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AirAsia Flight Performed a Sharp Turn 223 Feet Above Ground Level Due to Wrong Runway Selection Before Takeoff

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Sydney, Australia - In a report released on June 2, 2020, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said the pilot mistake caused the AirAsia flight to perform a sharp left turn 223 feet above ground level, below the minimum height for turns. (www.airlinerwatch.com) Mais...

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ajjain
AJ Jain 12
It's a bit hard to understand the article. You really have to read the actual report link, posted below by FA, to understand what happened. In a nutshell, the airplane took off on the correct runway, but because they had programmed the departure for the opposite runway in the flight computer, the airplane turned sharply right after takeoff to try to follow the incorrectly programmed route. Better ground CRM procedures for cross-checking the route programmed into the computer would have preempted this error. Better situational awareness might have alerted one of the pilots to the magenta line on the big screen in front of them veering off in the wrong direction, and allowed them to recover from the error by clicking off the autopilot and hand-flying the correct departure procedure until it was fixed after being airborne.
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 5
I agree, whoever wrote the article needs to find a new career. So, the computer allows tight turns below the 250 ft level then ? Still doesn't make sense.
ajjain
AJ Jain 2
Again, can't really address how the Airbus computer logic works, but as another data point for comparison, Boeing logic engages lateral course guidance at 50 ft above the ground. If the proper departure procedure is programmed in like it should be, the departure has it continue straight out until the plane is much higher. But it's trying to catch a course that was erroneously put in 180 degrees off, it would immediately capture that and try to turn as soon as the autopilot is engaged (200 ft autopilot engagement limitation on a Boeing). So it would pretty much result in the same behavior as what the Airbus did in this case. Obviously, that's very unsafe on either plane - they all sort of make the assumption that the flight crew actually does things like cross-check inputs, look at the magenta line in front of them to make sure it's about to take them in the same direction as they're expecting, and not engaging the autopilot if it's not...
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 1
Sounds extremely dangerous to me. If there is a rule not to do that below 250 ft. The computer should give the pilot firm warnigns that something isn't right and refuse todo it. Simple rule. It doesn't make sense.
ajjain
AJ Jain 2
Yeah I agree, and there actually is a rule to never turn below an absolute minimum of 400 ft. I've wondered myself why the flight computers allow that, seems like it would be a very easy thing to fix if the manufacturer wanted to. If the pilots actually have the need to turn that low, they should be doing it only by hand flying and never with the autopilot.
talktalatka
F A 1
Takeoff from DCA on Rwy 1 and wait to 400 feet and you’ll get violated or worse! So there are turns on departure that occur below 400...just a minor point of minutiae.
talktalatka
F A 1
The report states that the turn was initiated below company policy minimums.
wsdewitt
Win DeWitt 1
Ok, so it wasn't the pilot correcting. Makes sense now. No way ATC knew...but in this day and age with all our tech, ATC should have access to that info as a matter of course.
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling -3
Garbage in, garbage out.

How did the computer allow them to take off in the wrong direction? I get that it wasn't setup correctly, but given that, the computer had to be raising holy hell about the plane going in the wrong direction at a really high rate of speed. Wouldn't it? And it would have shown the direction the plane was to take, so they missed that to?

Recovery should have been easy, but the opportunity for things to have literally gone sideways was HUGE! 'Crew management', and a shoddy pre-flight check. Yikes...
ajjain
AJ Jain 2
I don't know anything about Airbus FMC (flight management computer) logic, but on the Boeing I fly, if one were to do the same thing (i.e. enter the wrong runway on the ground, takeoff without noticing, and immediately engage the autopilot), it would pretty much do the same thing. Entering the proper runway into the computer is simply for navigating purposes - i.e. it is needed for calculating the proper path for the departure procedure, which depends on the departure runway. The computer doesn't allow or disallow the ability to take off on any other runway, it just happily provides course guidance to the departure route based on the runway that was programmed into it. In this case, it would have been about 180 degrees in the wrong direction, which is why the plane probably started an immediate turn after takeoff.
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling -3
I guess I gave the programmers for those things too much credit. Although what year was it that an RJ took off on the wrong runway, and almost hit construction equipment, and crashed?

I'm wondering why the computer, or some other part of the 'glass cockpit' wouldn't alert them. So 'garbage in, garbage out'. If you don't know what you are telling a computer to do, how can you have any sense of what you are getting out of it.

Things should be rote. That's the whole thing behind the training. So that you get it down. You do 1, and then 2, and then 3... When people divert from that is when things go wrong. The guy's mins was 'I set the computer'. Something didn't 'feel right'. He violated the routine. The left seat did his thing, and didn't 'feel right'. He diverted from routine too. Their subconscious knew they forgot something, knew they weren't doing things properly, but their conscious mind couldn't quite get it. Funny how the mind works, and doesn't...
bentwing60
bentwing60 3
"Things should be rote." Like all those AB, Boeing, Tesla crashes that are the result of automation fail, human fail, training fail!

"So 'garbage in, garbage out", your quote is why we don't have rote. In this case the FO did it. With the Maxes apparently everybody did it, and in some rare cases the anomaly will prevail. Like the NYT publishin a GOP senators oped!
talktalatka
F A 6
https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2017/aair/ao-2017-114/

This is the link to the actual report.
bentwing60
bentwing60 5
Read the article before the downvote, please.
talktalatka
F A 1
I’ve read the article. From the words used by the author I cannot understand what exactly happened. I’m going to read it again and try once more.

Also, don’t let the downvotes bother you. I get them all the time.
bentwing60
bentwing60 3
What happened but wasn't really said was a complete failure of procedural protocols, CRM and situational awareness. An accident report would have.

Yea ATC!
RexBentley
Rex Bentley 9
Turn the computer off and fly the airplane.
f4fntm
john doe 4
Very insightful. I've noticed this sort of comment is always a big hit on any flight ops related squawk, regardless of the actual issue at hand. Can't miss!
bentwing60
bentwing60 3
In case nobody noticed, commenting and voting are participation trophies these days and often the short straw wins the vote. call it progress, they do.
TorstenHoff
Torsten Hoff 2
I would think that the turn was rather less dramatic than the headline suggests. The AP isn’t going to bank dramatically just because the heading is off by 180 degrees from what was programmed.
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
Typically 25 to 30 degrees is the bank angle limit and is often moderated by TAS.
rboddy91
Rich Boddy 1
Is it normal for AP to be engaged so soon after takeoff? I thought pilots still manually flew the airplane at that point? Or is this just an Airbus "feature"?
charankumar
Charan Kumar 1
One can only hope that in case the acft turned towards rising terrain these pilots would have the sanity to aviate than try to keep their heads down figuring out why its doing what it’s doing!! I still find it hard to believe a captain let the acft continue to turn at that altitude and didn’t takeover when it started the turn, then again I am not in the minority.
FedExCargoPilot
FedExCargoPilot 0
Thankfully normal law on the airbus will protect against LOC, safer with A/P engaged and hands off in these situations
ajjain
AJ Jain 8
Hopefully this was a sarcastic comment, as the autopilot blindly following the incorrectly-programmed departure procedure is what got them into this situation. Only way to prevent it (if they had the situational awareness to realize it, which they probably didn't) would have been to click off trhe autopilot and hand fly the correct departure procedure.
FedExCargoPilot
FedExCargoPilot 1
I see where you are coming from, but in some cases the automation will fix the situation better than a crew that clearly was being flown by the airplane and not flying it . Luckily it appears obstacles weren't an issue or evasive action would have to be taken you are right
wsdewitt
Win DeWitt -1
I'm less than a novice and never had any instructions whatsoever in flight. I am in this board because my dad was an ATC. My question is why didn't ATC, when they saw with their old fashioned eyes use their old fashioned voices and verbally tell the crew, well before takeoff, that they were on the wrong runway and to get on the correct one? I'm not understanding why this wasn't corrected on the ground.
leonardwestermeyer
They DID take off on the correct runway. But they had programmed the computer for the opposite runway, which gave them an incorrect initial heading after take off. This ATC could not have known.
brianrush
Brian Rushfeldt 2
mt thought also as an ex ATCer. was tower not aware of which runway they were to use? if so they would not have got t/o clearance from me.
talktalatka
F A 1
Totally agree Brian. For example right off the top of my head, ATL always states, “RNAV to ______, runway _____ cleared for takeoff”. We’re verifying (one last time!) the computer and our clearance match.
dpadhye
dpadhye 0
That was the first question that came to my mind too, Based on what I've read over the years, ATC folks (Departure Control) can visually as well as on their monitors/ground radars monitor aircraft movement on the ground. How come they didn't notice before giving this aircraft permission to take off that it was lined up at the wrong end of the runway to take off?
wsdewitt
Win DeWitt 1
Saw this same info on a post above. Thank you
rlhpoecile
Rich Harrington 1
Check out the comments from AJ Jain and F A, above. The article wasn't worded well.
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling -3
How did they get that low heading for the wrong runway? Good grief...

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