Monday, March 30, 2015

Germanwings "No Right to Rule Out Other Hypotheses"

BEA's chief Remi Jouty
As if awaking from a stunned stupor, (incapacitation with breathing perhaps?) the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses, the French air safety investigatory authority, has suddenly spoken. After six days in which French law enforcement has all but wrapped up the case of the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, the spokeswoman for the BEA has told The New York Times, her agency's ire was focused on the shocking leak of the content of the cockpit voice recorder, but had no statement about the appropriateness of concluding the cause of the accident without recovering crucial pieces of evidence.

That wise disclaimer was left for Jean-Pierre Michel an official with the judicial police who, in one of the only moderate statements to emerge from this fiasco told the Times, “we have no right today to rule out other hypotheses including the mechanical hypotheses, as long as we haven’t proved that the plane had no problems.”

Friday, March 27, 2015

Attending the Flight School of Andreas Lubitz

Astute readers of Flying Lessons may remember that in the fall of 2010, I published here a series of posts about the week I spent as a student at the Airline Training Center of Arizona, the flight school owned and operated by Lufthansa. (I also wrote about it for The New York Times.) This was the same flight school and at the same time that Andreas Lubitz was first learning to fly powered aircraft.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

You Call this an Investigation? Germanwings So Far Anything But Conclusive

The news coming from French prosecutor Brice Robin regarding Monday's crash of Germanwings Flight 9295 is shocking, but on what is it based? Surely Mr. Robin knows something he's not sharing with the rest of us, or how could he possibly come to the conclusion that "the co pilot wanted to destroy the aircraft"? And yet that is what he is saying based on facts that still suggest other possibilities. 

The evidence so far shows first officer Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew the plane to a lower altitude winding up flying the plane into a mountain, the question Mr. Robin has not answered is how he knows the pilot had that end in mind.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Listening to Germanwings CVR is Not So Simple

CVR as recovered from Germanwings flight BEA photo
Investigators looking to discover why Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 flew into a mountain in the French Alps yesterday were handed one very good clue when the cockpit voice recorder was located and brought to the headquarters of the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses. 

At a news conference in Paris today, Remi Jouty explained "We just succeeded in getting an audio file which contains usable sounds and voices. We have not yet fully understood and worked on it to say 'It starts at this point and ends at this point' and 'We hear this person saying that etcetera.' It is ongoing work we hope to have rough idea in a matter of days, and having a full understanding of it will take weeks and even months."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Germanwings Pilots Likely Faced a "Get Down ASAP" Event

My thoughts on Germanwings crash to Larry Fedoruk CKTB News Talk 610 can be heard here.

It is too early to say what caused Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 to crash into the mountains in the French Alps. But the actions of the crew in quickly bringing the Airbus A320 registration D-AIPX down from 38 thousand feet suggests to me that this was a "get this plane on the ground" event. 

That suggests one of a few scenarios; decompression of the aircraft, structural failure (which could also have triggered the decompression) and smoke and or fire. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

MH 17 Probe Divides At the Point of "Who Done It?"

Wreckage of 9M-MRD Dutch Safety Board photo
 The conclusion that Malaysia Flight 17 was likely downed by a missile that penetrated the cockpit as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 has a certain, no-shit-Sherlock quality to it. After all, there was plenty of evidence within hours of the plane's breaking apart in flight and landing in pieces over an eight mile area in Eastern Ukraine that the plane was felled by a missile. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

MH 370 Report on Night of Errors Raises Questions About Competence

The story making headlines on the anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 is the news that the battery for the locator beacon in the plane’s flight data recorder was not changed on schedule as it should have been. This raises the possibility that one of the plane’s two black boxes may not have been emitting an audible signal for searchers to have picked up.  

Failing to replace a dying battery and the consequences of such a lapse is a scenario everyone can relate to, which is why this particular revelation is big news, even though it is exceedingly unlikely that the towed pinger locator was ever within a few miles range of the missing Boeing 777 in the first month after it disappeared.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ocean Search for MH 370 Lets Malaysia Overlook Clues on the Ground

9M-MRO in Los Angeles photo by Jay Davis
The adage that if you repeat a lie often enough people will start to believe it, can be appropriately applied to the search for answers to the disappearance of Malaysia 370, now approaching its first anniversary. 

Oh no, I'm not talking about the theories that the plane was flown to Diego Garcia. I'm talking about the breast-beating accompanying the reports that the deep sea search for the missing airplane may come to an end and with it dies all possibility of knowing what really happened and why.

That's not true. While having the airplane would be nice, not all investigations are tied with a bow and presented to crash detectives. Public pressure should be put on the Malaysians who have used a lack of progress in finding 9M-MRO to absolve themselves of any responsibility to conduct a probe right there in Malaysia, where many clues inevitably reside.