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RE: SFO crash & automation?

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Chat' started by Joe, Jul 7, 2013.

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  1. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

    Sep 11, 2009
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I know we have some knowledgeable aviation board members. Regarding the SFO crash on Saturday, how much of the landing is controlled by the pilots and how much is controlled by automation?

    Everything I've read so far, said the plane was coming in too low and then the pilot? tried to pull it up, or was that automation?

    Looking at the pictures, it is amazing only two people died, but I understand it was a very efficient evacuation down the slides thanks to the flight attendants.:thumbsup:
  2. joshcox19

    joshcox19 Tourist

    Jun 3, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    It depends entirely on the aircraft and equipment. A lot of newer aircraft have autoland that literally does everything IF it is selected or active. In this case it was most likely fully controlled by the pilots since the weather was nice

    I work with/design avionics for a living so I know what is available, but i'm not sure how that 777 was equipped.
  3. colpuck

    colpuck Tourist

    Apr 2, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Current generation aircraft are equipped with an Auto-land function. However, that is generally only used in zero-zero conditions where there is no visibility. According to the news, yesterday at SFO was a clear day and the planes were operating under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).

    Generally, most commercial pilots disable the auto-pilot on final-approach and hand fly the aircraft in. If you sit close to the cockpit on any flight you can hear when the pilots switch off the auto-pilot. The disable sound is a series of three beeps.

    Now, for a visual approach the pilots will use the PAPI lights. This is a series of four angled red and white lights next to the runway. These lights tell the pilot if he is on, above, or below the glide slope. Optimal is two red and two white, more red the pilot is below, more white the pilot is above the slope.

    According, to the information from yesterday, the pilots were substantially above the glide-slope for landing. As they got closer the plane dropped faster than normal and plane dropped below the glide-slope and impacted the runway well below glide slope.

    now why did this happen? there could be numerous reasons. A malfunction with the PAPI lights, instruments in the plane, pilot-error, engine problems, ect could all have factored in. We'll have to wait and see what happened.
  4. makikiboy

    makikiboy VIP Whale

    Oct 5, 2007
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Not sure how accurate this is, but CNN interviewed pilots (or retired pilots) when going over the crash. those pilots said that usually for take offs and landings they have it on manual, not sure if that is the case for all pilots.

    I am not sure if the PAPI was operational but the news media reported that the airport's ILS system was out of service and that the pilots knew this and so were landing using visual flight rules.

    It is all speculation right now on what happenned but the only thing that can be confirmed is that as the plane got close to the runway the plane was too low to the glide path. the pilot (too late) tried to increase speed but the plane's yoke rattled indicating the plane was starting to stall. The pilot also tried to raise the nose but didn't have enough lift to clear the seawall so the tail hit the ground first.

    It's funny (screwy) because some of the web sites on yahoo and others have comments that the computer should have warned the pilot (pull up!). They don't realize that when landing those warnings are inactive since the pilot is getting low to land the plane.

    We shall have to wait until the NTSB finishes their investigation to get all the information on the crash. Right now, many are looking for someone/something to blame and so are blaming the pilot who didn't have that much experience flying the 777 (but over 10,000 hours flying other planes). but because he was still "training" someone should have been looking over his shoulder. the NTSB will go over the whole incident before reporting their findings to the public.
  5. bswim

    bswim High-Roller

    Jan 22, 2013
    Western WA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    NTSB stated that the throttles were at "idle"

    Also saw this:
    "The approach speed was 137 knots. I will tell you the speed was significantly below 137 knots--and we're not talking about a few knots," said NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman.

    I've seen others comment that it's common for the throttle settings to be on "auto" until 500 feet and then the pilot takes over. It's my "guess" that since the throttles were at idle, the instructor was to busy instructing other stuff and overlooked the throttle?
  6. marktaylor

    marktaylor Low-Roller

    May 12, 2010
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    the speed quoted in the newspaper in the uk this morning was 103 knots at impact when it should have been 137 knots
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