Germanwings Airbus Crash: Factual Analysis

Efftup

Senior Member.
Yes, sorry it is off topic. Basically it has already been established that flights FROM Barcelona to Dusseldorf regularly take the route flown on that day so there is nothing untoward about the flight path BEFORE the descent started.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
flights FROM Barcelona to Dusseldorf regularly take the route flown on that day so there is nothing untoward about the flight path BEFORE the descent started.

Yes indeed....agree whole-heartedly. AS noted many times in discussions about current operations of aviation....there are "routes" involved, usually 'flight-planned' ahead of time by the Dispatchers to comport with normal ATC ('Air Traffic Control') parameters and restrictions, on any given day.

Still (of course) this particular flight was operating ON its pre-filed Flight Plan with ATC authorities....until the tragic event that we are discussing.
 

MikeC

Closed Account
Regardless of the "why" this happened I come back to thinking about people who had perhaps 8 minutes pretty much sure they were going to die.....it is not a pleasant thought.

Apparently the transcript released to German newspaper Bild reveals that the passengers were only too aware of their impending fate -


The last noise on the tape, Bild reported, was the cries of the passengers.
And, tragically, it suggests that some passengers on the flight were aware the flight was going down, and were screaming in panic, minutes before the final impact with the mountain.
Content from External Source
Working in aviation, this is one of my few real fears - total lack of control but plenty of time to know what's going to happen! :(

Putting yourself in the hands of pilots is one of hte reasons why pilots are (usually) a very highly trusted group in any survey of trust - you have to trust someone who controls your destiny and who could inflict this on you - if you didn't trust them you'd never fly!
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Has he offered the respective captains to take controls on earlier flights like he did on last Tuesday?

Sorry 'JFDee' but this is what I'd call a 'red-herring'....

During flights we all must sometimes answer "nature's call"....to go pee, or even do a number 2.

In my experience? We leave the Flight Deck in full knowledge that the pilot there, a colleague, is trained, responsible and trustworthy.

We (well, I) don't encourage or suggest a fellow pilot leave to take a "bathroom-break". (That's actually a bit creepy).

(EDIT...the phrase "to take controls"? You must realize and understand how modern airlines operate. During the course of a "trip sequence" or "trip pairing" (airlines use different terminology, but it describes a scheduled sequence of flights, for any given duty period) it is common for EACH 'leg' of the scheduled flights to be 'alternated'...Captain flies, then the First Officer flies...to "share". Often the Captain will decide to operate the FIRST leg of a trip-pairing, IF it is with an F/O unfamiliar to that Captain. Personally? I would, when flying with someone I'd never met before, offer him or her the first leg of the trip. This way, I could assess ability, etc.).

Summary: WHEN the PIC (Pilot in Command) is absent from the Flight Deck, he or she is usually confident in the ability OF the other pilot.
 
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JFDee

Senior Member.
During flights we all must sometimes answer "nature's call"....to go pee, or even do a number 2.
But in this case, according to the cockpit recording, he made that offer twice, instead of just waiting for that 'call'. I think other captains may remember similar exchanges if they took place.
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
If this has been answered please point me to a post number.

The news reports have said that after the pilot left the cockpit , the copilot then locked the door and pressed 'the button' that set the autopilot to 100 feet. How can that specificity be deduced from just the CVR? Is there an audible confirmation of that setting?
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
If this has been answered please point me to a post number.

The news reports have said that after the pilot left the cockpit , the copilot then locked the door and pressed 'the button' that set the autopilot to 100 feet. How can that specificity be deduced from just the CVR? Is there an audible confirmation of that setting?


Jay, no there is no one "button". This seems to me (the report that you heard, and are now relating) to be speculative. Perhaps "simplified" in order to make it readable by a lay audience. (?)

Operating the A/P ("Auto Pilot") is usually not loud enough to be picked up on the CAM ('Cockpit Area Microphone'). The basic procedure to change altitude, when on A/P is to rotate a knob (it has "clicks" or detents, but this is primarily for tactile reasons....the setting on the display is what's referenced). After inputting a new altitude then certain other buttons can be depressed, but again....these usually are nearly silent. the Flight Data Recorder's info will provide a time-based corroboration of the series of events, including the operation of the Auto-Flight controls.

I just found this video....am a bit dismayed that is is public (It seems to have been produced as crew-member training), but now is public:

(Please note that the video above may or may not be pertinent to every airliner, and every airline company. It is ONE example of a product that was available for an airline to purchase, and install on their Airbus aircraft).

Found the above video whilst searching for operation of the Airbus A320 'FCU' (What Boeing terms a 'Mode Control Panel', or 'MCP'...similar function and operation, just different way to use terminology).

If I may be indulged with one more video? (And I'm sure that TWCobra, with a lot more experience IN Airbus products, can be asked about it)...this is video shot in an actual A320, as compared to a simulator or a even a home-based set-up (many videos of those exist as well):


Note, please, the typical "background hiss" (my term..."hiss") on the Flight Deck. At about 0:35 the Captain is touching, and changing the 'FCU'....that's the array of controls just under the glareshield. These are the main ways that the Auto/Flight systems are controlled, and inter-acted with.
 
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JFDee

Senior Member.
The news reports have said that after the pilot left the cockpit , the copilot then locked the door and pressed 'the button' that set the autopilot to 100 feet. How can that specificity be deduced from just the CVR?
It is visible in the transponder transmission. See post #69.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member.
I just did a sim ride today. The altitude selector makes a click for every 1000 or 100 feet that you change it. ( you can select either, the 100 selection is generally used in instrument approaches ). There is no doubt in my mind that the sound would be picked up easily by both the area microphone and boom mic worn by the pilots. They could have counted the individual clicks.

The selection to actually initiate the descent would not be audible.
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
Thanks WW, and TWC, JFDee. Did not know transponder data included AP settings.
The first thing that struck me as "the reporter doesn't know what he is talking about", was " the button". Made it sound like there would be a separate button for every 100 foot level which is ridiculous. ( for max height of 40,000 feet that's 4,000,000 buttons)
I had assumed a rotary knob settings selector and if , as the report implied, the altitude setting was derived by the CVR then it would have to make an audible sound that could be picked up by the mic.
Just goes to show you cannot trust a reporter on any technical detail unless they have specific experience on the topic.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member.
Here is a diagram of the FCU. You can see the altitude selector and the 1000/100 selector.

The descent is initiated by selecting an altitude and either by pulling the selector for the Open descent mode, or pushing it for a descent controlled by inputs into the Flight Management System. That is called a managed descent. There is no sound when the selector is pushed or pulled; only when rotated.

The most probable mode used was Open Descent, which is a combined autoflight/autothrust mode which simply descends to the selected altitude at the current airspeed or a selected speed, in this case the speed was set at or near VMO of 350 knots.

One of the early crashes of the A320 was caused by a crew attempting to land in Open Descent mode.




image.jpg
 

Soulfly

Banned
Banned
Hello all... I'm back! :)

I've had this question burning in my head ever since this happened, so if any pilots can answer that would be great. It is sort of a 2 part question. Sorry if it has already been asked.

Would setting the auto to 100 feet trigger an alarm? If no, would that slow 8 minute descent be something that the pilot and/or passengers would notice (through feel of the plane moving differently) right away?
 

TWCobra

Senior Member.
Hello all... I'm back! :)

I've had this question burning in my head ever since this happened, so if any pilots can answer that would be great. It is sort of a 2 part question. Sorry if it has already been asked.

Would setting the auto to 100 feet trigger an alarm? If no, would that slow 8 minute descent be something that the pilot and/or passengers would notice (through feel of the plane moving differently) right away?

The only alarm would be the Ground Proximity warning system going off as it approached the ground. ATC would have had an alarm set off as well.

The 8 minute descent was a FAST descent. A normal one is between 20 and 25 minutes. The thrust was up when normally it is at idle. They were going way faster than normal.
 

Soulfly

Banned
Banned
The only alarm would be the Ground Proximity warning system going off as it approached the ground. ATC would have had an alarm set off as well.

The 8 minute descent was a FAST descent. A normal one is between 20 and 25 minutes. The thrust was up when normally it is at idle. They were going way faster than normal.
So as a pilot, in the bathroom, you would have said wtf is going on and came right out? I ask because I'm just wondering if the whole 8 minutes were used to try and get in, or perhaps a few minutes would have been wasted because no determinable change would have been noticed. Maybe the pilot didn't even get to the bathroom.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member.
The captain would have known instantaneously that something was going on. Pilots become very conditioned to sensing changes in aircraft altitude and speed and engine note.

The rules are that a single pilot on the flight deck does not initiative a change in cruising altitude without the other pilot present. A TCAS resolution advisory, carried out when a near mid air collision is sensed would be an exception to this. That is an emergency procedure and the captain, if he initially thought that may be the problem, would be trying to get back very quickly.
 

Soulfly

Banned
Banned
The captain would have known instantaneously that something was going on. Pilots become very conditioned to sensing changes in aircraft altitude and speed and engine note.

The rules are that a single pilot on the flight deck does not initiative a change in cruising altitude without the other pilot present. A TCAS resolution advisory, carried out when a near mid air collision is sensed would be an exception to this. That is an emergency procedure and the captain, if he initially thought that may be the problem, would be trying to get back very quickly.
Thanks TW. One last question. After Egypt 990, was something done to prevent pilots from just nosing the plane down? I just find it odd he didn't do that but instead left an opportunity for the pilot to possibly get back in.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member.
EA 990 was before 9/11 so the flight deck door was easily opened. The captain in that case took some time to recognise what the FO was doing, which compounded the problem of regaining control.

As far as preventing pilots from nosing down, there are potential situations which would require the full scale of the flight controls. A "jet upset" for example where the aircraft has been mishandled. AF449 leaps to mind here as it was stalled and if a stall recovery had been initiated above 15000 feet, the aircraft would have recovered. That would have required a full nose down control input.

I am going to put something together soon regarding misconceptions about aircraft automation. The Airbus FBW system was designed in the 1980s and even the A380 has the basics of that system. Pilotless aircraft are a long way off, and I will write something soon to show why.
 
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