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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

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Airbus A320 crashed in Southern France

Old 31st Mar 2015, 05:32
  #2741 (permalink)  
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I should add the guidelines and policies regarding two-crew cockpits were in place to assist in identifying the person on the other side of the door as "authorized", the opening of the door itself (this Phase I SOP was in place before automated magnetic locks and video cameras were fitted), and in cases of pilot incapacitation. The idea of a single pilot suicide was not part of the thinking at the time.
I have to admit, when we got the first reinforced doors in early 2002 they came with magnetic locks and video surveillance and thought it was the absolute norm everywhere, especially in the US. It was a retrofit and the placement of the monitor was sometimes awkward, especially on our 733s, but they allowed a clear identification from the start. And the emergency code for the magnetic locks provided a safe reentry in case of pilot incapacitation. Yes, we initially had the two crew rule but it was apparently clear we didn't need it, as door operation and identification was available from both pilot seats. And therefore there was no rule requiring a second crew as long as other means of identification and door operation were available. With either system inop (magnetic locks/video surveillance) we had to return to the two crew rule for obvious reasons. But those systems are extremely reliable, i have it experienced only once.

To be honest, i haven't seen any european airline without video surveillance, neither those i worked for nor those i jumpseated with (yes, flight deck jumpseats are still available).

The current mindset to add a second crew if one pilot has to leave the flight deck is more that it is needed as a suicide watch than as a door operator or for identification. Giving the changed working conditions for cabin crews though that is not without risks. In times of a widespread use of zero hour contracts, 6 month contracts and so on, cabin crew turnover is extremely high, up to over 50% of the workforce per season in some airlines. They only need a very perfunctory medical check before employment (can you walk? can you talk? you're hired) and none thereafter, they are not a known entity due to the short time with the company and extremely short training (4 weeks compared to 2,5 years for pilots) and have of course only a very limited background check as everything else would cost too much money. And now they are entrusted to keep the flightcrew in check and hold the lives of all on board in their hands.

As someone with malicious intent i know i would rather send my guys to a cabin crew class than trying to get in as a pilot, one is a near guarantee that they will sit in the flightdeck in a few weeks, the other is a near impossibility with failure rates of more than 90% during initial selection.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 05:32
  #2742 (permalink)  
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Phoenix . . .

Then he exited the FD, that's clear. Ok we heard his voice, but do we still 100% recognized his voice, a few minutes later, on the other side of the closed door?
...like looking at a big picture puzzle, but it would be termed unidentifiable with a missing piece - because you wouldn't see 100% of the picture, eh?
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 07:41
  #2743 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Denti View Post
Yes, we initially had the two crew rule but it was apparently clear we didn't need it, as door operation and identification was available from both pilot seats.
This must account for the United SOP, pre-Germanwings. Yet curiously, while more domestic airlines upgraded to Phase II and beyond cockpit door systems, the legacy procedures remained. Perhaps a mistrust of the technology in combination with incapacitation concerns drove the decision to keep the 'new' SOPs in place.

The current mindset to add a second crew if one pilot has to leave the flight deck is more that it is needed as a suicide watch than as a door operator or for identification. ......and have of course only a very limited background check as everything else would cost too much money. And now they are entrusted to keep the flightcrew in check and hold the lives of all on board in their hands.
When it is put this way, Denti, I now see and agree with both yours and other's concerns here regarding CC not being the best answer to this threat. Thank you, kind sir.

I think the newly imposed idea of a two-crew cockpit minimum is 1. knee-jerk on the safety side to be sure and not thought through thoroughly - typical government response - and for the airlines' role in this, 2. hysteria-prevention on the public perception side.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 08:32
  #2744 (permalink)  
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Meanwhile, via Twitter a thank you note to the pilots taking one grateful passenger home:

@jaidillon: A letter given to a colleague from a passenger onboard his aircraft.. Providing proof that we're all in this together http://t.co/a0NrT3LAtT
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 08:44
  #2745 (permalink)  
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roving, on his post of 30 March, 22:52, refers us to the British Airways prosecution of an unstable approach on the part of a 747 pilot who should have gone around a lot sooner; I believe he nearly took out the Marriott hotel.
Subsequent to his civil trial and conviction, he took his own life.

And the pilot who took up Nigel Farage on May 2010 to fly an election campaign banner in his "Sky Banners" company Wilga, from Hinton Airfield and crashed, became extremely unstable and took his own life on 12 November 2013.

In both these cases, it was very very unlikely that the pilots would ever have been able to get back their commercial license. No doubt the insurance policy for loss of license and income would have excluded mental problems.

If such policies did not exclude mental problems, self reporting may not be avoided. I have a friend who developed DVT (deep vein thrombosis) only a year after becoming ATPL and flying with an airline. He collected on his insurance and now works for the Civil Aviation Authority. If this avenue of maintaining your self respect is closed for any mental problem, of course the sufferer will keep it secret as possible.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 09:26
  #2746 (permalink)  
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you quote from an incident which highlights all that is wrong in the industry and compounds the fears of the average line pilot.
Glen carried out an approach which should never had started and wouldn't have done bar an alleged "illegal" dispensation given to him from a duty flight manager.
The crew was sick and taking medication...presumably prescribed by the company doctor...the autopilot had a fault which hadn't been properly rectified and they were fatigued.
Many of us had the feeling that if anyone should have been prosecuted it was management....but of course they weren't and there was a rumour that relevant tech log entries went awol.

After posting on here I was contacted by an ex mate who wanted to know more details of what I knew with respect to the management pilot..end of friendship.

In a similar vein I posted in support of a Captain - another operator and authority - who had been fired as he had stated that he didn't have anywhere to go with problems...especially the authority...result was I received a letter from the revenue investigation department...dirty business I'm sad to say.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 09:35
  #2747 (permalink)  
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Point of impact

No point of impact
There is little explicit official information on this. But ...

A. The searchers use maps that have an initial or main point of impact on it, you can Google them, and some maps have a 'spread of fragments' boundary line.
B. I read about an official reference coordinate for the point of impact, some maps showed that coordinate, i have not tried to match or correlate those maps to check them for accuracy, perhaps somebody else has,
C. There was a single statement in an article about the plane hitting 'a lower mountain first with the right wing', before having the main impact .... I have seen no confirmation of this. I have not tried to match available debris photos with that dual impact statement. An answer to this is a required small piece in the full puzzle.
D. It has been stated in a few articles and apparently quoting officials ... That to be sure, the search area is wider than the 'impact plus area' ... Because they want to check if the plane lost parts before reaching the impact area. I dont know if that effort continued after the 'intentional crash' came out.

All this will need to be confirmed by the investigation. And they are working very systematically to that end as far as I can see. The mountain road that they are building now will help to speed up the whole process. Just saying 'the guy did it' is not enough for improving safety, for professionals and i imagine also not enough for the relatives. They need to go all the way, and literally show it.

Let's hope that the quality of the work on the ground will be joined by improved communication to public and press. Statements of a French Gendarmerie official embedded in the German Polizei team in Duesseldorf ... And separate statements by the French and German procureur and Staatsanwalt.... Next to the BEA.... Requires more streamlining and international coordination. I know that everyone has his own procedural and legal obligations to fulfill, but still. Need for improvement on this point should end up in a lessons learned report. It would even expect some statements on this in the Final BEA+ Report.

I am fortunate because I am well able to read french, german and english. But even with that knowledge it takes substantial time to correctly match and check statements. For investigative purposes english could be leading. That will be much harder for the judicial side. A remedy for the that could be sending out own language statements always joined by a formal english translation. Spain and Catalunia have, it appears, positioned themselves behind the French/German effort. That is commendable from the communication point of view.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 11:30
  #2748 (permalink)  
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cvr transcript

you can be sure that identification of voices of crew would be the priority, confirmed by someone in GW Flight Ops who would automatically be present.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 11:44
  #2749 (permalink)  
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This blog on The Economist website includes a good summary of the dilemma that occupies much of this thread's discussion.

"One of the cruellest aspects of this tragedy is the impossibility of preventing recurrences. Technical faults, once diagnosed, can be fixed. Operational shortcomings can be ironed out, if never perfected. But when a person in a position of trust decides to betray that privilege, no amount of forethought or red tape can negate the threat they pose. If it could, then the “position of trust” would have been nominal only."

Germanwings flight 9525: A human response to a human tragedy | The Economist
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 12:50
  #2750 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by NigelOnDraft View Post
Please consider the following scenario
  1. Buzzer goes off, Capt & FA in cockpit.
  2. Capt assess the person requesting entry is a security hazard and wishes to deny them entry
  3. FA decides the person outside the door is to be permitted entry.
and now please answer:[LIST=1]
Substitute FO for FA and the problem reduces to one already solved.

Or maybe airlines could, you know, cooperate and talk to each other and those that have been doing this for over a decade could explain what has been learned over that time.

I believe life has moved on since last week, and risks that were not apparent prior to last week are now known world wide. IMO this policy adds clear new risks, now the "2 in cockpit" rule is so widely known and practiced.
I would add, again, that this already was widely known and practiced and if there is additional risk from the folks who serve you coffee then there should be evidence in the actual incident record - as there is of the risk of leaving one person on deck behind a locked door.

And "life has moved on since last week"... but life did not move on after LAM 470, EgyptAir, Silk Air ? Were they just being ignored as "couldn't happen here" or because they were African or Arabs or Asians ?
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 13:04
  #2751 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Mikehotel152 View Post

As a former lawyer but now airline captain, I feel uncomfortable that so far we have only been given carefully selected 'facts' by the investigating authorities, sometimes in a strangely arse-about-face manner - I refer to alleged encouragement by the co-pilot to get the Captain to take an in-flight toilet break which is highly relevant to the notion of premeditation but wasn't mentioned by the investigators until the last couple of days. Is this slow release of information a case of confirmation bias?
I don't think that is quite fair on the procureur. If he had said without quoting the CVR that First Officer had deliberately flown the aircraft into the ground. He would have been howled down by everyone including you. So he had to provide a level of corroborative evidence from the CVR which I believe he did reluctantly. He was still howled down not least by people on this site. So he provided more information from the CVR to make it plain what had happened. (This is actually my experience of the legal / police systems in Europe they always have more corroborative evidence but show the minimum necessary.) So as you state the information came out apparently in the 'wrong order'. This is not confirmation bias it is the way that it is done when someone only wants to provide sufficient information to make their case. As it is in this thread here are many who would have preferred the CVR to be kept confidential for 18 months or so while BEA carry out their investigation. This would have left the captain (or his family) and Airbus hung out to dry by all the people claiming that it was an aircraft fault or poor maintenance.

From my point of view the procureur has followed his procedures in an exemplary fashion. It may not be the way other countries would have done it but I suspect had the crash been of a US airliner into the Rockies the FBI would have followed very much the same path.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 14:14
  #2752 (permalink)  
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The armoured and lockable flight crew door was brought in after 2001 to stop unauthorised access. It was designed deliberately so that if there was a conscious pilot inside, there was no means short of high explosives for a “hostile” to force entry, even with complete knowledge of the mechanism, codes, etc. Also, another crew member could not be coerced into opening it by some “secret” method.

In this particular case, it functioned as specified.
I tend to concur it is perhaps less to do with the design of the door security (and glad discussion has died down from this), and more a problem on how to detect pilots with medical conditions making them unfit to be entrusted with the lives of their fellow crew and passengers. There is no easy solution to this, but like all noteworthy accidents, it will certainly get a lot in the industry thinking and talking about it.
Absolutely. The problem many of us have who actually work in the industry is that knee-jerk reactions to very rare/unlikely events often lead to an overall reduction in safety standards as very few of the implications have been properly thought through.

One might even argue that as the “pool” of pilots with current medicals and mental illnesses sufficiently severe for suicide at work to be a possibility is demonstrably tiny, a recent reduction in this number by one is significant.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 14:19
  #2753 (permalink)  
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Substitute FO for FA and the problem reduces to one already solved
Agreed, provided the training, background & medical checks, all reveal that:
  1. The FA has an equal, or lesser risk to the substituted pilot
  2. The adding of extra people does not increase the risk
It all comes down to the risk assessment, and which crucially EASA and the CAA say, the risk of having 2 on the Flt Deck must be assessed and allowed for.

Each airline's risk assessment will no doubt differ... but others as well as me have pointed out the FA "risk" has issues - and very specific ones to do with mental illness / depression / associated medication / self diagnosis (as well as separate security ones).
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 15:09
  #2754 (permalink)  
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So, how would you assess the risk from a qualified pilot, serving as an FA while waiting for an FO slot?
Almost by definition, if they held a current Class 1 medical, the risk is the same I would think?
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 15:13
  #2755 (permalink)  
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BEA news March 31st, 2015

Accident to the Airbus A320-211 registered D-AIPX, flight GWI18G, on 24 March 2015

The Safety Investigation is continuing. It will be focused on:
  • Describing more precisely, from the technical perspective, the history of the flight. This work will be based on detailed analysis of data from the CVR as well as analysis of any flight parameter data that may be available.
  • Studying the systemic weaknesses might possibily have led to this aviation disaster or other similar events. Within this context, the Safety Investigation will be oriented towards the cockpit door locking system logic and cockpit access and exit procedures, as well as the criteria and procedures applied to detect specific psychological profiles
Note A0283: The words 'that may be available' are an answer to the question about the FDR status.

Last edited by A0283; 31st Mar 2015 at 16:21.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 16:34
  #2756 (permalink)  
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What hope is there that FDR data will be recovered, or the various bits and pieces that seem to be missing at the moment will be found and usable?

Granted, this was a high kinetic energy crash, but I was under the impression that CVR's and FDR's are very robust bits of kit. Yes, saw the deformation of the CVR body. As most crashes in recent history have had FDR's survive some serious destruction of an airframe, it is disappointing to learn that now and again the black box itself doesn't survive in usable form.

IIRC, the recent freighter crash in Bagram fell afoul of a form of that, in terms of the area where the CVR/FDR are located being where the internal damage leading to the crash began, with the signal being lost shortly after rotation. The boxes themselves seemed to have survived that horrific crash.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 16:42
  #2757 (permalink)  
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What hope is there that FDR data will be recovered, or the various bits and pieces that seem to be missing at the moment will be found and usable?
I don't know if they sit relatively close together. If they do, I suppose we should be grateful that the CVR survived as well as it did!
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 16:58
  #2758 (permalink)  
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it is disappointing to learn that now and again the black box itself doesn't survive in usable form.
Few accidents involve a CFIT at 350 knots.

I would guess that armouring a recorder so that it's guaranteed to survive such an impact would result in its weight being prohibitive. It's lucky that the CVR survived relatively intact.
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 17:08
  #2759 (permalink)  
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AFAIK nowhere has it been reported that the FDR has likely been destroyed.

My impression is that the memory module became detached from its casing on impact and therefore is still present somewhere in the vicinity. It may only be a matter of continuing the search until it turns up.

If anyone can clarify?
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Old 31st Mar 2015, 17:12
  #2760 (permalink)  
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I haven't yet seen the recovered shell of the FDR; so two possibilities for the storage media and data capsule:
  1. Data capsule intact with or without outer cover on -- being cylindrical it could be a long way downhill if not trapped in debris. Rainfall can move it a long ways and even bury it in sediment. In the mountains heavy rain and debris flows are ever present. Snowmelt also triggers debris flows. It may be necessary to vacuum dredge the streambed and run it through a screen. All this in difficult terrain.
  2. Capsule broken and storage media scattered -- the entire hillside area will have to be treated like an archaeological dig. Labor intensive, time consuming and distressing because of fragmentary human remains

Description of debris from 1956 TCA CFIT at Mt Slesse:

Last edited by RatherBeFlying; 31st Mar 2015 at 17:33.
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