Well, of course it\’s pilot error

Information leaked to a Russian newspaper claims that recordings from the jet\’s \”black box\” flight recorder shows that both the automatic avoidance system and another member of the crew tried to dissuade the pilot from a risky manoeuvre minutes before the jet collided with the side of a volcano in Indonesia, killing all 45 people on board.

The newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets said it had been led to understand that at some point in the recording a crew member is heard to shout something along the lines of \”commander, we can\’t go there, there\’s a mountain,\” only to be ignored by pilot Alexander Yablontzev.

Who could possibly doubt that the crash of Russia\’ latest and greatest jet was due to anything else?

9 thoughts on “Well, of course it\’s pilot error”

  1. I remember seeing an interview with an Aeroflot pilot just after the fall of the USSR and he was asked how he coped with flying such dangerous aircraft, his reply was “Vodka helps”.

  2. My brother who works in the air industry, told me of a flight recorder recovered from a Mexican plane, on which the last words are:

    Automatic warning system: PULL UP! PULL UP!

    Pilot: Shut up, gringo.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    This nice shiny Russian plane was made as part of a joint project with the Italians. Reading the article upwards a bit, perhaps they too had some aircraft baroni and the competent aircraft designers were all fregati too.

    I am not sure I want to fly on any Russian plane. However pilot error must be a reasonable first assumption. Remember Aeroflot Flight 593 which was a nice new European Airbus that crashed in Siberia somewhere. With the pilot’s daughter in the co-pilot seat and his son in the pilot’s seat. Apparently he let his children fly the damn thing. People who willing to do that can do anything.

    Tim adds: I had a friend on that plane (hmm, somewhere in that gap between friend and acquaintance perhaps). Remember his funeral well.

    I also remember my wife coming back from the airport that afternoon ready to massacre any random group of 15 Russians she could find.

    As background she imported the daily newspapers by BA from the UK. Was often out at customs “negotiating” quick and safe passage. The other piece of background is that when a plane goes from 30,000 feet to zero feet and the bodies are coffined then it’s not really “a body” which is coffined. It’s something, mixed in with a bit of hillside, so that there is something to bury and grieve over but it’s most certainly not going to pass the open viewing test.

    And various of the customs officers at Shemet’yevo were insisting that they had to open the coffin before it was flown back to the UK for burial. To, you know, make sure that nothing was being smuggled. Oh, and would parents please stay here in the room so that we can question you about anything we might find? Of course, for a small doucer this could all be avoided.

    Even the BA freight manager (who was posted there from Lagos!) was aghast at this level of venality.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    blokeinfrance – “All air accidents are caused by the plane landing in the wrong place.”

    Well I am not sure of that. Portuguese Airline Flight 425 landed at Funchal airport in Madeira just fine. At least they landed in the right spot. It was raining heavily though so the plane was unable to stop in time. It went over the end of the runway, down a bank, breaking in two on the beach and then catching fire.

  5. Chris: “Shut up gringo” is an urban legend that refuses to die, but based on a real flight: Avianca Flight 011 which came down near Madrid on November 27, 1983. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avianca_Flight_011 )

    Colombian not Mexican by the way, although the Mexican novelist Jorge Ibargüengoitia was killed on it (as well as two other writers, Ángel Rama from Uruguay and Manuel Scorza from Peru).

    Here’s the CVR transcript: http://www.fomento.es/NR/rdonlyres/D53C568D-2A84-490B-BEE0-9EC81EE287C4/8766/Anexo_A.pdf

    TERRAIN
    TERRAIN
    WHOOP
    WHOOP
    TERRAIN
    PULL UP
    TERRAIN
    WHOOP

    Captain Tulio Hernandez: Bueno, bueno (“okay okay”)

    WHOOP
    PULL UP
    WHOOP
    WHOOP
    PULL UP
    WHOOP
    WHOOP

    Captain: Bueno (“Okay”) AUTOPILOT DISCONNECT SOUND

    WHOOP
    PULL UP
    TERRAIN …

    So not quite “Shut up gringo”! But the alarm was sounding for a long time (I’ve seen the figure 14 seconds) without useful response.

  6. A member of the South African branch of the Jennings family who does work in mining in other parts of Africa has told me some lovely stories of flying on Russian aircraft with Russian crews in places like Angola. On one occasion, he was told initially that there were no seats on the plane but “We will see what we can do…”. A little later he found himself sitting on a folding chair in the aisle in the passenger section of the aircraft. After a little while sitting there, he noticed that the sole duty of one of the stewardesses was apparently to take cans of beer to the cockpit.

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