It turns out that the Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their destination by 150 miles were using laptops.
The incident involving a Northwest Airlines Airbus A320, raised fears of a possible hijacking and there were 2 fighters ready to take off as all ATC (Air Traffic Control) attempts failed.
The 2 pilots, both of which have now been suspended, whose Northwest Airlines plane went 150 miles further than it should have on Wednesday, said they were using their laptop computers. The federal agency (FAA) investigating the incident quoted the pilots as saying they had “accessed their personal computers during the flight” and “had lost track of time” as they discussed staff rostering. The was no ATC contact with the Northwest Airlines for more than an hour before it landed in Minneapolis.
The initial speculation was that they had fallen asleep, but the initial rumour was that they got into a heated discussion and lost track of where they were.
They admitted that during their discussion, they did not monitor or respond to calls from air traffic control via voice and to messages relayed to the in-flight systems via text.
My Thoughts… What I can’t understand is how 2 trained pilots could disregard ATC. If you start ignoring this, then you might ignore or be slow to respond to onboard alerts from other systems such as TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System).
Could they have been asleep but covered it up with this – a less alarming story?
What do you think of these Northwest Airlines Pilots using Laptops? Real or fake news? Leave a comment!
This is the original set of Blog Posts which I listed on my site during the search for Air France Flight 447
Posted : Day 1
It is a very sad event but something strange but very sudden must have happened on board Air France Flight AF 447.
Air France Flight AF 447 left Rio de Janeiro carrying 228 people, en route to Paris, but about 4 hours after take off an automated alert was sent to Air France HQ from the plane. Initially this was reporting an electrical issue, perhaps a short circuit but there are rumours of a second alert to do with pressure in the cabin, which could be true if there was an explosive decompression (nothing to do with bomb explosions) but when the pressurised air quickly escapes from the plane. There was no further contact. Was it lightning, a bomb, or did turbulance rip off the rudder? The plane is reported to have come down 360 miles northeast of Natal, Brazil.
The plane was in an area of thunderstorms, however, I find it difficult to believe that lightning could take down such a large, complex and sophisticated Airbus – afterall, the plane that landed on the Hudson was an Airbus. There are between 1 and 3 reported lightning strikes each year yet the last recorded crash from a lightning strike was way back in 1967 when the fuel tank exploded.
I think perhaps more likely is that lightning struck the plane and interrupted the computers and electrical systems. The Airbus is constructed so that the aircraft and also data communication associated with the fly by wire system is protected against overvoltages the indirect effects of lightning. An overload could have caused anything to occur e.g. the wrong signals sent to the rudder might have caused a rudder hardover flipping the aircraft about and at that speed the plane would have been destroyed or the rudder ripped off due to the speed and turbulence.
It is possible, especially in an era of hightened terrorism. However with increased airport security is this as likely was it was during the era of Air India or even Locherbie. Why time it for when it is over the sea if you are a bomber – surely they would schedule detonation for a more populated area to bring attention to their ’cause’. The reason I don’t think it was a bomb is that the debris field is so small – a bomb at that height would cause a huge debris field easily seen by spotter planes. This would also rule out a fuel tank explosion as happened to TWA-800. However, that crash was caused by a short circuit when increased current was sent from systems to the fuel tank control system, which eventually caused a spark igniting the fuel.
The only reason I can think of (these are only my observations and thoughts on what could have happened based on past cases and facts which we have to hand at present) for very little debris being found is that the aircraft hit the water 90% intact. Why 90% – the tail may have been ripped off by the turbulence. Wake turbulence caused the crash of American Airways 587 in 2001, when it encountered wake turbulence, the pilot applied incorrect pressure to the rudder which was too much and the rudder ripped off – 268 people died. Without the rudder a plane cannot under any circumstances or any pilot skill, be controlled. In the case of Flight 447 , this would explain (a) the pressure warning from the plane ; (b) possibly the electrical warnng ; and (c) The lack of further contact and limited debris field.
We won’t know until the Black Box – CVR and FDR (Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder) are recovered. This will be an absolutely mammoth task as the plane is possibly thousands of feet below the surface. The Black Boxes have a battery life of about 30 days after which the pinging devide will cease. Also the longer they are in the water the more potential for damage there is. We will have to wait and see what happens and see if a cause can be deduced from this terrible accident.
There are lots of reports circulating the web at the moment, some stating that the location beacons have not been triggered, others claiming that this is a new bermuda triangle – this I believe is hype. Something happened, something catastrophic as there was no Mayday – that we do know. Some of the headlines in the news are frightening to holiday makers who are worried about getting on board a flight. If it was me, I would have no problem boarding an A330. The airbus is a great aircraft.
Lets wait and see and leave these people rest in peace without writing silly stories about (some of these are in the tabloids) bermuda triangles, black holes, UFOs and others targetting certain aircraft with being unsafe.
Update on Flight 447 – Posted Day 3
Over 3 days after the Flight AF 447 event, progress is still quite slow. Many news agencies are even reporting that Air France received bomb threats in the days leading up to the event.
So far a large debris field has been found, but the largest section found to date is only 7 metres in length. The investigators are pessimistic about finding the black boxes or Flight AF 447 which are reported to be between 9,800 – 12,000 feet below the surface.
There are still a lot of conflicting theories on what happened Flight AF 447. On this site I have seen lots of people searching for “Flight 447 UFO” – this is ridiculous … strange people out there!
It could take 1-2 weeks before they collect enough wreckage to run metalurgical tests to check for explosive traces or the distinctive bending of the metal which is caused when a bomb explodes.
All anyone can do now is wait and see.
Flight 447 Update – Posted after 5 Days
The Brazilian Air Force have arrived at the scene where they thought debris was to be found the UFO (unidentified floating object) was only a wooden pallet. No debris has actually been found. However some new theories have emerged.
1) The plane was flying too slowly through the storm. This was mentioned in a French Newspaper, stating that the A330 flew too slowly through the storm and may have stalled. Although this has been played down in the media it could have been a primary cause of the crash. 2) There was icing and this made the plane travel slower, or disrupted the airflow over the wings causing problems with the aircrafts control surfaces. Icing should not appear at those altitudes but for some reason it is presumed that icing may have occurred for flight 447. 3) There are reports of errors and warnings about speed. Did the pilots have incorrect information about the planes speed and this would have caused item #1 above (referring to the speed at which Flight 447 travelled through the storm). Could the aircrafts pitot tubes have been partially blocked, causing incorrect speeds to be displayed as they climbed. The pitot tubes have been involved in some major crashes over the years and cause very unusual cockpit readings as well as very sudden crashes, as seen on Seconds from Disaster and Air Crash Investigation on National Geographic. Whatever the news over the weekend, it seems very very strange that absolutely no debris has been recovered. It may be a long time before we find out the cause of the flight 447 crash.
Update – Posted after about a week
Two passengers who are known to authorities to be linked to Islamic terrorism were on board the Air France flight 447 which crashed last week. The French secret service established the highly significant terror connection (names of passengers who are radical Muslims considered a threat to the French Republic) while reviewing the AF447 passenger list.
It is almost certain that there were computer malfunctions possibly caused by a frozen pitot tube which resulted in slow transit into the story – terrorism has still not been ruled out in this case. One source has said that the names of these passengers could simply be a coincidence and that they are not terrorists at all.
France has received a few threats from radical Islamic terrorists groups since the French troops were sent to fight in Afghanistan in the “War on Terror”. French Security chiefs have been worried similar suicide attacks to September 11th. It is improbable that a terror organisation would want to do anything at such a remote location, in the past they have used highly populated cities and buildings to carry out their actions – unless perhaps any bomb or device was triggered prematurely with disastrous consequences.
A French nuclear submarine is now in the area listening for the Black Box pingers which will cease to operate in about 3 weeks. So far 41 bodies have been recovered, as well as the tail & rudder and some smaller pieces of Af447s debris about 1,100 kms off the coast of Brazil.
Update – Posted after about a 10 days, June 12th
As it turned out the names of the passengers which French officials were suspicious of, were simply a coincidence – they were not terrorists at all.
Also, Airbus have confirmed that in the past year there have been 5 sensor failures. Many airlines are now replacing these sensors.
There has been no burn marks on the aircraft recovered thus far and therefore officials surmise that the aircraft broke apart in flight.
A French Nuclear submarine is now in the area covering 20 square km per day listening out for the Black Box pingers.
Flight 447 Update after 2 weeks
There has been some speculation (including myself from day 1) that the rudder was a key element to the investigation of the air crash of Flight AF447. The tail was found last week and investigators are now reviewing whether or not the Airbus rudder was an issue. They are focusing on the part of the rudder which controls how much the rudder can move. Normally, a limiter prevents the rudder from swinging or moving too far – at high speeds an incorrectly positioned rudder could sheer off. There has been some speculation in the media that this Airbus had some issues regarding the rudder – I find this hard to believe, as any aircraft snag list which highlighted a rudder problem, you can be guaranteed that Air France would have brought the aircraft in for immediate repair.
Part of the Airbus Rudder / Vertical Stabiliser of Flight AF447
Technicians will be able to review the metal structure, looking for corrosion or metal sheer and may be able to deduce if the rudder failed on its own or if air speed was a factor. There are many large bolts in the area of the vertical stabiliser and perhaps one of these failed – however if you look at the amount of the tail fin was recovered it actually is only the fin part and does not come near the area where the structure is housed and secured.
Other air crashes which had rudder problems include on famous case in Japan where a JAL Boeing 747SR lost part of its rudder and crashed into a mountain. Other cases include SilkAir Flight 185, American Airlines Flight 587.
There are now many vessels, including some from USA and France covering hundreds of square kilometers every day listening for the pingers on the black boxes and flight data recorders which will stop working in about 2 weeks.
The next 2 weeks will be vital in the search for clues to why this modern airliner crashed. I am not posting for a while after this as the situation and scenario seem to be very different from any normal crash – this could be a long time before we find out what happened to Air France Flight 447
update about a month later – Air France Airbus (Flight AF 447) Crashed into ocean ‘intact’
The findings of the official Air France Investigation report that Air France Flight AF 447 did not break up in mid air, instead, hit the water intact. The French Air Accident Investigation bureau (BEA) said that the aircraft appears to have hit the water in flying position with strong vertical acceleration.
The airbus hit the water belly first but with an almost vertical descent. Hitting the water very very fast, items at the front of the aircraft were pushed to the back. It is unknown if the pilots were in control of the aircraft before it crashed. At that speed, the G-Forces would have the pilots pushed back in their seats and would possibly be unable to move their arms etc.
The black box and flight data recorders still have not been found and it is now over 30 days since Flight AF 447 crashed – they will continue searching for 10 more days. Honeywell, who make the black boxes, say that they have a 100% recovery record for FDRs. I think it is highly unlikely that these will now be found, unless they are entangled in a large piece of fuselage. What wasn’t addressed in the press release was (a) the multiple error messages and (b) how much of the fuselage of the airbus has been recovered.
Until they are found we will not know for definite what caused the Flight AF 447 crash.
By now the black boxes of Flight AF447 pinging divices have certainly stopped sending out locator information. The investigators know the general location of the crash, but due to the vast size of the search area and the fact that the ocean is miles deep in those locaions, the black box, if found would be of little use. It could be corroded and the combination of the salt water and pressure would probably destroy the box before it could be found.
Investigators into the AF447 crash have made primary results known, blaming the pitot tubes, saying that they probably froze over and gave incorrect data to the auto-pilot.
Either way, the issues will need to be looked into.
I’m flying on Air France soon, I’m not overly worried as the Airbus is a superb machine, however, if the blog is not updated in the next 3 weeks, It could be, because I can”t get decent internet connection from beyond the grave
The French navy has located the immediate area around the flight recorders from Air France flight AF447 which crashed in the Atlantic last year. They are now within a 3 nautical mile area of the black boxes, which is 200 nautical miles north-west of the Brazilian archipelago of Sao Pedro and Sao Paulo. However retrieving the Air France Airbus black boxes from the ocean floor might be near impossible. The cause of the crash remains unknown but the aircrafts airspeed had given false readings, but officials believe other factors must also have contributed including blocked pitot probes or rudder failure similar to a crash in New York in November 2001. Finding the black boxes from AF 447 will reveal flight data and cockpit conversations, allowing investigators to build a computer model of the final moments of the flight. A French navy spokesman said: ‘It’s like trying to find a shoe-box in an area the size of Paris, at a depth of almost 10,000 feet and in a terrain as rugged as the Alps.’ and this search for AF447 is apparently ‘one of the most complex undersea operations ever’. It will be interesting to see if any black boxes are found almost 1 year after the disaster.
What Actually Happened to Air France Flight 447?
After all the conjecture and speculation many years on, we now know what did happen to AF 447. The aircraft’s flight recorders were not recovered from the ocean floor until May 2011, almost two years later.
The final air crash report released by the BEA was released in July 2012. It was discovered that the aircraft crashed after different measurements in Air Speed, most probably due to blocked pitot tubes, caused the autopilot to disconnect. The crew did not have good ‘in-cabin management’ and reacted incorrectly, with one pilor pushing down (the correct action) and another pulling back on the control sticks. The Airbus then entered an aerodynamic stall and from over 30,000ft it then did not recover and crashed. It is the worst accident in the history of Air France, and also the worst aviation accident involving the Airbus A-330.
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