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Qantas crew settles lawsuit decade after computer sent plane into dives

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  • Qantas crew settles lawsuit decade after computer sent plane into dives

    https://www.smh.com.au/business/comp...02-p4zv71.html

    Good outcome?
    AirDisaster.com Forum Member 2004-2008

    Originally posted by orangehuggy
    the most dangerous part of a flight is not the take off or landing anymore, its when a flight crew member goes to the toilet

  • #2
    Originally posted by James Bond View Post
    No.

    Parasitic lawyering. Opportunism.

    The VERY extensive testing of the ADIRU revealed no physical defects, nor any BITE data defects. The cause of the upset was what is known as a 'soft' error, an error which is transient in nature. The only rational explanation was voltage spikes affecting the AoA portion of the air data portion of a specific ADIRU (ADR1) due to naturally-occurring electromagnetic interference, possibly rare cosmic interference. This can occur with ANY electronic device that is not exceptionally hardened (all critical avionics are EMI shielded to a reasonable extent), but is VERY VERY rare. In other words, like meteors and slipping in your bathtub, it is an inherent risk we must accept while living in the physical universe.

    The design was improved to revise the memorization interval the unit used to detect voltage anomalies. Procedures were revised to shut down faulting ADR and IR units. That was the good outcome.

    That does not mean the unit had a reasonable design flaw however. The anomaly experienced by this flight was so rare that could not have been foreseen by any reasonable engineering judgment. It has occurred three times over more than 100 million flight hours, and all within a window of two years which might point to a solar or cosmic event.

    The crew did a very good job in dealing with a very difficult and confusing sitaution and in flying the plane down to the runway manually. They did not take the necessary action to shut down the ADR, although they should not be blamed for this as the procedure at that time did not include this (maintenance, communicating with the crew during the flight, also did not suggest this). Also, while there is no "give me the plane" switch, there are strategies to degrade the flight control law to DIRECT and these should be taught in type certification training. (The crew of this flight apparently believed they were in DIRECT law due to the failure of automatic pitch trim, despite not having the PFD indication for DIRECT law).

    As to injuries, people not wearing seatbelts at that time (60 pax confirmed) should have no legal recourse. The worst of the two pitch events resulted in a -.8G force and a loss of about 700ft. Belted passengers should have been protected during that event. No one should ever have their seat belt off unless using the lav or for some other NECESSARY reason. As for the cabin crew, there is risk that comes with that profession: clear air turbulence can occur at any time without warning. They have to be made well aware of that risk before accepting the job.

    In short, legal compensation is only justified when there is negligence involved. I don't see anything that can reasonably be called negligence here on the part of Airbus or the operator. I see mankind discovering new threats in the advancement of technology and taking actions to eliminate them. I see people being hurt by the unknown and unforeseen as they always have been and always will be.

    And I see a good outcome. No similar events have occurred since 2008.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Evan View Post
      No.

      Parasitic lawyering. Opportunism.

      The VERY extensive testing of the ADIRU revealed no physical defects, nor any BITE data defects. The cause of the upset was what is known as a 'soft' error, an error which is transient in nature. The only rational explanation was voltage spikes affecting the AoA portion of the air data portion of a specific ADR (ADR1) due to naturally-occurring electromagnetic interference, possibly rare cosmic interference. This can occur with ANY electronic device that is not exceptionally hardened (all critical avionics are EMI shielded to a reasonable extent), but is VERY VERY rare. In other words, like meteors and slipping in your bathtub, it is an inherent risk we must accept while living in the physical universe.

      The design was improved to revise the memorization interval the unit used to detect voltage anomalies. Procedures were revised to shut down faulting ADR and IR units. That was the good outcome.

      That does not mean the unit had a reasonable design flaw however. The anomaly experienced by this flight was so rare that could not have been foreseen by any reasonable engineering judgment. It has occurred three times over more than 100 million flights, and all within a window of two years which might point to a solar or cosmic event.

      The crew did a very good job in dealing with a very difficult and confusing sitaution and in flying the plane down to the runway manually. They did not take the necessary action to shut down the ADR, although they should not be blamed for this as the procedure at that time did not include this (maintenance, communicating with the crew during the flight, also did not suggest this). Also, while there is no "give me the plane" switch, there are strategies to degrade the flight control law to DIRECT and these should be taught in type certification training. (The crew of this flight apparently believed they were in DIRECT law due to the failure of automatic pitch trim, despite not having the PFD indication for DIRECT law).

      As to injuries, people not wearing seatbelts at that time (60 pax confirmed) should have no legal recourse. The worst of the two pitch events resulted in a -.8G force and a loss of about 700ft. Belted passengers should have been protected during that event. No one should ever have their seat belt off unless using the lav or for some other NECESSARY reason. As for the cabin crew, there is risk that comes with that profession: clear air turbulence can occur at any time without warning. They have to be made well aware of that risk before accepting the job.

      In short, legal compensation is only justfied when there is negligence involved. I don't see anything that can reasonably be called negligence here on the part of Airbus or the operator. I see mankind discovering new threats in the advancement of technology and taking actions to eliminate them. I see people being hurt by the unknown and unforeseen as they always have been and always will be.

      And I see a good outcome. No similar events have occurred since 2008.
      Holy S**T, I agree with almost everything you said.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BoeingBobby View Post
        Holy S**T, I agree with almost everything you said.
        Kind of a no-brainer. The very same injuries could have occurred from clear air turbulence, as they have in many other occasions. The reason for the injuries was not heeding the seat belt instructions.

        So winds anomaly beyond operator's control = not responsible but neutron-anomaly beyond manufacturer's control = guilty?

        However I do think it would be decent for the airline to compensate for medical expenses within reason. Breakage, you know?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Evan View Post
          No.

          Parasitic lawyering. Opportunism.

          And I see a good outcome. No similar events have occurred since 2008.
          a predictable response from you. you do know that lawyers almost never contact prospective clients, right? rather, the clients seek out the lawyers. so maybe you should've written, "parasitic clients" and opportunistic money seeking for injuries sustained as a result of, well, what the ATSB said, "The Australian Transportation Safety Board have released their final report concluding:

          Contributing safety factors

          - There was a limitation in the algorithm used by the A330/A340 flight control primary computers for processing angle of attack (AOA) data. This limitation meant that, in a very specific situation, multiple AOA spikes from only one of the three air data inertial reference units could result in a nose-down elevator command. [Significant safety issue]"

          nah, that wouldn't have anything to do with it...

          my favorite part of your blabber, though, is while you jump on every pilot error and blame the pilot, the system, the government, the airline, hell, anyone and everyone, when the particular pilot error was a 1 in 100,000,000 occurrence, yet defend manufacturers THAT HAD A HEADS UP ABOUT THE PROBLEM TWO YEARS PRIOR, while of course blaming lawyers.

          oh, and if the pilots had done anything other than, - The flight crewís responses to the warnings and cautions, the pitch-down events, and the consequences of the pitch-down events, demonstrated sound judgement and a professional approach, and the plane crashed, you would've said , plain and simple, it was pilot error for not recognizing the anomaly.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TeeVee View Post
            a predictable response from you. you do know that lawyers almost never contact prospective clients, right? rather, the clients seek out the lawyers. so maybe you should've written, "parasitic clients" and opportunistic money seeking for injuries sustained as a result of, well, what the ATSB said, "The Australian Transportation Safety Board have released their final report concluding:

            Contributing safety factors

            - There was a limitation in the algorithm used by the A330/A340 flight control primary computers for processing angle of attack (AOA) data. This limitation meant that, in a very specific situation, multiple AOA spikes from only one of the three air data inertial reference units could result in a nose-down elevator command. [Significant safety issue]"

            nah, that wouldn't have anything to do with it...

            my favorite part of your blabber, though, is while you jump on every pilot error and blame the pilot, the system, the government, the airline, hell, anyone and everyone, when the particular pilot error was a 1 in 100,000,000 occurrence, yet defend manufacturers THAT HAD A HEADS UP ABOUT THE PROBLEM TWO YEARS PRIOR, while of course blaming lawyers.

            oh, and if the pilots had done anything other than, - The flight crew’s responses to the warnings and cautions, the pitch-down events, and the consequences of the pitch-down events, demonstrated sound judgement and a professional approach, and the plane crashed, you would've said , plain and simple, it was pilot error for not recognizing the anomaly.
            Unfair TeeVee. Unlike other posters who condemn pilots for their stunning lack of basic airmanship displayed in certain crashes, I direct the blame to the industry that trains them. I emphasize weaknesses in stressing and enforcing procedures that are there to overcome human factors that no pilot is immune from, or in familiarizing pilots with the systems they are there to administrate. If I refer to a pilot a 'stooge' or a 'monkey', is it because that is what we all are, professionally speaking, until we are properly trained to do the job. The fault lies with the industry for not properly vetting and training them.

            I also emphasize the importance of CRM and systemic redundancies because I expect individual human pilots to miss things on occasion or make errors.

            In this case, you are right that the ADR algorithm had everything to do with it. You are only wrong in thinking that that Airbus could have reasonably foreseen that weakness. In fact, the cause here is still unknown. All that is known about this incident is based on observation of the anomaly itself, which, of course, requires the anomaly to occur in the first place.

            Airbus took measures as soon as these weaknesses were specifically identified by the investigations, by adjusting the logic and by altering procedures. What more could they have done?

            And lastly, most (if not all, as I suspect) of the injured passengers had themselves to blame for not properly restraining themselves in a metal tube hurling through unpredictible space.

            And most lastly, lawyering can be about defending people's rights against negligence or it can be parasitic opportunism. I think the lawyers know pretty early on which of those roles they have chosen...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by TeeVee View Post
              ...lawyers almost never contact prospective clients...
              Uh, my TV set begs to differ with you...


              Originally posted by TeeVee View Post
              - There was a limitation in the algorithm used by the A330/A340 flight control primary computers for processing angle of attack (AOA) data. This limitation meant that, in a very specific situation, multiple AOA spikes from only one of the three air data inertial reference units could result in a nose-down elevator command. [Significant safety issue]"
              The Cessna 172 has a "significant safety issue" in that if it happened to be flying under a bridge when a truck full of pianos driving over the bridge overturned and spilled the pianos onto the Cessna, that its flight path could be disrupted, it could crash, and the occupants could be killed. Do you think Cessna should be sued for this egregious oversight?

              My feeling is, that simply deeming something a "significant safety issue" without considering the likelihood of the circumstances in question occurring, or the ability of the designers to anticipate and mitigate the issue, is just silly.

              There are thousands of different things that can cause an airplane to crash. Some of them are fairly likely to occur, and failing to take them into account when designing the aircraft is clearly negligent.

              The thing that caused this incident is incredibly unlikely to occur... as demonstrated by the fact it's never occurred before or since, and that the root cause was not even able to be determined. Holding the aircraft's designers responsible for such an occurrence to me is just plain unfair.
              Be alert! America needs more lerts.

              Eric Law

              Comment


              • #8
                in reverse order...

                elaw: needless to say (but i'll say it anyway) your analogy is simply nonsensical. and the folks that deemed the "anomaly" a "significant safety issue" was the ATSB! also, you're dead wrong on occurrence. it happened 2 years earlier on another qantas A330. read the reports at avherald.

                evan: i don't need to point out how quick you are to jump on everyone but manufacturers. you likely are working for one, or trying to get a job with one (my take on things). that's fine. you are entitled to defend those whom you see fit. but the law doesn't work the way your brain does.

                there's no denying that commercial ac are designed pretty damn well, and are pretty damn safe, especially compared to cars. but liability still attaches no matter how remote. in certain situations, liability attaches even with negligence, for example, strict liability (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strict_liability). i have not and will not research whether that in fact was the plaintiffs' theory in this case, but is suspect it was a part, especially since 2 years earlier there was an identical incident with the identical product.

                would it have been ridiculous or unreasonable to ground A330's until they fixed the anomaly after round 1? maybe in your mind. but think of it this way: the incident re-occurs while the aircraft is on short final at say, 500'. result? several hundred dead. then you would be the first one to march out with the anti-industry banner and lambast the ATSB for NOT having grounded the planes with knowledge that there was an issue that might cause the plane to nose over uncontrollably.

                as for seatbelt use, though i personally am never without mine on except when stretching legs or taking a leak, until such time as it is REQUIRED by law, once the light is switched off, it sends a clear message to pax that they are "free to move about the cabin," as soooooo many pilots announce (yes, followed by something like, "but we suggest that you remain seated with your seatbelt fastened just like we do up here on the flight deck..."

                as for your "lastly" point, had the manufacturers chosen to risk going to trial, they certainly could have and would have defended on the basis of comparative negligence, wherein the actions of the plaintiffs would have been weighed as a contributing factor. you'd be surprised at how successful this defense can be in the appropriate situation.

                and most lastly, it is no worse for an attorney to choose to be a plaintiff's lawyer, taking advantage of the law to make money, than it is to be a defense lawyer, who bills and bills and bills, while raising horseshit defenses, abusing plaintiffs and legal process, making comments at trial that they KNOW are misleading simply to cast doubt in jurors minds, and i could spend days listing shitty defense tactics, but i think everyone knows what i'm getting at.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I find it hard to swallow. If it smells like a fish..... Did you want to meet after the sim @2000 local at the same place you and I had a burger tomorrow night?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TeeVee View Post
                    Would it have been ridiculous or unreasonable to ground A330's until they fixed the anomaly after round 1? maybe in your mind.
                    Yes, it would have been both unreasonable and impossible. Because of the facts. Pay close attention to them:

                    By "anomaly round 1" I assume you are referring to Qantas Flight 68, which occurred on Sept 12, 2006. That flight did indeed experience a NAV IR1 FAULT message followed by a sequence of system failure messages. There was no pitch event however, no flight control disturbances and no passenger injuries. The aircraft remained in NORMAL law and AFAIK remained in autoflight as well. The crew entered the problem into the log and, because this is a 'soft' error, could not be repeated on the ground. The unit tested fine and was placed back into service. There was nothing wrong with it.

                    Therefore, nothing was learned from that event. Neither the operator nor Airbus had any way to know that a problem lurked in the ADR algorithm at that point. Nor did they have any reason to believe the anomaly could affect flight control, because it didn't in this case.

                    Ironically, there were passenger injuries sustained on Qantas Flight 68... three years later when it encountered severe turbulence and unsecured passengers learned a painful lesson. I'm not aware of any settlement with Airbus over that incident.

                    Do you see what I'm getting at? Two key points: 1) The manufacturer had no reasonable means to foresee the events of Qantas Flight 72, and 2) the same kind of injuries can be sustained from turbulence if the passengers are not taking responsibility for their own safety, as advised in the pre-flight safety briefing.

                    For these two reasons, the settlement we are discussing is "ridiculous or unreasonable".

                    as for seatbelt use, though i personally am never without mine on except when stretching legs or taking a leak, until such time as it is REQUIRED by law, once the light is switched off, it sends a clear message to pax that they are "free to move about the cabin"...
                    ...at their own risk. I'm sure this is made very clear in the fine print as well.

                    I know how settlements go. The lawyers harass the big company until they decide its worth paying them to go away. Everybody gets paid to keep their mouths shut. It makes sense from a business point of view. And they avoid any negative PR/social media vigilante routines. The public opinion is just not ever going to understand such a technically complex issue.

                    But don't call it justice. Had it been worth their while, I think they would have won this one in court.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TeeVee View Post
                      but think of it this way: the incident re-occurs while the aircraft is on short final at say, 500'. result?
                      RESULT:

                      The aircraft only descended a total of 690 ft during the first pitch-down. Although this was due in part to prompt action by the flight crew, the magnitude of the pitch-down would have been much less if the same AOA spike pattern had occurred when the aircraft was closer to the ground. Anti pitch-up compensation was not available when the aircraft was in the approach configuration or the speed was less than 0.65 Mach (which occurs during descent and initial climb). In addition, high AOA protection would have had no effect when the aircraft was below 500 ft above ground level. Flight simulations also showed that an undesired pitch-down just above 500 ft would be easily recoverable by a flight crew.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BoeingBobby View Post
                        I find it hard to swallow. If it smells like a fish..... Did you want to meet after the sim @2000 local at the same place you and I had a burger tomorrow night?
                        sounds like a plan. bring gabe!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          evan, i never said anything about justice, and maybe, just maybe, that's why we call them courts of LAW. justice is a utopian ideal. what airbus and, i forgot who else, did was make a business decision. dont think for one minute that their own defense lawyers didnt run up bills in the millions, screwing around and telling them, don't worry, we can win this!"

                          later on, the bean counters overruled the lawyers and said, "eff it. let's just make this go away."

                          you will never admit this, but every aspect of life involves risks and it's ALWAYS a matter of deciding what an "acceptable risk" is. nothing and i mean nothing, is perfect or ever will be. know how coders find errors in their code? by finding the error when it occurs. often that doesn't happen until the holes in the cheese line up--maybe not for YEARS.

                          companies including scarebus will not admit that their systems are imperfect. and when an error occurs, they pay. period end of story.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TeeVee View Post
                            sounds like a plan. bring gabe!
                            You kidding? He's buying!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by drearsha
                              Was this about that case in 2008 when a plane from Singapore to Perth took that nosedive? I thought the lawsuit wasn't yet settled. I mean, people got injured during that incident, it had to be solved already, and people should have got their rights defended. It could have ended way worse so we have to be thankful that the possible tragedy didn't happen. However the responsible people must do everything to avoid these situations in the future. I am actually surprised that no one from Qantas went on suing for defamation of character. As usual in this kind of cases, the responsible people try to avoid the responsibility by any means.
                              The 'responsible people' have done everything to avoid this situation in the future. Because the vulnerability in the soffware was removed, it cannot happen again. The responsible party was Airbus, not Qantas. As usual in these kinds of cases, the public has no idea what actually happened nor the technical aspects involved, and the lawyers take advantage of this.

                              Comment

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