Friday, June 12, 2009

The First Sky Roller Coaster

MAS and Airasia have issued statements averring the safety of their Airbus fleet in light of Air farnce 447. I am not convinced and would like to raise a few questions:

a. Which ADIRU model is being used in both fleets?
b. More importantly, who is the manufacturer of the ADIRU fitted in the A 330 which both airlines use, Northrop Grumman or Honeywell?. The answer is vital ...especially with this:

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., Oct. 17, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has been selected by Air Asia to provide air-data inertial reference units for 100 new Airbus A320 aircraft.
A key benefit of the Northrop Grumman air-data inertial reference unit is AIME(tm), which provides enhanced navigation capabilities, allowing the aircraft to take off and land in adverse weather conditions and in areas with poor GPS reception. The inertial reference unit provides air data, altitude, air speed and angle of attack information, as well as inertial accelerations and attitudes to the aircraft flight-management systems, flight instruments and autopilot. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

source: +

[Updated: from the US FAA : "We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of an ADIRU during flight, which could result in loss of one source of critical attitude and airspeed data and reduce the ability of the flightcrew to control the airplane. "

given that Air Asia operates 60 of this type for its short haul flights

(see: click on Airasia in the box and you will get the details]

when fitted to this piece:

As reported in the aviation trade magazine Air Transport News, manufacturer Northrop Grumman makes the ADIRUs for Qantas, and Honeywell for Air France.

show that we, passengers, are in a heads you lose, tails I win situation given that CBs (cumulonimbus) clouds are a usual occurence over Malaysian skies.

read on....

Exhibit 1

One of the messages showed a change of cabin pressure equal to an altitude change of more than 1,800 feet (548 meters) per minute, said Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath. But he said Airbus does not have enough information to interpret this yet.

The above seems to be redolent of a distant echo gonged, a couple of years back. In that instance, save for injuries, the passengers escaped fairly unscathed. An excerpt of that ordeal is provided below.

Exhibit 2
The plane abruptly entered a smooth 650-ft. dive (which the crew sensed was not being caused by turbulence) that sent dozens of people smashing into the airplane's luggage bins and ceiling. More than 100 of the 300 people on board were hurt, with broken bones, neck and spinal injuries, and severe lacerations splattering blood throughout the cabin.

Apparently, this model has a cranky habit of going into swan dives (Exhibit 3) to please those ensconced in its belly or it could be the first flying roller-coaster. Not bad ah, Airasia and MAS? "Now everyone can rollercoast in mid-air" what a tagline...hahahaha..LOL.

Exhibit 3
"For some reason, the damn computer disregarded the healthy channels," says Hans Weber, an aviation expert who heads Tecop International, an aviation-consulting firm in San Diego. "Instead, it acted upon the information from the rogue channel." The computer, responding to the faulty data, put the plane into a dive....................

But when the same thing happened again, involving a different aircraft, on Dec. 27, Airbus combed its computerized flight files and found data fingerprints suggesting similar ADIRU problems had occurred on a total of four flights. One of the earlier instances, in fact, included a September 2006 event on the same plane that entered the uncommanded dive in October (the other three flights had continued safely on). The same VCR-sized ADIRU was to blame in both those cases, although it had supposedly undergone a needed realignment following the 2006 event. All three planes carried the same brand and model of ADIRU, as do 397 of the 900 330s and 340s in the Airbus fleet.

Hmmm...pitot tubes feed data into the ADIRU - a supposedly state of the art fly-by-wire system. Could it be the ADIRU is capable of developing a rogue mind like HAL (2001- A Space Odyssey- Kubrick's futuristic celluloid opus) or even Skynet (of recent Terminator fame).

Interesting extra reads regarding the technicals behind the fiascoes:


or Culprit in Qantas Upset Identified". Air Safety Week. 11 Jun, 2009.


"In the Grip of Gremlins"

Revert: Welcome to the flight of your life


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