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Thread: Southwest 1380 engine failure

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    Southwest 1380 engine failure

    I don't know if I am the only one, but I've found the media coverage of Southwest 1380 a bit over-hyped. The media is consistently praising the pilot as a "hero" with "nerves of steel." Of course, I'm sure that is generally correct, she's a former fighter pilot and I'm sure she does, but I think that lots of pilots manage to land planes with turbine failures. My impression, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that they tend not to be able to save the plane when the engine failure has damaged something important like control surfaces or caused a fire. In this case, from what I understand, there was a loss of cabin pressure but no uncontrolled fire or anything like that.
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    (Not) taking out the hydraulics comes to mind.

    I agree with you. Good flying*, but not like gliding to a water landing and nobody drowning.


    *edit: I'm not comparing to my own ability to fly, which is ZERO, but to the ability of a qualified pilot to fly.
    Last edited by pzkpfw; 2018-May-02 at 07:17 AM. Reason: Edit
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    Since the plane landed safely, the NTSB will likely look at the reasons for engine’s multiple failures, the blade’s, proper, and that of the containment, as that sort of blade-off failure is supposed to be contained.

    A disk failure, like the one that led to the Sioux City crash, is impractical to contain, but blade failures should be.

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    FWIW pilots train for the sudden loss of engines and for emergency descent conditions with rapid decompression. They don’t train for both to occur at the same time. To me this is why that crew did a tremendous job, on a par with the Hudson River ditching.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    FWIW pilots train for the sudden loss of engines and for emergency descent conditions with rapid decompression. They don’t train for both to occur at the same time. To me this is why that crew did a tremendous job, on a par with the Hudson River ditching.
    They rolled to 41 degrees, but made the landing at an airport, right?
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/18/us/so...ing/index.html



    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    Since the plane landed safely, the NTSB will likely look at the reasons for engine’s multiple failures, the blade’s, proper, and that of the containment, as that sort of blade-off failure is supposed to be contained.

    A disk failure, like the one that led to the Sioux City crash, is impractical to contain, but blade failures should be.
    Wasn't there some reporting that said that Southwest resisted complying with some "suggested" blade inspections a year before the failure?

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    Quote Originally Posted by grapes View Post
    They rolled to 41 degrees, but made the landing at an airport, right?
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/18/us/so...ing/index.html
    Of course, the SW flight crew had more advantages than USA 1549 in that the 737 had power from the remaining engine and a more controllable flight. They still had a nasty bundle of problems to deal with. This video from a 737 instructor and captain provides some insight into what the crew had to manage.

    USA 1549 also experienced something that training doesn't (or at least didn't) include - dual flameouts during climb out and at low altitude.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grapes View Post
    Wasn't there some reporting that said that Southwest resisted complying with some "suggested" blade inspections a year before the failure?
    It wasn't just Southwest that wanted more time:

    Southwest Airlines sought more time last year to inspect jet-engine fan blades like the one that snapped off during one of its flights Tuesday in an accident that left a passenger dead.

    The airline opposed a recommendation by the engine manufacturer to require ultrasonic inspections of certain fan blades within 12 months. Southwest said it needed more time, and it raised concern over the number of engines it would need to inspect. Other airlines also voiced objections.

    It wasn't until after Tuesday's accident that the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it will soon make the inspections mandatory. It is unclear how many planes will be affected by the FAA order. Airlines including Southwest say they have begun inspections anyway.

    ....

    During the public-comment period, which closed in October, Southwest and several other carriers raised objections. Southwest pushed back against CFM's request for a 12-month deadline, and American Airlines asked for even more time — 20 months.

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    Yeah. Let's minimize a woman pilot's ability to land a partially crippled plane. Comparing her to "Sully's" landing is a cheap shot - no two disasters/near-disasters are the same, and each save doesn't have to be more epic than the last to be.. well, epic. Whether pilots are normally train for such scenarios or not is irrelevant and more mundane failures that have caught pilots unaware have caused crashes and death. So ease off. Sheesh.

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    I agree with the general sentiment of your post CJSF, but this part:

    Whether pilots are normally train for such scenarios or not is irrelevant
    In my opinion, this is a relevant part. It is one thing to do what you're trained to do. It's another thing to "be on your own" and react correctly to a situation you have never been in, real-life or simulated. In fact, that's the whole idea behind training.

    The pilot did a very good job: correct loss-of-pressure dive without more injuries that realistically possible, correct responses to sudden loss of engine, and the cherry on the cake: combining the two without prior training to do that. That means (assuming it wasn't a lucky shot) she managed to keep calm and prioritize critical items in aircraft control during an emergency situation that brought the aircraft attitude and flight envelope way outside of the normal. And that definately indicates a good pilot.

    Whether or not someone else pulled off something even more tricky is not relevant indeed; there's always someone somewhere better than you but that doesn't mean you can't do something tremendous in your own right. Compared to your own ability, compared to the norm. Comparing to the extreme is always misleading. When my kids get 98% on an exam, my response is not "could be better". Similarly, any pilot reaction to an emergency could be made trivial by comparing with what the crew did when United 232 turned into a really poor excuse for anything even remotely looking like a controllable flying machine. I don't care about that when I'm in a plane and, erm, the fan hits the fan. At that moment I just want a really good pilot = a pilot who stays calm, and keeps focusing on flying the plane*. That way, chances of arriving at the best possible outcome are maximised. The Pilot of SW1380 certainly did that.

    (*)many plane crashes are due to flight crew dealing with a situation on board, nobody actually flying the plane anymore due to wrong focus, and down they go.
    Last edited by Nicolas; 2018-May-02 at 03:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I don't know if I am the only one, but I've found the media coverage of Southwest 1380 a bit over-hyped. The media is consistently praising the pilot as a "hero" with "nerves of steel." Of course, I'm sure that is generally correct, she's a former fighter pilot and I'm sure she does, but I think that lots of pilots manage to land planes with turbine failures. My impression, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that they tend not to be able to save the plane when the engine failure has damaged something important like control surfaces or caused a fire. In this case, from what I understand, there was a loss of cabin pressure but no uncontrolled fire or anything like that.
    The word 'hero' tends to be used more casually than it should be, in my opinion. Even if the pilot performed an extraordinary bit of flying - and I'm no pilot so I won't speak to whether it was extraordinary - she did what she was required to do, nothing more. To me, hero status should only be conferred on those who put themselves at grave risk voluntarily in an effort to save others.

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    I meant it wasn't relevant to whether or not what she did was "epic" or "brave" or "amazing". I mean, a firefighter is trained to do what they do, but when they save lives or put out an huge or dangerous fire, it's still epic and amazing, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    The word 'hero' tends to be used more casually than it should be, in my opinion. Even if the pilot performed an extraordinary bit of flying - and I'm no pilot so I won't speak to whether it was extraordinary - she did what she was required to do, nothing more. To me, hero status should only be conferred on those who put themselves at grave risk voluntarily in an effort to save others.
    Agreed specifically on the usage of "hero" in this context. The piloting may have been epic, world-class etc, but fact is the pilot is saving himself/herself just as much as the people in the cabin and as such not correctly described simply as heroism. In that sense, the professionalism and yes heroism of a good pilot (and crew) becomes apparent during evacuation: if possible at all, they make one final pass front to back in a burning or sinking aircraft to make sure everyone is safely out. That is heroism. Everything they do while still flying -short of jumping out with a parachute- is for their own good as much as for the passengers. This is one of the most reassuring thoughts for me in an aircraft. I would not feel that safe if the pilot was sitting somewhere in an office in front of a computer display.

    @CJSF you certainly can do the most epic, amazing, heroic etc things also when you are trained to do them. It doesn't become any easier if you were not trained to do it though. And specifically about your example: firefighters are in my book very heroic people. They could simply choose not to go into the fire, yet they do to save us.
    Last edited by Nicolas; 2018-May-02 at 08:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    Yeah. Let's minimize a woman pilot's ability to land a partially crippled plane. Comparing her to "Sully's" landing is a cheap shot - no two disasters/near-disasters are the same, and each save doesn't have to be more epic than the last to be.. well, epic. Whether pilots are normally train for such scenarios or not is irrelevant and more mundane failures that have caught pilots unaware have caused crashes and death. So ease off. Sheesh.
    To clarify, there was no intent on my part to denigrate what she did. I see it as largely the same as what happened on flight 1549. There too the pilot was faced with a very difficult situation and managed it excellently (actually, in that case the NSTB concluded that he would have (barely) been able to get back to La Guardia, but that under the circumstances, without exact information, his choice was the better one). My argument was really in line with the last post by Nicolas. What the pilots of flight 1380 and 1549 did was in both cases excellent piloting and decision-making, but I don't see it as heroic. If a fighter pilot has a fire onboard and decides to fly the plane into the ground because ejecting would lead to the risk of the jet landing into a crowd at an air show, then I would see that as heroic. And somebody mentioned firefighters. I have to agree that in a sense, that is institutionalized heroism. They do all they can for their own safety as well, but in the end what they are doing is putting themselves at risk for people that they do not have to try to save.

    Oh, and I remember another incident as well. There was a crash in Taipei, TransAsia Airways 235. Ultimately it turned out that the plane crashed because the pilots mistakenly shut down the working engine and were unable to restart it at time. But right after the crash, I remember news reports calling the pilot a hero because he still had his hands on the yoke when the plane crashed. I was a bit astounded: I've never heard of a pilot running out of the cockpit before a crash. I think they don't do it because they recognize it would be a futile way of trying to save themselves. The best chance that the pilot has of saving everybody including him or herself is to stay at the controls and try to make the best possible crash.
    As above, so below

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    I object to the notion that the main driving factor for all these pilots (or other "dangerous" situation handlers) in these cases is self preservation. From interviews I've read in many situations the pilots and crews have said the pilot's main focus was getting the plane down to save the passengers and other crew. I don't think they are lying - I mean I am sure there are some selfish people in these situations, but to couch these actions as purely self serving seems wrong to me.

    CJSF
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    I object to the notion that the main driving factor for all these pilots (or other "dangerous" situation handlers) in these cases is self preservation.
    Well I would object to that notion as well. I completely agree that their motivation was surely to save as many lives as possible.



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    As above, so below

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    Likewise.


    However, I also object to the idea that the gender of the pilot had anything to do with the reaction of anybody here.
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    The gender of the pilot wasn't even mentioned in the articles I've read about it, nor is it really relevant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    The gender of the pilot wasn't even mentioned in the articles I've read about it, nor is it really relevant.
    Exactly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pzkpfw View Post
    Likewise.


    However, I also object to the idea that the gender of the pilot had anything to do with the reaction of anybody here.
    Just to be clear, her gender had nothing to do with my response.

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    She has the "right stuff", just like her male colleagues, which includes the ability to stay calm and focused during a life-threatening emergency.

    A great example of heroic action by a pilot was aboard an Eastern shuttle flight in 1965 after a collision near New York. With part of the tail broken off in the collision, the crew did a masterful job of improvising a way of almost getting the plane under control with differential use of the engines, and nursing it into a survivable belly landing in a field. The captain got out of the cockpit unhurt and went into the burning wreckage four times to help passengers out. He was fatally overcome by smoke inhalation while trying to get the last passenger out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    Just to be clear, her gender had nothing to do with my response.
    Maybe I didn't word it well, but that's what I was saying. I don't think gender was involved in the OP or anyone's response in agreement with the OP.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pzkpfw View Post
    Maybe I didn't word it well, but that's what I was saying. I don't think gender was involved in the OP or anyone's response in agreement with the OP.
    My apologies. I wasn't certain and didn't want anyone to think my comment was gender-based. Frankly, given she is an ex-Navy pilot qualified on F-18's, she already had my admiration.

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    Ah, happy days.
    Some day, probably after I'm dead, there will be a complete disconnect in everyone's head between gender and ability. No-one will ever fret about it again.
    I actually worked in an environment like that for more than two decades. It was nice. (Although right next door to an environment in which caveman rules still applied, admittedly.)

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    Jeebers Crikes. I apologize for the gender comment. I was overly sensitive because it HAS been brought up in many other online venues, of which I had just come from when reading this thread. Can we drop it now k?

    Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    Jeebers Crikes. I apologize for the gender comment. I was overly sensitive because it HAS been brought up in many other online venues, of which I had just come from when reading this thread. Can we drop it now k?
    No problem at all. I also should perhaps clarify that the reason I put this thread in Media at Large is that I really wanted to talk about the media reaction to the incident, not the incident itself.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    No problem at all. I also should perhaps clarify that the reason I put this thread in Media at Large is that I really wanted to talk about the media reaction to the incident, not the incident itself.
    I think the media tend to use the word "hero" more loosely than do the pilots themselves. Upon browsing for information on that collision I mentioned earlier, it appears that in his dying gasp the captain was doing what he considered to be his duty.

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    And up to a certain level, it is. He's not expected by any means to kill himself to try and save the passengers, just like a ship's captain is not obliged at all to "go down with the ship". However, the pilot, just like the captain, is responsible for the evacuation and as such should be among the last, not first, to abandon the craft.

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    As I recall, the captain of the Costa Concordia caught a lot of gruff for “coordinating the evacuation” from a distance.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    I think the media tend to use the word "hero" more loosely than do the pilots themselves. Upon browsing for information on that collision I mentioned earlier, it appears that in his dying gasp the captain was doing what he considered to be his duty.
    The media tend to use the word “hero” very loosely, to the point of making the word meaningless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    As I recall, the captain of the Costa Concordia caught a lot of gruff for “coordinating the evacuation” from a distance.
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    Gruff, and prison time. According to his own version of the story, he fell overboard into a lifeboat. Yes. You should have heard the coast guard on radio that night. And he was staying professional in his choice of words.

    Compare his ability to party his ship into the rocks and be the first in a lifeboat while the passengers are dying, to plenty examples of pilots who can keep very calm when their life truly is at stake, and their ability to control and land a cripled plane. (plenty maritime examples to be found as well). If we're talking ability, I also remember the airliner that had to land with the nosewheel 90° misaligned. They kept it perfectly on the centre line, while the wheel ground away until shaft level.

    Still, as Swampyankee points out, by the definition of the word that is not heroism. It is extreme professionalism, ability and calm. But "hero" might just sell a few more papers. And I've stopped thinking of the average journalist as a linguistic purist a long, long time ago.
    Last edited by Nicolas; 2018-May-07 at 09:44 AM.

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