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Cockpit crisis: In five years, over 50 commercial airplanes crashed in loss-of-control accidents. What’s going on?

(take the time and read this EXCELLENT article). With low clouds and a fine mist hanging in the morning air, the pilots of Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 anticipated a routine approach to Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol Airport on Feb. 25, 2009. But instead of touching down gently on the runway, the white and red Boeing 737 dropped out of the sky and slammed into a muddy field just short of the airport, smashing into three pieces. Nine people died, including all three pilots. Another 84 were injured. ( 기타...

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You can quote all kinds of technical issues and causes, but what this article is saying is what we're taught during primary training is being lost on high hour pilots - maintain situational awareness at all times! Fail safes and automation can only work right when the human behind it knows what it's doing and knows how to correct it if need be.
linbb 0
Sounds like an armchair wana be pilot tried to write something they knew little about to me another head line that means very little in the way of substance.
Obviously the "unlike" was meant to be "like". As a flight instructor and check pilot for over 35 years this is the best article I've read on this matter.
When I flew 17's out of England,we never had these problems,particlarly when our panel had been riddled with flak.Those were the good old days.25 hrs and no experience.But some of us made it.
indy2001 0
Everywhere you look, our society has dumbed things down to the point that very few people are as qualified as their predecessors were. This is especially true in the technical fields, of which aviation is a part. I would seriously doubt whether today's average pilot understands their aircraft, or basic aeronautics, as well as pilots did just 20 or 30 years ago. (They may still be smarter than the average person, but that's not much of a compliment.) There's not as much need to, since the aircraft's computer-based systems are responsible for monitoring themselves without pilot intervention.

I have spoken at length to a couple of pilots -- one a former classmate of mine -- about their airline training programs. They both told me how frustrated they were with the system at their respective airlines. Time and again, when they asked a question, the instructor told them (1) I don't know, (2) there's no time to get into that, or (3) you don't need to know the answer because the airplane will know. (As a teacher, I especially like that last one.) Both pilots also learned that you do not want to make your instructor/examination/chief pilot look bad, so they pretty much stopped asking questions or going beyond the curriculum requirements.

Faced with a workforce of declining abilities, the airlines should be spending MORE on training. But every penny must be pinched, so that's not possible. Instead, airlines demand aircraft that use computers to replace the pilots' missing knowledge and problem-solving abilities. As bad as it may be with US airlines, I have a feeling this is especially true with so many small airlines that are popping up everywhere, using old aircraft that the "big boys" have left out in the desert. Those older aircraft bring their own set of problems of course, and the maintenance people are less qualified to deal with them than their predecessors.

Luckily, most pilots will successfully complete a routine career with minimum damage to their body and/or ego, having never experienced a moment where they must face their lack of knowledge and understanding. But it will happen to an unfortunate few. When it does (and that may be what we're beginning to see in these 50+ incidents), those poor men and women just won't have the wherewithal to take the actions necessary to save the day. They may take the official blame with a "pilot error" conclusion, but for many of them it won't be their fault.
From experience, airline training has gone to hell....years ago, training also sucked, but was very system intensive......We complained that we were not mechanics...LOL

Today's airline training has devolved into watch some CBT, click, watch.....sim time was, do this, do that, no instruction......complete the tasks, then you pass......granted, this was a low fare airline, actually three other airline was, here, learn the cockpit, learn the checklists, you will learn the rest on the line......

No wonder we have accidents....
I just soled in a Cessna 150 and have 10 hours in my log book. My question is; should I go to United Airlines now and apply for the right seat? Just kidding.
This is what happens in society when all you want to do is push buttons and turn knobs to do everything (also sliding fingers w/cell phones/pads/pods/ etc.). I think "real" pilots are gone forever. All of it is a part of the general "dumbing" down of society.
Well, there are good comments here and good points in the article and we will each glean something out of them. That being said, a few things really caught my attention that seem to have been slowly creeping in.These are not new but need a refresher every now and then.

Information overload to the flight crew. While planes have been upgraded to make them safer, it seems humans are getting left out of the loop and in a bad situation because they can't tell what an automated system has done to a point, they may have a problem trying to get out of it. Seems like it was Bombadier/Honeywell that was starting to address this problem.

Newer pilots are being put on the line knowing how to push buttons rather than fly a plane. Consequently, when a NON SIM event does come along, they really don't know what to do, and as aircraft systems advance, senior pilots may be getting left behind on learning about the new bells & whistles.

The other thing is that the AIRBUS system scares the hell out of me, in that a computer can override a pilots decision. Now, the theory is good behind that, but when a situation that will push or exceed a flight envelope comes along, and if you fly long enough it will, you need to have the capability and the knowledge to get out of it. All machinery has a maximum threshold but those thresholds are just the point that they have been tested too.Most will exceed that for for a bit and that bit of excess may be just what you need to pull your tail out of a crack, whether it be a quick EVA, or winds rolling off a Thule' glacier. Those don't get practiced in the SIM everyday.
I'm sure what the author is intending with this comment--"Unlike a car or truck, a plane stalls when its wings stop producing lift—effectively transforming it from an elegant flying machine into a giant brick"--is to clarify the word "stall". What he's saying is that cars and trucks stall when their engine stops; a plane stalls when its wings stop producing lift. We pilots know this, but it's still widely misunderstood by the non-flying public.
What about AF 447. They neverwere able to regain control of the airplane after disengauging the auto-pilot, I know server tuberlance in a thunderstom but 2 pilots can't grab the side stick controlers, the throtels and ruder pedals and hand fly the airplane to level flight anywhere from 390 to the Ocean? I think the death sprial was like 6 minutes long.
@Paul: I'm flying on memory on some of this, but I think the fall itself was about 3 minutes as a lot of folks commented on that not being much time to recover; Now, if there was no disorientation, that should have been time to recover. It appears now that after they disengaged the AP, that they should have been able to regain control as nothing is showing to go against it from a mechanical standpoint, BUT, this goes back to an earlier comment I made; 1. pilots getting overwhelmed by all the bells and whistles plus although there didn't appear to be a mechanical problem that would have kept them from flying the plane, it was noted that their was total disorientation in the cockpit as well. I haven't heard a good reason yet why they took it nose up(they grabbed the sidesticks to do that) with stall warning blasting all over the cockpit. Nose down on a stall is basic when getting your private let alone ATP. Now, again per ealier comment and the article itself, how often do you experience a stall in an airliner? and did they have too much training on pusing buttons rather than flying the plane? All anybody can do is make an educated guess. We weren't looking out their windshield.
Wayne - Yea, I just looked at the prileminary report they were cruising at 370, raised the nose and stalled the engines, got to 37.5 and then started down at 10,000 ft per minute which would be some 3 plus minutes, the plane belly-flopped into the ocean indicating some control was being re-gained, the 2 co pilots were freaked and wanted the Captain back in the flight deck, he got there just seconds before impact, can't imagine what it must be like trying to get through a cock-pit door when you are nose down at 10K per min. I think it begs the point that all pilots in modern aircraft need to practice hand flying at all altitudes and conditions,even if it's just in the Sim. Maybe even make them fly a visual approach once every 10 or 20 landings or so. Just did a visual on FSX at RNO in a 737-8, it's not that comfortable with all the surronding terrian there, as an instrument approach but it makes you fly the plane al the way down.
Because button pushers that want to be able to tell everyone they're a pilot are getting churned out by equally inexperienced instructors all willing to work for pocket change. Real stick and rudder folks (the ones that inherently know how to fly) recognize their worth and hopefully refuse to be responsible for 100s of lives and millions in assets for what equates to less than a McDonald's manager's salary. (Sorry McDonald's managers)
Herb says: "This is what happens in society when all you want to do is push buttons and turn knobs to do everything (also sliding fingers w/cell phones/pads/pods/ etc.). I think "real" pilots are gone forever. All of it is a part of the general "dumbing" down of society."

Very interesting article.
Back when gages were steam powered, most pilots I flew with would not engage the auto-pilot before the flaps were up. We thought of the hand flying as a perk. The training programs at the majors now seems to slap the wrist of anyone who flies manually. Consequently, the yoke becomes that thing you pull back on to take off and land. How about a novel approach to training airline crews. Make them actually fly the airplane and not just "manage" it. After all, pilots fly airplanes, managers sit in offices.
Interesting theory,
JD345 0
Nose-up commands in a stall... Air France 447 and Colgan 3407... I guess it takes more than technical training and logging hours to psychologically prepare you to be plunged from the jacuzzi of complacency into an ice-cold sudden emergency.
Well, you know when you think about it, human nature is to kinda pull yourself up when you feel yourself falling. Those 2 examples just kinda back up my feeling that stalls don't get much attention after you get your private ticket. At that point they are second nature as they are at the forefront of training but past that are very little used, hence forgotten.Unless you are a test pilot on a new aircraft or something similar, you just don't get into a stall situation that much in an airliner.If you even approach a stall situation you get a warning of some type and hopefully you don't have the disorientation of 447 or the complacency of 3407. In either case, human nature took over and the instinct was to go up to keep from falling. Human nature second nature took over instead of 2nd nature pilot training.
Most airliners don't have Angle of attack indicators. If that one instrument was available, and the crews were trained to know what it is telling them, perhaps we would see pilots actually push forward on the stick when the AOA is pegged at the top.
@ Richard Weiss. I guess I'm from the old school too but I never really liked to engage the AP until I was on top and at cruise or somewhere therabouts. I just always thought that was my job, to get the thing up and on top and then relax a little.
Seems to me that 447 did have or at least I remember seeing something talking about AOA. Now whether pilots saw it or knew what to do with it is a different story. FYI, 707,757 and 767-200ER does, don't know about the others but they should.
Excellent read. Thanks for posting Shawn.
It's an option that Boeing offers. That data is available but unless the airline pays, it's not displayed. With the overeach by our government, one might think the FAA could mandate AOA along with the necessary training.
@joe. and all. I am glad many have found this both informative and thought provoking. I wish there were more publications that had this quality in their content. By all means, keep the thoughts coming in.
I have a very simple solution to both CFIT and these stalls, a simple fix, but does anyone know how to get in touch with aviation systems manufactureres? (when you are not working for them)it seems so hard unless you are working them. If you do know please email me at

A very worrying issue.
Richard and Wayne, you guys bring a lot of knowledge and experience to the table, and I appreciate your anaylysis. Wayne, when it comes to "old school" flying, you know you and I think alike!

While reading this article and some of the comments, I had a thought (it can be a scary thing when that happens). With the information overload, and systems to override this and that all working at the same time - sometimes against each other it seems - there should be a "panic button" that releases all automated flight controls, and sets thrust, trim, etc. to predetermined default settings, and signal the instrumentation to display basic flight data; attitude, altitude, airspeed, compass etc - all the basics you learn to fly with (hopefully). The only alarm should be the stall alert. Then the pilots would know that THEY are flying the plane, and should have enough basic information to recover from most situations described in the article, and AF447 in particular. I think everybody now understands that all of the crew of that flight were so overwhelmed and distracted that they just couldn't think properly about what was happening.

Anyway - we've bout beat this old horse to death. - I'd still fly with Wayne anywhere, anytime!
Well Brian, I appreciate the vote of confindence, but lest I get a swelled head(lol), there are a lot of guys out there, just like Richard says, stick & rudder types, that pretty much feel the same. Now, having come up through the years and having seen all the upgrades and changes over the years, most of what I saw that Boeing came out with was still what I'll call "PILOT FRIENDLY". In other words, it did not replace a function, it just made it easier. The pilot still flew the plane. One of the gripes(or worries)about Airbus seeem to be that they have tried to take a lot of those mundane functions away from the pilot and automate them. As Richard mentioned above, most older pilots seem to feel that they were paid to fly the plane and however mundane the task, that they were in control. Brian, as with most electronic devices these days, there is a default setting and that might be a good idea, but as you also mentioned, you got to know what to do when you get there.
Yeah, you are correct about that Wayne. We assume that these guys would "know what to do".

It's funny, I just went back to the article and I must have missed the piece where Rockwell-Collins suggested a "Panic Button" just as I had thought of, except THEIR idea was to push a "Panic Button" and let the COMPUTER fly the plane home. Seems like pouring gas on a fire if you ask me!
I missed that too, and I'm kinda like you as far as pouring gas on a fire, cause it would seem to me that bad instrumentation would be giving the computer a bellyache to commence with, garbage in, garbage out. Another good idera in theory but I don't think in the practical.
Resurrect DC-3s!! :)
Sorry, couldn't help myself.
1. Fly by wire.
2. Pilot leave the cockpit.
3. Co-pilot takes over
4. Plane is on auto
5. Plane stalls out
6. Too late to correct.
It's all over.

A recipe for another disaster.
@ Ron: I had the opportunity the other day to look inside of a DC3 cockpit and almost cried. Not because that all of us that could find their way around in one of those were retiring or dying off, but because these youger guys would never have a chance to have that groundwork laid.
@Gene: Tell me if I'm missing something in here somewhere and I am assuming you are speaking of AF447; Everybody seems to be going away from those bad P tubes and laying it off on the pilots, BUT if the computer is so smart, and the plane on auto, then the computer was flying, and stalled the plane, based on bad info, and pilots got too disoriented and/or confused about what was happening, they fell out of the sky. Am I pretty close to being on track there or am I missing something here somewhere?????????????
Anytime you see a comment from Wayne it. I am with Brian Bishop
Wayne & Ron - Check out the photos I have on here from when the "Flagship Detroit" DC-3 came to KGMU about a year and a half ago. I got a few cockpit shots too, although I realy didn't have a wide enough lense to get it all in one shot. Filter by user name "bishops90". One was used in the weekly newsletter and got over 14K views. I'm pretty proud of them myself.
Toby: I appreciate the kudos but I think that my feelings just simply mirror a whole bunch of the rest of us out here in the same category. I don't know your age but in looking at your profile, I see you have a private ticket. All I can tell you is that there is a wealth of information out there belonging to older heads that will share it with you if you express the interest to want to learn. So many folks today poo poo that, but you can't never tell where something stuck in the back corner of your mind may be just what you need to save your life someday.There are a lot of things that happen in flight that don't get covered by the book.
'From experience, airline training has gone to hell....years ago, training also sucked, but was very system intensive......We complained that we were not mechanics...LOL' - Maybe pilots should have to take a few A&P classes as part of their training.

As for a 'panic button', even a single engine Cirrus has that now - the 'lvl' button which will fly the airplane straight and level on command. The AF447 pilots could have used that, along with some stall recovery refresher training. Perhaps airline pilots in general need some recurrent glider training or Cessna time.

As for pilotless planes, that reality is coming, simply because 'the best safety equipment in an aircraft is a well-trained crew'.
Thanks for sharing... excellent read.
Pilot error......plain and simple......clearly no evidence of CRM. Not understanding the limitations of the Automation and Aircraft Systems was a contributing factor.
PJ:if you are talking of AF447, I think your last line is an BUT, it just underscores what we been talking about off and on here and other places, regardless of what the book or manager may say, a man in the seat needs to know how to fly the plane.
Not just a problem for you big iron guys, GA too. I read the article and heard the voice of my first FAA DE in my head all the way through...My DE used to say he was worried we were becoming "children of the magenta line". I trained on steam gauge a) because it was cheaper and b) because I thought it would be harder to transition from glass to steam than vice versa. Flying steam, I didn't really get his comment. Then I started flying a Corvalis with the gfc 700. I get it now. I was the best system manager around. Now I fly a Mooney Acclaim... To truly understand the long body Mooney I think it's helpful to spend a lot of time close to stall speed and get a sense for the critical aoa. The Acclaim still has the gfc 700...but you have to hand fly it to the ground. Thanks for the comments big iron guys. You make these threads pretty interesting.
@Scott: big iron or GA, it don't matter. The underlying thing, no matter what, is to know how to fly what is under you. We were about 20 minutes out of home (KFSM) one day on our 757, about halfway into a long descent, after being out all week and everybody, including all our PAX, were wore slap out. No hint of any problems and as usual, the bird performed flawlessly. All of a sudden everything on the panel just quit, even the radio. The only thing that was a real blessing was that KFSM was low density traffic and it was a clear day, tower could tell there was a problem and throwed a green light, but I had to fly it to the ground. I had hydraulics and all that, could feel the thrust and what the bird was doing; just no readings whatsoever and couldn't talk. Got down fine but if I would have had to rely on systems alone, me or anybody else would have been totally screwed. I am not the only one that has a war story or 2 they can tell, but the whole point to anyone, big iron or GA, is expect the unexpected cause stuff will break and you had better know what to do with what you got under you.
Contrail727're right! The first rule is FLY D' PLANE.....without that.....nothing matters!
The best that I can apply here for those of us that are ground pounders
and proud of it [ RVN class of 68' DMZ - U.S. Marines ] is that aviation has come a long way since the stick and rudder. Yet - today - when the cockpit goes black or the plane stalls out - what are the chances of surviving such an event?

Good luck to those who make a living in the skies.
It's not just about training -- it's re-training on a regular basis. For those who have never flown, it takes losing control of an aircraft/vehicle to appreciate what to do -- even with for our cars with ABS, Stability Control, etc. The driver is taken out of the equation in so many cases that it takes a reminder of what to do when computer control fails. Go to an autocross course to find out. Losing control (in both cases) forces a call-back to training to attempt a re-gain of intended control. If you forget the training, panic, or rely on someone else (or the vehicle/aircraft, then failure is probably a viable option.

Practice, practice, practice. Or simply, forget...
Gen: I was 2 years behind you over there and a USAF flight medic on a tanker working out of Cam Rahn Bay or DaNang. Either way, wasn't no fun.
In reference to your question/statement above:Over the next few years, as flight crews get younger, old heads retire, and aircraft advance, there will be fewer and fewer people that can fly one by the seat of their pants in the event of a system failure or some other unplanned event. That being said, If you are on board when that happens, you got a problem.
I may be way off base here, but I seem to recall reading or hearing somewhere that some aircraft training dictated that the pilot relies on the "systems" and should maintain back pressure and apply power instead of the traditional stall recovery procedure. I don't have anything to back that up and would appreciate any information regarding the validity of this statement. Disclaimer: I'm not saying I believe that is what you should do.

As a pilot who has never activated an autopilot or flown glass it really worries me that, if things go uncorrected, one day the flight attendant will hit the "fly" button and the plane will go to a preprogrammed destination. I'm not a technophobe or Luddite, but what happens when everything goes wrong and the technology we are so reliant on fails (especially when someone says "that can't happen")?

I'm no big iron guy by any stretch, but I don't need gauges to fly the plane. If you want proof: during my primary training on a night flight, my instructor said, "You've lost your electrical system so make this a no flap landing." My response, "Doesn't that mean I don't have any lights either?" I finished the approach in the dark. I've decided I'm unusual though since I'm always interested in learning from the "old-timers" and I'd rather spend $600,000 on a DC-3, a Cub, and an old 172 than a Cirrus.
Matthew: As a corporate jockey hired to fly big iron, I never had to contend with all that. All they were concerned about was that I was typed and could get them there and back and how I did it was my business. Before retirement,I was hearing that some Airlines were starting to incorprate systems reliance into their training. I don't know which Airlines and whether it was mandatory or just letting everybody know that it was OK to do so. As far as back pressure and power for stall recovery, that is one I would have to be shown, as it would go against the grain of what me and everybody else has learned. As far as active pilots not in training, I did some side work for NWA, then some for DAL after the merger + Eagle as well and was never told about anything mandatory. Of course all my side stuff was weekend fill. Like anything else, the newer model aircraft have new things and old ones get upgraded BUT as I have long said, all those things are nice to make the job a little easier but you still need to know how to fly the plane.
Wayne: Thank you for your insight. I always appreciate any knowledge that I can pick up. As a young pilot with a relatively low number of hours, I'm finding I tend to get along better with the older crowd than most others in my demographic. Perhaps this is because my natural response isn't "There's a button for that." I very much agree with what you've said: "all those things are nice to make the job a little easier but you still need to know how to fly the plane."
Wayne, when you finish writing your memoirs, save me a copy please!
@Matt: You should be able to get good instruction and advice from any senior pilot with your current attitude. You are correct in the response part about showing a will to learn rather than a know it all type. That's just me and I think any senior that doesn't, you don't need their advice anyway.

@Brian:no memoirs, that's just how I feel and truthfully, I think a lot of us feel the same way. Flying is just like driving. It is beautiful up there and you can make a beautiful drive somewhere as well, but if you don't know what you are doing, it can kill you or get you killed
A thought I just advanced on another tread seems to apply here, as well. If a pilot starts his career flying a $30,000.00 aircraft with $200,000.00 worth of avionics, the pilot has no chance to truely learn the basic, stick and throttle skills that have gotten many an older pilot out of a jam. We need to train pilots to hand fly aircraft at all levels of the industry. My last training events before being forced to retire because of the age 60 rule seem to punish attempts to manually fly. Of course the auto-pilot can do most of the mundane tasks of flying the jet, but it cannot out-think a well trained pilot. I'll advance the premise again that Angle Of Attack, and a pilot trained to use it, would reduce out of control crashes.
This isn't all that complicated as it comes down to basic aeronautics. Keep your airspeed in the Vno and don't exceed the critical AOA. If for some reason you end up outside of the normal flight envelope, get the airframe moving into the relative wind at an angle which develops lift. In the end, if you stay ahead of the plane, the odds are you will not find yourself scrambling for answers while in the cockpit.
Steve, you are exactly right but the whole crux of this article and comment string deals with newer pilots not knowing such basic info and getting away from it; pushing buttons, flipping switches, and being lost as a goose if something breaks.That staying ahead of the plane can't be done if you don't know how to fly the damn thing in the first place.
nbpilot 0
The article highlights the need for new and seasoned pilots to regularly put into practice the skill they were taught. How many pilots practice emergency procedures on a regular basis? An emergency is not the time to practice. Pilots should be allowed to regularly "fly" the airplane to keep their skills sharp. Read the rest of my thoughts at
A car or a truck will never experience the flying brick experience. An aircraft that has stalled is also not much like a flying brick in that at the moment before it stalled it was flying and in the moment after it stalled it could be restored to flying again, just a question of what you do and how effectively you do it.

On to why 50 aircraft have crashed out of control in 5 years, someone else's statistic, not mine, and I don't know which aircraft are included, though AT 447 is a good case study.

I have to say that airline are not all the same and the culture at one airline can differ so much from another that one is a genuinely safe airline and the other straddles the line between apparently safe and disaster, hoping to continue its run of good luck rather than good judgement.

Air France clearly has some cultural issues which are confirmed by the number of unnecessary crashes they have had over the past 30 years. Where their problem(s) lie I don't know for sure, but they used to have a nickname Air Chance. Perhaps this is still apt.

The fact is that today’s airliners suffer from 5 distinct problems that nobody has an answer for. I'll list them and discuss each briefly under the same numbering scheme:
1] The modern airliner in much more complex than the previous generation
2] Airlines don't provide adequate training
3] The modern airliner only has a compliment of 2 pilots
4] The airlines and manufacturers are in denial that there is an issue
5] Licensing and experience levels have declined and will continue to decline
1] The manufactures decided to design out one crewmember. This saved money. An airline with 10,000 pilots arguably only needs around 6000 now, but this may not have been the primary factor, it may have been a case of natural technological progress. Be that as it may, when everything is working well, everything is working well, but when things go seriously wrong, there is one less person to help steady the ship and assist. If one pilot is deeply engrossed in flying an aircraft that has become quite challenging, say close to his or her limits of capability, and the other pilot is deeply engrossed in complicated checklist procedures, neither pilot can monitor the other, and neither pilot can monitor their own errors and give correction advice and information. Essentially we have two single pilots trying to manage a two pilot aircraft which relies on good communication and co-ordination. Neither of these things are happening in the situation I described.

2] The airlines don't provide adequate training. Ouch! I hear vehement denials already, but hoe can you train someone adequately about technology and procedures that are so complex you don't understand them yourselves. Remember these aircraft these days are designed by PhDs and built by MSCs and engineers with advanced degrees overseeing a whole team of very experienced technicians. What level of education does the pilot up front in your aircraft have? They check a whole lot of things when you want to move from one country to another or buy a house, but you and I check nothing when we board an airliner, we blithely walk on and sit down. Remember the Air France A320 which crashed at the Air Show in France on a fine day in 1988? Notwithstanding the fact that the radar altimeter was calibrated in feet and not metres, the aircraft crashed because the crew expected the aircraft to do a gee whiz manoeuvre, but it didn't and they simply watched while the situation deteriorated beyond recovery - they didn't ignored policy, or they didn't receive sufficient training - they didn't understand how the aircraft works. The information released for AF 447 suggests that the crew simply didn't have enough training to manage a relatively straight forward problem, and they did not have enough pilot intuition which comes from the right type of experience to avoid being in ringside seats for this disaster. They didn't understand the aircraft or the consequences of their actions, nor the need for different simple, straight forward actions that would have saved them.
3] If you design out one of the crew members, you don't hire, train and crew your aircraft with what appears to be a redundant crewmember anyway, this is waste of money, or at least it seems that way until that missing crewmember is urgently needed to assist with a situation that is beyond the ability of two pilots to manage, Swissair 111 for example. Of course this accident was a direct result of airline policy, pilot disposition and denial within the industry, and by manufactures in particular that smoke and fire procedures and checklists for an airliner that cannot call the fire brigade, are unsafe, unsafe, unsafe, but this is a much longer discussion and doesn't entirely belong here. Just compare the outcome for Swissair 111 an MD11 aircraft at Halifax Nova Scotia in 1998 and FedEx 1406, a DC10 at Newburgh-Stewart NY in 1996. It should be obvious that more work intensive first generation jet airliners which become highly technical and technologically advanced airliners with much more automation than their predecessors, requiring only two crew under normal conditions, when things go wrong and all the levels of automation progressively fail revert to 3 crewmember workload flying machines with only two pilots available. 50% of the required crew in this situation is missing - good luck!

4] They are! Ask them though, and they'll tell you that I know nothing, I am a trouble maker and that of course everything is safe, all the important people say so - the FAA, the CAA, the airlines and the manufacturers. Only the public may not be convinced and of course the statistics say they are lying or at least being quite economical with the truth. You decide, it's your life!
5] Where does your pilot come from? What experience does he or she (these days) have? Who licensed him or her and what does the licence guarantee? We don't want pilots doing loop the loops and barrel rolls in our airliners, they are not built for that, and the passengers certainly wouldn't be happy, so we don't need pilots who know what loop de loop and barrel rolls and stall turns, hammerheads, lomcevaks etc. right? This is exactly the problem. If your pilot did not learn all sorts of very advanced stuff that he or she isn't supposed to do in an airliner, they also won't be able to call on this experience when things get complicated. I refer you to Boeing 707 captain who rolled his aircraft to dislodge a section of engine cowling which wrapped itself around the wing leading edge when an engine suffered a catastrophic failure, making the aircraft essentially unflyable. The aircraft and passengers were all saved.

In today's world, something called a MPL or multi pilot licence is being considered and has already been adopted in some countries. Don't learn flying from the ground up, walk in off the street and go straight into training to fly a jet airliner. This misses out all the steps in between learning to fly a two seat Cessna or piper single engine piston aircraft and learning to be an airline pilot. Also missed are all the close calls and lifelong value of lessons learned when most likely only the single pilot was at risk. Incidentally, the most demanding flying known to man is that required of a single pilot in command of a complex aircraft in bad weather, at night, at low altitude with no autopilot, and while navigating and maintaining altitude, heading and airspeed to remain on course.

So where did your pilot learn his or her skills and what kind of licences does he or she hold?

Believe you me, if you can loop the loop, barrel roll and lomcevak, a stall is a survivable situation.
John: very well spoken
A few comments from a current GA flight instructor:
1) Any pilot getting their Commercial pilot's license must still demonstrate all the required maneuvers via hand-flying (no use of the autopilot). This includes unusual attitudes and stall recoveries. Stick and rudder skill development is mandatory to pass the checkride.
2) For Private pilots, full stalls must be demonstrated (requiring dropping the nose and adding full power for recovery). However, for Commercial and CFI (flight instructor) checkrides, examiners typically only ask for recovery at the "onset" of a stall (e.g., only hearing the stall warning horn, or feeling vibration), not a full stall, and with minimal loss of altitude. By the time a pilot trains for an ATP license, they are expected to apply full power and pitch up (not down) for stall recovery -- and are judged on how little altitude is lost. No wonder airline pilots don't pitch the nose down when confronted with a real-world aerodynamic stall!
3) People forget that one of the reasons "Sully" successfully landed the USAir A320 on the Hudson was BECAUSE of the fly-by-wire automation of the Airbus. By holding the stick all the way back during the landing, the computer automatically held the optimal pitch altitude to permit the aircraft to land with as low an airspeed as possible without stalling the plane.
From an interested observer, it seems that technology is not the issue nor is it pilot error or lack of attention. It is the lack of communication between the technology and the human's as to what and why the system decided to go nose up (or whatever) in the first place. A simple display with audio much like when downloading software on a PC, tells the crew that "autopilot is going nose up and decreasing power to adjust for whatever reason". This would allow them to make an informed decision as to how to unscrew the condition. Seems like software and a display/audio system would give the crew some idea what the plane just did and how they can undo it before it is too late. The system already announces altitude and "minimums"...take this a bit farther.
I am an engineer with 100+ hours in a Cessna 174 and 30+ years with process/product development. An AOA was mentioned by several commentors, but kind of left hanging. In my opinion, every aircraft should have an AOA indicator. All the way from LSA's to big iron. Having a stall warning buzzer is like the warning light in your car. It is on/off only and doesn't tell you how close you are to a stall, and the pilot doesn't have a feel for how close he/she is to the "real thing". As I understand it, the Wright brothers had only one instrument in/on their original flyer, a piece of thread attached to a strut as a simple AOA. If they thought it was so important....
Most of the comments here seem to come from (Well trained?) pilots. I've got a simple question here and there's only one answer and I know it. Do You? What is the rudder for? Over the years, I've asked many pilots that question and about one in ten has the correct answer.
Well, as Dave Passmore says, there is a hellacious transition from private to ATP, if nothing else, just the increased amount of stuff before you in the cockpit and yes, every aircraft is different. You can drop the nose on big iron and recover but most say don't do it that way, which is totally opposite to what most folks learn. I think one underlying factor to this whole discussion is maybe not the lack of training but the notion to kinda get away from it and by doing so, develop a false sense of security. As John said earlier, when all is working good, all is working good but when something breaks that gums up the works, you can have a real bad day. The reason that Sully did so good with his landing is that he knew what he had under him and what all the systems were supposed to do together, as well as knowing how to fly the plane. I think to many of our guys right now may well know what each bell & whistle does but they have gotten away from what they are supposed to do TOGETHER!!! That is probably not intentional but has just evolved that way. One thing that has been mentioned here and in other comment strings though is that AOA guage. I have always flown corporate and in all that we have bought(707,757,767), it has been there, but I understand it is offered as an option by Boeing, hence not in most Aircraft. While little used, to me it was always important to have.
"What is the rudder for?" Yaw control.

The article is excellent. I believe that too much automation, whether in airliners or GA, teaches complacency. Watch the computer do its thing, instead of participating in the operation. Does that mean get rid of automation? No, but it does mean that sometimes all that stuff needs to be shut off, and the pilot needs recurrent training in how to fly the bird.

Whenever I take a ride with my instructor, whether for a BFR, an IPC, or just for fun, he puts me through not only expected maneuvers but unexpected ones. He's an ace at dreaming up scenarios that would not likely happen, but which could--and that prepares me for if they do. I fly single pilot IFR on occasion without any help from Otto, because there is no Otto in my airplane. The workload can be high, but because of my recurrent training, I'm ready for it. I would think that the same rule would apply to airline training--if the training addresses unusual situations, they'll be ready for it.

But if they're ready to take over because they've been trained to hand fly the airliner, the pilots need a simple way to disable all the electronic doo-dads. I suggest a one button solution, that by pushing allows the pilot to take over completely. GA autopilots have a button on the yoke to disable the autopilot; airliners should have a button there to disable all of the automatic thingies that interfere with hand-flying.
Political correctness is running rampant and going to get us all killed. From high school on we learn not to challenge the teacher/expert with questions that are extra curriculum so as not to embarrass them. It may show an education gap in the program but you'll end up with a failing grade if you challenge the program. My father told the story of a professor in a N.E. university asking for a paper on the greatest general of the civil war. Dad mistakenly wrote of the winning general submitting it to a man from the deep South. He received a "D" and had to retake the course.

It seems flying lessons end with the beginning of multi-engine training although recovery from unuaual attitudes is still part of the commercial flight test. Economic concerns particularly fuel costs don't allow pilots to "go punch holes in the sky" with a 2-300 seat piece of equipment and flight simulators aren't "flexible" enough to practice stalls, kind of a rock and a hard spot. I've always been told that the 200 hour pilot is the most dangerous guy in the air. I'm beginning to wounder if that's true. A pilot who stopped practicing stall and spin recovery after a hundred or three hours who now had upward of 3 to 5000 hours has forgotten stalls even exist, even though they live close to that 'demon' every day at high altitude. The phrase "I've forgotten more than you ever knew" comes to mind in this situation. Lord, save us from our egos
I totally agree with the first comment.
Mr. BRUCE, can you tell about your Cessna 174, i have never heard of one ever made.
"Everybody seems to be going away from those bad P tubes and laying it off on the pilots, BUT if the computer is so smart, and the plane on auto, then the computer was flying, and stalled the plane, based on bad info, and pilots got too disoriented and/or confused about what was happening, they fell out of the sky. Am I pretty close to being on track there or am I missing something here somewhere?????????????"

IMO, and with all due respect, yes. There is no actual evidence (yet) that the PF (AF447) actually commanded the noseup attitude. Think about it: every pilot who first read that probably said, "Huh???" This is an assumption being promoted by the original report and glommed-onto by the press. It's a very self-serving assumption that's no doubt being heavily promoted by Airbus. What actually caused the noseup input has NOT been established. Expect a big-business whitewash on this story; it's already begun.
I am talking as a passanger: I fly a lot for my work and to read all of your saying ,expert pilots ,it is terryfing to know that we are on a machine human can not control. We have to gaine control of the machines and not the machine control us .If you want to be a pilot,be a pilot and dont just be a spare part of the machine.Thank you ,John Harris,we ,passengers want to reach home safe knowing that the pilot is a pilot and not just a circus or a merry-go-round operator.I shall not stop flying,I love flying.To all pilots,please take care,of you and us.
Lack of critical thinking rife in article:
1) 5 years & 50 crashes is meaningless without knowing what the rate has been previously -- is it worse or better? increasing or decreasing? No wonder the general public can't accurately assess the real risk of flight.
2) What's the converse? How many crashes have been prevented by the automation?
3) This one is huge: how do you know that AF447 *really* had it's nose up most of it's last few minutes. We only have the word of an electrical device that was attacked by lightning to initiate the whole crash. Like the Toyota's that thought the drivers were commanding full accellerate at the time of the crashes. If the control element has been compromised, or has a bug, or failed sensors, you CANNOT rely on the history that it has recorded either. But since the pilots aren't around anymore to contradict the device, we automatically believe the device? (Or more cynically, is it that the pilots aren't around anymore but the responsible agencies, air control system, airline and the plane manufacturer are and any other finding would be inconvenient?)
Another problem I see with this (generally good) article is this: Look at the picture of the broken TA FL1951. It did not "fall out of the sky." If it did it would have been obliterated. A lot more accurate would be, "it landed early." :-)
Not to diminish the horror of such accidents, but let's not add to it!
Zany4God 0
Perhaps cars and trucks can stall, but not in the up/down dimension. For cars, it's the "skid," when one encounters ice on the road, and the stall is lateral. You have no control. To attempt recovery, you point your wheels in the direction of travel, take your foot off the throttle and don't brake until lateral control is regained. How about that, from a humble GA, low hour type.
One missed point is that most large aircraft are certified under Part 25 and are not required to show that they can recover from a stall spin like smaller part 23 aircraft are. Most have stick pushers because they have such BAD stall characteristics, mostly at aft CG, which they may not be recoverable from. The pusher is designed to prevent the aircraft from getting there in the first place. The Air France incident may have had the same outcome. Once a deep stall and spin set in , even if the crew knew how to recover they MIGHT not have been able to.
Bruce is an engineer,so I imagine he designed his C174
Cary....Wrong answer
@Scott: as I said in another thread, once you get into big iron, stall recovery is different from what you learned in the beginning. Aircraft are different and nose down will still work but most are calling for slightly nose up and power. The jury is still out on 447 and will be for a good while. Dead pilots won't talk so wherever the least liability winds up, that's how it will be, right or wrong.That being said, a big problem is that one hardly ever goes there and it's one of those things way in the back of your mind that rarely, if ever gets used and you really can't blame the pilots as stall training in a 777 is not a priority for most airlines as it's not supposed to happen in the first place.
Yes, naughty airplane did it to the pilots. Makes you wonder why we have pilots on board at all.

The pilots are there to take over when the automation fails and to keep all aboard safe and comfy. If they can't do this because the sneaky airplane didn't warn them or put the airplane into a difficult situation, they should have been sitting in the back along with the passengers, while someone who had recently had some stall recognition and recovery training, and hopefully understood unusual attitudes and even done some aerobatic training flew the aircraft on their behalf. Technically stalls and unusual attitude recoveries meet the definition of aerobatics by default, as manoeuvres not necessary for normal flight.

When a jet airliner is heavy because of its passenger, cargo and fuel load, the last thing you want to be doing at a high altitude is climbing even higher when faced with unreliable airspeed. This is likely to guarantee a stall quite possibly followed by Mach tuck, if you allow the nose to come down quickly to a quite steep angle below the horizon with a high thrust setting on the engines.

There has been quite a lot written about iced up speed sensors, pitot tubes I suspect, but I am not an Airbus aficionado. Nevertheless airspeed is by no means the only means of determining if things are right. It does give you direct information about speed, but thrust and body angle give you this too. AAI (angle of attack indicator) is more the exception than the rule, though many aircraft have an angle of attack probe that will feed information to the central air data computer, you just don't have a display or a fast slow stall indicator on many aircraft, but there are other warnings and lights, but yes, AAI displays are very handy, feel good instruments.
I'm not sure what the Airbus airspeed sensor/pitot tube(?) problem has been, low voltage resulting in low current and low heat to the pitot tubes, so they could only keep up with ice build-up at a certain rate. Perhaps the pitot heat design was quite prone to ice build-up. Regardless, pitot heat is supposed to be on from before takeoff until after landing and when the aircraft becomes airborne, heating is supposed to switch from low to high. Perhaps the low/high switch was unreliable. Regardless, there should be other warnings like an airspeed sensor current flow display, or a sensor fail or warning light. If one fails, apparently this confuses the air data computer or some other part of the automation, and Normal law Airbus software for cruise conditions switches to Alternate law. If this is a known problem with your aircraft, you should be keeping a close eye on this and it should be uppermost in your mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise and it shouldn’t leave you fumbling around for the correct solution, unless all this was not communicated to pilots for some reason.

What happens when something goes wrong depends on a lot of different things such as:
-were the crew paying attention or chatting away to each other
-was the PF (flying pilot) aware of the various engine settings and aircraft attitude parameters immediately before a problem occurred. If not this won't help in recovery
-had the PF recently practiced this situation at a heavy weight and high cruise altitude or only on takeoff or at lower altitudes such as 10,000 feet
-was the PF conversant with the procedure for dealing with flight with unreliable airspeed indications

If you get caught out and can't think of what to do first, the simplest and safest thing to do is to descend because your airspeed (stall and transonic) margins will be better even 2 thousand feet lower down. In other words, no great skill is required; you just lower the nose, reduce thrust and descend with the nose about 3 to 5 degrees below the horizon. By turning to avoid other traffic if there is any in your vicinity you will almost certainly guarantee a good outcome, and better to receive a violation than a eulogy, but declaring Pan or Mayday will avoid this.
These are things a competent pilot should be able to do without much thought or effort. If he or she doesn't know this stuff, either they are too inexperienced to be flying an airliner and should never be left in command while the boss goes off for a kip, or there is a serious problem with this airline's training, and with oversight by the national regulator.

I have not been part of this investigation, so I don't know what has been discovered, as opposed to what has been admitted to. For a long time there was much misleading information floating around - bodies were found naked which indicates that the aircraft broke up at a sufficiently high altitude for the wind to strip bodies naked, but now we are told that the crew kept the aircraft in a stalled attitude all the way down into the ocean, despite the captain returning to the flight deck.

I don't really know if the pilots deserve the blame or whether Air France deserves some or most of it, and I also don't know whether Air France is taking the heat while Airbus industry sits quietly in the corner, because in a two horse race between Airbus Industries and Boeing, the stakes couldn't be higher with the B787 coming online and the A380 suffering some scares as a result of failures of Rolls Royce engine components.
The Qantas A380 QF 042 heavy crew were really put to the test with about 50 warnings occurring serially and concurrently in order to prioritise and deal with these. This must have been like 50 different people clamouring for attention at the same time.

I remember very well a chief pilot saying to me that we don't pay our pilots £100K a year to do a $10K a year job. So to those of you who think we should excuse the pilots I say that I don't think we can, but there may well be mitigating issues that we will never hear about.

I will just mention in passing that in the 1960s the US sent men and machines to the moon and back, but still in the second decade of the 21st century, we don't have automatic launchable and retrievable (black) orange boxes in some sort of ejectable sonar buoy package for the CVR (cockpit voice recorder)and FDR (flight data recorder). This is absurd, and an complete nonsense on the part of the industry. Had this been available for AF 447, we would have had preliminary answers two years ago and detailed answers 18 months ago.

I think all these posts are helpful even when they miss the point somewhat, and there have been some useful and interesting comments this afternoon, because more opinions generally tend to present a more rounded view. Just because I wrote a lot of words doesn't mean I covered everything or got everything right.
@Rick: You don't get lift in your car? ;^D
@John Harris: I am not sure what the problem was on the pitot tubes either but they were already under a replacement cycle by Thales, the mfg and had already been replaced on a goodly number of aircraft. They were scheduled to be replaced on 447 but obviously never made it. Best I uderstand it, they are part of this lawsuit/liability issue and really trying to shift the blame. Interesting theory on the Mach tuck. In all the comments made about 447, I believe that's the first time anybody has even broached the subject. As far as the nose up input, it makes one wonder if it was just gut reaction to pull it up or was it caused by a screwey computer.
dodger4 0
The age-old battle of technology vs. physical, manual skills has to out the door. We're not going to divorce technology from flying these massive aircraft. So we've got to learn to deal with it, the same as we dealt with electronic calculators, computers, cell phones, sat phones, GPS...etc.

We have to adapt to today's environment.

Therefore the ONLY solution is to train pilots better in raw skills, ensure they have mastered those skills - through experience - before they get into the hi-tech cockpit, and continue to reinforce those skills all their professional that they can have complete confidence in clicking-off the autopilot and autothrust and fly the plane like any other aircraft with appropriate skills.

At the same time, they need to be able to "ignore" the distractions of all but the most essential warnings, and fly the plane. DO you realize the total absurdity of QF52 needing 5 skilled crew to deal with ONE engine failure?
@dodger4: you are very correct in having to adapt to today's technology. There is so much difference out there now than, say 20 years ago, that it ain't funny, and for so many of the mundane tasks that have gone away, most of it is very pleasurable, BUT, while the automation is nice, even if a pilot knows the basics, Airbus has the only system out there that will actually lock a pilot out of some functions and that scares me. Those lockouts are set on the parameters of the flight envelope and there is not a piece of equipment made that won't exceed it's threshold for a second or 2, and if Murphy's Law prevails, as you know it can and will, that second or 2 may be all you need to pull your tail out of a crack.
@dodger4: I forgot, you are correct on QF52 as well. I have wondered many times how different the outcome of that would have been had the all by chance not been on there.
Carl, you and the FAA will have to agree to disagree, then. See Chapter 5 of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge.
Cary:re rudder - The rudder is used to control the position of the nose of the aircraft, which is basically YAW.
The rudder will do several things. It'll make the the aircraft wiggle. To stop that wiggle you can use it for yaw correction but it's on there to offset the drag of the down aileron. Also you can use it for offsetting the stalled wing, not the ailerons which can exaggerate the stalled wing and roll you over on your back. If I'm wrong, correct me. I'm open to good comments but not whining.
Hands on flying is most of the fun of flying. Hell, anyone including your grandma can sit in a cockpit or flight deck and stare at the instruments without really seeing them. They could even push a button or two. I love the sweaty palm feeling during a challenging approach or a brisk cross wind. It's what flying used to be is all about. Now it's get the cheapest pilots you can find because they don't have to technical expertise, just good programmers.
Hands on flying is most of the fun of flying. Hell, anyone including your grandma can sit in a cockpit or flight deck and stare at the instruments without really seeing them. They could even push a button or two. I love the sweaty palm feeling during a challenging approach or a brisk cross wind. It's what flying used to be all about. Now it's get the cheapest pilots you can find because they don't have to have technical expertise, just the ability to program a computer. A stick isn't something you start a camp fire with.
To prevent yaw, to keep the nose straight, yes but not very compelling descriptions. If we instead suggest a couple of practical uses, some readers may find this a more satisfactory way of understanding the purpose of a rudder.

Rudder pedals usually serve the dual function of operating brakes and rudder. Airbus aircraft have a small control stick like a game controller, one each side for each pilot which has replaced the big between the legs control column, but Airbus aircraft still have traditional rudder pedals which work the brakes, even if the ruders are controlled by electronic control signals from the rudder position to the ruder hydraulic power pack back in the tail section.

On takeoff, a single engine piston propeller driven aircraft with only a single propeller, or in other words wiht no contra rotating propeller, will develop more pull force with the downward going blade than the upward coming blade (for a two bladed propeller obviously). Without going into the reasons for this, we are nevetheless left with the realization that the aircraft will tend to veer off towards the side of the runway with the upward coming propeller blade.

The rudder can be used for steering to augment differential brakes, not recommended on takeoff, and nosewheel or tailwheel steering which may not always provide sufficient steering on their own. The nose wheel and tailwheel can be directly or indirectly linked to the rudder pedals and are usually linked through springs in this situation in order to reduce nose wheel tire scrubbing at higher ground sppeds, ie when the nose wheel is still in contact with the runway.

Another practical use of the rudder is to help keep the nose tracking straight when an engine on a twin or multi engine aircraft suffers a complete or partial power loss and the engines are wing or fuselage side mounted, ie not inline/centreline thrust engines or propellers.

With all the assymetric thrust that the good engine is developing which is likely to have been increased towards full power or is now at full power on one side, the aircraft, left to its own devices, will turn towards the dead engine and unless opposed, it will roll over on its back and eventually enter a spiral dive ... most airplanes are not designed to fly upside down. The turning and rolling tendency could be opposed with ailerons, but ailerons on their own may not be sufficient and are not an efficient way to control this on their own.

Otherwise rudder can be viewed as a system for keeping the aircraft in balance during turns. Usually when we trim out the forces acting on an airframe during cruise flight, we trim out pitch, then rudder to keep the nose from wanting to track left or right, and last of all we trim out ailerons to keep the wings level, not that many small aircraft have aileron trim.
The funniest thing about all these posts is the thread by Ignacio Morillo from 4 days ago which seems to be ghosting us and is always at the bottom announcing somberly that all this is - A VERY WORRYING ISSUE
Automation is here to stay, and its good. We do need to work out a better way to interface with it however. When hand flying in the sim we make the mistake of referancing our hand flying accuracy to the imaculate job the Autopliot can do, and spend too much time trying to to imitate it... like spending time trying to do the perfect ILS, as good as the automatics...but thats not where the ALL the focus should be. Lots more on just muscling the airplane around the sky should be done....steep turns, stall onset recovery, fully developed stall recover. Back to the basics.
Navy65 0
Nice to see the brain trust finally making the realization that these modern fly-by-wire computer operated airplanes are dumbing down today's pilot...and ultimately killing passengers. I wrote a critical article on this very subject in 1981 when I was in 757 training with my airline. The realization that the computers in this new generation of airplane had taken my place as the final authority in the operation of the plane was an horrific realization. Not only did my airline ignore my written article, they told me to knock off the criticism.
Training these days concentrates on: program the computer and let the auto systems fly the plane...."nothing can go wrong." AND it saves the company money when the auto system is used in place of a pilot hand flying the plane. After reading of the more than several airline crashes and the realization that stick and rudder is no longer taught once one is inside the airline's FAA "approved" flight training syllabus, I have elected to never again ride on the airlines. I bought a twin for my own use and have not darkened an airline terminal since 2003. You do as you like. In the unlikely event that I ever have to ride on an airline again, it will not be any airline that has hired pilots that are not American, British, or German. You do as you like.
I never flew the MD11, but enough of my friends did for me to make a judgment. The MD11 MUST be flown with the autopilot above 250kts; it is that unstable in its design. Sullenberger will never say so publicly, but he was just another passenger in an airplane that the computer had priority over the Captain as the final say so. Had he been flying a different airplane that his company operates, it is likely he could have advanced the throttles, torched the engines, and returned to LaGuardia for a non-event. But that is 20/20 hindsight.
Here's my point. ALL Airline training commands must return to more emphasis on hand flying the simulators and airplanes. Stick & Rudder, long missing from aviation curriculums, needs to be re-emphasized. Taking a kid out of high school, giving him an aptitude exam, and then putting him through a primary basics to airline right-seat training needs to teach basic airmanship and not just concentrate on operate-the-computer-and you'll be-all right.
Do I sound jaundiced? I wrote about this suddenly realized malady by today's brain trust thirty years ago, with the same suggestions, but nobody listened.
There is that joke isn't there about the new airplane powered by a super computer which does everything including welcome the passengers aboard ... the pinnacle of modern technology, managing everything for your comfort and convenience to get you to your destination safely and on time, so, it exhorts, please sit down and relax as we finish readying your state of the art airliner for departure. Rest assured that the safety features on this aircraft and the many layers of safety will ensure that nothing can possibly go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong ...
And there's moves afoot to have only one pilot...or no pilot at all...hmmmm.
A little unnerving to think that in the next 20 years that 25,000 planes may be added to the rosters of airlines worldwide and the hiring of pilots to fill those first row seats will be a relatively quick process with, in some cases, little deliberation. It appears that the airlines are putting stock in flight computers more so than adequately trained and seasoned pilots. I'm a non-pilot but view that thinking as grossly erroneous. I have always placed faith in the pilots, not the computers. That could change as more pilots are fast tracked, but really, I know better. The computers are, or should be, an assist, not the point of final decision making.

The example of the Qantas A380 engine failure clearly demonstrates the benefit of having extra pilots, or pilot, in the cockpit during an inflight emergency. Those extra bodies saved the aircraft and passengers by providing crucial time running through check lists to identifiy issues at hand. Surely the good fortune in that scenario has gone unheeded by airlines when viewed from a cost standpoint. That's unfortunate for the flying public.

The knowledgeable posts by you pilots here seems to confirm the fact that escaping from a stall is instruction that's fading out of the training picture. I find that incomprehensible. As I stated, I'm not a pilot, but it seems to me that stall recovery must be one of any pilots' top proficiencies and without the aid of flight computers. How and why it's not emphasised and practiced throughout the career of any pilot is sinful.

All this concerns me somewhat and I'll be thinking about it as I step onboard three commercial flights next week. I know I'll be in good hands. Still, I'll be thinking.
Concern#1 How could this state-of-the-art airplane fly itself into a high Speed stall?
Concern#2 How could these state-of-the-art pilots( no sarcasm) not correct it?
Concern#3 Why am I seeing some Member comments saying the correct way out of a stall is nose down...and some are saying to go nose up?
It's been awhile since Carl has flown, but he once was a non-instrument rated commercial pilot, per the FAA's website.

FWIW, Carl, I am well aware of how to raise a wing using the rudder. I've taken aerobatic training (although I never became very good at aerobatics) which included snap-rolls, rolls, loops, and spins. I am a non-current CFII, and I instructed for several years back in the 80s. I also did SE charter for several years. I still fly regularly.

Bill Kershner's training manuals emphasize how the rudder serves many purposes, including being able to raise a dropped wing. So while the rudder can be used for a number of things (including wiggling the airplane, which I think is a cute statement), its primary purpose is as the aircraft's yaw control, like I said.
Very interesting feed back indeed. Very professional. Cary...You're's been awhile and I still miss it terribly. It was the old story...Flying or the wife. A lot of us have been there. I have a very good wife. Nuf said. It appears that I'll have to eat crow here. Aileron is only one type of induced yaw. At one time I was a very current pilot and slow flying was my favorite type flying. Have you ever done, at 3000'or higher, a departure stall with full power? You hold the Yoke/Stick all the way back. You don't release back pressure. You don't lower the nose. You don't use ailerons. You use the rudder only to keep the wings level. As I feel certain you know, that will teach you the value of a rudder. You have to stay on top of it. That will certainly help those, whoever "They" are, to become a good pilots. There's all kinds of war stories...I'll leave it at that.
And Mr. John Harris...Your Momma didn't raise no pumpkins. You're input was very valuable and highly appreciated. Thank you.
For the seven-millionth time: PUSH THE NOSE DOWN and ADD POWER if there is any hint or indication of an impending stall!!!!!!!!!!!
"Because button pushers that want to be able to tell everyone they're a pilot are getting churned out by equally inexperienced instructors all willing to work for pocket change. Real stick and rudder folks (the ones that inherently know how to fly) recognize their worth and hopefully refuse to be responsible for 100s of lives and millions in assets for what equates to less than a McDonald's manager's salary. (Sorry McDonald's managers)"

Well said fred! I am a 300 hr commercial pilot (looking for a job) and i am an a&p for a major airline. Growing up, i've always wanted to be an airline pilot. But now i can clearly see that its not what it used to be. I would have to take a considerable pay cut to transfer over as a pilot. As a mechanic i've been able to learn alot about the airbus A320 aircraft, and it crazy to see how much authority that the aircraft has over the flightcrew. No thanks, i would rather fly an aircraft that doesn't tell me how to do my job!
Aviate, navigate, communicate! Fly the plane, work out where you want to go and then tell someone, if safe to do so.
@chavster77: As was in an earlier post by a CFII, in training as a private pilot and up, all teaching for stall recovery is, as you say,Nose down and power. Problem is, most big iron books and airline training call for just the opposite; A SLIGHT NOSE UP and power, which is opposite to what they were taught.NOW, SLIGHT don't mean pull the stick all the way back. That being said, it will depend on the aircraft. Just as information, the old way will work, this is just what they say to do. I know that won't work in a C150 but it will in a 757.
In regards to another post here, it is not that stall recovery is so hard, it's just that after you get on big iron, it is so little used, if not practiced occasionally, it is one of those things sometimes forgotten.
msvmaier 0
Despite all of the dissection of this article(some people have too much time), it is a great reminder to this GA pilot that technology doesn't change the basics.
@Mark: some of us are retired(or semi retired) and have some time,lol but you have the right attitude. Regardless of how you progress or how technolgy advances, don't ever lose sight of your basics
msvmaier 0
@Wayne. Fair enough. I'm looking forward to having the time to dissect flying articles, and I'm sure I will :-)
see this excellent program on NOVA regarding the AF 447 crash. Done prior to the black boxes being found. But, they nailed the reason for the crash...and show just how easy it would have been for the pilots to have recovered.
@ Wayne Bookout --

Even though you are a Dean of the Air, a Ph.D. of Flight, (rightly described, I think) be careful in these flying machines.
@Ken : You give me the big Me and a whole bunch of other guys.I just happen to be a little more talkative here lately for some reason. I see the world bypassing us and I just hate to see a lot of the younger guys miss out on what we have been through. Hopefully we can impart some of that to those that will listen. What really scares me though is to see how it is progressing. Still staying current though and having to keep up with it is what really scares me though as I don't want to have to hang up my spurs and quicker than necessary
mrippe 0
flight crews are taught the skills necessary to handle most of these issues. but many crews have been turned into button pushers and watchers of idiot lights. i believe that this trend is being driven by the airlines push for greater economy. increasingly complex flight control system are being designed by people who don't quite understand the aircraft and the flight crews needs. i.e. the now famous series of accidents where the pilot said "go up" and the flight computer said "go down" and the airplane did, into the ground or trees, or the overwhelming and seemingly random order of presentation of system alarms.
flight crews are very aware of many of these issues but seem reluctant to force movement towards resolution. i don't understand why as these people sitting in the very front are the ones who will lose their lives.

In my view, first, the company policies are being very flexible with the requirements for the pilots and copilots (it will reduce your costs?). A pilot in the simulator can be very good in their subconscious knows that will not spend nothing and if it fails you will repeat the exercise. Another thing is actually true THROUGH confiansa itself from experience accumulated (more flying hours !!!!!. I understand with so much technology in their favor have neglected to learn to fly, the interpretation of the instruments. Humam aspect the profecionales, evaluation, constant. Operators prefer people with no experience and so pay less?.
@ Wayne Bookout --

This cyberforum seems a good place for guys like you to rub together ideas and experience from others and examine the sparks; as you say, impart something to those younger - maybe someone will listen. Maybe the FAA should underwrite this website.
kay sogo 0
@ Paul Schiesser
from all accounts, I would think that AF447 went down in a "flat spin". If you had ever flown a plane you would know how difficult it is to recover from a flat spin. To that, add no visual references because it was at night.
kay sogo 0
I have not followed reports on this but is it possible, against all the odds and rules of modern day aviation, that fuel ran dry ??
Airframe Integrity of NG737s. Misunderstandings between operator and machine will always occur. The question here is what happened to the fuselage on impact. Notice the places where the main tube of the airliner failed. Research the evidence that many of these machines were incorrectly assembled due to misaligned structural members.
I am concerned about PIA. Forced grounding at different European airports. Two recent incidents of two different planes on domestic routes lost one engine midflight. What is going on?
@Roland Dent: I don't know whjat you can glean about structural integrity from looking at a picture. If it fell flat down out of the sky as the article said, there is no telling what it impacted or how for that matter. With the amount of force that thing took on impact from at least 200' high(which about what he would have been), I am surprised it wasn't worse than it was.
@Wayne Please do some research on this subject. While the parts of a modern airliner are designed to withstand a certain load, about 1.5 to 2g's in service, the central tube is always designed to much higher specs so it stays in one piece in the event of an accident. There was a series of events which occured when the chords of this model were manufactured. I am sure the FAA are aware of the problem.
@Roland Dent: I will dig around on it, however, in looking at that picture, it just appears that the fuselage break there is over the wing/engine area, which would have taken the brunt of impact. If that be the case, I don't know how you can design around everything, and as I said earlier, I am really surprised it's not worse.I think it is a testament to the Aircraft and/or it's builders that only 9 lost their lives. From a prevention standpoint, why were the Auto Pilot and Auto Thrust still reading from different altimeters. That change was made a pretty good while back on new stuff and there was supposed to have been a retrofit. Don't know what model this plane was but there was a good example of why the change was made.
@Wayne: If the tube was strong enough to withstand a heavy impact of say 10 or 12g there is some doubt that passengers would survive the decelleration forces involved anyway. The fact that modern aircraft designs are flawed was proven by the example of the A-388 T942 at Changi when the No. 1 engine could not be shut down after the forced landing. This was a design flaw and not a manufacturing or service flaw.
@Roland: I remember seeing that about that engine not shutting down, that they basically had to drown it with water to stop it. You saw it wasn't mfg or service flaw but a design flaw. Did they ever find out why. I never heard but I am not an Airbus fan anyway, because of which I didn't chase it down. I just chalked it up as more AB junk. I know I shouldn't be like that as Boeing has their share too, but I am.
@Wayne In hindsight it was easy enough to see how the exploding rotor would cut through the hydraulics and electrics that ran the same route in the path of the ejected rotor. AB and RR immediately put another stop system in another part of the wing so this would not repeat. At least the engine ran and did enable a safe landing.
skylab72 0
There is a vector of the problem no one has mentioned. Perhaps few understand and perhaps many are intimidated by the airframe manufacturers, but there are design issues underlying this thread. I find it odd that only three commenters used the phrase flight envelope, while 19 or 20 referenced flight 447. A huge contributor to the failure chain in the AF-447 crash is the fact, that that aircraft, at FL370 is in a very narrow corner of it's flight envelope. One, easy to make, error (the initial climb out of cruise mode), put the aircraft in the high altitude convergence zone between stall speed and critical mach. Once the delta between stall speed and critical mach shrinks below 30 knots or so, particularly in an aircraft of that size, the pilot has virtually NO room to manuver back out of the corner.

Now, how many of you pilots who have actually recovered from a hard stall, and you can believe a high altitude convergence zone stall is a hard stall, would like to do it in an aircraft type you have never actually stalled before, in the dark, in or near a storm, in mid-atlantic?

But, flying near stall speed is a necessary and known issue, as the story suggests, training is key. My issue is that so many commercial passenger liners, of all sizes and types, are designed with such brutal stall characteristics combined with such high stall speeds. We have known since the days of the Martin B-26 Marauder that is a dangerous combination.
@Carl Weddle:you are getting real close to what should be referred to as "coffin corner". My contention all along is that it was bad enough for the Aircraft to get upset that bad in the first place, but trained well or not, the environment they were in, as far as all the bells and whistles going off along with it being night and all, overcame any ability they might have had to get out of it. Everybody is hollering pilot error right now but we weren't looking out of their windshield. I guess "flight envelope" is going away with the rest of us dinosaurs, but it doesn't matter the brand of airframe, every aircraft has a max. Airbus is the only system that I know of though, that will not let a pilot exceed it, and I have said before, any piece of equipment can exceed it's design limit for a bit, and that bit might just be what you need to pull your tail out of a crack. It should at least be at a pilot's disposal without having to go through reprogramming. Upsets don't wait on anyone. Back to the coffin corner for a moment, I seem to remember from way back yonder that there was only about a 4-5 mile speed difference in flying or falling on that original flying wing that Jack Northrup designed way back yonder, and it was a similar thing on the SR71.
@Wayne Airbus has stated publically that it, AB, is concerned that "pilots need to revisit basic flying skills". But it seems to me that unless you can believe the instruments in front of you you might as well stay home. Air France complained to AB that there was an instrument problem and AB did nothing. That is why AF sought court action agin AB.
@Mark Landsdell: Well said...I once was on an academic course where some nugget had got a translation wrong. A mountain of esteemed academic work and countless students has passed thru 40 years of courses had been taught a theory that was based on a false premise. By sheer chance I am the son of an immigrant...if necessary DEMONSTRATE your concerns. If they tell you DO AS I SAY...well. Big demand for staff in China.
skylab72 0
Bookout, I could not agree more. "Design Limits" are an engineers estimate plus a margin for "safety", and I would assert that leaves something between 30 to 100 percent margin un-used in most components. That is unrealistic. I want a flesh and blood PIC making those calls when I fly. I was a Crew Engineer (Crew Chief) in the military, and I lost count of how many times I happily red-Xed an aircraft after landing. Flight limits are not equal design limits!

Oh, and about the coffin corner, You are quite right, many aircraft have had issues in that region, and the stories abound. I think of the coffin corner as the intersection of stall speed and maximum speed, regardless of factor limiting speed. From the name it is obviously insidious, but hopefully well known. I just wished to call attention to critical mach as a particularly easy to miss, or misunderstand, speed limitation. As you climb from the ground up to FL400 the actual air speed of your aircraft's critical mach steadily decreases. At that point it remains at it's minimum value all the way up to FL650. Moreover, stratospheric stalls do not feel like low altitude stalls, and as you pointed out over a week ago, stall recovery can only be learned by practice. I have only spent a limited amount of time at the simulation center for one airline, but I did not see anyone working on high altitude stall prevention or recovery. If anyone does, I would love to know about it.

And, yes the Northrup Wing did have issues in this area. The critical mach for a chord that thick is below .7, and those four big R4360 engines could easily push the Wing right up to it, from FL350 on up to it's ceiling. Unfortunately critical mach was completely unknown in those days, but I am confident at least one of these aircraft that was lost, was lost, to this phenomenon. In addition Chuck Yeager, likely the best stick and rudder man of all time, got caught in it during a high altitude test in an F-104. The whole C-133 type was canceled because of ugly (six aircraft and crews lost) behaviors at transition to "nominal cruise altitude" while loaded above 85% of max gross at TO. Root cause was traced to the coffin corner compounded by critical mach limitations. Gary Power's U-2 was brought down with this issue as a significant contributing factor. He was somewhere near FL800, with his coffin corner delta V under 12 knots when the Sam5 was launched. He began a max rate turn to avoid intercept and brought the high wing tip up to approach critical mach buffet as the lower wing tip approached stall buffet. The Sam self destructed more than five miles away, about twenty thousand feet of which was vertical separation, but when the shock wave hit, Gary had zero margin in which to recover.

@Warl Weddle: not sure about the critical mach on the WING. I just remember a blurb on the HISTORY channel about awhile back, and the first test pilot to take it up, I think it was Bob Martinez, was telling the other about it. If I remember right, it was Edwards, same one the base is named after. He later crashed and I think that's when they discontinued the program. Don't know if that was the reason for the crash or not. I don't think there ever was an official cause listed. Martinez thought it should have been cancelled after he found it.CRITICAL MACH is something hardly ever thought of these days, even by experienced pilots, as most figure the design and envelope will keep you away from it and it's not normally a factor or even talked about until something like 447 comes up, then somebody is apt to ask WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I never knew that about Powers U2. Having worked in the 100thSRW at Tucson in the late 60's, I knew there was very little margin there anyway; they were almost as bad as the SR71 but I never saw the report and always assumed he took a direct hit.
skylab72 0
First, about Jack's Wing, I must apologize, I mis-spoke referencing the XB-35 engines in the critical mach context. The top speed of the XB-35 was under 400 MPH which is well below any critical mach issues. It was the jet, YB-49, that had the power to "easily surpass it's red line (not to exceed, design limit) air speed". The incident I was trying to recall, that was the subject of my investigation when I came to the conclusion critical mach may have played a part, was the crash, you mentioned, that killed Capt Glenn Edwards, June 5, 1947. The tests that day were a series of both stall tests and high speed stability tests at FL400. At the conclusion of the programmed tests, Capt. Edwards radioed that he would report again at FL150 and that was the last thing heard from the flight.

I based my conclusion that there may have been critical mach issues at that point on the following things; one, the official published account, while as you said does not put forth a confirmed official cause, does speculate that the aircraft "exceeded the airframe red-line descending from 40,000 feet." Two, I looked up the airfoil on the Wing which turned out to be a NACA 65-019 tapering to 65-018 at the tips, with a chord in excess of seven feet. At the time I had access to software that gave me the critical mach for that combination, which I ran it only on 65-019 with a 7 foot chord. Which gives item three, and although I do not recall the exact number, but it was .7 something. Now add in that the red-line for the YB-49 was 520 MPH which is mach .7878 at FL400. Clearly heading downhill from FL400 the YB-49 would hit critical mach before airframe red-line.

Clearly no one will ever know exactly what happen that morning, but I remain sure that among the probabilities, losing pitch stability as it hit critical mach, ranks high enough to merit serious consideration.
skylab72 0
@Wayne Bookout: Oh my! You frighten me. You say "critical mach is something hardly ever thought of these days, even by experienced pilots, as most figure the design and envelope will keep you away from it"!? The only design feature that will "keep you away from it", is your auto pilot, or maybe an AB fly-by-wire throttle, but that has other issues.

May I start with definitions; first, critical mach is a parameter of sub-sonic airfoils. It is that point at which trans-sonic velocities in the air flow around an airfoil disrupt either it's lift or it's stability, usually both. When used in reference to a whole airframe it is rather a virtual number, almost a worst case average of all flight surfaces as configured, primarily driven by the main lifting airfoil. But that does not keep it from being a very important parameter. Boeing tends to design their aircraft to go critical near mach .82 and their power to weight ratios almost always allow level flight at that speed. Now, their efficient operation envelope reaches from mach .75 to critical mach. At FL400 that translates to between 471 KIAS to 574 KIAS, which sounds generous until you consider two more factors. One, stall speed is coming up behind you and at that level, has already pushed up the 471, and two, any maneuvering requires AOA changes which can eat the rest of your stall margin in a hurry.

I would assert that intercontinental airline flights routinely fly into the last 10% of their flight envelope and often into the last 5%. Being comfortable flying at or near your critical mach at altitude with the thought that "I can always slow down" is pure folly. To slow down you must change your AOA and/or wing configuration, both of which will reduce your remaining stall margin.

Just to be explicit, the SR-71 does not have a critical mach, it is designed super-sonic. Their mission profiles just pushed them into the coffin corner with some regularity.
skylab72 0
Now, all that said, my "definition" of critical mach is technically inaccurate. Technically it is the speed at which airflow at the highest velocity point over a given airfoil reaches mach 1. Similarly for an airframe, mach 1 at the highest velocity point over a lifting airfoil. Without introducing all the complication around swept wings and compressibility affects, I use "my definition" when thinking as a pilot in order to facilitate staying out of trouble. In the real world, I have no problem sitting over the leading edge of the wing root in a 7x7 as decent from cruise begins, and watching the airflow go "critical". I am so fascinated by trans-sonic aerodynamics I sit in rapt awe as shock waves build at the root slide out down the leading edge and "break off" and disappear. If they failed to disappear by 1/3 chord I might grow concerned.

Also it looks like my finger were not well connected to my brain at another point. The word chord after the airfoil NACA ID codes should be replaced with the phrase "wing thickness" in BOTH places. Sorry.

Also an SR-71 has a critical mach by the technical definition, it just is designed to fly through it and has zero impact on the coffin corner.
skylab72 0
@ Wayne Bookout: And before I forget, ref Gary Powers, a Sam5 launched straight up runs out of fuel around 65,000 feet. Gary was above 80,000. No direct hit was possible, that was kind of the whole point of the U-2 design. Moreover had the aircraft taken a direct hit Gary would have had to exit well before impact to survive. Unfortunately emergency egress systems in the U-2 were not rated to insure pilot survival in a max altitude ejection, so Gary rode it down as it broke up and ejected low enough the oxygen bottle would last into breathable air. Google around and you may find the same declassified report I did. It was declassified just after the turn of the century. The thing that impressed me was, having a wing aspect ratio so high that at altitude you could induce sonic buffeting and stall buffeting at the same time.
@Carl Weddle: not sure on the rest of your story, but according to specs out of the 100thSRW, which was Hq for all the USAF U2's at Tucson in 69, 80000 was above the ceiling for their birds. I'm flying on memory, but I believe it was 70,000. The SR71 took up that extra altitude and speed as it came out. Not sure what Powers had ut in the birds we had at Tucson, there was a halfway decent egress system, in that it blew out the whole pilot module, and then a secondary separation of the cockpit somewhere around FL400, and a chute opening
skylab72 0
@ Wayne Bookout: This is altogether embarrassing. Third chance to eat crow in one thread, I promise to do a better job checking numbers before I use them! Right you are about U2 service ceiling. And unfortunately I must apply the prior mia culpa to two more errors, one that one implies and the other I discovered looking up the former... to whit, I overstated the performance of the SAM as well as the U-2. The basic geometry I described is accurate but put it 10,000 feet or so too high. In addition I garbled the model number, the Russian designation was 75, not 5, and the NATO designation was SA-2. My sincerest apologies.
Ektock 0
I my opinion, the problem of flight control loss is not restricted to any particular type of flight deck, aircraft type, or flight type. This is among the fundamental problems of interaction between humans, machines, and the environment. I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing the events of high-altitude stall which was the subject of AF447 accident. In my home country, Russian Federation, we had several similar accidents from 1958 to 2006 with different types of airplanes from the ancient Tupolev Tu-104 to Airbus A-310. In all cases the limited human ability to catch the deviations from the flight envelope in a timely manner and to respond effectively. Below I give the sum of these events (high-altitude stall and loss of control), unfortunately with corresponding investigations reports being still not accessible to public. Any comments here and on my email are highly welcome!

*************** Accident 1 ******************************
Date: 15 August 1958.
Place: near Birobidjan, USSR.
Aircraft: Tupolev TU-104A USSR-L5442.
Flight: Aeroflot, Khabarovsk (USSR) – Irkutsk (USSR).
Commander: Pavel Barabanov.
Fatalities: 69.
Synopsis: The aircraft entered the powerful turbulent cell at FL 350 with strong updraft component, and has been taken by the airflow to an altitude of around FL 400 where it lost the airspeed, stalled, went out of control, and entered the spin. The control was not restored, and the aircraft crashed.

*************** Accident 2 ******************************
Date: 17 October 1958.
Place: near Kanash, USSR.
Aircraft: Tupolev TU-104A USSR-42362.
Flight: Aeroflot, Omsk (USSR) – Moscow (USSR).
Commander: Harold Kuznetsov.
Fatalities: 75.
Synopsis: The aircraft was in the 180-degree turn at FL 330 in order to divert to alternate airfield due to the bad weather in Moscow, when it entered the turbulence with very strong updraft component (determined to have up to 80 m/s of vertical wind speed). The aircraft has been taken by the airflow to an altitude around FL 420 where it lost the airspeed, stalled, and went out of control. During the descend the Commander transmitted by radio the comments on all his unsuccessful attempts to recover the airplane which provided the aircraft designers with very valuable information and helped in improving the pitch and AOA stability of these aircraft type. Despite all the crew’s efforts, the control has not been restored, the aircraft rapidly descended with big nose down attitude, and subsequently crashed.

********************Accident 3 *********************************
Date: 10 July 1985.
Time: 19:46 UTC.
Place: near Uchkuduk, USSR (now Uzbekistan).
Aircraft: Tupolev TU-154B-2 USSR-85311.
Flight: Aeroflot 5143, Karshi (USSR, now Uzbekistan) – Ufa (USSR, now Russia).
Commander: Oleg Belisov.
Fatalities: 200.
Synopsis: The aircraft has departed after a very long delay due to attempts of repair and subsequent change of the plane, resulting in a crew fatigue with 20+ hours of duty in a very hot environment. The high takeoff weight and hot air temperature throughout all the FL-s (being ISA+16 degrees at FL 380) lead to a very slow climb to FL 380 which had been approached at low airspeed of 240 KIAS (M=0.75) instead of 265 KIAS (M=0.82) and high vane angle of attack (AOA) of 7 degrees (should be lower than 5 degrees). During the altitude correction the AOA has exceeded the aural warning threshold, and the stall buffet began to develop. The crew believed that the buffet was caused by the engine surges, and reduced the thrust by three consecutive lever movements to near idle during the subsequent minute. The autopilot was disconnected, and the crew with a very experienced Commander tried to maintain FL 380 on a heavy aircraft at high air temperature with thrust levers on idle for about a minute. After only two initial short records, the high AOA aural warning was not recorded on FDR due to unknown reasons, and some explanations mention the intentional switching off by the crew. As a result of the alternating pitch up- and down- yoke commands and idle thrust settings the aircraft lost the airspeed to 190 KIAS, the pitch angle exceeded 12 degrees up, and the AOA exceeded 20 degrees. The crew continued to pull on the yoke and tried to maintain FL 380 counteracting the decreasing lift which led to the development of high sink rate of around 20 m/s. The aircraft subsequently lost the pitch static stability and entered the regime of self-induced rapid pitch up which led to a full stall and the flameout of all three engines. The aircraft entered the flat spin and after 2.5 minutes of uncontrolled descent from FL 390 crashed in the desert almost without any ground speed. The reason of maintaining the idle thrust and pitch-up commands while having the low speed and high pitch angles with increasing instability is unknown since the official report is not accessible to public.

************************ Accident 4 ****************************************
Date: 22 March 1994.
Time: 17:58 UTC.
Place: near Mezhdurechensk, Russia.
Aircraft: Airbus A310-308 F-OGQS leased to Aeroflot Russian Airlines.
Flight: Aeroflot 593, Moscow (Russia) – Hong Kong.
Commander: Yaroslav Kudrinskiy (cruise captain acting as PIC at the time of accident).
Fatalities: 75.
Synopsis: During the normal cruise at FL 330 the Commander left his seat and allowed his 15-years old son to enter the left seat and to apply about 11 kg of force to the control wheel while keeping the airplane under the autopilot control. The right seat was occupied by the first officer throughout the whole accident sequence, but the seat position was determined to be moved aft, thus creating certain difficulties for the first officer to operate the flight controls. As a result, the autopilot disconnected in the roll channel without any visual or aural warnings, and the airplane gradually entered a 50-degree right bank. The autopilot tried to maintain the altitude, increasing the AOA from 2 degrees in cruise to 4.5 degrees, and the normal load factor from 1 to 1.6, which led to the development of buffet and the wing stall. In addition, the AOA of 4.5 degrees caused the pitch instability, resulting to the self-induced increase of AOA from 4.5 to 10 degrees in 2 seconds. The airplane began to descend due to the decreasing lift caused by the wing stall, and the first officer applied the pitch up commands which increased the AOA and the stall condition. Some actions on the flight control were applied also by the Commander’s son in the left seat which the Commander was still unable to occupy due to the high bank (more than 63 degrees) and high load factors. The aural stall warning sounded only intermittingly due to the higher priority of the altitude deviation alert. As a result, the aircraft pitched down to about 40 degrees and entered the steep descent with a right bank of about 90 degrees and normal load factor of around 2, and the sink rate reached nearly 200 m/s. During the descent the airspeed reached 400 KIAS, and the normal load factor approached 4.7 with the yoke pulled aft to the mechanical stop. The descent stopped, and the airspeed decreased rapidly to 120 KIAS, leading to the onset of new stall. The AOA reached 35 degrees, the airplane fully stalled and entered the 180-degree uncontrolled right bank, after which the left spin with negative pitch down to 80 degrees developed. The Commander had occupied his left seat at this moment. Despite the successful stop of the heading rotation, the yoke has been pulled aft throughout the recovery attempts, and the airspeed did not exceeded 200 KIAS which was insufficient for creating enough lift to arrest the sink rate, and the airplane crashed.

************************ Accident 5 ****************************************
Date: 22 August 2006.
Time: 12:38 UTC.
Place: near Donetsk, Ukraine.
Aircraft: Tupolev TU-154M RA-85185.
Flight: Pulkovo 612, Anapa (Russia) – St Petersburg (Russia).
Commander: Ivan Korogodin.
Fatalities: 170.
For more information, see the official IAC site with short official report in Russian, and the Web site (in Russian) created by the relatives of the victims:

Synopsis: The aircraft entered the zone of powerful thunderstorms which had the cloud tops higher than typical for this area (reaching in some places 13 km). The crew tried to pass them above of cloud tops by quickly climbing from FL 380 to FL 390, and the crew also switched the anti-ice on when they entered the storm clouds with hail, which decreased the engine output. The airspeed decreased to 220 KIAS, and the strong turbulence triggered the aural high AOA warning several times. The experienced Commander (being also the flight instructor for a trainee first officer in the right seat) disconnected the autopilot and tried to maintain FL 390 in strong turbulence with pitch and roll oscillations. The aerodynamic buffet has been masked by the air turbulence, and the crew neglected the continuous high AOA aural warning, continuing with mainly pull up actions. As a result, the airspeed has decreased to 180 KIAS, the AOA has exceeded 20 degrees, and the airplane lost the pitch static stability, entering the regime of self-sustained rapid pitch up together with uncontrolled roll. Two side-mounted engines flamed out (the central engine continued to operate till the impact), the airplane stalled, the airspeed has dropped to zero, and the AOA exceeded 45 degrees with continuous high AOA aural warning. The aircraft than entered the flat spin, and during the 2.5 minutes of uncontrolled descent from FL 410, the crew continued to pull up. The aircraft crashed almost without any ground speed. The cause of the crash is formulated as the pilot-induced stall since it is believed that the crew considered the powerful thunderstorm below and around the airplane being a more dangerous threat than the incoming stall, and refused to command the pitch down and descend in timely manner in order to keep the airspeed and AOA within the flight envelope.

@Denis Khomitsky:Excellent detail on these flights and their tragic outcome. Just one comment and I think it would leave a lot of people wondering why, but in none of them is there a sign of a pilot taking a NOSE DOWN attitude to begin recovery. This has to make you wonder why?
Ektock 0
@Wayne Bookout:
I am very grateful to you for your reply and I fully agree with you. I remember a person speaking to one the leading Russian professors in aerodynamics who wrote a classical book “Practical aerodynamics of Tu-154M”. And this professor was wondering and crying just like we are: “why they (meaning the latest accident in 2006) just did not pushed the yoke, did not pushed the nose down?” I had an opportunity to see the full report of the 2006 accident while performing a non-official mathematical analysis of this event by the request of the relatives who gained an official access. I can not add more to the official and published report – everything was clear but still hardly explainable. In my opinion as well as in the opinion of various pilots with whom I discusses these issues, it is the lack of training (at least at simulator) of high-altitude approaches to stall which are indeed are very rare events. Every pilot knows that he has a substantial margin after the high AOA warning threshold but before the actual stall. And it is really hard to get a feeling of this vanishing stall margin during the quick sequence of pitch oscillations. After the sink rate develops, it is the first desire to pull back in order to restore the altitude, which quickly develops the full stall and triggers the threshold for the loss of static stability. I know that it was only one case in a 40 year-history of Tu-154 service when the recovery from the full stall and flat spin was in success. It was during the test flight in 1972, it was with the anti-spin chute installed and deployed, the plane was with the flaps/slats deployed, and it was piloted by the top-rank test pilots…
From my experience, safety has gone literally out the window!
skylab72 0
Excellent detail indeed. It would appear in each of these cases, and many others discussed in this thread, the flight crew did not believe, (or had no idea), they were in a stall condition. Are there no AoA indicators in typical airliner instrumentation? If so, are there valid reasons why crew might not trust them?
Ektock 0
@ Carl Weddle:
Thank you very much for reply. There are cockpits both with and without the separate AoA indication, and in all types of cockpit the misunderstanding of the incoming stall is possible. For example, in those five cases which I listed above, there was no AoA indicator at all in two cases (Tu-104 aircraft), there was a separate AoA indicator with visual and aural high AoA-alert indicator (Tu-154 aircraft), and there was no explicit AoA indicator but the built-in stall protection were available (A-310 aircraft, and it is also true for A-330 aircraft involved in AF447 accident). In all cases the stall condition was not recognized by the crew in a timely manner, and the nose-down recovery was not initiated due to a preoccupation with another counter-working task which was the desire to maintain altitude. It should be noted that in all these cases a one more negative effect occurred preventing the recovery, which was the loss of pitch static stability (occurring when the aerodynamic focal point moves forward in relation to the gravity center during the disruption of wing lift usually starting at wingtips, and the airplane becomes to be unstable in pitch). For example, it was discovered that on Tu-104 the full stall and the loss of pitch stability occur almost simultaneously, i.e. at very close AoAs, which momentarily place the aircraft from the controllable flight into almost uncontrollable situation…

But on the modern aircrafts there are also certain difficulties in these high-AoA and low-speed situations. For example, the pilots of AA447 were trying to maintain FL 380 with the reduced thrust because they just had faced a rapid climb resulting from their high-amplitude sidestick inputs after the airspeed loss and the autopilot disconnect (see the official BEA interim 3rd report at ). The airplane gradually lost the airspeed with its pitch rising up, and the crew was assisted by the autotrim in this pitch-up increase because the flight computers were programmed to assist the pilots… The autotrim had moved the stabilizer from the -3 units of cruise flight to -13 units which was completely out of the stable situation for a cruise flight, and it was very hard to counteract it with the elevator which has the smaller area compared to the stabilizer. So, during the following stall the crew had not tried to perform a prolonged pitch-down maneuver, and even at the takeoff thrust the airspeed was far below the normal flight envelope, and the AoA was far above normal (more than 35 degrees) which means that the airplane had almost no lift at all. There was no precise flat spin with heading rotation for AF447 since its heading had followed about one circle (for example, the Tu-154 in 2006 made about 8 circles while descending in a spin), but the full stall was evident, and the aural “stall” warning sounded repetitively in the cabin. Still, the crew with an experienced 56-old Commander of AF447 was not able to perform timely recovery actions. The BEA stated that some special high-AoA and high-Mach, high-altitude trainings on the simulators are needed in the future training programs. I fully agree with them and hope that such tragic loss-of-control accidents will never happen again…
@Carl W. & Denis K.: There is some form of AoA indication in most aircraft now. That being said, this is nothing but a gut feeling. I either commented somwhere in this string or in another article ref the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo and it seems to be running through here as well. NATURAL HUMAN REACTION WHEN YOU START DOWN IS TO GO UP!!!. Now, stall recovery is a primary focus when learning to fly and is drummed into every student, BUT, as a pilot progresses, it gets further and further away and a pilot gets more obsessed and concentrating on going into a bigger plane and more complicated cockpit.A stall or even close to one, just doesn't happen in a bigger aircraft unless a pilot really flubs up or something happens like the icing on the Colgan air.Even there there seems to have been some complacency for whatever reason. Consequently, in some cases, the natural reaction takes over and a stick gets pulled back rather than pushed down.In some airliners, even in the manual, some will say to bring the nose up a tad(nothing like what has been done here and nose down will always work)and throw on power, BUT AGAIN, there is a long gap between a C150 or equivalent and a 777 or whatever and unless a pilot is really on his game, I can see where they could be startled.
Ektock 0
@ Wayne Bookout:
I fully agree with you. In my opinion, this is among the most principal differences between a pilot and non-pilot, the things that are far away from the “natural” response of human body, but coupled to the flight instruments and correct procedures instead. My primary specialty is theoretical physics (I’m a University docent, Ph.D., member of the American Physical Society), and we like to say after Academician Lev Landau: “There are many things in science that you can not imagine, but can understand”. Something like this can be said regarding the counter-intuitive stall recoveries based on the flight instruments and breath-taking pitch-down diving when the airplane is already going down pretty quick. For example, in the early mentioned test with successful recovery by test pilots from the flat spin on Tu-154 in 1972, the altitude loss was around 4000m with high sink rate at the end. Here a very tough nervous system and a strict implementation of the stall recovery was the key factor. Which is very hard to train, but still possible, at least at simulators. There is no other option than to train it – “use it or loose it”…
@ Denis K: ref the sink rate on the TU154 in 1972, as you said, 2 experienced pilots and knowing what was going on and it would still wrench your gut, but when you envision something like that at night, in turbulence and all the bells and whistles sounding as with AF447, total disorientation is an understatement,BUT, those situations are where training will come in. Anytime you climb into a seat, you must expect the unexpected and be prepared to react to it, simple as it may be. I can remember once after landing our 757 and heading onto the ramp for parking, with our cordinator and all there with the batons; I was already at engine shutdown in my mind but as I went to the nonchalant process of stopping the bird, something had happend to my brakes between landing and the ramp and I didn't have any. Coordinator ran like hell and luckily I had plenty of room to roll to a stop. They chocked and we unloaded. No big deal but defintely unexpected. You make the comment "There are many things in science that you can not imagine, but can understand”. That is a true statement after reading a report or post mortem on a crash. One may can understand how something happened but unless we were there in the cockpit, we might never know why.
Ektock 0
@ Wayne Bookout:
I’m again very grateful to you for the reply, and I again fully agree with you. It is a big honor for me to communicate with a pilot since obviously an amateur, even with good mathematical background, can not feel the reality of being in the cockpit seat. And so the opinion of a pilot should always be the most important for everybody in aviation. So, it is indeed true that we can understand a lot of things when we spent hours and days in a comfortable armchair with FDR and CVR records in front of us, and many things become clear. I also understand that in most of tragic cases cited above the pilots had only a minute, if not seconds, to cope with the situation which was not a simulator or a well-prepared test flight. Yes, there are well-established rules of human behavior that can not be overcome just like the laws of physics, including the time necessary even for a first class pilot to understand the situation and to prepare the correct decision. And sometimes the pilots do not have such time at all. So, is there any way out? In my opinion, we can not solve this problem completely since it is a fundamental law and the variety of non-standard situations is indeed a broad one. Still, I believe that almost all the air accidents can be attributed to more or less short list of the accident types with more or less common features inside. If the aviation authorities and the training centers improve the training on these types of abnormal situations, including deep stalls, the pilots will have more “ready to use” habits in their hands (not only in minds) which they can apply more quickly than by “sitting and analyzing” which is impossible in the real world situations. So, we may probably expect some improvements in air safety after this. Here even a 0.0001% increase may results in the prevention of an accident which is indeed priceless… Once again, I suppose that all these ideas are well-known to the specialists, and the opinion of the pilots is the most important one.
@Denis K.: I can agree that training is important and probably most of these items are covered at one time or another. Problem is, are they covered enough, both thorough and often enough. Some of this of which we speak here are things that need to be taught over and over until they are 2nd nature, but they are generally not because they happen so little. That being said, you must analyze the number of daily and annual flights that take place and don't have a post mortem report written about a fatal outcome, yet in airline files you will find plenty of filed pilot reports of upsets and other strange happenings, FROM WHICH THEY RECOVER JUST FINE BECAUSE THEY KNEW HOW TO FLY THE PLANE AND WHAT WAS EXPECTED OF THEM WHEN THEY STRAPPED IN THE LEFT SEAT.If a trend gets noticed, then the Airlines will be in contact with the airframe manufacture and go from there. I flew corporate in my career, typed in a 707, 757, and after my retirement I went back up and transitioned into their brand new 767-200ER. I am also typed in numerous RJ's and all sorts of recip/turboprops. All that said, as they had a big 757 fleet and we were a private company, I generally went through Delta's upgrade/SIM traing about twice a year. What I started seeing the last several years was a tendency to concentrate on the cockpit upgrades and all the changes coming out in aircraft themselves and less emphasis on actually flying the plane or their characteristics. Now, that was what I and several others came for and there were different classes for new pilots as well, but again the classes were structured toward the point that you ought to know how to fly by the time you got that far, let's learn about the aircraft. Delta had been all Boeing and iherited Airbus in the NWA merger and they really had to roll up their socks on that.
Ektock 0
@ Wayne Bookout:
I am very pleased writing to you once again, it is an outstanding opportunity for me to learn a lot of new facts from the pilot! Yes, the Russian pilots and instructors with whom I discussed these issues tell me similar things: it is hard to find enough time for a regular coverage of all major upset scenarios on simulator sessions since the time of a commercial pilot is very expensive and it is not profitable to spent too much of it for training, especially on situations which result in major accidents only once in 10 years or so… Well, there are certain reasons behind such a point of view. Maybe it is a matter of trust and experience which makes us confident about such “general” skills of commercial pilots as a timely response to the airspeed loss and high AoA situations, for example. And I fully agree with you that in the 99.999..% situations these skills are in indeed work well, and we (the amateurs, the public) are informed about the remaining 0.0001% resulted in these rare tragic accidents like those covered in the topic starting article or the Russian cases listed by me. I still feel quite optimistic about the improvements in safety, especially for large air carriers since the worldwide fleet now has a unification tendency, we can see only a few types of commercial airplanes being in service in large numbers which can help the instructors to create unified and well-tested training courses. The Airbus family has a unified cockpit for all of its planes starting from A320, so I believe that sooner or later almost all of the cockpit difficulties like those which distracted the crew of AF447 will be solved. And I always feel even better when I have an opportunity to communicate with a pilot who expresses himself like an actively thinking and excellent tutor on real world aviation issues like you ! :-)
@Denis K.: You are correct that over time more will be standardized and bugs will get worked out as they progress and training will hopefully update all involved to those changes. Boeing pretty well has a standardized flight deck although, as airbus, each aircraft type will have a few things peculiar to that aircraft only. That being said, and it will probably change if enough people die, is that the Airbus system is the only one that will lock a pilot out of the loop if he tries to override the flight envelope and that little bit may be just what a pilot needs to recover from an upset of some kind. In that situation you don't have time to reprogram a computer. You need a button that will disengage any auto system and allow a pilot to take control of a plane. In a Boeing, when you disconnect the auto pilot it basically does that and what a pilot sees is what he has. It is my understanding that the Airbus does not and that scares me bad.
skylab72 0
@WayneB Please forgive a questions from this overeducated grease monkey, but discovering that you logged significant time in 757s and transitioned to 767(-200 I assume), prompts me to ask. 1) Is it realistic to assume you stalled both in a simulator, but have never stalled either in flight? 2) How different are their stall characteristics at speed (Mach.7 & up)?

My curiosity stems from the wing differences. While both seem to have very similar if not identical airfoils (Boeing is quite tight-lipped about their airfoils, but both are listed as TR-1mod at the tips), their sweep differs noticeably, one, the 757, has a 25 degree sweep while the other 31+ degrees. The 757 seems to have heavier wing loading 110.3 vs 98.4 lb/sqft (crude est. published MTO wt / wing area, for comparison purpose only, true wing loading is 3D) and (estimated from scale three view drawings) the 757 seems to have a greater ratio of horizontal tail surface to wing area than the 767 by something close to 20%. This leads me to think the 757 must have greater negative loading on the tail as it approached the trans sonic region. (If I remember correctly, Less sweep in a supercritical wing nets more pronounced shift of the center of lift to the rear as you approach trans sonic, plus the 757 tail seems to compensate).

All in one question, is the 757 less "forgiving" than a 767 in a high speed stall, or have I gone off track somewhere?
@Carl W.: I will try to answer one by one and it may wind up clear as mud. I ran the 757 in a SIM several times and while the instructors do try to run you thru the hoops, the 757 is a very forgiving aircraft all around, not just in the stall. It has a way of saying "dumbass, look what you did, and I'm cleaning up your mess". We did run thru the stall, both high and lower altitude in the SIM but I never did stall one in flight because that was just something I was very cognisant of and just tried to stay out of that box. After I semi retired, the company I worked for bought the 767-200ER, both for the wide body and extra range. I'm not sure but while new, I think it was one of the last ones off the Boeing line. Seems like they quit making that particular series in mid 2010. At any rate, I have not been in a SIM in about 7/8 years and no 767 SIM at all. Earlier this year, the guy that suceeded me invited me back up to transition. The 767 and 757 carry the same type rating but it does require a transition. Not much but there are some differences and of course normal upgrades. We flew out of KFSM base out over the Texas panhandle and back with a few touch/goes; out about 2 hrs and all was cool. I have made a couple of trips for them since then but I doubt I have 50 hours in that 767, many thousand between a 707 and 757 but I really can't help you much on your stall question because I just stayed out of there. In all probability, and this is just a guess, that even with the wing and tail difference, there wouldn't be much difference as they are such a good aircraft. Of course I'm partial to Boeing. I will say this. While a good sturdy aircraft, the 707 could be a 1st class bitch at times. Even privately maintained with the same crew all the time, those things were as temperamental as a woman at times and you never really knew what you were taking
Ektock 0
I again very much appreciate your comments. I know that there are certain issues related to a very progressive design of Airbus “normal laws” where the computers do control much of the airplane dynamics even when the AP is off. Of course, only pilots may judge these things. In general, all of the history of machine around us tells us that it is possible to become a real master almost with any machine if we have enough time, full understanding and assistance from the designers, etc. I mean that it is a problem of the Airbus designers to create enough training courses, to cover all of the peculiarities of the flight control systems, including the experience learned from these rare but tragic accidents like AF447. In my opinion, every commercial pilot is an outstanding person, and the designers should just assist him more and more by providing the clear and practically valuable data on the flight system behavior in various situations and in simulators. It is not normal when only test pilots know and can handle all the tricky things. All of the pilots of the corresponding type should know and handle it.
skylab72 0
@WayneB: Thanks! You are quite clear. I had hoped you might have simed the 767 and have noticed some difference. I suspect Boeing "cages" their design trade offs, such that when they give up something some where they compensate for it somewhere else, in order to minimize the differences in overall flight performance and feel as you scale through the line-up. In a given generation, of course. The 707 really was a different era, and your comment does not surprise me. It is/was an amazingly complex electro-mechanical-hydraulic beast, with no two identical, what you say makes perfect sense. I have some buddies that worked on them at Love Field, and they are among the best. I was always impressed with their ability to keep up with all the alerts and change notices.

Relative to this whole thread though, my contention is, we could have significant increases in safety margins, simply by giving up 50 knots at the top end, and reducing wing loading enough to drop landing speed by almost as much. The coffin corner will always be with us but we do not have to design in such a tight fit at the high AoA edge. This may be another case where speed kills.
Ektock 0
Your comments are very interesting and fruitful. I have a long-standing desire to learn more about the aerodynamics of Western-build planes, especially Boeing and Airbus. In Russia there is a tradition and a school of publishing the textbooks like “Practical aerodynamics of (type)” which contain all the science and practical issues including the wing airflow, AoA curves, takeoff, cruise, landing procedures, etc. It is a real pleasure reading such a book, I should say, if you like math and physics. So, are there any books written in such way about Boeing or Airbus airplanes? If so, are they accessible on the Web? If you have any info, please share! Thanking you in advance! :-)
skylab72 0
@GR&WB, May I honor the professional Pilots as a group. I have known many, a statistically significant sample, and I must say the level professionalism among them is exemplary. So much so, that I must object to what seems to me to be a knee jerk reaction to every aero mishap that echos "pilot error"! Prior to the digital age, and perhaps even prior to the jet age there was some merit to that reaction. Now, I firmly believe that while there are cases of pilot error, and more could be done to minimize them, the more serious problems are accepted design defaults that push the human component to the limit, and, crew interface designs that are still in the dark ages.

As far as I am concerned, the high return area of improvement is man rating the machine, not machine rating the man.
"An over educated grease monkey" Now here lies most of the problems. Attitude and being subserviant to others. This is where the West parts from the East in terms of social respect. At least in Germany we retain the formal title of Dipl. Ing. By the way a lot of the Russian Aerospace texts were translated from the original Czech. The Boeing literature is very good but the Airbus stuff is the product of 4 different languages. Go figure.
@Roland Dent: I don't think Carl is being subservient with his comment. To me, it is a description of himself and qualifications just as someone one would say I have an ATP. Maybe not to everyone but the Bible says there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek. Part of the problem with man is the arrogance and pride that we carry around trying to impress each other. I have been to your country, and while maybe not all, that arrogance and pride can really take center stage at times. That being said,one needs a certain amount of pride by making accomlishments; it just doesn't need rubbed in everybody's face. Just as in this column, it matters not that I am an ATP and someone else is a student. In this forum we share a common interest and hopefully we both can learn something of value that will help us. Were I to be prideful and arrogant, I would not want to talk with someone so far beneath me.
@Wayne OH Ok then we will call the flight deck the place where the monkeys are. Pass the peanuts!
@ Rolan D: to each his own
Derg Carl has said

"Relative to this whole thread though, my contention is, we could have significant increases in safety margins, simply by giving up 50 knots at the top end, and reducing wing loading enough to drop landing speed by almost as much. The coffin corner will always be with us but we do not have to design in such a tight fit at the high AoA edge. This may be another case where speed kills."

The paradigm in use is at the limit!
@Roland Dent: You are correct about the design factor but that is just another case of "pushing the envelope", whether from an engineer or a monkey on the flight deck.As Denis K. said earlier, alluding to a comment of mine, we only hear about the few that go awry. We don't hear about the thousands each week that have no fatal incident in the media, but the general public doesn't see the pilot's reports that are on file after an upset of some kind, in which recovery is made as it should be. There are probably a lot of things that could be done to prevent all kinds of crap from happening or make things better, but you can't engineer, design or train for all of it, as Murphy's law will get in there somewhere and raise it's head.The 707 was the first well used jet and rightfully took it's place out in front of the pack, but it was also a learning platform, as subsequent upgrades and new aircraft just evolved into being better, each learning from the shortcomings of the previous one
irobac 0
I don't understand why people refer to these aircraft as smart, when they really are dumb. They lack a central computer to interlink all the data from all the instruments do develop their own situational awareness.

In the Trukish crash for example, a malfunctioning instrument prevented the increase in thrust contrary to the pilot pushing the thrust lever forward. Is that a smart airplane. Would it have happened if there were a cable connecting that thrust lever to the engine rather than a "smart" computer.

In the AirFrance crash the stall warning stopped sounding when the airspeed got too slow. Can an airplane fly slow enough that is won't stall? No it can't, so how smart is that system? I'd say not very. The "Super Smart" airplane, in spite of a high angle of attack, nose up elevator, decreasing altitude, negative vertical speed and low airspeed- didn't know it was stalled. Smart? I think not. An analog airspeed indicator and cessna 152 type stall horn would have been better in this case than the million dollar over engineered computers on this plane.
Rob: I'm not typed in an Airbus of anykind, Boeing and a handful of RJ's only, but doesn't AB have that central computer that overides everything and takes control away from the pilot if he hits the edge of the envelope? I've always been told that is one of the scariest things about the AB, at least from older pilots
irobac 0
I don't know who has that system or who doesn't, but if it was installed on either of the aircraft I mentioned, it didn't work very well, considering the outcome.
I know Boeing doesn't as I am typed thru a 767. I don't know how far reaching it is but that has been a major gripe that I have heard about the AB system in that the flight envelope parameters cannot be overridden by the pilot without a programming or law change, and in the case of an upset of some kind there is not time and that edge may be just what you need momentarily and fast to recover.In 447, the computer did play a big part. Like any of this modern day stuff, garbage in, garbage out and it acted according to the input it got. A glass cockpit and all that automation is nice for mundane tasks, but as you say, a few steam guages for a reality check every now and then would be nice. As a corporate customer, we special ordered a few in the 757 I had, just because I wanted them, but as an add on item, you won't find them in a commercial fleet.
Training could always be improved, but ultimately it is each pilot's own responsibility as a professional pilot to stay intimately familiar with the aircraft's systems and procedures for safe operation. I fly Boeing 737s and have invested in additional publications about my aircraft. I study on my own time to be ready when the automated systems stop working. The type rating on my pilot certificate requires me to do this. Professional pilots should take the responsibility for their own competence into thief own hands. Your level of professionalism is your own responsibility.
Well said Glenn. Any professional has continued education to maintain their current status. I certainly wouldn't want my personal physician to remain where he was at when he graduated from medical school. As with any profession, there will always be those that cut slack, doing just what they have to do to get by. Those are the one's we'll hear about when an upset comes along because they will not have the ability to recover.
I have to disagree with the portion of the article that reads "Unlike a car or truck, a plane stalls when its wings stop producing lift—effectively transforming it from an elegant flying machine into a giant brick" ... a car or truck in air would also be a giant brick


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