Re: Swissair MD-11 (SR 111, JFK-GVA) crash off Nova Scotia

Date:         10 Sep 98 03:04:24 
From:         pierce@spamnot.pat.mdc.com (Gun One)
Organization: Pierce Aero
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>From the nimble fingers of Pete Mellor <pm@csr.city.ac.uk>:
: Already, there are allegations of pilot error (the captain should
: not have wasted time circling to dump fuel, but should have gone
: straight into Halifax).

There is a limit to the descent angle a heavy jet (or just about any
civil aircraft, for that matter) may fly.  If my maximum angle allows
me to lose a thousand feet for every 2 NM of forward progress, and I
am at 10000 feet, then any landing spot closer than 20 NM will require
me to S-turn or do a 360 or whatever to dissipate the extra altitude.
With an emergency onboard, and the captain not knowing its exact cause,
exceeding an airspeed limit to get down more quickly would not be
prudent.  (As a side note, the pilot of the Hawaiian 737 which lost
its roof was incredibly lucky that she didn't lose the whole airplane
in her high speed descent.)

I believe the press, in their somewhat less than infinite wisdom, have
latched onto the fuel dumping as an indication of the captain being
preoccupied with something other than what was a bona fide emergency,
when in fact, he was probably dumping fuel INCIDENTAL to reacting to
the major problem.

Landing overweight is not a problem, as long as the speed (which will
be higher) is relatively controlled.  It would require, at the least
and with acceptable piloting technique at touchdown, an inspection or
two with probably no damage to the airframe.

-gun one