Incoming: "Media vita in morte sumus"

I think the cutline should read "careened" into a river, not "careered."

My guess is, though, that you could sensibly say of the pilot that he un-careered into the river.

Posted by Donald Sensing at February 4, 2015 7:37 AM

My father is a retired military then commercial pilot. He almost constantly it seemed, told us kids to never fly in an aircraft piloted by a foreigner. Unless the foreign pilot was British or German. On top of that he added that to fly in an aircraft flown by an Asian was suicidal.

Posted by Terry at February 4, 2015 7:59 AM

In the last seconds what you are seeing is the pilot trying to hit the river. This caused the plane to flip midair and looks pretty bad but lives were saved. If he instead kept it level the plane would have hit the bank on the other side and broken up violently. So for what it's worth the pilot saved lives.

Posted by GoneWithTheWind at February 4, 2015 9:21 AM

OTOH, I have flown on El Al, and I'd be willing to bet there is no safer airline in the world, US ones included.

Posted by Donald Sensing at February 4, 2015 9:21 AM

The airline with probably the best long-term safety record is Qantas. It's never had a fatal jet accident, and its last fatal crash was one of its DHA-3 trimotor planes in 1951. I flew on Qantas a lot when I lived Down Under. They're not perfect. Their back-office operations can be a mess, and you can forget about cheap fares, especially within Australia, but they do take safety seriously.

Posted by waltj at February 4, 2015 10:43 AM

GWTW: What you said makes sense, especially if he was turning into his dead engine, which in this case would be the left engine. One newsclip on YouTube indicated that the pilot had just issued a "Mayday" with engine trouble.
Even though the propeller was spinning, it was probably windmilling, which means additional drag since it hadn't been feathered.
His airspeed was also low, so control authority with full ailerons was likely ineffective. Turning into a dead engine at low altitude with extra drag imposed by unfeathered prop blades = bad scene.

Posted by dhmosquito at February 4, 2015 12:48 PM

What you are seeing is a classic twin-engine losing power in one engine and pilot getting too slow type of crash. A twin-engine aircraft, if it loses power in one engine, and if the pilots allow the speed to drop below the minimum controllable airspeed, will veer toward the dead engine and flip over on its back.

My rule is I wouldn't fly on foreign airlines, with the exception of Air Canada, British Airways, Lufthansa, Qantas, and one or two others MAYBE. I wouldn't fly on a Latin-American,African,or most Asian airlines for a million dollars. In much of Latin America co-pilots/First Officers have only 250 hours of flight experience when they start flying passengers in 737 type equipment. I used to work for the 2nd largest flight school in the USA and EVERY Latin-American pilot we trained already had a job offer back home and they left us with the legal FAA minimum of Commercial, Instrument, Multi-engine and a whopping 250-300 hours of flight experience. Our 23 yer old flight instructors typically had 500-1000 hours of flight experience.

Macho, because I said so, type cultures create the worst pilots. These pilots will almost certainly have been flying a brand new aircraft, with some obvious maintenance screw up and not enough experience to handle a routine emergency.

Posted by Scott M at February 4, 2015 1:18 PM

Mexicana Airlines has one of the best safety records in the business. Sure, they showboated when we took off from Havana and made everything fall out of the overhead bins...on both sides of the craft, but we stayed in the air.

Posted by Joan of Argghh! at February 4, 2015 4:54 PM

These comments read like an amazon review.

1/2 say almost all the airlines in the world are the safest airlines in the world with about 8 to 10 exceptions.

The other 1/2 say almost all the airlines in the world are the unsafest in the world with about 8 to 10 exceptions.

The rest of us are saying wtf is wrong with you people?

Posted by ghostsniper at February 4, 2015 6:22 PM

Bang Ding Ow must have a brother.

Posted by sTevo at February 5, 2015 2:46 AM

What you are seeing is a classic twin-engine losing power in one engine and pilot getting too slow type of crash. A twin-engine aircraft, if it loses power in one engine, and if the pilots allow the speed to drop below the minimum controllable airspeed, will veer toward the dead engine and flip over on its back. Scott M has it right. In a turbo prop multi, total loss of power in an ouboard engine at max power during takeoff (until flaps up) = uncontrollable because of torque. Not enough rudder at low takeoff and initial climb speeds to counteract the asymmetric power. Solution: Reduce power on the good side and use rudder to control yaw (which induces banking) enough to maintain control, and either continue flight if possible, or try to pick out the softest landing spot if flight can't be maintained. We practiced this ad nauseum in C-130s back in the dark ages.

Posted by BillH at February 5, 2015 7:33 AM

An American pilot would have followed the "engine failure on take-off procedure" and done as BillH writes above.

Posted by Terry at February 5, 2015 10:07 AM

In case they're not teaching it in flying schools anymore, the first, foremost, paramount, and crucial thing you have to do in any emergency is get and keep control of the aircraft, and get and keep it flying straight an level, no matter what it takes. Until you have it under control and flying straight and level nothing else matters. If you cant keep it flying, go in straight and level as much as you can.

Posted by BillH at February 5, 2015 12:51 PM

I was late for work because... aw, hell. Nobody's gonna believe this.

Posted by SteveS at February 5, 2015 6:48 PM

Hard to be sure from the video, but if it was a left engine out, windmilling, then it looks like the pilot went into a classic engine out slip stall, w/ abrupt loss of altitude from the high angle of bank, induced either to make a tight turn, or more likely a combination of too much power with not enough rudder to counter it, and getting out of balanced flight, from loss of concentration/training.

If he wanted to land in the river under control he *might* have done so wings level, pulling power on the right and dropping the nose much earlier. The difference in up vector lift in level flight vs a 60 degree angle of bank is twice as much, or more, and judging by the altitude he comes in from the left frame, the aircraft had plenty of altitude to make a controlled descent in balanced flight, even with the windmilling prop.

But again, its impossible to know what was ahead of the bridge- maybe a big turn in the river, high buildings just ahead, which is why he turned so suddenly.

If the plane was properly fueled it should have had sufficient speed to continue with one engine out, with a properly feathered engine. I dont see fuel dumping either, which is usually NOT done over populated areas, but in an emergency its part of the checklist if you cant maintain altitude in extremis.

No idea why the engine was still windmilling- that adds a lot of drag, so a sudden loss of power, fire, or precautionary shutdown for falling oil pressure, etc is practiced a lot, and in some models it happens automatically at a certain point.

There is also a backup lever or pull handle that allows a manual feather if needed, to get the prop blades edge on, which reduces the yaw considerably, and thats practiced as a backup, to be set even if the prop autofeathers.

Newer aircraft have multiple redundancies, including double sets of hydraulic lines to feather the prop, and run flight controls, so unless it was a catastropic failure of the reduction gear assembly, or some kind of complete hydraulic failure, the prop should have feathered pretty fast.

Engine out is the most practiced emergency for a twin engine heavy, and if the pilot and copilot are working as a team, its very routine,

BUT it requires a completely different stick and rudder coordination than simply flying feet on the floor, or lightly on rudder while the autopilot coordinates a balanced turn.

Lose your concentration and let out the rudder pressure and you are pretty much done in short order, if you are already in a tight approach turn.

As the wing on the power on side yaws forward that angular momentum increases its lift, and at same time decreases lift on the other wing - and putting in more aileron to counter that only works so far before that extra aileron stalls out the wing on the slower side, -

so thats where you get the sudden flip over that is the danger, for at that point, all the power in the world is no good to you.

One thing I have read from Chief Pilots/Instructor Pilots who train crews in high "face" cultures where the default is deferring to authority, rather than the delegation of tasking and teamwork for good crew coordination you need to avoid over-task loading,

that leads to the guy flying to lose the bubble if he is trying to do everything.

Combined with over frugality in operations, which means not enough realistically tough simulator training and this is why simple engine outs are an accident waiting to happen in some smaller eastern airlines.

Posted by iab2 at February 5, 2015 8:57 PM

Look at the video again the light pole goes through the plane, is that possible? just as it comes across the highway.

Posted by Joe at February 10, 2015 8:50 PM

Early information indicates the crew got a warning that the RIGHT engine had flamed-out and reacted by shutting down the LEFT engine. The crew eventually attempted to re-start the LEFT/GOOD engine but was unable to recover in time.

This aircraft automatically feathered the prop on the RIGHT engine, so I'm not sure what the hurry was (if there was a hurry) to shutdown the engine. Shutting down the wrong engine is one of the most common mistakes pilots make during multi-engine TRAINING. I think it will turn out to be 2 low-time pilots making a hurried error. Thank God none of my screwups have been half as bad as they could have been.

Posted by Scott M at February 13, 2015 1:49 AM