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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:16
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Informing aviation security authorities
5.11 If, in the course of an investigation it becomes known, or it is suspected, that an act of unlawful interference was involved, the investigator-in-charge shall immediately initiate action to ensure that the aviation security authorities of the State(s) concerned are so informed.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:21
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What an appalling loss of life!

Lubitz's hiding of relevant, potentially disqualifying personal information from his employer is a violation of the trust expected of a person in a critical occupation, but is also a very human reaction to threats to their livelihood and self-image.

The implementation of two persons in the cockpit rules is a logical first step, although it is not a perfect solution, to the cockpit access problem created by the 9-11 cockpit doors.


What is needed , long term, is implementation by regulators of a Human Reliability Program regulation. These programs already exist for people who do other critical actions such as with nuclear reactors. You can get a taste of what this type of program would entail here: https://fmt.kcp.com/OSTfederalagent/Docs/HRP.pdf

The bad news is that there will be a personal cost and loss of freedom as well as program operational costs in $$. If the unions play their hands right, they should be able to at least generate some compensating pay for their members in the process of agreeing to go along.

Last edited by Machinbird; 28th Mar 2015 at 19:23. Reason: format issue
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:44
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Originally Posted by WingNut60
So we don't have the bandwidth for real-time recording, because that would need way too many satellites and be too expensive but we will have enough to operate the aircraft from ground stations.


That should save a dollar or two!!
There is more than enough bandwidth now to stream DFDR and probably CVR. There is intent to provide streaming video to WiFi in the aircraft to replace some IFE. Similarly, there is enough bandwidth available to provide 'optionally manned' aircraft control links. There are multiple ways of providing these high bandwidth links not all will be via SATCOM. More importantly within a decade even the high bandwidth comms in use today will look as old fashioned as telegraph using Morse code.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:44
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Are you suggesting a sanity cross check pre-flight?
Paramedics establish if a patient is mentally altered at a scene by confirming they are 4x4. Meaning you ask 4 basic questions and verify 4 correct answers e.g. name, todays date, who is the President, do you know where you are. Any hesitation or spurious answer helps assess the individuals state of mind.
If I may, let me share some of my personal experience from the entirely different point of view - namely, from the point of view of someone who's been dealing with major depression; what's more important though, four of my close friends have attempted suicide, one of them succeeding (erm). Socially vulnerable people tend to stick together, sort of.

First of all, I am not a medical professional, nowhere close, so this is entirely anecdotal evidence; yet, in all those four suicide attempts, nobody has noticed anything unusual in the person's behavior just before it happened, and I seriously doubt that any "sanity test" in the form of questionnaire, long or short, conducted by a professional, layman or paramedic, would discover the immediate trouble. In my opinion, when people are saying like "oh, his or her replies were shorter and more tense than usual, we should have known etc etc" - it's all hindsight.

Yet, at the same time, none of these unfortunate events were entirely unexpected, and I'm fairly sure that a proper psychological screening - let me emphasize "proper", that's not the 10-question self-assessment form - would reliably detect significant majority of those who're in danger of attempting suicide, sooner or later. That doesn't make them unfit to fly; nevertheless, it probably necessitates certain precautions and more frequent and thorough testing, that, it an ideal imaginary world, could be combined with a help and support program (well, a proper support program, not the one which ends with a SSRI prescription). It's never going to happen, of course - rather, the society in whole is usually more than happy to hand the gun and bullets to those who're contemplating the idea of shooting oneself, instead of offering any kind of help.

Yet again, a point I should make is that in all those cases of suicide that I happen to know, it happened when the person in question was alone. Just saying; and I don't know the exact proportion of cases when the person wasn't alone. But, judging from what I've seen, it feels to me that a 2-person rule - how inconvenient, "knee-jerk" and what else it might seem - may actually prove to be quite efficient, and it's quite possible that this measure could have prevented at least the latest tragic event that is being discussed on this thread.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:48
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Originally Posted by mcloaked

It is possible that the copilot might have worn his headset to try to reduce ambient noise, and sit in the seat with his eyes closed blanking out external noise as much as possible and staying oblivious to sight and sounds during the descent - as part of his executed plan.
In a word, yes. Anything is possible. He might have . . .
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:50
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Again, we don't know all the detail of what the "sick note" says or what it means in Germany.

In the UK, a "fit note" may advise you not to work, but it is not binding on employers, who only need to take it into account according to Department of Health guidelines.

The problem is that there are two parallel medical systems running (at least that's the case in the UK) i.e. the GP/NHS system and the CAA/AME system. These systems are totally disconnected and independent, and therefore do not talk to each other unless a medical practitioner in one chooses to interrogate the other by some means. It is thus very easy to hide medical conditions from a UK airline if that is what you are intent on doing.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:51
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Originally Posted by Air Snoop
Agreed on that one, they also need a good understanding of what goes on if they are expected to detect the unusual. Would a cabin crew member have intervened in this case when the FO dialed an altitude and pulled the knob to descend? I suggest not until too late.
A cabin crew member probably wouldn't have noticed anything unusual about changing the altitude and starting a descent with the AP on.
However, wouldn't it be suspicious if the captain tries to get back in the flight deck and the FO doesn't let him in anymore?
The emergency code? The banging on the door? No reaction from the FO?
All it takes is one crew member to open the flight deck from the inside.

Note: I'm not saying that having a cabin crew member in the flight deck is the solution for this. There will always be other ways for people with bad intentions. And with this, I don't want to imply that the cause of the crash is proven. The investigation is still ongoing.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:58
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Originally Posted by TheInquisitor
A lot of calls going up for video surveillance.

The simple truth is that video surveillance would add very little in 99.99% of investigations. Investigators can derive a remarkable amount of information from audio recordings. FD mikes are incredibly sensitive, and all other connected mikes (boom mikes on headsets etc) are usually recorded too on most modern types. And multiple mics allow for an impressive amount of conclusions to be drawn - such as exactly where on the FD sounds are coming from. Different switches, levers, controls all make slightly different noises - these can be examined in great detail and firm conclusions drawn in most cases.

To include video recording would require significant modifications - the recorders would need a huge capacity increase, likely needing a redesign, or the installation of an additional recorder. And a cheapo solution like a GoPro would be useless - the recorders are built the way they are, and installed where they are, for a purpose - crashworthiness - and assuring that purpose is NOT cheap.

Neither is the re-certification of ALL the aircraft so modified, to ensure that the mod hasn't introduced new problems with the rest of the carefully-designed aircraft systems.

In short, it will be a significant cost - for probably very little real benefit - even before we get into privacy issues.

A FAR CHEAPER option would be to hire more pilots - to take the pressure off already over-worked and stressed crews. And train them properly. And pay them better. And.... And...

And it would have done nothing to prevent what happened on this flight - and likely shed very little additional light on the eventual happenings.
The cockpit is a very simple environment for video software to compress. Only those pixels that are altered need to be sent. Therefore, for most of the time there is very little for the video to send. The compression of even moving areas is extremely efficient. Just imagine that there had been video recording of this GW incident on the same CVR memory. There would be none of this hamsterwheel debate. Now imagine if that recording had been compressed and sent as soon as ATC felt that there was a problem or the aircraft automatics felt there was a problem - say an EGPWS warning. Already ATC can tell the aircraft to send them information over ADS-C and the pilot is unaware that the contract has changed. The same could easily be done with uplink of CVR/DFDR information without the crew being aware and without them able to stop it. A compressed transmission of a few minutes of DVDR/CVR may only take seconds.

It is unfortunate, but the actions of a few have reduced the trust of the paying passengers and could result in a far more detailed recording of what is happening in the cockpit. I have no doubt that the air carrier's insurance will be interested in this level of recording too, as a self inflicted hull loss may not be insured. It may become a case of if you want aircraft operator insurance you must have this specific level of recording equipment operating in the cockpit.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 19:59
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NOD
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IMHO this is flawed and far better to assume that one flight crew might become mentally altered at any time i.e. mid-flight ..... Allowing only one person up front is clearly a single point of failure in an environment engineered for redundancy.
But this misses the fact that even with 2 (or 5) people up front, your mentally altered person can still kill everybody.

As earlier stated, 500' on Approach, full down elevator, full power, maybe flaps up. On the Airbus, you even have the luxury of a red button to lock the other pilot's sidestick out.
You make a very good point, ultimately it is all about reducing risk. No solution is perfect. At least the sane pilot would have a fighting chance to deliver a knuckle sandwich.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:05
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xcitation:
Are you suggesting a sanity cross check pre-flight?
Paramedics establish if a patient is mentally altered at a scene by confirming they are 4x4. Meaning you ask 4 basic questions and verify 4 correct answers e.g. name, todays date, who is the President, do you know where you are. Any hesitation or spurious answer helps assess the individuals state of mind.
No, I'm thinking on a more comprehensive approach in which a pilot's career could be properly monitored and on the need to amend the legislation so that our profession could be classified as a profession of rapid wear, were, for example a pilot could voluntarily step out to earlier retirement (or forced to retire in certain circumstances) without being financially prejudiced in his/her's retirement, through a pilots fund or a company's paid complement. This would, not only, take out of the skies, pilots who feel are not fit to fly, but keep working for economical reasons, would take the stress out of TRE's and medical staff, who have the duty to decide on who's fitted or not to fly, and would return the dignity that our profession has long lost!
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:08
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I've been trying to get some perspective on this - and this is what I've come up with so far.

There have been, so far, 6 recorded incidents of pilot suicide since records began - only 3 of which have been confirmed, the others being 'most likely' / 'no other explanation' events. For the sake of argument, let's add MH370 to that to make it 7.

To get this perspective, I've been trying to get a reliable number for the total number of commercial flights made over that period - and that's been quite difficult. The best I can come up with is somewhere between 450 and 550 million since 1960. (if anybody can come up with a more authoritative number, please feel free)

All of that means that the probability, based on historical statistics, of being caught up in a pilot suicide, are somewhere between 64-78 Million-to-one.

In other words, significantly LESS probable than pretty much ANY other recorded cause of aviation 'occurrences'. In fact, you are MORE likely to be killed as a result of being hit by lightning - by a factor of at least 3.5 (chances of being killed in a lightning strike are 19 million-to-one, in the UK).

Why do I mention this?

It will be no comfort to anybody affected by this tragedy - just as any other statistics will be of any comfort to any other individual affected by an aviation (or any other) tragedy. But the clamour of 'something must be done!!!' needs to be put into context.

It remains the single LEAST likely cause of an 'occurrence' (I say 'occurrence' because it involves a deliberate act, and 'accident' wouldn't be an appropriate description) throughout the whole spectrum of causality.

Let us therefore, as an industry, not act in haste - lest we introduce even MORE unintended consequences that may turn around and bite us in the @rse sometime in the future...
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:10
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How many of you people fly regularly with people you dont know?
90%+ of the time I will have never met them before check-in.

At least the sane pilot would have a fighting chance to deliver a knuckle sandwich.
Well yes, but being an Airbus, the initial reaction would likely be "what's it doing now... errr"
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:13
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observation

Seems a lot of people are focused on the reported normal respiratory rate. Just wanted to point out some things, irrespective of what the final cause of this accident turns out to be.

1. You close your eyes and relax - you already know the outcome. You have put the plane into a gradual descent, it will not structurally fail prior to impact, & you know nothing will affect the outcome until the end. Maybe the GPWS would jar you out of your relaxed state, but.... I still think someone who knew the outcome may not become overly excited if this was their intention.

2. He's pictured on the internet, in numerous photographs, running. Was he very physically fit? Might explain a lower baseline respiratory/heart rate.

3. Person took medication. Xanax? Alcohol? Propranolol? Opiate? The list is endless. Some, while not approved for flight, may have been prescribed while he wasn't flying and being treated for his mental illness (e.g. xanax or propranolol or another anxiolytic or antidepressant). And he might have taken something random that day. I assume alcohol or some other impairment would have been noticed by the other pilot, but he could have popped a boatload of pills at some point that only took effect late in the game.

If this act was related to depression, he may have needed something to decrease his inhibition. Lots of people who commit suicide tend to do this (from my experience as a pathologist). Alcohol is usually number one, but it doesn't rule out something else. Doubtful enough tissue will be identifiable for tox, unfortunately.

Pure speculation on my part. But thought I'd offer some other possibilities for the people that are placing a lot of emphasis on the normal respiratory rate. Happy if others completely disagree (us scientists like having our theories dispelled!)
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:15
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And, if and when it is established that the deaths and injuries sustained in an occurrence are "self-inflicted or inflicted by other persons", then it ceases to be an Annex 13 investigation.
Exactly the point I made earlier in the thread - meaning all the lawsuits ref 'early' release of CVR info may be going nowhere...
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:19
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Colt, civilian crews are in huge organisations compared with small air force units. They don't live in each other's pockets, socialise off duty as a general rule of even necessarily know by sight all the others.

Perhaps in the post-war golden age with navigators, radio operators, engineers, and a cabin staff, with one crew flying multiple stages then the crew would be 'constituted' . Neville Schute wrote a novel on that basis, DC6 or similar aircraft.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:31
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
And, if and when it is established that the deaths and injuries sustained in an occurrence are "self-inflicted or inflicted by other persons", then it ceases to be an Annex 13 investigation.
No.

Absolutely no!

Aviation safety investigations do not stop just because criminal investigations are running in parallel and usually interfering a lot!

All the leaks so far have come from criminal investigation and last time I checked, satisfying morbid curiosity was nowhere mentioned in BEA's agenda.

BTW, could someone please direct me to the real TM470 crash thread, I can only find 10 pages in African aviation. Surely, with amount of outrage over mass murder + suicide that has filled this thread, one could reasonably expect at least 30-40 pages of the same stuff for the basically same scenario?
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:33
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Im not from a commercial aviation background but I assumed that, in general, crews Flew as a crew and new each other?
No, it is not possible. Remember, airlines are pretty huge and the logistic problems to always crew the same together is pretty huge. I work in a pretty small airline, but we still have around 1200 pilots in 10 different bases and (currently still) three different fleets, although there is some overlap between the MFF and the pure narrowbody airbus fleet. On my old fleet i knew all the guys on my base (around 60 crews), but even then it was pretty common to fly with someone from out of base, it was the norm during simulator events. Now i'm on a new fleet and nearly every time i turn up for work i get to know someone new. That is actually a lot of fun to and probably will continue for the next two years or so, especially as crews from closed bases will be relocated to mine.

I heard from a colleague that the old GDR Interflug operated a team crewing system where small teams were crewed together, dunno how that worked out, but they had many more persons on the flightdeck to begin with.

There is a possibility via preferential bidding to bid for a certain partner, either flight deck or cabin crew and in theory those should be crewed together more than normal.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:33
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"Exactly the point I made earlier in the thread - meaning all the lawsuits ref 'early' release of CVR info may be going nowhere..."


Technically, perhaps accurate. However. . . project your thinking back to 1944 (please) when the Chicago Convention was written. In that context, there was no such thing even imaginable as an investigation into such an accident - for that is what air crashes start out being presumed to be - proceeding to a conclusion in a handful of days. And though my historical knowledge is more gut reaction than evidence-based, I am not aware of piloted-mass murder "by" suicide having taken place, circa 1944 (excluding the Japanese suicide pilots, kamikaze - hardly the same as civil air transport). True, the pace of modern aviation has accelerated (in all senses, and there are many) greatly. But there is something very "cutting corners" or "jumping the gun" or even "premature exculpation" about the cut to the chase, it was deliberate, Annex 13 switch off. breaker down and locked, drill that has been rehearsed in the relevant jurisdiction(s).
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:43
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Originally Posted by Clandestino
Aviation safety investigations do not stop just because criminal investigations are running in parallel and usually interfering a lot!
I didn't say that the investigation would stop, only that the provisions of Annex 13 would cease to apply. And that would only happen once criminal intent had been established.
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Old 28th Mar 2015, 20:44
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Agreed, WillowRun - not saying I agree with the approach, just that that's the way it's panned out here.

In an accident, there is always the alignment of the 'holes in the swiss cheese' to discover - which takes time, and painstaking sifting of all the evidence, etc.

In this case, it looks like all that needs to be known to draw reasonable conclusions is already there - plus, it seems like it wasn't an 'accident' - rather a deliberate act.

That one mere fact changes the whole philosophy of the investigation - there aren't any 'holes in the cheese' to line up. It appears to have been a singular cause, by a singular act. Thankfully, an exceptionally rare one (as per my previous post);.
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