Well, I reckon I won’t at that. I do not want to fly with pilots like this.
An ex-uncle of mine is a pilot. He’s an utter jackass (and complete slimeball), but even he wouldn’t play with a plane.
It’s one of those situations that are perfect for asking ‘What were they thinking?’
What a couple of yahoos.
Minor article nitpick here…
Actually the city is named for a different dead president, Jefferson.
Here’s a local report on it. I remember that plane crash; I live in the next county. We were all amazed no one except the two doofuses got hurt.
Hasn’t there only been a preliminary report issued?
What were they doing wrong, exactly?
Paging Mr. Award . . . Mr. Darwin Award . . .
They were trying to fly at > 41000 feet, which is the design limit of the plane they were flying.
The Grauniad didn’t acquire its reputation for accurate details from nowhere
I don’t get it: would flying so high damage the engines? Or did they just lose control up there and were unable to regain it?
How were these guys in a commercial plane alone? You can’t just borrow a plane for an hour or two. And what’s up with their behavior? Were they high?
Makes no sense.
The engines stalled, and the pilots were unable to restart them.
RTFA. They were ferrying an empty plane from Arkansas to Minnesota.
From Kansas City Star:
Reason number #42019 why I will never board a plane…
I always firgured that with at least two guys up front, any stupid idea of one guy would be nixed by the other.
Returning from a destination? Flying it to a different airport?
I guess I never knew that they did that. It seems…economically inefficient.
Wouldn’t pilots know how dangerous this is? I think Cecil mentioned it when he explained about why 747s don’t do barrel rolls. Just…jeez.
Of course, an airplane pilot will tell you that helicopter pilots get nosebleeds above 500’ AGL; so take this FWIW.
There’s a definition of an aircraft’s service ceiling, but I don’t remember what it is. Something along the lines of not being able to climb at more than 100 feet per minute, or something like that. I don’t know that altitude in the accident aircraft. In any case, an aircraft shouldn’t lose control at its service ceiling.
When we talk of stalls, we usually mean aerodynamic stall – that is, the wings are no longer providing lift. Aircraft usually give some sort of warning before a stall. Passenger jets tend to have ‘stick shakers’ to get the pilots’ attention. Some high-flying aircraft – the TR-1 (or SR-71, I forget which) comes to mind – have very narrow margines between the never-exceed speed and the stall speed. I think the TR-1’s (or SR-71’s) envelope is something like five knots at altitude. If V[sub]NE[/sub] is exceeded, the aircraft may be damaged. If you drop below V[sub]S[/sub], the wings stop flying. But a passenger aircraft will have a larger envelope than a high-flying reconaissance aircraft. So while the aircraft may stall at a given high altitude, I don’t really see it exceeding V[sub]NE[/sub]. Could happen though; as I said, I’m not an expert here.
So what happens if the engine(s) fail? Contrary to what many people think, the aircraft doesn’t just fall out of the sky. By pointing the nose down, airspeed is maintained/regained and you glide. It’s called ‘trading altitude for airspeed’. If, for whatever reason, you pull back on the yoke/stick, your airspeed will deteriorate until your wings stall. This may (or may not) result in a spin if the pilot(s) do not make the appropriate control inputs.
Intentional spins are not authorised in some aircraft. I think most or all aircraft must be able to recover from an unintentional spin in order to be certified. Some spins can develop to the point where they are unrecoverable in some aircraft. An unrecoverable spin may result in structural damage to the airframe.
I haven’t read the preliminary report; but like most pilots, I do engage in ‘armchair crash investigation’. I hesitate to guess in this case since the aircraft involved is so far removed from my personal experience; but I can imagine a scenario where the pilots were at or above the service ceiling of the aircraft, for whatever reason lost their engines, stalled, entered a spin, and were unable to recover from the spin, which resulted in structural damage.
They were ferrying the plane back after some sort of routine maintenance. One of them decided that since the book said the plane could fly at 41,000, they should take it up that high. Since the other pilot had never flown at 41,000 feet either, he agreed that it would be a cool thing to try.
Then both engines quit and they couldn’t restart them. They tried to glide to an airport and didn’t make it.
“Makes no sense” is a pretty accurate capsule explanation. Stupid is another.
I’d be curious to see the NTSB report on this - mainly, was the aircraft still in one piece before it hit the ground?
If they got much beyond V[sub]NE[/sub] in a spin/dive they could suffer catastrophic structural failures such as control surfaces or even the tail or wings breaking off.
Again, as an armchair investigator, my wager is they got too high, and the wing stalled for lack of air density and the engine(s) stalled for lack of oxygen density. Then, despite being nearly eight miles up, they were unable to recover in time. Airframe damage could also contribute to their inability to recover.
I’m assuming the plane was a Bombardier RJ200 - a 50-seat regional jet with 50 seats. I’m rather amazed that it does have a service ceiling of 41,000. I’d have expected more like 35,000.
They don’t call the Lear Longhorn 55, fifty-five for it’s ground speed.
Any airplane should be able to go to it’s service ceiling if it is properly maintained.
See Johnny LA’s post.
IF the plane had special procedures for flight to it’s service ceiling, the pilots should have followed them.
As I see the info available, they flamed out for whatever reason and could not air-restart. They could not reach the airport they tried for. Maybe they should have gone for a different airport.
The act of taking the aircraft to it’s service ceiling is not wrong, illegal or stupid. The airplane has been tested to that altitude and is supposed to be able to do it. It was ill advised in this instance. Had it been on a normal flight and was taken to it’s service ceiling to avoid weather, that would not be a wrong thing to do or an illegal thing to do or necessarily a stupid thing to do.
Hopefully one of the Big Iron guys on the board will come by and maybe explain exactly what SPECIAL procedures are needed to normally take the average airliner to it’s service ceiling.
I don’t know if an airliner can be certified that is impossible to air start an engine. Maybe that is the way it is.
I do know a Falcon 20 biz jet jockey who has had flame louts at altitude over the North Atlantic and he had some tense minutes until he got it restarted. He had to wait until below 10K feet to get it to light off.
I need a lot more info before I condemn the actual taking of a plane to it’s service ceiling.
Their improper actions in the cockpit may have been a BIG contributing factor. I guess laughing and joking maybe caused the accident or the fact that they swapped seats caused it. The rules for when carrying passengers are very strict and they should be but what exactly caused the flame out?
Were they trying to hand fly at 41K and swapping seats at the same time? That could cause a big upset as was said about being balanced on a knife edge and would be a stupid thing to do.
No matter how stupid they were being, I will give them credit for not messing around while carrying passengers.
If they did not know the proper procedures, the training was lacking.
If they just ignored the proper procedures, it is good that they are out of the airline flying business before they hurt innocents. They were by far the exception rather than the rule.
It in no way affects my willingness to get on airliners. ( and non airline pilots are some of the worst passengers in the world )
I am much more concerned about the airlines that put subtle pressure on their pilots to make it on time, to complete flights into bad weather etc.
The day of the Pilots being God’s are over. And unfortunately these days, the young men coming up are from the new generation of being treated less than, have been taught that they are not the last word on their own destiny, that government and the FAA have that unto themselves. They are not backed up by their companies like they should be but are hung out to dry at the first opportunity. The climate of today’s flying and the narrow margin for success and failure make the safety record of the airlines in general an amazing thing. They are way better than we deserve for conditions we try to make them operate under.
This is one case where a mile in their Wellington’s™ is really needed.