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-   -   UPS cargo crash near Birmingham AL (https://www.pprune.org/tech-log/521370-ups-cargo-crash-near-birmingham-al.html)

J.O. 15th Aug 2013 12:00


Many approaches that don't have VNAV/LNAV minimums published, are still encoded in the database....however in FBW bus...(dont know about the A300) it is prohibited to fly these in Final Approach mode
That may be the rule in your neck of the woods but it isn't universally so. With certain restrictions, many jurisdictions permit the use of the fully managed NPA without having an LNAV/VNAV minima published.

DaveReidUK 15th Aug 2013 12:27


If they were doing 190KTS less than 1 nm out
If they were doing 190kt at that point.

But that calculation is presumably based on the same dodgy FlightAware data that puts the final position of the aircraft within the airport boundary. :ugh:

However if we assume that the two previous position plots are valid (granted, an equally precarious assumption) then they put the aircraft at 5.46nm from the threshold and then a minute later at 2.83nm.

That's an average GS of 158kt - a lot different from 190kt.

FIRESYSOK 15th Aug 2013 12:37

Referencing the 'Sooeet' vertical path someone posted above:

This was not an ILS. It is NOT a good analysis. In fact, it is almost completely irrelevant and actually looks quite reasonable for a non precision profile until the very last, if it is to be believed at all.

Lonewolf_50 15th Aug 2013 13:12

EDIT:
NVM, just realized there were two pages.

Analysis of interest, but taken with a grain of salt for reasons noted above.

Capn Bloggs 15th Aug 2013 13:21


Like their Asiana 214 analysis, Sooeet did a new analysis for UPS 1354, including nice plots of position and airspeed. It's darned good,
I tend to agree with firesysok: that article is dodgy.

If Soooeeet's plot is to be believed, it's plainly obvious the crew couldn't see the runway because the track deviates well left from a long way out. It's claim that weather was not a factor appears itself to be a furphy. The crew either couldn't see the runway or were majorly distracted by something in/with the aircraft.


Additionally, UPS1354 flew well above the PAPI glide-slope for runway 18 until about 15 nautical miles out, at which time UPS1354 began a very rapid descent while maintaining 300 knots, likely using a combination of engine power to maintain speed, and spoilers to increase descent rate. UPS1354 attempted to intercept the PAPI glide-slope from above by means of this rapid descent between 15 and 10 nautical miles from the runway touch down zone.
What is this rubbish? Intercepting the PAPI glideslope at 10-15nm? If they are like ours, you can't even see them that far out; at night they are just a white/pink/red blur. And let's not forget that it was Scattered at 1100 and Broken at 3500ft. PAPI would not have been visible.

"Engine power to maintain speed and spoilers to increase descent rate"? And these guys are casting judgement on a dead crew??

WillowRun 6-3 15th Aug 2013 13:23

Objection, speculation, assumes facts not in evidence
 
To add to the sub-thread here on the matter of whether any and all rumor and conjecture posted here - sometimes by members who do not possess PIC hours or even any license to operate any aircraft, and also sometimes by full-authority Four-Stripers - even amongst the posts of the cognoscenti there can be, and are, disagreements over the meaning of observations. There is something to be said, despite apparent derision or condescension offered previously, for non-pilot "enthusiasts" who ALSO are seeking to participate in or contribute to the business at hand: improved safety, or more sensible R/T protocol and compliance therewith (the R/T Standard thread on another part of the board), and perhaps even in the looming if not imminent governmental and regulatory challenge of assuring that manufacturers' automated avionics suites in new types (and retro-fits and/or upgrades) work in concert with, not in opposition to, the vast complexity of approach flying in civilian-controlled U.S. (and presumably most ICAO national jurisdictions) airspace. Was not one main impetus emerging from the SFO Asiana mishap the need to assure something like "coordination" of avionics, ATC, automation protocols, and CRM (send me back to Primary if I have omitted something critically important from said list). Stated in a little bit different terms, would not every full-authority Driver want the General Counsel of Boeing (just for example) to be pretty conversant, and to have a decent cognitive -- though OBVIOUSLY not experiential- comprehension of LNAV VNAV Wx and all the rest of the pilot talk posted here? So, what that leaves us with is, one, don't eject the enthusiasts who have something to contribute or are striving to learn so that they may do so in some other professional careerist role, and two, in a day when the masses shoot 140-keystroke messages in sheer mass numbers and widespread the world over, the pace of information-sharing is so fast, which is a good thing - and if it turns out there is a little bit of noise amidst that torrentious signal, deal with it, move on (though be glad for the incredibly fast dissemination of information).

Speed of Sound 15th Aug 2013 13:29

Capn Bloggs
 

And these guys are casting judgement on a dead crew??
Can you actually show me where judgement is being cast on the crew?

Capn Bloggs 15th Aug 2013 13:38


We analyzed the range data (distance from the airport), and altitude data published by FlightAware.com. Our analysis suggests that UPS Flight 1354 (UPS1354) made a non-stabilized approach to runway 18.

Heavy transport aircraft such as the Airbus A300-600F, should routinely perform stabilized approaches

It clearly shows that UPS1354 flew the majority of the approach well above the PAPI glide-slope. "High energy" approaches, like this approach flown by UPS1354, are inherently risky for heavy transport aircraft such as the Airbus A300-600F.

However, at 1 nautical mile UPS1354 was still flying at 190 knots, much too fast for the final approach. It should have been flying at about 135 knots during this portion of the approach.
In fact, the more I read it, the more the whole article stinks.

PEI_3721 15th Aug 2013 13:45

olasek, Capn Bloggs, Airbubber, et al,
Whilst the gist of my original question was to stimulate discussion as above, one aspect remains unanswered. Why have ‘BIDPE’ on the RNAV chart but not for LOC.
If ‘BIDPE’ pre-empts a VNAV path approach, then by not being on the desired path, albeit before the FAF (FAF is a more a check and not necessarily a start point?), it adds confusion and may encourage a step down procedure.
Alternatively if ‘BIDPE’ is just for info, ‘not below’ point, then it provides opportunity for an erroneous early descent – “Calculate a vertical speed to use from the FAF and make small adjustments to V/S as necessary for the proper path and step downs if applicable”, where flying the calculated descent path from ‘BIDPE’ - mistaken for FAF, would result in a 900ft error.

Re ‘lateral’ deviation. What is the primary navigation source on this aircraft how is it updated? Is this subject to ‘map slip? If so, then it might contribute to longitudinal / lateral path errors; the data link information discussed elsewhere might not represent ‘real world’.
Furthermore, we have yet to hear about EGPWS, which should have provided an alert, but if ‘the map’ - the assumed position from ‘NAV’ was closer to the airfield than reality, then EGPWS might not have alerted the crew (a good reason to have GPS embedded in EGPWS).
Also, if the crew focused on the computed RNAV solution then they similarly might not have been concerned until the ‘visual’ stage of the approach (=<MDA).

Speed of Sound 15th Aug 2013 13:49

Capn Bloggs
 

In fact, the more I read it, the more the whole article stinks.
I'll take that as a no then?

Flying Guy 15th Aug 2013 14:04

"just read the altimeter setting and it was not too far off standard, so I am thinking it wasn't altimetry...29.97 is close enough to 29.92 that it shouldn't have caused the crash... "

AHHH, I guess we should always keep our altimeters at standard - avoid many accidents.

Speed of Sound 15th Aug 2013 15:33


Like their Asiana 214 analysis, Sooeet did a new analysis for UPS 1354, including nice plots of position and airspeed. It's darned good, check it out:

What Happened to UPS Flight 1354 - Analysis by Sooeet.com
Not entirely sure why they have included a profile of an approach to RWY 24 on their graph. :confused:

Airbubba 15th Aug 2013 15:42


Additionally, UPS1354 flew well above the PAPI glide-slope for runway 18 until about 15 nautical miles out, at which time UPS1354 began a very rapid descent while maintaining 300 knots, likely using a combination of engine power to maintain speed, and spoilers to increase descent rate. UPS1354 attempted to intercept the PAPI glide-slope from above by means of this rapid descent between 15 and 10 nautical miles from the runway touch down zone.

However, at 1 nautical mile UPS1354 was still flying at 190 knots, much too fast for the final approach. It should have been flying at about 135 knots during this portion of the approach.

In fact, the more I read it, the more the whole article stinks.
I agree, the idea of a 300 knot descent 15 miles out in the U.S. somehow doesn't seem right. It is definitely 250 kts. below 10,000 ft. and they don't give you 'high speed' in the U.S. even at night in Alabama. And if they were really doing 190 kts. one mile out they couldn't get land flaps out at that speed, right? Below 1000 agl and not stable and not configured they would go around, long before a one mile final I would think.


Furthermore, we have yet to hear about EGPWS, which should have provided an alert, but if ‘the map’ - the assumed position from ‘NAV’ was closer to the airfield than reality, then EGPWS might not have alerted the crew (a good reason to have GPS embedded in EGPWS).
The EGPWS I am familiar with has its own GPS and functions whether the LNAV in the aircraft has GPS or not. And, yes, I believe the EGPWS will give terrain warnings for descent toward terrain that is not the runway in the landing configuration. Seems like you would get a false alert at KUL (Sepang, not Subang) years ago due to a hill that had been removed to lower landing minima but was not yet updated in the EGPWS terrain database.

ohnutsiforgot 15th Aug 2013 15:59

Another reliable eyewitness report...
 
"It sounded like an airplane had given out of fuel. We thought it was trying to make it to the airport. But a few minutes later we heard a loud `boom,'" she said.


A few minutes later ?

Lacking a complete language, we Americans frequently measure intervals using the folllowing precision estimator:
'Then it went" = immediate
'Few minutes later" = greater than 'then it went'
'While later" = greater than a few minutes
'A while later" = greater then while later
'Sometime later' = 1 day to 6 weeks, used only by journalists

Mudman 15th Aug 2013 16:00

Aerial photos of UPS crash site.

http://imgick.al.com/home/bama-media...bfa6f64281.JPG

http://imgick.al.com/home/bama-media...821bd43da5.JPG
more here.. Aerial Photos of UPS Crash Site

PJ2 15th Aug 2013 16:02

"In fact, the more I read it, the more the whole article stinks. " - Capn Bloggs

Agree completely, including your quoted passages. It's terrible work, dressed up pretty.

Those who know accident investigation and flight data work routinely ignore such contributions as the data source used is not an investigative tool but a polished internet toy that gives the appearance of careful work that in truth just fuels uninformed internet speculation in advance of the facts.

There's no point in such work (other than for ego) because it can't possibly describe what occurred without the flight data from the recorders. Anything else is just a cartoon.

PJ2

WillowRun 6-3 15th Aug 2013 16:09

Just a minute
 
@ ohnutsiforgot:
Imagine how much fun it is to take the deposition testimony of such folks - or to take their statements for NTSB field investigation purposes. I recall seeing in the NTSB interview record of some of the people who were in the JAL 787 at BOS when smoke first was observed certain references to their estimations or expressions of perceived lapse of time...and thinking 'hmmm, a tad imprecise, is it not?' Not suggesting the wiggle in those facts impacted anything material in that causality analysis, but it might matter quite a lot in some other case.

areobat 15th Aug 2013 16:11

There has been discussion about Harold and Maude seeing the plane on fire or hearing sputtering, and I agree, you almost always get "witnesses" that say that. In this case, I think there may be some truth to the matter. As mentioned previously, the plane clipped the power lines (and trees) before impacting the hill. This could have ruptured a fuel tank and the impacted electrical lines could have ignited it. From the insulators I can see in the photos, it looks like that there is 12KV service in that area, so the arcing could have been significant.

I also think that the "sputtering engines" may have been the sound of high voltage arcing, spring fuses melting, or the utility recloser in operation. The recloser is a type of automated circuit breaker that attempts to "re close" the circuit several times (usually three) after a fault, the theory being that most faults are temporary, so why keep the juice off. When this operation occurs into a hard fault like downed lines, it does indeed sound like very loud "sputtering".

aguadalte 15th Aug 2013 16:13


"Additionally, UPS1354 flew well above the PAPI glide-slope for runway 18 until about 15 nautical miles out, at which time UPS1354 began a very rapid descent while maintaining 300 knots, likely using a combination of engine power to maintain speed, and spoilers to increase descent rate. UPS1354 attempted to intercept the PAPI glide-slope from above by means of this rapid descent between 15 and 10 nautical miles from the runway touch down zone"
..."likely using a combination of engine power to maintain speed, and spoilers to increase descent rate."


That sentence could not have been written by a credible author...

Speed of Sound 15th Aug 2013 16:30


because it can't possibly describe what occurred without the flight data from the recorders. Anything else is just a cartoon.
Not strictly true!

A number of people carried out 'reconstructions' after the Asiana 214 crash using published radar data for altitude and ground speed which turned out to be surprisingly accurate once the DFDR information was released. ;)

PJ2 15th Aug 2013 17:06

Speed of Sound;

Not strictly true!

A number of people carried out 'reconstructions' after the Asiana 214 crash using published radar data for altitude and ground speed which turned out to be surprisingly accurate once the DFDR information was released. http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/sr...lies/wink2.gif
Thanks for your response.

To my knowledge no one here has the DFDR data so we can't really say that. The comparison is with statements made about the data, not the data itself.

I realize I'm being fussy, but that's what this work is all about - second-hand information isn't good enough even from reliable sources.

For a number of reasons, the caution regarding the use of such unproven data is warranted and necessary. The risk is, as I'm sure you're aware, that people actually believe plots and animations made on such thin data and begin drawing conclusions, just like a lot of other behaviours based upon "internet knowledge".

I fully understand the capabilities of radar data plots (which are even used in formal reports at times), but the sample rate is too low to support assumptions of accuracy without confirmation with the aircraft recorders.

A Squared 15th Aug 2013 17:25


Originally Posted by Flying Guy
"just read the altimeter setting and it was not too far off standard, so I am thinking it wasn't altimetry...29.97 is close enough to 29.92 that it shouldn't have caused the crash... "

AHHH, I guess we should always keep our altimeters at standard - avoid many accidents.

Not sure where you come up with this inane comment. Nobody suggested anything of the sort. The point was pretty obvious and it's amazing that you need it explained, but as you obviously missed it, here's what was meant: For the actual conditions existing at the time of *this* particular incident, forgetting to reset altimeters to QNH thru transition would have resulted in an altimeter error of approximately 50 feet, which obviously far too small to have resulted in *this* accident. The suggestion that resetting altimeters to QNH on descent be done away with exists solely within your imagination.

DaveReidUK 15th Aug 2013 17:43


Not sure where you come up with this inane comment.
That'll teach Flying Guy not to use irony in his posts, lest they be taken literally. :O

A Squared 15th Aug 2013 17:50


That'll teach Flying Guy not to use irony in his posts, lest they be taken literally.
I understood completely his irony. That's kind of the point, he was sarcastically and ironically responding to a something which hadn't been hinted at. Not even a little bit.

DaveReidUK 15th Aug 2013 18:01

Second media briefing on the investigation to be held 4pm CDT today.

PEI_3721 15th Aug 2013 18:07

OK465. Thanks for the chart explanation (#132 / 135), although I am surprised by the accuracy difference between LOC (an angular system) and GPS RNAV (linear, RNP 0.3); I also note that BIDPE is a waypoint in the GPS procedure.
However, it still appears illogical for the RNAV approach to allow a descent to 2600ft (well below a constant-angle path), when such a relatively new procedure could have been constructed to help improve safety.

As Airbubber notes, most modern installations use the GPS receiver built into EGPWS; however this is not used for navigation. Other EGPWS configurations still depend on an external nav input, which even with GPS (used for nav) is only assumed to correctly represent the aircraft’s position, i.e. GPS drop out / error, the nav position could ‘slip’.
Depending on the aircraft’s nav installation, some of the early EGPWS installations could suffer map slip, which could falsely position the aircraft in the EGPWS safe area before the runway, and the in-parallel standard GPWS function would not warn of low terrain due to the landing configuration – gear and flap.
Thus what was the EGPWS nav configuration in this aircraft?

PilotsResearch 15th Aug 2013 18:11

Accuracy of inbound track
 
The FlightAware track shows, about 20 nm north, a jog to the right, presumably to get lined up for final. However, the new track didn't quite line up with RWY 18. Rather, it would have led them slightly east, crossing RWY 24 near its touchdown zone.

Any ideas on why this error? Is this measurement error in FlightAware data? (It does appear, however, to show the crash site accurately.)

olasek 15th Aug 2013 18:15


approach to allow a descent to 2600ft (well below a constant-angle path)
Again, you keep repeating this "well below descent path" like a broken record, it is your poor understanding of the approaches. Take any other say ILS approach and any point before the FAF will be for sure "below descent path" by obvious geometry, it is simply false to consider points before FAF as having anything to do with the descent profile. This is how great majority of the approaches in the US are constructed, it has nothing to do with safety. Grab some Canadian charts, you will also find similar examples there. Yes, it is absolutely OK to descend to 2600 at BIDPE and stay at 2600 until you reach the FAF, such interception of glide slope from "below" is perfectly routine.

Lonewolf_50 15th Aug 2013 18:38


I fully understand the capabilities of radar data plots (which are even used in formal reports at times), but the sample rate is too low to support assumptions of accuracy without confirmation with the aircraft recorders.
Restated for emphasis.

I have now had a chance to review the approach plate.

IAF at COLIG is 14.1 DME, which is 12.8 nm from MAP. Min Alt 3500 ft.
FAF is BASKN, 6 DME, 4.7 nm from MAP. The 3.28 degree glide slope depicted (suggested) is IIRC based on the idealized slope from FAF to touchdown, however, I'd need to look that up to refresh my memory.

In the lower left hand corner, FAF to MAP times are 1:53 at 150 kts GS, and 1:34 at 180 kts GS. This would tell me, as a pilot, that if I were flying a CAT C or D aircraft on this approach, I should be configured, and on approach speed well before the FAF, and have my estimated ROD figured out before I hit the FAF. If I had a tool in the cockpit that allowed me to create a 3.28 glide slope that keeps me above min altitudes before FAF, all the better.

It looks as though the approach need ~700 fpm ROD if GS is 180, ~580-600 FPM ROD if GS is 150.

It will be interesting to learn the actual speed they were flying once that data becomes available from the NTSB.

DaveReidUK 15th Aug 2013 18:47


Is this measurement error in FlightAware data? (It does appear, however, to show the crash site accurately.)
You are kidding, aren't you?

Flight Track Log ? UPS1354 ? 14-Aug-2013 ? KSDF - KBHM ? FlightAware

Have you tried putting FlightAware's supposed final position plot (33.5681 -86.7539) into Google Earth ?

Sorry Dog 15th Aug 2013 18:51


There has been discussion about Harold and Maude seeing the plane on fire or hearing sputtering, and I agree, you almost always get "witnesses" that say that. In this case, I think there may be some truth to the matter. As mentioned previously, the plane clipped the power lines (and trees) before impacting the hill. This could have ruptured a fuel tank and the impacted electrical lines could have ignited it. From the insulators I can see in the photos, it looks like that there is 12KV service in that area, so the arcing could have been significant.

I also think that the "sputtering engines" may have been the sound of high voltage arcing, spring fuses melting, or the utility recloser in operation....
Maybe...but I don't think the power line part is likely.

I drove by the accident 3 times and didn't see any power line that were hit directly by the plane. I think the power lines were damaged by tree brush being knocked down. The trees there are close to 70-80 feet in height. Also, one other thing I saw that seemed to stand out. From a saving it (or at least improving your crash circumstances) point of view, only the last tree looked large enough to cause significant structural damage, which would have only affected one side or one engine. I would think they would have gone to TOGA at least when they started to hit the smaller trees which were at a similar altitude to the impact at on the hill and about 1000 to 1200 feet before. That's only about 6 to 8 seconds. Also, in the overhead pictures it's hard to see how steep the hill is, but the impact angle was probably at least 20 degrees due to the slope of the hill. If they had 20 more feet of altitude, they would have had a much better chance of surviving.

I also think the comparisons to Asiana don't have much value at this point, since the conditions seem quite different.

Speed of Sound 15th Aug 2013 18:58


It will be interesting to learn the actual speed they were flying once that data becomes available from the NTSB.
Shouldn't be too long.

http://i1280.photobucket.com/albums/...ps4daa9162.jpg

Airbubba 15th Aug 2013 19:01


The 3.28 degree glide slope depicted (suggested) is IIRC based on the idealized slope from FAF to touchdown, however, I'd need to look that up to refresh my memory.

It looks as though the approach need ~700 fpm ROD if GS is 180, ~580-600 FPM ROD if GS is 150.
I'm just a driver, not a rocket scientist but you might want to re-check those numbers for a 3.28 degree glide path. :confused:

RCav8or 15th Aug 2013 19:48

Just a question from the peanut gallery.
Wouldn't, or shouldn't TCAS have given the crew ample warning of their situation?
Pete

Coagie 15th Aug 2013 19:57

I read through the thread. Maybe I overlooked it, but did the pilots let the tower know they were in trouble, or were they unaware of trouble or too busy keeping the plane aloft to radio? Thanks.

Huck 15th Aug 2013 19:59

From the Sooeet thingy....


The ground speeds shown on Figure 2 should be at most 4 knots above the indicated airspeeds that the crew of the accident aircraft would have seen on their cockpit instruments. This is due to the fact that the prevailing low level wind (a tailwind), was at most 4 knots.
Not unless you ignore the 2% per thousand difference in indicated versus true airspeed.

Which you can't.

Coagie 15th Aug 2013 20:44


I read through the thread. Maybe I overlooked it, but did the pilots let the tower know they were in trouble, or were they unaware of trouble or too busy keeping the plane aloft to radio? Thanks.
Answer to my own question. Found an article that said preliminary reports said there was no distress call. It was in an article pointing out that, maybe, the standard for pilot fatigue should be the same with freight and passenger carriers. I wonder if the pilot flying dozed off, after he lined up for the approach, and the other pilot was already taking a nap? Ex-NTSB chief: FAA should rethink pilot fatigue rules after Ala. crash | Al Jazeera America

Huck 15th Aug 2013 20:46

I would think it would be impossible to nod off while approaching a 7000' runway at night in a widebody, no ILS, hilly terrain, etc....

olasek 15th Aug 2013 20:54


The RNAV 18 approach loads from BIDPE at 2600A, COLIG is not loaded as part of the RNAV 18 approach procedure and it does not have to be flown from COLIG. COLIG is loaded as a transition if desired. There are 2 others.
It all depends how pilot chooses the approach to be loaded, if he loads it as "vector for final" then yes COLIG won't be there, but any other selection will load COLIG as all transitions pass through that point.

TangoBar 15th Aug 2013 21:05

Not to suggest it's a factor here or not, Huck, but I would say, as a longtime freightdog, that it's always possible if you're fatigued or dealing with a schedule flop.

If you're tired enough, you'll nod off on an ILS to minimums. At some point, fear and adrenaline aren't enough to stave off microsleep or full-on unconsciousness.

Again, not suggesting anything- we'll have to wait for the NTSB to pull the data off the boxes and present it.


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