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  • 36

Ill-fated UPS jet was on autopilot seconds before crash

제출됨
 
"The autopilot was engaged until the last second of recorded data," said Robert Sumwalt, a senior official with the National Transportation Safety Board. He said information retrieved by investigators from the flight data recorder aboard the United Parcel Service jet showed that its auto throttle also was engaged until moments before the fiery crash. (news.yahoo.com) 기타...

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deltadart02
There is an airspeed tape, vertical speed tape, and PAPI for rwy 18 to monitor airspeed, rate of descent, and glidepath. You can't fly with a blindfold on just because the A/P is flying the approach.
preacher1
Well, at 7 seconds on that warning, that would have been ample time for TOGA; I guess it could have startled them but even with all auto stuff on, you would have think they'd have recognized that sink rate long before the warning.
TXCAVU
I know and there must have been something(s)going on that they were working the problem. Whatever happened, NTSB probably knows already.
davysims
Maybe not. Picture this, the autopilot is flying the approach. The pilots expect the autopilot to catch the glidepath automatically, but it doesn't, it just continues the descent. Its dark out, there is no ground lighting off the end, which contributes to the black hole effect we all learn about in private pilot training. Add the rise in the terrain from the hill everyone is talking about. They may have not caught the descent into terrain, relied on the autopilot, and never saw the ground.

7 seconds sounds like a lot of time when sitting in front of the computer, but figure reaction time while in the cockpit, on the last leg after a long nights flying.
davysims
Looking on streetview on Google Maps, the hill does not look to be that large of a difference to the airport. Its not like there is a mountain off the end, just gently sloping terrain.
SootBox
SootBox 4
It's a big deal when you're lower than the highest point on that hill though.
TXCAVU
But if the ATC saw the landing lights (post cleared to land), surely the crew would have confirmed the ILS?

davysims
No ILS on Runway 18, localizer only no glideslope. Even if the FMS and everything was programmed correctly for the approach, all it would take is one mistake setting up the autopilot, and not recognizing it until too late, much like Asiana's recent incident. That is beginning to look like they thought the A/T were holding airspeed, but weren't.
TXCAVU
ANd way too far behind the plane to recover after they realized the problem.
davysims
Exactly.
PhotoFinish
As per NTSB briefing, the A/T was holding airspeed steady at about 140.

Runway 18 has no ILS, so were the pilots hand flying an instrument approach, or was the AP engaged and controlling the flight?
spatr
spatr 2
You can still have the A/P on. There are different ways of flying a non precision approach with the A/P on. Basically, you are controlling the V/S or Flight Path Angle. You can be in an airspeed mode, but it's not as effective. On the A320 (my current plane) use of airspeed modes generally results in shallower descents leaving you above the glide path.
mhlansdell00
According to the NTSB update AS was 134K +_ according to the FDR
HBFlyer
HBFlyer 1
Yup localizer only on Rwy 18. How does the auto pilot determine glide slope z-axis without an ILS? Is it just using decent rate in FPS? With a hill like that prior to the runway, why wouldn't the airport have a a full ILS? Why use a localizer at all these days? Is an ILS that much more expensive to install?
MikeMohle
Localizer only no GS. Most of the FMS units I have flown have the capability for the pilot to set up a "fake" VNAV (Glideslope) to maintain a rate of descent rather then step downs on approach. If so, maybe the setting by the pilots was a bit too steep allowing them to strike the hill.
davysims
Airports don't usually have full ILS to all runways. The entire point is to be able to land with low visibility and/or ceilings. Often times smaller airports will only have a full ILS to one primary runway. A lot of it does have to do with costs. Installing and maintaining all of the additional ground equipment for the glideslope and required approach lighting, plus lower tolerances for obstacles on the approach path.

With new GPS technology, aircraft can enjoy the benefits of vertical and horizontal guidance on approached, but the FAA has been slow in approving equipment and procedures, not to mention there are still many aircraft out there that are not equipped. You have to realize most large aircraft may have been equipped with state of the art technology when they were built, but most times it does not get replaced for the life of the aircraft. A ten year old aircraft is using 10 year old navigation equipment, which mostly does not rely on GPS for navigation.

Even so, pilots should have no trouble flying a visual approach, barring unforeseen mechanical trouble.
TXCAVU
Bet we are about to find out when they install the localizer.
mhlansdell00
If I remember the article they were finishing a leg from Louisville, so not such a long night at that point. The last update I read promised to look into whether or not the two pilots got some bunk time.
PhotoFinish
It was an extremely long night that had begun the day before. The pilots had flown at least 2 legs earlier before the stop in Louisville, where they had a break and a chance to grab some shut eye, in the available bunk rooms, before their leg to Birmingham.

The NTSB announced that they were going to make an effort to determine whether the pilots had indeed used the bunk rooms, or if they had just signed out the keys.
joelwiley
Using the bunk room is one thing, quality time with your REM sleep another.
akayemm
I read some where some time back that there are clear cut rules of flying time followed by rest time and all that discipline. And such rules are made to take care of the fatigue factor among others, physical and hopefully mental/psychological !
Right? Or ?
mhlansdell00
If all that's true the, I stand corrected and fatigue may have been a factor. But, I suspect only a factor. I'm inclined to get aboard Preacher's bus and knock down the hill. I don't know that the installation of a glide slope would be enough. Airports are generally big enough to easily lose a million yd³ of topsoil and "cut". If not, there is, more than likely someplace close that could handle the "fill".
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
That bus has already left the station. Preacher said: "preacher1 7 days ago
DC3 1n 1946 on that runway and overrun at that. Don't sound like the hill is a problem"
onceastudentpilot
the hill may not be but the trees may be.....see Ivan's post
mhlansdell00
Was he hand flying the Dakota or was he automated? :-))
Iewiew
Sent from my iPad
<<
>>
NASA ASRS Report 437033, May 1999
F10 crew concerned about proximity to terrain on approach to runway 18 at bhm.

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Attributes
ACN 437033
Time
Date 199905
Day Mon
Local Time Of Day 0001 To 0600
Place
Locale Reference airport : 002.airport
State Reference AL
Altitude msl single value : 944
Environment
Flight Conditions VMC
Light Night
Aircraft 1
Controlling Facilities tower : bhm.tower
Operator common carrier : air carrier
Make Model Name Fokker 100
Operating Under FAR Part Part 121
Navigation In Use ils localizer only : 18
Flight Plan IFR
Person 1
Affiliation company : air carrier
Function flight crew : captain
oversight : pic
Qualification pilot : atp
ASRS Report 437033
Person 2
Affiliation company : air carrier
Function flight crew : first officer
Qualification pilot : multi engine
pilot : instrument
Events
Anomaly other anomaly other
other spatial deviation
Independent Detector other flight crewa
Resolutory Action none taken : anomaly accepted
Consequence faa : reviewed incident with flight crew
other
Miss Distance vertical : 100
Supplementary
Problem Areas Chart Or Publication
Navigational Facility
Airspace Structure
Primary Problem Airspace Structure
Air Traffic Incident other
Situations
Chart airport : bhm.airport
approach : bhm.loc
 
Narrative:
The approach to runway 18 at bhm is marginally safe at best and is a setup for an accident at worst. Runway 5/23 was closed from XA00Z to XK00Z. As a result, we briefed the localizer runway 18 approach. It was my first officer's leg and neither of us had flown to this runway before. We were both acutely aware of the high terrain to the north of the field and paid particular attention to that fact in our approach briefing. The only depiction of the high terrain is on the airport page. The WX was clear with excellent visibility. Bhm approach cleared us for the visual but we indicated we wanted to intercept the final outside of baskin and fly the final part of the localizer 18 approach. Although not listed on the approach page, there is a PAPI on the left side of runway 18 which has been in use for about 1 yr. We calculated the appropriate vdp based on timing as well as on the ibxoDME. From the vdp it was clear to us that if the field was not in sight at the 1300 ft altitude at the ibxo 3.3 DME, it would not be possible to complete the approach safely. The PAPI was visible from the 3.3DME and we began a 700 FPM descent when on GS. The first officer and I were both bothered by the close visual proximity of the ground while on the final stages of the approach. At about 1 mi from touchdown, a car passed under us on an east/west road. It was between 100 ft and 80 ft AGL. I again verified visually that we were on the PAPI glide path and that the glide path was visually correct with the runway visual presentation. It was clear that we were correct and the radio altimeter then began to show the ground dropping away a bit. We passed over the threshold at 50 ft AGL having been centered on the glide path the entire time. By use of the ft scale and the graphic presentation on the airport page, I believe the radio altimeter was accurate and that we were on or even slightly above the glide path when we had the 80-100 ft reading. How high are the trees on that hill? Although the approach and landing were uneventful, the following problems are presented: 1) there is no note about the extremely close proximity to high terrain when on this approach. The mandatory airport review page does not address runway 18 or runway 36. 2) there is no PAPI depicted in commercial chart despite having been in service for about 1 yr according to the bhm tower. 3) using a 3 degree GS and an aim point 1000 ft down runway 18, the 884 ft terrain 4000 ft north of the field calculates to a ht above ground of less than 100 ft. Trees are of course not included in this calculation. 4) runway 18 slopes down to the south and complicates the landing. A 7100 ft runway means a 6100 ft area to stop in and the downslope tends to have the effect of falling away from an aircraft in the flare. Unless you fly it on to the runway fairly aggressively, the distance could be even less. 5) NOTAM 11/023 reports runway 18 is ungrooved from 1550 to 2490. NOTAM 11/024 reports runway 36 is ungrooved from 4610-5550 ft. This obviously would have an affect on stopping under most instrument conditions, ie, a wet runway. I respectfully submit the following recommendation: discontinue use of runway 18 for company operations due to the high terrain present under the normal glide path. This is a dangerous approach so prohibit it. If the use of runway 18 is not prohibited, then I make the following recommendations: 1) include a picture of the runway 18 and runway 36 approachs on the mandatory airport review pages. 2) include specific notes on the operations pages about the high terrain to the north giving radio altimeter readings of 80-100 ft, 1 mi north of the field. 3) restrict use of runway 18 to dayVFR conditions only and require the localizer runway 18 approach be flown. 4) update the bhm page forthwith to show the PAPI for runway 18. To be blunt, I will not fly to this runway in the WX or to a wet runway. If it is the only runway open in those conditions I will divert. Callback conversation with reporter revealed the following information: the reporter states that he has followed up with company, and they have issued a prohibition against using runways 18/36 except during day VFR conditions. He also stated that he did not see the rotating beacon on the hill approximately 1 mi from the runway. The GPWS indication did not show any red during the approach, but varied from green to amber. The first officer was flying the approach and the captain monitored the descent. He said that they did not exceed about 700 FPM rate throughout the final approach, and that after landing, both pilots debriefed their impressions to each other. They felt that they had taken prudent precautions, but that this approach was hazardous.
tduggan2010
That is a great find. It is important to emphasize that when I flew, BHM (KBHM) was designated a "Special Airport" due to specific considerations regarding terrain and runway configurations.

Is it still in that category? Would be prudent for the NTSB to include into their considerations.

Note this reference:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/121.445

Again, this will be covered in-depth in the final NTSB report.
joelwiley
How much higher could a tree grow since 1999? Very interesting report.
Doobs
Well, let's look at the "telephone poles". It may not be significant to you but the engines injested powerlines. Not only the powerlines but tree branches. Do you know how low, from a laymans perspective, that is? In that "neck of the woods" the standard telephone pole probably stands between 30ft and 90ft. And in some cases, 120ft. Pending on location and their purpose. They were very LOW! And that "Blink of the eye"??? Probably didn't do them any good. I feel they were not familiar with Rwy 18 and chose to fly the aircraft via computer, instead of a "hands on approach" and landing. Nobody can recover at that altitude. James is right. How can a pilot feel what the airplane is doing if it's in AP? The time to turn off the AP and AT and hand fly it is next to impossible in this situation. What are you going to do??? Takeoff-V1? Are you going to Throttle Down and Slam on the brakes? Don't think so. One would continue power and "go around" because, most likely, if you don't at that speed, it's a death trap. No room to recover...GO AROUND. You know, pilots, not all, are relying on the "Tech Flight". We have to get back to "Common Sense", basic fundamentals of "Flight" and "Training". Not to mention, updating or including possible terrain obsticales...like "The Hill".
Put "Red Rotating Beacons" on the hill! The FAA knows that "the Hill" is a major approach problem. Fix it!!
vettdvr
I had an autopilot that would fly me down also in bad weather. I always hand flew it down because one glitch that low to the ground gave no room for correction. You have to "BE" up to the apporach when you take it from "George"... the autopilot, and if you are hands off, the time it takes to get the "feel" again might be too late. 7 seconds is an eye blink in the dark at a runway on landing.
tduggan2010
"7 seconds" is an awfully long time. Maybe "1 to 3" seconds"? Because, that is the accepted basis for Human reaction time. At least in terms of V1 recognition, after much study. Hence, we as "Pilots Monitoring" ('PM') are encouraged to "Call Out" V1 a few knots prior to the actual airspeed indication, during the take-off. This 'technique' might vary amongst operators, but many simulator trials have proven it to be a valid operational standard.

This PDF goes into the topics of fatigue and stress in great depth:
http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aircraft/media/AMT_Handbook_Addendum_Human_Factors.pdf

For *most* airline operations and standards, whether or not the A/P is engaged should not matter. What I mean is, the crew should be up with, or preferably AHEAD of the airplane, AND the automation, at all times.
bbabis
Let me post an hypothesis. There is a long 5000' + clear area leading to that runway. If you are unfamiliar with the airport or just that approach, it would be easy to put the runway in there particularly at night. On the hill they hit there are residences. Could there have been bright security or street lamps set in a way that a pilot could mistake them for the PAPI or VASI in that area? If so, they would never go red and a pilot fixed on them would abandon the instrument approach and descend and possibly ignore a sink rate warning thinking he was high. In this case, the thought process would be; I can't believe we're still high right up until it was too late. Strange things happen in aviation and many times they don't leave clues.
preacher1
Interesting hypothesis
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
You guys are the experienced ones, and I'm only questioning things I've seen in films and simulators, but I've taken from that the idea that runway lighting is a very specific layout / pattern, obviously an airport runway and not streets or houses at night that are spotted here and there sporadically. The layout of a runway and its lighting are so clearly exactly that.
preacher1
As far as his hypothesis goes, the runway lights are generally unmistakable but this is also a sub-division here and I expect the lights are close together so idk. As Bill says, it's just a hypothesis.
bbabis
What you say is true Donna. What I'm saying is that in low light and low vis situations the eyes and brain can play tricks on the pilot. A pilot can see what he wants or expects to see regardless of what's really there. This crew very likely had that things don't look or feel right feeling. If you lock into something that you believe is correct, it is easy to rationalize why something else may be incorrect. In this case: I see the visual GP, I just don't see the runway lights that should be there yet because they're obscured or maybe not turned up on high.
Tom42
somebody should have been inside that cockpit, even if you compute a simple three to one glideslope in your head as a check: 4 miles out = 1200AGL, 3 miles out = 900AGL etc. That will at least put you in the ballpark.
Tom42
As an additional comment, any terrain or excessive sink warning at night should trigger a mandatory go around.
greglinton13
Greg L 2
did anyone see what it says on flight aware? they had a 6000 ft per minute decent! crazy!
sparkie624
If the plane was on full automation for the approach, how is it that the warnings went off, crew seemingly not concerned, and allow the A/P to crash the plane... I got to give the flight crew a lot of credit towards the destruction of this plane.
Doobs
I have to agree with Sparkie. Airplanes usually don't "down" airplanes. People who tell the airplane what to do, whether it be hands on or computer, do.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
Unless something mechanical goes belly-up.
WigzellRM
No situational awareness? Most glide paths are 3 degrees. That means that at 3 miles out you should be at 900 feet above airfield elevation, 2 miles 600 feet, 1 mile 300 feet etc. This is even more important during a non precision approach without vasi/papi, i.e. only runway lights. Radar altimeter is not acceptable unless the terrain is absolutely flat such as over the sea but it does show absolute height above ground, so they certainly had enough cues. I have flown a lot of night freight operations and I know that at that time of the day you can be like a zombies if not in the circadian cycle.
mhlansdell00
Pull up the RNAV approach plate for 18.

Airport diagram shows rnwy 8. RNAV plate is right. No indication of a hill only a steep approach.
tduggan2010
Yeah, except I believe the ATC tapes show they were cleared for the LOC. As far as I know...this combined with Robert Sumwalt's press briefings, where he also mentioned flying the LOC 18 in the investigation into UPS' Approach Procedures. And, there are obstructions under and near Final, hence the more than 3-degrees recommended glidepath.

I see that UPS A306s have the /Q suffix, so they have the minimum RNP for en-route navigation LNAV, not sure if they're certified for RNAV (GPS) approaches. I'm tending to think "No" on that, doubt they have GPS updating for the IRUs. And, the VNAV probably ain't that hot either.

BTW, did I read that NTSB reported "Runway in sight" from the CVR? That makes this look more and more like CFIT.
onceastudentpilot
Does anyone know if they were at IMTOY or BASKN?
Fullagas
Fullagas 1
At a 6-7,000 fpm descent rate, no way this approach could be considered stabilized, nor is this a 'tricky' approach. I'm amazed at the debate about the approach and its environs, ignoring the descent rate entirely.
Sadly, looks like they lost SA for whatever reason and failed to arrest the descent, resulting in CFIT.
bbabis
A flightaware generated decent rate should be ignored. I often check my FA logs and see the same high rates below 10,000' when in fact it was never over 1500fpm. The FDR will have the real numbers and that info has not been released yet. We know a sink rate warning did go off and that can be triggered by a combination of descent rate and rising terrain. The CVR transcript has not been released yet so we don't know if the sink rate warning was ignored or not. If it was, it was most likely because the PF thought he/she had a visual picture of the situation. I don't think SA was lost. I think it was an incorrect awareness of the situation due to the lighting and meteorological conditions at the time while performing an unfamiliar approach. Further down the page I question if there was a possibility of a pilot seeing a false PAPI in the area of the hill they hit. Even if the PNF was monitoring the instruments, when the PF says "I'm visual," the PNF often stops monitoring and starts looking also.
onceastudentpilot
I could be wrong but I do not not believe lightening was involved.....Conditions were cruddy though with mist and fog though.
bbabis
lighting... as in early morning darkness.
onceastudentpilot
sorry....I read lightening the first time
akayemm
Insight into UPS Flight 1354 - Pictures only

http://www.avionics-intelligence.com/articles/slideshow/2013/08/isight-into-ups-flight-1354.html

Sad , very sad.
akayemm
Do such interim comments and reports help ? Or serve the cause of investigation, effective and constructive investigation ?
" NTSB: UPS Flight 1354 investigation to span months, no mechanical anomalies with aircraft found so far

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., 21 Aug. 2013. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Member Robert Sumwalt provided an update on the investigative activities that have transpired since the crash of UPS Flight 1354 earlier this month in Birmingham, Ala.
The NTSB’s flight data recorder group has been working to validate and confirm the more than 400 parameters on the flight data reocrder (FDR). They have validated the initial parameters, says Sumwalt, but there is plenty more work to do.
Sumwalt revealed the following factual information related to the aviation accident of 14 Aug. 2013: ............ "

@ URL

http://www.avionics-intelligence.com/articles/2013/08/ntsb-ups-flight-aircraft.html
tduggan2010
Could someone tell "avionics-intelligence.com" that the item they wrote as "sync rate alert" is incorrect? It is "Sinkrate". Part of the GPWS.

The "Ground Prox" system has many complicated programs, and annunciation modes depending on various factors and point in a flight. But, when it "knows" that the airplane is in the landing configuration, it does alert to excessive rates of descent and RA ground closure rates when below a pre-set altitude AGL, usually 2,500 feet, since this is when RA becomes active. (Mode 1)

This CBT video slideshow is informative on the topic; though it is specific to the Boeing 737, GPWS operation is similar in various types:
http://roadeye55.com/uploads/WARNING_SYSTEMS_CBT.swf

(Slides # 8-14)

Note that the use of GPS nowadays allows for "Enhanced" GPWS, acronym (not surprisingly) "EGPWS". This includes a terrain database for "predictive" GPWS.
akayemm
Wow! What a play of words. Synch rate vs. sinkrate!
Strange for a professional and specialised news portal/reporters to make such a mistake . And mis-teach laymen like me in the process.
PhotoFinish
It's a great summation of the investigation so far.

Apart from "validated data...", and "over weekend examined an examplar A300-600F...", virtually every word came from the NTSB press briefing videos from the initial days (last week). Even these items were likely mentioned in the press briefings an anticipatory tense, but now are confirmed as happened(happening).

There is no corresponding update posted to the NTSB investigation page.

But while there's not much new here, it is a decent recap of the process and major initial findings.

I would be surprised if it comes down to anything but CFIT, with contributing factors of pilot fatigue and maybe malfunctioning AP or improperly set parameters. No matter what the malfunction, there was a failure to monitor altitude and/or airspeed on final approach. They relied on the automation.

The investigation and eventual report will just explain exactly how it happened, and lay out the chain of events that led to the crash. We won't get that until they complete their investigation.
TXCAVU
Looking at it again, it has been whittled down. They were almost on the ground as they hit those trees, well short.
Kilocharlie
So even my measily turboprop has a radar altimeter and although they are intended and calibrated for altitudes over the threshold ie above the runway it still does alarm over other terrain. UPS aircraft don't have a radar altimeter?
tduggan2010
Of course the UPS A300-600 has a radio altimeter. The question going forward is, are the UPS Flight Manual procedures written to require (or suggest) an RA setting for non-precision approaches? That was alluded to by the NTSB in media briefings, when Robert Sumwalt mentioned that they will reviewing UPS' procedures, as well as flying the accident airplane's last profile.

FWIW, at my airline (back in the day) the RA was not 'required' on non-precision approaches. Although, its use as an extra margin for reference and situational awareness was encouraged.

Another question that I have: Looking at the 10-9 page for KBHM, the Cargo area is on the West side of the airport, near the approach end of Runway 06. Google Earth photos show UPS jets parked there. So, unless there was a wind issue, or R/W 06/24 was closed, Runway 18 would not seem a most efficient R/W to use for arrival, given it is a very long taxi after exiting, to get to their parking area. As as I recall, the winds were light...06/24 was not closed, and besides there are ILS approaches available for 06 and 24.

I am afraid this one has blame pointing at the flight crew, unfortunately. Given the facts that are public, so far. However, as always, final report will decide.
spatr
spatr 2
unless there has been an update, 6/24 was closed for light maintenance.
tduggan2010
Thnx for the update, spatr, on R/W 6/24. That answers why the more logical ILS to 24 wasn't used.
Kilocharlie
So if the manual for your airline or company does not list something in the procedures list then pilots would not utilize it even on an approach such as this eg night/poor visibility? Mine would wake the dead its so loud so if for whatever reason I were to be distracted from other altitude callouts it would be my own wake up call to act immediately to go missed.
sparkie624
Why do people call these things "RADAR" Altimeters... Not even close to be correct. In the civilian world they are called "RADIO" Altimeters. They send an analog radio signal that is split. Half of the signal goes from the plane to the ground and at the same time the other half goes straight back into the RadAlt. When the signal bounces back it measures the Delta Time varible and displays your altitude at 2500 feet or below. There is NOT any relation ship to RADAR in this device in any way shape or form. Even WikiPedia is incorrect on this. See Radio Altimeter here: http://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Radio_Altimeter

Make note a RADAR Altimeter (www51.honeywell.com/aero/common/documents/myaerospacecatalog-documents/MilitaryAC/HG7808_Radar_altimeters.pdf) can measure up to 8000 feet, and operates in the C-band. These are pretty much limited to Military A/C and have not made it into the civilian markets.

Sorry for the rant... Being in avionics so long that is one detail that has always bugged the crap out of me.
joelwiley
<Flippant> Maybe for reasons similar to calling elected officials 'representatives' </flippant>
Wikipedia can be updated by most anybody, which is why I tend to take it with a grain of salt. Have you considered helping to make the entry more accurate?

No need to apologize- I don't see it as a rant.
sparkie624
I have contacted them with a correction, and sent them the corrections... Will see what happens.
tduggan2010
Oh, and "sparkie", "radar" altimeter is a commonly used trope, as I've heard over the decades. Virtually interchangeable with "radio". Remember what the acronym "RADAR" stands for? Either usage is understood to be describing the same equipment.

I used to chuckle at those who said yaw "dampeners" for adding that extra syllable...though, "dampening" an oscillation is technically correct, "damper" is more accurate.

And, don't get me started on the horrid use of "tarmac". If only there were some way to have that banned from inappropriate usage as some sort of "catch-all" for every paved airport surface....
Doobs
The misuse of the word "tarmac" gets my goat, as well. If you had to make an emergency landing at your local Walmart parking lot, they would call that a tarmac, as well.
mhlansdell00
AAAhahahaha! Makes me smile. I thought I was the only one here that allowed little stuff to get to me. I was involved the paving business for nearly 50 years and I don't think I ever even repaved over top of "tarmac". Tarmac was gone by the time I got to the industry. Asphalt had taken over the industry as the product of choice. Tar products were dropping from the material rolls and were no longer used at all after the early 60s other than a special sealer that was resistant to petroleum drips and spills and is still being used. Application technique is very important and because it's an anionic emulsion depends on wind and sunshine to set completely.
Kilocharlie
Well it absolutely is a rant as your response has nothing to do with the thread or my question.
preacher1
Well, it may be a rant as he says, but it is relevant to your post in that your post has it mis-pronounced and/or mis-identified
Kilocharlie
Do yourself a favor before making statements and become informed....google "radar altimeter". You will see that Honeywell and several other companies offer "radar altimeters" so how about calling up those companies and try to convince them that they don't know what they are talking about.
joelwiley
If you tell a lie long enough, it will be taken for truth.
(Joseph Goebbels cribbed the technique from Woodrow Wilson)
Derg
Yes Joel...and very few people question "authority" and if they do other people who know for a fact the truth side with the majority.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
For an instrument that doesn't exist, there's a massive amount of material on Radar Altimeters. They may just be known by various names. It would appear the bloke is correct.
akayemm
Some more( ? ) food for thought

" NTSB finds no indication of system malfunctions on UPS Airbus A300F
.... He said that both the autopilot and auto-throttle were “engaged to the last second of recorded data.” However, the FDR data appears to end a few seconds before impact, meaning it is possible the autopilot was turned off at the last moment. ....."
Last sentence above seems important!

The link

http://atwonline.com/safety/ntsb-finds-no-indication-system-malfunctions-ups-airbus-a300f?NL=ATW-04&Issue=ATW-04_20130819_ATW-04_137&YM_RID=anilmittal.1945@gmail.com&YM_MID=1417342&sfvc4enews=42
Derg
Opportunity for a legal case here Mr.Mittal. If you match up Google Earth with the non precision FAA approach plate you find that the details on the plate are inaccurate. The FFA are the sole authority on these approach plates. In my view the crew flew into that hill on a false premise of that chart being correct. The chart itself is very confusing. That approach is known top be "tricky" and the FAA has done nothing to improve the landing aids.
tduggan2010
I can't speak to the statement concerning Google Earth being "inaccurate" to the Approach Plate. Under IMTOY is an obstruction at 910' (MSL), between IMTOY and the threshold there is an obstruction to the East, about 915' (MSL) high. The MDA is 1200' (MSL). From only a 2-mile short final (@ IMTOY) the PAPI lights should have been obvious, as well as the REILs.

But, unfamiliar as I am with FAA charts (compared to Jeppesen) both formats must comply with TERPS standards, or they would not have been published. I see nothing confusing in the R/W 18 LOC Approach.

Note the profile view...just as with Jeppesen, many years ago the "step-down" style of depicting the profile was abandoned in favor of the "constant rate of descent" depiction. This technique is (I presume) trained at every major airline regulated by the FAA.

'IF' the airplane is stable prior to the FAF, then a stabilized normal descent rate to the threshold should never be more than 1000 fpm.,,typical 700-850 or so, based on nominal 3-degrees slope, and of course groundspeed.

The landing aids that are "missing", it would appear, are any ALS R/W alignment guidance. So, yes at night, this can be visually challenging.
akayemm
ThanX for thinking of me.
But every lawyer can not practice every where, especially in a foreign land. Perhaps in USA even one(American) can not practice in every state without complying with some conditions specific to that State Bar Council, unlike my country, India. Here, the licence is granted on all India basis!
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
In the USA, a lawyer who is admitted in one state is not automatically allowed to practice in any other. Some states have reciprocal agreements that allow attorneys from other states to practice without sitting for another full bar exam; such agreements differ significantly among the states. Typically you'd have to sit for the bar in each state in which you will practice.
akayemm
I your country you have state courts, all levels upto (State) Supreme Court to try state laws related matters. And federal courts similarly three tier kind to handle federal laws related matters. In India, it is the same court(three tiers) for all kinds of laws !
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
That's correct. In our state system, the highest appellate court is the State Supreme Court and in the federal system AND overall, the highest court is the US Supreme Court. Ours is a very complex and multi-layered system. (Sorry to everyone else for the off-topic posts.)
mhlansdell00
No apologies. Enlightenment is where you find it.
akayemm
Like I had thought. ThanX for confirming it. And giving me a new piece of info relevant to my profession.
Practice of law has a lot to do with local system of law/s, country wise and state wise for USA. Hence, such a prerequisite. In India, local(state) laws are not too much varied. Most laws are federal laws and hence one can practice any where in the country after being granted the licence.
swishere2c
George has a time and place to fly the airplane. That would be at cruise. Checklist was likely ignored. Hands on brother after IAF. Pilot in command.
dpscottlds
maybe they forgot to reset the altimater
tduggan2010
Local altimeter setting was between 29.97 and 29.99 per several METARs covering the period.

Difference from 29.92 to 29.99 is only 70 feet, and in this case on the high side (above indicated altitude) anyways.
mhlansdell00
If it was 70ft low, it could be critical given the local topography. But 70 ft high should have saved them the sudden stop.
akayemm
Tree height !
tduggan2010
"Tree height"? When you research the TERPS (Terminal Instrument Procedures Standards) criteria, although the terminology is extremely complicated and difficult to wade through, as a rule-of-thumb minimum I read 300 feet over any obstacles that encroach into the Approach path...depending on proximity to the centerline. (Generalizing).

The KBHM LOC Runway 18:
http://flightaware.com/resources/airport/BHM/IAP/LOC+RWY+18/pdf

Here is a PDF link with legends for de-coding the symbology:
http://aeronav.faa.gov/content/aeronav/online/pdf_files/IAP_Symbols.pdf

(You may hear about "Jepps" Charts. The Jeppesen company -- actually now a subsidiary of Boeing -- publishes their own versions, which most civilian pilots use and find more easy to read, but it is what you're used to, after all. "Jepps" are copyrighted, but there are older examples on-line if you Google Jeppesen Approach Chart for images).


When flown correctly, the fix called "IMTOY" (3.3 DME, or exactly 2 NM from the runway threshold) has a minimum crossing altitude of 1,380 feet. Obstructions on the Plan View of the procedure are indicated by the chevrons that resemble "teepees" and the height in MSL is written next to it.

Directly underneath IMTOY an obstruction is charted as 910'+/-. This gives approximately 470 feet clearance. Farther on, assuming a descent continues to the MDA of 1,200, there is an obstacle to the East (or, left) labelled at 915'+/-. Even though it narrows to 285 feet clearance, that obstacle is not directly beneath the lateral path.


A factor that might enter into the NTSB investigation is the so-called "black hole" effect. This article (below) seems geared towards Private Pilots, but discusses similar Human perception difficulties that may come into play even for "big iron" pilots. Scroll down to section titled "Night perils":

http://www.avweb.com/news/airman/182402-1.html

The NTSB investigation will be thorough, and I expect that these considerations will be looked at, among many other aspects that I probably haven't yet thought of.
mhlansdell00
That's closer than anything I've seen to a topo. Thanks.
mhlansdell00
I have searched, although briefly for anything resembling a topographical map to no avail. Two dimensional maps from Google and even approach plates just don't get the job done. and stories of landing airplanes half the size of this one don't compare in my mind. The best information I found was in Ivan Warrington's post a few posts above this one. Not much to go on leaving only conjecture and suspicion. From all the information we have, we can't tell of the A300 collided with a tree, a telephone pole, or a blade of grass. The talk of a "rapid decent" but don't define it. Very frustrating. I'll bet the investigators don't speak nor write in those terms to anyone but the public. Where did they begin their final approach, what was the altitude, what was the rate of decent. Pretty straight forward stuff that will still leave questions but less of them.
akayemm
"UPS 1354 data suggest approach or equipment anomalies
......The short time span between runway sighting and ground or tree collision likely indicates that the pilots were either using a modified instrument approach procedure for Runway 18, or that there was an error or confusion leading them to believe the aircraft was at a higher altitude. ......"

Any takers ? Link
http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId=Blog:7a78f54e-b3dd-4fa6-ae6e-dff2ffd7bdbb&plckPostId=Blog%3a7a78f54e-b3dd-4fa6-ae6e-dff2ffd7bdbbPost%3a54f0d442-ae8e-4fa6-afed-5e4f87157538
onceastudentpilot
I am thinking that they used a modified approach and that 700 ft ceiling that they were counting on was more like 500 which caused them to descend lower than they anticipated right into that hill......if they would have been 100 ft higher we probably wouldn't even be having this discussion
preacher1
You are probably correct in your thinking as the stated getting trees and lines before they ever got to that hill. Something happened in there to get them that low in the 1st place. I guess we'll have to wait for the report to find out for sure
onceastudentpilot
I am going to send you something on fb
preacher1
There was a post on the other thread about that sink rate, which, if true, adds even more mystery to it
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Denis Pianalto about a day ago

According to the Flightaware track log, the descent of note was from 9500' to 2500' in roughly 2 minutes. The most notable thing I see though is that after the higher than " normal" descent rate, they flew 2-3 minutes with a 500-600 fpm descent rate...that is easily 4-5 NM under stable, controlled flight
spatr
spatr 1
Don't know what happened but, here's a scenario I have seen on the line in in several fleet types.

Descending on a NP approach in any mode (V/S, IAS, FLC, or FPA), once the MDA is reached or the plane is continuing visually, the pilots select the missed approach altitude in the altitude preselect window. Once the new altitude is set in, you lose the lower altitude protection if descending with the A/P on. For example, if the crew is in V/S mode descending at -1400', and the altitude selected is higher than current altitude, the plane will keep going until someone or something stops the descent.

The MDA on this approach was 556' AGL. On a normal 3.0 degree slope the VDP should be about 1.5-2.0 miles from the runway (depending on preference). However, rwy 18 has a 3.28 degree slope. This means a higher rate and/or a closer in VDP. If the crew was at 2 DME and started a 3 degree path to the runway, the terrain clearance could be jeopardized (Not saying that it was or wasn't just something to think about.) Like another poster had said, a 700' cloud deck can go to 500' real quick. If the plane was in the bases and the runway came in sight, starting the descent before the VDP could be trouble.

Not saying this happened or not. While autoplits are good and all, they only follow the commands of the pilots.
sparkie624
That still does not explain the Aural warnings for Sink Rate... They totally ignored it and continued. They had time to add power and pull up and maybe even save the approach.

If they did setup the 3.0 degree slope, they they did not follow the approach plate as noted: http://155.178.201.160/d-tpp/1308/00050R18.PDF , there for it still comes down to pilot error (failure to follow published data).

Very minor correct spatr it is actually 3.24 degrees, but I do not think that would have made much difference. See the chart in the link.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
This idea has been bouncing around in my head for more than a day, but I've been reluctant to go there. However, the more I read, the more I'm reminded of EgyptAir Flt 990. The rapid rate of descent, the lack of comms from the flight deck, a lot of parallels. Is it possible? I think maybe yes. I hope to heaven I'm wrong.
preacher1
I hope you are wrong too.
onceastudentpilot
News reports here say that he was a well known and liked guy.....Don't really see what he would have to gain from killing a bunch of boxes....I think this was just a combination of everyone having their heads up their hiney (ATC and the crew).....With that being said ...why did ATC still have them so high that close to the airport?....why did the crew try to accomplish a landing without adequate mileage for a stabilized approach? (how close were they to the IAF?)....so on and so on.
onceastudentpilot
it is actually closer to this one:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Airways_Flight_932
spatr
spatr 1
Descending too early in an area of rising terrain could set off the GPWS. If the runway was in sight it just may have been ignored figuring all that was needed was to reduce the descent rate when, in reality, there was terrain in the way. There have been many incidents of CFIT where the runway was in sight but the plane hit something unaccounted for on its path.
southgeek
I think this is a key point.
preacher1
Might have made a tad of difference whether 3.18 or 3.24. That would probably have been enough to miss those trees and hill and that's what it was designed for. An inch would have been as good as a mile in that situation.
spatr
spatr 1
The LOC approach is 3.28 and the RNAV approach is 3.24. I'm not saying it was causal, but combined with other factors it may have factored in. Maybe they left or went below MDA early because they saw the runway, developed a higher rate of descent, didnt see the hill, etc... no "one" thing caused this.

I haven't seen it anywhere but has the descent rate immediately before impact been published?
preacher1
I haven't heard anything about it. Like you, all they have talked about was that "High Descent Rate". I'm kinda like you though. RUNWAY IN SIGHT, combined with normal descent and "Black Hole". Boom
spatr
spatr 1
PS. On this approach at -/+ 140kts the descent rate from the VDP should have been about -850 fpm and the VDP about 1.4 mi from the runway.
tduggan2010
*Correction* B747, not B737. Missed a key when typing... ^_^
mhlansdell00
Auto pilot: ON Auto Speed: ON Gee, sound familiar.
Doobs
Let's see. Have anything to do with Asia?
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 0
There's been a lot of talk about that hill. Sounds like it needs to be leveled.
preacher1
Well, how long has BHM been open and how many crashes have they had in that spot?
TXCAVU
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_Airport#Accidents_and_incidents
vandi
Correct airport: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham-Shuttlesworth_International_Airport
preacher1
DC3 1n 1946 on that runway and overrun at that. Don't sound like the hill is a problem
southgeek
18 is not the main runway. They didn't use the other because it was under construction.
preacher1
Everybody knows that. We are just saying that the runway length was not a factor
DerekCooks
Totally off-topic observation - zoom in on the Google map and watch 7 KC-135's magically turn into 2..
MultiComm
That is just due to the new feature where Google is incorporating aerial photography with satelitte imagery to improve close up resolution. The photos were taken at two different periods of time.
n7224e
Interesting - but I only saw five to begin with.
DerekCooks
Okay, okay - I want to say something self deprecating and sarcastic, but this accident isn't funny no way no how. Suffice to say that I sometimes can't put 2+2 together accurately with an audience....
TXCAVU
OMG,so sorry. Thanks Brian!
TXCAVU
You know, I was just thinking the same thing. If they were low enough to clip trees and power lines, that hill caused them to crash sooner. And how did one resident lose part of their backyard deck?
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
Maybe debris?
TXCAVU
It said the deck was gone and debris littered the yard.
TXCAVU
Do you remember the Airbus A320 that crashed at Habsheim, Alsace, France on June 26th 1988?
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 4
Sure do. It's hard to forget when the big iron goes down isn't it. One that stands out in my mind is the American Airlines Flt 191 at O'Hare in Chicago, 1979 - my home town.
panam1971
That one gave the DC-10 a bad rap for years.
spatr
spatr 7
you mean the one that has absolutely nothing to do with this incident?
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 0
Yeah that's the one she meant spatr. You gonna slap her wrist?
spatr
spatr 1
Why bother? It's like plane crash tourettes around here. If an Airbus crashes, immediately blame fly by wire and the computers. If a Boeing crashes immediately blame Airbus. For whatever reason, after an incident try to link 2 events that aren't in the slightest way related to appease your inner NTSB investigator. It would be like posting "Do you remember UAL585" right after the Asiana crash.
preacher1
spatr, chill out.LOL
TXCAVU
spatr, please offer something informative and stop whining.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 0
Sorry, just gotta laugh - spatr, did you just appease your inner NTSB investigator?
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 0
Hey - it was she and I all alone late at night right after I made the post. No one else around that we were bothering. If what she said raises your blood pressure, don't read it. For gosh sakes, relax before you make your head explode. No need to be rude.
TXCAVU
Donna, the point I was going to on to make was, ironically, very similar to spatr's response about fly by wire blame. With his/her out of line response, I left it alone and chuckled today upon reading his commentary. He/she was so quick to stomp on me, he/she/it missed that opportunity. Oh well.
preacher1
You never forget big iron going down, especially if it's close. The
DAL L1011 that went down at DFW in 84. Teddy Connor was a friend of mine and the hull was still there 2 days later when I drove into DFW on business. That crash probably hastened the coming of Doppler but I figure that if he had his choice, he would have not chosen to be the reason, but you never forget.
greenheadcpa
The Dallas crash was Aug 2, 1985 (not '84).
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 2
Forgive him, he's elderly...
preacher1
smart aleck
preacher1
my bad on a number, tks for the correction
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
The horror and sadness we feel at times like and forever after make us human - but damn those emotions. I can't imagine such a difficult experience, preacher. I'm so so sorry.
preacher1
As I said, I doubt he would have chosen to be the reason, but that micro burst that took them out hastened the deployment of Doppler radar. Young guns today couldn't envision flying with out it; old ones neither for that matter.
TXCAVU
It is very real. I have watched pilots fight to get control back as the plane crashes before me. Watched pilots die, literally, and so I have a reason to understand the facts surrounding a mishap.
preacher1
Where at, gal? Sounds like you were in one somewhere!
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
Lol-the fact you think alike is a bit distressing.
TXCAVU
Well he was right on but communicating with the wrong set of cheeks. ***wink***
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 1
awinn
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

The UPS A300 that crashed in Alabama last week was flying on autopilot until seconds before impact

The United Parcel Service (UPS) Airbus A300-600F that crashed in Alabama last week, killing its two crew members, was flying on autopilot until seconds before impact, even after an alert that it was descending too quickly, authorities said.
“The autopilot was engaged until the last second of recorded data,” said Robert Sumwalt, a senior official with the National Transportation Safety Board.
He said information retrieved by investigators from the flight data recorder aboard the United Parcel Service jet showed that its auto throttle also was engaged until moments before the fiery crash.

http://airguideonline.com/2013/08/18/the-ups-a300-that-crashed-in-alabama-last-week-was-flying-on-autopilot-until-seconds-before-impact/

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