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Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by Alan Waters, Dec 29, 2014.
Families wait as search resumes for missing AirAsia plane carrying 162 | Fox News
Has anyone calculated the last known trajectories of Air Asia 8501 and Malaysia 370 to see if there's a landing possiblity somewhere around the Nicofor Islands..? I doubt there might be any connection but just to check a slim chance they might have landed somewhere.
There's also a slim chance I am going to end up in bed with Kate Beckinsdale tonight. Now....let's get back to earth before the Stargate closes.
It appears the controllers send them smack into a wall of typhoon thunder clouds, despite the pilots' request for a higher altitude.
The pilot is in control.
It wouldn't be the first time. Doesn't this weather report remind of an Air France aircraft entering a squall line resulting in all three pitot tubes frozen? The French copilot had only 2000 hours on this Air Asia flight but the captain seemed experienced.
Unless they rely on the autopilot which gets wrong inputs somehow. It would be interesting to hear the blackbox recording of this one...
"Controllers" (ATC) control air traffic separation. With several other aircraft in the vicinity at FL380, the controllers couldn't clear them to climb. Controllers aren't directly responsible for weather avoidance. Controllers provide aircraft separation guidance while the pilots are requesting altitude and course changes to avoid the weather. Ideally, we give the controllers enough advanced warning of the needed changes so they can still provide aircraft separation.
The question is why did these pilots get dispatched and accept a flight plan directly through this weather.
The pilot makes the decision to engage or dis-engage the autopilot. In an Airbus, what the pilot doesn't have is direct control of the flight control surfaces.
Because it's a job that has to be done..?
Good point, most Airbus pilots are taught in basic training (Human Performance and Limitations) that a pilot has to rely on instruments rather than senses because of illusions. This makes sense until instruments go berzerk, like in the case of the parachuting Air France which entered into a squall line freezing all pitot tubes instantly. An inexperienced pilot might get confused by the computers showing contradictory information and if not experienced enough might pull the nose up. We know today that this happens more often than usually thought, and it could cost more human lives in the future. If the ice clogs also the static ports, the airplane practically becomes deaf and blind. Without a feeling of the irreversible controls, no pitot indication and zero visibility - chances are pretty high that some pilots may get confused. This is the same on the Boeings, it's not only an Airbus thing, thus it would be wise to better train pilots for flying through rough weather and inordinary situations.
How did that work out?
I'm not familiar with the region, thus I don't know what weather products they have for flight planning other than satellite imagery. Typically, we plan a route to circumnavigate large areas of dense thunderstorm activity. If airspace restrictions prohibit a route well clear of the weather, then we delay the flight until the weather has moved. The imagery I saw seems to indicate this flight was planned to fly right through the heart of severe weather rather than circumnavigating the area with an alternate route.
We never intentionally fly into a thunderstorm because we know the outcome is inevitably tragic. Preliminary evidence suggests these pilots did turn and climb (without ATC clearance) presumably to avoid a cell at the last second. That would indicate these pilots knew to avoid thunderstorm penetration. We generally avoid individual cells by 20 miles. If the cells are closely spaced, preflight planning dictates we avoid the entire area.
Airliners are not designed to endure extreme turbulence nor extreme icing associated with thunderstorms. Thus, training should be focused on avoidance.
The region is equatorial, meaning the highest troposphere on Earth with sudden thunderstorms rising up to and above FL500, much higher than most airliners can reach.
Usually a pilot can climb to a higher flight level but sometimes there's just tough luck. If the front spreads out around and starts climbing, there's not much that can be done. Going around could mean a couple thousand kilometers, going up is always limited by the service ceiling and going down results in flying straight into a CB (Cumulonimbus), a thing you want to avoid at all cost. These are the forces of nature and the satelite imagery does not show weather by flight levels. The CATs (clear air turbulence) above are also not visible on the satelite imagery so a pilot is pretty much on his own up there. Most of the time, in 99.99% of the cases, an aircraft can just climb up and simply fly over the storms. Yet shish kebab happens, sometimes when two fronts meet the storms rise up and there's no other way than to go through. Sure, training is focused on avoidance, but once you're in a situation surrounded by severe weather you just can't quit and tell the CB: "Peace! I don't want any confrontation, I want to avoid violent weather, let's just go home." Most airliners are designed and built to withstand a certain amount of turbulence for safetly reasons so going through is often a the least risky choice.
When there are no thunderstorms, the weather is usually pretty nice. You know, Indonesia, Thailand, cocktails and beaches, getting a sun tan and all that fun. But every now and then there's a Tsunami that comes from nowhere. It can be hiding beneath the clouds from satelite imagery or developing faster than meteorology reports. So yeah, in theory - you are right. But sometimes life is not like in the Hollywood movies when they show that everything is visible on satelite and pilots climb to Space to avoid thunderstorms.
Did you mean to say "Typhoon" (or "Monsoon")?
Yeah, a sort of sudden storm, thanks. All the parties these days around Cristmas and NYE seem to have an affect on my writing...
Yes, and not going around could mean a couple hundred lives are lost. I've had to deviate nearly 1000 miles to get around a line of thunderstorms. Perhaps they figured they could pick their way around the individual cells but you need to know the cells are widely scattered before undertaking such a task.
Yes, airliners can survive severe turbulence if the pilots handle the encounter correctly. But, thunderstorms can produce extreme turbulence, severe to extreme icing, and hail--that sort of stuff is usually not survivable.
Wouldn't you say that the pilot's request to climb to a higher level might indicate that they tried to evade thunderstorms by flying above them before the line closes?
Yeah, but the 320 has a service ceiling of 39k and the PIC is requesting 38K. That is just too close for most pilot's liking. Most pilots would've just turned around.
BTW. They've found the crash site. Less than 10 miles from last known location and last transmitted air data indicated it was traveling at 101miles/h and climbing. Most likely it has deep stalled and the pilot(s) did not know.
The 39,100 ft ceiling is an environmental limitation (pressurization). They were likely light enough to cruise with plenty of margin at FL390.
Does this not remind us of the Air France from Brasil to Paris a couple of years ago..?
Great info, any more details online..?
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