Re: A330 crash (was: B777 order list)

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
Date:         21 Nov 95 01:19:31 
References:   1 2 3 4
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>> previous remarks because I thought it was really impressive that Boeing
>> was able to certify a brand new aircraft (B777) right on time.  Most of
>> all, Boeing did it without losing a test aircraft! ;-) (Sorry, I cant'
>> resist.)

>I'd like to mention that the reason why Airbus lost the A330 in 1994 was
>because of the dedication of the test crew to gather the best data.

Wrong, though that was a very early explanation, when only the barest
preliminary facts were known.

>I don't want to rehash details....

Evidently because you don't know what they are.

>when the (chief) test pilot observed the autopilot problem upon take
>off, he chose not to disengage immediately so that they could better
>analyze the situation.

First, the autopilot problem manifested itself significantly after
takeoff.  Several attempts to engage the autopilot immediately after
takeoff were unsuccessful, for reasons which are unclear to me.  At
approximately 6 seconds after takeoff (TO +6 sec.), the autopilot was
successfully engaged, but did not activate because the First Officer
was pushing forward (i.e., commanding a nose-down) on his sidestick.
The autopilot activated 2 seconds after engagement, at TO +8 sec.,
and at about TO +8.4 sec. switched to ALT* (altitude acquisition)
mode, which lacked the envelope protection present throughout all of
the A330's other flight modes.

The Captain was not even aware of what the autopilot was doing as he
was occupied throttling back the #1 engine and then cutting off the
blue hydraulic system, the latter occurring between TO +10 sec. and
TO +12 sec., several seconds after activation of the autopilot.  At
TO +15 sec., he finally realized something was amiss -- the CVR has
him saying "And I ... I don't know what's gone."  After several
seconds of confusion (trying to figure out how to save the plane,
not trying to study the thing), he disconnected the autopilot at TO
+19 sec. and begain attempting recovery by pushing his sidestick to
full forward and applying full right rudder at TO +20 sec.  Alas, his
actions came too late and they did not have sufficient altitude in
which to manuever.

>When he, however, did take controls into manual it was too late and
>the tail made contact. What happened next is well known.

You almost make it sound like it was a hard tail strike.  In fact,
the aircraft was banked 18 seg. to the left and 15 deg. nose-down when
it crashed (at TO +38 sec.).  The left wingtip hit first; the tail was
probably the last portion of the aircraft to impact, though just prior
to impact the descent rate was roughly 9,000 ft/min. so there was very
little time between the two.

>Losing the aircraft was nothing.

Sure, what's $100+ million when your hand is deeply ensconced in the
government's pocket?

>Losing seven lives wasn't.

Especially when you consider that four of them had no business being
aboard what was clearly a test flight.  Perhaps if they had bothered
to have *two* test pilots flying the plane (the First Officer was an
A320 line pilot) they might all have lived.

Karl Swartz	|Home
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