Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Second SFO Disaster Avoided Seconds Before Crash

timothy posted about a year ago | from the why-passengers-clap-on-landing dept.

Transportation 248

sabri writes "On July 25th, flight EVA28, a Boeing 777 flying from Taiwan to SFO, was on the final approach for runway 28L when they were alerted by ATC that they were only at 600ft above the ground at less than 4NM from the threshold. SFO's tower directed the flight crew to climb immediately and declare missed approach. Assuming they were flying at 140 knots (typical approach speed of a 777), they were less than 2 minutes from the runway and at a 3 degree angle (approx 500ft/min descent), about a minute from impact. This is the same type of aircraft and runway used by the crashed Asiana flight. Similar weather conditions and awfully similar flight path. Is there a structural problem with computer-aided pilot's ability to fly visual approaches?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Captain Wi Tu Low is at it again (5, Funny)

Lost+Found (844289) | about a year ago | (#44423031)

Clearly he learned so much from his last flight

Re:Captain Wi Tu Low is at it again (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423447)

Wrong airline, that's a copilot and you misspelled his name. The pilots first named in the Asiana crash were Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow". Those names turned out to be wrong though. Other suggestions included Park Ma Plen Tu-Sun and Ha Yu Lan Dis Tang. KTVU's news director "Munchma Quchi" may be to blame for the errors, reported investigative journalist Stephen Colbert. [youtube.com]

Re:Captain Wi Tu Low is at it again (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year ago | (#44423925)

Why did this get modded down?
It's an AC being both funny AND informative!

Re:Captain Wi Tu Low is at it again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423659)

Indeed. Asian drivers. That's all that needs to be said really.

Re:Captain Wi Tu Low is at it again (1, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44423979)

I have to admit I'm disturbed by how comfortable people are in this country with Asian stereotypes. Reminds me of the "chink" joke made about Jeremy Lind in a NY paper. Apparently the mods agree. It's not funny.

Re:Captain Wi Tu Low is at it again (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44424217)

In this case I don't think it's a question of Asian stereotypes. It's a question of homophones. Plenty of homophonic western names get mined for comedic content as well (Anthony Weiner, anyone named Dick, etc.).

Re:Captain Wi Tu Low is at it again (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44424325)

Oh, I didn't mean the parent, I meant some of the posts under him.

Re:Captain Wi Tu Low is at it again (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#44424005)

Obviously the Autopilot was too busy Beta testing the New Epic MMORPG :D

wasn't that Captain Wei Tu Low? (0)

swschrad (312009) | about a year ago | (#44424119)

Wei = "way" and Wie = "wee", if you're going to make race-baiting jokes, at least get the pronunciation right.

NO (5, Informative)

Quick Reply (688867) | about a year ago | (#44423035)

"Is there a structural problem with computer-aided pilot's ability to fly visual approaches?"

No, Just Pilot error. The 777 has constantly landed at SFO everyday for years without issue and the cause of the Asiana has been well-documented.

Re:NO (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423321)

To be fair, it does show how dependent these pilots are becoming on their computers. And if they fuck up this often when ILS is down, you have to wonder if they would ever catch it if ILS was miscalibrated or spoofed.

Re:NO (3, Funny)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44423481)

never seen Die Hard 2, have you?

Re:NO (3, Funny)

Calydor (739835) | about a year ago | (#44424317)

Because action movies are also documentaries.

Re:NO (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423719)

Actually, it doesn't show that. You can't draw any meaningful conclusions with a sample of 2 incidents reported, no estimate of the total number of landings in similar conditions, and no idea how many near-misses didn't make it into the news.

Someone should be doing this study properly (if they weren't already), but you need a better data set than Google News.

Re:NO (5, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#44423861)

To be further in tune with the facts here.... There are more approach aids than the ILS. Safety in aviation is layered and in the case of approach aids there are at least three more ways a pilot should be able to use to judge his approach and correct. There are the VASI lights which tell you if you are too high or low. There are the markings on the runway, which are of standard sizes and locations which aid the pilot who is looking out the windows. Then there is the "visual picture" that the pilot will have seen many times before when landing, even if only in the simulator.

Any of these *should* have been enough to safely land.

My guess is that what really happened here is a combination of ATC directions and pilot errors. ATC likely directed a short approach which started pretty high making it difficult for the pilots to properly stabilize the approach. The inexperience of the pilot in command contributed to the issue because it took him longer to make all the complex adjustments, get the gear down, flaps down, get on the glide path at the proper airspeed and complete the landing checklists and he lacked experience to recognize what was happening. The PIC got behind the aircraft and by the time they realized the sink rate was way to high they where to low and slow to recover. They landed way short.

This is an old story, told time and time again. A flying aircraft does not wait for the pilot who doesn't keep ahead of the situation. Landing and take off phase of flight are fast paced (compared to other phases) and also the least forgiving of falling behind. The PIC fell way behind and failed to fly the aircraft properly. He failed to recognize the danger and deal with the problem and was lucky to survive. In this case I don't think ILS wold have mattered.

Re:NO (3, Insightful)

sabri (584428) | about a year ago | (#44424059)

To be further in tune with the facts here.... There are more approach aids than the ILS

Any of these *should* have been enough to safely land.

And that is the problem. Visual approaches are becoming increasingly difficult for the magenta addicted flight crew. If a heavy gets directions from ATC which will make their life very difficult, she (the pilot announcing the go-around was female) must have only one response: "unable".

Re:NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44424077)

To be fair, it does show how dependent these pilots are becoming on their computers.

Really? You have less than two data points out of many thousands, and you think that's the the "fair" conclusion?

Re:NO (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44424293)

Actually, that is possible given the ILS is NOTAM'd as non-operational. Just because it's non-operational doesn't mean "it doesn't work", it means "it doesn't work properly". There have been documented accidents where the primary cause has been reliance on an out-of-service navaid that just happened to be spewing navigational information.

And it's not to say the authorities don't TRY to warn people - first, the NOTAMs are part of every flight package on commercial carriers (even if it wasn't, it's still required reading for all pilots. The rule is to be familiar with all information regarding your flight, and NOTAMs generally are part of that (after all, there's a chance the airport can be closed!)).

But in the case of a navaid, the FAA also turns off the identifier beeper (morse code...) and sometimes even puts a voice on the frequency telling pilots the navaid they are using is out of service. The identifier is broadcast continually for positive identification that you're using the correct navaid - failure to hear the identifier or hearing the wrong one means you're probably not tuned corrected or it's broken. If there's a voice, well, you may want to listen since someone went through the trouble of recording it.

And yes, ILS is like any other navaid - you still have to tune and identify it to make sure you're not following the wrong one!

Re:NO (4, Informative)

deck (201035) | about a year ago | (#44423553)

As a professional pilot, I have to agree that this seems to be a case of poor pilotage whether they were using the autopilot or not. This goes less to being under trained and more to complacency on the part of the flight crew. I would hazard a guess that the pilot of this one also had thousands of hours of flight time just as the pilot of the Asiana flight did (about 10,000 hours for the later). When flying an airplane one MUST be aware of where they are in the four dimensional space and where they should be; the term for it is "situational awareness". The "are" can be of the flight crews own making or caused by other factors and the "should be" may or may not be attainable. When the "are" is other factors and the "should be" is not attainable then it is a true accident.

Re:NO (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44424073)

Now now. You keep talking like that, how are politicians gonna stomp around outraged, rushing to "fix" this, coincidentally distracting you from massive deficit problems?

copy paste (2)

JeffSh (71237) | about a year ago | (#44423043)

copy paste from a forum poster at the link:
=====
@ Roly final thought
By LW on Sunday, Jul 28th 2013 15:45Z

+++Failure to use all available aids, even during a routine VFR approach is a crew or training issue.+++
=====

Planes don't fly themselves... yet. An experienced and attentive pilot is still necessary, who'd have thought?

Re:copy paste (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423395)

Let's copy paste from the other crash article on Slashdot's comments...

This one seems to be pretty informative: [slashdot.org]

28 NAVAID Instrument Landing System Runway 28L Glide Path out of service started about 1 month ago ending in about 1 month

Or even [slashdot.org]

The pilot HAD to manual land, the ILS system and PAPI glidepath height assistance for runway 28L (and 28R) at SFO is down, as reported in the current NOTAMs [faa.gov](Check for SFO)
!SFO 06/005 (KSFO A1056/13) SFO NAV ILS RWY 28L GP OTS WEF 1306011400-1308222359
!SFO 07/046 (KSFO A1326/13) SFO RWY 28L PAPI OTS WEF 1307062219

There was a great anecdote in the article comments I could not find quickly by a guy who used to do flight training in SEA that basically points out how dumb the pilots are over there and how lax their training standards have become.

Re:copy paste (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about a year ago | (#44424261)

Let's copy paste from the other crash article on Slashdot's comments...

Let's not.

PAPI lights were available for the Asiana landing. It's the crash that broke them,
and they have long since been fixed. Look at the dates on those NOTAMs.

Re:copy paste (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#44423559)

Planes don't fly themselves... yet.

Frankly I wish they'd bite the bullet and finally get the pilots out of the cockpit of commercial airliners altogether, and just use remote control from a central control centre for each airline, or better yet, each airport. Similar to the harbour pilots, specialise in their own harbour. You don't need a pilot in the aircraft for 99% of the trip, so you'd save an enormous amount of labour across the fleet, even if you had four or more remote-crew controlling each approaching-landing aircraft. (Even then, the highly automated aircraft would largely land themselves. The remote-crew being for emergencies and unusual conditions.)

Re:copy paste (2)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#44423741)

Frankly I wish they'd bite the bullet and finally get the pilots out of the cockpit of commercial airliners altogether, and just use remote control from a central control centre for each airline, or better yet, each airport.

So when these systems lose radio contact with the plane, then what? The plane just flies around until communication is restored? Fuel tanks are finite in size.

No matter how automated planes become, there will always be a situation where someone needs to pull levers and push buttons.

Re:copy paste (3, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#44423835)

I prefer to have the pilot in the transport plane. This way if it crashes they die too. It is a pretty good way to convince them to fly properly.

Re:copy paste (1)

jbwolfe (241413) | about a year ago | (#44423901)

Would you want to fly in the back of one? Pilots do more than push buttons. They're paid for their judgement and experience- something an autopilot will never replace. I've got 25 years of what I contend is priceless professional experience the majority of which is not related to manipulation of flight controls- that's what you you should be filling the cockpit with.

With judgment and experience, a pilot can know whether a climb is better than a descent, what route is best to avoid, if taking extra fuel is more harmful than helpful, understands winds aloft, tropopause, and orographic phenomenon and their effect on turbulence, and a myriad of other vital information.

Most importantly, incidents like AF447 would be more likely and recovering from that type of upset would be impossible by remote pilot.

Is there a structural problem? (3, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#44423049)

In short, no, there is not. There is a problem with the airline putting inexperienced dumbasses in the left seat to save money.

Re:Is there a structural problem? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423091)

Yeah, the problem is that Asians fly about as well as they drive. Without a booster seat they can barely see above the console.

Re:Is there a structural problem? (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44424057)

Ten or so years ago I got into an ugly argument with a Libertarian buddy about pilots on strike at the time. Him and another friend were of the mindset that if the "market" set the price for pilots at $20K/year, then so be it. Well, the market is literally setting the price at $20K (as was the case for that copilot in the NY icing crash), and we're reaping the rewards of it.

I was a flight simulator nut years back and I just can't see how a pilot can allow themselves to get that far off the glide slope with all of the landing aids you have in a modern airliner.

Re:Is there a structural problem? (1)

sabri (584428) | about a year ago | (#44424117)

In short, no, there is not. There is a problem with the airline putting inexperienced dumbasses in the left seat to save money.

That is the structural problem. A lot of pay2fly, inexperience crew and magenta addicts on the flight deck. It is no longer an incident, it is a structural issue. At least the FAA saw that and increased the minimum flight time from 250 to 1500. That's 1250 hours more stick and rudder before you get access to a flight deck (I hope).

So who was phone? (4, Funny)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year ago | (#44423053)

Is there a structural problem with computer-aided pilot's ability to fly visual approaches?

Parse fail. I've even had my 3 cups of coffee and I got nothin'.

Re:So who was phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423391)

"Approaches" is the object of the infinitive "to fly". "Visual" is an adjective modifying "approaches".

That said, I don't think it's possible for an ability to have a structural problem

Re:So who was phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423491)

Is there a structural problem with (computer-aided pilot)'s ability (to fly visual approaches)?

Re:So who was phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423573)

I read this as asking if the console was too high for the pilot to see the runway when making a flare landing (flying slow at an up angle to descend while slowing).

The only solution (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423063)

is to ban all airplanes. Because of the children.

Re:The only solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423465)

what about the terrorists?

Re:The only solution (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44423609)

With the surplus of children we have after banning airplane flights, we can afford to spare a few to feed the terrorists.

Re:The only solution (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44423681)

Or we could let the children fly the planes. They'd probably do better than these clueless pilots, especially given their skills at video games. In fact, I once got a perfect star run of Starfox 64.

Pop some popcorn (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423087)

Time for a 500 post thread saying the same 3 things:
1) I am not a pilot but here is why the pilot was wrong
2) There is a problem with Asian pilots since they weren't loved enough by their mothers
3) Hey don't be racist, Asians are just good at different things than Americans

Re:Pop some popcorn (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423145)

You forgot:

4) Asians have small penises, so they don't have as much practice with a big beefy control stick.

Re:Pop some popcorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423489)

If this were two white pilots they be fried by now, you racist pig.

What? (0)

Ultra64 (318705) | about a year ago | (#44423123)

"that they were only at 600ft above the ground at less than 4NM from the threshold"

And what is an NM? I'll assume it's not nanometers.

Re:What? (4, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#44423147)

That would be nm. NM is Nautical Mile.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423193)

Which is an appropriate unit of measurement, given where they were headed.

Re:What? (1)

TooTechy (191509) | about a year ago | (#44424173)

Actually those are Naughty Miles. A naughty mile is a mile which changes length automatically with an aim to confuse a pilot.

Re:What? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423235)

Or Newtonmeter measured between captain's cheeks

Re:What? (1)

edxwelch (600979) | about a year ago | (#44423591)

either that or it's "New Mexico". "The pilot was 4 New Mexicos from the threshold" doesn't make much sense though

Re:What? (1)

belthize (990217) | about a year ago | (#44424041)

Which would take quite a few Mississippis to cross.

4NM at 140NM/hour takes about a hectomississipi to traverse.

Re:What? (1)

UberChuckie (529086) | about a year ago | (#44423165)

Nautical miles.

Re:What? (1)

Ethan Black (2746369) | about a year ago | (#44423175)

1 Nautical Mile (NM) = 1.15078 Miles = 1.852 Kilometers. Whenever you hear the term "knot" in aviation (or on a boat) it is referring to NM / hour.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423177)

Nautical Miles

Re:What? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423201)

How about newtonmeters. hahaha.. the captain must have been pulling his cheeks together hard.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423273)

1 NM = 6000 feet

Re:What? (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44423501)

1 NM = 1852 meters exactly, or 6076.115 feet approximately.

Re:What? (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44423549)

Of course, what a NM _really_ is (or was) is one minute of arc on the surface of the Earth. That requires a reference spheroid to convert it to a linear measure (feet or meters), but if you are working off of a map, you basically can just read the NM with your protractor.

Re:What? (1)

jabuzz (182671) | about a year ago | (#44424051)

In theory not. The original definition of the metre was one ten-millionth of the length of the Earth's meridian along a quadrant. That is, the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. Hence there is a direct link between one minute of arc and a metre.

Re:What? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about a year ago | (#44424145)

Of course, what a NM _really_ is (or was) is one minute of arc on the surface of the Earth.

"Was" is the correct alternative. Today it's 1852 point nothing meters.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423279)

nautical miles, there used largely for maritime and aviation navigation

This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (5, Insightful)

TFoo (678732) | about a year ago | (#44423207)

Yes, they were below the glidepath, and yes they blew the approach and had to go around: but this is hardly seconds from disaster or even a close thing. 600' at a normal approach speed is not "close" to the ground and 3.8 NM is more than 3 minutes at Vref which is certainly adequate time to respond.

These kinds of things happen and the only reason we're even hearing about this one is that it happened at SFO 28L.

I expected a little less sensationalism and a lot more intelligence from slashdot.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (4, Funny)

Dwarfgoat (472356) | about a year ago | (#44423259)

I expected a little less sensationalism and a lot more intelligence from slashdot.

You must be new here. ;)

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

TFoo (678732) | about a year ago | (#44423265)

My Bad: 3.8NM is just about 2 minutes at Vref, not 3 -- using 130kts as a placeholder (ie 2NM/min). Point still holds.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

hermitdev (2792385) | about a year ago | (#44423863)

According to Flight Aware [flightaware.com] . (see around 11:56PM in the log), the airspeed was 166-173 kts when they were at 600' before climbing again.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423295)

I expected a little less sensationalism and a lot more intelligence from slashdot.

Excuse me? May I ask what color the sky is in your world?

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423347)

You MUST be new here if you expect "a lot more intelligence from slashdot."

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (4, Informative)

Ethan Black (2746369) | about a year ago | (#44423399)

4 NM / 140 knots = about 1.7 mins (Like the summary says). Not more than 3 minutes. Just a little nitpick; your overall point is still correct: 2 minutes is a LONG time in this kind of situation. Possibly embarrassing for 777 pilots to be doing while in VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions). Definitely NOT newsworthy. (I fly for a living, missed approaches happen).

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

Dynedain (141758) | about a year ago | (#44423555)

Ummm.... I thought the summary clearly stated that they were a few minutes from the runway, but less than a minute from impact. In other words, they weren't going to make it to the runway by quite a margin.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423593)

Descending from 600ft at a rate of 500ft per minute only takes 72 seconds. You can't spool up and recover from a steep decline like that in a matter of seconds. It wasn't an emergency yet, but there was no time left for an argument or misunderstanding either.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423623)

I expected a little less sensationalism and a lot more intelligence from slashdot.

Did you not see "Posted by timothy"? 'Nuff said.

Friendly "hey dude" from the control tower (2)

Latent Heat (558884) | about a year ago | (#44423627)

Yeah, but ATC had to tell the crew, "hey dude", you are coming in too low. This is good of the tower to give them that help, but it is like your passenger calling out to you that you are about to drive off the road -- it is really the pilot's/driver's responsibility to stay on path. If your passengers are calling out warnings of impending crashes to you, you might want to better look where you are going.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

januth (1000892) | about a year ago | (#44423661)

No, it is not close to the ground, but it is certainly not a stabilized approach which is standard operating procedure for a transport aircraft. If the approach is not stabilized, or becomes unstabilized, you declare a missed approach and try again.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44423699)

Yes, they were below the glidepath, and yes they blew the approach and had to go around: but this is hardly seconds from disaster or even a close thing. 600' at a normal approach speed is not "close" to the ground and 3.8 NM is more than 3 minutes at Vref which is certainly adequate time to respond.

These kinds of things happen and the only reason we're even hearing about this one is that it happened at SFO 28L.

I expected a little less sensationalism and a lot more intelligence from slashdot.

Yeah, well it's still seconds from disaster. I boarded a flight to JFK once that was delayed due to a mechanical issue, if we had taken off, we would have been only 20,000 seconds from disaster... it was a close call.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44423735)

I would suspect that on approach with a lower speed and only 600ft off the ground, any large plane IS seconds away from disaster mainly because at 4NM out, it's not certain the the landing approach is clear of towers, buildings etc.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#44423845)

The approach on SFO 28S is over water, so that isn't an issue. The problem was that they were descending still, and would have hit the water long before making the runway if the ATC hadn't yelled at them.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44424109)

True there is probably no obstacles over water. It does make me nervous that pilots are not watching their altitude and speed on landing.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about a year ago | (#44424063)

I agree overall, but quibble on one point. 3.8 NM at 140 Kts may be minutes from threshold, but 600' above ground is cause for concern. The are still descending at @ 500 fpm which would indicate if they continued the current FP they would land in the water within a minute. At 600' above sea level there is still a reaction time to factor in (hey OMG WTF) as power is applied (first I hope) then pitch is changed to stop descent. At that point they may be even closer to the water (400' even) and that is not where you want a major airliner 2 miles from the runway.

Sensational reporting? Of course for this is /. after all. Non-issue? I don't think so for not only does it reflect an issue with pilot training, it also can shine a light on changes that could be made to limit future incidents. As a long time inactive pilot I don't want to judge these specific pilots, but my brother is a heavy Jet Captain and hes' mentioned to me on a number of occasions that the younger pilots do not have as much skill *flying* the airplane as they do managing the systems that fly the airplane. In asking one to manually land a DC-8 in generally benign conditions the FO was not very comfortable with the task.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44424105)

It's been a while, but when I used to play flight simulators I think I was always at 2000' about 2 NM out based on the manual. That sounds DAMNED low to me.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (3, Insightful)

sabri (584428) | about a year ago | (#44424291)

Yes, they were below the glidepath, and yes they blew the approach and had to go around: but this is hardly seconds from disaster or even a close thing. 600' at a normal approach speed is not "close" to the ground and 3.8 NM is more than 3 minutes at Vref which is certainly adequate time to respond.

There are several reasons why this is an important story:

- Yes, they were more than two minutes from touchdown, but that does not mean two minutes crashing: the descent rate determines that, and according to Flightaware, they were descending at 480ft/min. Which gives a little over a minute before crashing;
- They were way below the glideslope on a visual approach, and apparently not aware of it. It took ATC to warn them, with a little over a minute to spare; If anything would have blocked that radio transmission (another station, perhaps: remember Tenerife), they may even have hit the water;
- They were headed for the same runway as the Asiana flight, under the same conditions: ILS unavailable, but other aids still working (especially PAPIs). This simply shows that the crew lacks the experience to safely conduct an approach and landing under these circumstances.

Re:This /. headline is sensationalist drivel (1)

Moskit (32486) | about a year ago | (#44424329)

It was seconds, about 60 of them ;-)

Technically title is right, but I concur it is purely sensational, driving viewcount like bad newspapers.

Altitude alerting system at SFO has been offline (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423243)

"For about three months in mid-year 2013, the FAA will render the LDA for runway 28L and the ILS for runway 28L out of service (OTS) at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) due to runway construction. The loss of these navigation aids will eliminate the ability for SFO to conduct PRM approaches during simultaneous offset instrument approach (SOIA) operations. The FAA plans to publish RNAV (GPS) PRM procedures prior to this navigation aid shutdown."

TLA overload in OP's FYI from the FAA - WTF? (4, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#44423713)

So the LDA is OTS at SFO and the FAA published RNAV PRM for SOIA. TTL that ATC stepped in or EVA28 would have been SOL and all passengers DOA.

Re:TLA overload in OP's FYI from the FAA - WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423997)

WTF

Not a full deck (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423249)

The visual approach slope lights have been OTS at SFO for awhile..

Re:Not a full deck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423767)

What does the California Office of Traffic Safety have to do with this? It's aircraft, not cars.

Or do you mean OFS (Out for Service)?

Automatics, lack of skill, two-bit airlines... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423297)

The problem is that some countries license pilots that cannot fly the plane if all the computer-aided bells and whistles are not available. This alone wouldn't be so bad but there are enough carriers around that hire anyone who has the legally required paperwork and is willing to do the job at the peanut pay offered. Actual skill at operating the plane beyond what is required "by the book" (use automatics) is optional.

Ban such pilots from operating commercial jets in US (and/or EU) airspace and it will fix the issue in a hurry.

Otherwise we can wait until enough expensive jets have been trashed by these "pilots" and enough people killed - at which point operators that do not change their policies and recruitment standards die out.

Some Asian carriers actually outright ban the pilots from flying the plane manually (automatics _have_ to be used at all times, if available). How on earth do they expect the pilots to cope in an emergency when the toys fail? Or when the toys can't be used (SFO does not have serviceable ILS at the moment so visual approaches are needed)

Re:Automatics, lack of skill, two-bit airlines... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44423829)

Not just countries but pilots themselves might be too reliant on automated controls. For example crash investigators believe pilot error contributed to Air France 447 [wikipedia.org] . Blocked pitot tubes caused the auto pilot to switch off and the plane was stalling. But the pilot at the controls kept trying to climb instead of regaining flight controls or diving.

Was the pilot Wi Tu Lo or was it Sum Ting Wong? (-1, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#44423319)

Details please.

Re:Was the pilot Wi Tu Lo or was it Sum Ting Wong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423483)

Or maybe even 'Kent Parker Wright'

Re:Was the pilot Wi Tu Lo or was it Sum Ting Wong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423515)

At least it wasn't Ho Lee Fuk or We Gwan Di

Missed approach (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44423445)

If we are going to have a news article every time there is a missed approach, Slashdot should be renamed.

Same pilot? (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#44423511)

Tune in to KTVU San Francisco. I bet they have the names of the flight crew. Probably the same guys.

Hold on a minute... (1)

beaverdownunder (1822050) | about a year ago | (#44423533)

Even if there was a problem with the auto-pilot, AFAIK it's illegal to land on auto in the continental USA...?

Otto Pilot (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44423957)

I was under the impression that Otto Pilot hasn't been out there since the days of the 707, and even then, Ted Striker had to land the plane.

Perhaps - From the Pros (1)

jasnw (1913892) | about a year ago | (#44423543)

See this take on the problem from Aviation Week:

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_07_22_2013_p25-597816.xml [aviationweek.com]

Pilots are like anyone else, if they lean on a crutch long enough they forget how to walk. Then if the crutch turns out to have a fault, boom!

Re:Perhaps - From the Pros (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#44423871)

Or if you take the crutch off-line for repairs. We've already had one boom, and this was almost another.

"Structual Problem" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44423667)

" is there a structural problem with computer-aided pilot's ability to fly visual approaches?"

What the fuck does that even mean? The only people deciding whether something is a "structural problem" should be licensed PEs. I'm not one, and it still irritates me when people misuse engineering analogies to sound smarter than they are.

What you're asking is, "Do commercial pilots flying heavily-automated aircraft suffer from diminished ability to manually fly visual approaches?" And the answer is, quite probably, and the solution is better training.

Training, not a structural problem (1)

jbwolfe (241413) | about a year ago | (#44423689)

Is there a structural problem with computer-aided pilot's ability to fly visual approaches?

Not sure of the specifics of this incident (VMC or IMC), but there's no "structural problem" with automation and visual approaches. It is more likely simply an issue of training- about limits of automation and flying a visual flight path.

The automation can be used as a aid during a visual approach, but one must be familiar with how to set up the FMGC/FMC. Training costs money. Sim time is a limited and costly resource and managers are always looking to save a buck. Safety and profit are often opposing metrics.

600ft above the water? (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year ago | (#44424009)

since the approach to SFO is over the bay.

Wrong Date (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44424323)

Plane arrived in SFO on the 24th, not the 25th, according to TFA.

I was compelled to check because I was in SFO twice on the 25th.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?