New info on the China debacle

The Pentagon has announced that the EP-3 that China is detaining was on auto-pilot.

So much for it “veering” into any Chinese fighter jet.

Also, the dead Chinese pilot was know for his airborne antics. From

Huh. Yeah, I can see why the US should apologize, we’re obviously in the wrong. :rolleyes:

Proof, or more dust from the two propaganda mills?

If the EP-3 was on auto-pilot then we should apologize. Jesus, a couple of Chinese fighters approach, and our boys leave the plane on auto-pilot.

What the Hell were they doing, watching “Survivor” in the back?

Frankly, I find that report pertty dubious. Navy fliers wouldn’t be that dumb, at least not as dumb as Navy submariners surfacing under a fishing boat.

Given the fact that it’s clumsy human hands that cause accidents in the air (such as this one), I fail to see the need to criticise the airmen for not panicking in the face of an uncomfortable situation.

It would also make China’s explanation for the crash rather unlikely, for example one of their Defence Ministry spokesman said

Although how have they determined that the auto pilot was on? Have they had access to the flight recorder?

My understanding from reading the news accounts was that the Chinese fighter went under the EP-3 which may have robbed the wing of lift and caused the EP-3 to “veer”

In a sense the Chinese story remains plausible, although as distorted as it was to begin with.

As for the characterizations of the Chinese pilot, while I suspect they are true I also would take them with a grain of salt insofar as they’re clearly a bit of character assasination. Well-founded perhaps, but ultimately irrelevant.

Shrug. Patience.

I think the character of the downed Chinese plane and the actions he took with his vessel aren’t very important to the debate…

One only needs to think of it this way: EP-3 is big and slow. Chinese fighters are small and fast. Beyond that, a distorted doppelganger of Occam’s Razor (we really can’t tell if all else is equal given the erratics in the stories) would suggest that “small and fast” most likely hit “big and slow”.

Patience, yes. Our men are in no immediate danger, so there’s no need for hasty reactions. I would think that a small military vessel - one that’s formidible but hardly any sort of real threat - be sent to the area. Of course, we would inform the Chinese government of it’s arrival… we don’t want any sort of conflict over this, we just want our men and our plane back.

*Originally posted by SPOOFE Bo Diddly *

I think the character of the downed Chinese plane and the actions he took with his vessel aren’t very important to the debate…

Character, no, I agree. Actions, yes.

Well, hit or probably more likely, caused a situation where the EP-3 ran into him. Either way, his recklessness.

But in re the apology, I frankly think the sole concern should be in re precedents. A non-apology apology along the lines of sorry our plane hit yours after yours caused it, in the proper obscure language, is no skin off my nose. Pride, schmide. Rational interest, however suggests not accepting any “responsibility” in order not to establish hotdogging precedents or precedents for the claim on the sea.

This appears to be our present policy.

Sending a vessal to the area is bound to be viewed as escalation. Wrong step at this stage. Patience. Our best card is to play the patiently wronged party and exploit international pressure against the chinese. No bullying. no “threats” – patience and moral high ground – all with the caveat the crew is “well-treated” all things considered. (damn I wish I was in their place, Egyptian food is truly terrible…)

Something that no one seems to have addressed concerning this incident is that even if we chose to accept the Chinese description of the incident as factual, there was no operational reason whatever for the Chinese pilots to have placed their aircraft in a position to be hit by the EP-3.

If one is shadowing an intelligence-gathering flight, what is the purpose of taking up station even as close as, say, 300 meters from the intercepted aircraft? Obviously, anywhere within weapons range will do, and common sense dictates that when any two aircraft of widely varying size and performance are flown in close proximity, safety is likely to be compromised.

While I am perfectly willing to wait patiently for the diplomats to resolve this issue, China doesn’t have a leg to stand on here.

It’s up to the Pilot in Command to decide whether to leave the aircraft on autopilot. It’s rare enough these days to find a good autopilot on one of these planes that works as advertised. If you have one, you usually use it. While it may seem to you like you should turn the autopilot off preceding an intercept, it actually may be better leave it on. As someone mentioned already, the autopilot won’t make any sudden moves. When it’s on, it’s not like the guys are screwing around in the cabin or something. You’ve got one pilot in the left seat, one pilot in the right seat, and in between but set back a few feet, you have the Flight Engineer, who hawks the engine instruments. The pilots concentrate on the flight instruments, the radios, and the outside flight environment. They’re right up against the yoke and don’t have to do anything more than place their hands on it in order to establish positive control of the aircraft.

Flying the EP-3 is challenging and requires a lot of concentration. The thing has a tendency to porpoise around… one minute you’re straight and level, the next you’re 50 ft high and climbing at 1,000 fpm. This instability is due to a bunch of factors, including all the junk hanging off the fuselage and 20 aircrew walking around in the cabin. It’s pretty easy to tell when a new pilot is flying it due to the negative and positive g corrections he/she applies in an effort to get back on altitude. On an 11-hour mission, a good autopilot is cherished by the pilots. And they may well have figured it better to hawk the interceptors with two pairs of eyes and rely on a good autopilot rather than have one pilot constantly hawking the altimeter, attitude, airspeed, and vertical speed indicators and concentrating to keep the plane straight and level.

Hope this makes sense.

The thing that was hammered at me (being a non aviator) was that 'this plane is big and ungainly and doesn’t make sudden moves, therefore the Chinese are lying when they claim it suddenly made a left turn."

Your statement here seems to make the point that the while the flight path may intend to be straight and slow moving and non-shifting, the plane itself may jerk suddenly and for no outside apparent reason.

Yes, obviously (because there was a collision), the fighter was traveling too close to the bigger plane. but doesn’t your statement here allow at least for the possability that there was a sudden and unexpected turn of the plane?

Note, I am not challenging you or the accuracy of your statements.

*Originally posted by SPOOFE Bo Diddly *

Why on Earth would the actions the Chinese pilot took not be important? He’s flown close enough to other US flights to show the fight crew his freakin e-mail address! China’s arrogance in demanding an apology from us is all based on this dead man’s actions.

Would he have had to ditch his jet if he hadn’t been so close?

wring, I can see why what I wrote would make you think that. I guess what I didn’t throw in my last post was that these pilots are pretty dang talented. They may stray a 100 or maybe even 200 ft above or below altitude, but usually they keep it within 50 ft, especially the more seasoned guys (+/- 10 ft). I wouldn’t call it ‘jerking’, but more of a slow drift in and upward or downward direction, which in the aircraft will seem pretty quick. 1,000 fpm up or down isn’t all that fast, but if the deviation’s not noticed right away, it could result in a flight violation (breaking assigned altitude). I’ve noticed the altitude deviations are much more common than actual heading (left/right) deviations, which happen more slowly and require more time to actually become a problem.

During an intercept, if the pilot is flying the aircraft (vs. the autopilot) and the fighters move in close, the more experienced pilot will probably take control, especially if they (the two senior pilots) have noticed the junior pilot is lacking in that area. All turns and/or altitude changes are slow and deliberate so as to not cause any problems for the fighters (you don’t want to piss them off, obviously). So, I wouldn’t say there’s any real sudden jerking around going on. What’s been reported is accurate. I wouldn’t expect what I talked about in my previous post to apply during a close-in intercept (I was just trying to explain why the autopilot may have been on), but even if it did, the movement of the aircraft, especially relative to that of the fighters, would still be slow and almost negligible.

Ok, hopefully that makes sense? Let me know if I’m still not clear.

And so long as we’re talking new developments, while it is still unsubstantiated, a Hong Kong newspaper is reporting the EP-3 was forced to land.

This is a pretty crucial point, in that China’s claims for being able to do what it’s doing center around the U.S. plane violating its airspace and landing on its territory.

If it’s determined that our plane didn’t have a choice, it becomes further evident that China is pretty close to fully to blame for this entire incident.

wring -

Talk about putting up a straw man. The point that everyone was trying to hammer home to you was that the U.S. plane is big and slow, the Chineses fighter jets are small and fast. It makes more sense from a logical standpoint that the Chinese jet would be responsible for the collision, either by causing the contact, or by being too close to the U.S. plane.

So whether there was a “sudden unexpected turn of the plane” or not, the question becomes, “So what?” The Chinese initiated the problem, by the way they were flying and where they were flying.

If you acknowledge that the Chinese were flying too close to the bigger plane, what’s your point? If you know they were flying too close, they know they were flying too close.

Up front, I am NOT an expert on aviation or on military maneuvers, and have NO inside information. The following is based purely on speculation and guesswork.

To make things clearer, let’s reverse the roles for a moment. SUPPOSE, just suppose, that the Chinese had a high tech spy plane, and they were circling over one of our aircraft carriers in the middle of the Pacific. Would the Chinese have a legal right to do this? Sure, if the carrier is in international waters. Would the U.S. Navy like this? Not one bit, even though they know they have no real beef with the Chinese spy plane. So, what would the commander’s carrier do? My hunch is, a macho admiral would send up a couple of his gung-ho jet fighters. NOT to attack the spy plane, of course, just to “buzz” the spy plane, send a message that “we know what you’re up to,” and maybe give them a bit of a scare.

My HUNCH (once again, only a hunch) is that something like this happened to our spy plane. The Chinese knew it was there, they knew the plane had a legal right to be there, but they didn’t like it (any more than we like being spied on), so they sent up a few fighters, to flex their muscles, and say “We know you’re here, we know you’re spying on us, get lost.” One of their pilots was a little too macho and aggressive (as most good fighter pilots in ALL air forces are), went a little too far, and caused a wreck.

Now, if the roles were reversed, and a Chinese spy plane crashed down on our territory, what would we do? I expect we’d take the crew into custody for “debrefing” and have some of our technical people go over their plane with a fine tooth comb. In a few days or a few weeks, once we’d gotten all the info woe could out of the crew and the plane (and after making China squirm a little), we’d turn the crew over… and (eventually) the plane, too.

So, I see a lot of gamesmanship going on here, but it doesn’t HAVE to be a crisis. The Chinese enjoy making us squirm a bit, but they’re not going to execute the prisoners. At SOME point, they’re going to turn them over to us. It’s all part of the spy game. Let’s not overdramatize or overpersonalize this.

Why must you demand to know what someone’s “point” is when all he’s doing is trying to get a clarification of the situation? Your hostility towards someone who is seeking knowledge is hardly consistent with the motto of this site.

yes, Milo nice to see you again, too. My all that tone, just for ‘little me’?

Odd, don’t you think, that the person to whom I addressed my posting didn’t find it anything more offensive than asking for a clarification of a point, and you, of course, decided that I was “putting up a straw man”. Naturally, you didn’t quote my “note I’m NOT challenging you or the accuracy of your information”. Still just collecting information, thank you.

My post wasn’t intended to be hostile, but to question the focus on an irrelevant point. I apologize if it was perceived as hostile. (No, wait, I “express regret.”)

BTW, Ryan - wring’s a she.

The point is apparently not irrelevant to wring, but I will assume that she is merely getting-all-the-facts-straight-on-how-this-went-down-in-her-head, not continuing to question who was the cause of the contact that precipitated this incident.

expressed regrets?!?! why the noive! (joking, really :wink: )

more information does seem to be coming out now, though, Milo wouldn’t you agree? and we still have yet to hear the reports from our folks.

(by the way, thanks for the gender clarification Milo)