incident at SFO with United 747-400

Date:         30 Mar 99 01:53:13 
From:         "jdhil" <>
Organization: AT&T WorldNet Services
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March 19th's Wall Street Journal (as well as local papers) carried an
unusual account of a near accident involving night, IFR departure in a
747-400.  It happened last year (June, I think) on a 11:30p.m. departure
SFO to Sydney.  TOGW approx 840,000# (from the newspaper) with almost
half in fuel weight.  The a/c lost #3 just after lift off.  There was a
relief crew in the cockpit also.   The a/c went into pre-stall buffet
(shaking so the  panel was "unreadable". . .try flying that at night, in
the soup, with a grossed out 747 strapped to your ass. . .), the audible
alarms ringing, the relief crew yelling "lower the nose, lower the nose"
and then when the ground proximity warning went off, starting yelling
"pull up, pull up".  At any rate, the copilot (flying) proceeded to
wrestle this stalled out, staggering behemoth until another ground
proximity warning went off whereupon he did what they say can't be done
and asked the bird for more, got it, and cleared San Bruno Mountain by a
mere 100'.  The story is verified by the airline (United), the FAA, and
the pilot's union.

The long and short of the article is the admitted utter failure of
"basic flying technique" due to low generalized low pilot proficiency in
landing / take off maneuvers.  Some pilots were said to actually land
the a/c manually only once every few months.  The rest of the currency
is maintained in the simulator.   The Fed is drafting a rule at this
time to deal with a requirement to actually land and take off using a
real airplane.