Archive | March, 2009

Fatal distraction

Recently we have learned from studies by the NTSB and NASA that distractions in cockpits can be fatal, and certainly represent a considerable risk that has not been properly acknowledged. The NTSB’s senior human performance investigator Dr William Bramble finds that all the recent fatal airline accidents caused by pilot disorientation were preceded by crew distraction […]

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NASA boldly going where man has been before?

Is NASA barking up the wrong tree with its “large transport aircraft upset recovery research programme?” While I’m sure that the human factors, physiological and psychological results of testing pilots in centrifuges will be scientifically interesting, I’m not so sure they will be useful. NASA is not the first organisation to do research on why […]

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Narita MD-11 crash: the disaster sequence examined

The prevailing situation: The FedEx MD-11 was approaching runway 34L at Tokyo Narita, with fairly high gusting winds forecasted. Gusting winds always raise the spectre of potential windshear, and Narita is renowned for it. The forecast wind (320deg at 26kt gusting to 40kt) would have provided a crosswind from the left that was some 20deg off the runway heading, although that may not have been what […]

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Uneasy about airline safety

Last year’s safety figures confirmed a trend that was becoming established over the last five years: airline safety has stopped improving, something it never did before since the Wright Brothers. This year’s serious occurrences show no sign that this is changing for the better. Another unwelcome fact is that more accidents are happening to aircraft registered in a country […]

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It’s the plumbing, guvnor

There is nothing new under the sun. In the 1950s a Boeing B52 strategic bomber was lost during a long duration, high level sortie, and it was believed this was caused by fuel system icing. Of course it will never be proven because ice melts before you can check it out, but that was deemed the […]

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Pilots: who needs them?

“Unless pilots are trained to cope when automation fails, logic dictates that manufacturers might as well design them out altogether.” That’s the logic. But will it survive the argument? ———————— The greatest service the Dutch National Safety Board could render to aviation in its investigation of the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 crash at Schiphol is to use […]

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