Hudson Crash May Provide AF477 Answers

The one thing that stands out the most in today's NTSB statement [about the US Airways Airbus A320 that crash-landed on the Hudson River] is that there is nothing but praise and admiration for the crew, whose quick reflexes, cool heads and complete professionalism saved the lives of everyone aboard.

The NTSB is NOT so positive regarding Airbus, the manufacturer of the plane involved in that crash. See the NTSB's Executive Summary

There was no appropriate checklist for the event in the manual; and some procedures were so precise they could not be carried out.

Ingesting birds into an engine is rarely so dramatic, mostly because it doesn't usually happen to both engines. The circumstance allowed experts to examine cause and effect on the plane and a number of surprising things were concluded. Certainly more than I am talking about here.

Some of the concerns conceivably could have applied to Air France Flight 447...if it had landed intact (although we are assuming it did not.)

That the cockpit instrumentation did not reflect the status of the engines. Did the pilots of AF 447 also not have inaccurate reportage of the status of the engines? We think this is true. How can a pilot in the middle of the Atlantic in the midst of a storm with inoperable speed sensors know what the fly by wire engines are doing of the operating system doesn't tell him something is wrong? The answer is: he can't.

That the rate of descent in the manual is unrealistic (claiming a safe 3.5 feet per second when in reality 13 feet per second caused damage.)

Although there's no telling what the rate of descent was for AF447, it appears likely that neither did the pilots. Also, 447 was not guided/glided down by Sully; if AF447 came down intact at all, it probably fell at a high rate of speed with only limited awareness of the pilots when it was too late.

That in the Hudson event, slides were not flotation devices; wings did not float; and there were no rafts over these wings although the passengers scrambled out there. In the Hudson crash, the passengers exited to the wings, expecting flotation resources. Fortunately rescue came quickly before they sank. There were no "wing rafts." Could AF passengers, had they survived the landing have exited, and been able to access rafts? We think not. Of course this is a moot point as we doubt they survived hitting the water--whether or not the plane was intact.

Given that the NTSB called the Airbus manual unrealistic and inappropriate, that Airbus's claim that for the Hudson crash "LaGuardia Runway 13 was technically feasible from an aircraft flight performance point of view" seems equally unrealistic. In fact, Airbus has a lot of nerve to extend a pseudo-panglossian commendation to Captain Sully for appropriately considering the high urbanization of airport surroundings. At this point, any statement from Airbus is highly suspect.

At this point I consider Airbus itself, “theoretically feasible” but highly unlikely.

Originally Posted by George Hatcher Thursday, May 4, 2010