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Air Asia Indonesia Lost Contact from Surabaya to Singapore

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Air Asia Indonesia Lost Contact from Surabaya to Singapore

Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:30
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Question IntuVue 3-D radar

Can someone tell me if the new weather IntuVue 3-D radar is now installed on any airliners.
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Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:32
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30 Mbs is too much. It's a typo for 30 Kbs.
Even 30kbps is probably overkill. I am pretty sure Iridium said they could offer the service for free if the airlines would install the units themselves. 1kb/minute would probably be enough data to cover 2 position reports every minute. Could be less than a megabyte a flight. As someone said, data charges for all commercial aircraft world wide would be significantly less than a SAR operation such as was undertaken for MH370.

A few of the aircraft I trained in had a system called SPIDERTRACKS that operated a little satellite communications thing. It would constantly ping my position to HQ and in the event of an engine shutdown (power failure to the circuit it was on) it would send an Alarm back to Spidertracks HQ who would pass it on to my training provider. This would of course go off all the time as people would forget to inhibit the system prior to engine shutdown on the ground. Such a simple system though so it isn't even new technology.
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Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:36
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Asides from that, there is always the option of using normal VHF/UHF radio to squawk current location. Again, only in emergency, but sure to be recorded by any aircraft and ground-stations in range. It could be turned on for instance if the radio was set to the emergency frequency and would append a 'selcall' or DTMF burst containing GPS coordinates at the end of any message. Many land-mobile radios have this feature already.
Pilots are taught to aviate, navigate and then communicate (their emergency).

Primary activation has to be automatic (with manual backup). Even Scully (Hudson River ditching) forgot to activate the ditching switch on his Airbus. (Correction: Scully didn't have time to run through his checklists)

You need a position reporting system which operates even after main electrical bus failures (as experienced in engine flameouts and mid-air breakups) and in situations in which the pilots are fighting for control (hands busy), etc. If you have electrical bus problems, the aircraft position sensors may not be sending the data to the emergency transmission system.

IMHO, constant or frequent periodic transmission seems to be a much more reliable method.

Last edited by NSEU; 30th Dec 2014 at 00:07.
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Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:38
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ATC facilities in the area

CDN ATC at #223 suggests there is little primary radar in the area of interest and what there is has only 100 mile range. Elsewhere she suggests that ATC radar is "mosaiced" together to form a composite picture.

Firstly there is a great deal of radar in the area and most of it is both long range primary RSR with SSR on the same rotating radar head. Range of the PSR is sometimes limited to 180 nm but can exceed 200 nm at the levels of interest.

At the very least, WIHH Jakarta, WIPP Palembang, WIIS Semarang, WARR Surabya have coverage in this area as well as some Malaysian stations. Whilst the Indonesian AIP is not currently available on line in English, a quick look at the source data being used by FlightRadar 24 will confirm this assertion - and you will also find a strange radar called TEST1 in operation too - who knows where that one is located.

The combining of radar data from multiple sources by use of a Mosaic tile system is a North American phenomenon. Most radar in this part of the world is of European origin (because French and Italian companies pay the biggest bribes) and Europe does not normally use the Mosaic system but rather a mullti-radar tracking system whereby the weighted average position from multiple sites are combined to give one "average" aircraft position. Regardless, Indonesian ATC is not exactly a paragon of modernity and is more likely to be using single source radar on any given display.

The reason for the continued existence of PRI radar in the area is that unlike Canada where the biggest threat is your neighbour to the south, life is not always so eternally peaceful in Asia. There are many countries very close to each other here. Indonesia has a population of 253 million, over seven times that of Canada with Malaysia only a few miles distant population 30 million, Singapore 5 million etc. Hence the need to maintain PRI radar for defence purposes as well as civil aviation.

So maybe CDN ATC you are not an ATC expert when it comes to south east Asia no matter what your homeland experience may be? But why worry, the amount of misinformation on this site never ceases to amaze me!
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Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:39
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Radar tapes perhaps...
Yes there may well be some data that was automatically captured and stored. As with MH370, will be less than 100% transparency regarding this - no one wants to reveal their capability (or lack of capability).

That's assuming it was within range of primary radar anyway. Its last known position was a fair way off shore, and even further away from any major centres.

What is the primary coverage like in the Java sea between Jakarta and Borneo?It may not be that great
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Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:46
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I work for an oil and gas company. We have several large modern helicopters contracted to fly our workforce offshore, up to 16 passengers at a time, 250nm offshore in tropical weather. We have a Honeywell satellite tracking system fitted to every helicopter. It transmits LAT/LONG, HDG, ALT and GS at 2 minute intervals and shows the track of the flight as a crawling icon. I can track flights in real time from any PC.
Almost all international flights now have ADS-B which does the same thing at two second intervals. And yes, you can track planes with any PC.

See: Flightradar24.com - Indonesia-Singapore Area
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Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:48
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Aircraft parameter and position remote monitoring is a reality. A proven technology already exists for this and it is being used.
AFIRS, originally developed by Canadian AeroMechanical Services, a service now offered by Flyht, can radiate data for flight following and remote system monitoring to base through the Iridium satellite network at a regular rate. It can be programmed, though, to enter continuous transmission mode in the event abnormal aircraft parameters are detected.
It can at present be interfaced to several aircraft systems to report, for example, engine trend, fuel, exceedance alarms, etc.
The potential is there.

Last edited by EcoFox; 29th Dec 2014 at 00:17.
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Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:51
  #248 (permalink)  
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Without knowing the location and capability of primary radar in that region, it is difficult to know if it was even in range of primary radar.

Even if it was in range, it is pretty unlikely it was being tracked in real time by primary radar. At 0600 on a Sunday morning when there is apparently nothing out of the usual to cause the military to be on a higher state of alert? Who would have been looking?
In normal state of alert, the Indonesian National Air Defense Command operate their Early Warning (E/W) radar network for a minimum of 18 hours a day (presumably the hours are on a rotating basis).

No one has to be "looking at" a particular aircraft as radar data are kept for a period of time.

In this case, we have two radar positions of interest. One is the facility at Belitung Island (at the Hanandjoeddin air force base). The second is the Iskandar AFB radar facility at Pangkalanbun, Central Borneo.

From the last known position, both facilities are well within PSR range of even the older Thompson-CSF radars we know the NADC operates. These E/W radars have a range of over 200nm. The NADC also has newer BAE Commander long range surveillance radars.

According to an Air Force spokesman this morning, the AirAsia flight was tracked to its last known position at bearing 247 degrees, 127nm from Pangkalanbun.
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Old 28th Dec 2014, 23:53
  #249 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by NSEU
Even Scully (Hudson River ditching) forgot to activate the ditching switch on his Airbus.
No, they never reached that item on the Dual Engine Failure checklist. They didn't have enough time.
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:17
  #250 (permalink)  
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According to an Air Force spokesman this morning, the AirAsia flight was tracked to its last known position at bearing 247 degrees, 127nm from Pangkalanbun.
Thanks PeeKay4. Unfortunately that word "known" leaves a lot of wriggle room. Those stated ranges are (presumably) for cruise flight levels. They will be much shorter range at lower levels - this systems are not over the horizon capability.

If the aircraft had really been tracked close to its last position, we should have found something yesterday. The Indonesian primary radar data would not have been released to the public. But the Indonesian military and civilian authorities would sure know where to look for an Indonesian aircraft carrying mostly Indonesian citizens.

Hope I'm wrong, but its looking a lot like MH370.
1. Over water. Pretty much equidistant from major centres. Would not have to descend too far to get below the horizon of any operating primary radar.
2. Dark. Early hours of Sunday morning.
3. ATC advised of weather and a request to deviate. So loss of radio, loss of secondary radar and then loss of primary radar not entirely out of the blue. Would look a bit like AF447 with upset and stall.
4. No wreckage found so far.

No one has to be "looking at" a particular aircraft as radar data are kept for a period of time.
By way of clarification, I meant that systems may not even have been operational at that time - not that an operator was siting at a screen monitoring traffic.
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:28
  #251 (permalink)  
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2. Dark. Early hours of Sunday morning.
Sunrise in Surabaya was about 5:14 local time. The sun was up the whole flight as far as I can tell.
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:31
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If the aircraft had really been tracked close to its last position, we should have found something yesterday.
Sadly, no.

We have this collective "CSI syndrome" that due to technology, "find my iPhone" and TV, we expect everything to happen in an instant.

But real life search can be a very difficult task -- especially underwater -- even with the best of information. There have been wreckage found only after extensive searching at the same exact area for months.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) the Indonesians are very good at methodically finding and recovering wreckage, given the amount of experience they have in major accident investigations over the years.
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:36
  #253 (permalink)  
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Earlier reports that the Captain had only 6100 hours was incorrect. That's his time on the A320 with Air Asia alone.

From a friend who knows Captain Irianto, he started his flying career in the Indonesian Airforce as an F-16 pilot. After military service, he joined Merpati Nusantara Airlines flying the F-28 before flying with Adam Air and later Sriwijaya Air on the 737 before joining Air Asia. He has 20,537 hours TT making him a very experienced operator in this region.
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:37
  #254 (permalink)  
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What the heck?

Satellite, mesh network, whatever nonsense people wish to dream up, the answer is the same.....

Given the limited number of scenarios in which it would be useful, and the rarity of the scenarios, how on earth do you think the manufacturers are going to convince the airlines to (a) pay for the equipment and its installation it across entire fleets (b) Continue paying operational costs to keep the equipment running just incase some rare event occurs given that there are already other mechanisms in place to monitor aircraft.

Its simple, you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. The methods in use today to monitor aircraft are perfectly good for 99.9999999999% of however many flights that take place every year on this planet !

Do you really think there is any point expending an inordinate amount of man-power and significant money for the 0.0000000001% that may or may not encounter an issue ?

I mean seriously, compared to the number of flights globally ever the same period how many untrackable instances have we had over the last 10 years ? 20 years ?

And then there's the obvious questions about electrical faults, mid-air breakups etc. putting a great big spanner in these dreams people are coming up with....

There may well be other areas of aviation safety where money and man-power would be well spent ..... but this aint' one of them !
I have posted on THIS thread and the thread of MH370 several times, a simple way to track aircraft by GPS with updates every minute or less, with an uninterruptable power supply and battery backup all the way to the incident site...and my posts keep getting deleted/moderated. NOT advocating and commercial brand or anything like that.

If you can't post such POSITIVE constructive ideas on this site in reference to these incidents, then what the heck is it worth?

Are we ONLY supposed to speculate what happened? Are we ONLY supposed to parrot and quote news reports? Ridiculous! If I can't post on this site anymore (as in, if THIS post is deleted) I am just going to cancel my account and depart....I am a professional pilot with 20+ years of experience and flying in the region of these incidents....if I can't post on here, WHO can?
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:39
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@ island airphoto
All commercial vessels are equipped with AIS (VHF transponder, which automatically transmits position reports) and SSAS (a satellite based reporting system, which can be polled), these systems are in addition to VHF and HF DSC systems.

With reference to the last position wonder if the Ozzie Jindalee OTHR system tracked this flight, provided it was switched on and operational (weekend!). Supposedly they can see and track a Cessna taking off from East Timor.
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:50
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re - Jindalee radar

@ andrikik - good point methinks, given that in the right wx they can watch aircraft going in and out of HK, Singapore.


1. Being cagey about hinting at performance - this is the region Jindalee is looking at. Lots of people know stuff about various accidents and will never share - part of life in the netherword :-(

2. Wx poor - atmosphere full of moisture and other variables.

3. Perhaps limited info was part of the "help" Australia offered yesterday?

Some great data and ancillary info in this thread - it's been good to check back every hour or two since yesterday. Less trolling that most places :-)
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:50
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The radar installed on 320 series has an "AUTO" setting that is used almost universally by the Asian pilots I have flown with. I have flown with Vietnamese, Chinese, PI, Thai, Korean, Indonesian, and Malaysian pilots. Every one of them used AUTO.

The problem is AUTO is not accurate a significant amount of time. Over flat terrain and water, maybe 80% accurate or a little higher. Over mountainous terrain maybe 50% or less. It will paint ground terrain as a Tstorm, and when it is doing that, it will not paint any actual weather as the return from the ground is vastly higher than that from any weather. The radar has turned its' gain down automatically because of the high returns from the ground.

Flying over Indonesia using AUTO, it would be very easy to fly right through a huge thunderstorm in an Airbus. I have seen it too many times.

My legacy carrier has a little sticker on the AUTO setting. The sticker says

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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:52
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Its hard not to speculate that this was weather.A few posts have given some good insight and they need repeating:
a)Never ever try to outclimb a cell
b)Speed margin is critical-hence choice of level
c)Interpretation of wx radar is an art and surprisingly over-looked in training
d)Once in it,enage cws,disengage AT,set turb N1 and fly attitude only

Pay-to-fly crews are common in Asia(no inference here to Air Asia or this crew).However,there are many airlines flying today with FO's neither trained nor allowed to takeoff and land,never mind interpret a wx radar screen and formulate a plan of action to avoid multiple cells.Wouldnt have been a dry cell here so either they didnt know how to use or interpret the wx radar or if they did,their avoidance action was insufficient.

All the Asian airlines(and many others also) use this pay-to-fly or fly free cadet system and its alarming.Ive seen a pilot try to follow the magenta line right into a storm that would tear the plane apart.And they dont land or takeoff yet theyre signed off(ie.theres no safety pilot which begs the question..what if the Captain keels over?).Ive watched in the sim where the pilot cant handle a simple V1 cut yet is always signed off.And these same guys are upgraded to left seat once they get the 3000 hours,all of it on autopilot.Only a while back,we saw the embarassing and sad crash of a 777 at KSFO simply because there was no electronic glideslope and they couldnt fly.We werent allowed to say anything because it wasnt pc or because it was racist.But these accidents cost lives and something must be said.

There is no substitute for airmanship and two experienced pilots upfront who have the healthiest respect for ITCZ weather.They steer well clear and they dont wait for ATC either(very often VHF will be temporarily lost due static and some guys want to keep the magenta line until they get clearance).
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 00:54
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As others have said, it was NOT dark. Sunrise at local time was 5:15 AM and the aircraft lost contact at around 6:17 AM.

That's not exactly "dark".

There are air disasters where the wreckage was not located for 24-48 hours, some even longer (remember AF447?). Yes the flight is still "missing" despite some unconfirmed reports of wreckage sighting, but people need to think about this a little more logically than come to the conclusion "this is looking a lot like MH370".
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Old 29th Dec 2014, 01:01
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Sunrise in Surabaya was about 5:14 local time. The sun was up the whole flight as far as I can tell.
Just checked again - you are correct. Was dawn in the area of last known position at the time of departure, but was daylight an hour later at time plane disappeared.

There have been wreckage found only after extensive searching at the same exact area for months.
You can't have it both ways however. Most scenarios which cause sudden loss of communications will cause lots of debris. Conversely, most scenarios that cause minimal debris imply control and hence communications should be maintained.

Sudden loss of all communications could be due to catastrophic structural failure which would cause lots of debris, or an AF447 like event which also caused fragmentation at impact and lots of floating debris. They found lots of debris fairly quickly (days) with AF447 - even though
i. the initial search was delayed by at least a day
ii. the search area was much larger (they didn't "see" loss of the transponder with 447)
iii. the search area was mid-ocean (severely complicating the search by limiting aircraft time on scene and delaying arrival of ships).
None of that applies here.

There simply are not that many explanations for sudden loss of all communications and no debris - especially in a small area.

First Adm Sigit Setiayana, commander of Indonesia's Naval Aviation Center at Surabaya air force base, says 12 navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships are taking part in the search, along with ships and planes from Singapore and Malaysia, the Associated Press reports.
Singapore, Malaysia, and Australian assets also looking.

If nothing is found today, we will need to contemplate other explanations.
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