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Ethiopian airliner down in Africa

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Ethiopian airliner down in Africa

Old 25th Apr 2019, 21:01
  #4341 (permalink)  
 
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The "children of the magenta line" is a real issue in my opinion, but I do not think that it has anything to do with either crash. There is no evidence that the pilots were deficient in hand flying -- that may be a surprising statement to some who have been following this discussion, but "hand flying" doesn't mean "physically crank on levers and wheels to control the aircraft's control surface." That is what the pilots were being asked to do because there was no way to turn off HAL -- all they could do was bypass him by crippling the same controls that they were using and revert to the emergency backup. However, it was not even that simple, now we are being told that the mistake of the Lion Air pilots is that they turned off the power trim system too early and instead should have used the power switches to revert the trim and then turned it off while at the same time blipping it to reset MCAS-- which is what it appears that they were tying to do just before the plane pitched nose down into terrain as HAL came roaring back.

The emergency manual backup wheels that they were expected to use is so disregarded that most modern planes do not have it and was allegedly made smaller in the NEO in order to make space for the display screens. I see an analogy to a modern ship's wheel which is hardly ever touched because everybody uses the hydraulic systems that are part of the ship's autopilot. That doesn't mean that captains are always steering the boat by entering courses into the autopilot or worse, are children of the magenta line, it just means that there is no point to trying to turn a large ship by cranking like the devil on a relic from the days of square rigged sailboats and 100-person crews. If a captain were slow to realize that his NFU (non-follow up control, the way that you use power steering) control was sometimes slipping in a few extra degrees of turn than what he commanded we would not put him in the same class as a pleasure boater whose only experience with navigation is to touch points on the Garmin screen and then hit "engage autopilot." He or she may have been deficient in diagnosing the problem, or deficient in noticing that the ship was headed somewhere other than commanded, but that is an entirely different issue and one that probably relates more to experience.
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Old 25th Apr 2019, 21:16
  #4342 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by WillFlyForCheese View Post
Perhaps "below average" pilots shouldn't be hauling live cargo? Or - perhaps a "below average" pilot can still competently fly a malfunctioning aircraft. I'm not willing to accept that the spectrum of commercial airline pilots include, as "below average," pilots who cannot do what many recognize here would have saved the day (and what the penultimate Lion Air crew was able to do). But - if that's where the industry is headed - perhaps the aircraft do need to be smarter and in more control . . . .
Everyone makes mistakes at some point or another, especially under stress. I personally try to keep myself at least 2 or preferably more mistakes (mine or others) away from a bad outcome, driving, woodworking or whatever.

The ET crew made one or more mistakes, not all of them significant, Sully succeeded despite neglecting to set transponder code.

One probably significant one was loss of awareness/control of speed, which contributed to inability to manually trim.

It is possible they decided stick shaker was spurious and since the speeds were not all that divergent (until later) they may have discounted uas warnings, hence attempt (and success for a while) to use autopilot which probably reinforced 'spurious' impression.
Had they been perfect they would have kept flaps down etc, although if they "perfectly" reacted to stall warning it might not have gone as well.

They did follow the runaway trim procedure but were apparently unable to manually trim then lost it when re-enabling electric trim.
Lack of manual trim and inability to disable only automatic trim (as on NG) was someone else's mistake, not theirs.

So how many mistakes are allowed? One hopes the number is greater than 1.
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Old 25th Apr 2019, 21:38
  #4343 (permalink)  
 
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On average

Heard tell that ex President Bush was very upset when told that about half of american students were below average in math.

There is a spectrum of skills and abilities in every field. The hard part can be drawing a distinction between 'below average' and incompetent.

One other datapoint is that something like 70 percent of drivers consider themselves above average.
While I don't know the stats for pilots, any professional pilots reading this thread consider themselves below average?

Of course mathematicians get upset with generic use of the term average (mean of them) but that is a different thread somewhere in a forum far far away.

Assuming normal distribution 75% of all flights have at least one below average pilot in the cockpit.

Last edited by MurphyWasRight; 25th Apr 2019 at 21:47. Reason: Added 75%
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Old 25th Apr 2019, 22:01
  #4344 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 737 Driver View Post
I had the exact same question when I first read the accident report. I spent a lot of time looking for evidence that the trim motor stalled or the trim switch wasn't working. However, none of the accident evidence or any historical data supports either of these conclusions.

One of the most telling pieces of evidence in this report, however, is that the Captain repeatedly tried to engage the automation (three times) in a situation that specifically precluded it. This is evidence of someone with a strong case of automation dependency. People with significant automation dependency also demonstrate a deterioration in basic hand-flying skills. Combine that with the startle effect and the distraction of the active stick shaker, it is entirely conceivable that the Captain suffered from cognitive overload and simply forgot to trim because it had never become a thoroughly engrained behavior.
Four times.
Take a look at 05:43:15, just after they made those two insufficient trim inputs. They got a warning there from a failed attempt to engage the autopilot.

Unfortunately the report has left out plenty of what was said and done in that last phase when they lost control.
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Old 25th Apr 2019, 22:32
  #4345 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by MurphyWasRight View Post
Heard tell that ex President Bush was very upset when told that about half of american students were below average in math.

There is a spectrum of skills and abilities in every field. The hard part can be drawing a distinction between 'below average' and incompetent.

One other datapoint is that something like 70 percent of drivers consider themselves above average.
While I don't know the stats for pilots, any professional pilots reading this thread consider themselves below average?

Of course mathematicians get upset with generic use of the term average (mean of them) but that is a different thread somewhere in a forum far far away.

Assuming normal distribution 75% of all flights have at least one below average pilot in the cockpit.
"Average" is relative - correct? Take US military service . . . there is an "average" soldier, and then, perhaps, an "average" Navy SEAL, or US Army Delta Force. Or, if you will, military of any country and, then, Canada's Joint Task Force 2; Denmark's Jaeger Corps; or Britain's Special Air Service . . .

The average of an elite group will always be above the average of a larger group. Indeed, the larger group may include those that shouldn't be in the armed forces at all. The more elite groups will all be more than competent - and each elite group will statistically have an average, below average, and above average.

My point was, and is, that commercial airline pilots should be an above-average group to begin with. Leaving the "below average" pilot not far off from the above average pilot - any one of which is highly capable individually. For many reasons - that is not how the profession has evolved. Low wages? Poor treatment? Perhaps the airlines themselves are to blame as well for degrading the profession?

I digress.
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Old 25th Apr 2019, 22:42
  #4346 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Water pilot View Post
The "children of the magenta line" is a real issue in my opinion, but I do not think that it has anything to do with either crash. There is no evidence that the pilots were deficient in hand flying -- that may be a surprising statement to some who have been following this discussion, but "hand flying" doesn't mean "physically crank on levers and wheels to control the aircraft's control surface." That is what the pilots were being asked to do because there was no way to turn off HAL -- all they could do was bypass him by crippling the same controls that they were using and revert to the emergency backup. However, it was not even that simple, now we are being told that the mistake of the Lion Air pilots is that they turned off the power trim system too early and instead should have used the power switches to revert the trim and then turned it off while at the same time blipping it to reset MCAS-- which is what it appears that they were tying to do just before the plane pitched nose down into terrain as HAL came roaring back.
To me it appears that the last crash was a case of "magenta line".

1. Stall warning and stick shaker on rotation
Solution: tried to engage the autopilot at 400 ft

2. Apparantly false stick shaker due to erroneous inputs + unreliable airspeed
Solution: tried to engage the autopilot at 600 ft

3. Still stick shaker due to erroneous inputs from left side
Solution: finally succeeded to engage the left autopilot at 1000 ft

4. Aircraft is grossely out of trim and in an overspeed condition, making it hard to fly
Solution: tried to engage the autopilot


Last edited by Brosa; 25th Apr 2019 at 23:16.
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Old 25th Apr 2019, 23:08
  #4347 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by MurphyWasRight View Post
Heard tell that ex President Bush was very upset when told that about half of american students were below average in math.
If you use "average" in the most commonly used sense meaning the arithmetic mean of a distribution then there is no reason why half of the population should necessarily be "below average".

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Old 26th Apr 2019, 00:07
  #4348 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
If you use "average" in the most commonly used sense meaning the arithmetic mean of a distribution then there is no reason why half of the population should necessarily be "below average".
As i said:
Of course mathematicians get upset with generic use of the term average (mean of them) but that is a different thread somewhere in a forum far far away.
I agree that by that meaning you are correct, a better statement is that if you arrange 101 people by height (or whatever) in a row 50 will be to left of the middle person and 50 to the right.
Would make the joke a bit off though.

The real question on pilots is how to train and test the 'acceptable' not perfect pilot. I sense that a lot of training has devolved into following scripts in a sim. One could make the point that any situation that can be covered by a concise procedure could be automated.

Perhaps training could be changed away from training people to be robots.

An interesting item in the Lion Air report on penultimate flight
The PIC performed three Non-Normal Checklists and none contained the instruction “Plan to land at the nearest suitable airport”.
This suggest rote following of checklists without overall judgment, possibly compounded by company expectations/pressure.
Seems that when that much stuff hits the fan one would want to get down before something else happened.
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 00:34
  #4349 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Jetstream67 View Post
I can understand a reluctance to fight the aircraft to dramatically alter the trim when the issue is not clear.

Many road vehicle crashes are made worse by tentative breaking when only full force could have helped. (Several car makers initially added brake force acceleration systems to increase partial braking towards full pressure for this reason - now augmented by radar anti-collision systems)
You can either fly the aircraft, or the aircraft will fly you. Your choice.
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 00:46
  #4350 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 737mgm View Post
why don't you take some time to read up on the procedures to fly the 737. Read the official Boeing documents. Talk to 737 pilots and ask them how they are trained. Of course this will take a lot longer and require much greater effort than posting your oblivious comments but then you might be a little bit closer to actually being able to judge how these pilots performed.
Can we ask the 4 deceased 737 pilots that read up on procedures to fly a 737 (inc the FAA AD), read official Boeing documents and ask them how they were trained? I think that the surviving (currently quiet) crew would be the ones I would want to ask - anyone else is assuming lots of things.

As stated I am not a pilot but a LAME.

It is clear the pilots did not do what was needed when needed within the available conditions including limited height. But that should not have lead to a fatal crash.

Do we know who was doing the take off - Captain or F/O?

If it was the Captain should he have handed over to the FO, if so how long would you expect that decision to take?


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Old 26th Apr 2019, 00:46
  #4351 (permalink)  
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It's not terribly important, but when Chronus quoted on my post in #4340 , 737Driver's embedded quote had vanished leaving the impression my post was 737's. This seems to happen when cut and pasting existing quotes.

I was discussing the hidden switch removal versus it being programmed out of the equation during specific functions. As I mention, I've got a bee in my bonnet about this, since if it really had been removed, it would be an utterly vital issue. Just being programmed out is astonishing enough, and I thought 737's post was very significant - hence this ramble.

This shows the embedded quote carried forward.

Ethiopian airliner down in Africa
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 03:11
  #4352 (permalink)  
 
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Trim switch ergonomics with stick shaker on

We see several trim switch applications.

​​Why so short and ineffective?

Did the shaker interrupt the switch contact (perhaps not held down with sufficient force)?

Are pilots trained in trimming with shaker on?

Was the pilot used to or schooled in only doing short blips?

How long (or how many blips) would it take to trim out an MCAS excursion – which if recollection is correct moves the stab much faster than the trim switch?

And lastly: how well do pilots perceive stick force when the shaker is on?
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 03:19
  #4353 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Brosa View Post
To me it appears that the last crash was a case of "magenta line".

1. Stall warning and stick shaker on rotation
Solution: tried to engage the autopilot at 400 ft

2. Apparantly false stick shaker due to erroneous inputs + unreliable airspeed
Solution: tried to engage the autopilot at 600 ft

3. Still stick shaker due to erroneous inputs from left side
Solution: finally succeeded to engage the left autopilot at 1000 ft

4. Aircraft is grossely out of trim and in an overspeed condition, making it hard to fly
Solution: tried to engage the autopilot
We just don't know their motivation. It had been widely reported in the media and elsewhere that MCAS was only active during manual flight, so a pretty obvious (but unfortunately incorrect) response would have been to turn the autopilot on. If it solved the problem, then a much better solution than dinking around with the manual wheel at low altitude.

Note that in your response, you are assuming that the pilots should have known which side the erroneous inputs came from or that the cause of their troubles was an erroneous AOA gauge. For some reason our brains have a really difficult time with 20/20 hindsight, a fact that is detrimental to human factors design. Almost every problem that I ever solved (and that was a big part of my job) was painfully obvious in hindsight. As I said earlier, my company liked to challenge potential hires with difficult puzzles. I ended up getting into the HR loop and was cursed with a good memory. It was almost funny how my fellow employees would tear down candidates for failing to solve puzzles that I clearly recalled them failing just a few years before...
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 07:10
  #4354 (permalink)  
 
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Reading the back and forth on the conundrum of “Pilots completely at fault for being stupid” as set against “Pilots completely not at fault because Boeing designed a $hit system,” and I’ve decided to take a stand. Apologies in advance as this is long, but trust me- it is worth it.

Of all of you out there who have posted here- whether with a desire to blame the pilots entirely or the opposite, how many of you have actually experienced an imminent, binary and life-threatening emergency in your airplane?? One that is so explicit you will either get it right or you will die?? And you have maybe 30 seconds to make that choice.

My guess is the list of aviators who can answer honestly that they have been at that threshold of death is very very small.

I am on that list. And I survived, despite making bad choices along the way.

I share this story because I want people to understand once and for all that while it is fine to offer that the pilots could have done better (they totally could have) the root cause of the MAX crashes was one of design, and human failures only built on that edifice to achieve the final outcome.

I also share this story because I want to try to explain to everyone here, in terms we can all understand, what it is really like when your known world explodes and you have to improvise in order to survive.

In June of 1996 I was in a very high performance unlimited category biplane named the Goshawk. (N345RM) I had departed Livermore CA several minutes earlier and was headed to a legal practice box adjacent to the Tracy airport. While over the Altamont hills at an indicated altitude of 4000MSL I began warming up by pulling to a 45 degree upline and doing snap rolls to the right. I did this once or twice. On the third attempt, once again at approximately 4000+MSL I initiated the snap roll to the right and hit hard left rudder as the wings returned to level to stop the autorotation. When I did this the left rudder pedal/bar shot away from my foot instead of providing actual resistance. The left rudder cable had snapped.

The airplane (which was by design dynamically unstable) paused its rotation for a moment and then began again violently to the right, probably at about 360 degrees per second. And here’s where the chair-jockeys don’t get it. I probably went two or three full revolutions before my mind could accept what I already knew had happened. I immediately pulled power, but the aircraft was already entering a nose-down spin- at a rotational rate of at least 360 degrees per second.

The ROD of a spinning aerobatic biplane is pretty steep, probably on the 1500-2000FPM range. I checked my altimeter, saw I was descending through 4,000 feet and decided to try to recover the airplane before bailing out. AND HERE IS THE IMPORTANT POINT: BECAUSE I REFUSED TO ACCEPT THAT THE AIRPLANE WAS COMPLETELY EFFED I would nearly die. My mind knew before then, as it knows now, that if you put a Pitts-like airplane into an autorotational state the only thing that is going to get it out is opposite yaw. With no rudder THERE CANNOT BE ANY OPPOSITE YAW!! I had thousands of hours in similar aircraft, I was an unlimited category competition aerobatic pilot and instructor, and yet when faced with the obvious I could not process it quickly enough, despite having the evidence staring me squarely in the eye, to react quickly enough to prevent me from nearly dying.

So I frittered away precious moments trying to use opposite yaw via ailerons, shots of engine thrust, hell I might have even prayed, I don’t know. What I know now is I could have done better. What I also know now, and somehow managed to forget then, was that I was over the Altamont. When I saw 4000’MSL and thought “OK, I’ve got time to play with this” the reality was I was over a hill- that was 2134’ high. Tracy- just 20 miles away and where I was headed sits at 193’ MSL.

In my mind, because I was stupid overwhelmed, or just unable to process everything being thrown at me I had maybe 3500-4000’ to play with. So I could spend 30 seconds fighting the airplane to try to recover it before I had to bail.

In reality I had less than 2000’ before I would be dead.

I spent probably ½ to ¾ of the real time I had to get out of the airplane in it- fighting to try to save it, and I did this by deliberately ignoring what I already knew (I had lost rudder control completely) what I should have known (I was over the Altamont) and what I should have accepted (I had to go- the Goshawk was not going to survive this, the only real question was would I??)

I obviously did reach the (already foregone but stubbornly ignored by me) conclusion that the airplane was unrecoverable and decided to bail out- which is an interesting concept in a stable spinning airplane. I undid my harnesses as I had practiced, and I fought my way out of the airplane- pinned against the left side of the cockpit coaming by the rotational g-forces before eventually getting enough of my upper body into the slipstream that I was basically yanked out of the airplane. I was falling in a fetal position, thought about waiting to pull the ripcord, said eff-it and pulled, and after the shocking introduction to my first and (so far) only canopy opening was struck by the sound of the airplane smacking into the ground just a second or two later. Future calculation efforts would show that my chute opened between 134 and 200 feet above the ground, which at that rate of descent equaled a couple of seconds at best.

Surviving that incident has given me some small window of insight into what happens when your comfy world devolves in seconds into one where you know you are about to die.

The biggest lesson, and the greatest ego-killer was simple: I didn’t respond nearly as I would have hoped I would. It took me countless seconds to register the fact of the failure. I knew as soon as the pedal fired away from my foot what had happened. But my mind simply refused to accept that reality for some short period of time. The second error was equally simple: I thought I was the hero pilot (Neil Williams etc…) who would bring my crippled plane back to the airport, thereby saving the day. That thought nearly cost me my life, as I wasted precious seconds performing an absolutely useless dance of fancy “airmanship” that did nothing but allow my airplane to bring me closer and closer to the ground with every moment.

And now to the main point of this entirely too-long post: For those of you who suppose you will see everything clearly and “FTFA” when your own fatal opportunity presents itself please hear me when I say this: YOU WILL NOT!! The question that will determine your survival is how quickly will you move past that initial shock and be able to function properly again. In my case it was a single (albeit fatal) failure. I was extremely well trained, averse to panic-driven responses, and well-able to handle the emergency I had been presented with. Yet I wasted probably a full minute in an airplane I had no business being in any longer.

In the 737 crashes it was a cascade of failures. My own- very rare life experience tells me that those pilots had little chance given the stressors they were working under, as would the rest of you. These are not the words of someone who doesn’t know what it’s like. I’ve been there. I lived. So please trust me when I tell you that your vaunted talents will wither to nothing if someday you are in this unfortunate position. At best you will be semi-functional, at worst you will be functionally useless.

What you will not be, in any context, is a hero who defies these realities.

Final note: This isn’t about placing blame on anyone. Boeing designed an airplane with a crap system that had random and unmonitored control over the single most important control surface of the aircraft. The FAA paved the way for certification of the airplane, and once in the hands of pilots that airplane not once, but twice flew itself into the ground. (The pilots didn’t- it was MCAS that did, and that’s an important fact to take note of…) You can blame the pilots all you want, but it was the airplane itself that had a failure mode that required the pilots to be perfect or die. Boeing had years to create a functioning system that would not put the pilots in this position and they failed to create one. So the two (six really) pilots were left to defend themselves against an airplane that was trying to kill them. Four failed in that endeavor, and they have my utmost respect and gratitude.

Only those who have walked the path and survived can understand the fine line between winning and dying- which is why I have posted this ridiculously long post tonight.

Sorry for the sermon, just tired of reading the constant back and forth about who we should blame.

Link to the Final on my incident: Well despite being a member for years I haven't reached the vaunted 10-post threshold for posting URLs. Search "NTSB June 17, 1996 N345RM" for the final report.

Regards,
dce
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 07:26
  #4355 (permalink)  
 
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Dce

that is an excellent post and so true
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 07:51
  #4356 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by wonkazoo View Post
Reading the back and forth on the conundrum of “Pilots completely at fault for being stupid” as set against “Pilots completely not at fault because Boeing designed a $hit system,” and I’ve decided to take a stand. Apologies in advance as this is long, but trust me- it is worth it.

Of all of you out there who have posted here- whether with a desire to blame the pilots entirely or the opposite, how many of you have actually experienced an imminent, binary and life-threatening emergency in your airplane?? One that is so explicit you will either get it right or you will die?? And you have maybe 30 seconds to make that choice.

My guess is the list of aviators who can answer honestly that they have been at that threshold of death is very very small.

I am on that list. And I survived, despite making bad choices along the way.

I share this story because I want people to understand once and for all that while it is fine to offer that the pilots could have done better (they totally could have) the root cause of the MAX crashes was one of design, and human failures only built on that edifice to achieve the final outcome.

I also share this story because I want to try to explain to everyone here, in terms we can all understand, what it is really like when your known world explodes and you have to improvise in order to survive.

In June of 1996 I was in a very high performance unlimited category biplane named the Goshawk. (N345RM) I had departed Livermore CA several minutes earlier and was headed to a legal practice box adjacent to the Tracy airport. While over the Altamont hills at an indicated altitude of 4000MSL I began warming up by pulling to a 45 degree upline and doing snap rolls to the right. I did this once or twice. On the third attempt, once again at approximately 4000+MSL I initiated the snap roll to the right and hit hard left rudder as the wings returned to level to stop the autorotation. When I did this the left rudder pedal/bar shot away from my foot instead of providing actual resistance. The left rudder cable had snapped.

The airplane (which was by design dynamically unstable) paused its rotation for a moment and then began again violently to the right, probably at about 360 degrees per second. And here’s where the chair-jockeys don’t get it. I probably went two or three full revolutions before my mind could accept what I already knew had happened. I immediately pulled power, but the aircraft was already entering a nose-down spin- at a rotational rate of at least 360 degrees per second.

The ROD of a spinning aerobatic biplane is pretty steep, probably on the 1500-2000FPM range. I checked my altimeter, saw I was descending through 4,000 feet and decided to try to recover the airplane before bailing out. AND HERE IS THE IMPORTANT POINT: BECAUSE I REFUSED TO ACCEPT THAT THE AIRPLANE WAS COMPLETELY EFFED I would nearly die. My mind knew before then, as it knows now, that if you put a Pitts-like airplane into an autorotational state the only thing that is going to get it out is opposite yaw. With no rudder THERE CANNOT BE ANY OPPOSITE YAW!! I had thousands of hours in similar aircraft, I was an unlimited category competition aerobatic pilot and instructor, and yet when faced with the obvious I could not process it quickly enough, despite having the evidence staring me squarely in the eye, to react quickly enough to prevent me from nearly dying.

So I frittered away precious moments trying to use opposite yaw via ailerons, shots of engine thrust, hell I might have even prayed, I don’t know. What I know now is I could have done better. What I also know now, and somehow managed to forget then, was that I was over the Altamont. When I saw 4000’MSL and thought “OK, I’ve got time to play with this” the reality was I was over a hill- that was 2134’ high. Tracy- just 20 miles away and where I was headed sits at 193’ MSL.

In my mind, because I was stupid overwhelmed, or just unable to process everything being thrown at me I had maybe 3500-4000’ to play with. So I could spend 30 seconds fighting the airplane to try to recover it before I had to bail.

In reality I had less than 2000’ before I would be dead.

I spent probably ½ to ¾ of the real time I had to get out of the airplane in it- fighting to try to save it, and I did this by deliberately ignoring what I already knew (I had lost rudder control completely) what I should have known (I was over the Altamont) and what I should have accepted (I had to go- the Goshawk was not going to survive this, the only real question was would I??)

I obviously did reach the (already foregone but stubbornly ignored by me) conclusion that the airplane was unrecoverable and decided to bail out- which is an interesting concept in a stable spinning airplane. I undid my harnesses as I had practiced, and I fought my way out of the airplane- pinned against the left side of the cockpit coaming by the rotational g-forces before eventually getting enough of my upper body into the slipstream that I was basically yanked out of the airplane. I was falling in a fetal position, thought about waiting to pull the ripcord, said eff-it and pulled, and after the shocking introduction to my first and (so far) only canopy opening was struck by the sound of the airplane smacking into the ground just a second or two later. Future calculation efforts would show that my chute opened between 134 and 200 feet above the ground, which at that rate of descent equaled a couple of seconds at best.

Surviving that incident has given me some small window of insight into what happens when your comfy world devolves in seconds into one where you know you are about to die.

The biggest lesson, and the greatest ego-killer was simple: I didn’t respond nearly as I would have hoped I would. It took me countless seconds to register the fact of the failure. I knew as soon as the pedal fired away from my foot what had happened. But my mind simply refused to accept that reality for some short period of time. The second error was equally simple: I thought I was the hero pilot (Neil Williams etc…) who would bring my crippled plane back to the airport, thereby saving the day. That thought nearly cost me my life, as I wasted precious seconds performing an absolutely useless dance of fancy “airmanship” that did nothing but allow my airplane to bring me closer and closer to the ground with every moment.

And now to the main point of this entirely too-long post: For those of you who suppose you will see everything clearly and “FTFA” when your own fatal opportunity presents itself please hear me when I say this: YOU WILL NOT!! The question that will determine your survival is how quickly will you move past that initial shock and be able to function properly again. In my case it was a single (albeit fatal) failure. I was extremely well trained, averse to panic-driven responses, and well-able to handle the emergency I had been presented with. Yet I wasted probably a full minute in an airplane I had no business being in any longer.

In the 737 crashes it was a cascade of failures. My own- very rare life experience tells me that those pilots had little chance given the stressors they were working under, as would the rest of you. These are not the words of someone who doesn’t know what it’s like. I’ve been there. I lived. So please trust me when I tell you that your vaunted talents will wither to nothing if someday you are in this unfortunate position. At best you will be semi-functional, at worst you will be functionally useless.

What you will not be, in any context, is a hero who defies these realities.

Final note: This isn’t about placing blame on anyone. Boeing designed an airplane with a crap system that had random and unmonitored control over the single most important control surface of the aircraft. The FAA paved the way for certification of the airplane, and once in the hands of pilots that airplane not once, but twice flew itself into the ground. (The pilots didn’t- it was MCAS that did, and that’s an important fact to take note of…) You can blame the pilots all you want, but it was the airplane itself that had a failure mode that required the pilots to be perfect or die. Boeing had years to create a functioning system that would not put the pilots in this position and they failed to create one. So the two (six really) pilots were left to defend themselves against an airplane that was trying to kill them. Four failed in that endeavor, and they have my utmost respect and gratitude.

Only those who have walked the path and survived can understand the fine line between winning and dying- which is why I have posted this ridiculously long post tonight.

Sorry for the sermon, just tired of reading the constant back and forth about who we should blame.

Link to the Final on my incident: Well despite being a member for years I haven't reached the vaunted 10-post threshold for posting URLs. Search "NTSB June 17, 1996 N345RM" for the final report.

Regards,
dce

Thanks for sharing your brush with the dark side.

A couple of serious questions if you do not mind.

During your event did pitch and power enter your mind?

Were you a airline pilot or just aerobatics?

How long did you actually spend trying to fight it, and how long did it feel like you fought it (I expect they are not the same answer).
Bend alot is online now  
Old 26th Apr 2019, 07:53
  #4357 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Originally Posted by wonkazoo View Post
Link to the Final on my incident: Well despite being a member for years I haven't reached the vaunted 10-post threshold for posting URLs. Search "NTSB June 17, 1996 N345RM" for the final report.
Final report.






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DaveReidUK is offline  
Old 26th Apr 2019, 08:06
  #4358 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
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Originally Posted by Bend alot View Post
Thanks for sharing your brush with the dark side.

A couple of serious questions if you do not mind.

During your event did pitch and power enter your mind?

Were you a airline pilot or just aerobatics?

How long did you actually spend trying to fight it, and how long did it feel like you fought it (I expect they are not the same answer).
As I wrote- I tried to use thrust (power) to bump it out of it's spin. When a dynamically unstable airplane is in auto-rotation pitch alone doesn't have the ability to recover the aircraft. It can tighten or loosen the auto-rotation by virtue of decreasing or increasing the AOA (Hmmm, have I read about AOA recently??), but pitch authority alone (of which there was tons in this airplane) cannot overcome the autorotative state as it does not affect yaw, which is the critical factor in a stabilized spin. (Inside wing stalled, outside wing flying...) I did try pro-spin and anti-spin aileron with the power changes. Frankly I genuinely thought I could bump it out of it's stable autorotative state. Which was my pilot-ego speaking louder than my science-pilot self.

"Airline pilot or just aerobatics?" Well that's an interesting question, but I've never flown heavy iron, nor have I suggested I have. But I did somehow survive roughly 4400 hours of PIC time in an immense variety of airplanes and helicopters, each of which obeys the same exact physics as a 737 Max-8.

I cannot tell you how long I spent trying to recover the airplane (as opposed to fighting it). IN round numbers when I realized what had happened I looked at the altimeter, saw something around 4000' MSL and thought "I have some time." Roughly speaking I was on the ground a minute or a minute and a half later.
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 08:11
  #4359 (permalink)  
 
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Wonkazoo

Don't apologise for the length, really excellent post, thank you.

Regards - and respect.

Alchad
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Old 26th Apr 2019, 08:17
  #4360 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Cape Town, ZA
Age: 58
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
Final report.
There is also a summary of the accident here: https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=133835

Edit: The dry report contains nothing like the first-hand version in this thread:
attempts at regaining control were unsuccessful
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