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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 17th Feb 2015, 11:58
  #3241 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by SLFandProud View Post
Oh absolutely, I quite agree; the point I was trying to make is that this is a completely normal and natural evolution, and as depressing as it may be if you were once a 'sky god' there's no point tilting at that particular windmill.

It happens in /every/ industry.

Hell, the software engineers of my generation will moan that the job was more skilled when we hand rolled assembly language using nothing but a HEX editor, and that all this modern nonsense like automatic garbage collection and strict type checking means that any old Tom, Dick or Harry could write code with all the skill taken out of it.
Your analogy does not hold for aviation.

As a software engineer you will know that there are always going to be difficult areas - the 'otherwise cases' that drop through the IF-THEN-ELSE logic or the places where the analysts and designers cannot come up with a simple fix as the number of potential permutations in the real world make a simple solution difficult. In the FMC and Autopilot software the way out of those nP problem areas has been for those systems to failover to the human pilot handing them the bag-of-bolts and expecting them to recover the situation that the automation could not.What you are saying is true that many areas of work have had automation creep in and deskill the operator. But aviation is unlike those as people will die if the automation goes wrong and the software analysts, designers and implementers have ducked the final responsibility when it gets difficult and handed it to the pilots. You know the 'sky gods' you keep running down. Because management in their ignorance treats automation as fault free they are paying off the 'sky gods' and replacing them with systems managers. So they are in the process of removing the final safety stop that the software analysts, designers and implementers always assumed would be there to save the day. In other words management and the software analysts, designers and implementers have worked together to create a system that fails dangerous rather than fails safe. Indeed short sighted attempts at graceful degradation have actually made the failure cases far more difficult for the human to take over as the actual state of the automatics can be indeterminate - but they cannot be switched off.

So the systems builders expect a 'skilled sky god' to save the day when they find it too difficult to build automation to cope and their system fails. Their systems do not fail in a simple way but sometimes in unexpected and complex ways compounding the original problems and management, trusting the system providers who say how very safe their systems are start deskilling the pilots so there are no 'sky gods' available in the cockpit to pick up the bag of bolts.

This potential problem was foreseen long long ago. One of two things will have to happen, the systems builders clean up their act and build 100% fault tolerant systems that can cope with multiple sensor failures and never lose control and automate the pilot completely. This may happen sometime but on current showings the systems builders are not yet clever enough and couldn't afford the insurance. Or the industry starts ensuring the pilots can actually pick up the pieces WHEN the systems fail. This means very limited training in the routine and very intensive and extensive training in systems faults and LOC including live manual flying and LOC training.

I get the impression that at the moment heads are firmly in the sand they will need to be extracted.
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 12:05
  #3242 (permalink)  
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I'd like to add that I'm in the sim next week - thanks for giving my sim bloke a brilliant new plan to mess my world up...
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 13:07
  #3243 (permalink)  
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Better at least to be messed up in the virtual world than the real . . . . . back in the day, there always seemed to be a bit of time left at the end to "try things". These days, unfortunately, the box- ticking seems to take up pretty much every session, shame, a bit of "out of the box" stuff was always valuable / eye-opening.
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 15:54
  #3244 (permalink)  
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The analogy relating to business systems does hold - and in a surprising way.

Many companies have business continuity policies in place to be used in the event of a system failure while system repair/recovery takes place.

It is often a regulatory requirement in certain businesses and jurisdictions.

Plans are prepared and maintained and staff trained in what is needed in the event of a large failure. This takes up time and significant resources.

If other businesses can invest in their staff to enable them to manually keep things going in a system failure situation then surely it makes business sense as well as safety sense to do the same with pilots.

Medium to large businesses will also run full-scale disaster scenarios to ensure that as part of the recovery process, availability within a specified time can be assured.

Another significant investment of time and money in the business version of the Flight Sim.
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 16:27
  #3245 (permalink)  
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Sorry the idea of continuity holds - but its not quite the same as banking cutover to a standby data center. A data center cutover is automated with redundant copies of the databases held at secondary sites. The system does a cut over then rollback out of the last few minutes then rollback forward and reapplies transactions and the users may get an initial issue at ATMs and online but normally only seconds. In a disaster recovery the system is far more extended and the business can afford an hour down while the recovery service comes in. Everyone is called out and everyone works to their script. The systems are designed to failover to the backups and indeed with all the fault tolerant machines I worked with the user doesn't notice any part of the system being crashed.

In the aircraft case the pilots have to pick up the aircraft in seconds and get it right first time without any external support. The system is actually designed to failover to the pilots. It is not a backup system or a remote FMS that picks up the pieces it is the flight crew. The crew are actually seen as the backup to the FMS and Autopilot. So to go back to your business analogy its as if the failover all works but nobody is bothering to keep the backup system updated or running and they've saved money by not paying a disaster recovery service.

This is not fair on the flight crews - they can be put into a position that they have sketchy knowledge of and zero practiced skill. As you roll fast inverted in the incipient spin with a dead engine on the inside is not the time to start learning how to do a spin recovery in that aircraft type IMC on limited standby panel.
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 17:04
  #3246 (permalink)  
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In the FMC and Autopilot software the way out of those nP problem areas has been for those systems to failover to the human pilot handing them the bag-of-bolts and expecting them to recover the situation that the automation could not.
I’m glad I’m not the only one to think that way. You could also add: “While overloading the $%^@ out them with aural/visual/tactile warnings that may be in error or inappropriate.”

A few tens of billions of transistors ridden by a million lines of code have thrown in the towel in the hope that a suited monkey with 85 billion neurons and 15 trillion synapses can do better... Unfortunately, a lot of mine are being used to tell the difference between various sorts of libation and to track attractive females. Not to mention run away from scary animals with big teeth.

Moving on, what separates the “old school” pilot from the “new” one in terms of their ability to recover from (or not even approach) UA/upsets? Did the previous generation of airframes flip on their backs every-now-and then to keep you in practice? Did people hand-fly 10hr sectors? Was there more UA/upset training? Or do some of today’s aircraft have a level of complexity in non-normal situations that would give Chuck Yeager difficulties unless he’d spent a few weeks with the FCOM in the sim? I’m not sure, hence all the “?”

Having automation that is very “modal” is OK up to a point but having modes that are hardly ever seen in real life and rarely practiced with causes problems to neural networks (that’s us) that have optimised their topography to deal with the input they get 99.99% of the time. If you want to know what that feels like, just try driving a car with your left foot on the accelerator and your right foot on the brake: it works while you are consciously controlling your muscles but as soon as your focus of attention turns elsewhere, say an obstacle suddenly appearing in front of you, it all goes wrong. Same as on of those trick bikes where the handlebar steering is reversed. You can’t retrain to proficiency by swapping over “LEFT” and “RIGHT” and issuing a notice to bike riders that this is now the case. Aircraft manufacturers and operators seem to think you can do just that...
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 19:03
  #3247 (permalink)  
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One well known Middle East carrier boasted that they had added one extra hour per year of manual handling. What a laugh that was. In other words extra safety measures that involve simulator training are seen as a unnecessary cost impost.

There are well known EU airlines who have reduced the common 4 x 4hrs per annum = 16hrs to 3 days <16hrs per annum. Guess why? and it's not to improve capability. Strict SOP's adherence will negate the need for skilful handling; yet what we are often talking about is skilful management of the situation. This could involve skilful use of automatics, or god forbid, skilful dexterity. "The future's dark, the future's................??" anybody's guess.
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 20:53
  #3248 (permalink)  
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Look on the bright side, RAT.
You can always count on gravity to pull an aircraft back towards earth.
(Mis)Management can't do anything about that.
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 21:14
  #3249 (permalink)  
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Please Mr Airbus...do something about a system that will trim against a pilot in the case of partial or substantial upset.
Airbus auto trims with pilots inputs not against. If the automatics degrade then it leaves the trim as is. As far as I have read FAC never trims against pilots inputs. If you try and confuse auto trim by "whisk the mayo" then it will average the inputs. The problem with recent event appears to be recognizing when auto trim is on/off and not following procedures. When pilot takes control he/she needs to check all flight controls - there aren't that many - should take but a couple of seconds!

Last edited by xcitation; 17th Feb 2015 at 22:02.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 02:52
  #3250 (permalink)  
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I have a feeling that this accident will become more puzzling once FDR available.
The plane left the normal law, that's clear.
Aircraft entered the stall and then probably a spiral dive that PF or something managed to reduce it to a developed stall.
We know that FDR and CVR recordings stopped moments before belly splash. Perhaps, THS was separated along with APU and recorders. Considering the relatively low damage of the wreckage, it is possible that THS broke at low speed, ie below the speed of maneuvering. Is this a case of induced oscillations that lead to extremely high aerodynamic loads on THS? Was there a battle between FAC trimming NU for low g factor versus PF trimming manually for speed recovery. Is this a cocktail of crashes of the big brother, AA + AF?
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 03:06
  #3251 (permalink)  
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I've kept up with all the posts on this thread and the info in the media about this crash.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THE FDR AND CVR stopped before the belly splash (as you put it)?

The CVR and FDR haven't been released and I have seen nothing to indicate when the CVR and FDR stopped.

IF I have missed something, please let me know.

And if anyone else has something to add ,please let me know.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 03:31
  #3252 (permalink)  
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automatic translation from Indonesian:
"124 minutes were recorded on the CVR until the final seconds before the disaster. Revealed that in the last minute AirAsia flights QZ8501 not sound like a loud explosion and the sound of another explosion. There was only the communication in the cockpit, where the pilot and co-pilot struggled to control the aircraft until the final seconds.Given the explosion associated with aircraft electrical system that also supplies electrical power to the CVR and FDR. So when a short circuit occurs, cut off the electric current makes the CVR and the FDR stopped recording so that the sound boom will not be recorded"

Last edited by _Phoenix; 18th Feb 2015 at 03:59.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 03:43
  #3253 (permalink)  
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thanks, but it sure doesn't sound official and it doesn't make much sense, granted I am but a poor American who insists on trying to understand English.

so, let's wait for something a bit more official and understandable.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 03:53
  #3254 (permalink)  
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"Your analogy does not hold for aviation."

It doesn't hold for software engineering either. And given that most modern aircraft systems are the product of software engineering it's a worry.

I've run dozens of young bright programmers who think the software tools and environment they worked in was foolproof. Anything dot net and Java and it must be good!

Actually that's totally false. In reality almost all software generated on these types of systems is not deterministic nor foolproof. For time critical applications like machine control they are worse than useless.

Luckily, I assume, modern aircraft control systems use real time executives with deterministic software languages - i.e. no garbage collection and very precise timing available.

Sadly though the people who code this stuff are trained at university in the soft languages and from what I can see have no idea about reliable, efficient and/or elegant programming. As a result there is a massive amount of program specification required to compensate plus massive amounts of test cases. My experience is that most code can be programmed to meet the test cases - and then can be expected to fail outside the test-case environment.

The A330 upset near Learmonth was an example where the software and system test cases failed and critical timing issues suddenly came into play.

Almost certainly having a crusty old programmer used to working on bare iron in C or C++ would be a better option. They've had years of seeing all the different ways software and systems can stuff up and so are far better placed to design and write conservative bullet-proof code.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 14:38
  #3255 (permalink)  
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@skyhigh and phoenix - status of information

My impression is that what was published is between what you gentlemen both state. Little has been expressed in official press conferences but it is a little bit more than suggested.

On the CVR - KNKT officially declared that the pilots were the only voices in the cockpit and that they had been working hard very hard till the end. At the same time there was a continuous series of alarms going off.

On the FDR - the only information we have is small cutouts from the parliamentary hearing. I have matched the extracted data with that of earlier statements and find that it matches quite good. But it does not go beyond 24,000 ft.

The international press appears to have dropped this case. Other sources continue to provide information but it takes more time to process that. It appears that a number of damaged flight control surfaces and parts have been found. I would need more and better photos and more study time to be able to identify them with certainty though. Pieces are multiple meters long, white, and have floated all the way to Sulawesi. Based on the initial search, marine traffic patterns, and currents it is not impossible that they have not been spotted before.

One official item from a number of press conferences that rather suprised me is, that originally the cockpit was said to be found on a specific location that was later confirmed by side scan sonar. First stated being at 500 m from the main fuselage. Days later changed to 20 m from the main fuselage. What was stated is that the 'cockpit' was buried deep in 'the mud'. So a section floating around or dragging over the seabed is unlikely. Later both pilots where located but (till now) only the F/O recovered and identified. That recovery was at a time when only the 20 m cockpit location was mentioned.

If both statements were basically correct you get the impression that there were 2 fracture surfaces. The first in front of the wing. The second just behind the cockpit. That would confirm with my early remarks about fracture surfaces location probability being higher in the region of production breaks.

If thats all true then we get a forward cylindrical fuselage section at 500 m. And the separated cockpit section at 20 m from the main fuselage and wing. That would appear to point to a breakup scenario that is different from that of the PPRuNe majority view. Which might point to another chain of events ... below 24,000 ft.

So, at this stage we are not sure where the cockpit was, and not sure where the forward section is located. I have no idea why this information is not published.

PPRuNe posters have expressed their admiration for the divers (and others). I think it is also time to express the same for the local fishermen in Sulawesi. Fishing 50 km offshore in a small boat, finding remains, and carrying them back to shore ... says it all.

Last edited by A0283; 18th Feb 2015 at 14:48. Reason: The local fishermen
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 16:41
  #3256 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by _Phoenix View Post

automatic translation from Indonesian:
_Phoenix, your interpretation of the auto translation is out of context. The author of the blog is saying that there is nothing in the CVR that suggests a bomb or explosion went off due to terrorism. All that could be heard on the CVR was the pilot and copilot struggling to control the aircraft right until the last moments. The blog author then goes on to hypothesize that an explosion due to other causes can not be ruled out and gives the example of the TWA 800 where the fuel tank exploded due to a short circuit.

The blogger then implies that if a short circuit occurred causing a fuel tank explosion (eg, like TWA 800), then the short circuit would have prevented the CVR and FDR from recording the sound of an explosion as well. This point is mentioned to give credit to the blogger's 'fuel tank explosion' hypothesis since no explosion was heard on the CVR.

So the blogger is not at all suggesting that the CVR and FDR stopped recording before impact in QZ8501.

And, yes, I am fluent in Bahasa Indonesia.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 18:41
  #3257 (permalink)  
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Exploding fuel tanks has been a problem characteristic of Boeings. Catastrophic stalls in flight have been a problem characteristic of Airbii.

What creeps into my consciousness as the recent Airbus hull losses have unfolded is that astute, engaged, qualified crews would have seen their situations developing, recognized and countered the weather threats, and take mitigating action before the crises occurred.

I don't disparage any crew faced with a life-threatening situation. It's not easy to maintain indefinite, unrelenting diligence. And staring out the window with 1000 NM's left to go doesn't lend itself to rabbit like reflexes. Who of us knows how we'd react to a sudden crisis on any given day?

My point is only that we must always pay attention, scan for anomalies, and never turn it all over completely to George.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 19:08
  #3258 (permalink)  
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Thanks training . I am not versed in Indonesean, but was pretty sure there was a problem with context.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 19:16
  #3259 (permalink)  
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There were a couple of news stories posted today that included this quote:
[Transport Minister] Jonan said that the parties involved in the investigation, including plane manufacturer Airbus and AirAsia, must accept the committee's findings and not interfere in the inquiry.
Does this imply that Airbus and AirAsia may not want to accept the findings?
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 23:00
  #3260 (permalink)  
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It certainly appears that is the case - it may even be that they have already raised objections and this is a shot across the bows to prevent further 'interference'.

That raises all sorts of potential issues and it would be easy to speculate on the bete noir that Airbus is complaining about and similarly the problems that AirAsia may not want raised.

It is another of those areas where we must wait and see. Certainly it looks like a good supply of popcorn may be needed.
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