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Ditching a modern airliner

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Ditching a modern airliner

Old 2nd Mar 2019, 00:05
  #1 (permalink)  
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Ditching a modern airliner

Just found where allegedly, "However, despite his composure during the accident, Sully reveals to Telegraph Travel that he had received minimal training for a water landing (or “ditching”)."
I have a few questions;
1) Do airlines/manufacturer's cover this in documents/procedures?
2) Is it ever covered in a simulator training exercise?
Or is it just the old "head in the sand, it won't happen to us" mentality?
Remembering the three ideal ingredients, 1) calm sea, 2) minimum rate of descent and 3) minimum safe water contact speed.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 00:50
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fdr
 
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The OEM FCTM's have sections on ditching procedures which are fairly generic. Simulator sessions for ditching is not part of the training matrix for airlines as a general rule. In the military ditching drills were practiced routinely, in the simulator and aircraft. Don't recommend doing it in the aircraft, memorably the NATOPS Section 5 procedure had a number of cautions and warnings in the procedure. One particular warning was don't ditch if lateral control is compromised. Another warning was don't conduct ditching practices with an engine shut down. Having seen the blue on the wrong side of the plane at 4,000', against objections to the driver, I would consider that an understatement. The problem with an asymmetric case ditching practice is not the ditching, it is the recovery/go-around, where the pilot may have a fist full of thrust levers that are not symmetrical when he pushes them forward. As the ditching speed can be close to VMCA1 and well below VMCA2, then things can get interesting rapidly. (difficult to get a Wing CO to accept the warnings of a FNG 40 years ago...).

Ethiopians B767 swim at the Comoros was a controlled crash against all odds, with the hijacker hitting the captain about the head with the axe as he ditched the aircraft. Impacting wings level is evidently worth while, at the correct ditch speed. The ditch speed is usually minimum energy state, but that may not always be the case, geometry may require a slightly higher speed. The captain was heroic in his actions.

An OEM/regulator study done on the survival time following inflight cabin fires supports the fact that a ditching at any time over water is a possibility however remote the chance of a cabin fire may be; if there is a cabin fire, and it cannot be put out, the survival time is unlikely to stretch to an airport arrival.

Tin hat on... years ago, after passing by a red team ship that was happily plinking the sonobuys we were placing in the way of a boomer transiting in shallow water, we got a call of smoke in the cabin, looked back couldn't see the tac crew. Guys hit the smoking cabinet that was sprouting flames and smoke with a large dose of BCF, and continued for a really long time (felt like days, was less than a minute) In the interim, nav gave nearest divert as about an hour, and I prepared the crew for a possible ditch alongside the guys shooting out the sonobouys. Fire went out, so we moseyed back home once the risk was removed, crew off masks etc. A non event, however, one of the guys woke up the next day with a new top of grey hair, gained overnight. Smoking is bad for your health apparently.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 08:51
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Great Story fdr !

Back to the question : Jeff Skiles the co pilot of the US Hudson flight makes an excellent presentation explaining the various and numerous lucks they had that day. ( outside of hitting the birds that is !) and basically you cannot train for luck.
A photo of the aircraft the next morning , with ice plates everywhere on the Hudson and lots of ferries crossing in the background shows already 2 of those lucks.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 08:55
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Couple of other things we don’t train for:

1. UFO encounters
2. Meteorotes
3. North Korean missiles making a reentry on our airway (R211)

So what else should we train for in the sim?
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 09:02
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dogcharlietree,

We had a generic description in our manuals, and we had discussions on the techniques to be used and watched a film of ditching trials done with a VC10 scale model. So we knew what we needed to do in relation to wind and swell but never actually practised it.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 09:09
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Or is it just the old "head in the sand, it won't happen to us" mentality?
Well realistically how many ditchings of jet aircraft have there ever been? Why not train for an all engine out forced landing as well?

Sim time is best taken up with what is causing the most grief, which still appears to be loss of control and CFIT.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 10:16
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Why not train for an all engine out forced landing as well?
Because there has been several all engines out forced landings, that's why. As a simulator instructor I have observed many of these over the years. In just about every case the pilot would have crashed either because he was grossly overshooting or grossly undershooting. Most crews we observed needed at least three practice forced landings from 15,000 ft before they got the hang of glide control with various stages of flaps. The B767 captain of Gimli glider fame did an exceptional job of forced landing all flaps up on a 7000 ft runway. Afterwards he said if only Air Canada had given him just one practice simulator forced landing from height he would have been much more confident when he did he real one.

So much valuable simulator training is wasted by a syllabus or check pilots that insists on lengthy checklists, lengthy taxying and lengthy briefings that take up simulator time when this time could have been much more productive such as practicing dead stick forced landings and final approach ditching on a simulated black night over the simulated ocean. There is real instrument flying skill needed to set an airliner down in the ocean. With the plethora of airline crews whose manual raw data instrument flying flying skills are seriously degraded by company imposed policy on full automation from lift off to touch down, there would be no hope for all the souls aboard.

You can argue all day until the cows come home about the statistical improbability of a dead stick landing or a controlled ditching ever happening to each one of us. But it would be criminal if the captain of an airliner was so incompetent that he could not pull off a successful dead stick landing or a ditching if such an event occurred. We have multi million dollar full flight simulators to ensure we can deal successfully with such events.

Even the cabin crew are required to be competent in dinghy drill which suggests the possibility does exist an aircraft may have to ditch one day.

Last edited by Centaurus; 2nd Mar 2019 at 10:28.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 10:30
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My thoughts are that as the airlines don't believe it will happen, the "company minded" aircrew also think the same.
Due to my background, I'm always considering a ditching if things go haywire.
I know I will incur the ridicule of some (like a previous poster), but I sometimes wonder if the pilots of say UPS6, SWR111 and say SAA Flight 295 even "considered" such an option.
I knew a pilot once who was so glad to have the sim exercises over early. "What did you do then?", to which the reply was, "go home."
I was astounded and I remember my reply "you are bloody mad, why didn't you do some dead-stick landings?". Needless to say, I was scoffed at.
For me, every minute in a simulator is an incredible learning experience which I valued.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 10:33
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Originally Posted by Icarus2001 View Post
Well realistically how many ditchings of jet aircraft have there ever been?
Very few, because very few know how to fly the approach.

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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 11:15
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Originally Posted by Centaurus View Post
So much valuable simulator training is wasted by a syllabus or check pilots that insists on lengthy checklists, lengthy taxying and lengthy briefings that take up simulator time when this time could have been much more productive such as practicing dead stick forced landings and final approach ditching on a simulated black night over the simulated ocean. There is real instrument flying skill needed to set an airliner down in the ocean. With the plethora of airline crews whose manual raw data instrument flying flying skills are seriously degraded by company imposed policy on full automation from lift off to touch down, there would be no hope for all the souls aboard
O sleeve valve, so much truth is such a short paragraph. We squander the asset of the 6-DOF devices to fly what we fly every day in service, wasting time running checklists that could be done in FTD's made of paper stuck on the wall, or in low fidelity flat screen systems. The greatest opportunity outside of a Pitts or a PA-18 to teach a pilot to fly is squandered with the APFD proving it more or less does what it is told (until it doesnt). none of the automation stuff needs to be done in hi-fidelity, it needs to be done in trainers that faithfully replicate the system functionality. The hi-fi systems could be used to assist in getting some basic handling competency back into the crews that is being removed by the insanity of operational procedures that remove the very skill sets that are the safety backstop of the operation. FOM rules that demand automation at all times is effectively a risk to the system through appeasement of those applying bandaids to the issues of crew competency.

AQP as it has morphed into nonsense is a risk to the industry, as is assuming audit has some equivalence with safety when implementation is not evaluated in a meaningful manner.

For those in the regulatory areas, please remove LOFTs from being required to be flown in hi-def systems, there is no rational justification for that. The ADM/NDM skill development can be done in FBT/flat screens, and arguably where those systems can permit drilling into system information, there is more merit in the lo-res FTD application to such training, as well as crew coordination training and or evaluation.

The majority of the bent metal comes from events where the humans somewhere in the activity have lost SA and have not recovered same in the time/height available. SA traiining can be done over a beer, or the lo res training devices.

Hi-res has validity to type training the first time round, and where ZFT is the game, then fidelity is important. However... for the beancounters that run airlines, Boeings are Boeings, and Airbus are Airbus... the waste in training and personnel on the basis that each aircraft type is magic is make work. A CBT and FTD with PTT's can give all that is needed to hop from one blender to another. The looniness that is the licensing system is a mill stone around the industries neck. System differences between one and another type are covered in the checklist that is called for when an issue arises; as often as not, the complications come from the human not adhering to the checklist as written due to their knowledge that may or may not be valid. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the time out of doing another type rating, but once the slot is found to make noise, the procedures that are followed are the same, do checklists, and don't do dumb things that stop the ride early. The sim time is too valuable to be wasted in rehashing stuff that has been the same essentially since Lilienthal was a lad. The best training I ever received was not on a plane or sim, it was sitting in a classroom with the Hamilton Standard governor cardboard model, which faithfully replicated the function of the system. It was so low resolution that when i spent time looking at an overhaul of the governor it was remarkable to be able to identify each part by function only but each one was different in location and construction to the training aid; the aid however made it possible to comprehend the failure modes that occurred routinely with the Detroit Diesels. SA doesn't need perfect fidelity, it needs a basis for a rational construct that is consistent with reality, nothing more. ADM/-NDM and SA training do not need or benefit from hi-res.

FWIW, the 6-DOF sims do not model effectively the loads imposed on the pilot in a number of flight conditions, those are best experienced in a real aeroplane, but preferably not the airliner, the checks are too time consuming following stall or hard mach buffet flight.



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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 11:33
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https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995...od_R1_ditching


ok, not a MODERN airline but the technique is the same.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 11:48
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Originally Posted by Centaurus View Post
Because there has been several all engines out forced landings, that's why. As a simulator instructor I have observed many of these over the years. In just about every case the pilot would have crashed either because he was grossly overshooting or grossly undershooting. Most crews we observed needed at least three practice forced landings from 15,000 ft before they got the hang of glide control with various stages of flaps. The B767 captain of Gimli glider fame did an exceptional job of forced landing all flaps up on a 7000 ft runway.
Industry have long decided to invest into CRM, SOP and adherence to procedures for pilots and mechanics, because in the modern world if your aircraft is all engines out then it is indeed either pilots or mechanics mistake, or sometimes both, assuming you was not refuelling in Mogadishu. It is much more important to invest into teaching staff how not to end up in situation like Gimli or Azores glider (both wide bodies and both Canadian operators coincidentally) or Tuninter or what else. Sully's case was a gross amount of good luck, there is nothing to train for and anyway rivers do not count - there is also Garuda 737 case for you.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 12:27
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Sorry to intrude as slf , but if ditching is considered to be such an unlikely event that no sim training is given, what really, is the point of supplying life jackets for the pax?
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 12:28
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If you had 2-4 hours of simulator time would you prefer to practice ditching/ forced landing or Eng fail V1 / landing/ contaminated rwy ops/ max cross winds?
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 12:43
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A little fun in the Sim

Originally Posted by fatbus View Post
If you had 2-4 hours of simulator time would you prefer to practice ditching/ forced landing or Eng fail V1 / landing/ contaminated rwy ops/ max cross winds?
For the first time in my career we had an instructor who said "Maneuvers Validation Complete; successful" ... and followed up with.. We have a little time left over; do you want to have some fun?
The answer was a) Yes.
We'd been practicing EGPWS escapes out of Innsbruck, so he dumped us at 15,000 about 20 miles north of the field. There was a bang as the RAT deployed. :-)
Long story short; made it off the runway and stopped on a taxiway. As it happens; dead stick isn't that hard. It's just energy management, right?
We followed this up with a no flaps landing contest in Chicago Midway.
That 25 minutes was probably the most i've learned about flying the Aircraft. Granted; the mindset was a little different; kudos to the instructor for setting the tone, but I found it extremely valuable..

//N

Last edited by neilki; 2nd Mar 2019 at 13:21.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 13:18
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Originally Posted by wowzz View Post
what really, is the point of supplying life jackets for the pax?
Despite the Hudson event being one of only two controlled, intentional airline jet ditchings ever afaik there have been scores if not hundreds of overruns/excursions into water. A urprising number of airfields have runways that project into water at one or both ends. Life jackets are thus far more useful than most people imagine.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 13:26
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After 17 posts it's strange that no-one has mentioned that Sully's A320 had a ditching checklist.
Problem being that it was written for a descent from altitude and the FO had no time to finish it.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 13:47
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To add to oldchina comment. Ditching is of course a design case considered by the manufacturer to try and give the best probability of success. Even knowing that a huge amount of skill and luck is needed to pull it off. Of interest the subject of how best to try it goes back to the origin of the word ditching. The cynical reason for demanding life jackets used to be that it made it less risky for the people recovering the bodies. Black humour is part of all engineers character.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 14:29
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Visual representation

The problem is all the full flight sims I have been in over the last 30 years have absolutely crap visual representation. I’ve done B737, 767 757 and 787. They are so bad that even a normal landing is deceptive. Give me a real aeroplane any day. This talk about that VR is the same as real life is utter b...s. The only thing a sim is good at is fly by exact numbers a little situational awareness and the computer says yes. A circling approach or an engine failure is a breeze in the real aircraft, but totally unrealistic in the sim.
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Old 2nd Mar 2019, 14:29
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I used to practise deadstick landings in the 747 simulator when there was spare time. Great fun and a good exercise in energy management as a previous poster has said. You could sideslip the sim just like a Tiger Moth to shed excess height. But does anyone on this thread know how much sideslip can be tolerated by the engine pods? And what are the sideslip limits on modern jet transports?
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