Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hey, who's flying this thing?

I never should have found it, this site. It's extremely addictive for all the wrong reasons. It amazes me how often disaster is directly caused not by pilot error, but by utter pilot incompetence. Below are two transcripts from the cockpit.

On an Air New Zealand flight to Antarctica, no one in the flight crew seems the least bit concerned that nobody can see anything. The assumed tour guide Mulgrew blandly tells the passengers that they have no idea where they're going, but if he ever figures it out, he'll let them know, because the view of Antarctica is breathtaking. But it's pretty hard to see anything after you've slammed into the side of a mountain. On a Lauda Air flight to Thailand, the pilots receive a dire warning about an equipment malfunction, but dither around endlessly with an instruction manual, doing it "by the book" until the plane eventually stalls, falls out of the sky and disintegrates. None of these pilots have the old-style Chuck Yeager instincts that it took to get a plane and all its passengers through near-disaster. It's sheer hell to send a kid up to do a man's job.

November 28, 1979

Mt. Erebus, Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica

Air New Zealand, Flight 901

McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30


The aircraft crashed into the slopes of Mt. Erebus while on sightseeing flight to Antarctica.
An incorrect computer-stored flight plan resulted in a navigational error directing the flight
towards Mt. Erebus. Because of overcast, the crew descended below authorized altitude.
Contributing to the accident was the crew's inexperience with flying the Antarctic route.
All 257 aboard killed.

MC = McMurdo Station

CA = Captain

F/O = First Officer

F/E = Flight Engineer

MU = Mulgrew (guide)

MC   New Zealand 901, maintain VMC. Keep you advised of your altitude as you approach McMurdo..

CA   We're VMC around this way so I'm going to do another turn in.

CA   Sorry, haven't got time to talk, but ...

MU   Ah well, you can't talk if you can't see anything.


MU   There you go. There's some land ahead.

CA   I'll arm the nav again.

CA   ALT, NAV CAP, IAS hold. 


FO   Roger, New Zealand 901, 50 miles north the base was one zero thousand. We are now at 6,000 descending to 2,000 and we're VMC.


CA   We had a message from the Wright Valley and they are clear over there.

MU  Oh, good.

CA   So if you can get us out over that way...?

MU  No trouble.

MU  Taylor on the right now.

MU  This is Peter Mulgrew speaking again folks. I still can't see very much at the moment. Keep you informed soon as I see something that gives me a clue as to where we are. We're going down in altitude now and it won't be long before we get quite a good view.


F/E   Where's Erebus in relation to us a the moment.

MU  Left, about 20 or 25 miles.

F/O  Yep, yep.

F/E I'm just thinking of any high ground in the area, that's all.

MU I think it'll be left.

F/E  Yes, I reckon about here.

MU  Yes ... no, no, I don't really know.


MU  That's the edge.

CA  Yes, OK. Probably see further anyway.

F/O   It's not too bad. 

MU  I reckon Bird's through here and Ross Island there. Erebus should be there.

CA   Actually, these conditions don't look very good at all, do they?

MU  No they don't.


MU  That look like the edge of Ross Island there.

F/E   I don't like this.

CA  Have you got anything from him?

F/O  No

CA  We're 26 miles north. We'll have to climb out of this.

MU  You can see Ross Island? Fine.

F/O  You're clear to turn right. There's no high ground if you do a one eighty.

CA   No ... negative.

GPWS   [Whoop whoop pull up. Whoop whoop]

F/E   Five hundred feet.

GPWS   [Pull up]

F/E   Four hundred feet.

GPWS  [Whoop, whoop pull up. Whoop whoop pull up]

CA  Go-around power please.

GPWS  [Whoop whoop pull -]

[Sound of impact]

May 26, 1991
Near Ban Nong Rong, Thailand
Lauda Air, Flight 004
Boeing B-767-3Z9ER

Twelve minutes after takeoff the crew received a visual REV ISLN advisory warning which indicated that an additional system failure may cause deployment of the No. 1 engine thrust reverser. No action was taken since the manual indicated "No Action Required". Just before reaching FL 310 during a climb, there was an uncommanded deployment of the No. 1 engine thrust reverser. The aircraft stalled, when into a steep high speed dive, broke apart at 4,000 feet and crashed into the jungle 70 miles northwest of Bangkok. Failure of the reverse thrust isolation valve. Following the accident Boeing made modifications to the thrust reverser system. All 223 aboard killed.

CA = Captain

F/O = First Officer


[Warning light indicating possibility of reverse thrust becoming activated]


F/O   Shit.


CA   That keeps, that's come on.


F/O  So we passed transition altitude one-zero-one-three.


CA   OK.


CA   What's it say in there about that, just ah...


F/O   (reading from quick reference handbook) Additional system failures may cause in-flight deployment. Expect normal reverse operation after landing.


CA   OK.


CA  Just, ah, let's see. 




F/O  Shall I ask the ground staff?


CA  What's that?


F/O   Shall I ask the technical men?


CA   Ah, you can tell 'em it, just it's, it's, it's, just ah, no, ah, it's probably ah wa... ah moisture or something 'cause it's not just, oh, it's coming on and off.


F/O  Yeah.


CA  But, ah, you know it's a ... it doesn't really, it's just an advisory thing, I don't ah ...


CA  Could be some moisture in there or somethin'.


F/O  Think you need a little bit of rudder trim to the left.


CA  What's that?


F/O  You need a little bit of rudder trim to the left. 






F/O  [Starts adding up figures in German]


F/O  [Stops adding figures]


F/O  Ah, reverser's deployed.


[Sound of snap]

CA  Jesus Christ!


[Sound of four caution tones]

[Sound of siren warning starts]

[Sound of siren warning stops]

[Sound of siren warning starts and continues until the recording ends]

CA  Here, wait a minute!


CA   Damn it!


[Sound of bang]

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look

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