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

Jet Jockey A4 15th Aug 2013 21:27

In reply to RCav8or...
 
TCAS as nothing to do in avoiding a crash. It is merely a traffic avoidance system and not a ground or terrain avoidance system.

You probably meant to ask about the EGWPS and yes perhaps that will come out in the report that the system did indeed warn the pilots but we will have to wait for the NTSB report.

PJ2 15th Aug 2013 21:36

Lonewolf_50

Yes, it will be interesting, for sure.

Although it is still done, dive-level-off-dive is a proven higher risk than continuous descent for flying non-precision approaches. So anything that reasonably reduces the need for the technique enhances flight safety. The method described for finding the timing to the MAP and the necessary rate of descent from the Outer Marker, (now the FAF) was one we used on the DC9 almost fourty years ago now but we used the front of the Jepp CR2 computer to do it, with essentially the same results. It's not as good as using FPA and FMCs capable of generating and flying pseudo (electronic) glide paths but better than dive & drive.

I haven't examined the approach plate carefully yet.

I understand that in Canada where a GNSS approach is executed that the highest non-precision minima is employed. This is unconfirmed and may be company-specific - don't know. It certainly wouldn't be CAT I limits though.

For the person who asked why "the TCAS" didn't warn them of an impending collision with the ground, first of all TCAS warns of mid-air collision threats; it's EGPWS that warns of ground proximity. Second, the following generic (not representing any specific system), chart regarding the particular EGPWS mode referenced shows why a terrain warning might not have been issued from the system. Whether it was or not and what responses occurred remains to be determined from the now-recovered recorders.

(re EGPWS, thanks Jet Jockey...posted without refreshing)

http://batcave1.smugmug.com/photos/i...-CsxCjRx-L.jpg


PJ2

Coagie 15th Aug 2013 21:56


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....
Dozed off doesn't sound good, but it happens, all the time, to responsible drivers on the road, so it could happen to a responsible pilot in the air. Of course, he may not have dozed off. The pilot flying might just started to wake his colleague as he lined up the plane, but had a heart attack, stroke, seizure, or some other incapacitating health issue.

tubby linton 15th Aug 2013 22:15

It is very difficult to tell from the few photographs available and the remaining surfaces have been damaged and displaced but the config looks like 15/20 to me. Normal config for landing is 30/40. There is little left of the surfaces to base this on but the lever position in the cockpit and the info from the data recorders will give the exact positions.
Positions are slat/flap positions but do not reflect the exact rigging angles.

mixduptransistor 15th Aug 2013 22:42

Hey guys, not a pilot, but I'm a resident of Birmingham and thought I'd throw in some details. The NTSB news conference was just on and they said that the engines had evidence of ingesting trees and dirt and there was no evidence of a pre-impact fire in the engines.

Also, if you watch the video on this CNN article, they show a piece of wreckage in the yard of the house at the end of the field where they clipped the trees. It's a pretty substantial piece of aluminum, so it looks like they were pretty deep in the trees when they clipped them. UPS plane crash: Data recorders recovered - CNN.com

Anyway, I'm not nearly close enough to qualified to opine on what happened, but I find this discussion immensely interesting and as someone who has flown in and out of Birmingham a lot (always been RWY 24, I've never had a flight land on 18) I'm really interested in knowing if airport factors were involved here.

Murexway 15th Aug 2013 23:08


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....
I agree. Although we've yet to hear of their duty day, at most their reaction time might have been affected.

Flying all-nighters into MEX (arrive 0000L, sit for 4 hours - depart 0400L four nights in a row) by the end of the month I felt like I had toothpicks holding my eyes open. But to actually fall asleep on the approach? - Hardly.

Murexway 15th Aug 2013 23:12


Dozed off doesn't sound good, but it happens, all the time, to responsible drivers on the road, so it could happen to a responsible pilot in the air. Of course, he may not have dozed off. The pilot flying might just started to wake his colleague as he lined up the plane, but had a heart attack, stroke, seizure, or some other incapacitating health issue.
You been watching a lot of movies or something?

Passenger 389 15th Aug 2013 23:12

Coagie, from your posts on this thread, I gather that you aren't a professional pilot. Though fatigue can be an issue, I seriously doubt the pilots were both sleeping on final approach -- or that either pilot was -- and it is an insult to their families and to real pilots to suggest they were (while citing zero evidence to support your wild speculation).

If I'm wrong, I will be the first to admit it -- but I don't expect that will be the case.

bugg smasher 15th Aug 2013 23:17


Sorry Bugg, you're probably on Prune to keep away from her!
Crikey!! You probably are my wife! Honey, I told you not to post here, you're embarrassing me...

I'm going to guess that exhaustion and fatigue, combined with a likely complacency that comes with operating into very familiar airports, will be designated as contributory, although I as well, await the results of the investigation to confirm that.

As a long time freight animal on the MD-11 conducting difficult approaches in bad weather after long and lonely stretches in the dark over the Pacific, I can only quote Huck, I think it was, who some time ago posted this on the FedEx Narita disaster, he was speaking of the long duty days on the extreme backside of the body clock, eloquently put;

"You're just hanging in the straps, waiting for the pain to stop..."

Desert185 15th Aug 2013 23:53

Five Hour Energy is the perfect antidote to "hanging in the straps" when there is no other viable solution.

JimNtexas 15th Aug 2013 23:53

U.S. TV news shows NTSB investigators recovering the CVR and FDR from the burned out tail section. The devices look seriously fire damaged, I hope they can recover useful data.

DWS 15th Aug 2013 23:56

Ntsb says no evidence of engine failure or fire
 
NTSB: No engine failure in fatal UPS plane crash - Houston Chronicle

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Federal officials have found no evidence of a pre-crash fire or engine failure aboard a UPS plane that went down in Alabama, killing two pilots.
National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt says the plane was trying to land on the Birmingham airport's shorter runway early Wednesday because the longer one was closed for maintenance.
Sumwalt also said at a news conference Thursday that investigators expect to be able to recover good data from two flight recorders taken from the wreckage earlier in the day.
The plane slammed into a hillside just short of the runway.

aterpster 16th Aug 2013 00:23


The plane slammed into a hillside just short of the runway.
The media are at it again. That is so misleading.

It crashed into slightly rising terrain well below MDA and about .8 miles prior to the threshold.

Speed of Sound 16th Aug 2013 00:27


and as someone who has flown in and out of Birmingham a lot (always been RWY 24, I've never had a flight land on 18)
This, plus the fact that quite a few people have said that they struggled to find any Flightaware data for approach and landings to RWY 18 suggests that this is a rarely used runway at this airport.

PJ2 16th Aug 2013 00:57


This, plus the fact that quite a few people have said that they struggled to find any Flightaware data for approach and landings to RWY 18 suggests that this is a rarely used runway at this airport. 15th Aug 2013 16:23
Well, the real data is right on the runway...compare the rubber deposits for both runways...

gleaf 16th Aug 2013 01:09

Enjoyment and Cultural Issues
 
I want to thank everyone for upgrading the double name world of the southern US to Harold and Maude single name status. Honest the witnesses were Billie Jo or Billie Bob and Charlene Marie who's native language is Appalachian American.. Measurements are in Stones Throw and Fer Piece. As in a Whoop an a Holler and a Good Stones Throw or other variations.
We of Appalachian American areas apologize for our unwritten language and its effects on understanding.
Yet we do know the difference between Yall and All Yall.

Believe the Black Boxes. They are the right color this time.

I had to listen to Louisville news saying the Airbus was one of 53 made in the US....
for a whole day. Sadly what ever it is that is wrong has spread to information everywhere.:ugh: continue your struggles to understand this one in peace and safety.

Util BUS 16th Aug 2013 02:02

Possible Scenario?
 
I have never operated into BHM or on an A300-600, but in my mind the following might be a possible explanation for what happened.

The crew elects to do a GPS approach onto RW18. It is a long evening and both crew members are tired, so instead of using the GPS approach charts take out the LOC charts for RW18 by mistake.

As can be seen on the AVhelard website:
Crash: UPS A306 at Birmingham on Aug 14th 2013, contacted trees and touched down outside airport

There is a 1.3nm offset between the distance to the threshold depending which chart you are using. If the VNAV equivalent on the A300-600 is as poor as some older aircraft I have flown, then they elect to fly the vertical profile in the equivalent of V/S. During the whole approach they are low by the equivalent of 1.3nm. The crew think they are doing fine when they break cloud and they can see the runway lights ahead as well as a few sporadic lights around. The only thing that does not look right are the four reds on the PAPI's. However their calculations show them to be right on profile and the black hole effect makes them feel like they are on profile. They continue the approach in spite of the uneasy feelings they have about the PAPI's. While they discuss what is wrong with the airport systems they are unable to see the dangers that lurk around them. Before they can do anything else they have hit some trees/powerlines and it's game over.

737er 16th Aug 2013 02:06

gleaf,

Very well, however I happen to know that all 50 or so Airbus models made in the US were all manufactured in the same factory that produced the world's first french fry.

Trying to get y'all up to speed so you become enlightened like our media.

Coagie 16th Aug 2013 02:16

When was the last time the Birmingham tower heard from them? Trying to figure out why they wouldn't radio the tower, problem or not. Could there have been an electrical failure? The plane was going fast, the flaps weren't lowered for landing. It's like it started the approach in control, but control was lost, and it was already aimed at the airport.

Turbine D 16th Aug 2013 02:28


Original quote by Coagie: the flaps weren't lowered for landing.
And how do we know this???

Murexway 16th Aug 2013 02:55


This, plus the fact that quite a few people have said that they struggled to find any Flightaware data for approach and landings to RWY 18 suggests that this is a rarely used runway at this airport.
I've landed there a lot, mostly on 06, sometimes on 24, and in light jets on 18. Probably most airline pilots are more familiar with 06/24, but presuming you're legal for it, an assignment to runway 18 shouldn't be a problem.

Murexway 16th Aug 2013 03:14


The crew elects to do a GPS approach onto RW18. It is a long evening and both crew members are tired, so instead of using the GPS approach charts take out the LOC charts for RW18 by mistake.
I would imagine that if the LOC/DME was in service they would have been shooting that approach (we'll know soon enough what approach they were cleared for). As is depicted on the chart, at runway threshold the DME reads 1.3 (to the far end, like SFO 28L). If they thought they were farther from the field than they were, they would have been high, not low.

Sorry Dog 16th Aug 2013 03:24

18 tends to be used by the GA traffic.

As for the name references... Jimmy John would normally be the witness, but on that side of town it was definitely somebody named something like D'Marquis, Mo'Nique, or Sha Nay Nay ... or my favorite.... Barakisha.



As for the visuals on the approach... There would be almost no lights for 3/4 miles before the runway lights, so that should have not matched the mental picture....unless they usually didn't land on 18....

Util BUS 16th Aug 2013 04:35

If they were planning on doing a GPS approach then they might not have even tuned up the LOC with associated DME. The only distance reading would have been to the threshold from the FMC. This would have left them low instead of high.

I know it's a bit far fetched but..... stranger things have happened.

Coagie 16th Aug 2013 05:01


And how do we know this???
Turbine D, We don't know it, but there was some educated speculation, earlier in the thread, that they were flying at 190 knots per hour just 1 nm from the airport, so might not have had the flaps down.

grounded27 16th Aug 2013 05:49


The only thing that does not look right are the four reds on the PAPI's. However their calculations show them to be right on profile and the black hole effect makes them feel like they are on profile. They continue the approach in spite of the uneasy feelings they have about the PAPI's. While they discuss what is wrong with the airport systems they are unable to see the dangers that lurk around them. Before they can do anything else they have hit some trees/powerlines and it's game over.
http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/sr...er_offline.gif
Completely feasable but if true there is no logic, no conversation other than G/A once visual 4 red is seen @ said altitude. Other than cloud cover leaving them below DH or a critical altitude.

Airbubba 16th Aug 2013 06:03

Here's an assessment from 'consultant' and 'aviation expert' Kit Darby:


Kit Darby is an aviation expert with more than 30 years of experience.

"When they got down closer to the airport they found themselves too high and too fast and they really made a very steep descent," said Darby.
Pilots identified in Birmingham UPS cargo plane crash - CBS Atlanta 46

http://www.kitdarby.com/

He may be right but I'd be a little cautious on that call given what little we now know.

Capn Bloggs 16th Aug 2013 07:16


they were flying at 190 knots per hour
Interesting concept...

-JC- 16th Aug 2013 07:33

Using the elevation feature on Google Earth (appears to be accurate) you can trace out the terrain on the approach path to runway 18.

Some observations.

The house pictured with debris in the yard and tree damage is located 1.0nm from the threshold at an elevation of 766 feet, 122 feet above the elevation at the threshold (644 feet).

The aircraft appears to have impacted the trees at a height of around 50-70 feet agl, or 172-192 feet above the threshold, or 816-836 feet asl.

At 1.0nm (6076 feet) from the threshold the altitude corresponding to a 3.24 degree glidepath (GPS approach) would be 1036 feet asl. (tan(3.24) X 6076 + 644 + 48)).

At 0.61nm (3706 feet) from the threshold and on the centerline (+/- 200 feet) the terrain rises to 835 feet, 191 feet above the elevation at the thresold.

If they hit the trees at the lower of the estimated altitude of 50 feet (816 feel asl) at 1.0nm final it seems possible that the threshold and PAPI's might have been obscured by the sloping hill (835 feet located 0.61nm from the threshold).

At 0.61nm (3706 feet) from the threshold the altitude corresponding to a 3.24 degree glidepath would be 902 feet asl. (tan(3.24) X 3706 + 644 + 48)). This is 67 feet above the 835 foot terrain (hill).

Some questions.

Is my math correct ?

Is the elevation feature on Google Earth that accurate ? Appears so when checked against known elevation points on the airport.

A 67 foot clearance over terrain just over half a mile from a runway threshold is interesting. What are the glidepath terrain clearance parameters used for certification of non-precision instrument approaches ?

Given the terrian clearance would you get a warning using a TAWS or EGPWS system flying this approach at the correct 3.24 degree glidepath ?

JC

8driver 16th Aug 2013 07:59

Murexway- I've gone into microsleeps on a number of occasions, one that I remember was on final approach to PHL back in 1993 at a regional. An extenuating circumstance was that I was just beginning to feel the first symtoms of what would become a really nasty flu. (I went home). More recently I experienced a microsleep just after top of decsent into ANC, flying for a carrier with better than FAA FTLs but after a long sector. I just started this trip with a guy who told me he had a microsleep much later on an approach into ANC due to constant swapping from back to front of clock. I'm sure your MEX turns are tough, but flying your body's day versus night in the same trip even a long rest period is hard.

I also flew for a freight carrier with a hub sort in the midwest in the late 90s. I was lucky in that I slept pretty well on the daytime layovers. But the outbound flights (similar to UPS sort) were always hard even though I always napped in the hub during the sort. The human body just wants to sleep at certain times and it will do so.

Murexway, you're pretty hard on somebody suggesting a catastrophic incapacitation. We lost a Captain who had a heart attack rolling out in a DC-8 in Indy on 32 roughly 13 years ago. He started to drift off centerline and the F/O took control but couldn't stop it before they ran into the mud off the end. The engineer had to pry the guys hand off the thrust reversers. No movie, it can happen and it takes awhile to recognize incapacitation. Does your airline train for it? Mine does, although truth be told we always know its coming in training. It can be very ugly (ala JetBlue), it may come on slowly, or it may be very fast.

The reason your post got my attention is not that I think you had two people asleep at the controls or one incapacitated. You just don't seem to treat these things as a serious consideration because they haven't happened to you. By downplaying them you do the public readers and your fellow aviators a disservice in not letting people know how serious fatigue in particular can be. But somebody might have not been feeling well, or had microsleep, or just been really tired coming out of the hub sort and it might have effected descision making and reaction times. Its the biggest problem the industry faces. Its why you have people in the other forums and threads saying they wouldn't shoot a visual in SFO after a transpac flight. Microsleeps happen a lot, at just about every airline, and no phase of flight is immune. The body doesn't care. I would not be surprised to find fatigue listed a related factor here, on the other hand nobody will really know how they both slept the day before.

Passenger 389- Nobody is being insulting saying fatigue might be a factor. It isn't like the guy said they planned to have a sleep and wake up on short final. Unless you've been there, done it, and got the T-shirt with back of the clock flying you don't know what it feels like.

ojessen 16th Aug 2013 09:43

well, it is a valid expression for acceleration (but mighty tiny value - 0.02 m/s^2)

JimField 16th Aug 2013 10:45

Sooeet analysis updated and expanded
 
The analysis put out by Sooeet on the 14th was updated today with a new page adding more information. It explains really well the FlightAware data, but I'm still puzzled as to what exactly caused UPS 1354 to crash. I'm leaning to PE based on the flight profile which to me looks gungho and devil may care.

Check it out -

UPS flight 1354 analysis by sooeet.com

Speed of Sound 16th Aug 2013 12:40

Util BUS
 

The only thing that does not look right are the four reds on the PAPI's. However their calculations show them to be right on profile and the black hole effect makes them feel like they are on profile.
I don't buy this.

You are not flying into a black hole if visibility is 10nm, you are below the scattered cloud and you can see eight bright red lights in front of you.

PAPIs either work or they don't. They are either on or off and they don't change angle once they are installed and certified. Even if I was Albert Einstein I would trust eight red lights over my calculations.

There is a very good reason why 'too low' is red and 'too high' is white.

Capn Bloggs 16th Aug 2013 12:43

Soooeeet have obviously been reading Prune because they've corrected a couple of blunders-obviously-written-by-amateurs in this second rendition of their missive. They should also run the spell-checker through the text they post.

Credibility still zero. http://www.smilies.our-local.co.uk/i...thumbsdown.gif

HDRW 16th Aug 2013 12:50

@Speed of Sound, While I agree with your point, there seems to be only one set of PAPIs on 18 - I checked on Google Maps and can only find one set, just North of the runway intersection, so it'll be four reds rather than eight. Still should have told them what the problem was, obviously!

CPTG747 16th Aug 2013 12:54

UPS crash (A300)
 
Birmingham was one of my stops for years, years ago.....The north south runway does have small hills on it.....Sad to say, at this point looks like night, 7,000 ft runway, crew just wanted to hit the numbers, but got the trees.....To early to say really....UPS have great crews, good training....Know few of their pilots there.....Scattered overcast, but ceiling was not that low really...light showers they reported also....NTSB says engines were ok, no other news as of yet....(according to boxes)
Since no radio statements to tower, or approach, leads one to think, just early morning TO LOW, hard to believe, hope am wrong! Either or anyway, we lost two pilots (RIP)

CPTG747 16th Aug 2013 13:00

papis
 
lat long for gps is 086-45-08.3000W/33-33-50.0000N
-86.752306/33.563889
4 light system, that is correct........think the other 11,000 ft runway was closed my friend to me also...

CPTG747 16th Aug 2013 13:09

Special airport?
 
Just another airport in USA, nothing special really.....Been to Aspen, Telluride, etc and many abroad that would constitute a wording of SPECIAL I suppose....Keep in mind also the A300 has very good short take off and landing numbers, compared to others in same weight class....Not like mine, I need all the room I can get.....lol.....

Speed of Sound 16th Aug 2013 13:41

JimField
 

The analysis put out by Sooeet on the 14th was updated today with a new page adding more information. It explains really well the FlightAware data, but I'm still puzzled as to what exactly caused UPS 1354 to crash. I'm leaning to PE based on the flight profile which to me looks gungho and devil may care.

Check it out -
Rather than just posting a link to the updated page, maybe you could engage with some of the posters on here who have made valid criticisms of the blog.

I for one, would like to know why you included the approach profile for RWY24 on Figure 1. You call it a 'reference' but a reference for what, given it is from another direction and over completely different terrain to RWY18?

And on the presumption of innocent until proven guilty, maybe phrases like 'gunho' and 'devil may care' could be left until the report is out? :rolleyes:

Lonewolf_50 16th Aug 2013 14:56

Airbubba: The approach plate I am looking at is dated 25 July 2012, from SE-4, AL-50(FAA). Glide slope noted as 3.28 degrees. The math went like this. (It may or may not reflect said glide slope. I don't have my old GS table at hand ...)

Hmm, you have a point, my calc was to MAP, not touchdown.

I'll try a different method.

If I start at the IAF at 3500 feet (as shown) and arrive at threshold (644 feet), I lose 2856 feet over a distance of 12.8 nautical miles.
150 kts GS gives me 2.5 nm per minute (5.12 minutes) 558 FPM.
180 kts GS gives me 3 nm per minute (4.27 minutes) =670 FPM. (Not far from ~700 fpm)

Granted, one should cross the threshold higher than 0 feet AGL. Call the total delta in alt -2800 feet and decrease ROD slightly to hit the box.


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