This post contains the Bloomberg article (Eye in The Sky) and the most recent weather chatter plotting the official last ACARS position (previously identified as 0214UTC) corrected as 0210UTC.

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NextGen_Gate_To_Gate

Eye-in-Sky Satellite Storm Alert May Avert Future Air Disasters

By Pat Wechsler and Adriana Brasileiro –  June 18 (Bloomberg)

In the U.S., the proposed technology is called NextGen, for Next Generation Air Transportation System, and is estimated to cost the government as much as $22 billion to develop, according to the FAA. The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast link, being built by a team led by ITT Corp., is slated to be operational by 2013, according to the FAA Web site. ITT, based in White Plains, New York, is a manufacturer of engineering products and communications systems.

FAA Appropriations

The FAA, which is working jointly with the Commerce Department and military, expects to spend about $1 billion a year on the system, spokeswoman Tammy Jones said. It is seeking $865 million in appropriations for fiscal 2010, according to the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

“We want to get to generate forecasts so far in the future that we can generate routes” that avoid storms, said Jason Tuell, chief of science plans for the National Weather Service. That capability, not expected to be available until 2025, will depend on meteorologists and engineers developing a system that combines advanced numerical and higher resolution weather models with radar and satellite feeds, said Don Berchoff, the director of the service’s office of science and technology in Silver Spring, Maryland.

… The latest radar products are three-dimensional, such as IntuVue from Honeywell International Inc. in Morris Township, New Jersey, which helps pilots determine the height of thunderheads. The three-dimensional systems, introduced less than three years ago, are in a small portion of the commercial aircraft fleet, said Chris Benich, director of aerospace regulatory affairs at the world’s largest maker of airplane controls.

Among airlines using IntuVue are Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Air Canada and Singapore Airlines Ltd., while the U.S. Air Force uses it on C-17 cargo planes, according to a list provided by Honeywell. The cost for long-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 777 is about $335,000, said Bill Reavis, a Honeywell spokesman.

Two-Dimensional Radar

Most commercial planes are equipped with two-dimensional radar that requires pilots to manipulate it to get an accurate picture of the weather, Benich said.

“With older weather radars, pilots have difficulty accurately determining the top of significant weather,” Benich said.

Honeywell, Airbus of Toulouse, France, Thales SA of Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, and 14 other partners signed a contract on June 12 to work on the European version of the satellite-based link called Sesar, or Single European Sky ATM Research.

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ON-LINE AVIATION CHATTER /

MSG BOARDS / DISCUSSIONS

You never know what you may hear on the radio! Below are the most recent on-line aviation chatter and message board discussions.  Please understand the below are only chatter/discussions among aviation professionals world-wide and should not be considered fact until all official information is released by Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Disinformation (BEA).

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I must say people who are in day-to-day operations of airlines still find it hard to believe that there are people out on the internet who can decipher accidents…

We enjoy not being bound by everyday operational conventions, therefore, can attack various scenarios with an open mind… this disturbs a lot in the “conservative aviation”… but, some of us get carried away and start ranting on about their theories.

My fascination in studying air accidents into the kind of detail we’re doing here started with an accident involving an airline with many alleged violations but has an effective PR team.

The local aviation forum had members with access to the accident site and witnesses. Let’s just say our findings (factual) differed from the official reports.

One thing I have learn from that was, keep an open mind.  Learn systematic but conservative extrapolations and basic mathematical modeling to get a rough trajectory, decelerations, etc…

Several accidents after were studied… like others said, these members, some pros, many just air Fans, have been able to find most of the factors and give an astonishingly accurate depiction of the multiple causes. This isn’t limited to just the internet.

When a previous aircraft went missing, this accident became personal because as this plane went missing,  I almost lost a family member in that accident, he canceled the day before, but he lost his cargo he sent on the flight (and never found)!

Just like AF447, pieces weren’t found for a week. The previous almost endless list of safety and regulatory breaches, and coverups, and the emotional torment the families went through with false reports of survivors, crash sites, etc… moved me. I saw one of the ugliest sides of aviation.

Systematic theorizing, and eeking out whatever evidence was available, resulted in a theory which, although wrong, attracted attention of one of the investigating team members. Spatial disorientation, erroneous diagnosis of the problem they had, was the basic conclusions after several facts were presented. In the end, the CVR & FDR proved that.

Eventually, I was involved with a documentary about the crash. Albeit there are differences in details of the accident in the documentary, the message got out… knowing what happens in an accident is crucial for the families left behind (plus the talk about not putting the public at risk).

After the documentary circulated around and made it to those affected by the accident, several who are families of the victims or colleagues of the crew who died said their thanks for “making the world know what had happened, so that others don’t have to go through what we went through, and that questions on their deaths aren’t unanswered. Our dead and living relatives can now be at peace.” It was very moving.

This is why, I take great interest in AF447. You never know who reads these discussions and it is likely, that someone who knows someone on the flight is reading this topic to find answers! This is the least I can do for them, and I’d like to do it responsibly!

Have I been wrong? Yes! I’ve misdiagnosed an accident after being pressured to complete my analysis quickly, only to have the analysis leaked to the public causing a major embarrassment the investigators (factual part of report matched theirs in shorter time, but analysis was totally wrong), and possible inputs to the human factors side of the accident (after the correction) ended up rejected, leaving little defense for the pilot from criminal prosecution.

This is why I have to say what others have said… PATIENCE !!!!! We’ll get to whatever answer we can come up with… but PATIENCE !!!

Stories aside… AF447 is of great interest to me after my encounters with the above mentioned accident, to which, discussions like this, when done right, can provide comfort to those who have lost their loved ones! For me, it’s about them!

When one day, you meet someone who has lost someone in an aircraft accident, who read these kinds of online discussions, and got the answers they wanted as to why they lost someone, you’ll understand. When they say “thank you”, there are no words to describe one’s feelings!

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WEATHER CHATTER

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Comment/Question: Is it possible that AF447 flew into turbulence that was beyond design limits and just broke up? You know, forget pitot icing, Vne, coffin corner etc…

Yes, there’s always a possibility that we’ve missed out on something in the ACARS messages… the thing is… did we????

As I said before, there’s nothing preventing the aircraft entering the mother of all turbulences after 0214… and there’s an open chance it could happen between 0210 and 0214… but before 0210… unlikely but cannot be ruled out.

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Comment/Question: The galley contains,as others have indicated a number of carts. They are secured by their own brake (a pedal used by the F/As) and the same simple rotating latches we see for the food containers. Their disappearance leads me to think that they were not secured and hence the cabin had not prepared for turbulence.

I had another look at Tim Vazquez’s analysis and it looks like the turbulence message and the final demise MAY BE relative separate items. I discuss below several innocent errors in Tim Vazquez’s overlay of the flight path. Like myself, we both erred on the last ACARS position, previously identified as 0214UTC, it has been officially corrected as 0210UTC.

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Where was the aircraft when it sent the “Forte Turbulence” ???? It appears to be just next to the mini cluster with the hole behind it, where Tim Vazquez mentioned “Very strong updraft”. Turbulence, doesn’t have to be IN the cloud, and can tend to be more severe nearer to clouds containing severe up/down drafts… I speculate they were abeam of that small blob held in place by the humongous cloud formation.

That small blob, shows a very sharp temperature and precipitation gradient in comparison to the rest of the megacloud. You can see it again here:

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The “bad” turbulence would have passed relatively quickly, and normal cabin activities, I presume, resumed shortly after passing abeam of that blob. It now does appear that the crew DID attempt to deviate around the worst parts of the storm based on what they saw on the radar

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0619_af447-radarsim————–

Again, ignore INTOL-EXTRAP POSITION line. If you follow the line, you’d be abeam of the green blob at around 0200 (needs more study on this)… and continue along the track until you enter the green, and then find yourself between the 2 big yellows. At this stage, they KNOW the wind is east to west, and you’re better off being closer to the upwind side of a downwind cluster instead of being closer to the downwind side of the upwind cluster. A small deviation following the above convention would then lead you to… the last ACARS POSITION, of 0210.

Last ACARS Position reveals that at 0210: – They were leaving the megacloud. On the human factors effect of this is, slight relaxation and relief, believing the worst is over… They were going to get out of the anvil… or so they thought… – There was still some cloud above them, if you take the side profile at:

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– Being below the edge of an anvil, in the case of the METEO-SAT 9 image, means, you’re below icing conditions of unknown temperature, and you’re outside temperature was increasing from -40 to -20 (I assume Celcius) rapidly as you reach the edge…

Results… likely to be extreme icing!

– Again, on speculative human factors, just as when they thought the worst was over, they probably didn’t realize they were still under some of the anvil, with the rapidly rising OAT (but not high enough to cause Hail, but ice instead)…

– Alertness towards this, based on previously stressed period of increased workload from “hide-and-seek” and WX radar monitoring (they’re likely to have tilted the radar from level to DOWN, not UP)… put them at the worst condition to face the icing… I think “false expectation” is a descriptive but not accurate word to use to describe the crew condition at that stage. This is very human nature!

I welcome corrections and valuable inputs, as this section could provide the answer to the question of “was it weather?” “Was the weather dangerous?” “did they knowingly enter dangerous weather?” “If they were trained for ITCZ traversing?

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Related Links

NextGen, for Next Generation Air Transportation System

NextGen Videos

Air France Flight 447: A detailed meteorological analysis by Tim Vasquez

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