Questions and Answers
Aircraft Engineers International are calling for action from regulators failing to to “deal promptly and effectively with the Airbus A380 wing crack issue.” Action must be taken.
Airbus is not the only one being damaged, but also passengers who put their lives at risk every time thy fly. Why is the passenger’s safely the last item on the agenda?
The Air France Flight 447 Crash has resulted in lawsuits pending. Not only against Air France.
But an aviation case does not stand alone (only against the carrier) because when a crash happens it is not usually the result of a single cause, just the fault of the carrier. It is a result of a number of things happening at once–the failure of not just one component, but many, partially because there are so many fail safes built in. Everything happens just right for the event to go that wrong.
So in the lawsuit, it is not only Air France named, it is Airbus, because Airbus was the plane that failed. But that plane is the component of many parts.
Failed also was the Honeywell ADIRU. ( The Air Data Inertial Reference Unit is a key component of the integrated Air Data Inertial Reference System (ADIRS), that supplies airspeed, angle of attack and altitude data.)
Failed also were the Thales pitot tubes, which froze over, which prevented them from being able to provide the data.
Failed too were microprocessors, flight control components made by Motorola and Intel.
The list goes on to include Rockwell Collins, Hamilton Sundstrand, General Electric, Goodrich, Dupont, Rosemount Aerospace, Raychem and Judd Wire.
Because of the congruence of all of these defective components, the plane did not take in correct data, the software could not handle the inaccuracies, and the Airbus (the plane they say cannot stall) stalled.
About the Author
In George’s Point of View
In an experience that is being compared to Air France Flight 447, in night/instrument conditions, the AF Airbus flew through turbulence (reported by pilots, not on METAR) at 35,000 feet, accelerated (to 0.66 mach), and autopilot quit. Pitch attitude increased to 11 degrees and decelerated. Turbulence reduced, and pilots were able to level off and return the flight to normal parameters.
Hopefully the events of this flight will inform us of what is going on in the Airbus at high altitude
Perhaps this flight recapitulates the events of Air France 447. It certainly seems to. Because of what history shows us, I wonder if there was a repeat of faulty input from the pitot tubes. The pilots, in this case managed to regain control of the plane. (I doubt if there is an airbus pilot now who hasn’t studied the events of AF447 and worked out some kind emergency response.)
When the dust settles and the finger-pointing stops, we want those involved to stop blaming, and start taking responsibility.
74 bodies are not going home.
Now that 104 bodies were brought to France in refrigerated containers aboard the salvage ship, Parisian experts will begin the identification.
Because it took more than two months to identify the bodies of the first 50 victims found floating off the coast of Brazil in 2009, it could be months before identification is complete, but success is expected because the chill temperatures and water pressure apparently preserved the remains quite well.
For each victim, forensic experts will perform autopsies to catalog and preserve their unique dental and DNA information, and compare the new records to the records to those when they were alive.
Meanwhile, the investigation goes on. Hopefully a report from the BEA will be published by the end of the summer.
Reports are that the complete data (flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder) was successfully recovered in Paris. And Wednesday, the BEA will announce if there was enough DNA in the two recovered bodies to determine their identity, opening the possibility to recovering the rest of the remains. (Though this explanation is a little different from what we have heard up to now.)
On the BEA website, today’s report said:
After recovery, the units were saved in water until they were dried in lab conditions at the BEA. The recovered data will be cross-referenced with the ACAR data (automatic messaging system) that was gathered in realtime in 2009, and may become part of the criminal cases against Air France and Airbus.
The BEA anticipates an interim report utilizing the new data this summer.
Some of the families-those who believe that bringing home the remains will refresh their pain, or who have a concern for the dignity of the dead- want the victims to remain where nature, fate and the tides have put them, at the bottom of the sea. Not all families feel that way. There are parents who want to bring their children home, parents who want to rescue the bodies of their children, husbands and wives who want to bring their loved ones home, to provide a burial, to find peace. The question for those families is not “dignity” of the deceased, but closure, the sense of bringing home the lost. Those families send their pleas to the French judges to leave the final word with the fathers, mothers, with the siblings.
There is the consideration that it is going to be all but impossible to detect who the victims are until they are actually in a lab. Which means gather first, detect later. Even if all remains that have been located are recovered, it is all but inevitable that there will be some who will always be missing.
There is the consideration that the divers are there now. There is knowledge of the location, now. A lot of time and money has disappeared into a vast hole in order to divine this knowledge. And it is not concrete. Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, the location will change.
Let us take a number–around 178 bodies are still missing. 178 survivor-families are not likely to agree on what to do with the remains. But surely, this dilemma should have been resolved before now–It seems almost unethical to go this distance for the black boxes, and leave behind the people. Or is it unethical to disturb the dead? It is a sticky question that will probably end up on legal exams in more than one country.
The two Parisian judges, Sylvie Zimmerman and Yann Danielle, in charge of the recovery have decided to “preserve the dignity” of the dead, and out of respect for mourning families, the remains of those too badly altered should not be recovered.
Even if French Law gives them the right to make that decision, is it really just to impose their will on the families who disagree, the ones who want to bring home their loved ones? Perhaps it is a question of arbitration of a higher judiciary.
It seems to me that leaving bodies behind now, even as grisly and terrible as recovery is likely to be, this is like running the race and quitting at the finish line. When the search is done, and the ships and divers go home, the seas will swallow up everything that remains. If there is to be retrieval, it must be now. Tomorrow is not an option.
Some of the families of victims of Air France 447 want their remains recovered. Others want the remains untouched. How are the divers, hundreds of feet below the sea, to know which is which?
178 bodies are still missing. There were fifty or so initially recovered, and two were found in the course of this search, and recovered. The ones that were just found were considered relatively intact, preserved by the temperature and location. But as they were recovered, they “disintegrated” during recovery. There are possibly a hundred more still strapped in their seats and scattered around the wreckage at the bottom of the recovery site.
The two Parisian judges, Sylvie Zimmerman and Yann Danielle, in charge of the recovery have decided “to preserve their dignity and out of respect for the families who mourn them, the remains of those too badly altered should not be recovered. While tests are carried out on those two bodies already recovered to see if they can be identified, no others will be raised.”
I cheer this decision. While I personally would respect the wishes of each individual family, in my opinion, the Judges have made a wise decision, probably the only possible decision. How could the recovery teams know what bodies to bring to the surface since some families wanted it done and others do not?
Now that the miracle of the needle in a stack of needles (the black boxes) have been found, another phase of the investigation will occur. The discovery and recovery of the actual box is only the first step. Recovery of the content will be followed by interpretations of the content, and it is hoped that it will provide a data log that will illuminate the AF447 history of the crash, that which is now just speculation.
As much as we would like it to be, the recovery of the black boxes does not make knowledge of exactly what happened a “done deal.” But we can have at least a certain degree of confidence that this will provide substantial feedback regarding what happened.
But not everyone is confident. Phil Seymour, chief operating officer of the International Bureau of Aviation said ““If you were to throw a computer into the ocean, imagine how all the parts would eventually split and you have the corrosive effects of seawater and the depths involved.” Surely Phil Seymour knows that the integrity of the memory unit is robust. While I haven’t yet dug up the stats on the particular box in that particular plane, the box is built to EUROCAE specifications. These devices must pass certification at 3400 G/ 600 psi.
If the BEA were listening to me, I would ask why they did not just send the memory units directly to Honeywell for extraction. In a worst case scenario, if the circuit boards are short circuited, as has happened in the past with this type of unit, then certainly Honeywell is best equipped to recover the data without any delay.
Anyway, this is not your home computer dumped into the ocean. This is a highly sophisticated unit built to withstand extreme conditions and if the seams are not breached, we have every reason to expect these units (FDR, CDR) to perform the functions they were intended.
And the wreckage that is recovered will have its own tale to tell.