Comments about technological history, system fractures, and human resilience from James R. Chiles, the author of Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology (HarperBusiness 2001; paperback 2002) and The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks, the Story of the Helicopter (Random House, 2007, paperback 2008)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Superjet Crash: Flight data recorder, also found

Following up on my earlier post about the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) found at the Superjet 100 crash site on May 15. 
As predicted, the solid-state recording chip in the CVR was in good shape, despite the unit's battered appearance in news photos. Indonesia's investigative agency is running the last 20 minutes past three interpreters to put together a common transcript. (Why 20 minutes? The passenger jet had been aloft for just 12 minutes, following takeoff from Jakarta.) 

That text may be all we ever learn about the cockpit chatter; as in most crashes, there are no plans to release the audio itself.

Local residents found the FDR last week. It was in good condition under a heap of dirt. The maneuvers of the aircraft near Mt. Salak are already documented from radar tracks, but if the plane had some kind of mechanical problem, data on the FDR  should reveal that.

Meanwhile, given the news vacuum, one Russian tabloid blames American sabotage, but most articles cite alleged recklessness by the pilot to impress customers about the RJ's agility. 

Pushing the maneuvering envelope to show off a new plane wouldn't come as a big surprise, but I haven't seen a convincing explanation why the pilot would ask ATC to descend from a safe altitude so he could fly through the mist, among the volcanoes. One maneuver near the volcano was a 360-degree turn.

It was truly an odd request assuming that he knew his whereabouts, and wasn't distracted.

1 comment:

  1. It will take months before the final accident investigation report be issued by the Indonasian flight safety autorities.

    However the report content and recommendations must be validated and accepted by all interested parties in including the aircraft manifacturer, the flight safety organisation responsible for the investigation, the Superjet international organisation, the SCAC and also all superjet main equipment suppliers which are numerous.

    This agreement may take months to obtain as all involved parties have interests to preserve and it is foreseen that the first version of the report will significantly differ from the last version to be issued to general public as every word is going to be fought before an agreement is finally obtained.

    This validation process is valid not only valid for this accident but also for all aircraft accident.

    A lot of arm twisting during negotiation is going to involved in the process.

    However, all facts from the preliminary voice recorder and the flight data recorder analysis revealed that the pilot brought the airplane into a dangerous mountainous area during bad weather countrary to it flight plan.

    There is no indication at this moment of any aircraft malfunction though the Electronic Locator Transmitter(ELT) failed to function after the crash. It was either destroyed during the violent accident, or was installed but not functional or was either not installed as this aircraft was called up in a hurry to replace the first one that had a minor engine problem. The russian autorities are performing an enquireries about this aircraft preparation before it was flown to the Indonasia.

    By the time the final report be issued to general public the aircraft manufacturer will continue to produce aircraft according to a modified delivery schedule to its most solid customer and its marketting organisation Superjet international will scour all clients to reassure them that the aircraft safety is by no means involved in this accident and that this aircraft is the one they need.

    The final consequence of this aircraft accident over a few years span will be a further delay in aircraft delivery and also a lowering of the aircraft price tag to airlines as they will use this accident as an obstacle to the long and difficult contract signing process.