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Air France does a 'Memmingen'.

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Air France does a 'Memmingen'.

Old 16th Jun 2013, 14:12
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Hogwash

Not true citation re the Brit system.
The Cvr and erase button was introduced because of the disaster that killed my mate. We erased the tape on every flight back to base. Very few would dare file a report against a captain and certainly not cabin crew.
Still existed on drop snoop as many know re the landing on fumes incident.
The only time that I witnessed a captain not wanting the tape erased was after he had set up the two first officers up!
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 15:34
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Going around

May I ask a question...perhaps questions.....

I'm a retired legal academic with some researched learned-journal publications in the use and misuse of criminal law in the context of aviation safety. I also have some hours (till ended to my utmost frustration by illness) of pilot training in Cessna 152s and Tomahawks, and I read in, maintain, and add to a modest personal library on aviation. Thus, I entertain the hope and conceit that I understand enough not to sound utterly kyber-ish -- see post 32. Forgive me for intruding, for I may overestimate myself...... I hope I'm not out of order.

The background to my question is this. While working with a senior captain with airline safety responsibilities on a jointly-written published paper, he drew my attention to a policy in which it would normally not be necessary to report a go-around if eg an unsatisfactory approach was being abandoned. His view was that this should be seen as the normal conduct of conscientious pilots from which there is, as a general rule, little new to be learned from a report. The argument, as I understood the matter, is that it serves safety better to encourage pilots to be self-critical and to go around sooner rather than later, rather than to distract them with the prospect of an invitation to tea and biscuits (is that the correct euphemism?) merely because they did what they are trained and expected to do, which is the execution of a routine, normal and safe landing.

I have absolutely no knowledge of AF's (or any other airline's) policies and so make no comment. I also do not know whether IFALPA has addressed the matter (I haven't checked).

I'm impressed by the unanimity of the reactions in this thread. I'd be interested, accordingly, to read PPruners' thoughts: is it possible that there was an initial reluctance to go around because this would have entailed exposing one's self to managerial scrutiny and critical comment? To what extent has the policy referred to above been developed and applied anywhere? What is the current general practice, or does this vary from one airline to another? Is there any prevailing operational culture which either contributes to, or detracts from, safety?

On a slightly different angle, would ATC have made any contribution to this incident, and would this have increased any reluctance on the part of the pilots to go around because a report might have exposed ATC staff?

I hasten to add that I make this enquiry purely because I have maintained my personal, "hobby" interest in aviation safety and law, and not for any formal research or publication purposes whatever. Being retired, nobody is likely to be interested in my views anyway.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 15:54
  #43 (permalink)  
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Connets -

is it possible that there was an initial reluctance to go around because this would have entailed exposing one's self to managerial scrutiny and critical comment? To what extent has the policy referred to above been developed and applied anywhere? What is the current general practice, or does this vary from one airline to another? Is there any prevailing operational culture which either contributes to, or detracts from, safety?

In BA, the only requirement for a 'report' was for a g/a below 1000'. It needs to be borne in mind that the two engined 'surprise' g/a is often the one that is mishandled, whereas the one in the simulator with an engine out is 'normally' properly handled. By 'focussing' via a report on the sub 1000' g/a it allows any possible lessons to be learned and disseminated. In my experience, there was never any 'tea and biscuits' following such. In any case, the BA Flight Data monitoring would 'capture' all g/as whatever the height and would have flagged up nay 'anomalies'.

On a slightly different angle, would ATC have made any contribution to this incident, and would this have increased any reluctance on the part of the pilots to go around because a report might have exposed ATC staff?

In my opinion yes and no. I think the runway change did not help, but in any case the a/c was probably more than the 6000' or so 'off the groove' for the original runway, so it would have been a 'screamer' anyway. I doubt any thoughts of ATC came into the equation.

is that the correct euphemism?

In my experience it has been 'coffee, no biscuits'
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 16:53
  #44 (permalink)  
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BOAC said.....

In my experience it has been 'coffee, no biscuits'
Do TELL!

Hello Connetts - of course you're not out of order!

When we talk about "go-around" this is in effect throwing in the towel - i.e. we've taken this as far as is safe - enough! This particular approach should never have even got as far as a go-around. It should have been - at the very least - a "discontinued approach" (which is one less on the scale from a go-around).

A discontinued approach is used when it is obvious that "it ain't gonna work" no matter what you try. The discontinued approach can also be sub-divided into effectively a "soft go-around" say from 1,000' to 3,000' through to an orbit at 4-5-6-10,000'. As soon as these guys got the runway change they should have realised their profile was EVEN MORE compromised than it already was - simple, ask ATC for the extra miles you now need. Don't crack your knuckles, shout "ye haa" and go for it...

I don't think there was any concern on the part of the crew for executing a go-around off this approach and subsequent management interest - that would have indicated they WERE thinking. If they were thinking, the OFDM alarms should have been ringing in their heads - LOUDLY - and they would have taken the appropriate corrective action.

Their decision to continue and subsequent "attempt" should have career implicating consequences - this wasn't a slightly "high energy" approach it was nothing short of sheer recklessness.

We will probably never find out what sanctions (if any) the crew were subject to but the fact the event is in the public domain does raise the issue of how AF manage such episodes.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 18:07
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Phrases such as "should have career implicating consequences," "they should be sacked for that alone" and "what sanctions (if any) the crew were subject to" imply guilt and subsequent punishment. But is that justified? We have a translation of a report but none of the background information. @Barkingmad gives some clues and @Connets asks some very reasonable questions.

Working backwards through @Connets questions:

ATC: Maybe they could have helped. ATC can normally see an aircraft that is hot and high and normally drop obvious hints or, in extreme cases, give height loosing vectors. But they appear not to have done so - or did they? As I said earlier, we don't have all the facts.

Why didn't they go-around? Well, they probably thought they could make it. Why is another question. And we don't know enough about their culture to make an informed opinion. To criticise this crew to the extend that some have done on this thread I find distasteful.

I'll agree AF's record is, shall we say interesting, but the hang'em high and shoot'em brigage are adding nothing to safety. We are fortunate we don't have safety police, but I get the impression from some of the "Saints" who post here that they'd have an "Flying Court" in every airport complete with electric chair.

With any luck AF are working on trying to eliminate incidents like this but even if they succeed someone will suggest that AF are "hiding" safety reports from the regulator (whoever that is this week).

Give me more information and I might change my mind, but I'll not shoot from the hip until I have to.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 18:09
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Let's be factual:

-started descent too late
-"Sink rate"
-"Pull-up"
-Go-around at 398' + 1.3 sec

They should have performed a go-around a the latest at 500' and I think, I would have done it earlier.
But we all know it's easier behind the screen than in the aircraft.

Don't you think you're overeacting? The only thing they can be blamed for is the height of the go-around.


Just my 2cents.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 18:26
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Unbelievable, thats all i can say really. 3 experienced crew that can't recognise a stall, A380 wingtip thumping a tail at JFK on a high speed taxi, a 747 that went off the side in Montreal i think and now this.......Do they still have vino with their meals? Pass the bog roll.....
Not forgetting the A340 incident in Toronto back in 2005, Seriously this is very worrying. Is it just me or do Air France pilots who have been involved in incidents seem to discount safety in terms of landing i.e. Toronto 2005, Tunis 2012 I could go on, especially considering some pilots at AF are ex Air Inter whose philosophy was land fast and be on-time, however it seems now young/newly recruited FO's at AF are displaying little or no airmanship and worse again qualified Captains showing the same. As has been echoed for one of the worlds major airlines to have such incidents is very, very, worrying.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 18:42
  #48 (permalink)  
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Why didn't they go-around? Well, they probably thought they could make it.
Come on! 20,000' at 30d. 10,000' at 13.5d. Clean at 5d, 220 knots. That is simply unacceptable behaviour in a public transport operation. Totally solvable very early on. The ONLY defence for an approach like that is if you're on fire. I don't think the reaction on here is distasteful - in general most seem to be incredulous. The big problem for AF is they did something very similar recently into Paris with an A340.

Believe it or not, I don't like judging before all the facts are known but, as I said in my first post, this event is so off the scale outside accepted operational practice it is difficult not to be scathing.

My own opinion, and others may disagree, is that this such a serious incident it warrants appropriate sanction (not necessarily sacking) and not just a simple debrief and sim......but may be that's me. It's not about being vindictive, it's about protecting the public and making it crystal clear this will not be tolerated.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 18:45
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short-fuel,

they can indeed be blamed for that however I think even more concerning is that in spite of a fair amount of experience on type the Capt seemed to be blissfully unaware of the performance capabilities of his aircraft (or worse chose to ignore them ) and the First Office appeared unable to perform his primary task as "Pilot Monitoring" , that being to verbalise how screwed up the situation was becoming before it reached task saturation/quasi-dangerous levels.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 19:07
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The frightening thing is that the head of safety during a period when AF had multiple hull losses is now a big wheel in EASA!
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 19:43
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Capt seemed to be blissfully unaware of the performance capabilities of his aircraft (or worse chose to ignore them ) and the First Office appeared unable to perform his primary task as "Pilot Monitoring" , that being to verbalise how screwed up the situation was becoming before it reached task saturation/quasi-dangerous levels
I think it's easy to say "they should, you shouldn't"
When your're catching up on your flightpath, as it's an uncommon situation and as we are not used to calculate path like this everyday, you can't tell immediately and definitely, "it ain't gonna work".

So basically, when I'm too high, I can't tell if it's going to work, I know it, I descent a quick as I can, and I have a fixed threshold at which I have to be either configured (1000' gear and flaps or 500' stabilised) either I go around.

I've done 20000' / 30Nm stabilized at 2000'. No big deal on that day. On another day, another wind, another weight, it couldn't have worked.

I admit it's not a bad approach, they should have gone around at 1000' or a the very last 500'. But they did go around.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 22:26
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I've done 20000' / 30Nm stabilized at 2000'. No big deal on that day.
No big deal? I'm sure it was a nice ride for all the punters in the back? No high speed with speed brakes and possibly gear extended and lots of vibrations and noise? A much steeper attitude than normal?

AF candidate?
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 22:41
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Originally Posted by BOAC
Actually, 'Bloggs' and Steve, they were indeed 'easing' it down (in V/S) and were ALREADY high when the runway change happened.
Yep. They were 1,800ft high before the RWY change. I hope such an highness is manageable.
After the runway change, they were 8,100ft high:
Le changement de piste en service raccourcit la trajectoire d’environ 20 NM par rapport à l’approche ILS DME 29. L’écart au-dessus d’un plan théorique de 3° passe de 1 800 ft à environ 8 100 ft.
See also the graphics page 3. For those not reading french, the dark blue curve is the altitude, and the green curve is the theorical 3° slope (new runway) they were chasing.


Originally Posted by jcjeant
To note that the CVR was erased by the crew ...
Do you have a source for that, or is it you "guessing" - along with a forever friendly attitude towards this particular airline - following the report stating the CVR was not available?
I can imagine other reasons for the CVR not being available, for example simply that you won't ground a plane over there following an incident with no impact on the said plane...
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 23:14
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BEA's Profile Graphic with English Labels



or a larger version
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 23:19
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I am an airbus guy. But the poor quality of training I have seen in Toulouse was mind-boggling. If Air France training bears any similarity to Toulouse training, than it is not a coincidance, how often are these guys screwing up. It is a fruit of their training and their attitude. I also added Air France on my no fly list. My company wanted to send me on Air France, I persuaded them to get me Lufthansa ticket. I am simply a nervous passenger what concerns Air France.
Have been a captain on airbus for 8 years now. This is no Air France bashing. It is a survival instinct.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 23:22
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short-fuel,

Don't know which type you fly, but I would suggest 5 DME /1700' high on 3 degree glide / clean (well flaps up with gear & speedbrake extended) / ROD 4400fpm/ is probably "game over" on most jet transports.

Fokker 100 was the best I have experienced for that situation, but still (!) . . . B737/DC9 no way, & I doubt that the Wunder- Bus can achieve that.

I didn't suggest that they should have thrown it away passing FL200, but . . surely 5 miles is a reasonable place to decide if "this is going to work" or not. Can you imagine anything other than a C130 on a tactical approach pulling that off ?

Last edited by captplaystation; 16th Jun 2013 at 23:31.
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Old 17th Jun 2013, 08:15
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FL200 at 30NM was salvageable on the MD80, without doing anything radical, and you were stabilized in time. Happened to us quite a lot in the Canaries at the time, with their uhh... "special" ATC..

The only reason for NOT doing it and asking for more track miles was that the cabin crew would complain that the nose-down deck angle would make it difficult to stow the last trolleys and check the cabin..

No chance on an Airbus though..
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Old 17th Jun 2013, 08:19
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The thing that really troubles me is WHY would a professional crew who fly regularly, presumably without incident, allow such an OFF THE SCALE event to manifest
I think this question is key. Why do professional pilots, after passing multiple, rigorous selection processes, and having been been trained according to generally accepted standards, with many years of experience (in most cases decades, together) and a presumably perfect track record, suddenly behave like amateurs, and take absolutely mind-boggling actions. I don't really have an answer.

Last edited by deptrai; 17th Jun 2013 at 09:10.
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Old 17th Jun 2013, 08:49
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NO wonder AF has teamed up with Aeroflot in Skyteam. They are very similar in urrogant attitude to safety. After famous take off from SVO with snow on wings, a seen same last winter (this time only fuselage was totally covered, could not see through starboard windows ).

Last Sunday on FV-SU flight form KGD to SPB (ULLI) guys in A320 made final turn about 1.5 km from runway at approf 500 ft. I don't believe this is allowed in SOP, despite ATC clearance for visual approach ( I cheked later ATC live feed archive)

My choice of airline - Lufthansa, full stop.
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Old 17th Jun 2013, 08:58
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NUMERICAL REASONING.

short-fuel you asked;

'When your're catching up on your flightpath, as it's an uncommon situation and as we are not used to calculate path like this everyday, you can't tell immediately and definitely, "it ain't gonna work".'

Why are "professional" flightcrew" 'catching up' on the flightpath? I thought we as a breed were selected for our ability to stay ahead of the aircraft?

"We are not used to calculate path like this everyday, you can't tell immediately.....". Then I would ask what are you doing in a public transport aircraft, allegedly in control?

As I tried to make clear in my earlier post, energy management can be reduced to SIMPLE maths, which is constantly updated by the chimp(s) in the cockpit.

As soon as ATC changed runways, the answer would have been immediately obvious that the maths/physics WOULD NOT PERMIT such a path to be flown.

ATC includes the word Control, but ultimately we as pilots have to say "NO UNABLE" to ATC, in strong terms sometimes, and accept that we're supposedly in control and they are there hopefully to stop us banging into each other and granite bits.

Either the AF crew had a macho attitude preventing this admission that they couldn't do it, or didn't appreciate their intantaneous excess energy equation?

If top dog ex-AF is now highly placed in EASA, what hope is there for a proper investigation of the CRM culture in that airline? I won't eagerly await the outcome, but refusal to travel with them will certainly work wonders as (lack of) money always talks ! ! ! !
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