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Weather and bad decisions...

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    Weather and bad decisions...

    Quick story from this weekend’s flying. I was enroute from KMSP to WSSS in a 200 LR with auxiliary tanks over the pole. I actually did quite a bit of weather planning and I noted a few spots of convective activity enroute, but nothing serious, except for an area just north of WSSS. The forecast predicted a nasty storm topping off @ 45,000 feet. If I remember correctly, on the chart the storm altitude was depicted with 45 placed over xx, which if I think I read means the storm activity extended from the ground through 45,000 feet. I was descending via the ELALO 1A arrival and I could see the storm north of WSSS, at about 100 miles out the cells were spaced out far enough where I was able to pick my way through gingerly with only a little turbulence to pay. At about 50 miles out the cells appeared much closer together, but I could still see some space between them. At about 30 miles out I was cleared to descend to 6,000 feet, at the time I was descending via VNAV PTH through 11,000 and I had the FO dial in 6,000 feet. There were two giant cells on each side of me with a decent sized space to proceed through. Within a few seconds though the T7 shot up 3,000 feet and then dropped 5,000ft. At that point I shut off the autopilot and took over manually, I could not get the T7 to descend, I kept getting hit by updrafts followed by free fall, but net net, after about 3 minutes I was still at 11,000 feet. Right around that point, I started thinking, maybe a diversion to WMKK was in order. Before I could consider my next course of action the aircraft broke apart (P3D declared my aircraft overstressed).

    So in my post crash analysis, the blame for this accident lay solely on the head flight attendant (this captain doesn’t take responsibility J) - Seriously, the failure to divert to another airport or to attempt to fly around the storm was a bad decision. Next question is why didn’t I divert? On the radar the storm looked to be just north of WSSS by a hand full of miles, and the weather report for WSSS showed calm winds and 10 mile visibility, I had read about pilots picking their way through storm cells so I figured in simple terms as long as I stayed out of the red and flew through the black areas of the radar all would be fine. Lesson learned – stay away from the red areas completely – they eat airplanes.

    Richard Bansa

    #2
    Red=Dead...

    Good write-up and post analysis.

    Kev
    Kevin Cummins

    Comment


      #3
      Where did you read about pilots picking their way through storm cells, the obituary column? This is one of those things you might get away with but odds are it will end badly. There are just too many ways that you can get caught with no where to go.

      In a piston twin, I have often descended to below the base of the CBs and navigated my way between the rain shafts and this is not something I'd recommend to someone with less that 500 hr. I would never try to pick my way between cells in a real world situation. The simulator is much more forgiving in that the TS cells are all about the same size and spacing, not very realistic. I've seen a single cell the size of a county... stay away.
      Dan Downs KCRP

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by DDowns View Post
        Where did you read about pilots picking their way through storm cells, the obituary column? This is one of those things you might get away with but odds are it will end badly. There are just too many ways that you can get caught with no where to go.


        There was a pilot on the A320 with America West who had a blog about his trips (I forget his name) but it was fantastic, anyway he always talked about picking his way through thunder storms as he criss crossed the US, he may have been writing in jest though and not saying he literally flew between cells.

        Dan, another thing that this situation brought to mind that you touched on is the size of these storms. From now on when i plan a long haul of this nature, i will have a primary and a secondary alternate, because WMKK is only 180ish miles from WSSS, there is a good possibility the same system could cover both airports leaving the flight crew scrambling to come up with a new alternate. When I refly this weekend I will be adding WEII (in southern Sumatra) as my secondary alternate, WMKK is 180miles NE of WSSS and WEII is aobut 280miles S of WSSS.

        Richard Bansa

        Comment


        • DDowns
          DDowns commented
          Editing a comment
          Sounds to me like the pilot was referring to air mass storms, not associated with a front or trough, that can tower quite high and be spaced quite far apart. These are pretty common in the MidWest during early summer.

        #5
        Minor point: "XXX" on a weather chart simply means that the base/top of the cloud is below or above the bottom/top level on the chart -- for example, commonly there is a mid-level SigWx chart that runs from FL100-FL450 and a high-level SigWx chart from FL250-FL630. If you are looking at the high-level chart, then if the base is below FL250 it would show as "XXX" (likewise if you wer looking at the mid-level chart a system with tops above FL450 would show the tops as "XXX").

        Cbs in the tropics are frequently gigantic. As Dan says, the weather depiction in P3D still lacks some resolution in that unrealistic extreme turbulence can often be encountered in the general region of a storm system rather than saving the truly extreme up/downdraughts for the cell itself.

        One of the challenges in operating to that part of the world is that at times it is possible that you may see lots of red and yellow on the radar -- it is possible however that some of that may just be harmless heavy rain rather than a dangerous Cb, and judicious use of the radar tilt and gain controls is often necessary to distinguish the two.

        For a long-haul operation it is always worth being aware of suitable alternates at all points along the route (and in some cases - particularly the sort of route described here! - these can be few and far between) - essentially at any point one should be able to answer the question "If a fire/medical emergency/engine failure etc happened now - where would we go?" (and the answer might not be the same in all of these cases!). Things to think about en-route -- availability of runways and approaches, current weather conditions, runway strength bearing characteristics, local facilities (from whether you'll be able to get a set of steps capable of reaching the door to de-board the passengers to availability of hotel accommodation, medical facilities and so on).

        Of course, to avoid diverting one may wish to load additional fuel to allow for time to hold whilst the weather clears or divert around the weather (and in some cases a weather diversion could involve hundreds of extra miles -- or if you cannot go around, you may well have to turn around and go back). But even this needs extra consideration on a long-haul flight - as carrying extra fuel will burn more fuel, so if you want to arrive at your destination with an extra 45 minutes of holding fuel you will actually need to load significantly more than that before departure!

        All the sort of things which play in to the planning and execution of a long-haul flight... not to mention the fact that the weather forecast you checked prior to departure may well be some 12-14 or even more hours out of date by the time you arrive!
        Simon Kelsey

        Comment


          #6
          There was a plane crash due to pilot looking to fly between the storm. He saw a black area on the radar - between to yellow cells. He thought is was clear. But when he entered it, both engines flamed out. The analysis was the storm was so intense the radar couldn't penetrate it and it showed up black.
          Paul Gugliotta
          United 257 heavy

          Comment


            #7
            Originally posted by skelsey View Post
            Minor point: "XXX" on a weather chart simply means that the base/top of the cloud is below or above the bottom/top level on the chart -- for example, commonly there is a mid-level SigWx chart that runs from FL100-FL450 and a high-level SigWx chart from FL250-FL630. If you are looking at the high-level chart, then if the base is below FL250 it would show as "XXX" (likewise if you wer looking at the mid-level chart a system with tops above FL450 would show the tops as "XXX").
            Thnx for clarifying this Simon!!

            Comment


              #8
              Hi Guys,

              This topic reminds me the Delta Airlines flight that went into the Irma Hurricane :

              https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...es-puerto-rico

              Best regards,
              Thimote B.
              PMDG 737 & 777

              Comment


                #9
                Originally posted by Paulyg123 View Post
                There was a plane crash due to pilot looking to fly between the storm. He saw a black area on the radar - between to yellow cells. He thought is was clear. But when he entered it, both engines flamed out. The analysis was the storm was so intense the radar couldn't penetrate it and it showed up black.
                I actually remember that, it was on air crash investigation on tv.
                It was a 737 from Garuda Indonesia, and the pilots managed to land on a narrow river when coming out of the clouds.
                Must have been a pretty intense and scary experience...
                Regards, Orjan Polman.
                ENGM

                Comment


                  #10
                  Originally posted by BrunoT View Post
                  Hi Guys,

                  This topic reminds me the Delta Airlines flight that went into the Irma Hurricane :

                  https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...es-puerto-rico

                  Best regards,
                  THIS is the reason I only travel on Delta. And if it ain't Boeing, I ain't going.
                  Kevin Cummins

                  Comment


                    #11
                    If you're using ActiveSky, it seems to really overdo the turbulence outside of red areas of thunderstorms, and packs lots fo small cells too closely together - have a look at their forums. I read a recommendation to turn "realistic thunderstorm up/downdraft rate" to off on the FSL forums, as it seems to extend the really bad turbulence as you experienced well outside the red areas. Another bug I am not sure has been fixed is that a microburst will not go away, no matter how long you wait it out.

                    Anyway, still some room for improvement on the TS depiction of ActiveSky in my opinion.
                    Rudy Fidao

                    Comment


                    • DDowns
                      DDowns commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I'd say there is a lot of room for improvement both visually and on the WXR, neither of which are currently realistic.

                    #12
                    Originally posted by DDowns View Post
                    Where did you read about pilots picking their way through storm cells, the obituary column? This is one of those things you might get away with but odds are it will end badly. There are just too many ways that you can get caught with no where to go.

                    In a piston twin, I have often descended to below the base of the CBs and navigated my way between the rain shafts and this is not something I'd recommend to someone with less that 500 hr. I would never try to pick my way between cells in a real world situation. The simulator is much more forgiving in that the TS cells are all about the same size and spacing, not very realistic. I've seen a single cell the size of a county... stay away.
                    I was on a Southern Airlines Martin 404 arund 1972 flying from Dothan to Atlanta that seemed to do just that. He turned parallel to what appeared to be a front seemingly looking for a path between towers, then turned into the line. The ride got pretty wild for a few minutes until we came out of the other side. I thought it was pretty neat at the time. A couple of Army aviators sitting behind be were saying "don't let go don't let go".
                    Victor Green

                    Comment


                    • DDowns
                      DDowns commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Just like jay walking, you can get away with it quite a few times but it only takes one time to get hit and you are done.
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