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AF 321 close to stall

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AF 321 close to stall

Old 12th Sep 2012, 17:16
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AF 321 close to stall

An Air France Airbus A321-200, registration F-GTAN performing flight AF-7633 from Bordeaux to Paris Charles de Gaulle (France), was on final approach to Charles de Gaulle's runway 26L with autopilot and autothrust engaged, when autothrottle disconnected and the speed decayed until the alpha floor protection activated accelerating the engines to takeoff/goaround thrust and disengaging the autopilot. The crew took control, stabilized the aircraft and continued for a safe landing on runway 26R.

The BEA reported in their weekly bulletin of Sep 11th that the autothrust system had disengaged permitting the airspeed to decay to a point where the alpha floor protection activated, disengaged the autopilot and accelerated the engines. The crew took manual control and continued the landing. The BEA is investigating the serious incident.
Beside it's not autothrottle on AB it's AThrust, but if true, how come a flag carrier's crew allows a plane to almost stall?

Incident: Air France A321 at Paris on Jul 20th 2012, speed drops to alpha floor on approach

Last edited by hetfield; 12th Sep 2012 at 17:17.
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 17:44
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20 years ago, a crew on approach to a runway would concentrate on their instruments for the approach, then look out of the window once visual for landing.

These days crew stare vaguely out of the window as the automatics fly the approach, then concentrate fiercely on their instruments once visual and hand flying for the landing ...
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 17:46
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AF pilots seem to have a real problem with basic flying skills.
What is their issue?
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 17:49
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Balderdash.

Speak for yourself Checkboard.

All of us Airbus and Boeing drivers in my outfit do no such thing. And if you are party to such practices, it is your duty to interevene.
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 17:53
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Beside it's not autothrottle on AB it's AThrust, but if true, how come a flag carrier's crew allows a plane to almost stall?
AF pilots seem to have a real problem with basic flying skills.
What is their issue?
Sacre Bleu, hasn't this been done before?
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 17:54
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Hetfield said:

"Beside it's not autothrottle on AB it's AThrust, but if true, how come a flag carrier's crew allows a plane to almost stall?"
The same flag carrier that actually stalled an aircraft on mid Atlantic whose crew failed to recognize it for more than 3 minutes, crashing in the water.
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 17:55
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To me, all serious incidents/accidents with AF are either subject of

- lack of discipline
- poor training
- arrogant moral to flying at all

Maybe a combination of it as well......
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 18:27
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We won't say anything about a certain UK charter airline that nearly stalled whilst on approach to Bournemouth a few years ago then?
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 18:31
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Sorry guy's but before you start judging.. Something doesn't quite add up. If the A/THR disconnected itself they would get THR LK flashing on the FMA, thrust would be locked and they would have a repetative chime and a ECAM warning.
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 18:33
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noland3

AF447 had plenty of warnings, most of us know the outcome....
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 18:35
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And hetfield, you know that is a completely different situation..
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 18:37
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Yes, but F-GTAN was 2nd to crash.

Thanks to AB and the mighty protections....

Last edited by hetfield; 12th Sep 2012 at 18:38.
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 18:43
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Look, I don't wanna get into a shallow A vs B debate nor condemn or defend the crew.

Just saying how it is, if the A/THR disconnect was inadvertent than it is pretty hard to miss. A manual disconnect on the other hand is a simple single chime..
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 19:05
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We won't say anything about a certain UK charter airline that nearly stalled whilst on approach to Bournemouth a few years ago then?

Fireflybob, the incident which you refer to exposed unexplained and undetected disengagement of the A/T system on the 737. I've had it happen to myself (thankfully detected it - maybe I got lucky - however I had the use of the FMA banged into me from an early stage). Had maintenance carry out a BITE test and a series of observations and nothing resulted. The 737's A/T disengagement annunciating system, as you likely know, is cack and relies heavily on the crew to be monitoring the FMA at all times. I'm not sure about the Bus, however Alpha floor seems to have saved the day. With the BOH incident the aircraft approached the stall, the crew applied TOGA thrust and the resulting pitch power couple stalled the aircraft. I believe this and the unfortunate THY incident at EHAM led to Boeing amending the approach to stall recovery manouvre (unsurprisingly as the one in force at the time made no sense).

Last edited by Callsign Kilo; 12th Sep 2012 at 19:09.
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 19:18
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Fireflybob, the incident which you refer to exposed unexplained and undetected disengagement of the A/T system on the 737. I've had it happen to myself (thankfully detected it - maybe I got lucky - however I had the use of the FMA banged into me from an early stage). Had maintenance carry out a BITE test and a series of observations and nothing resulted. The 737's A/T disengagement annunciating system, as you likely know, is cack and relies heavily on the crew to be monitoring the FMA at all times. I'm not sure about the Bus, however Alpha floor seems to have saved the day. With the BOH incident the aircraft approached the stall, the crew applied TOGA thrust and the resulting pitch power couple stalled the aircraft. I believe this and the unfortunate THY incident at EHAM led to Boeing amending the approach to stall recovery manouvre (unsurprisingly as the one in force at the time made no sense).
Callsign Kilo, I wasn't pointing any fingers and the intention was not to get involved in a systems debate but saying that AF isn't the only operator that has had such incidents. Not saying AF is perfect either!
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 19:19
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Doesn't activation of alpha floor mean a speed loss of about 30%?

Who was flying the plane so slow?
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 19:30
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Automation has good and bad sides.

Anyway thanks god it is a BUS this time with the Alpha protection.

Nice video regarding Automation.

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Old 12th Sep 2012, 19:31
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Kilo, it doesn't matter what type of aircraft or what type of auto throttle/thrust system. As pilots, out primary role in these modern days is to monitor the automatics. Secondary to this is the age old skill of monitoring the instruments. The fact that speed can be allowed to decay so much to the point of stall
is mind boggling. Having said that I wasn't there to witness the event unfold so I cant pass judgement.

During an approach I would say 40% of my attention is on the ASI. Having seen in the sim just how slow a modern jet has to get to actually stall does make me wonder how these events actually occur.
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 19:46
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Are these incidents not caused partly by the diminution of basic handling skills due to the increased automation and an up and coming generation of pilots who have little or no experience of hand flying jet aircraft?

When I look back to flying the B737-200 in the 1980s or the B707 in the 1970s I recall that it was quite commonplace for approaches from FL 100 or even (shock horror) from top of descent to be hand flown. We would think nothing of hand flying a visual approach or even a circle to land. We did so much of this that we were "hard-wired" for manual flying - consequently flying the correct airspeed (and the PNF shouting "Airspeed" when the trend or instant value wasn't going the right way) was a given.

I am not against use of automation but I believe this is where the root cause of the problem is. I don't blame the individuals - it is the system (or lack of it) that has produced this result. If we want pilots to be competent they have to be in practice at hand flying but given the dumbing down of basic skills the software/techie guys will seek all sorts of solution with extra warning systems I suppose.

Last edited by fireflybob; 12th Sep 2012 at 19:47.
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Old 12th Sep 2012, 20:19
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Basic Airmanship

Fireflybob and Tchaikovsky,

I totally agree with all you have said. This incident appears to be yet another occurrence of over reliance in automation and complacency. It is unsurprising but bares little satisfaction that it has occurred to AF.

Was merely pointing out where the 737 differs from an Airbus. Irregardless of type, the role of the pilot shouldn't change. The accident in Toronto , the accident over the Southern Atlantic and now this shows a reaccurring trend with AF. It's hard to think it is all possible?

Last edited by Callsign Kilo; 12th Sep 2012 at 20:22.
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