The last four minutes of Air France flight 447

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WCHorn

Rubber, Too Glamorous?
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#2
I believe even rudimentary single-engine propeller-driven aircraft have pitot tube heaters to prevent blockage from ice build up. Of course, speed is far slower and outside temperatures higher compared to a passenger jet. Don't certificated aircraft incorporate that feature? If so, was the problem a heater failure?
 
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M

MIREGMGR

#3
It's an interesting analysis. The closing was a bit disappointing, though.

OK, fine, so Air France hasn't installed Buss technology. I'm not sure if there's a subtle bit of German-French friction in play or what, but I don't find that condemnation useful.

Where can I find out which airlines have installed the Buss technology in their Airbus equipment?
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
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#4
Air France Crash Suggests Inadequate Training

With the recovery of the black boxes and the data analysis, we now know much more about the accident. There might be some significant changes for crew training as a result of this review;

The focus of the investigation into why Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic a year ago is starting to change now that safety experts have begun evaluating information from the Airbus A330-200’s flight recorders.

Questions surrounding human factors are moving into the spotlight as the investigation further unfolds, with concerns of turbulent weather and pitot-tube icing shifting into the background.

French accident investigation agency BEA released a three-page memo May 27 containing factual information excerpts that is likely to be followed by a more in-depth interim report within the next few weeks, possibly by the end of this month. The final report is not expected until 2012; it should also address concerns raised by some about technical problems with the A330.
Read the whole article.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
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#5
I believe even rudimentary single-engine propeller-driven aircraft have pitot tube heaters to prevent blockage from ice build up. Of course, speed is far slower and outside temperatures higher compared to a passenger jet. Don't certificated aircraft incorporate that feature? If so, was the problem a heater failure?
I have followed this for a while. I haven't been in a cockpit as PIC in close to 30 years now, but I still have a thing for flying. The defect was a known design defect. I think there was a notice out and replacements were being made but it wasn't determined to be a "ground the fleet" problem. And you have to admit, for all of them out there this is the only crash that has been attributed to the pitot tubes on this type of aircraft. The defect was known through single pitot probe heater element failures and replacements. There was data which triggered a design change, a new design was in place and the new design was in production. It appears that this is in part a case of two failures (the main pitot probe and the backup pitot probe) at about the same time. It's a "what are the odds?" scenario. Dual (and in some cases triple) pitots are on every commercial aircraft. If it's a jet (private or commercial), it typically has at least 2. If it's a "private" propeller job it will typically have 1. And yes - They are heated, but heating elements do fail.

I remember when I did my training years ago that was a *big* thing they drilled into you in Instrument and ATP training. You loose your pitot and you're in a heap of trouble if you're IFR especially in clouds and/or over water, and because failure is rare it's something you don't expect. And when they go it's typically a slow, a gradual change. The element burns out but it's not like On/Off. Ice slowly builds up. The main indication is a gradual, unexplained drop in air speed. Even when you do figure out your pitot went non-functional, knowing your airspeed is critical to controlling the aircraft. It's less of an issue if it's a clear night and you're over land so you have reference points. But if you're flying IFR and you're in clouds and/or you're over a large body of water you have no visual reference points. I think report on the Kennedy that crashed his airplane some years back essentially was caused by his not being IFR rated and he was flying at night over water. Even though it was a clear night he lost his frame of reference (he was over a large body of water) and not being instrument rated did not have the skills and training to recognize and respond to what was happening. IFR is tough. It's "Trust Your Instruments" because your body is telling you the craft is doing something it's not (the inner ear aspect).

If you don't know your *true* air speed (as opposed to your ground speed) you can have a serious problem.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#6
I believe even rudimentary single-engine propeller-driven aircraft have pitot tube heaters to prevent blockage from ice build up. Of course, speed is far slower and outside temperatures higher compared to a passenger jet. Don't certificated aircraft incorporate that feature? If so, was the problem a heater failure?
Yes, small aircraft have pitot heaters as do large commercial and military fighter aircraft. I can't believe that this airframe doesn't have one, the technology is about 70 years or more old and it's as simple as one of those small water heaters you can buy to put in a coffee cup when travelling. (It sure ain't rocket science)

As for the flight crew locations that may or may not be a real issue, the real issue is dependency on automated, computerized systems...Looking at some of the data the engines were at 55% power and they had an AoA of about 35degrees and those conditions may have very well been outside the flight/design envelope. Something definitely did not allow them to recover from the stall they got into because they didn't or couldn't get the nose down that would have allowed recovery (to a certain altitude anyway).
 
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