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Airbus crash/training flight

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Airbus crash/training flight

Old 29th Nov 2008, 14:59
  #101 (permalink)  
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Witness: Air NZ crew sacrificed lives to save town

NZ Herald
Witness: Air NZ crew sacrificed lives to save town - 30 Nov 2008 - NZ Herald: New Zealand National news

4:00AM Sunday Nov 30, 2008
Cliff Taylor

The crew of Air New Zealand's doomed Airbus jet were last night being hailed as heroes - a witness believes they saved dozens of lives by crashing the plane into the sea to avoid a small French town.

As the shattered jet lies in 20,000 pieces in the Mediterranean, new details began to emerge of the final seconds, including one witness report of a catastrophic engine failure.

"When the aircraft was over Canet, the pilot tried to restart it and it picked up," retired aviation mechanic Claude Pedro told Perpignan's L'Independant newspaper. "It ascended and then cut out. That was it, then nothing. It fell. I can tell you it was only flying on one engine, I'm sure of that, I would have heard the sound of the second. And with only one engine there was nothing to be done.

"What is certain, is that the aircraft could easily have crashed and fallen on Canet. I think that pilot really wanted to avoid the town and risk to the inhabitants, which is why he really pushed it. In some way, they sacrificed their lives to save others and to try to save the aircraft."

He said that once past the populated areas, the crew would have been able to descend to try to splash down but the aircraft probably "gave up".

According to several witnesses, it pitched in every direction before plunging into the ocean.

New Zealand-based aviation experts also speculated there was a catastrophic mechanical error on the German-operated plane. But questions remain over the final seconds - the pilots apparently had no time to correct the problem or issue a mayday.

A team of 10 divers last night returned to the crash site to try to retrieve the aircraft's two flight recorders, which are expected to yield significant clues to the cause of the crash. Air New Zealand urged the public and aviation industry to avoid speculating on possible causes until proper evidence emerged.

Five Kiwis - including four Air New Zealand staff - and the two German pilots were killed when the Airbus plunged into the Mediterranean, 3km from the French coast near Perpignan. Le Monde newspaper reported last night that three bodies have now been recovered, although search efforts are being hampered by bad weather and rough seas.

One experienced New Zealand pilot, speaking on condition of anonymity, had three theories: the plane either hit something, such as a bird; lost a vital piece of equipment such as an aileron or wing panel; or a mechanical defect brought the plane down. Another theory was that the wing flaps may not have deployed properly for the landing, causing the aircraft to bank suddenly to the right.

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe arrived in Perpignan early today, following a 28-hour flight through Hong Kong and Heathrow with the partner and another family member of one of the victims, Murray White. There had been "a lot of tears, a few laughs, and a lot of sharing" on the flight to Europe, he said.

"It's bloody tough. I have sat next to them on the flight up to Hong Kong, and up to London," he told the Herald on Sunday. "We have got a team on board - there's police here, a TAIC [Transport Accident Investigation Commission] expert, people from the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority]. We have set aside space in the business class cabin. There's a real sense of team spirit developing, but also trepidation about what we are going to find when we get on the ground."

Family members of another victim flew out last night and a third family was leaving for France today.

Fyfe said he had received about 300 emails of condolence in the hours after the tragedy from staff, other airline CEOs, and members of the public, each of whom he was hoping to respond to by the time he arrived in France. He had also spent about four or five hours on a satellite phone on the flight to Hong Kong, liaising with senior management and families.

Fyfe had not seen photographs of the jet's koru fin floating in the water - an image eerily similar to an infamous Erebus crash photograph. "The aircraft was owned by Air New Zealand and was operated by another airline. Tragically, a number of our people were on board. XL was operating it. It's a tragedy and the fact there is imagery linking Air New Zealand, undoubtedly that connects the emotion to people, as much those inside the company as those outside."

He said the airline had not received any indication of the cause of the crash.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 15:19
  #102 (permalink)  
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Midilibre Coverage

Quite a bit of coverage in the local paper: Midi Libre - Actualités et informations nationales et régionales en direct

Besides the surfers, the cop and the private pilot in the air, a sailboat was uncomfortably close to the scene.

The topic of a possible problem with flight controls has been brought up; also the fact that repainting often involves the removal and reinstallation of various parts, i.e. flight control surfaces leading to the possibility that something may have come undone.

Lots of details if you can read French.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 15:37
  #103 (permalink)  
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I hate to add to speculation... but my 2 cents worth...

The classic error is blockage of the static ports (on the side of the aircraft). There have been cases of aircraft coming out of repaint with the static ports still masked over.
This results in erratic airspeed indications, and it has been known that the pressure bleeds out at altitude, and then on descent the pressure in the static ports stays low, resulting in erronously high airspeed indication and a resultant stall on approach.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 16:00
  #104 (permalink)  
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Pitot blocked unlikely due to flying for over an hour
Catastrophic engine failure due to only hearing one engine? B*llocks
Flap issue? Maybe
Bird ingestion? no explanation for the erratic last flying movements

Too much speculation by retired mechanics and other early commentators.
Lets wait for the CVR and FDR....

I m sure there will be something to learn for all. At least some PPRuNers should learn to stop nagging at each other here, fighting a fight which does not belong here

Last edited by vanHorck; 29th Nov 2008 at 21:19.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 16:15
  #105 (permalink)  
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Its not on BBC or Sky News, odd!?
Sad news! I fly the A320 great little a/c.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 16:20
  #106 (permalink)  
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BTW, the Midi Libre does mention the flight recorders have been found yesterday afternoon. No other info.

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Old 29th Nov 2008, 17:56
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The CVR has been recovered; the DFDR, not yet :
Crash : L'une des 2 botes noires de l'A320 repche - France - LCI
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 18:32
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..but for the moment at least I prefer stone-age connections to the bits that keep me the right way up...

Having spent a memorable 35 minutes with elevator and elevator trim rock solid. Stone age controls are not always infallible.

This data could all have been sent to Spain, NZ and Germany within seconds of the crash - using satellite communications. Heaven knows, kids can play real-time games with people on the other side of the world these days. It's long past time that the black boxes are no more than backup system to a regular data transmission...any anomaly causing a huge increase of sampling.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 19:13
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I get more than a little tired of the people on this forum who accuse the French and Airbus (or the Americans and Boeing for that matter) of trying to cover up safety issues with their aircraft. All you have to do is attend one of their safety conferences to see the depths they go to in ensuring that their products are highly reliable and safe.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 19:23
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For what it's worth

While I completely agree that random & uninformed theories about the cause of this particular crash are unwarranted, I greatly appreciate discussions about factors that are likely to be relevant and I particularly like to read of others experiences. Informative and highly interesting. Thanks to those who have made meaningful contributions and also for correcting those slightly less than meaningful
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 19:25
  #111 (permalink)  
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I think this is what captplaystation is referring to:
Misconfigured A330 flight computers led to severe hard landing: EASA

That there is alway a "middle man" (computer) who knows what's best for the situation.

If it ever comes to a war of "computer vs. mankind" (like in the Terminator movies) I sure would hate to be on an Airbus.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 19:35
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In the company I work for most of the aircraft are configured for ACARS reporting in the event of certain parameters being exceeded, eg high rate of descent on final approach. Does anyone know if the A320 would have sent real time info via ACARS before the accident?
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 20:31
  #113 (permalink)  
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Actually I was thinking of the recent in-flight upset caused by the air data computers,(or ADIRU to be pedantic) but this "man-made" one wasn't too pretty either.
skol, Most , in fact probably all airlines ( including I imagine XL in Germany ) have the data sent out , but in some cases I believe it is sent after the aircraft is parked with parking brake set or engines shut down, which wouldn't have worked too well in this case. I believe other systems send data constantly in real time. As loose rivets said, in this day & age I can have a simulated motor race in real time with a teenager in Tokyo, so we really shouldn't be dependant on fishing bits of orange metal from 35m depth in the Med to know what has happened.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 20:40
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The operator has a system called airman that shows the ECAM faults and data in real time to their ground station, so they will be aware of all system failures and anomalies.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 22:13
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I believe other systems send data constantly in real time. As loose rivets said, in this day & age I can have a simulated motor race in real time with a teenager in Tokyo, so we really shouldn't be dependant on fishing bits of orange metal from 35m depth in the Med to know what has happened.
The challenge here is that airplanes in the sky have such a big "radio footprint" i.e. the transmissions carry far away, which means re-use of the same frequency is only possible far away. This means you quickly would need a lot of frequencies. In contrast, land-based cellular systems can re-use their frequencies every few kilometer or so, which means thay have much larger capacity to handle many continuous data streams.

One possible solution is to use self-organizing multiplexing techniques to share a few frequencies in an intelligent way. There are techniques such as STDMA (Self-Organizing Time Division Multiple Access, used in VDL (VHF Data Link) Mode 4 for ADS-B) and CSMA/CD (carrier sense multiple access with collision detection, the basis of how Ethernet works but not directly suitable for aviation radio).
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 22:33
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The aircraft was doing, say, 150kts, i.e., 250ft/sec, and was at something like 1000ft
There have been a number of reports that the a/c was flying at about 1000ft. I don't know whether these have all come from one source or from various.

What seems odd to me is that the last clearance they received was direct LANET, cleared LANET ILS 33, descend 4000 feet (source: this thread).

Looking at the approach plate for the LANET ILS 33, they were on or near the 11DME arc. The plate shows establishing on the ILS at or above 2000ft.

Based on those two pieces of information, they should have been nowhere near 1000ft. Were they below the flightpath or did someone just imagine that they saw the a/c at 1000ft?
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 23:20
  #117 (permalink)  
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After the famous 320's excursion into the trees, the ITV's 'Chronicle' I think it was, had two long investigative programs about the accident and the strange goings on afterwords.

I'm not totally sure of the program name, but I am sure about a statement made - that local magistrates were certain that the recorders they saw in the trunk of the car at the site, were not the ones they later saw. I was puzzled by this because they would no doubt have been cleaned etc., but this was something that the magistrates were (reported to be) very unhappy about. There were myriads of other things, but what happened to the co-pilot was beyond credulity.

Data uploading would best be discussed in the tech forum, but just to say that sending packages of data to other aircraft might be a simple alternative.

It would be far easier to do than set up a cell/mobile phone system, but of course there wouldn't be the $$$$'s pouring in as a reward.

The sky is full of aircraft...pinging data to each other is mostly a case of organizing protocol.

Each data package would have to be sent back to confirm its integrity, so a limit could be made on how many aircraft held one given batch of data. Say ten other aircraft would hold that particular batch, then reject others from that aircraft. Any crisis or anomaly, and all surrounding aircraft start downloading that channel.

Longer term uploads - as previously discussed, so that the flying host units could be purged.

The thing about aircraft is that they have line of sight to a lot of orbital hardware. The signal strength needed, much less than ground-based transmissions. I'm sure the days of diving for black boxes is limited, but I'm astonished that they have gone on for so long.

BTW I recall one of my colleagues meeting his end in a Viscount. It was said that the recorder wire was in 20,000 pieces. Still they read it.

Last edited by Loose rivets; 30th Nov 2008 at 05:20.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 23:48
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local magistrates were certain that the recorders they saw in the trunk of the car at the site, were not the ones they later saw.
Loose, don't suggest conspiracy or your post will surely be deleted..........

The Moss
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Old 30th Nov 2008, 00:27
  #119 (permalink)  
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Catplaystation and ChristianJ bring up an interesting debate.

On a very persona note, my plane has push rods and cables for controls and at the GA level I certainly would have some concerns if they became FBW and FBC (Fly by computer.)

It is easy to see how the FBW thing became the norm, and then the FBC thing crept in and it too became the norm and the stats seem to show that it is as safe as any other system, after all we hear often enough of physical control systems being jambed, either by mis installation or foreign objects or by minor structural damage that would not in itself bring an aircraft down. That said it still seems, at least to us very old SLF, that there is something inherently unsettling about flying without some direct connection between the controls and the control surfaces.

The assertion that it would not be possible to have physical connection in modern aircraft seems unwise. After all your car has power steering but there is still a physical connection. (And if FBW and FBC are so damned good why doesn't your car have it for steering?) If it was mandated then the engineering does not seem so difficult. The trade off would be the risk of physical jambing and in a long and possibly complicated system that might be as high as the risk of multiple electrical or computer failure.

I love flying in anything, even long tedious trips as SLF (As long as I get the window seat,) but sometimes, if I think about it just before boarding, I do get a frisson of worry about the controls having such a very tenuous connection to the bits that actually make it go where it should!

Let's just not even talk about "Plastic."
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Old 30th Nov 2008, 00:34
  #120 (permalink)  
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No links, but sad accident it is..

a few facts,
1) just came out of maintenance
2) they flew at around 1400 feet or so (at 4 Nm from threshold)
3) there was not even a single radio transmission from the stricken aircraft.
point 2 & 3 make it reasonable to suspect that whatever happend happend so fast that they just did not stand any chance of recognising it, let alone coping with it.

if you start an agressive serious nose down dive, the vertical descent rate is easily in excess of 7000 feet per minute.
This means that they would have 12 second from the time the problem started till they met the water below, or far less..

a few possible scenarios

1) 'human error'
maintenance forgot something very vital (think of the lack of greasing MD80 Alaska airlines stabilizer trimspindel/jack for example leading to detachment & horrifying result)
Structural overloading)
mayor structural failure of a wing, or stabilizer, due to upset beyond ultimate load limit.
3) rudder hard over, or 'renagade' total uncommanded control surface deflection of fly by wire system. Commanding for example full nose down elevator and / or full aileron deflection and so on. Airbus does have flight envolope protection & computer systems are fail safe, or suppost to be.

4) trust reverser unlocked.
Think of 767 Lauda Air..

In any case it must have been something very sudden & at 1220 - 1400 feet AGL that left no room for recovery.

very curious what happend..

p.s. i prefere Boeing anyway over the 'scarebus'..
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