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Polish Government Tu154M crash

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Polish Government Tu154M crash

Old 11th Apr 2010, 17:43
  #281 (permalink)  
 
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The Investigation

andrasz, Ptkay, and now 3lite,

You seem to have the best local knowledge on this thread thanks for your insights.

Any comments on the ideas I put in my post, earlier today?


Ptkay,

"Suggestions" from ATC could involve a multitude of matters. It is true to say that a PAR approach involves "suggestions" (of both heading and rate of descent), but most pilots loosely regard them as instructions in the sense that you either follow them to the letter, or you don't accept the offer of the PAR approach in the first place. Or, if you have reached your minima, or are experiencing any other problem, you go around.

Is there yet any firm indication that a PAR (GCA) approach was available to this flight?

Chris
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 17:43
  #282 (permalink)  
 
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jsypilot

It is, however it is just a 'recommendation' from ICAO, there are numerous exceptions. French ATC will regularly communicate in french with french aircraft - can be extremely annoying trying to keep situational awareness in the busy Paris area. Same for spanish ATC (in Spanish). In all cases it is a case of national pride vs. practicality and safety. Russian civilian ATC did change to English (even for local flights, an impressive feat, kudos to whoever managed to bang that through), but the military is Russian only. As it was a military airfield, Russian comms would be normal (and expected).

What I find very curious, and I'm sure intentional, is the very careful wording of any official information (including the interview with the controller, which I'm sure was officially sanctioned, and probably orchestrated). In all cases the words 'suggested' and 'recommended' are used when describing controller comms with the a/c(russian speakers, please help out, do you feel the same when reading it in russian ?), in stark contrast to the Russian procedures of ATC being in 'control' and giving commands & orders to aircraft. While in civilian ATC the rules have been relaxed to international norms, in military ATC I'm sure there is no change... Also during a PAR approach, the controller is in fact 'in control' of the aircraft. The pilot merely carries out controller instructions, as he has no means of verifying his position other than the controller's words. On such an approach the controllers words are an order, not a suggestion...

Last edited by andrasz; 11th Apr 2010 at 19:07.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 17:50
  #283 (permalink)  
 
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GCA?

Quote:
He speculates, they had problems with pronouncing the numbers in Russian,
so the chose to stay silent and continued this first approach on their own...

If you are making a GCA you are expected to follow the instructions and remain silent unless otherwise instructed by the controller - it has been so since I started flying in the Air Force in 63.
So why give the information that they "chose to remain silent"? And the quote: "continued this first approach on their own..." - how can you fly a GCA on your own...?

I am really puzzled: Did the crew make a GCA or what?

Last edited by grebllaw123d; 11th Apr 2010 at 18:12.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 17:56
  #284 (permalink)  
 
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Some clarifications

To clarify the confusion with the alleged four attempts at approach, this is merely a terminological blunder by the journalist who interviewed someone at the airport. The phrase as it first appeared in the press was something like "they crashed after the fourth approach". Anyone familiar with the Russian terminology would instantly recognize the error: in Russian (and a few other languages, possibly in Polish as well) the final turn in an aerodrome circuit is called the fourth turn. So, the interviewee merely said they crashed on final.

And yes, this aerodrome has neither ILS nor VOR, just two NDBs, PAR and RSBN (a Russian system similar to TACAN). The usual minimums for PAR approach in Russia are 100 m (330') decision height, 1000 to 1800 m visibility (sorry, don't have the exact data for Smolensk). Actual RVR at the time of the crash was about 500 m.

grebllaw123d, judging by the available information, they were monitored by PAR but it wasn't a proper GCA. This is, however, a mere conjecture. The typical Russian procedure for a non-precision approach is for the pilot to report passing FAP, LOM and LMM, stating the altitude. This is probably what the ATCO referred to when saying the crew stopped reporting the altitude.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 18:05
  #285 (permalink)  
 
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The interview with ATC isn't all that carefully worded but he is quite specific about not being able to "order" pilots, only recommend.

- And he started the landing which you prohibited?
- I could not prohibit it, I recommended that he should not do it!

- И пошел на ту посадку, которую вы ему запрещали?
- Я не мог запрещать, я ему рекомендовал, что ее не надо выполнять!
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 18:19
  #286 (permalink)  
 
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- And he started the landing which you prohibited?
- I could not prohibit it, I recommended that he should not do it!
If that report is to be believed then it doesn't sound much like PAR/GCA conditions.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 18:24
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andrasz

russian speakers, please help out, do you feel the same when reading it in russian ?
ATC sounds irritated

- How goes your yesterday's conversation with the crew?
- They were asked to go to the alternate. They refused.
- You offer them?
- Yes.
- For what reason?
- Because I watch the weather began to deteriorate.
- And what was the response?
- Answer: "I have enough fuel , I'll do one approach and will divert if i can't land."
- And we had information that he was offered alternative.
- I offered him also.
- And why did he refused?
- You may ask him.
- Why they make such a decision? They began to swear, or may be insisted, so you could not convince them?
- This was a decision of the commander.
- What's next? He said that he would make another attempt and then go to the alternate site, right?
- No, he said that if he can't land, then goes to the alternate.
- And what you do then?
- As I said before. Can't tell more.
- But what happened next? They switch off?
- No, why? He was on radio long enough.
- What are they talking about?
- What are the commands I gave - they give information in the begining, and then stop to give any information ...
- They stopped to listen to you?
- They must give a receipt, but they did not.
- And what a receipt?
- Height during the approach.
- They do not even give you information about the height of the plane?
- Yes.
- And what is the risk that they will not give a receipt?
- Wen they are on radio, they must give a receipt.
- Well, why they don't give this receipt?
- Well, how can I know? Because they are not fluent in Russian.
- Well, nobody among the crew speaks Russian?
- They were Russian-speaking, but numbers - it was quite difficult for them.
- So you did not have any information about altitude?
- No, I don't.
- So it turns out that he turned, attempted another approach, can't land, and then diverted to the alternate? Right?
- No, no, that wrong. One approach. Then he tried landing.
- Landing, which you forbidden him?
- I can't forbid him, I can only recommended him that it is not safe!
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 18:42
  #288 (permalink)  
 
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Chris,

Your points are very valid, there are some extreme sensitivities involved. From what I see so far, the Russian side is uncommonly upfront with presenting any verified information as soon as it is available, I see a very clear desire to avoid any accusations of a cover-up. On the other side, there is also a keen desire to absolve themselves of any blame (controller interview, etc.), however a couple of posts back I have listed the three key questions, so far only the one regarding the number of approach attempts were answered (only one, not four as reported previously).

We still don't know what kind of approach was made - so far the released comms are at odds with a PAR approach, however a NDB approach in such conditions would have been illegal under any norms. I would also have expected a firm denial of an engine failure by now, yet the official Russian line is still that 'all possile causes are looked at'. However looking at the CNN footage, the first bits of wreckage are clearly flap parts, consistent with a tree strike scenario, an uncontained engine failure on go around seems very unlikely, and would surely have been picked up by Polish media if it were a plausible scenario.

I would expect that an independent third party involvement would not be in the interest of either of the parties. At present it seems that either the controller was not assertive enough (ie. he should have prohibited the approach, and waived the aircraft off to one of the alternates) or the pilot was too assertive in attempting an approach in conditions well below minima, in full awareness of this. The direct cause of the accident (whether the altimeter was set incorrectly, or there was pressure from some on-board VIPs) is pretty much irrelevant in the context of information that emerged so far, even making an approach was in breach of both russian and polish norms given the conditions. Someone will have egg on their faces, no matter what the final finding is.

From what we know now, it seems to be a sad case of 'get-there-itis', with both the pilot and the ground controller being aware of the importance of the event and the implications of a diversion, and reluctant to make the final call out that should have been the conclusion based on their profesional aviation background.

Last edited by andrasz; 11th Apr 2010 at 19:33.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 18:56
  #289 (permalink)  
 
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The quoted interview with ATC made it to Polish TV.
Now running live on TVN24.

Commented by Col. Tomasz Pietrzak:

"Old procedure based on NDB..."

"Not used in Poland since years."

"They could respond, but must not respond."

"This is not true, they didn't speak Russian, they were fluent."

"This was a military airfield, no ICAO, Russian spoken."

"They might have been too busy with the lookout, therefore not responding..."

"They were to the airfield before, last time on Wednesday
on "reconnaissance" flight..."

"Every celebration they landed there..."

"They knew the vicinity, terrain well..."

"They didn't try to land, they made a test approach..."

"...there was no holding, there was just one approach..."

"They hit the forest from the threshold, 50m off the line..."

"On the threshold three spot lights in flight path direction..."

"It was a visibility test approach..."

"It was not a mistake by ATC not to close the airfield..."

"Lets not talk about mistakes."

Interview ended.

Last edited by Ptkay; 11th Apr 2010 at 20:45.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 19:09
  #290 (permalink)  
 
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300 posts later I think this is what we MAY know....

If the plane was on an approach, probably crashed doing a circle to land
If the plane wasn't on an approach, probably crashed trying to find the runway...

Either way it smells of CFIT during the approach phase and might be one of those deals where they go just a little lower and lower trying to find the runway.

Hard to believe that aircraft didn't have a radar alt/EGWS....but all that could be ignored and or warnings turned off.

I also wonder about altimeter settings, if there is a diff between Poland and Russia....

The last but not to be disregarded possibility is sabotage...given why they plane was to be there, to basicaly get an apology from Stalinist era communists..
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 19:13
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johns7022

Welcome to the flying circus! Honestly, not trying to put you off, quite fresh here myself, but PLEASE read the previous 292 posts before making a 293rd.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 19:20
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I haven't seen anything to make me think this was a ''circle to land'' approach.

Obscuring phemomena (scud, fog) at the end of the runway, coupled with a ''duck under'' to stay visual at the end of an approach...its tough that last few hundred feet.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 19:21
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Johns:

Either way it smells of CFIT during the approach phase and might be one of those deals where they go just a little lower and lower trying to find the runway.
Quite possible.

Hard to believe that aircraft didn't have a radar alt/EGWS....but all that could be ignored and or warnings turned off.
See CASA accident report linked above.
Rather impossible in this case, but see also the "valley" on approach path
discussion few posts before. EGWS reacted, but to fast, to late.

I also wonder about altimeter settings, if there is a diff between Poland and Russia....
ICAO, including Poland uses QNH, Russia and Russian trained military QFE.
When doing my training with ex military CFI, he insisted for QFE,
I had to rethink and learn flying QNH.

The last but not to be disregarded possibility is sabotage...given why they plane was to be there, to basicaly get an apology from Stalinist era communists..
Please, do not even mention such possibility. It would have been the ultimate
disaster in Polish-Russian relations.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 19:37
  #294 (permalink)  
 
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we have deputies on board

The captain of the a320 flight rnv 967 having so informed ATC got himself an immediate wheather improvement at Sochi.
Paragraph 1.18 of the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee Air Accident Investigation Commission`s report states:

Excessive mental set for landing at Sochi airport.
Conflict of motives.

This accident has some uncanny parallels and similarities to the tragic events of last Saturdays crash at Smolensk.

The full report of the Armenian a320 is at:

http://www.bea-fr.org/docspa/2006/ek...ek-9060502.pdf
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 19:56
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@Ptkay

"Old procedure based on NDB..."
"Not used in Poland since years."
E.g. KTW (intl) airport was without ILS for more than a year not so long ago.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 19:57
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T154 difficult?

Really?



(pardon the shoddy camera work)
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 20:00
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Poland deserved to have their President and entourage flown by a professional , highly experienced and well paid flight crew operating a modern and well equipped aircraft into this sub-standard airport . Unfortunately , you get what you pay for. Hopefully in the future , policy will change , although I`m not sure it will.
To violate minimums and press on below a safe DH / DA / MDA in todays world with the lessons of the previous 60 years of modern aviation behind us is in the least , totally unprofessional , at the worst , it is criminal.
Handling a pressure situation and ensuring a safe outcome by following the rules and regulations is at the core of what we do as aviators. To allow the situation and others to push you beyond all common sense levels of safety is evidence of inexperience and will result in disasters such as this every time.
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 20:05
  #298 (permalink)  
 
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T154 difficult?
A wise old Tu5 training captain once said" "a long final is the secret of long life!"
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 20:07
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TBSC

E.g. KTW (intl) airport was without ILS for more than a year not so long ago.
So what?
In EPKT they used NDB but not PAR procedures?
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Old 11th Apr 2010, 20:12
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"Old procedure based on NDB, ... not used in Poland since years"

Both PAR and NDB are still used in Poland, that's all I wanted to say. Am I wrong?
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