Nov 012015
 

Metrojet Airbus A321 Reg #EI-ETJ -- 7

Russian Metrojet Airbus A321-231 crashed minutes after takeoff, fatally resulting in the death of 224 people, in mountainous Sinai Peninsula (Egypt) on Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 04:12 Zulu (Greenwich Mean Time, GMT) or 12:12 am ET.

Photo Credit: 1993 REUTERS/Kim Philipp Piskol. Metrojet’s Airbus A321-231, Registration number EI-ETJ, performing as flight 7K-9268taxis at Antalya, Turkey before the tragic crash.

Operated by Russian air carrier, formerly known as Kogalymavia, Kolavia (Moscow-Domodedovo), and branded as MetroJet, according to the Egyptian aviation ministry, Metrojet’s Airbus A321-231, Registration number EI-ETJ, was performing flight 7K-9268 en route from Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) to St. Petersburg (Russia) with 217 passengers and 7 Metrojet crew on board, Russia’s Rosaviatsia (Civil Aviation Authority) confirms.

Speculatively and preliminarily speaking, ahead of detailed analysis of the flight deck recorders or “black-boxes” recovered today from the extensive crash site wreckage at Al Arish (Sinai, Egypt) on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, a technical malfunction in the airliner’s International Aero Engines AG V2533-A5 turbofan engines is only at first-glance attributed to the aerodynamic stalling of the Airbus A321-231 (losing altitude from 31,000 feet at nearly 6,000 feet per minute) about 23 minutes after takeoff from a Red Sea resort popular with Russian tourists, Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has said.

IAE International Aero Engines AG “manages engineering, sales, production, customer support and aftermarket services for the V2500® series engine – one of the most successful commercial jet-engine programs in production today.”

“Approximately 190 airlines and lessors from about 70 countries operate the V2500 series engine. To date, the V2500 series engine has accumulated over 125 million flight hours,” according to the IAE website.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Wednesday, November 4 spoke of a “significant possibility” that Metrojet flight 7K-9268 was “caused by a bomb and Britain immediately suspended all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, the Red Sea resort where the flight originated,” Daily Mirror (U.K.) reports in an extensive rolling timeline of developments in this ongoing crash investigation by the French BEA, Egyptian government officials, Russian Metrojet airline officials, and British and U.S. intelligence.

“Egyptian officials have condemned Britain’s travel ban as an overreaction. Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is in London on a state visit, facing what is likely to be a tense meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron,” says the Daily Mirror (U.K.).

However, until the Airbus A321-231 cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) and the flight data recorders (FDRs), known as “the black boxes” are fully analyzed by the French BEA investigators, nobody really knows what happen during the final moments of Metrojet flight 7K-9268 on Saturday, October 31.

The Telegraph (U.K.) and French television channel France 2 is reporting on Friday, November 6 that the black boxes “distinctly show the sound of an explosion during the flight”, according to an investigator who had access to them.

They said: “the explosion would not be secondary from engine failure.”

In other words, “there is no sign of mechanical malfunction during the initial part of the flight,” France 2 reported. “Everything is fine during the first 24 minutes, then in a fraction of a second there is a blackout and no more cockpit conversation, convincing investigators there was a bomb on board,” according to France 2.

On Saturday, November 7, 2015, Egypt’s Air Accident Investigation Commission (EAAIC) in a news conference stated, according to the Aviation Herald:

  • “The wreckage is distributed over a length of more than 13 kilometers consistent with in-flight breakup with several parts of the wreckage missing.
  • Initial observation of the wreckage does not yet allow for a definitive determine of the exact cause of the in-flight break up.
  • The flight data recorder (FDR) was successfully downloaded and preliminary review of the data suggests the recording stopped 23 minutes and 14 seconds after Metrojet flight 7K-9268 Airbus A321-231 was airborne. The last FDR recorded altitude was 30,888 feet MSL, last FDR recorded airspeed was 281 knots, the autopilot 1 was engaged, the aircraft was still climbing.
  • The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was successfully downloaded and a first listening by French BEA investigators has been completed. The CVR transcript is currently being compiled, a noise has been heard in the last second of the CVR recording. A spectral analysis (or spectrum analysis – a statistical and signal processing mathematical algorithm that estimates the strength of varying frequency components of a time-domain noise signal) – is being performed to determine the frequency nature and location of this noise (now widely reported as an alleged explosion). 
  • Parties reporting facts outside of the investigation should provide their evidence to the accident investigation commission (Editorial note: this appears to be a reference to British and US Intelligence suggesting the aircraft was brought down by a bomb).”

The head of the Egyptian technical committee investigating the crash has confirmed that the recording from the plane’s black box reveals a sound in the last second of the recording, The Telegraph (U.K.) adds and CNN confirms further.

Ayman el-Mokkadem said: “Initial observations… do not allow for identifying the origin of the in-flight break-up” of the Airbus A-321 last Saturday 23 minutes and 14 seconds after it took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

He said: “A noise was heard in the last second of the recording by the cockpit voice recorder” and “a spectral analysis will be done to determine the origin of this noise”.

When answering a question about what the sound represented he said: “The sound is not the only evidence – we need to have a lot of evidence to indicate that something specific happened.”

“All the scenarios are open, it could be a fatigue at the plane body, or an explosion of something…,” said Ayman el-Mokkadem. 

Current expert theories speculating about how the Airbus A321-231 airliner broke apart at 31,000 feet in clear weather cruise flying align along two fronts proposing either engine malfunction and failure or alleged bomb on-board perhaps inside the luggage compartment, originating from a significant security breach at the originating airport in Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt). 

On Thursday, November 5, it appears the U.K. Prime Minister David Kameron alongside U.S. Intelligence officials are going forward on the probable cause of the crash as a “most likely bomb on board theory,” pushing swiftly on their aviation security investigations, ahead of the aviation safety investigation, comprising the French BEA analysis of the Airbus A321-231 black boxes, which could reveal a probable cause of significant engine malfunctioning failure, The Telegraph (U.K.) reports in its extensive rolling timeline of current developments in the crash investigation by the French BEA, Egyptian government officials, Russian Metrojet airline officials, and British and U.S. intelligence.

France’s air accident investigation agency, BEA, told CNN on Friday, November 6 that “Egyptian officials will make an announcement about the crash investigation within the next 24 hours.”

An Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said on Twitter that “the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation will hold a new conference at 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) Saturday.”

On Friday, November 6, “Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to suspend Russian air traffic with Egypt until the cause of the crash can be determined,” the Kremlin said.

“Putin has accepted the recommendations of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee to suspend flights with Egypt. … The President has also instructed to provide assistance to Russian citizens to return from Egypt. In addition, the President has instructed to engage with the Egyptian side to ensure the safety of air traffic,” the Kremlin said.

A separate source, also not authorized to speak on the record, said on Thursday, November 12, that “based on the facts so far, one of the working theories is that a bomb was planted at or near the fuel line or where it attaches to the engine, with the fuel burning off the explosive. This theory would explain the apparent lack of residue immediately found,” the source says, according to Fox News.

Fox News was told both scenarios point to an “airport insider.”

Adel Mahgoub, chairman of the state company that operates Egypt’s civilian airports, said “except for three Ukrainian passengers all on board were Russian citizens.”

An Egyptian cabinet statement said the 217 passengers included 138 women, 62 men and 17 children.

Russian television showed scenes of relatives and friends gathering at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport, awaiting word on the fate of their loved ones. 

Our collective thoughts, prayers, and sympathies remain with the families, friends, and loved ones of those 224 persons lost, as they try to endure in deep anguish for their terribly devastating losses, surrounding today’s Metrojet flight 7K-9268 crash.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared November 1, 2015, a national day of mourning, according to a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website.

Relatives_of_passengers (Telegraph UK)

Photo Credit: The Telegraph (U.K.). In St. Petersburg (Russia) Pulkovo Airport, grieving relatives of victims on board learn of the fate of Metrojet’s Airbus A321-231, Registration number EI-ETJ, performing as flight 7K-9268.

Two of the passengers on the Metrojet flight, Elena Rodina and Alexqander Krotov, were newlyweds, a friend of the couple told the Associated Press at a hotel near the airport. They were both 33.

Yulia Zaitseva said Rodina “really wanted to go to Egypt, though I told her ‘why the hell do you want to go to Egypt?’”

“We were friends for 20 years,” she said. “She was a very good friend who was ready to give everything to other people. To lose such a friend is like having your hand cut off.”

She said Rodina’s parents feel “like their lives are over.”

Roughly three million Russian tourists, or nearly a third of all visitors in 2014, come to Egypt every year, mostly to Red Sea resorts in Sinai or in mainland Egypt.

“It is too premature to detect the impact this will have on tourism. We need to know what happened first,” Tourism Ministry spokeswoman Rasha Azazi told the Associated Press.

Immediate question among the flying tourists is whether it is indeed safe to fly given today’s rare aviation safety circumstances, surrounding the crash of Russian Metrojet flight 7K-9268 in Sinai (Egypt). 

The answer is yes, of course, supported by a poignant U.S. federal government statistics. 

For air and space transport (including air taxis and private flights), the National Safety Council (NSC) says the relative risks of flying are extremely favorable odds of 1 in 7,178 for a lifetime against one receiving death or injury as a result of flying in a commercial passenger airliner. These relative risks of flying are compared by the NSC to the odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident at 1 in 98 for a lifetimeUSA Today reports.

Google Map of Crash Event

The Airbus A321-231 vanished from radar as the airliner was flying to 30,700 feet out of Sharm el Sheikh over the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt on Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 04:12 Zulu (Greenwich Mean Time, GMT) or 12:12 am ET. 

The crew told air traffic control in the region they had technical problems.

The flight was reported to be at 31,000 feet, when it disappeared from the radar screens after 23 minutes of flight. Flight-tracking service FlightRadar24 said the plane was losing altitude at about 6,000 feet per minute before the signal was lost, Reuters reported.

Specifically, “FlightRadar24 acquired a signal from the aircraft shortly after takeoff and tracked it until 04:13:22 Zulu (12:13 am ET). At the time of last contact, FlightRadar24 were receiving a signal from the aircraft to three of its receivers, all of which stopped receiving data from the aircraft at the same time. The chart below represents the final data FlightRadar24 received from the aircraft. At no time did we receive a 7700 squawk from Metrojet flight 7K-9268.” 

Flightradar24 Tracking of Metrojet 7K-9268

The Russian air carrier, Metrojet, whose Airbus A321-231 crashed in the Sinai region on Saturday, says the aircraft was in good shape and the pilot was experienced.

In a statement on its website, Moscow-based Metrojet says the Airbus A321-231 received required factory maintenance in 2014.

The statement also identified the captain of Metrojet flight 7K-9268 was Valery Nemov, who reported technical problems from the flight deck and requested to return to Sharm el Sheikh over the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. 

Egyptian media reports, referring to an Egyptian government meeting, that the flight crew reported trouble with the IAE A.G. V2533-A5 turbofan engines, then subsequently lost control of the aircraft, and flight deck communication ceased.

This is confirmed by Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority’s, Mohamed Hossam Kemal, who told media at a news conference today that there was no Mayday Call from the flight deck, and communication with the Airbus A321-231 was normal until the airliner disappeared from radar.

“The plane did not request a change of route,” Kemal said (via Reuters).

It is being preliminarily surmised in media reports that a probable cause of the crash is the Airbus A321-231 slowed significantly at 31,000 feet and may have gone into an aerodynamic stall, as a result of “technically malfunctioning” turbofan engine stall and surge.

Such a clear-weather, high-altitude cruise flight occurrence of “literally falling out of the sky” is most extremely rare.

Officials say they recovered the aircraft’s flight’s recorders, or “black box,” Fox News reports, which will confirm exactly what occurred during the communication-silence “hot cockpit” final moments of Metrojet flight 7K-9268.

Egypt’s Accident Investigation Commission has initiated an official crash investigation into Metrojet flight 7K-9268. The chairman of the commission stated “preliminary facts point towards a technical failure.”

Turbofan engines could in very rare instances perhaps encountered deeper combustion instability, and even more critical, axial-flow compressor instability, resulting in “engine surge” – an engine air flow reversal pre-induced by “rotating stall” – an engine thrust reducer. Such engine dynamic instabilities are altogether rare catastrophic turbofan engine events during airborne takeoff, and again most extremely rare during high-altitude cruise at 31,000 feet, which typically induces aerodynamic stall of an airliner (see a brief detailed explanation for laypersons of these rare catastrophic turbofan engine instabilities in the Appendix section).
 
During such circumstances of engine surge instability, the pilots would then immediately have to shut off the turbofan engine, and immediately attempt to land the airliner with a single turbofan engine, provided it is in functioning operation. This is how these massive jumbo commercial passenger airliners are designed, manufactured, and tested to do.
 
Lufthansa and Air France announced they are going to “avoid over-flying the Sinai until the cause of the crash has been determined.” In addition, warnings have been issued until further notice by the United States Federal Aviation Administration to U.S. air carriers, as well as, by Germany to German air carriers to operate all flights above 26,000 feet, while air traveling over the Sinai.

Metrojet’s Airbus A321-231, powered by IAE A.G. V2533-A5 turbofan engines, was originally built and delivered/leased to Middle East Airlines (MEA), Registration number F-OHMP, on May 27, 1997, later it was leased to Onur Air, Registration number TC-OAE, and finally, the Russian Metrojet air carrier under its last Registration number EI-ETJ on May 27, 1997. The airliner had been also briefly in service with Saudi Arabian Airlines and Kolavia, and had accumulated approximately 55,772 flight hours in 21,175 flight cycles.

Metrojet flight 7K-9268 Captain Valery Nemov had 12,000 air hours of flying experience, including 3,860 hours flying Airbus A321 airliners.

Airbus said the aircraft was 18 years old and had been operated by Metrojet since 2012, Reuters reported. The plane had accumulated around 56,000 flight hours in nearly 21,000 flights.

Russian media said the airliner was a charter flight under contract with the Brisco tour company in St. Petersburg.

Ayman al-Muqadem, an Egyptian official with the government’s Aviation Incidents Committee, said the plane’s pilot, before losing contact, had radioed that the aircraft was experiencing technical problems and that he intended to attempt a landing at the nearest airport.

It was not immediately possible to independently confirm that technical problems caused the plane to crash.

The wife of the co-pilot of Metrojet flight 7K-9268 said her husband had complained about the plane’s condition,” according to a Russian TV channel (via Associated Press).

State-controlled NTV ran an interview Saturday with Natalya Trukhacheva, identified as the wife of Metrojet flight 7K-9268 co-pilot, Sergei Trukachev. She said that a daughter “called him up before he flew out. He complained before the flight that the technical condition of the aircraft left much to be desired.”

Earlier, Egyptian Aviation Incidents Committee, Ayman al-Muqadem told local media that the plane had briefly lost contact but was safely in Turkish airspace. The aircraft crashed at a site near the al-Arish airport, Ayman al-Muqadem said.

Egyptian authorities have said the aircraft had successfully undergone technical checks while at Sharm el-Sheikh’s airport. A technical committee from the company was headed to Sharm el-Sheikh to collect security camera footage of the Airbus A321-231, while it sat at the airport, including operations to supply the airliner with fuel and passenger meals, as well as security checks, he said.

The scattered wreckage of the Airbus A321-231 airliner was later located by military forces in the mountains of the Sinai about 20 nautical miles south of el-Arish (Sinai, Egypt, shown on the map above) on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Read more also on CNN.

A security officer at the crash site who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity described it as “tragic.”

“A lot of dead on the ground and many who died (were) strapped to their seats,” the officer said. “The plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rock. We have extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside.”

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (below) visited the crash site today with several cabinet ministers on a private jet, Egypt’s tourism ministry said, according to Reuters. He told a news conference today, “there did not appear to be any unusual activity behind the crash, but the facts would not be clear until further investigations had been carried out.”

metrojet_a321_crashsite 5

metrojet_a321_crashsite 3

Metrojet Airbus A321 Reg #EI-ETJ -- 3

Photo Credit: Alamy Live News. Metrojet’s Airbus A321-231, Registration number EI-ETJ, performing as flight 7K-9268, flying out of Moscow earlier this month.

The Russian Embassy in Cairo along with Egyptian security and military officials told the Associated Press there were no survivors and that all on board have died in the tragic crash.

Reuters quoting an Egyptian Official, who requested anonymity, involved in the ongoing rescue operation, says “the aircraft has broken up in two major parts, a small part being the tail plane caught fire, the other larger part impacted a rock.”

There are now reports of bodies being recovered. “The bodies of 150 victims, some still strapped to their seats, had been pulled from the wreckage,” Sky News reported, as 50 ambulances have been dispatched to the crash site.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail reported that 129 bodies have been recovered and flown by helicopters to Cairo.

Metrojet Airbus A321 Reg #EI-ETJ -- 6

Photo Credit: Planespotters.net. Metrojet’s Airbus A321-231, Registration number EI-ETJ, performing as flight 7K-9268.

There is no evidence of hostile or missile activity around the flight path of the Airbus A321-231. Russia’s Transport Ministry called a video surfacing in the Internet claiming to show the shoot down of Metrojet flight 7K-9263 by Islamic State as “not credible and fabricated.”

An Egyptian aviation ministry statement said, “Egyptian military search and rescue teams found the wreckage of the passenger jet in the remote mountainous Hassana area 44 miles south of the city of el-Arish, an area in northern Sinai where Egyptian security forces are fighting a burgeoning Islamic militant insurgency led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group.”

The group claimed responsibility for downing the jet, Sky News reported.

The Wilayat Sinai group claimed on Twitter Saturday that “the fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders. They were all killed, thanks be to God.” The statement was also posted on a website that serves as an unofficial news agency for the terror group, Sky News reported, adding that the claim has not been verified and it is unclear whether Sinai militants have the capability to attack a plane flying at a high altitude. 

Separately, Russia’s top investigative body opened its own investigation into the crash. 

Militants in northern Sinai have not to date shot down commercial airliners or fighter-jets. There have been persistent media reports that they have acquired Russian shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles. But these types of missiles can only be effective against low-flying aircraft or helicopters. In January 2014, Sinai-based militants claimed to have shot down a military helicopter; Egyptian officials at the time acknowledged the helicopter had crashed, but gave no reason.

Click here for more on Sky News.

The Associated Press is credited to this report.

B-1-2_v2500-cutaway-high

Photo Credit: 2014 International Aero Engines (IAE) A.G. V2533-A5 series turbofan engine (cutaway)

Appendix

How do aircraft engines achieve catastrophic mechanical failure and how can this be mitigated?

Air enters the IAE A.G. V2533-A5 turbofan engine (cutaway shown above) through the front fan section (indicated in the photo below on a Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7R4D) at a mass flow rate of about a ton of air per second.

Five parts of this massive volume of air passes bypasses over the engine core into an exit nozzle past the turbine section, producing a substantially large amount of exit thrust. Whereas, one part of the inlet fan volume of air passes into the engine core begin at the compressor section.

From here air then continues to flow into the combustion chamber (where it is mixed with fuel for combustion).

Subsequently, those combusted, hot gases pass into the turbine section (which not only produces additional exit thrust force of the engine, but also the turbine section serves to turn the engine core shaft, which turns the compressor blades inside the compression section and also the fans blades inside the fan section, and thus, start all over again the dynamic loop of how an aircraft engine properly operates).

The rotor blades in the turbine get very hot at about 1,800 degrees Kelvin or even more, so it is necessary to cool the turbine blades based on limiting thermal restrictions on material science. The tangential on-board injector’s job is to channel cool air from the compressor section into passages between the turbine blades in the turbine section.

Here is a cut-away of an actual IAE A.G. V2533-A5 turbofan engine in a museum, marked it up to help us see where the main engine components of the fan, compressor (including the air-fuel combustion chamber), and turbine sections are (including the identified portion of a Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7R4D engine that landing on Church and Murray Street, below the World Trade Center fire on 9-11):

PW_jt9d_cutaway_high 2

The operating range of aircraft turbofan engine compression systems is limited by two classes of aerodynamic instabilities (Fig. 1) known as rotating stall and surge [1].

Rotating stall is a multidimensional instability in which regions of low or reversed mass flow (i.e., stall cells) propagate around the compressor annulus due to incidence variations on adjacent airfoils [2–5].

Surge is primarily a one-dimensional instability of the entire pumping system (compressor, ducts, combustion chamber, and turbine). It is characterized by axial pulsations in annulus-averaged mass flow, including periods of flow reversal through the machine.

In high-speed compressor hydrodynamics across compressible flow regimes [6], rotating stall is generally encountered first, which then (loosely) “triggers” surge (often after a few rotor revolutions [2]).

This work [13] proposes schemes to passively control compressible rotating stall of high-speed compressors.

Nonetheless, with either instability, the compression system experiences a substantial loss in performance and operability, which sometimes result in catastrophic mechanical failure.

An experience-based approach for avoiding such performance loss is to operate the compressor at a safe range from the point of instability onset (i.e., imposing a stall margin). The stall margin ensures that the engine can endure momentary off-design operation. The margin also reduces the available pressure rise and efficiency of the machine.

It is proposed here [13] that incorporating tailored structures and aeromechanical feedback controllers, locally-sensed by unstable compressible perturbations in annulus pressure, and actuated by non-uniformities in the high-speed flow distribution around the annulus, can be shown to inhibit the inception of a certain class of modal (long wave) stall of high-speed compressor devices. As a result, the stable operating range will be effectively extended allowing higher compressible performance and operability.

The fundamental proposition here [13] is high-speed stall onset just does not happen—it is triggered by an interdependent compressibility chain of critical Reynolds (boundary layer) and Mach (kinetic-thermal energy transfer) events. The commencement of these interdependent Reynolds and Mach events can be passively controlled, once their proportional sensitivity are monitored, sensed, and mechanically mitigated adequately in balance of performance, operability, weight, and reliability integrated with more conventional schedule-type control to justify the risk of such passive approaches offered herein.

In theory, fundamentals of a number of sensor-actuator schemes for rotating stall control were originally proposed early-on in Hendricks and Gysling [7]. In practice, a passive stall control program [13] could potentially be integrated with conventional control schedules of adequate change of fuel valve position, bleed valves, and re-staggered stator programs developed appropriately for profitable usage on compression systems operating in a highly-sensed compressible flow environment.

B-1-2_V2500_Engine_704x396

Photo Credit: Pratt & Whitney V2533-A5 series turbofan engine

Fundamental References for Additional Readings in the Field of Aircraft Engine Propulsion Stability

  1. ????Emmons, H. W., Pearson, C. E., and Grant, H. P., 1955, ‘‘Compressor Surge and Stall Propagation,’’ Trans. ASME, 77, pp. 455–469.

  2. ????Greitzer, E. M., 1976, ‘‘Surge and Rotating Stall in Axial Flow Compressors, Part I & II,’’ ASME J. Eng. Power, 99, pp. 190–217.

  3. ????Greitzer, E. M., 1980, ‘‘Review: Axial Compressor Stall Phenomenon,’’ ASME J. Fluids Eng., 102, pp. 134–151.

  4. Greitzer, E. M., 1981, ‘‘The Stability of Pumping Systems, The 1980 Freeman Scholar Lecture,’’ ASME J. Fluids Eng., 103, pp. 193–242.

  1. ????Day, I. J., 1993, ‘‘Stall Inception in Axial Flow Compressors,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 115, pp. 1–9.

  2. ????Gysling, D. L. et al., 1991, ‘‘Dynamic Control of Centrifugal Compressor Surge Using Tailored Structures,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 113, pp. 710–722.

  1. ????Gysling, D. L., and Greitzer, E. M., 1995, ‘‘Dynamic Control of Rotating Stall in Axial Flow Compressors Using Aeromechanical Feedback,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 117, pp. 307–319.

  2. ????Moore, F. K., 1984, ‘‘A Theory of Rotating Stall of Multistage Compressors—Parts I – II – III,’’ ASME J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power, 106, pp. 313–336.

  1. ????Moore, F. K., and Greitzer, E. M., 1986, ‘‘A Theory of Post Stall Transients in Axial Compression Systems: Part I—Development of Equations,’’ ASME J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power, 108, pp. 68–76.

  2. ????Greitzer, E. M., and Moore, F. K., 1986, ‘‘A Theory of Post-Stall Transients in Axial Compression Systems: Part II—Application,’’ ASME J. Eng. Gas Tur- bines Power, 108, pp. 231–239.

  3. ????Haynes, J. M., Hendricks, G. J., and Epstein, A. H., 1994, ‘‘Active Stabilization of Rotating Stall in a Three-Stage Axial Compressor,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 116, pp. 226–239.

  1. ????Longley, J. P., 1994, ‘‘A Review of Non-Steady Flow Models for Compressor Stability,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 116, pp. 202–215.

  2. McGee, O. G., and Coleman, K. L., 2013, “Aeromechanical Control of High-Speed Axial Compressor Stall and Engine Performance—Part I: Control-Theoretic Models,” ASME J. Fluids Eng., 135, March 2013. Coleman, K.L., and McGee, O.G., 2013, “Aeromechanical Control of High-Speed Axial Compressor Stall and Engine Performance—Part II: Assessments of Methodologies,” ASME J. Fluids Eng., 135, May 2013.

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Oct 302015
 

Dynamic Airways B767-200ER N251MY FLL

A Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4D left turbofan engine burst into flames on a taxiing Dynamic International Airways Boeing 767-200ER, carrying 101 passengers and flight crew, just prior to its departure at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (in Dania Beach, Florida USA) en route to Caracas, Venezuela. 

Photo Credit: Flicker.com, Dynamic Aviation Group Boeing-767-300ER, Registration Number N251MY

The 29-year-old Boeing 767-200ER airliner, Registration Number N251MY, operating as flight 2D-405 on Thursday, October 29, 2015, was taxiing on the ground before departure at about 12:34pm ET, holding short of Fort Lauderdale Airport’s runway 28R after contacting the local air traffic control tower.

Suddenly, the flight crew of another aircraft, taxiing behind Dynamic International Airways flight 2D-405, advised the flight deck of the Boeing 767-200ER airliner that there was a massive Jet A-1 fuel leak from the left Pratt & Whitney turbofan engine (JT9D-7R4D).

Pratt & Whitney developed the first high bypass ratio turbofan engine (JT9D-7R4D) to power a wide-body airliner, originally designed for application to the first Jumbo Boeing 747-100 airliner.

Boeing 767 Fort Lauderdale Fire

Immediately, the flight deck of the Boeing 767-200ER airliner acknowledged the fuel leak and then requested to return to the ramp.

That was when the other advising flight deck airliner, taxiing behind flight 2D-405, alerted the Boeing 767-200ER flight deck that the new condition of their aircraft was their left turbofan engine was now on fire!

Boeing 767 Fort Lauderdale Fire 2

According to Reuters, at 12:34pm ET the Boeing 767-200ER airliner was evacuated via slides in about 3 minutes. 

Luis Campana, a 71-year-old rancher, along with his wife and sister, were three of the 101 passengers and crew on-board Dynamic International Airways flight 2D-405 traveling to Venezuela’s Guarico state.

“It was a real scare,” Campana told Reuters at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. He said, “he had been sitting near the front of the plane, as the pilot put the thrust on to taxi up the runway.”

“The engine exploded. As we were getting out of the plane down the chute, the smoke was beginning to enter and the engine was in flames,” he said.

Twenty-one people were injured, one seriously, most of whom were treated at a hospital and released, said Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles.

Don Dodson, the director of operations for Dynamic Airways, said airline officials had set up a crisis center, flown in additional airline representatives to help passengers and arranged for a relief flight to take passengers to their final destinations.

Emergency services responded in two minutes at 12:36pm ET, according to Mike Jachles of the Boward County Fire Rescue, upon which firefighters extinguished the fire using foam seven minutes later at 12:41pm ET.

The National Transportation Safety Board has initiated its investigation of the Boeing 767-200ER fire that injured several passengers on the tarmac at the South Florida airport Thursday, according to Greg Meyer of the Boward County Aviation Department.

The plane had no previous incidents or issues, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The Boeing 767/269 — manufactured in 1986 and owned by Utah-based airplane leasing company KMW Leasing in Salt Lake City — lost 45 to 50 gallons of fuel, damaging the asphalt. Taxiway repairs should be complete later Friday or Saturday, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport Director Kent George said (via Fox News).

“More than 100 passengers had to evacuate using emergency slides. Some ran from the plane into the terminal as fire crews rushed to put the fire out,” Fox News reported.

Kent George, Director of the Broward County Aviation Department, said (via Fox News), “the flames never entered the cockpit.”

Dyanmic Airways Logo

Dynamic International Airways, according to the limited liability company founded in 2008, is a certified Part 121 Carrier, operating fleet of seven Boeing 767-200ER aircraft that typically carries up to 250 people. The air carrier is based in Greensboro, North Carolina that connects Fort Lauderdale, New York, Venezuela and Guyana.

In past Dynamic International Airways operated mostly for other carriers and tour operators under their wet lease agreements.

In 2014 the airline started its own passenger service on multiple international markets including China, Saipan, Guam, Hong Kong, Guyana and Brasil.

Only recently, Dynamic International Airways announced it has launched its low-cost service between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Caracas, Venezuela.

“For Venezuelans hoping to travel abroad, the options have been severely reduced to little-known carriers such as Dynamic or domestic carriers, which due to the country’s economic crisis, have struggled to import replacement parts,” according to Fox News.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee. “Firefighters walk past a burned out engine of a Dynamic Airways Boeing 767, Thursday, October 29, 2015, at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Dania Beach, Florida. The passenger plane’s engine caught fire Thursday as it prepared for takeoff, and passengers had to quickly evacuate on the runway using emergency slides, officials said. The plane was headed to Caracas, Venezuela.”
 
How we all can relate to this Dynamic International Airways Boeing 767 engine safety breach? 
 
Immediate question among the flying public is whether it is indeed safe to fly given today’s rare engine safety circumstances, surrounding the departure of Dynamic International Airways flight 2D-405.
 
The answer is yes, of course, supported by a poignant U.S. federal government statistics.
 
For air and space transport (including air taxis and private flights), the National Safety Council (NSC) says the relative risks of flying are extremely favorable odds of 1 in 7,178 for a lifetime against one receiving death or injury as a result of flying in a commercial passenger airliner. These relative risks of flying are compared by the NSC to the odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident at 1 in 98 for a lifetime, the USA Today reports.
 
Be that as it may, my father was a firefighter. He impressed upon me that firefighters and ground crews at these airports must work fast to put such hot fires out, as a result of exploding Jet A-1 engine fuel, having a flash point greater than 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), with an autoignition temperature of 210 degrees Celsius (410 degrees Fahrenheit).
 
Dynamic International Airways Boeing 767-200ER’s engine fire today on the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport runway was an extremely hot Jet A-1 engine fuel fire at burn temperatures reaching as high as 2,500 degrees Kelvin (2,230 degrees Celsius, or 4,040 degrees Fahrenheit), including open air burn temperatures climbing as high as 1,030 degrees Celsius, or 1,890 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
Moreover, fast cabin evacuation inside the Dynamic Airways’ Boeing 767-200ER of all the 101 passengers and crew was remarkably achieved in three minutes or 180 seconds – about twice the 90 seconds mandated by FAA regulations – that fortunately saved the lives of all passengers and flight crew on-board flight 2D-405.
 
So today, congratulations goes out to the Dynamic Airways 2D-405 flight crew for their fine execution of passenger evacuation of the cabin at the moment of the flight deck determination of a fire inside the left Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4D turbofan engine.
 
Additional salute goes out to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport ground crews and controllers, as well as, some heads up eyewitness warning on the ground (from the flight deck of a nearby taxiing airliner) of leaking Jet A-1 fuel from that Boeing 767-200ER’s left turbofan engine causing this massive fire and thick black smoke bellowing high into the sky (shown via Reuters below).

We can all emotionally recall, we had seen a similar massive fire with thick black smoke bellowing high in the sky, resulting from extremely hot Jet A-1 engine fuel inside the World Trade Center fire fourteen years ago on 9-11-2001.  

Therein, that tall building’s constructed steel melted, when it reached  a temperature of 800 degree Fahrenheit, as a result of forced mixing with a highly flammable Jet A-1 engine fuel, which burns at an extremely hot temperature approaching 2000 degrees Kelvin.

When Jet A-1 fuel burns uncontrollably, it induces a thick bellowing cloud of black smoke. 

WTC Tower on 9-11
 
Photo Credit: “It is an easily verifiable truth that Flight 175, as the Boeing 767 that it was, carried two Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7R4D turbofan engines run on hot Jet A-1 engine fuel. “Flight 11” struck the North Tower –as seen above– at 8:46 AM. “Flight 175” struck the South Tower at 9:03 AM. At that moment upon hitting the South Tower, the flaming Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7R4D engine fell onto the street below landing broken apart at the corner of Church and Murray Street in lower Manhattan.
 
Unfortunately, fast evacuation from tall buildings is much tougher and slower, than fortunately, the faster evacuation from commercial aircraft – mandated by FAA to be under just 90 seconds!
 
So, air passengers please read those seat-back cards in front of you that the flight attendants are instructing you to do during pre-flight safety procedures. 
 
Most of all, do determine in your mind your nearest route to an exit, including your emergency evacuation plan. 
 
Those passengers seated at the exits are federally-required by law to assist all passengers and flight crew in the event of an emergency evacuation of all commercial passenger aircraft.
 
dynamic_b762_n251my_fort_lauderdale_151029_2
 
An additional truth about rare sudden aircraft turbofan engine fires is that we are extremely lucky the Dynamic Airways Boeing 767-200ER’s Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4D turbofan engine fire did not occur later upon takeoff. 
 
Therein, the turbofan engines could perhaps have further encounter deeper combustion instability, and even more critical, axial flow compressor instability, resulting in “engine surge” – an engine air flow reversal pre-induced by “rotating stall” – an engine thrust reducer, altogether leading to a rare catastrophic turbofan engine fire during airborne takeoff (see a brief detailed explanation for laypersons of these rare catastrophic turbofan engine instabilities in the Appendix section).
 
The pilots would then immediately have to shut off the left turbofan engine, and immediately attempt to land the Boeing 767 with the single right turbofan engine in functioning operation. This is how these massive jumbo commercial airliners are designed, manufactured, and tested to do fortunately.

Still, experts present another scenario of truths associated with the Boeing 767-200ER’s Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4D engine safety breach of an undetected fuel leak prior to takeoff.

The accident could have been catastrophic had the jet taken off with a fuel leak, Greg Feith, a former crash investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, told Reuters.

“Once the aircraft is airborne, it becomes a flying blowtorch,” Feith said. “The fire intensifies and you don’t know what system or structure it’s going to burn through.”

Fire could damage a wing and fuselage, or cripple hydraulic and electronic control systems, Feith said, potentially making an emergency landing impossible. It could also ignite fuel tanks in the wings, especially if fuel vapor were present, he said.

Appendix

How do aircraft engines achieve catastrophic mechanical failure and how can this be mitigated?

Air enters the Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4D turbofan engine through the fan section (indicated in the photo below) at a mass flow rate of about a ton of air per second.

Five parts of this massive volume of air passes bypasses over the engine core into an exit nozzle past the turbine section, producing a substantially large amount of exit thrust. Whereas, one part of the inlet fan volume of air passes into the engine core begin at the compressor section.

From here air then continues to flow into the combustor (where it is mixed with fuel for combustion).

Subsequently, those combusted, hot gases pass into the turbine section (which not only produces additional exit thrust force of the engine, but also the turbine section serves to turn the engine core shaft, which turns the compressor blades inside the compression section and also the fans blades inside the fan section, and thus, start all over again the dynamic loop of how an aircraft engine properly operates).

The rotor blades in the turbine get very hot at about 1,800 degrees Kelvin or even more, so it is necessary to cool the turbine blades based on limiting thermal restrictions on material science. The tangential on-board injector’s job is to channel cool air from the compressor section into passages between the turbine blades in the turbine section.

Here is a cut-away of an actual Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7R4D turbofan engine in a museum, marked it up to help us see where the main engine components of the fan, compressor (including the air-fuel combustion chamber), and turbine sections are (including the identified portion that landing on Church and Murray Street, below the World Trade Center fire on 9-11):

PW_jt9d_cutaway_high 2

The operating range of aircraft turbofan engine compression systems is limited by two classes of aerodynamic instabilities (Fig. 1) known as rotating stall and surge [1].

Rotating stall is a multidimensional instability in which regions of low or reversed mass flow (i.e., stall cells) propagate around the compressor annulus due to incidence variations on adjacent airfoils [2–5].

Surge is primarily a one- dimensional instability of the entire pumping system (compressor, ducts, combustion chamber, and turbine). It is characterized by axial pulsations in annulus-averaged mass flow, including periods of flow reversal through the machine.

In high-speed compressor hydrodynamics across compressible flow regimes [6], rotating stall is generally encountered first, which then (loosely) “triggers” surge (often after a few rotor revolutions [2]).

This work [13] proposes schemes to passively control compressible rotating stall of high-speed compressors.

Nonetheless, with either instability, the compression system experiences a substantial loss in performance and operability, which sometimes result in catastrophic mechanical failure.

An experience-based approach for avoiding such performance loss is to operate the compressor at a safe range from the point of instability onset (i.e., imposing a stall margin). The stall margin ensures that the engine can endure momentary off-design operation. The margin also reduces the available pressure rise and efficiency of the machine (see Fig. 2).

It is proposed here that incorporating tailored structures and aeromechanical feedback controllers, locally-sensed by unstable compressible perturbations in annulus pressure, and actuated by non-uniformities in the high- speed flow distribution around the annulus, can be shown to inhibit the inception of a certain class of modal (long wave) stall of high-speed compressor devices. As a result, the stable operating range will be effectively extended allowing higher compressible performance and operability.

The fundamental proposition here [13] is high-speed stall onset just does not happen—it is triggered by an interdependent compressibility chain of critical Reynolds (boundary layer) and Mach (kinetic-thermal energy transfer) events. The commencement of these interdependent Reynolds and Mach events can be passively controlled, once their proportional sensitivity are monitored, sensed, and mechanically mitigated adequately in balance of performance, operability, weight, and reliability integrated with more conventional schedule-type control to justify the risk of such passive approaches offered herein.

In theory, fundamentals of a number of sensor-actuator schemes for rotating stall control were originally proposed early-on in Hendricks and Gysling [7]. In practice, a passive stall control program [13] could potentially be integrated with conventional control schedules of adequate change of fuel valve position, bleed valves, and re-staggered stator programs developed appropriately for profitable usage on compression systems operating in a highly-sensed compressible flow environment.

PW_jt9d_cutaway_high 3

Fundamental References for Additional Readings in the Field of Aircraft Engine Propulsion Stability

  1. Emmons, H. W., Pearson, C. E., and Grant, H. P., 1955, ‘‘Compressor Surge and Stall Propagation,’’ Trans. ASME, 77, pp. 455–469.

  2. Greitzer, E. M., 1976, ‘‘Surge and Rotating Stall in Axial Flow Compressors, Part I & II,’’ ASME J. Eng. Power, 99, pp. 190–217.

  3. Greitzer, E. M., 1980, ‘‘Review: Axial Compressor Stall Phenomenon,’’ ASME J. Fluids Eng., 102, pp. 134–151.

  4. Greitzer, E. M., 1981, ‘‘The Stability of Pumping Systems, The 1980 Freeman Scholar Lecture,’’ ASME J. Fluids Eng., 103, pp. 193–242.

  1. Day, I. J., 1993, ‘‘Stall Inception in Axial Flow Compressors,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 115, pp. 1–9.

  2. Gysling, D. L. et al., 1991, ‘‘Dynamic Control of Centrifugal Compressor Surge Using Tailored Structures,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 113, pp. 710–722.

  1. Gysling, D. L., and Greitzer, E. M., 1995, ‘‘Dynamic Control of Rotating Stall in Axial Flow Compressors Using Aeromechanical Feedback,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 117, pp. 307–319.

  2. Moore, F. K., 1984, ‘‘A Theory of Rotating Stall of Multistage Compressors—Parts I – II – III,’’ ASME J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power, 106, pp. 313–336.

  1. Moore, F. K., and Greitzer, E. M., 1986, ‘‘A Theory of Post Stall Transients in Axial Compression Systems: Part I—Development of Equations,’’ ASME J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power, 108, pp. 68–76.

  2. Greitzer, E. M., and Moore, F. K., 1986, ‘‘A Theory of Post-Stall Transients in Axial Compression Systems: Part II—Application,’’ ASME J. Eng. Gas Tur- bines Power, 108, pp. 231–239.

  3. Haynes, J. M., Hendricks, G. J., and Epstein, A. H., 1994, ‘‘Active Stabilization of Rotating Stall in a Three-Stage Axial Compressor,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 116, pp. 226–239.

  1. Longley, J. P., 1994, ‘‘A Review of Non-Steady Flow Models for Compressor Stability,’’ ASME J. Turbomach., 116, pp. 202–215.

  2. McGee, O. G., and Coleman, K. L., 2013, “Aeromechanical Control of High-Speed Axial Compressor Stall and Engine Performance—Part I: Control- Theoretic Models,” ASME J. Fluids Eng., 135, March 2013. Coleman, K.L., and McGee, O.G., 2013, “Aeromechanical Control of High-Speed Axial Compressor Stall and Engine Performance—Part II: Assessments of Methodologies,” ASME J. Fluids Eng., 135, May 2013.

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Oct 142015
 

Malaysia Airlines Logos 333

Crash investigators of the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) in its final report today confirm a Russian-built Buk ground-to-air missile downed MH17. The DSB released its findings at 1:45 pm local Dutch time, 7:45 am ET on the causes of the Boeing 777-200 crash in war-torn Hrabove, Ukraine on July 17, 2014, in which 283 passengers and 15 crew members died on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17’s Boeing 777-200 en route from Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur. 

Today’s MH17 crash final report by the DSB of The Netherlands, headed by Chairman Tjibbe Joustra, follows a previously released preliminary MH17 investigation report on September 9, 2014, sketching out the causes of the aviation disaster that has impacted Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB).

Video Thumbnail
MH17 Crash - English Spoken

Video Credit: about the Dutch Safety Board’s investigation into the causes of the crash of flight MH17 on July 17, 2014 in the eastern part of Ukraine and the Board’s investigation into flying over conflict zones. The video was based on the Dutch Safety Board’s investigation reports, which were published on October 12, 2015.

DSB chairman Joustra said the warhead that downed MH17 fits the profile of a Russian-built automatic computerized Buk ground-to-air missile. However, Russian officials who participated in the investigation said “it was not possible to confirm the warhead or type of system,” according to Joustra (via CNN).

The new air carrier has been operational, since September 1, 2015, with a new RM6 billion (or US$1.9 billion) business model and management team, led by Christoph Mueller, CEO of Malaysia Airlines Systems and CEO-Designate of the new “value-based” airline, aiming for profitability estimated by 2018 (which is briefly reviewed at the end of this piece).

MH17 Reg 9M-MRD

Photo Credit: Taken on July 28, 2013, at Shanghai Pudong Airport, by Steven Richardson, aviation analyst at FlyersPulse.com, of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, Registration Number 9M-MRD, which is reported by Malaysia Airlines as the crashed aircraft of Flight 17.

A total of 193 Dutch nationals and 38 Australian nationals were on board Flight MH17. Besides 44 Malaysians, nationals from the Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada and New Zealand were among the 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew on board MH17.

Our thoughts, prayers, and sympathies still remain with the families, friends, and loved ones of those 298 persons lost, as they continue to wait in deep anguish for the most complete closure to their lingering questions in search of the most definitive answers and justice surrounding the MH17 aviation disaster.

After more than 15 months of searching and waiting for those answers, this history-making aviation safety and security breach is still raising even more questions, as to why this MH17 aviation disaster happened on the morning of July 17, 2014 to this particular Southeast Asia air carrier in the wake of a little over four months after the stunning disappearance of the Boeing 777-200ER airliner that frames the ongoing mystery of the MH370 aviation tragedy on the morning of March 8, 2014.

Scope of Dutch Safety Board (DSB) MH17 Crash Investigation.

The DSB investigation is operated in accordance with the standards and recommended practices in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13.

The largest number of 193 passengers on board flight MH17 were Dutch. As a result of international protocols and norms in aviation crash events, involving safety and security breaches, The Netherlands has taken the international lead in the overall safety investigation and findings report of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The nation-state (Ukraine) in which the Boeing 777-200 airliner safety breach occurred has delegated the investigation to the Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the investigation and coordinating the international team of investigators. The group of international investigators consists of aviation safety and security representatives of The Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, United States, Russia, and Ukraine.

This MH17 causal report contains the complete circumstances surrounding the aircraft hull “high-energy” foreign object impact and explosion, a comprehensive technical analysis of the airliners’ flight data recorders (or “black-boxes”), an investigation into the decision-making process with regard to flight routes over war-torn Hrabove, Ukraine on July 17, 2014, and a scientific forensic analysis of the remains of the 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew members.

The final report also contains factual information obtained from safety investigative teams having accessible evidence of the MH17 crash site, including on-board flight records and radar stations, MH17 black-box flight data, as well as, satellite imaging and other visual sources. 

The following areas of interest substantiate the wealth of factual information and recommendations (quoted in the Appendix Section of this piece) inside the massive final report regarding:

  • detailed analyses of data, including black-box flight data recorders and other sources, recorded on-board the Boeing 777-200 airliner;
  • detailed analyses of recorder air traffic control surveillance data and radio communication;
  • detailed analyses of the meteorological circumstances;
  • forensic examination of wreckage, if recovered and possible foreign objects, if found;
  • results of the pathological investigation;
  • analyses of the in-flight break up sequence;
  • assessment of Malaysia Airlines operator’s and State of Occurrence’s management of flight safety over a region of conflict or high security risk;
  • detailed analysis of eleven (11) aviation safety and security recommendations to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Air Transportation Association (IATA);
  • any other areas that are identified during the ongoing MH17 crash investigation.

The MH17 crash findings released today builds the most complete picture of how the Boeing 777-200 airliner, Registration Number 9M-MRDwas brought down on the morning of July 17, 2014 over war-torn Hrabove, Ukraine.

The DSB’s main objective is to establish the causes of the MH17 crash and to offer recommendations for safety of international commercial passenger flights.

In addition, DSB stresses inside its preliminary and final reports that the safety council does not have any authority to “apportion blame” and to “place blame, liability or responsibility for the tragedy” on any nation or specific group or persons. The Board further adds such issues must remain within the scope of the Dutch prosecutorial authorities.

A critical overarching question addressed inside the DSB preliminary and final reports is:

What happened exactly? Why was Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777-200 airliner performing its flight MH17 precisely across the much-troubled war-torn Harbove, Ukraine region, where an armed conflict was being fought? What extent the occupants of flight MH17 consciously experienced the crash?

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has said Malaysia would continue with its own safety investigation and criminal probe into the MH17 aviation disaster through the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), alongside the Dutch team of safety investigators, including further assessments into the preliminary and final reports of the Dutch Safety Board.

“We hope the final report can help in obtaining sound evidence to bring the criminals to the international court,” Lai has said.

Main Conclusion – Preliminary findings of “high-energy objects” now concluded by DSB as a Buk ground-to-air missile downing MH17.

Based on the preliminary findings to data, no indications of any technical or operational issues were found with the aircraft or crew prior to the ending of the black-box flight data recording of MH17 at 13.20:03 hours UTC.

The damage observed in the forward section of the Boeing 777-200 airliner appears to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft. It is likely that this damage resulted in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft, leading to an in-flight break up.

“High-energy objects,” as suggested in the preliminary findings of the DSB on September 9, 2014, penetrated the aircraft as it flew over war-torn Hrabove, Ukraine.

It has been determined by the DSB in their preliminary report that a Boeing 777-200, operated by Malaysia Airlines as flight MH17, broke up in the air, as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of “high-energy” objects that penetrated the airliner’s fuselage from outside. The Board found no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by “a technical fault or by actions of the crew.”

“The cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder and data from air traffic control all suggest that flight MH17 proceeded as normal until 13:20:03 (UTC) after which it ended abruptly. A full listening of the communications among the crew members in the cockpit recorded on the cockpit voice recorder revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation. Neither were any warning tones heard in the cockpit that might have pointed to technical problems. The flight data recorder registered no aircraft system warnings, and aircraft engine parameters were consistent with normal operation during the flight. The radio communications with Ukrainian air traffic control confirm that no emergency call was made by the cockpit crew. The final calls by Ukrainian air traffic control made between 13.20:00 and 13.22:02 (UTC) remained unanswered,” the DSB preliminary report concluded.

The Dutch preliminary report added: “The pattern of wreckage on the ground suggests that the aircraft split into pieces during flight (an in-flight break up). Based on the available maintenance history the airplane was airworthy, when it took off from Amsterdam, and there were no known technical problems. The aircraft was manned by a qualified and experienced crew.”

The DSB went on to summarize the findings of the crash site debris field: “The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside” … “The fact that there were many pieces of aircraft structure distributed over a large area indicated that the aircraft broke up in the air.”

Photo Credit: Dutch Safety Board (DSB), The warhead, points 1-3 mark the parts of the warhead recovered on the crash site.

Nearly a year later on August 11, 2015, the DSB took possession of parts recovered from the MH17 crash site in Hrabove, Ukraine, that the DSB preliminarily determined could possibly have originated from an advanced computerized BUK ground-to-air missile. Upon further investigation by the DSB to determine the cause of the crash, and by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which conducted the criminal investigation, the final MH17 causal report definitively links the discovered parts to an advanced computerized Buk warhead ground-to-air missile. The MH17 final report further concludes that the discovered parts of the Russian-built Buk ground-to-air missile was indeed the “high-energy” impact which caused the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014.

MH17 Wreckage 4

Extent of Flight MH17 Boeing 777-200 Hull Damage on the 298 Passengers and Crew.

Damage observed on the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the Boeing 777-200 airliner appears to indicated that there were impacts from a large number of high-energy objects, now concluded by the DSB as originating from a Russian-built Buk ground-to-air missile, from outside the aircraft.

The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was not consistent with the damage that would be expected from any known failure mode of the Boeing 777-200 airliner, its engines or systems.

The fact that there were many pieces of aircraft structure distributed over a large area, indicated that the aircraft broke up in the air.

The DSB concluded that “pre-formed fragments” or “high-energy objects” from the warhead explosion at the forward fuselage and cockpit section killed three crew members instantly. In the aft section of the Boeing 777-200 airliner no such damage was placed upon the other occupants in the cabin section.

“As a result of the impact, they were exposed to extreme and many different, interacting factors: abrupt deceleration and acceleration, decompression and associated mist formation, decrease in oxygen level, extreme cold, strong airflow, the aeroplane’s very rapid descent and objects flying around,” the report said.

“The Dutch Safety Board did not find any indications of conscious actions performed by the occupants after the missile’s detonation. It is likely that the occupants were barely able to comprehend the situation in which they found themselves.”

Brief summary of the Dutch Safety Board Preliminary and MH17 Crash Final Report findings are quoted below for reader convenience in the Appendix and on the Safety Board’s website.

Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) sheds staff, routes and planes in US$1.9 billion restructuring and recovery to profitability by 2018.

Malaysian wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Bhd), has appointed formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Dato’ Mohammad Faiz Azmi, as Administrator of Malaysian Airline System (MAS). On August 30 2014, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, MAS’s lone shareholder, unveiled a restructuring plan to recover MAS from being “technically bankrupted,” according to incoming Christoph Mueller, CEO of Malaysia Airlines and CEO-Designate of the new airline.
 
The restructuring plan called for job cuts, a capital infusion of nearly RM6 billion (or US$1.9 billion), and the creation of a new firm to recover the airline from its dual crisis as a result of the MH370 aviation tragedy of March 8, 2014 and the MH17 aviation disaster of July 17, 2014.
 
Under the MAS Act, the Administrator serves in the essential capacity of oversight in the transfer of selected assets and liabilities to the new company, MAB, which replaces MAS, as Malaysia’s new flag carrier, as of September 1, 2015 with a new business model and a new management team.
 
The hyper-competition amongst low-cost “value-based” air carriers in Southeast Asia and the Middle East is projected to escalate rapidly in the next 5-10 years. These emerging market changes has also yield some current reductions in routes and plane assets, as part of the restructuring and recovery of the new Malaysian air carrier.
 
According to the Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation over the past year between September 1, 2014 to September 1, 2015 (via Bloomberg), one of every ten MAB routes have been eliminated for a global reduction of 16 percent in passenger load capacity, amounting to about one million less passengers flying on MAB jets, since September 2013 peaks prior to the flag carrier’s dual aviation crises in 2014.
 
Specifically, six MAB routes has been cut to just five to Australian cities for a reduction of 39 percent passenger load capacity; one of every five MAB routes have been cut across North-South Asia for a reduction of 42 percent passenger load capacity; one of every four MAB routes removed across Europe (routing only to London, Paris, and Amsterdam) for a reduction of 26 percent passenger load capacity. Only Southeast Asia has a one percent increase in passenger load capacity on MAB. In April 2014, a month after the MH370 aviation tragedy and three months before the MH17 aviation disaster, the lone North American MAS flight to Los Angeles was cancelled permanently.
 
In addition, MAB has made commitment to lease out two of its wide body Airbus A380 airliner assets, and on October 9, 2015, MAB signed capital  leases for external asset utilization of four smaller Airbus A350 airliners expected to be delivered by 2017 a year before MAB management’s planned profitability by 2018, according to Bloomberg.
 
MAS has also terminated its entire staff and re-employ two-thirds of the 20,000 workers under new conditions, amounting to 6,000 in staff cuts for a now leaner flag carrier of the size of its premium deep-pockets competitor in the region, Singapore Airlines.
 
“When Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965, the airline became a bi-national airline and was renamed Malaysia-Singapore Airlines before both partners went their separate ways in 1972 and Malaysian Airline System (MAS) took to the skies on October 1 of that year,” reports Malaysia Chronicle.
 
According to the labor force reduction crafted by Khazanah, “those who were offered and accepted employment at MAB will be paid a sign-on payment of two months pay with their first month’s salary at MAB and another two months upon completing 18 months service at MAB as part of its retention payment.”
 
__________
 

APPENDIX

Brief Summary of the Dutch Safety Board MH17 Crash Final Report Findings

General Information

Aircraft Type and Registration: Boeing 777-2H6ER, 9M-MRD

Number and Type of Engines: 2 x Rolls-Royce Trent 892B

Location: Near Hrabove, Ukraine

Date and Time (UTC) 17 July 2014 at 13.20 hours

Type of Flight: Scheduled passenger flight

Persons on Board: Crew = 15 (4 flight deck crew, 11 cabin crew); Passengers = 283

Injuries: Crew = 15 (fatal); Passengers = 283 (fatal)

Nature of Damage: Aircraft destroyed

Crew

According to the information received form Malaysia Airlines the crew was properly licensed and had valid medical certifications to conduct the flight.

Aircraft

According to the documents, the aircraft was in an airworthy condition at departure from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, there were no known technical malfunctions.

MH17 Black-Boxes

No evidence or indications of manipulation of the recorders were found.

No aural alerts or warnings of aircraft system malfunctions were heard on the Cockpit Voice Recorders. The communication between the flight crew members gave no indication of any malfunction or emergency prior to the occurrence.

The engine parameters were consistent with normal operation, during the flight. No engine or aircraft system warnings or cautions were detected.

No technical malfunctions or warnings in relation to the event flight were found on the Black-Box Flight Data Recorder data.

Air Traffic Control and Airspace

At the time of the occurrence, flight MH17 was flying at a flight level of 33,000 feet in unrestricted airspace of Dnipropetrovs’k in the eastern part of Ukraine. The aircraft flew on a constant heading, speed and altitude, when the Flight Data Recording ended. Ukraine air traffic control, then immediately, issued an emergency that restricted all access to the airspace below flight levels of 32,000 feet.

The last radio transmission made by the crew began at 13.19:56 hours and ended at 13.19:59 hours UTC.

(Note: Ukraine local time – Central European (Summer) Daylight Saving Time – was 2 hours ahead of UTC, that is UTC+2).

  • At 13.19:53 hours, radar data showed that the aircraft was 3.6 nautical miles north of centerline of airway L980, having deviated left of track, when Dnipro Control directed the crew to alter their route directly to waypoint RND due to other traffic. The crew acknowledged at 13.19:56 hours. At 13.20:00 hours UTC, Dnipro Control transmitted an onward air traffic control clearance to proceed directly […], no acknowledgement was received.

The last radio transmissions made by Dnipropetrovs’k air traffic control center to flight MH17 began at 13.20:00 hours UTC and ended at 13.22:02 hours UTC. The crew did not respond to these transmissions.

No distress messages were received by the Dutch air traffic control.

According to the radar data, three commercial aircraft were in the same Control Area as flight MH17 at the time of the safety breach occurrence. All were under control of Dnipro Radat. At 13.20 hours UTC the distance between the closest aircraft and MH17 was approximately 30 kilometers.

Causes of MH17 Crash

“On July 17, 2014, at 13.20 (15.20 CET) a Boeing 777-200 with the Malaysia Airlines nationality and registration mark 9M-MRD disappeared to the west of the TAMAK air navigation waypoint in Ukraine. A notification containing this information was sent by the Ukrainian National Bureau of Air Accident Investigation (NBAAI) on July 18, 2014, at approximately 06.00 (08.00 CET).

(Note: Ukraine local time – Central European (Summer) Daylight Saving Time (CET) – was 2 hours ahead of UTC, that is UTC+2).

The NBAAI was notified by the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Service Enterprise (UkSATSE) that communication with flight MH17 had been lost.

A signal from the aeroplane ́s Emergency Locator Transmitter had been received and its approximate position had been determined.

The aeroplane impacted the ground in the eastern part of Ukraine. The wreckage was spread over several sites near the villages of Hrabove, Rozsypne and Petropavlivka. Six wreckage sites were identified, spread over about 50 kilometers.

Most of the wreckage was located in three of these sites to the south-west of the village of Hrabove. This is about 8.5 km east of the last known position of the aeroplane in flight. At two sites, post-impact fires had occurred.

All 298 persons on board lost their lives.

The in-flight disintegration of the aeroplane near the Ukrainian/Russian border was the result of the detonation of a warhead.

The detonation occurred above the left hand side of the cockpit. The weapon used was a 9N314M-model warhead carried on the 9M38-series of missiles, as installed on the Buk surface-to-air missile system.

Other scenarios that could have led to the disintegration of the aeroplane were considered, analyzed and excluded based on the evidence available.

The airworthy aeroplane was under control of Ukrainian air traffic control and was operated by a licensed and qualified flight crew.”

Flight route over conflict zone

“Flight MH17 was shot down over the eastern part of Ukraine, where an armed conflict broke out in April 2014. At first this conflict took place mainly on the ground, but as from the end of April 2014 it expanded into the airspace over the conflict zone: Ukrainian armed forces’ helicopters, transport aeroplanes and fighters were downed.

On July 14, the Ukrainian authorities reported that a military aeroplane, an Antonov An-26, had been shot down above the eastern part of Ukraine. On 17 July, the authorities announced that a Sukhoi Su-25 had been shot down over the area on 16 July.

According to the authorities, both aircraft were shot down at an altitude that could only have been reached by powerful weapon systems. The weapon systems cited by the authorities, a medium-range surface-to-air missile or an air-to-air missile, could reach the cruising altitude of civil aeroplanes. Consequently they pose a threat to civil aviation.

Although (Western) intelligence services, politicians and diplomats established the intensification of fighting in the eastern part of Ukraine, on the ground as well as in the air, it was not recognised that as a result there was an increased risk to civil aeroplanes flying over the conflict zone at cruising altitude. The focus was mainly on military activities, and the geopolitical consequences of the conflict.”

Ukraine’s airspace management

“With regard to airspace management Ukraine is responsible for the safety of aeroplanes in that airspace. On 6 June 2014, the airspace above the eastern part of Ukraine was restricted to civil aviation from the ground up to an altitude of 26,000 feet (FL260).

This enabled military aeroplanes to fly at an altitude that was considered safe from attacks from the ground and eliminated the risk that they would encounter civil aeroplanes, which flew above FL260. The authorities automatically assumed that aeroplanes flying at a higher altitude than that considered safe for military aeroplanes, were also safe.

On July 14, 2014, the Ukrainian authorities increased the upper limit of the restricted airspace imposed on civil aviation to an altitude of 32,000 feet (FL320). The exact underlying reason for this decision remains unclear.

The Ukrainian authorities did not consider closing the airspace over the eastern part of Ukraine to civil aviation completely. The statements made by the Ukrainian authorities on July 14, 2014 and July 17, 2014, related to the military aeroplanes being shot down, mentioned the use of weapon systems that can reach the cruising altitude of civil aeroplanes.

In the judgment of the Dutch Safety Board, these statements provided sufficient reason for closing the airspace over the conflict zone as a precaution.”

Choice of flight route by Malaysia Airlines and other airlines

“Malaysia Airlines assumed that the unrestricted airspace over Ukraine was safe. Thesituation in the eastern part of Ukraine did not constitute a reason for reconsidering the route. The operator stated that it did not possess any information that flight MH17, or other flights, faced any danger when flying over Ukraine.

Not only Malaysia Airlines, but almost all airlines that used routes over the conflict zone continued to do so during the period in which the armed conflict was expanding into the airspace. On the day of the crash alone, 160 flights were conducted above the eastern part of Ukraine until the airspace was closed.”

Other states and the state of departure (the Netherlands)

“The Chicago Convention provides states with the option of imposing a flight prohibition or restrictions on airlines and issuing recommendations related to the use of foreign airspace.

Some states, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, use this option with regard to their resident airlines.

Although flight MH17 took off from Dutch soil the Netherlands did not bear any formal responsibility for the flight, because it concerned a non-Dutch airline. The fact that Malaysia Airlines was operating the flight as KLM’s code share partner did not provide any legal authority either.

During the period in which the conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine expanded into the airspace over the conflict zone, from the end of April 2014 up to the crash of flight MH17, not a single state or international organization explicitly warned of any risks to civil aviation and not a single state prohibited its airlines or airmen from using the airspace over the area or imposed other restrictions. 

At the Dutch Safety Board’s request, the Dutch Review Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD) examined whether the Dutch intelligence and security services possessed any information that could have been important for the safety of flight MH17.

The services had no indication that the warring factions intended to shoot down civil aeroplanes. The services did not have any information that the groups that were fighting against the Ukrainian government in the eastern part of Ukraine possessed medium or long-range surface-to-air missiles.”

Possibilities for improvement

“The crash of MH17 demonstrates than an unrestricted airspace is not, by definition, safe if the state managing that airspace is dealing with an armed conflict. The reality is that states involved in an armed conflict rarely close their airspace. This means that the principle of sovereignty related to airspace management can give rise to vulnerability.

In the Board’s opinion, states involved in armed conflicts should give more consideration to closing their airspace as a precaution. More effective incentives are needed to encourage them to do so.

Airline operators may not assume in advance that an unrestricted airspace above a conflict zone is safe. The fundamental principle currently adopted by operators is that they use the airspace, unless doing so is demonstrably unsafe. In their risk analyses, operators should take greater account of uncertainties and risk-increasing factors, such as when a conflict expands into the airspace. The current regulations do not stipulate that operators shall assess the risks involved in overflying conflict areas.

Operators themselves should gather more information to be able to perform an adequate risk assessment. This information can largely be acquired by consulting open sources, but in the case of conflict zones operators also need confidential information from states with intelligence capabilities.

Vital in this respect is the sharing of information between states, between states and operators and between operators. Not only the gathering of information, but also combining information in the fields of safety and security, as well as on developments on the ground and in the air proves important. In this regard, international regulations (the Chicago Convention) are currently too divided across these different fields. It was established that there are gaps between the various responsibilities, for which a solution should be found.”

Summary of MH17 Crash Final Report Recommendations

Level 1: Airspace management in conflict zones

To ICAO:

1. “Incorporate in Standards that states dealing with an armed conflict in their territory shall at an early stage publish information that is as specific as possible regarding the nature and extent of threats of that conflict and its consequences for civil aviation. Provide clear definitions of relevant terms, such as conflict zone and armed conflict. 

2. “Ask states dealing with an armed conflict for additional information if published aeronautical or other publications give cause to do so; offer assistance and consider issuing a State Letter if, in the opinion of ICAO, states do not sufficiently fulfil their responsibility for the safety of the airspace for civil aviation.

3. “Update Standards and Recommended Practices related to the consequences of armed conflicts for civil aviation, and convert the relevant Recommended Practices into Standards as much as possible so that states will be able to take unambiguous measures if the safety of civil aviation may be at issue.

To ICAO Member States:

4. “Ensure that states’ responsibilities related to the safety of their airspace are stricter defined in the Chicago Convention and the underlying Standards and Recommended Practices, so that it is clear in which cases the airspace should be closed. The states most closely involved in the investigation into the crash of flight MH17 could initiate this.

Level 2: Risk assessment

To ICAO and IATA:

5. “Encourage states and operators who have relevant information about threats within a foreign airspace to make this available in a timely manner to others who have an interest in it in connection with aviation safety. Ensure that the relevant paragraphs in the ICAO Annexes concerned are extended and made more strict.

To ICAO:

6. “Amend relevant Standards so that risk assessments shall also cover threats to civil aviation in the airspace at cruising level, especially when overflying conflict zones. Risk increasing and uncertain factors need to be included in these risk assessments in accordance with the proposals made by the ICAO Working Group on Threat and Risk.

To IATA:

7. “Ensure that the Standards regarding risk assessments are also reflected in the IATA.

Operational Safety Audits (IOSA)

To states (State of Operator):

8. “Ensure that airline operators are required through national regulations to make risk assessments of overflying conflict zones. Risk increasing and uncertain factors need to be included in these assessments in accordance with the proposals made by the ICAO Working Group on Threat and Risk.

To ICAO and IATA:

9. “In addition to actions already taken, such as the website (ICAO Conflict Zone Information Repository) with notifications about conflict zones, a platform for exchanging experiences and good practices regarding assessing the risks related to the overflying of conflict zones is to be initiated.

Level 3: Operator accountability

To IATA:

10. “Ensure that IATA member airlines agree on how to publish clear information to potential passengers about flight routes over conflict zones and on making operators accountable for that information.

To operators:

11. “Provide public accountability for flight routes chosen, at least once a year.”

More extensive detailed summary findings of the massive DSB’s MH17 final report may be seen at Aviation Herald.

Photo Credits: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, Registration Number 9M-MRD, which is reported by Malaysia Airlines as the crashed aircraft of Flight 17.

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Aug 172015
 

Flight Path of Trigana Air Crash 3

An Indonesian Trigana Air turboprop with 54 people on board crashed in remote mountains near the Indonesian-Papua New Guinea border. Trigana Air Service flight IL267 ATR 42 turboprop (Registration Number PK-YRN, shown in the photo below), carrying 54 people, lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control just before 3pm (0600 GMT Indonesian local time) shortly after taking off from Sentani airport in Indonesian province of Papua’s capital Jayapura on a flight en route to the village of Oksibil, an extremely remote mountainous region at the Indonesian-Papua New Guinea border.

Flight Path of Trigana Air Crash 2

Performing as Trigana Air flight IL267, the turboprop aircraft departed Jayapura about half an hour before it disappeared from Indonesian air traffic control. The 45 minute flight carried all Indonesians, including 44 adults, 5 children, and 5 Trigana Air crew, and including 5 people on board from parliamentary staff traveling to Oksibil to attend an annual ceremony of Indonesia’s independence. Flight IL267 was expected to arrive at its destination about 7 hours and 30 minutes ago local time, according to the Indonesia search and rescue agency via social media.

“The plane was totally destroyed and all the bodies were burned and difficult to identify,” Henry Bambang Soelistyo, Indonesia Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) Head, told The Associated Press on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. “There is no chance anyone survived.”

“Rescuers have so far recovered 53 bodies from the wreckage of the Trigana Air Service turboprop plane,” Soelistyo added. “The remains will be transported by helicopter to the province capital of Jayapura for identification.”

An infant is the one remaining passenger still missing, Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Adravida Barata told Reuters.

Soelistyo said “searchers had recovered the (first) black-box, which investigators hope will provide clues as to what caused the accident.”

On August 20, 2015, BASARNAS reported the second black box has been recovered and turned over to aviation crash investigators of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Council. All 54 victims have been recovered from the crash site. The remains have already been identified and have been handed over to their families for final arrangements with all of our collective heartfelt prayers and sincere condolences.

In Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday, August 18, 2015, Indonesia president, Joko Widodoexpress his deepest sorrow for the 54 passengers and Trigana Air crew lost on flight IL267.

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Photos Show Site of Indonesian Plane Crash

“According to the information, the Trigana Air aircraft that lost contact was found at Camp 3 of the OK (Oksibil) Bape District in the Bintang Mountain regency. The information provided by the local residents said that the flight crashed into Tangok mountain. The detail of this finding is still under investigation.” – Indonesia air transportation official, Director General Suprasetyo Air Transportation reported in Sunday’s news conference (via Reuters)

Flight Path of Trigana Air Crash

Transport ministry spokesman J.A. Barata confirmed the plane had lost contact and said it was supposed to arrive at Oksibil airport just after 3pm (0600 GMT Indonesian local time).

“We are not sure what happened to the plane yet and we are coordinating with local authorities,” he told the French new service AFP on Sunday, August 16, 2015.

“The weather is currently very bad there, it’s very dark and cloudy. It’s not conducive for a search. The area is mountainous,” Indonesian transport spokesman Barata added.

“Nearby villagers in Indonesia’s Papua have reported a crash,” Trigana Air official says after plane went missing on Sunday. Trigana Air Service Operation Director Beni Sumaryanto said, “the airline had received reports of a crash from a village in the forested and mountainous district of Oksibil, adding that search teams would check that area in the morning,” Kompas and Detik portals earlier reported (via Reuters).

On Monday, August 16, 2015, Indonesian Air Force initiated construction of a helipad and helicopter services through Freeport-McMoRan, a mining company, says CNN International, to assist in the evacuation of Trigana Air flight IL267 victims from the rough crash site found in the heavily forested remote area (seen below) in the Bintang highlands village of Oksibil in the Papua province in eastern Indonesia, according to Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency.

“Officials deployed two ground teams to the site, which is at an altitude of 2,600 meters (8,500 feet), but suspended efforts to get there because of thick fog,” CNN International reports on Monday.

Photo Credit: Remote Crash Site of Trigana Air Service flight IL267 ATR 42 turboprop (Registration Number PK-YRN), near Oksibil, Indonesia

Officials do not know either if any of the 49 passengers and 5 Trigana Air crew have survived and are waiting for rescue below, or if any detection the ATR 42 aircraft’s black-boxes pings can be confirmed for immediate recovery.

“If it collided into a mountain, there has never been a case of survivors. But who knows, let’s wait,” said Major-General Heronimus Guru, operations director at Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (via Reuters on Monday, August 17).

Due to nightfall currently at the crash site and limited visibility in the mountainous area, Trigana Air search and rescue operations for the 54 people on board is now suspended and will continue tomorrow morning at 6am local time.

Trigana Air crash site is a remote mountainous region, making search and rescue challenging.

Turning now towards a brief look at the impact on “people over the devices” surrounding Sunday’s aviation safety incident, Oksibil airport is near an extremely mountainous village of Oksibil at about 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) above sea level with about 4,087 villagers living in the remote area, according to the 2010 Indonesia Census agency. The Oksibil airport is the Indonesian Papua province villagers’ lifeline, mainly because there are no transportation roadways and railways in the remote regional border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Photo Credit: The Village of Oksibil, Indonesia, courtesy of southeast Asia voyager and traveler, Blogger Wahyu Wijanarko

A security flashpoint currently exists along the border, as a result of Free Papua Movement separatists groups having low-level resistance with Indonesian security forces. Such frontier-like aviation transportation conditions are extremely unusual in relation to the diversity of Indonesian aviation service, as seen in the island of Java which includes Jakarta or the island of Bali which includes Denpensar.

Photo Credit: Oksibil Airport, Oksibil, Indonesia, courtesy of southeast Asia voyager and traveler, Blogger Wahyu Wijanarko

Transportation into the village of Oksibil is governed under the Pegunungan Bintang regency, which operates through a development fund that is typically deplete in fully covering for airline services, the only link to the outside world in the Oksibil area. To subsidize transportation development funding for Oksibil airport, as well as all four remote airports in the area along with an estimated couple dozen airstrips to the most remote villages, having 200-300 inhabitants spread throughout the surrounding area, Pegunungan Bintang regency budgeted US$62 million for transportation services in fiscal year 2013.

Although now a confirmed point at the moment, yet an interesting media depiction of the extreme remoteness of the exclusivity of Trigana Air Services to the Oksibil Airport flight destination, Indonesia’s postal office has told the BBC News that Trigana Air flight IL267 was allegedly carrying four bags of cash, totally nearly 6.5 billion rupiah (which is about US$486,000 or £300,000 British pounds), as part of the post office’s regular periodic delivery to keep the household management and economy running for local villagers living in the remote places in and around Oksibil of the Papua province.

“The government cash for poor families was to help offset a spike in fuel prices, and was to be distributed to about 6,000 impoverished residents during a celebration marking Indonesia’s independence,” Franciscus Haryono, the head of the post office in Jayapura, said Monday, August 17, 2015. 

“Our colleagues carry those bags to be handed out directly to poor people over there,” the head of Jayapura’s post office, Franciscus Haryono, told BBC News.

Four postal workers were on Trigana Air flight IL267 to protect the funds during its journey into Oksibil Airport.

Photo Credit: Oksibil Airport, Oksibil, Indonesia, courtesy of southeast Asia voyager and traveler, Blogger Wahyu Wijanarko

Although villagers concerns continue to persist about receiving adequate telephone and fax services, the people of Oksibil can access free online web services for virtual transportation communications using Bappeda connection.

Southeast Asia voyager and traveler, , who lives in Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia, and works at PT Global Intermedia Nusantarasay, blogs:

“Central Papua region can (be) accessed only by airplane, there is no way to reach it using car, even more (using) a ship! The problem is lack of infrastructure and (flying into) extreme topographic conditions (of) mountains.

“The consequence of this transportation system is the price(s) of commodities (are) extremely high compared with their price(s) in Jayapura. For example, in some region(s) in Central Papua gasoline price(s) can reach (as high as) IDR 50,000 per liter, or about US$15 per gallon … the biggest (airliners able to land in the surrounding region) (are) Boeing 737-300s operated by Trigana Air Service.”

“The one thing that (Wahyu Wijanarko) likes (in visiting) Oksibil is the people. (Pegunungan Bintang regency) focuses on infrastructure development … including improvements of the (Oksibil) airport and runway … the local government also gives electrical power (still using a generator) to the people of Oksibil from 18.00-23.00 GMT+9 hours (that is from 6-11pm Indonesian local time plus 9 hours to U.S. standard time).”

A dicey aviation safety record for Trigana Air Service.

Trigana Air has had 14 serious aviation safety incidences, since the airlines’ inception in 1991. In 2007 the European Union prohibited Trigana Air from operating in the European Union due to aviation safety concerns.

Flight Path of Trigana Air Crash 7

A dramatic safety incident most recently was on February 11, 2010, when according to Aviation Herald, a Trigana Air Service Aerospatiale ATR-42-300, registration PK-YRP, performing flight TGN-168 from Berau to Samarinda (Indonesia) with 46 passengers and 6 crew, experienced the failure of the left-hand engine (one of two Pratt & Whitney PW120 turboprops, like those on Trigana Air Service flight IL267 ATR 42 (Registration Number PK-YRN) crash early Sunday morning, August 16, 2015), which prompted the Trigana Air Aerospatiale ATR-42-300 crew to divert to Balikpapan.

The crew however was forced to land gear up in a field at Bone village, about 41 road kilometers from Balikpapan along the Balikpapan-Samarinda road about 18 nautical miles from Balikpapan’s Sepinggan Airport.

One passenger received serious injuries (fractures), all other persons on board escaped without injuries, as shown inside the roped-off area surrounding the saved Aerospatiale ATR-42-300 airliner in the crash site photo above.

Several months later on April 21, 2010, the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Council released their preliminary report stating, “the airplane was on final approach to Samarinda’s runway 04, when the left-hand “Engine Control Unit” (ECU) light illuminated, followed by low torque and low engine oil pressure indications.

“The captain decided to shut the engine down, (then) initiated a “go-around,” and (finally) decided to divert to Balikpapan.

“The airplane was about to climb to 4,000 feet and reached 3,800 feet (at) about 16 nautical miles from the Balikpapan airport, when the right-hand ECU light illuminated, followed by low oil pressure and low torque indications.

“The right-hand engine subsequently failed.

“The crew radioed a “MAYDAY” and decided to perform a forced landing in a clear field 16 nautical miles from Balikpapan.

“After the airplane came to a stop, the crew initiated an evacuation. One passenger received serious injuries.”

“The airplane received substantial damage,” Aviation Herald reports (see photo below of the damaged interior of the ATR-42-300 airliner), “the main landing gear received substantial damage, the nose gear penetrated the cabin and was found in the passenger cabin. Mud was thrown through(out) the cabin, and the 4 propeller blades of the right-hand propeller were substantially damaged.”

Generation-old airliner fleet for performing challenging flight terrains to remote villages.

Trigana Air flight IL267 equipment model employed for Sunday morning’s 45 minute ATR 42 turboprop flight, is nearly a generation old (about 30 years in service), and was delivered to its first operator back in 1988.

Reuters reports, in fact according to the airfleets.com database,  Trigana Air airliner fleet “includes 10 ATR aircraft and four Boeing 737 Classics. These have an average age of 26.6 years, according to the database.”

Such remote mountainous route airlines, such as Trigana Air Service, that tackle these challenging flight terrains to small villages, such as Oksibil, Indonesia, typically deploy older aircraft to perform their flights, purchased on the secondary markets at lower costs. Flying in remote Indonesia is challenging, because of complex terrains, monsoon thunderstorms, thick fog, and isolated airports with limited facilities.

A key scientific and technological innovation that is possible at this stage of aviation safety and security, not only in the exploding southeast Asia commercial passenger air travel market, but also across transatlantic, transpacific, and transpolar commercial, in general, air travel centers upon Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), a precise satellite-based surveillance and airliner positioning system, which is already being implemented by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration at various U.S.-based international airlines around the world.

ADS-B system needs to be mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with the system extended to tracking aircraft worldwide through satellites, rather than just relying on conventional air traffic control ground stations, largely non-existent in remote regions, like Oksibil, Indonesia. This would absolutely give the fullest coverage over transatlantic, transpacific, and transpolar oceans and remote regions of the world, like the Brazilian Amazon, the Sahara Desert, and the southeast Asian mountainous terrains and jungles.

Of course, others like myself, have called for streaming limited flight data and aircraft performance conditions, literally putting “The Black-Box in The Cloud,” while being mindful of certain information classified to airlines and aircraft manufacturers, so we can immediately know within hours where lost aircraft are crashed and the location of their black-box flight data.

Is flying in Southeast Asia becoming risky?

One of my thousands of followers on Twitter, Kerry Barrett (@Kerry Barrett) poignantly brought to my attention a very relevant question on what non-pilots and air transportation consumers think, when they hear breaking news about another airliner lost in the ocean or remote regions of the world or about another airplane stalling or encountering an ‘engine flameout‘.

And, what does an airliner lost or an aircraft stall actually mean to the flying public, as they try to understand the stunning pictures of the TransAsia Airways flight GE235 crash into the Keelung River in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, the extraordinary final three minutes of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia on Sunday, December 28, 2014, or today’s Trigana Air flight IL267 ATR 42 turboprop loosing contact with Indonesian air traffic control over a remote mountainous terrain or jungle in Indonesia.

Such extreme events in rapid succession begs the question “is flying in Southeast Asia becoming risky?”

According to USA Today: “It turns out flying in Asia is actually riskier than in any other region but Africa. Why? Regulatory regimes there are less advanced than in the United States and Europe (Japan is considered as safe as the west). Another factor is that international regional airlines, such as TransAsia Airways (or even Trigana Air Service), tend to use less-experienced pilots than major airlines.”

“It’s not like they’re the wild west, like you might get in some African countries, but they are 10 to 20 years behind,” said Justin Green, a New York aviation lawyer with Kreindler & Kreindler. “If you’ve never heard of the airline that your travel agent is booking you on, you should do some research.”

Unfortunately, the airliner crash case studies are slowly stacking up in the last year. Recapped in the appendix section below are several instances tangential to today’s Trigana Air aviation safety incident that raises some concern among aviation experts about the critical state of aviation safety in the most essential southeast Asia region for international air travel.

Countries and regions with the highest number of fatal civil airliner accidents from 1945 through November 30, 2014 (excluding MH370, MH17, AirAsia QZ8501, and TransAsia GE235) are:

United States, 773; Russia, 326; Canada, 177; Brazil, 176; Colombia, 173; United Kingdom, 103; France, 101; Mexico, 96; India, 94; Indonesia, 94; China, 74; Italy, 67; Venezuela, 61; Philippines, 60; Bolivia, 60; D.R. Congo, 60; Germany, 58; Peru, 56; Spain, 51; Australia, 48.

In just the past year (2014-15), we have lost the lives of over 788 international passengers and flight crews in Southeast Asia (including 54 lives allegedly missing on Trigana Air IL267 lost on Sunday, August 16, 2015, which amounts to about three times more than all fatal civil airliner accident in the last 68 years between 1945-2013) on five compelling global aviation crash events.

These include:

  • and now a Trigana Air flight IL267 ATR 42 turboprop (Registration Number PK-YRN) that has lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control on Sunday, August 16, 2015.

Trigana Air ATR 42 Plane

Photo Credit: Trigana Air flight IL267 ATR 42 turboprop (Registration Number PK-YRN)

According United States Department of Transportation; Federal Aviation Administration (Office of Aviation Policy and Plans), statistics show average estimated annual growth in passenger traffic to and from the United States transported by U.S. and foreign flag air carriers between 2014 and 2034, by region.

During this time period, passenger U.S. air traffic to or from Latin America is estimated to grow by around 4.7 percent per year. Passenger air traffic in the Asia-Pacific region is predicted to grow by about 4.2 percent per year. The Atlantic Oceanic air traffic is projected to grow by nearly 4.1 percent per year. And, the Canadian trans-border is believed to grow by about 3.8 percent per year.

Forecasts are based on historical passenger statistics from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) and Transport Canada, and on regional world historical data and economic projections from Global Insight, Inc.

International commercial passenger air travel is expected to explode in the next decade (according to both federal government, and Boeing and Airbus industry projections), particularly in Southeast Asia. This region is highly dependent upon air travel across deep seas and remote oceans for millions of people in the Southeast Asia and Oceania region.

Role of human factors in automated flight management efficiency and decision-making.

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.

Taiwanese Aviation Safety Council’s (ASC), Factual Data Collection Group Report reveals that TransAsia flight GE235 Captain Liao Jian-zong “failed the simulator check in May 2014, when he was being evaluated for promotion. Assessors found he had a tendency not to complete procedures and checks, and his “cockpit management and flight planning” were also found wanting,” according to Reuters.

Instructors commented that Captain Liao Jian-zong was “prone to be nervous and may make oral errors during the engine start procedure” and displayed a “lack of confidence”, the ASC report cited.

Reuters added: “issues cropped up again during training for the ATR 72-212A in November, when an instructor said Liao Jian-zong “may need extra training” when dealing with an engine failure after take-off.”

“After the crash, Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration put TransAsia’s 61 ATR pilots through oral proficiency tests on how to handle an aircraft during engine failure.”

“All but one of the pilots passed the tests, although some needed more than one attempt. The lone failure was demoted in rank to vice captain from captain,” Reuters reports.

During a press conference on Thursday, July 2, 2015, TransAsia president Fred Wu said “the airline would buy an ATR flight simulator, bring in outside experts to evaluate pilots, and launch a safety improvement program with Airbus.”

Photo Credit: French-built TransAsia Avions de Transport Regional ATR 72-212A, registration B-22816 and Manufacturing Serial Number MSN 1141

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 over-reliance 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 and flight management efficiency inside the crisis of a crash event. 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).

Now is the time for consensus on recommendations on the future of international aviation safety and security.

With a deeper integrated focus on “the people just as much as the devices,” in a year and a half (over 17 months), since March 8, 2014, according to Aviation Herald, we have lost the lives of 1,101 international passengers and flight crews on eight compelling global aviation crashes, comprising:

  • the oceanic loss of a Boeing 777-200ER airliner, flown as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8, 2014, where the loss of 239 passengers and crewon board are now officially declared an accident and all lives lost;

mh370theft_00

  • a shocking local automobile dash video splashed across international media that recorded a real-time double engine flame-out crash in the Keelung River in Taipei, Taiwan of a Regional ATR 72-212A airliner (see case study in Appendix B), moments after takeoff from nearby Taipei International Airport, operating as TransAsia flight GE235, on February 4, 2015, killing 43 persons on board;
  • a TransAsia flight 222, involving a Regional ATR72 airliner at Makung on July 23, 2014, impacted buildings on approach with stormy weather trailing behind a typhoon, which is now believed to be the likely cause of the airliner crash on a Taiwanese island that killed 48 people on board and injured 10 on the plane and five on the ground. The small Regional ATR-72 airliner, operated by Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways, was carrying 58 passengers and TransAsia crew, when it crashed, while trying to land in the Penghu Island chain in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday night on July 23, 2014, according to the Aviation Herald. The plane was flying from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. The victims included 46 Taiwanese and two French medical students, who were interns in Taiwan;
  • a crash Southeast of Gossi, Mali of a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 airliner, operating as Air Algerie flight 5017 on July 24, 2014, causing 110 fatalities of passengers and crew on board;
  • a crash in the French Alps of an Airbus A320-200 airliner, performing as Germanwings flight 4U9525, whereby 150 passengers and crew died.

  • a lost airliner in the Indonesia mountains of a Trigana Air flight IL267 ATR 42 turboprop (Registration Number PK-YRN), carrying 54 people, early Sunday morning, August 16, 2015.

Loosing these 1,101 passenger and crew lives aboard international commercial airliners this past year and a half is the most we have encountered in close succession like this in nearly six and a half decades.

What has happened to our once stellar world of commercial passenger airline safety in this new world slowly grappling from the aftermath of MH17 and MH370, and most recently, Germanwings 4U9525 and Trigana Air IL267?

Photo Credit: IATA Director General Tyler addresses delegates, as he opens the 69th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Cape Town

Commercial passenger air travel industry groups released a report on global flight-tracking recommendations and monitoring standards on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 with adoption at ICAO’s “Second High-level Safety Conference” at its headquarters in Montreal Canada on February 2-5, 2015.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) held a news conference at its Geneva headquarters Wednesday, December 10, 2014, announcing the report recommendations on global flight-tracking for its 240 member airlines. IATA’s 240 member airlines encompass 84% of international passenger air traffic.

ICAO’s “Second High-level Safety Conference” included “various topics covering three major themes: reviewing the current situation, the future approach to manage aviation safety and facilitating increased regional cooperation. In particular, the Conference attendees discussed emerging safety issues, including the global tracking of aircraft and risks to civil aviation arising from conflict zones.”

Attendees included experts and strategic decision-makers of international civil aviation, which convened to “build consensus, obtain commitments and formulate recommendations deemed necessary for the effective and efficient progress of key aviation safety activities,” according to the conference’s website.

Here, airline chiefs, aviation experts, and government officials approved a concept of operations for global flight-tracking, and moved forward in developing a global flight-tracking and monitoring standard, carefully stepping forward beyond February 2015, which should now be accelerated well before a proposed February 2016 plan released by ICAO in the wake and aftermath of the Germanwings flight 4U9525 aviation tragedy.

Given this, consensus must be reached on recommendations of human factor errors of complacency, over-reliance, and over-confidence bias (a “winner’s curse“) in flight management efficiency and flight systems automation, global flight tracking of commercial passenger airliners, jet black-box data streaming, and ejectable flight data recorders.

All of this calls for further consensus to be reached quickly among airline chiefs, aviation experts, and government officials, who have just completed their discussions at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) “Second High-level Safety Conference” on February 2-5, 2015 at its headquarters in Montréal, Canada.

– END –

__________

Appendix A

Case of Indonesian AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash.

Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record. On December 28, 2014, an AirAsia flight QZ8501 (Registration Number PK-AXC) Airbus A320-200 airliner en route from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore crashed in the Java Sea during stormy weather, killing all 162 people on board.

AirAsia Underwater Crash

Photo Credit: AirAsia flight QZ8501 (Registration Number PK-AXC) Airbus A320-200 airliner, via Oka Sudiatmika (Wikimedia Commons)/CC-BY-SA 3.0

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 QZ8501’s Airbus A320-200 black-boxes (one shown below) still to be completely analyzed and transcribed for the crash final report expected to be released early next year.

airasia-black-box

Photo Credit: AirAsia flight QZ8501 (Registration Number PK-AXC) Airbus A320-200 Flight Data Recorder

However, the AirAsia flight QZ8501 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.

Known in the Southeast Asia region as the most dangerous inter-tropic cumulonimbus cloud storm conditions with mixtures of extremely high and low air masses, flying temperatures faced inside these clouds can drop as low as minus 100 degrees fahrenheit (F) below freezing akin to temperatures in Antarctica, the Earth’s southernmost continent, containing the geographic South Pole. 

Pilots in the region know that during almost every flight they will be flying around avoiding critical thunderstorms. Previously flown 13,500 flights for over 23,000 flight hours, AirAsia flight QZ8501’s Airbus A320-200, departed at 5:34 am (local time) on December 28, 2014 from Juanda International Airport (Surabaya, Indonesia) en route to Singapore Changi Airport, is the world’s best-selling single-aisle airliner and the most technologically advanced digital “glass cockpit” airliners too.

Twenty-two minutes into the flight, the Airbus A320-200 airliner is cruising at 32,000 feet on complete auto-pilot, comprising of seven digital computers inside this airliner’s “glass cockpit,” which literally flies the aircraft by itself without any input from the pilots.

In the meantime, severe thunderstorms was building in moments of minutes above the Java Sea thousands of feet below the aircraft, then suddenly within a few minutes these thunderstorms climbed several thousands of feet above AirAsia flight QZ8501’s Airbus A320-200 airliner.

At 6:12 am (local time), air traffic control received a final request from flight QZ8501’s cockpit “to make a left turn and climb” several thousand feet to avoid the sudden thunderstorm consuming the aircraft. Their request was denied due to the high volume of nearby aircraft cruising in the range of 34,000-38,000 feet, undergoing similar flight alterations to maneuver around the huge thunderstorm in the same area in order to avoid possibilities of encountering rough turbulence and other storm-related issues inside the cockpit, although never really a problem inside an Airbus A320-200 flying at cruise speed.

At 6:16 am (local time), Indonesia Ministry of Transportation radar picks up QZ8501 cruising at 32,000 feet. Two minutes later disaster happens to 155 passengers and seven AirAsia crew on board. Suddenly, through a simple course correction of the Airbus A320-200 auto-pilot controls, the airliner departs from its forward flight path, making a sharp left turn in a steep climb to 37,000 feet, slowing down to just 400 miles per hour, onto 38,000 feet, before aerodynamically stalling out in forward speed and dropping from radar at 6:18 am (local time), eventually plunging into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia.

Here is where the greatest potential human factor error occurs in automated flight management efficiency and decision-making. It is pilot fear of flying into an intimidating severe thunderstorm of unknown origin or to what extent is the storm’s severity. Such a storm looks like a huge 360 degree dark black cloud of complete and severe lightning with torrential rain slamming onto the airliner’s fuselage and wings with a great deal of bending and twisting forces. This is a black weather zone having no-end in sight outside the pilot’s cockpit windows.

According to years of research by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, fifty percent of all fatal air accidents in the last fifty years result from human factor encounters with these kinds of severe thunderstorm incidents. These storms have huge high turbulent energy plunging into an airliner. Of course, this affects human decision-making piloting under such sudden weather crisis.

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee chief Tatang Kurniadi told reporters back in January, “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 in January “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 in January 2015.

Mardjono Siswosuwarno, chief investigator of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said the flight data recorder, which was recovered from the Java Sea along with the cockpit voice recorder earlier this month (January 2015), had provided a “pretty clear picture” of what happened in the final minutes of AirAsia flight QZ8501.

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.

After trying to reset the device, pilots pulled a circuit-breaker to cut its power, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, February 6, 2015.

“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 sea.

President Joko Widodo said the crash exposed widespread problems in the management of air transportation in Indonesia.

Transasia AT72 Plane Crashing 5

Appendix B

Case of Taiwanese TransAsia Airways ATR 72-212A Turboprop: “Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle.”

French-built TransAsia Avions de Transport Regional ATR 72-212A (a much larger aircraft than Indonesian Trigana Air ATR42 Turboprop), registration B-22816 and Manufacturing Serial Number MSN 1141, performing as TransAsia Airways flight GE235 from Taipei Songshan to Kinmen (a small resort island near the coast of Taiwan) with 53 passengers and 5 TransAsia Airways flight crew on board, departed Songshan’s runway 10, upon which the airliner was involved in an accident, crashing into the nearby Keelung River in Taipei, early Wednesday morning, February 4, 2015 at around 10:45 am (local time).

Taiwanese Aviation Safety Council’s (ASC), Factual Data Collection Group Report, which neither assigns responsibility, nor suggests recommendations, showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong was operating GE235’s Regional ATR 72-212A airliner at the time of the crash.

According to Reuters, Captain Liao Jian-zong had “failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flameout on take-off.”

Taiwanese air transport crash investigators state in the report that the right-side Pratt and Whitney turboprop engine went idle on TransAsia Airways flight GE235, only 37 seconds after taking off from nearby Taipei International Airport. After this right-side turboprop engine malfunctioned, the flight data recorder revealed, “fuel to the only functioning turboprop engine on the left-side was manually cut off.” This critical finding was also discovered in a The Wall Street Journal report back in February 2015.

The turboprop engine aircraft is now generally believed to have incurred an ‘engine flameout‘ moments before the crash in into the Keelung River in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, according to early preliminary analysis of the flight data recorder and independent air-traffic control voice recordings of the TransAsia Airways ATR 72-212A airliner.

In an attempt to re-start both turboprop engines, Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council believes the pilots may have shut off the plane’s left-side turboprop engine upon encountering a right-side engine malfunction immediately 37 seconds upon becoming airborne at takeoff in Taipei.

“Wow, pulled bak the wrong side throttle”

Unfortunately, the pilots did not have enough time before the ATR-72-212A airliner crashed into the Keelung River in Taipei, Taiwan, as air-traffic control lost communication with the plane’s pilots four minutes after takeoff from Taipei’s Songshan Airport.

According to CNN International and The Wall Street Journal reports, supposedly a pilot on a recording of radio conversations between air traffic control and TransAsia Airways flight GE235 says,

“GE235. Mayday, Mayday. Engine flameout.”

The recording released Wednesday, February 4, 2015 was verified by an independent website, which records air traffic control feeds from around the world.

Photo Credit: French-built TransAsia Avions de Transport Regional ATR 72-212A, registration B-22816 and Manufacturing Serial Number MSN 1141

Nonetheless, regarding the operating conditions surrounding the February 4, 2015 TransAsia Airways flight GE235 crash into the Keelung River in Taipei, the Taiwanese Aviation Safety Council reported that “there were two captains, Captain Liao Jian-zong (age 42, a Airline Transport Pilots License (ATPL)-rated certification, had 4,914 hours total, of which 3,151 hours on ATR-72-500 aircraft, and 250 hours on ATR-72-600 airliners) was pilot in command occupying the left-hand seat being pilot flying. 

Captain B serving as first-officer (age 45, an ATPL-rated certification, had 6,922 hours total, of which 5,687 hours on ATR-72-500 aircraft, and 795 hours on ATR-72-600 airliners) occupied the right-hand seat and was pilot monitoring. 

A first-officer complemented the crew occupying the observer’s seat, the first officer (age 63, an ATPL-rated certification, had 16,121 hours total, of which 7,911 hours on MD-80s airliners, and 5,306 hours on ATR-72-500 aircraft) was in conversion training to ATR-72-600 airliners with 8 hours on the aircraft type.”

The crew had signed the flight papers, that showed no unusual circumstances.

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