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(Video) NTSB Animation - Rapid Descent and Crash into Water Atlas Air Inc. Flight 3591

This animated reconstruction shows the sequence of events in the accident, which occurred at 12:39 p.m. central standard time on February 23, 2019. The accident involved a Boeing 767-375BCF, N1217A, operated by Atlas Air Inc. as flight 3591 carrying cargo. The airplane was destroyed after it rapidly descended from an altitude of about 6,000 ft mean sea level and crashed into a shallow, muddy marsh area of Trinity Bay, Texas, about 41 miles east-southeast of George Bush Intercontinental/Houston… ( More...

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bbabis 8
Unfortunately, the young pilot deadheading was the sharpest knife in the drawer and he didn't have any controls available to him. A 100% pilot induced accident.
quadrex 4
He was a friend of my son, classmates at ERAU Prescott. Just sad!
sparkie624 -4
CFIT - Obvious pilot error... It is amazing that this has happened so much that we have an Acronym for it...
Where was the "Captain" while this was going on ?
Proper pilot training has left the building. Seems there is a abundance of so-called pilots possessing a massive lack of basic airmanship skills and thought process. So long as the automation is functioning, the hapless passengers spin the roulette wheel with great hope that the automation performs spectacularly and reliance on the new age "pilots" being produced is not required in the most basic sense. Air France 447, Asiana 214, Colgan 3407, AA Eagle 4184 and a multitude of others including the US government on the verge of banning Korean Air from the US at the turn of the millennium because of it's horrendous accident rate due to a pronounced lack of essential and basic airmanship capability and skills illuminates how this problem has been allowed to fester for many decades. The total absence of stick and rudder pitch, bank, power, and configuration abilities are the primary common denominator in all of these types of accidents. The over reliance on automation has so degraded what skill a particular pilot may have had in the first place that in such circumstances the outcome is usually dire as the "pilot(s)" transition from crew member to passenger in a heartbeat all the while displaying the deer in the headlights what's going on mentality down to the crash site. The lack of basic airmanship skills is further sustained by the FAA now requiring additional hand flying during sim training/recurrent in addition to a heightened focus on upset training. Only time will tell if so many examples of "pilots" driving a perfectly good running airplane into the ground because of significant personal skill/knowledge shortcomings has been mitigated and reversed.
Atlas must have thought it was a good idea at the time to give two overly challenged "pilots" control of a large cargo aircraft. So how did that work out.

FO Aska was from Antigua and a miserable failure at three prior regionals, hence his involuntary departure from each. Yet he is hired by Atlas where he continues his headlong single-helix rush for the Darwin Award. The only place he should have been allowed to sit on any aircraft is in the passenger cabin!!!

The captain also had his own training/performance issues, though not to the extent of Aska. Placing both of them together allowed them to achieve their destiny. Sadly the jump seater was trapped in their mutual vortex of the Peter Principal gone terminal.

And lastly the incompetents at the FAA need to get onboard with and implement recommendations by the NTSB and stop dragging their feet. There are an over abundance of cases where the FAA is asleep at the switch or complacent in allowing bad operators to flourish. Anyone recall the Payne Stewart Lear crash and the coddling the FAA provided that operator. Colgan 3409 is another example of FAA shortcomings in protecting the flying public. Congress had to take authority from the FAA and do the job they should have done by increasing pilot requirements after the Colgan crash slaughtering 73 passengers because of two losers on the flight deck. Up to that time one needed more hours to fly boxes VFR in a C182 for hire than to sit right seat in a regional airliner carrying unsuspecting passengers. Such regulations don't even rise to a measurable level of stupidity.
bbabis 4
Safe flights happen between the ears, not due to some arbitrary amount of hours in a logbook. It wasn't hours these pilots were lacking, it was grey matter. What you learn and retain from those hours in your book is what counts. I've flown with 10,000 hr pilots that 'Russian roulette' is the best way to describe each flight and have flown with 250 hour pilots I would trust my family to. With lives at stake, it's pushing incompetent pilots onto the next operator that has to stop.
Your point is understood. In every career field the same will apply.

Success = ability X motivation. Ability = aptitude X skill. Aptitude is generally defined as IQ in the simplest and broadest terms. Motivation in the broadest terms = attitude. An individual may have an aptitude for one endeavor but not another. Most good judgement comes from experience, some of which comes from bad judgement. Hopefully an individual possesses the mindfulness of self assessment to learn from poor decisions. In Aska's case, the response by previous check airmen from previous employers clearly indicate he had an inflated sense of his "abilities" and moreover was in their opinion, not even cognizant of his shortcomings. What to do with someone that is blind to their own limited station? What is the likelihood they will ever be safe?

My reply addressed both aspects of experience/abilities/aptitude and the Congressionally mandated minimum hourly and ATP licensure requirement which one would hope translates into a higher caliber crew member. Unfortunately, the FAA's lax oversight and enforcement allows bottom feeding operators to exist.

The very essence of training is to gain experience and experience takes time and exposure to a medium. There are a percentage of those among us who plateau early (The Peter Principle of reaching one's level of incompetency)and should be expelled from the system. There are those who excel rapidly and may "suffer" at the hand of an imposed hourly requirement. However, in general, a normal individual with at least average intelligence and attitude will improve from experience gained over time. The classic definition of learning: a change in behavior brought about by meaningful repetition over time applies. But some, for lack of whatever trait(s) absent in their being will not be trainable to the level necessary for a specific job/task/career. So, for the vast majority of individuals, exposure of experiences over time produce greater success. And this does not negate that there are outliers on both tails of the Bell curve that do not fit the model, however, common denominator modalities are developed which apply to the vast majority of the population.
john doe 1
And yet there is more air traffic and fewer crashes now than there ever was. What's that mean?
user3956 5
It means what he said, the automation is working well but when it doesn't everything goes to hell.
Donald Childs 3
I retired from a flying career, and was able to work for a university, teaching beginning students. We had a great program, but there was a shift to teaching more of systems than basic airmanship. Management wanted the students to move through quicker and the talk was “the airlines will teach them what they need.” Myself and some of the other experienced instructors pleading for just 5 hours of Basic Airmanship was ignored. Most of the experienced instructors, including myself, have moved on. Having experienced total electrical failure in IMC, some engine failures with off-airport landings, and a few other emergencies, I was able to pass on to my students valuable life saving tips. I credit to my flight instructors for teaching me to “fly the airplane first!” Hopefully, there are still instructors doing so.
ADXbear 4
Instrument training 101.. trust the instruments.. all else fails go to auto pilot, go missed, talk about it.. too bad
waiting on breaking thru - panic - not trusting your instruments, throw in the TOGA and ...
I am not instrumented rated but the first thing I looked at was the instruments for both speed, altitude and the attitude indicator.Maybe if I was there, I would have panicked but it is certainly bizarre how he reacted. What happened to the captain during that time?
bbabis 3
The captain was clearly out of the loop. With the jumpseat pilot, sterile cockpit procedures broke down and he was the last chance this flight had. He let things go way too far if he was even paying attention. 10 degrees off heading or 5 degrees off of pitch from where the plane should have been and it should have been his plane. How he let that pitch and throttle setting stand until it was too late is unfathomable. Sadly, there are many flights flying around the world right now with equal or worse crews onboard. I’m so glad I fly myself.
dav555 -5
Watched the video. The incident is very bizarre. Why would the copilot think they were stalling? Second, why would he then push the throttles to max and push the yoke down so much causing such a steep angle of descent? It almost seems he was intentionally trying to crash the plane.
Matt Kladder 21
The throttles went to max because one of the pilots accidentally hit the TOGA button, so the auto throttles put them there.

While we can never know for 100%, most likely the co pilot started experiencing a Somatogravic illusion. This is an illusion where acceleration feels like a pitch up, because to the inner ear they are the same. So in his mind they were pitching up, and the auto throttles were accelerating (in his mind, he thinks the airplane is slow, hence the throttle reaction, where in reality, the TOGA button was pressed) he was thinking the airplane was stalling, so he pushed the yoke forward.

The thing is when you push the nose down, with full throttle, your Somatogravic illusion will worsen, because you are accelerating further, so he pushed down harder.

This continued until they broke out of the clouds and saw the ground, and that is where they pulled back as far as they could. Unfortunately, too little too late.

This comes back to instrument flying number 1... Trust your instruments no matter what your mind is saying. He was flying the mental picture in his mind rather than the attitude indicator. Had he flown the instruments, most likely they'd be alive today.
I guess spatial disorientation and him not looking at what his instruments were telling him.
ffrcobra1 2
The auto throttle system advanced the throttles because the autopilot was selected to go around mode.
Highflyer1950 2
Kinda right. If you select TOGA on the thrust levers and the autopilot is engaged the aircraft just follows the programming and up you go like you said. However, if you are hand flying the A/C with Auto Throttle active and accidentally (easy to do if you are resting your hand on the throttles and encounter turbulence) hit TOGA, the flight director pitches up, the throttles move to max thrust but the aircraft will just sit there and accelerate if you don’t raise the nose to match the Flight Director. I just don’t know of many transport aircraft that stall when indicating over 350 knots. What’s weird is the throttles were retarded to idle but then back to max power?
Silent Bob 2
Not sure it matters too much but the 767 will most definitely pitch up with a large increase in thrust and the AP disconnected. First aerodynamically - assuming the airplane is in trim it will pitch up as it accelerates in order to maintain the trimmed speed. Also the engines are below the CG, which means an increase in thrust produces a pitch up moment and likewise a decrease in thrust will result in nose down. It may not be instantaneous in a heavy aircraft like the 767 but it will definitely happen.
ms06877 2
I cannot believe for a minute that TOGA was accidentally pressed. The position of the switches is such that it takes a conscious effort even in the worst turbulence. After twenty six years flying the airplane I never once did it nor did I see anyone else do it.
bbabis 4
Well, the FDR showed it was pressed as turbulence was encountered. Clearly neither pilot seemed to know or react like it was pressed so accidentally, inadvertently, or unconsciously is the answer.

Lots of years ago, while flying a corporate metroliner into O’hare, We had an unexpected wake turbulence encounter that shook us pretty good. The copilot, supposedly an ex KC-135 pilot, suddenly got that 10,000 ft stare and started moving controls and switches while mumbling to himself. I had to shout his name and hit him to get him to stop. He came out of whatever he was in and I had him sit on his hands until after shutdown. In talking with the chief pilot, I found that this was the second time that had happened and now two captains would never fly with him again. It wasn’t long before he left the company and sometime afterward I heard he got on with American Airlines. I haven’t flown them since.
Rick Hunt 0
Just before the aircraft hit the ground I assure you it was stalled and going much faster than 350 kts. First lesson flying - an aircraft can stall at ANY speed.
dav555 1
What's up with the downvotes??? I merely asked some questions.
sparkie624 1
Probably because of the use of Intentional, meaning CFIT/Suicide would be my guess.
dav555 1
I suppose you're right, although I said "it almost seems", not "I think" he was intentionally trying to crash the plane. There have indeed been incidents, and not just terrorism, where pilots have intentionally crashed a plane, so it wouldn't be unprecedented. I personally think the guy was just a poor pilot who panicked. Anyhow, the downvotes are just bizarre and unwarranted.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

user3956 1
No, they are ripping the fact that he failed multiple checks but threatened to sue that there was discrimination and so this may have or probably contributed toward him having the job when he should not have had the job. Don't over simplify what is happening on YouTube just because you don't like it.
William Kight 4
There is absolutely no record of him threatening to sue for discrimination. None. Zero. If you have FACTS that say otherwise, please share them.

The pilot in question should have NEVER been at the controls of any airplane flown for hire. He had a long history of poor training and line performance at multiple airlines, including at Atlas Air.

It is a fact that members of this pilot’s family have filed a lawsuit alleging, among other things, poor training. That boggles my mind given his verifiable and unquestioned lack of aptitude for flying.
user3956 1
I summarized the argument on YouTube where this was being said by the guy that appeared to have the most "facts" about the matter - including the failing of several tests/checks. If you understand what threatening to sue over discrimination means then you'd understand that it's almost impossible to have "proof" of that except the "FACT" that his family is suing for poor training. Does that not by itself make you think him threatening to sue over discrimination isn't that far fetched?
William Kight 1
Anonymous YouTube posters are in no way< a source of facts.

Have you read the NTSB Factual Report and Docket concerning this accident?. The docket contains letters of resignation by the first officer tendered to some of the airlines that employed him. None allege discrimination. None of the officials interviewed by the NTSB mentioned any allegations of discrimination. Those are facts.

I flew and was an instructor on the 767 for 25+ years. I have followed the developments on this accident closely
user3956 1
I recognize and respect your credentials. Would've my first comment explaining to the other gentleman what's happening on YouTube been more acceptable had I left the word "fact" out? The entire point was that he was dismissive about the conversation on YouTube when the conversation on YouTube was including certain things (not facts since I can't prove them) that would've explained the aspects of the conversation that he was sighing about etc. I feel like this entire discussion has been about semantics when saying "because of the fact..." really most of the time means "because of...". When commenting online we typically go with habitual speech patterns, not rules of technical documentation. I will say though that hearing your side of things is making me lean toward the YouTube guy perhaps not knowing 100% what he was talking about.
William Kight 2
Have you read the NTSB Factual Report and looked through the voluminous accompanying docket? Have you watched the NTSB hearing on the matter that was held July 14th? If not, do so before posting anything else about the accident. Then you will be armed with facts.
bentwing60 1
Touche, WK, and my comment some time back that "many of the commenters here are masters of the keyboard, just not those of a Honeywell, Collins or Universal FMS set in a modern day jet", was not well received. And the beat goes on.
bentwing60 1
If the vetting and training had indeed been rigorous, neither the Captain or the FO would have 'been there'! And another 767 still in use, instead of an NTSB report.

Bezos ain't exactly noted for spending 'coin' out of his own pocket. And discrimination these days 'is a feelin'!


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