Jan 292015


141228_airasia_sAirAsia Flight QZ8501 co-pilot, French national Remi Plesel, was flying the Airbus A320-200 airliner before it crashed, say Indonesian investigators to the French news service, AFP, rather than Captain Iriyanto, an experienced former fighter pilot.

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Photo Credit: BBC News. AirAsia flight QZ8501 co-pilot, French national Remi Plesel (left), AirAsia flight QZ8501 Captain Iriyanto (right)

Plesel, 46, had 2,275 hours with AirAsia Indonesia, compared with the captain, known only as Irianto (as many Indonesians go by one name), who had 6,100 hours on AirAsia on the Airbus 320, according to CNN International.

Irianto had more than 20,000 flying hours under his belt, having worked for another airline in Indonesia for 13 years before that, and had been a Indonesian Air Force pilot for a decade prior, CNN International reports.

Mardjono Siswosuwarno, chief investigator of Indonesia's NTSC, said the flight data recorder, which was recovered from the Java Sea along with the cockpit voice recorder earlier this month, had provided a "pretty clear picture" of what happened in the final minutes of AirAsia flight 8501.

Captain Plesel was in charge from take-off until the cockpit voice recording ends, Siswosuwarno said.

"The second-in-command was the pilot flying," Siswosuwarno said to reporters in Jakarta, adding that "the captain was monitoring the flight," and that "this was common practice." He also said that "the plane was in good condition."

"Things may have gone wrong in a span of just three minutes and 20 seconds, triggering a stall warning that sounded until it crashed into the Java Sea," investigators of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee further elaborated in a news conference in Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday, January 29, 2015, via CNN International.

According to Reuters, Captain Iriyanto was out of his seat and conducting an unusual procedure on the Flight Augmentation Computer (FAC) when his co-pilot, Remy Plesel, lost control. By the time Iriyanto returned, it was too late to save the plane.

The FAC is a "fly-by-wire" device of the Airbus A320 airliner that uses a computer to control a flight process in order to increase airliner flight safety and reliability, as well as flight management efficiency, while reducing the need for human intervention. In other words, the FAC is designed to ensure normal operation of the aircraft within specific computerized flight safety envelops independent of any alleged human factor errors resulting from possible pilot inputs. FAC "fly-by-wire" devices can supposedly in extremely rare instances affect "operator" decisions, whose primary responsibility shifts from being the "performer" in flight operations to being the "onlooker" in flight management efficiency. whereby the concerns of "complacency" can potentially arise in flight management decision-making with increasing level of automation in modern aviation, particularly in flight and air traffic control operations.

Iriyanto reportedly had previously flown on the Airbus A320 and experienced a faulty FAC, which he apparently went to fix. Reuters was unable to offer independent confirmation of the faulty device, Reuters reports.

After trying to reset the device, pilots pulled a circuit-breaker to cut its power, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

"You can reset the FAC, but to cut all power to it is very unusual,'' one A320 pilot, who declined to be identified, told Reuters. "You don't pull the circuit breaker unless it was an absolute emergency. I don't know if there was one in this case, but it is very unusual.''

Pulling the circuit breaker is also an unusual move, because the captain would have had to rise from his seat.

Role of Human Factors in Automated Flight Management Efficiency and Decision-Making

It is essential to have pilots involved in the flight management automation design. "Humans aren't good monitors of rare events, and monitoring can be a boring job especially for a long haul flight. In some cases pilots have wanted to remove just part of the automation and utilize the remaining features, but are unable to do so, because 'all or nothing' are the only options," says the longstanding authority in the field of human factors in modern aviation, Orlady, H. and Orlady, L. (1999) in Human Factors in Multi-Crew Flight Operations.

A very real problem involved with the almost complete automation present is pilot complacency and overreliance upon automation. This pilot response occurs in normal operations and also is reflected in the pilot's reliance on the system to automatically make the correct response during abnormal operations. Flight crews tend to rely upon the automation to the point that the normal checks that are inherent in good manual operations are sometimes disregarded (Orlady and Orlady, 1999). To overcome this problem, the design of automation has required:

  • "The automated systems must also be able to monitor the human operator and the human must be able to monitor the automatics.

This emphasizes two real problems, first, humans are fallible and are not the perfect monitors because of human limitations. Secondly, even the highly capable computers available today can fail partially or completely and cannot anticipate all of the circumstances that might be encountered in a line operation. Therefore, the performance of the computers and the human operators must be monitored by each other. For example, the computers should be able to send warning signals when human operator has made an error, and at the same time, when the automation is making inccorect decisions, humans need to understand and be aware of it."

  • "Each element of the system must have knowledge of the others intent.

A very basic principle in cross-monitoring, which must be effective in achieving maximum safety, is that it can only be effective if the monitor knows what the system is trying to accomplish. This principle requires good communication between the pilot flying and pilot-not flying for it is virtually impossible to be sure of intent without effective communication."

"The issue of safety due to automation that arises due to the pilot or controller making rare errors can be reduced by having two pilots in the cockpit who are well trained to monitor the automatics as well as monitoring each other’s operational performance during flight. This process of monitoring both the systems performance along with the pilots performance is further improved by the automated warning systems in the cockpit," writes Orlady and Orlady (1999).

The voice cockpit recorder picked up warning sirens during the flight’s final minutes, Reuters has reported. According to AFP, unconfirmed reports from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) crash investigators have suggested in recent weeks that the flight deck voice recordings allegedly revealed "a number of warning sirens were "screaming" at the time the pilots were trying to "recover" and stabilize the plane, including a siren that indicated the aircraft was stalling," as the pilots' voices were drowned out by the sound of the alarms, which were going off "for some time."


AirAsia 8501 Airliner's Sharp Climb in Strong Storm

Another investigator, Ertata Lananggalih, said that the plane climbed sharply before crashing.

Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told Parliament last week that ground radar data showed that the plane was climbing at an abnormally high rate - about 6,000 feet a minute (an extraordinarily rare ascend rate at about six times that of a conventional commercial passenger airliner) - then dropped rapidly and disappeared. He did not say then what caused the plane to climb so rapidly, but investigator Ertata Lananggalih has now confirmed Transport Minister Jonan's comments previously made.

According to CNN International, "A fighter jet like the F/A-18 Super Hornet can climb as fast as 30,000 feet per minute. But commercial jets are designed to ascend at a much slower rate."

With an eye towards the people than just the devices, allegedly speaking, passengers would have felt a sharp downward push into their seats at about twice their body weight from the gravitational forces of such a high ascend rate of 6,000 feet per minute that AirAsia 8501's Airbus A320-200 was undergoing during its final moments, as now confirmed by Indonesian investigators from the airliners' flight data recorder.

Investigators also said to AFP, "there were towering cumulonimbus clouds in the area reaching heights of up to 44,000 feet at the time of the crash, although they declined to say whether the plane had flown into them," Aljazeera reports.

Cumulonimbus clouds or "black cells" can cause severe turbulence for aircraft. As I stated to Fox News on December 28-30, 2014, airliners flying inside black cells of highly turbulent monsoon storms could allegedly encounter a sudden up draft causing abnormally high air angles of attack on the wings and inside the engines, inducing near stall conditions of the airplane before the flight computers can recover quickly or the pilots could rapidly stabilize the airliner, allegedly speaking.

Technical speculation suggest at this point the severe weather-related conditions may have most allegedly caused some degree of human factor errors, mostly likely revealed from the flight deck conversations and flight performance data and information gained from AirAsia flight 8501's Airbus A320-200 black-boxes still to be completely analyzed and transcribed for the crash final report expected to be released early next year. Human factor errors are typically the result of ninety percent of catastrophic aviation accidents, according to years of research by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

However, the AirAsia flight 8501 crash final report could allegedly reveal additional future learning factors of aviation, navigation, and communication that in this extreme case was driven by the extraordinary monsoon-like cumulonimbus cloud conditions, extending at such high altitudes at 44,000 feet (beyond normal commercial passenger aircraft operating ranges), allegedly creating such a perfect storm event for a naturally catastrophic air disaster upon a commercial passenger airliner.

NTSC chief Tatang Kurniadi told reporters this week, "if one wing engine had stalled, the plane could spin out of control as it plummeted toward the water."

However, he said that "only the data from the black boxes would ultimately determine what happened to flight 8501, and he declined to say whether the plane had in fact stalled."

Mr. Tatang said "the comments made by Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan to Parliament earlier this week "were based not on data from the black boxes, but on the ground radar." Indonesia investigators have now confirmed the transportation minister's comments made last week.

Notwithstanding, recent aviation disaster history confirms an excessively rapid ascent is indeed likely to cause an airplane to go into an aerodynamic stall. In 2009, an Air France flight AF447 Airbus A330-200 disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean in bad weather, while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Investigators determined from the jet's black boxes that it began a steep climb and then went into a stall from which the pilots were unable to recover, The Independent (U.K.) reports.

A synopsis of what occurred during the course of the doomed Air France AF447 Airbus A330-200 airliner's final few minutes is here.

Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon said that it was too early to comment on possible similarities between the two crashes.

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Photo Credit: BBC News

Preliminary Report on AirAsia 8501 Crash Submitted But Not Made Public

The submerged Airbus A320-200, flown as AirAsia QZ8501, crashed into the Java Sea during a monsoon-like thunderstorm early Sunday morning on December 28, during a brief flight from Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 passengers and AirAsia crew on board, of which only 72 victims have been recovered so far, as fishermen found two more bodies from the crash in priority area waters off Sulawesi island in central Indonesia, around 1,000 kilometers from where the plane crashed, a search and rescue official said.

The doomed airliner, while cruising along the flight path shown in the map above en route from Surabaya to Singapore, lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control, four minutes after the flight crew received permission to climb from 32,000 feet (9,753 meters) to 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) to evade monsoon-like heavy thunderstorms, according to Indonesia officials.

"The plane was veering left and wobbling," said Ertata Lanang Galih, a senior pilot and investigator with Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee on Thursday, January 29, CNN International reports.

"QZ8501 then ascended from its cruising altitude to 37,400 feet in about 30 seconds in a steep ascent," said Mardjono.

CNN International adds several important details on the Airbus A320-200 black-boxes quoted here: "The stall warnings -- which blare the words "Stall, Stall" -- went on as the plane started the steep climb and continued until it crashed, according to information on the flight data recorder.

The voice warning doesn't always mean the aircraft has stalled, said Mardjono. The warning can be triggered when the angle of attack, which is the angle at which the wing tackles the oncoming wind, hits 8 degrees.

The plane dropped quickly, falling to 24,000 feet, out of radar detection."

Indonesian investigators have been analyzing data from the Airbus A320-200 flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. On Thursday, January 29 they submitted a preliminary report to the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization. Preliminary AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash report, a required formality by the International Civil Aviation Organization within 30 days of the December 28 crash, is not made public with any substantial information surrounding what is on the Airbus A320-200 cockpit voice recordings and flight data recorders at this point.

Indonesia officials are promising a final AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash report in under a year, which would allegedly contain some substantive findings from the Airbus A320-200 cockpit voice recordings and flight data recorders.

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A final report on the complete crash investigation of the Airbus A320-200 airliner, operating as AirAsia flight 8501 on Sunday, December 28, 2014, is expected in early 2016. This final document, however, is expected not to feature the complete transcript of the cockpit voice recording, The Independent (U.K.) via Reuters reports.

"In Indonesia it remains undisclosed," NTSC chief Tatang Kurniadi told Reuters, "Just some important highlights will be included in the report, but it will not be made public, adding that a full analysis of what went wrong with the plane could take up to a year."

Indonesia's NTSC and AirAsia management team currently speculate the Airbus A320-200 fuselage wreckage allegedly is not needed for further investigation, opting instead to focus their investigation on the airliner's cockpit voice recordings and flight data records, which are still currently being analyzed by the NTSC investigators and advisers from Airbus manufacturing firm.

Now is the Time for Consensus on Recommendations on the Future of International Aviation Safety and Security

In a single year of 2014, we have lost the lives of 699 international passengers and flight crews on three compelling global aviation crash events, comprising the oceanic loss of a Boeing 777-200ER airliner, flown as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8, 2014, the shooting down over a war-torn eastern Ukraine region of a Boeing 777-200 airliner, performing as Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, and a crash in the Java Sea of an Airbus A320-200 airliner, operating asAirAsia flight QZ8501 on December 28, 2014.

Given that international commercial passenger air travel is expected to explode in the next decade (according to Boeing and Airbus industry projections), particularly in Southeast Asia, which is highly dependent upon air travel across deep seas and remote oceans for millions of people in the Southeast Asia and Oceania region, consensus on recommendations of global flight tracking of commercial passenger airliners, jet black-box data streaming, and ejectable flight data recorders, must be reached quickly among airline chiefs, aviation experts, and government officials at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) "Second High-level Safety Conference" on February 2-5, 2015 at its headquarters in Montréal, Canada.

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Military Suspends Search and Recovery

Indonesia military suspended their search and recovery effort, claiming they are unable to raise the submerged Airbus A320-200 wreckage from the seabed.

Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) will continue looking for the remaining 90 victims missing.

Expert divers say that the deep sea savage and recovery of Air Asia 8501 fuselage wreckage and remaining victims believe trapped inside the Java Sea could take several weeks even up to months to fully complete, due to the current murky waters on the seabed.

Rear Admiral Widodo, commander of the Indonesian Navy’s western fleet, told journalists aboard the naval ship Banda Aceh, which is involved in the search operations off the southern coast of Borneo Island, said “There are many bodies in the fuselage,” declining to give an estimate, The New York Times reported last week.

"The operation has been ongoing for 30 days so the joint team has been pulled out," said Rear Admiral Widodo.

"We apologize to the families of the victims. We tried our best to look for the missing victims."

There are new reports emerging that the Indonesian military divers may allegedly be coming down with the Bendz (a decompression sickness as a result of build up of carbon dioxide gas in the blood stream), and they are being supposedly placed inside recompression chambers in hospitals in Jakarta. This may allegedly be the immediate cause for the sudden Indonesian military pull out of the AirAsia flight 8501 Airbus A320-200 recovery effort.

Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency said it may press on with the search for the remaining 90 victims missing.

But the agency's efforts will be hampered by the loss of the military's large vessels and heavy recovery equipment.

Yahoo! News confirms: "Some divers were suffering from decompression sickness, which typically affects those who have ascended too quickly from great depth, or have not taken long enough breaks between dives," the agency said.

Tatang Zaenuddin, the National Search and Rescue Agency's deputy of operations, told Reuters: "Perhaps we will do regular operations with help from fishermen and communities near the coast to find other victims."

"We will continue to try fulfill the hopes of the victims' relatives, but the operation will not be a large-scale one," said Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency.


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