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Comment Re:Open airplanes (Score 1) 506

If a pilot is panicking to the point that he is flying wrong, he will be hitting the lockout button because he will think he is right.

Look, I'm not arguing that pilots, humans, aren't capable of panicking and melting like butter. But the profession is not meant to resemble the movie Airplane. Nothing stops the scenario you describe from occurring in a Boeing with the yokes fixed to one another, with both pilots overcome like knuckleheads, pulling in opposite directions. This is why you want well trained and experienced pilots at the helm. Again its not a flaw, its a philosophical choice. Either way, the humans need to be trained to operate the machine.

Comment Re:Open airplanes (Score 1) 506

We do indeed have access to and benefit from mishap reports. Procedure are often altered as a result of information obtained during investigations. AF447 resulted in a change to stall recovery requiring idle thrust and de-emphasizing altitude loss. I disagree, but that was Airbus' recommendation. In fact, at the end of every NTSB report, conclusions are made as well as recommendations to prevent further disasters. They are not always implemented. If medicine embraced the same philosophy, we'd lose fewer people to medical accidents.

Look, I know that pilots in the U.S. are really paid peanuts and probably just want to unwind and don't care about anything when they are not flying.

True dat. Yet here I am on /. talking aviation stuff on a day off.

Comment Re:Open airplanes (Score 2) 506

All the alarms and blinking lights are listed in the actual accident investigation report here:http://www.bea.aero/docspa/2009/f-cp090601.en/pdf/f-cp090601.en.pdf To sum up, they unwisely flew into an area of weather that they were painting on radar. Lost air data systems (not attitude or inertial info) that provided airspeed, vertical speed and altitude, the autopilot which relies on this info disconnected leaving the aircraft to be flown by the only entity capable- the pilots, who then allowed the aircraft to stall from which they never recovered.

Aircraft design is a collaborative effort that includes pilots among many others, not just engineers. Not sure what your point is. If you're suggesting that they were overwhelmed by warnings and such, I would concur. That is the point of training and systems knowledge. All ECAMs are prioritized to allow the pilots to deal with the most pressing emergency (as a user, I think it fails from being needlessly complicated and unintuitive). This notwithstanding the fact that one must "fly the airplane first" at all times. The parent's point that Airbus have design flaws because the sticks are independent, is as I said, incorrect. He could say he he has issues with design philosophy, but its not a flaw to have independent sticks, and no machine yet can make judgments on what info the pilots need about systems failures. Perhaps you are advocating aircraft have a neural connection to the pilot's brain- sadly that is only science fiction as yet.

Certainly this would have been the only alarm they were hearing or blinking light they were seeing, you know in a stalling aircraft

Yes I do know. I think I'm qualified to make the argument that this is not a "flaw", or make observations on the AF mishap. I have over 7700 hours on Airbus and over 14000 total flight time as a commercial pilot, including training in stall recovery in large swept wing aircraft, and I've heard this argument made many times.

Comment Re:Pilot error? (Score 2) 506

Mr Gatwood, I commend you for your insight. I suspect that the lack of glideslope information will become an important factor during the accident investigation. BTW, how did you know this. Navaid outages would normally be disseminated via NOTAMs and are not generally known by non-flying public. I received this information only within the last two weeks from my company and union about the impending construction.

BTW, in addition to inop GS, they also did not have any visual approach path indicators as the PAPI is out of service: ILS RWY 28R LOCALIZER/DME U/S RWY 28L ILS LLZ/DME U/S RWY 10L/28R CLSD RWY 10R/28L CLSD RWY 28L PAPI U/S

Comment Re:Open airplanes (Score 2) 506

The communication problem was largely caused by an major Airbus design flaw: the sticks between the left and right seats aren't linked. In other planes, the pilot would have known the copilot had the stick pulled back because the action would make his own stick move back as well. On AF447, the pilot saw nothing other than the copilot's hand on the stick and assumed he was doing the right thing, and in the understandable confusion as they struggled to gain control of the plane the copilot never verbally corrected the misconception.

Incorrect, there is no design flaw. As designed, if both pilots make a flight control input simultaneously, they will receive an aural warning: "Dual Input". They will know about it and either pilot can take priority over the other by pushing a button on the stick which will lock out the other.

Comment Re:Open airplanes (Score 2) 506

Not sure what information you have that leads to this conclusion. Improper landing configuration (flaps not set, gear not down) sounds a warning that cannot be silenced. The cause will be determined in due time. There may well have been pilot error, but there are parallels between this and BA38 in LHR that was attributed to fuel freezing in the fuel control.

Comment Re:Fuck No (Score 1) 205

Indeed, there's something even better than that for me: Known Crewmember checkpoints. However, not all airports have these. TSA PreCheck is for passengers/ticketholders. I'm speaking as a badged, background-checked, finger-printed pilot that is annoyed by the fact that I must pass through security screening to make sure my nail clippers are legal, and I'm not carrying pepper spray. Were I to wish ill to my passengers, I would not need a weapon. Some pilots enroll as an FFDO and carry weapons just to avoid this annoyance.

BTW, just saying "I don't need a weapon" to a TSA agent will require additional screening and perhaps result in arrest. It has happened.

Comment Re:Would you ride in one? (Score 1) 205

They had attitude information, but no air data (altitude, airspeed, vertical speed). They were also, for a time, making dual and contrary inputs to the flight controls (sticks are independent and dual inputs are added together, one full up and one full down equals zero). Without air data, avoiding stall and recovering was made significantly more difficult.

However, they did recognize stall. They just failed to execute a proper recovery. They needed to hold the nose down for much longer to build airspeed before pulling up again. They ended up in stall after stall and ran out of time.

Comment Re:Fuck No (Score 1) 205

Great idea. Its called secondary barriers. And currently, ALPA is exerting great effort on the legislative front to mandate installation in commercial aircraft. IATA and Airlines for America (A4A) (is that not the stupidest name you ever heard?), are busy fighting this. Like most safety features, it costs money, which eats into profits. Gotta keep those ticket prices at historic lows...

Terrorists could be threatening to slaughter the passengers like sheep, but the pilots aren't informed.

Sorry to inform you, you are on your own back there. You will have to go postal on them yourselves. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will get that door open if there is any threat in the cabin. But just in case a bad guy (or any uninvited person for that matter) gets into the cockpit, he may well be looking down the barrel of an H&K as a hollow point exits at supersonic speed. Next time you get a chance, note the warning placards posted on the cockpit doors.

Comment Re:Fuck No (Score 1) 205

You must have very little faith in your fellow humans. I think it would be a rare person who wouldn't be motivated to save the lives of hundreds of people who were entrusted in his care.

OTOH, the unthinkable has happened: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EgyptAir_Flight_990

This is an example of why having pilots pass through TSA security is unneeded- a constant irritation for me. A proper in-depth background check is all that is necessary, accompanied by ongoing review.

Comment Re:Would you ride in one? (Score 4, Interesting) 205

The autopilot was flying the plane. At least until it lost needed data to do so. Then as programed, it relinquished control to the only known entity that could cope- human pilots. The error was in flying into the storm in the first place. Thereafter, with conflicting data, the pilots made numerous further errors which aggravated their distress to the point of stall. In large swept wing aircraft, stall recovery is a long process and requires patience and often thousands of feet of altitude loss, while operating in alternate or direct flight control laws (not particularly easy). The rapid descent and threat of impact with the ground did not foster patience and the flight crew was inadequately trained in stall recovery, making the outcome more certain.

As a result, and to my dismay as an Airbus pilot, Airbus have modified their stall recovery procedure to retard thrust to idle- contrary to every thing pilots are taught from the very first stall.

The final mishap report makes very interesting reading (as do most reports): http://www.bea.aero/docspa/2009/f-cp090601.en/pdf/f-cp090601.en.pdf

Comment Re:Would you ride in one? (Score 4, Interesting) 205

With the current retirement age already at 65, and efforts to raise it again to 67, I think we are already where you suggest- old guys in ice cream suits. When I got hired at age 32, I was excited, but soon realized I would have to do this for a long time (age 60) before I retired. I wondered if my body or mind would give out before then- radiation exposure, embolisms, poor diet, working during WOCL, physical inactivity. As if it hasn't already...

Every pilot starts out with two buckets. One is filled with luck, the other empty of experience. Fill the experience bucket before the luck bucket runs out.

Comment Re:I don't see the point (Score 2) 205

Your points mentioned above are valid except I'd argue this one is not fully considered:

AI can be integrated, or even replace the pilots without much of a change. ...

The abstraction of real time data given to a remote pilot is a real cost to be considered, given that many aspects of flight are dynamic and unpredictable. For example: routing through weather, mountain wave, multiple system failures, OCF (out of control flight), avoidance of traffic, sequence and separation, wake turbulence, are just a few issues that are diminished by remote piloting. And AI would need to come a long way to even approach the capacity humans possess to react to these types of variables.

While drones have been operating for quite some time, they have lost quite a few to exactly these issues.

Comment Re:Airlines will love this. (Score 1) 205

Believe me when I say this is already happening. These constant competitive pressures to reduce costs resulted in Colgan 3407 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colgan_Air_Flight_3407, where inexperience and fatigue resulted in lost lives. And another example is Qantas' efforts to start an Asian subsidiary to subvert Australian pilot jobs as a cost saving measure.

I would hope the flying public considers safety rather than only seek the lowest price.

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