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Thread: Air Astana serious control problems, request ditching, land safely

  1. #1
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Default Air Astana serious control problems, request ditching, land safely

    Air Astana flight 1388 was a ferry flight returning to home base from Lisbon after weeks of maintenance work in Lisbon.

    Pilots called MAYDAY shortly after take-off, declaring that the plane was totally uncontrollable.

    They kept requesting vectors to the ocean for a ditching (preferably in some zone with better weather), ATC kept providing vectors, but they were unable to to keep a straight heading (or altitude, or speed). This lasted several minuted with the plane all over the sky around Lisbon.

    Portugal dispatched F-16s to assist, eventually they could regain control and landed safely in the Beja military base.

    The VASAviation video (ATC audio and Flightradar24 tracking) is hart-stopping.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIc8Rr-cKd8

    https://www.flightradar24.com/data/f...1388/#1e84fc24

    Look at that alt and speed plot.

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    The landing looks uneventful

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JiaQ-DShsk

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Jesus H! These maintenance face-palms seem to come in threes as well.

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    2nd part of the VASAviation coverage (ATC + tracking)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evYLkhxoP3U

    Plus, the landing was not as uneventful. Nothing serious but obviously they had problems to control heading in the air. They went a bit off the side of the runway.
    https://www.facebook.com/diariodoale...ric&__tn__=R-R

    Rumor has it that they broke some RWY edge lights. Rumor also has it that the aileron controls were assembled backwards.

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    2nd part of the VASAviation coverage (ATC + tracking)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evYLkhxoP3U

    Plus, the landing was not as uneventful. Nothing serious but obviously they had problems to control heading in the air. They went a bit off the side of the runway.
    https://www.facebook.com/diariodoale...ric&__tn__=R-R

    Rumor has it that they broke some RWY edge lights. Rumor also has it that the aileron controls were assembled backwards.
    It appears to be done with minimal flaps and no ground spoilers, but the reversers deploy so it might not be a hydraulics issue.

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    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    Rumor also has it that the aileron controls were assembled backwards.
    Can't say I've ever heard much of folks SURVIVING backwards-rigged ailerons...Is that because we "only" focus on crashes and "never" on success, or is it because folks almost always crash.
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE View Post
    Can't say I've ever heard much of folks SURVIVING backwards-rigged ailerons...Is that because we "only" focus on crashes and "never" on success, or is it because folks almost always crash.
    Folks almost always crash immediately after take-off wondering "what is it doing now". The airplane lifts off and the fist small perturbation (say to the right) results in the pilot applying left aileron but the plane banks further right (it must be a gust, right) which results in more left aileron which makes the plane bank further right and in a matter of very few seconds the right wing contacts the ground.
    There is literally no time to investigate and find out what's wrong, and "fly the plane first" is in this case the worst advice.

    That's the reason why it is hard for me to believe that this was a problem of aileron misrigging, or the 2 reasons.
    - They survived too much, and
    - They did not realize what was going on after many minutes.

    The 2 situations are almost incompatible. If you survive is because you realize.

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    OK, can someone explain what a backwards-rigged aileron is? How is that possible?

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Means that you turn the control wheel right and the plane banks left.

    I don't know the details of the control systems of the E-190, but it seems that it is a hybrid philosophy where some controls are FBW (Fly-By-Wire) and others are not.
    The ailerons are not FBW. Instead, they use a traditional mechanism of levers, crankbells, pulleys and cables directly connected to the control column (although it is not clear for me if these cables are directly mechanically connected to the ailerons or to hydraulic servo valves that in turn command hydraulic actuators that move the ailerons, but the effect is the same). Route/connect the cables wrongly and voilá! (and it would not be the first time that such a mistake is done)

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Wow!!!

    After Simon saying that AvHerald would not be covering this case because it was not a revenue flight and was hence out of the scope plus health issues and excessive workload did not permit to cover out-of-scope events at the moment, Simon went on and published a top-notch article. I could not resist the temptation to make a small donation the the site.

    Bottom line: reverse aileron 100% confirmed. There are FDR plots that show right aileron movements producing left banks and also a picture taken from the cockpit that shows the yoke turned fully to the right and the synoptic page showing full right roll spoilers but full left ailerons.

    It also has a lot of information and a very complete analysis.
    An interesting fact: They missed the intended RWY (apparently they could not correct the drift) and landed in a smaller and much narrower parallel one.

    Article worth reading and man worth some recognition. We don't have this quality of reporting of aviation incidents anywhere else in the public media.
    My hat goes off to Simon (and my donation too).

    https://forums.jetphotos.com/showthr...638#post673638

    (Note: No, I am not related with Simon or The Aviation Herald in any way other than as a very satisfied reader, this is not an advertisement, it is a fair and unbiased 5 stars user review)

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    All of the above said, I still don't understand how:

    1- They are not all dead after crashing immediately after take-off, AND AT THE SAME TIME...
    2- Given 1), that it took them so long to figure it out and control the plane. They were basically all over the sky unable to control bank, heading, airspeed and altitude (and Gs!!!!) for how long? Like 20 minutes?

    As I mentioned before, I don't understand how 1 and 2 can be simultaneously true. They seem so incompatible.

    However they did, big kudos to the crew, big kudos to ATC, and big kudos to the F=16 pilots.

    (by the way, the airplane and persons were exposed to high Gs, let's see what "high Gs" mean, this airplane may be a write-off)

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    All of the above said, I still don't understand how:

    1- They are not all dead after crashing immediately after take-off, AND AT THE SAME TIME...
    2- Given 1), that it took them so long to figure it out and control the plane. They were basically all over the sky unable to control bank, heading, airspeed and altitude (and Gs!!!!) for how long? Like 20 minutes?

    As I mentioned before, I don't understand how 1 and 2 can be simultaneously true. They seem so incompatible.

    However they did, big kudos to the crew, big kudos to ATC, and big kudos to the F=16 pilots.

    (by the way, the airplane and persons were exposed to high Gs, let's see what "high Gs" mean, this airplane may be a write-off)
    This aircraft, like the 737MAX, is built around a blend of the old the new, and it is often this blend of the two that leads to complete confusion when something goes wrong. Perhaps the blend of misrigged ailerons and properly functioning roll spoilers is what saved them, but it is also what probably made the situation so hard to identify.

    (Again, it appears that the spoilers were deactivated (or not armed) on landing. Perhaps this is how they finally regained enough control to land.)

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    After congratulating these crew members for this amazing feat, giving them medals, raising statues and giving them a high monetary bonus, let's fire them for not catching such an important basic and obvious thing in the pre-flight checks, especially after the plane had undergone major maintenance. The synoptic page that should be used during the control checks is very obvious. I may even understand someone missing a fully inverted system (where all the controls go right when you turn the wheel left), but the spoilers going up and the ailerons down on the same wing should have raised all kind of red flags even if peeked with the peripheral vision.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Synoptic Page (Photo: GPIAA, retrieved from The Aviation Herald)

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Wow, it happened to an A320 too. These very rare occasions where having 2 independent flightsticks can be a good thing.

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/ar...a-a320-130318/

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    Gabe,

    You said you didn't understand how when they 'knew' the aileron was 'backwards' it still went all over the sky for so long...

    try this, yes the 'impact' on a bike is more immediate, but this dude knew the controls were 'backwards'

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzD...ature=youtu.be

    Vaz

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Yes, I saw that video time ago and I loved it.
    But what I would do in the plane is grab the control column from the control column itself (not the yoke) and use rudder for roll, at least in the beginning.
    Once you have the situation stable and under control you can maybe start practicing (I think I would stick to the rudder only option, but still). An idea could be to cross your hands on the yoke (left hand right horn right hand left horn).
    I didn't see Smarter Every Day try that trick.

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    I see one of his victims tried the 'cross your arms' with no better outcome. It also comes down to what to have been taught - if I steer right the plane goes right.

    Try this now - turn you mouse upside down (not flip it on its back) point the bit that would normally be towards the screen, towards you. Now minimize a window/press the start button etc. Bet you can't do it first time, bet it takes sooo much concentration the 2nd, 3rd....nth times. And this is just steering a mouse - you're not going to die, and you know what you did!!!

    I think these dudes did amazing (apart from the not noticing the problem on the ground), PS. is it possible that while on the ground, PF moved the controls while PNF reported 'check' for movement?

    Vaz

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    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    Yes, I saw that video time ago and I loved it.
    But what I would do in the plane is grab the control column from the control column itself (not the yoke) and use rudder for roll, at least in the beginning.
    Once you have the situation stable and under control you can maybe start practicing (I think I would stick to the rudder only option, but still). An idea could be to cross your hands on the yoke (left hand right horn right hand left horn).
    I didn't see Smarter Every Day try that trick.
    Find some string. The F/A's probably keep some on hand to tie up rebellious passengers.

    Cut two pieces about five feet long. Tie a string to each side of the yoke. Loop them over something on the cockpit ceiling, then bring the other ends down in front of the same side of the yoke. Pull down on the strings to steer. Walk in the park.

    /Blue font.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Find some string. The F/A's probably keep some on hand to tie up rebellious passengers.

    Cut two pieces about five feet long. Tie a string to each side of the yoke. Loop them over something on the cockpit ceiling, then bring the other ends down in front of the same side of the yoke. Pull down on the strings to steer. Walk in the park.

    /Blue font.
    Not without an STC for the string... or someone's going to be in big trouble!
    Be alert! America needs more lerts.

    Eric Law

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    Quote Originally Posted by vaztr View Post
    try this, yes the 'impact' on a bike is more immediate, but this dude knew the controls were 'backwards'

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzD...ature=youtu.be

    Vaz
    I experienced something very similar when I took flying lessons.

    I grew up riding homemade go-karts that had a pivoting front axle that you used your feet on to steer. That steering worked such that when you pushed with your left foot the kart went right, and vice-versa.

    Fast-forward about 30 years to flight training and learning to use the rudder and guess what? The rudders in aircraft work the opposite way. It took me quite a while to "unlearn" the foot-steering behavior I'd learned as a kid.
    Be alert! America needs more lerts.

    Eric Law

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