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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 4th Jan 2015, 10:10
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back on topic

Leaving the various PC trolls aside for a moment (notice to all: don't feed the trolls!).

The last sentence in this Reuters report is interesting, as it pretty clearly states that AirAsia had, in fact, the permission to fly on the day.

Excerpted quote:

A joint statement from Singapore's civil aviation authority (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group said that AirAsia had the necessary approvals to operate a daily flight between Surabaya and Singapore.
Full article here: Weather frustrates divers as more AirAsia wreckage found | Reuters
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 10:24
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Efforts to capture images with remote operated vehicles (ROVs) were frustrated on Saturday by poor visibility.
I wonder if there are any images that conclusively prove that the objects of interest are,in fact,from the aircraft in question
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 10:46
  #1163 (permalink)  
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A joint statement from Singapore's civil aviation authority (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group said that AirAsia had the necessary approvals to operate a daily flight between Surabaya and Singapore.
Yes from the Singapore side the approval paperwork was OK, we knew that already a few days ago. Apparently this is from the Indenosian side that the "Sunday" approval was missing. It is an interesting point if proven true, as far as availibility of the Met services at the departure airport , outside of normal airport operating hours on a Sunday.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 10:55
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I wrote this meteorological analysis on this flight.

Indonesia Air Asia 8501: A Meteorological Analysis | Irish Weather Online
 
Old 4th Jan 2015, 11:26
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With one small correction:
the flight was never cleared to FL380, but to FL340 only.
Though it appeared at FL363 on radar, but this was not a cleared climb.

In summary I would say, this is weather not untypical for the region, nor for the time of the year.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 11:29
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A few things:

1) According to Indonesian authorities AirAsia was NOT allowed to fly on Sundays.

2) Despite this, some kind of flight plan must have been filed somewhere for the flight to leave the ground at the airport of origin.

3) Does this in legal terms mean that the flight was allowed although it was not?

4) What would the insurance company make of it?

5) How will this discrepancy affect victims' families?

6) According to Singaporean authorities the flight was allowed to take place in Singaporean airspace to land on a Singaporean airport.

7) Does this in legal terms mean that if the wreck is found in Singaporean waters everything is OK, legally?

8) Or, consequently, does this mean that if the wreck is found in Indonesian waters everything is the opposite of OK, legally?
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 11:36
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He requested FL380 and diversion , he got diversion but told to maintain FL . He was then cleared to FL340. He would have heard other diverting traffic and he would have had TCAS traffic also so we can assume he was keen to only climb to cleared level . Now if he was at FL363 he was not in control at that point . If what I've read so far is correct .
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 11:41
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I wrote this meteorological analysis on this flight.
Good report.I noticed before that EK409 started out being to 8501's right and ended up being well left(south-west)of their flight track.Their deviation appears to be considerable compared to 8501.What 409 saw and their amount of deviation will be of some importance to the investigation.409 faced the same weather at the same time on the same route.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 11:46
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Yes, and I only said it had requested a climb to FL380. In the end it actually was in a climb towards FL380, whether intentional or not. I suspect not...
 
Old 4th Jan 2015, 12:01
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If he hit one of these updrafts you describe and busted his altitude , FL380 is only relevant in that it was a request and probable as high as he could go . To say he was on climb to FL380 is a bit misleading at that point , just as easily say he was on climb to the top of the CB , 45,000 ft or higher . Great weather brief by the way 👍.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 12:09
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Can anyone advise what happens to barometric pressure within a strong updraft at typical cruise levels. I have not come across a definitive answer to this. Some articles describe increased barometric pressure, Others describe a reduced barometric pressure (which is assumed to be the explanation for the high apparent rate of "climb" reportedly seen in this incident).

Just wondering what pressure difference (if any) the static ports see as you enter a strong updraft.

The plane is obviously pushed up by the updraft. But it would be confusing if the static ports sensed increased pressure. At the same time as the plane was being pushed up, the altitude would decrease and the AP would presumably increase pitch and power to recover this lost altitude.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 12:10
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MrSnuggles :

Trying to reply to your points 2 and 3 : a Flight plan is just a plan to inform ATC of the flight all along its route, and is approved by ATC only, and tacticaly on the day. As as far as I can see from here this was the case.

An application to fly a route carrying pax between 2 States is a totally different thing , subject to political agreements ,reciprocity, et.c and normally ATC ( i.e. the ATS service provider) is not involved, the Civil Aviation authority would be.

The 2 are not linked. You can get one and not the other. And it goes both ways.

For the legal aspects . I do not know, I am not an expert on that.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 12:12
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That's a fair point, yes. I have updated the summary to take into account both of your comments.
 
Old 4th Jan 2015, 12:39
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Originally Posted by Far East driver
Once airborne they were now under pressure to get to Singapore and back, twice, without overrunning their duty hours. When approaching a massive build up their first reaction would have been to go around it but then the time penalty would start to register. The desire to stay inside their time bracket would encourage a 'suck it and see' approach and maybe they tried this.
Sounds like rubbish to me. Do you really think that a 5 minute weather diversion (or an orbit for that matter) would have any bearing on whether they could complete their 4 sectors? What would have happened had they been held at Singapore the first time? Our rules have always had allowable extensions; I'd be very surprised if the Indons don't have. Either that or there is a very dodgy mindset present here.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 12:51
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Originally Posted by slats11
Can anyone advise what happens to barometric pressure within a strong updraft at typical cruise levels. I have not come across a definitive answer to this. Some articles describe increased barometric pressure, Others describe a reduced barometric pressure (which is assumed to be the explanation for the high apparent rate of "climb" reportedly seen in this incident).

Just wondering what pressure difference (if any) the static ports see as you enter a strong updraft.

The plane is obviously pushed up by the updraft. But it would be confusing if the static ports sensed increased pressure. At the same time as the plane was being pushed up, the altitude would decrease and the AP would presumably increase pitch and power to recover this lost altitude.
According to research I have read which tends to be biased toward effects on the ground, the air pressure is lower in the updraft than ambient and higher in the downdraft. However, the changes don't appear to be significant enough to provide alarming changes perhaps a few millibars (HPA). I would be more concerned about sudden temperature changes that may fox the ADIRU algorithms for Mach No. and could cause a sudden overspeed indication. Those more knowledgeable in that area could perhaps jump in. However, I have heard of aircraft systems taking emergency overspeed protection action on OAT changes.
The severe updraft itself could have been up to 10,000fpm (100Kts) if you add that to a sudden protection initiated nose up pitch so uncommanded and unexpected by the crew - things could have got suddenly quite exciting. The cold airframe could have hit liquid rain in the updraft which could immediately freeze on the very cold aircraft surfaces and static and pitot ports. I presume at the same time ECAM would have 'helpfully' been alerting to several urgent issues with alarms going off (overspeed then stall and pressure instrument failure?) this could have been followed by the aircraft at high pitch flying into a downdraft of 10,000fpm down - all of this IMC. Not a pretty thought.

This is why the advice is not to fly near or into severe storms.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 12:51
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Can never know what's going on inside a blokes head but being ex fast jet he may have been type A ish ? He probable flew through , around or over this type of weather a lot this time of year ? He was one of 3-4 Air Asia aircraft all going in similar direction dealing with same weather system and they where not holding or turning around . There was heavy long haul A/C on same track . Add in a 4 sector day over 11 hours with possible holding in SIN .
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 13:01
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The severe updraft itself could have been up to 10,000fpm (100Kts) if you add that to a sudden protection initiated nose up pitch so uncommanded and unexpected by the crew - things could have got suddenly quite exciting. The cold airframe could have hit liquid rain in the updraft which could immediately freeze on the very cold aircraft surfaces and static and pitot ports. I presume at the same time ECAM would have 'helpfully' been alerting to several urgent issues with alarms going off (overspeed then stall and pressure instrument failure?) this could have been followed by the aircraft at high pitch flying into a downdraft of 10,000fpm down - all of this IMC. Not a pretty thought.

This is why the advice is not to fly near or into severe storms.
From the CAPE values (around 2000 J/kg) indicated by the model analysis I calculated MAXIMUM updraft velocities of around 55 knots. In reality, rain-loading of the updraft reduces actual velolcities by maybe 30-40%, but let's allow for some stronger outliers too. I still can't see 100 knots being possible, but that's a moot point at this stage.
 
Old 4th Jan 2015, 13:10
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Originally Posted by Toruk Macto
He requested FL380 and diversion , he got diversion but told to maintain FL . He was then cleared to FL340. He would have heard other diverting traffic and he would have had TCAS traffic also so we can assume he was keen to only climb to cleared level . Now if he was at FL363 he was not in control at that point . If what I've read so far is correct .
I bet they were already climbing before the FL340 clearance was issued. The fact that ATC never got a response tells me QZ8501 never heard the clearance and they were already out of control.

What time was the FL363 screenshot taken?

Here are two examples of the timeline as reported by two sources:

06:12 QZ8501 requests left deviation from airway. Deviation approved.
Pilot then requests climb from FL320 to FL380
ATC asks pilot to standby, due to nearby traffic and to coordinate with next air traffic control sector (Singapore)

06:14 ATC calls QZ8501 to approve partial climb to FL340
No response received after 2 or 3 further attempts to contact
ATC requests help from nearby aircraft to contact QZ8501

06:16 ATC still cannot reach QZ8501
Aircraft still observed on radar screen

06:17 Radar contact lost
Last reported altitude: FL290
06:12L QZ8501 requests Wx deviation and climb to FL380 (deviation granted by ATC)
06:14L ATC issues clearance to FL340 (no response)
06:16L Still in radar contact
06:17L ADS-B contact only
06:18L No transponder (disappears from radar screen)

Last edited by Lost in Saigon; 4th Jan 2015 at 14:45.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 13:15
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There has been no mention so far, that I recall having been through this whole thing, of Air Asia HQ, or Maintrol, or whatever receiving any ECAM Mx fault messages, correct? I assume their ACARS was working that day.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 13:21
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I have read most posts here, and have formed the following take-home messages:

1 Air travel is demonstrably much safer than at any previous time - several recent high profile crashes not withstanding.

2. Air travel is becoming cheaper in absolute (not just relative terms). Its not just a LCC thing. I flew Qantas Sydney - LAX return for $1515 in 1990. I can get much the same fare on Qantas cheaper than this in 2015. Given fuel and labor costs are a large proportion of overheads, it is incredible that costs have decreased in absolute terms over a 25 year period.

3. The emergence of LCC have increased this trend, But it was happening anyway.

4. Commercial aviation is highly competitive, and many airlines fail. Airlines have little discretion over three large overheads - cost of fuel, cost of planes, and cost of borrowing to buy planes (interest rates). There will be some economies of scale of course, but other than this airlines presumably pay much the same for these three things. So when looking to cut costs, airlines can only look to costs of staff, training costs, and maintenance (off-shoring this as much as possible). Cadet ships and P2F reflect the fact that this is where airlines can cut costs.

5. In an increasingly high tech world, people have less understanding of the equipment they use. Whatever they use is increasingly a "black box" - whatever happens inside is a complete mystery. If something breaks, it increasingly needs to be fixed by a professional or else replaced. People have less ability to understand how things work (and they are persuaded they have less need to understand anyway as they are so reliable and nothing goes wrong).

6. Aviation is part of society and is not immune to trends in broader society. Airmanship and a thorough understanding of the aircraft has been gradually replaced by automation and SOPs and ECAM etc. At the same time, it is cheaper for the airline to rely on automation and SOPs, and not to teach airmanship and sound manual flying skills. So all the drivers here are aligned in the same direction.

7. Managers in all walks of life love SOPs as they create a level playing field in their eyes. A SOP can be read by a non-operational manager. SOPs eliminate "judgement call" as a defence for a decision made - non-operationsal managers always hate these as they are unable to judge a judgement call. But they can judge adherence to a SOP. So SOPs serve to dichotomise an individuals performance into either "right" and "wrong" - in a way that is accessible to a non-operational manager.

8. Due to reduced cost, worldwide capacity has increased dramatically. When you need to dramatically increase supply, quality can suffer. People who would not have made the cut a few decades ago now get through (this isn't just an aviation thing either). And everyone wants to believe that quality pilots don't really matter much anymore. The airlines want to believe it to reduce costs. The airplane manufacturers peddle this line knowing it is what the airlines want to hear.

9. On top of all this, some people here suggest a problem with Asian cultures and over-reliance on automation. They point to the presumed cause for this crash, or Asiana 214 at SFO (and overlook the western crews of AF447 or QF1 at Bangkok). I have spent a fair bit of time in Asia, and enjoy the culture. Maybe there is a case that the deferential culture at times allows small problems to develop into big problems. Maybe. But I suspect the real issue has less to do with the culture per se, and more to do with:
a) this is where growth has been most dramatic (and hence quality control is likely to be most problematic)
b) developing countries mean developing standards (as mentioned by others)
c) they have to deliver the product at a lower price consistent with the lower cost of living in this region. They pay the same for fuel and planes, so guess where the savings are achieved.

And I suspect that worldwide aviation has much bigger problems to address than different cultures in different areas. Because our similarities are greater than our differences.


Its all a bit grim. Particularly as bean-counters will keep pointing to number 1 (increased safety overall) and state there is no problem.
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