5. When the altimeter reading started to rise quickly, it was too late.

6. It is possible the approach maps were not precise or non existing.
It is a Russian military AF Base, so some data could be classified.

And now the question:

Why were they too low and ignored the pull up orders (which is fact)?

The possibilities are:

1. Following altimeter readings of the valley,

2. Some kind of engine malfunction and loss of thrust,

3. Controls malfunction.

As I mentioned before the Soloviev engines did malfunction before,
taking into consideration their position, uncontained failure
meaning also possible tail controls failure.
It happened before, see my earlier posts.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:28
  #209 (permalink)  
 
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Useful infographics regarding your question:

http://bi.gazeta.pl/im/9/7756/m7756789.jpg
I note that the large-scale map, showing where the aircraft crashed in relation to the runway, quotes 1600 m length for the runway, which looks like that of the civilian airport south of Smolensk, though it is certainly the military airport that is mapped. With that inaccuracy in mind, it would nevertheless be interesting for non-Polish speakers to understand what the other captions mean. Any offers?
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:28
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Not directly related to the crash, but here you may find what is probably the most recent video of the aircraft involved, visiting PRG two days prior to the accident. Observe a display of inflight reverse thrust deployment, a feat unique to the Russian design school, afaik.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:31
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Observe a display of inflight reverse thrust deployment, a feat unique to the Russian design school, afaik.
Concorde can do that as well.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:44
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Inflight Reversers

DC-8 as well
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:48
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wessel words: "Being military pilots they would be used to "taking orders", without question, if they valued their careers. That what they are trained to do."

Obviously you're not ex-military yourself. NEVER in 18 years in the Air Force as a result of pressure from above, was I made to fly in conditions I did not consider suitable. As far as I can recall the regulations stated that a pilot could only be ordered into the air under conditions of war (someone bring me up to date on exact regulations). I was once pressurised by an Air Commodore (passenger) to fly when the destination some 40 minutes away, was way below limits. (Tern Hill to Little Rissington). I stuck to my guns and refused to take off until I saw a reasonable chance that the destination would be within limits when we got there. The Old Man was annoyed with me but I had not given in to his pressure. I heard no more about it. But some forty years later, I am still around to be able to talk about it. Had I given in to that pressure, I might not have been.

Jack
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 11:56
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jackharr

Good for you and glad to hear it. You did admit there was pressure.

If you were ordered to blow a B747, full of innocent civilians, out of the sky because it strayed off course, would you do it? A military pilot was ordered to do just that and he did. Also quoted as saying he would do the same thing again. This is the programming, conditioning or brainwashing I am referring too. You cannot have an efficient military without discipline. Discipline to me, is following orders. Orders which are "right or wrong". I am sure you would agree with that.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:03
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Jack,

You are lucky to be unaware of the mentality and cultures of the east block military establishments that still lingers on despite the elapsed 20 years. I'm sure anyone who served in the RAF, USAF or any other airforce based on the western concepts of power, authority and accountability will find the quoted statement offensive.

However in the USSR and satelite countries like Poland or my own, the attitude was very different. Rank gave power, unquestioned authority and full immunity to any accountability towards any of the lower ranks. Human life was considered expendable, I know from first hand accounts that in the Mig 21 training school in Krasnodar (where all Warsaw Pact airforce cadets did their initial and type training) a 2% loss of cadets through the three year programme was considered acceptable. The whole system was built on authority and the unquestioned acceptance of orders, no matter how ridiculous. For someone who came from this background, it is very difficult to transition to an environment where individual assessment of risks, personal iniative and a critical attitude is the norm.

Last edited by andrasz; 11th Apr 2010 at 12:37.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:03
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Small correction to my previous information.
The plane took off from Warsaw at 7:23 (or 7:29) - two different versions are published. According to the pax list, it means still about 1/2 hour late.
http://img686.imageshack.us/img686/7...identcrash.jpg

The English transcript of the meeting from my previous post is not complete. Some rather important elements were cut from the Russion original:
???? ???????????? ????????????? ?????????? ????????? ?.?.?????? - ??????? - ???????????? ????????????? ?????????? ????????? ?.?.????? ?





Arrakis
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:24
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Military Authority

Looking at my log book I notice that almost 51 years ago to the day I was flying in a Hastings from Nicosia to Luqa (5.5 hrs in those days) as a passenger (rearward facing seats) when the aircraft made a turn to the left and looking out of my window in the near darkness noticed that the Port outer had been shut down. The pilot, of Flying Officer rank (no names - no packdrill) came on the intercom to say that we were diverting to El Adem with an engine problem. Immediately a Flight Lieutenant or Squadron Leader, I cannot recall which, but who looked as if he had been flying in the First World war yet alone the second, leapt out of his seat and strode up to the cockpit. Very shortly afterwards I was aware that the Port outer had been restarted and we turned right back on track towards Luqa. The officer then returned to his seat and was hear to say words to the effect that " these young pilots don't know what flying is - diverting when all he had was a blocked by-pass filter."

It does happen -or rather did happen.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:27
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Some rather important elements were cut from the Russion original:
I do not wish to clutter the therad with a complete transcript, google translator works surprisingly well: Google Translate

A couple of important pieces of information:
  • Communication was in Russian.
  • The legal minimum was 1000m horizontal visibility for the approach (we still don't know what kind it was)
  • Actual visibility was ~400m
  • Pilot was advised of conditions, and a diversion was suggested (emphasis mine)
  • Pilot decided to try an approach (we still don't know how many), with the known outcome
One source of misunderstanding may be various (mis) translations of the russian phrase used to convey the instructions of ATC as instructed / ordered / suggested. In Russia up till very recently the word of ATC was an order, pilot had no discretion. While this changed, old habits still linger(see my post above, or think of Überlingen), until we see the CVR and ATC transcripts, it is hard to assess what was really conveyed. The power distance can work both ways - it is possible that the local controller did not feel confident enough to give an explicit instruction to the 'commander' of a presidential aircraft, no matter how inappropriate his actions appeared.

By the way, the composition of the investigation comission makes for an interesting read:
Google Translate

Last edited by andrasz; 11th Apr 2010 at 13:21.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:36
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Capt. Arkadiusz Protasiuk was only 36 years old.

Foto

I thought I would post this info, since some posters sugested 'comunist block mentality' among the pilots. Clearly, the crew took their trainig long past the comunist days.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 12:46
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In Poland ex military pilots are now CFI or FIS on uncontrolled
aero club airfields in G class space.

During my training and private flights I heard and still hear:

Pilot-student (obviously following the CFI instructions)
or CFI: "Request permission to land runway xx"
FIS: "permission granted, you can land runway xx."

Old habits die hard...

BTW: It was not before 2004 that airspace in Poland became mostly G,
with usual CTR, TMA etc. restrictions. Before that it was all controlled.
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