When a Southwest Airlines flight overran the runway at Chicago Midway I cautioned that everyone should wait for the NTSB to finish its investigation before concluding what happened. In the meantime, the investigation began to focus on the thrust reversers of the aircraft and whether they had deployed as expected. Today, we have a report that offers more detail and a suggestion from the NTSB.
|::::::::||The National Transportation Safety Board said the pilots should not have factored in the plane’s thrust reversers _ which help slow the plane _ when they estimated how long it would take to stop during a December snowstorm at Chicago’s Midway Airport.
The agency said the Southwest Airlines jet touched down with about 4,500 feet of runway remaining, but snowy conditions and other factors meant the plane needed about 5,300 feet of runway to stop.
According to flight recorder data, the thrust reversers did not deploy until 18 seconds after landing, the report also said. That’s more than 10 seconds beyond normal deployment, according to aviation experts.
Calculating in the effect of the thrust reversers is actually not a common procedure. Many aircraft manufacturers simply don’t allow it when they publish the performance tables for their planes. There are some models, however, that do still permit it and this specific model of the Boeing 737 was one of those. The critical factor here is in the time it took the reversers to deploy. If you’ve read my other posts, you know that the speed the plane was moving at touchdown would have allowed roughly 30 seconds to get the plane to a halt. If the reversers didn’t deploy until 18 seconds into the landing, then you’ve got 12 seconds of reverse thrust available to bring the plane to a stop. That clearly wasn’t enough. So what kept them from deploying?
|::::::::||Thrust reversers typically deploy automatically _ six seconds or less after a plane’s wheels touch the runway, said Paul Czysz, professor emeritus of aerospace engineering at Saint Louis University.
In this case, a computer used to calculate landing specifications “assumed they would go on immediately,” he said.
Investigators haven’t determined whether the pilots tried to deploy the thrust reversers manually, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.
The flight’s captain told investigators he did try immediately upon landing but could not. The first officer said he deployed the reverse thrusters after he noticed they weren’t working, the report said.
So the system designed to drop the reversers on landing failed to fire automatically. The question of “why?” is the one that needs to be answered and there’s still nothing to say what the reason was one way or another. OK, next comes the question of what the crew did in response to that failure and was it appropriate? The captain says he tried to deploy them manually immediately upon landing. I assume he actually meant “immediately upon seeing they didn’t pop automatically.” So, that’s about 6 seconds into landing. Figure it takes a second or two to 1) realize they aren’t coming down on their own and 2) actuate the reverser control. We’re up to 8 seconds or so, which leaves about 10 seconds between that attempt and the first officer’s successful deployment. So, the question there is, first, did the captain actually attempt to deploy them? Did he hit the control and it didn’t work? Did he mistakenly actuate a different control? Was there something going on in the system that failed to respond to the captain’s attempt but corrected in time for the first officers? Are there 2 separate controls for the reversers (1 for the captain, 1 for the F/O) and the captain’s fail? If so, why?
You see that an investigation is a complicated thing and you need to answer all these questions before you can conclude what caused the accident. Recall that your conclusions are going to guide the actions of pilots everywhere from this point forward, so you need to be right the first time. To say nothing of what a finding of pilot error will do to the careers of the pilots of that plane. And for what it will do for the souls of the family of that child who died.
Tread carefully, boys. As always I’ll pass along more when I know more.
Even as much of a sports-clueless guy as I am knows who Lynn Swann is. Some sports heroes simply transcend the fan base and make it into the lexicon of the public as a whole whether the particular person is a sports nut or not. Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretzky. And, yes, Lynn Swann.
The other thing I’ve become well acquainted with over the past couple of years is that the left side of our political spectrum has no issue making racially biting comments and busting on a person’s race so long as that person is a conservative or a Republican. The Michael Steele situation in Maryland is a prime example and it’s not the only one.
When a Republican makes a similar attack on a fellow Republican, that’s a whole other matter. And it’s worse. From Michelle Malkin:
|::::::::||On a local TV call-in show, Seif and Swann campaign aide Ray Zaborney were debating when Seif casually unloaded a disgraceful race-based slur against Swann:
SEIF: The–uh, uh–Bill Scranton has–and I’ve known him for 30 years now–as much integrity as any person I’ve ever known. And that means intellectual integrity as well. His decision on the primary was made after a great deal of thought, a great deal of anger that one of the candidates had been captured by Senate leadership, by the party, by others, and directed into pretending he had the victory sewn up and pretending that he was the outsider. In fact, the rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann. He’s the one that hangs around the, uh.
ZABORNEY: That’s one of the most ridiculous and insulting things that I think I’ve heard in politics. You’re two-for-two tonight — two of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard in politics.
That’s putting it mildly. When one of the callers into the show took issue with Seif about it, this miserable excuse for a campaign manager took the Durbin&trade approach and apologized that someone might be offended rather than simply apologize for making a stupid remark. The good news is that Bill Scranton took the high road:
|::::::::||Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Scranton fired his campaign manager and apologized for a racially charged remark the manager made about former Steelers star Lynn Swann, Scranton’s rival for the GOP nomination.
On a televised call-in show Wednesday night, James Seif said “the rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann.”
Scranton, in a statement released from his campaign, said he was trying to reach Swann last night to apologize.
“I want to apologize to Lynn Swann, his family, supporters and campaign,” Scranton said. He expressed “deep personal regret and anger” and said Seif’s comment “in no way whatsoever reflect my views or those of my campaign.”
This kind of race attack isn’t acceptable on the Republican side of the debate and shouldn’t be tolerated from anyone. I’m glad Scranton did what he did – it was the right thing to do – but I’m unsure it’ll help him get out of the hole Seif put him in. I would recommend any Republican considering running in an election look elsewhere for campaign managment, however, and leave Seif in retirement.
The reported presence of Mexican military units in illegal border crossing (the highest-profile one being a matter of 3 SUV’s carrying drugs) has raised the tension already mounting between Mexico and the US. Mexican officials deny their troops are involved. Law enforcement and Border Patrol agents here are equally adamant that the gear being used is clearly military. In the tapes and photographs I’ve seen I find it hard to disagree. These alleged Mexican troops aren’t riding in the bed of a Toyota pickup truck or in a surlus Soviet-era Zil. They’re in a military-variant Humvee and it’s got a .50 cal mounted up top.
The upcoming hearings on the matter will bring more to light, I hope, but one thing’s for certain. If Mexico reported seeing illegal crossings where men in American military uniforms were seen riding American military vehicles, you can bet our military would be wanting to flood the zone to catch them. I wonder why Mexico’s isn’t?