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Sunday, June 30. 2013
The problem is that conspiracy nuts are exactly like global warming alarmists. You can show them graphs and videos all day long but it won't do the slightest bit of good. But, like AGW, it's still fun to try.
— Not brought down by enemy fire, check!
— Not brought down by friendly fire, check!
— Not an external explosion at all, check!
— Gas tank blew up from an electrical short circuit allowing high voltage to enter a low-voltage line, check!
— Flaming fuselage, still under power, streaked upwards after the nose cone broke off as witnessed by hundreds on the ground, check!
— Sensationalistic muckrakers opening old wounds for nothing but greed dragged out to the street and publicly flogged, unchecked!
The full episode is here.
One thing to note is that while it mentions that a handful of gas tanks have blown up over the years (lightning, sabotage, engine falling off), electrical short wasn't on the list. The implication is that this was a pretty rare event and that the equally-sensationalistic documentary continually screaming about how this could happen at any moment to any airplane in the sky (!!!) was quite a bit overblown.
And the same might be said of Boeing's reaction. While it's certainly caring of them to put in an 'inerting' system, all that'll do is add another quarter-ton of weight to the plane; weight that'll have to be compensated for somewhere else, possibly impairing the integrity of the aircraft. Merely replacing the wiring would have accomplished the same end. When they talk about the 'chain of events' that lead up to an airline disaster, about nineteen factors had to line up perfectly in order for the high-voltage line to arc into the low-voltage gas tank line in the first place, plus the perfect abrasion on the gas tank sending unit allowing the spark to occur at all.
On the other hand, this raises a key point. While the FAA has been criticized over the years for only taking action after a horrific accident has occurred, this is obviously a highly unjust complaint because it's simply impossible to predict everything that could go wrong on such a complex craft and the tremendous pressures it faces at altitude.
But when something does go wrong, the FAA is to be credited with making damn sure it won't happen again. Glancing over the Mayday airline disaster documentaries indicates that, with one glaring exception, not one accident whose mechanical cause was even suspected ever repeated itself. In many cases it was equivalent to the now-mandatory inerting system; that is, probably a serious overreaction, but the bottom — and only — line is that the tragedy hasn't happened again.
The one exception was the rear door popping off a DC-10, way back in '72. The FAA took the manufacturer's word for it that it'd be fixed, but two years later it happened again, this time with the explosive decompression taking out the plane's hydraulics and a loss of 346 lives.
That's when the FAA learned a valuable little lesson in 'trust' and started officially covering the bases, with the resultant sterling record of no repeats. There will always be the occasional piece of fuselage ripping off because of some metal rot that no one spotted; the occasional bird strike as well as the hopefully-rare control tower mix-up resulting in either an in-air or on-ground collision, but the crafts, themselves, seem as solid as they'll ever be.
The last stat I read:
You have a greater chance of being stung to death by bees than you do of dying in an airplane. So, just stay from any bee hives and, statistically, you should be good to go!
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Doc, you're covering up for the Martians! Fie! Fie upon you, I say! (mind control. Off, Set.)
In full disclosure, I'm partial to the Venusian Contingent. I've just never been a big fan of red dirt. But I'll put in a good word for you at the next meeting.
I guess you could say the FAA is the perfect example of the expression "Better safe than sorry." As you indicated, if they want to go overboard with their fixes, more power to 'em. No complaints on this end.
You might want to include the link to the full vid:
A very interesting article and nicely put together. Like Dave said, a good way to start the day.
"But when something does go wrong, the FAA is to be credited with making damn sure it won't happen again."
That's not really correct. The FAA makes recommendations and in some cases issues directives but they don't make sure it won't happen again.
Example: After Maid of the Seas, Pan Am 103, was destroyed the FAA and other agencies discovered that there was an easy fix to bombs in luggage and packages. Cans modified with Kevlar blankets and a tube were tested with high explosives. When the explosive gasses expanded the tube was pushed through the fuselage and the gas was vented overboard with the only damage being a small hole in the fuselage. This effective fix was ruled out because it would cost the airlines to retrofit their baggage cans.
Example: A principle factor in the Buffalo crash was crew fatigue. The FAA proposed ruling amending crew rest requirements gives some additional rest to domestic crews but does not really allow for complete rest cycle for the flight crew. It does not give relief for cargo crews and only limited relief for international crews.
Note: Any FAA ruling or directive may be exceeded if the inspector responsible for that particular airline agrees to the exceedance.
I specifically used the word "mechanical". When it comes to human frailties, there ain't no cure for that.
If you read down that 'Mayday' page and sort the causes into two groups, human and mechanical, you'd notice an eerie similarity. As I noted in the post, you'd rarely see the same mechanical problem again, but, the thing is, that's also true with the human element. One plane goes down due to pilot fatigue. The next time it's failing to set the trim. Maybe the pilot decided to commit suicide in spectacular fashion. Or they simply got distracted and failed to notice a critical setting. Or, as in the case of Flight 447, a co-pilot literally goes insane. And that's just what happens inside the cockpit.
Worker leaves duct tape over the pitot tubes. Fuel guy doesn't convert from Imperial to Metric properly. Controller puts them on the wrong runway. Controller doesn't notice two planes are flying toward each other. And, while I can think of at least three mid-air collisions caused by the controller, the situations were wildly different.
Personally, I'd be giving the FAA a little credit for the tough job they face.
I can find no reference to a co-pilot going insane with regard to the crash of flight 447. Is there another flight 447 crash?
I believe the reference is to Egypt Air 990.
Dr Mercury, excluding the Air France Concorde, at least two large commercial aircraft crashes were attributed to tire failure. Also, the fuel tank issue really wasn't an issue because the FAA retracted the fuel tank requirements for the Boeing 787.
That decision was more administrative than engineering but my point is that the FAA is doing a great job but the FAA isn't the cure all for design or safety.
Interesting article, and typical how it's either "one or three" protection measures. Apparently, "two" is out of the question. The part about how a composite airliner faces lightning differently than a metal craft was also interesting. I took a 787 out to CA last Xmas and it was a real honey.
Doc - I can see why you used that particular frame for the preview pic. I'd always figured the investigators were basically using Occam's Razor and figuring that an electrical spark in the fuel tank was the simplest and "best educated guess." But the break in the voice recorder was very telling and made the whole theory far more than a mere "guess." A nice job on everybody's part.
Uh-yup, my thought exactly. Without those breaks, the whole thing would remain a "guess" to this day. Only a serious short in the system will cause a total outage of the CVR for 2 milliseconds. Twice, no less. When it comes to electronic testimony, that's about as clear as it gets.
I question the statement "two microsecond gaps" - the recorder would have had to have a bandwidth in that data channel of some 5 MHz to have recorded such a gap accurately. Narrator might have meant "milliseconds", commensurate with a voice channel.
I took it to mean 'milliseconds', since 'microseconds' is really just an expression. What we don't know is how much it had been slowed down, since what they played was far longer than two milliseconds. But if the breaks really were only two milliseconds, and they'd only been playing the tape at regular speed during the investigation, then it's certainly understandable why it wasn't noticed until they examined it later in depth.
While it's certainly caring of them to put in an 'inerting' system, all that'll do is add another quarter-ton of weight to the plane
I disagree. All you really need to do is use engine exhaust gas instead of outside air to fill the tank as gas is used. Not all that hard, not all that heavy.
They're using nitrogen, so there have to be tanks, pumps, and lord knows what else. It's in the last few minutes of the vid.
As I noted in yesterday's morning links, we've recently seen a reprehensible display of cheap sensationalism from muckrakers claiming that the 1996 crash of Flight 800 has all been a massive conspiracy
Speaking of hoaxes and conspiracies, you might have heard that some glory-seeking and/or mentally-deficient morons are claiming the explosion aboard Flight 800 back in '96 was — and I hope you're sitting down — a government cover-up![/i]
Cmdr Donaldson USN Ret. wrote this letter:
Might be interesting to know where he would fit into your above descriptive(s).
"Gas tank blew up from an electrical short circuit allowing high voltage to enter a low-voltage line, check!"
Not Checked: The NTSB report speculates on high voltage as a cause and it says that it is speculation. A viable source of high voltage was never discovered and identified.
My point on this thread and the previous one was that the investigation did not exhaust the available data. The NTSB only reported on the information it had, not all the information derived from the various other agencies and witnesses that were available. They did not interview the witnesses that the FBI and other agencies interviewed but relied on outside agency input that everything was OK.
There are too many gaps and false information by the government inserted into this narrative to simply say that the inflight breakup of a Boeing 747-100 was or was not a simple accident caused by an aircraft malfunction. That's not a conspiracy idea, but a hard look at the events and the faulty investigation process.
For example: If it was a simple accident, why did TWA get new airplanes after this accident with no visible cash flow to justify the purchases?
Why did the CIA, rather than the NTSB or the FAA or a news agency, make a simulation video showing center wing tank fuel streaming to the ground and then redact their moniker and change the story that the streak of fire everyone saw was not burning fuel falling to the earth but instead fuel burning while the plane climbed during the breakup?
Note: If the power supply changes the CVR will have a slight gap. There are all sorts of mechanical/electrical reasons for slight gaps in the CVR besides massive electrical shorts.
Happy Lord's Day.
My point on this thread and the previous one was that the investigation did not exhaust the available data. The NTSB only reported on the information it had, not all the information derived from the various other agencies and witnesses that were available.
No disagreement with your above noted words.
Cool article, Doc, and I missed the Flight 447 post, so it's been a fun few hours on YouTube. I shall steer away from all bee hives from now on.
Say, here's a question. If Flight 800 and 447 were the "most mysterious airliner crashes" of their day, what the official "most mysterious crash" these days?
Good question. I suppose Egyptian Air Flight 990, simply because the two leading theories were so wildly opposite. The NTSB thought the pilot committed suicide, the Egyptian team thought it was a control problem with the elevators. Hard to get much more disparate than that.
Hey, what happened to Fast and Furious, the IRS, Benghazi, Solyndra, Syria, ad nauseum. If their simple parlor tricks put us to sleep, we will deserve what we get. Please, keep focused, never forget.
I Know that one of the chartered New Bedford scallop boats draging for the chinese chiller IR units and the jump motors on the man portable chicom missle used... found it...also know that it is impossible to get the energy needed to "Explode" a fuel tank from the available 400 hz power within the wing box of a 747...believe what you want...((((that is not the droid you want))))
You're the third conspiracy fruitcake to come along and mouth off without even watching the video.
"Fruitcake" sounds a little lightweight for this kind of person, doc. How about "total asswipe"? As you said in the post, there's no reasoning with these types of people. Fuck 'em.
I agree, Big B. Fruitcakes and nutjobs just aren't worth the energy it takes to answer them. And, if you do, as proved over and over again in the Saturday thread, they'll completely ignore you if you do try to reason with them. As I said in the post, they're exactly like the AGW crowd. And you don't take down entire religions with mere words and graphs.
I can't help but think the purpose of linking skeptics of the official story of flight 800 to truthers was to smear by a broad brush and prevent any discussion or further investigation. Here is the problems the official story has: First even the FAA and Boeing don't think the gas tank just blew up. If they did there would have been grounding of the fleet and retrofits. The actions after the crash/explosion/attack were not those of an FAA or a manufacturer that thought they had a serious problem with the plane.
Secondly, apart from the actual event a large number of people reported seeing a missile. These sightings were in fact classic for a missile sighting. The FAA, the CIA and the FBI worked overtime to disparage the witnesses and come up with alternate explanations for the sightings. Why? If they were after the truth why did they need to undermine the character of the witnesses and essentially carry out a coverup?
It could not have been from a U.S. ship because every missile is cataloged and tracked and no missiles were fired from a U.S. ship. Further as was pointed out there is simply no way that such an act could be kept secret. When a missile if fired from a Navy ship everyone on board knows it. Sooner or later someone would have come forward.
No one knows what downed flight 800. But a number of pilots who tried to find out were slapped down by the FBI for daring to investigate. Someone at a high level wanted to keep the facts secret and control the media story. Why?
As a nutjob and a fruitcake let it be known I don't think Oswald killed Kennedy or that McVeigh was a lone bomber. I do agre that the 'truthers" are clearly nutjobs.
Not for nothing, Doc Mercury but there was a time(prior to 2008) when it was fantasy to think that the US Government was spending more time monitoring US than the terrorists.
At the time, wasn't AF1 the same model jet? When was that retrofitted? Can't seem to find that info......
Local author Jack Cashill has written on this incident from the beginning and I consider him neither a muckraker, conspiracy nut, or fruitcake. If you have time, you might check him out.
Well-meaning witnesses, well-meaning investigators, etc. Hard to know what the exact truth is.
Hard to know what the exact truth is
The exact truth may never be known...a couple of options as to why that may be a fact. Too many questions unanswered and witness statements not fleshed out/not even allowed.
While this info may already be there (I haven't seen it) , I'd like to see if the FDR stopped at the same time as the CVR and, if not, how much longer did it continue to run.
I agree with your thoughts on Jack Cashill...excellent investigative reporter/writer.