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  • 42

Doomed TBM 900 Pilot Twice Asked for Lower Altitude

Submitted
The pilot of the TBM 900 that crashed in the sea near Jamaica after straying hundreds of miles off course on Friday twice asked Atlanta Center for clearance to a lower altitude because of an unspecified problem, but the controller handling the flight apparently didn’t comprehend the seriousness of the emergency that was unfolding. Minutes later, without receiving the requested clearance, the pilot stopped responding to ATC queries as the airplane flew on over the Atlantic on its last assigned… (www.flyingmag.com) More...

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preacher1
preacher1 27
Well, arm chair QB, if there is any blame here at all, it must go to the pilot. Yeah there will probably be an ATC investigation, but you have to consider this is fairly busy airspace and altitude change requests come all the time for many reasons. PIC just told ATC there was an indication in the cockpit that wasn't right, not that there was physical danger of any kind. Without an Emergency being declared, there was absolutely no reason for ATC to suspect anything different. That's kinda blunt but that's my opinion.
Eword moves heaven and earth
zennermd
zennermd 8
Well said preacher, I have two words that would have saved his life if he didn't want to declare an emergency, pan-pan.
preacher1
preacher1 5
smc1243
Any how many pilots even remember what PAN PAN is for? Good reminder to re-read or re-teach some basics of radio procedures.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I have seen some that don't know the difference between MAYDAy and PAN PAN. Either one should bring the same results as far as handling but there is a difference and needs to be known.
Kilocharlie
Kilocharlie 3
Very much disagree. In 45 years of flying I've always had a controller ask me how they could help if I indicated at all I had a problem. Yes this pilot could have done a better job at communicating his exact issue but this controller is simply not in the class of the rest of the ones that do that. If initial effects of hypoxia had begun to occur there would have only be a minute or two in order to prevent it from becoming the tragedy it was. That was the minute that the controller just did his job....yup by the rules, nothing more and nothing less. Fortunately the great majority of controllers are much better than this and our best friends in the sky.
grinch59
Gene Nowak 1
Preacher - I haven't flown in quite a few years and was wondering if the new Garmin ESP system might have assisted in preventing this tragedy? Will the ESP system work when the autopilot is engaged? If not, I hope someday it can be modifited to prevent future hypoxia accidents of this nature.
hiflier32
ric lang 1
Why am I always a day late in these ongoing debates concerning an event that took place a while ago???? However, since I'm late, allow me to say this: Mayday? Pan? I particularly don't care if the thing i9s on fire, the door fell off or whatever. If the thing is controllable, & I believe SOMETHING may be wrong, the last thing I need is permission to get closer to the ground. As a matter of somewhat more than academic interest, those mysterious people on the other end of my mike cable have more than once put me in harm's way.....Just sayin!
smc1243
As a commercial pilot who had to declare a Mayday many years ago (and survived obviously) this accident is a stark reminder that we pilots need to recognize unusual situations and declare an emergency, so that ATC can do its job. If the problem is ultimately resolved one can always cancel the emergency. My prayers are for the surviving family. Very sad.
preacher1
preacher1 3
As I said in another post, all those bells and whistles are on there for a reason. Over the years, I had some false readings but had several true ones as well. 19000+ hours, I always had the attitude of better safe than sorry.
smc1243
Of course if hypoxia comes on rapidly and the pilot doesn't recognize his particular symptom (mine is a massive headache), cognitive decision making will inhibit any recognition of an emergency. Better safe than sorry - best mantra but maybe some pilots have egos that don't let them recognize they need help?
jonlindskoog
Jon Lindskoog 4
Remember his oxygen intake could have already been impacting his thought process when he requested lower. If I have ANY indications of pressurization trouble I am in emergency descent mode immediately. I will declare and talk to ATC on the way down if I am able to think. My two cents.
GPreddy
GPreddy 4
All I can really say is 91.3. It was in his power as the PIC to descend if he needed to.
Flyaay
Bryan McKee 10
Aviate, navigate, and communicate! If he wanted lower he should have declared and descended to whatever altitude he thought best for his situation. This has nothing to do with ATC and the fact that the magazine would hint at that is ridiculous. You're the PIC and it's your life do what you have to do and worry about the rest later.
bcanderson
I have to agree with you 100%. But then in the back of one's mind there is always 91.123 to be worried about and sometimes that makes folks hesitate when a prompt action is required.

The guy should have been clear about the nature of his problem and he would most likely have then been given priority by ATC. And if it was a rapid decompression he should have dived and declared. ATC has neither the ability nor responsibility in regards to mind reading.
kpeecee
i'm afraid i am on the side of the pilot. He asked Atlanta for clearance and they gave him a flight level then he stated he needed to go lower. As PIC, you cant just state you want a particular FL and then action it, you are going to kill others..... very busy airspace indeed.
HA4T
John Kliewer 1
Kevin you do not have to "just state you want a particular FL ad the action it". Every professional in the world is taught to handle decompression by: 1) don oxygen masks, 2) execute an emergency decent, 3) tell ATC what you have done after you did it. Period!

We've gotten used to the general public and the press not understanding aviation. That is a fact of life. What is inexcusable to professionals is to have to share airspace and airports with ameteurs who don't get it.
Kilocharlie
Kilocharlie 1
deleted

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Flyaay
Bryan McKee 11
If he was coherent enough to realize there was a problem then he was coherent enough to take the airplane to an appropriate altitude. You can blame ATC all you want but at the end of the day its the pilots responsibility to action not the controller.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

yr2012
matt jensen 1
A high time pilot like myself would have just gone lower and sorted it out with the FAA after.
blakerl
Larry Blaker 5
He Had More Than 5,000 Hours of Flying time. Also hypoxia is a strange in how it effects people and it's not the same for everyone. In the Air Force I have taken a chamber ride 4 times. Each time the effects were different. I have seen a 61 year old reserve General out last a 28 year fighter pilot. I have seen a skilled pilot remain coherent in speaking, but could not read the simple test they give us at all.
cjhall
C. J. Hall 1
Some people's brains are just different...they can work, at least for a bit, on little oxygen.

I remember in the hospital, my dad was in serious fibrillation, and the doc, getting out the defibrillator couldn't believe he was still awake and talking... He yelled at my dad "you're supposed to be unconscious right now! What's going on??"

My dad later said he could feel himself fading, but felt if he passed out...well.
Flyaay
Bryan McKee -2
You inadvertently blamed ATC when you allowed the pilot to be excused from blame due to the effects of hypoxia. My opinion is poor piloting and that's it. If he was such a high time pilot don't you think he should have been aware of the signs of hypoxia. If I'm not mistaken that's something you learn while getting your private. Maybe the high time and high skills plus the hypoxia allowed him to forget.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
When was the last time you reviewed some of the unused information you were taught as a novice? It's my contention that big iron pilots loose the knack of spin and stall recovery because they no longer practice stalls. Similarly oxygen deprivation is something we don't practice and when it happens we find ourselves under it's narcosis. This pilot never asked for a specific altitude and just complained when he wasn't assigned lower, which indicates his state of mind. I don't doubt that the pic's piloting skills were degraded and the ATC failed to read his mind. If there was a failure it was probably that the pilot didn't recognize the malfunction quickly enough and earlier in the flight.. He failed to monitor all his instruments.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Flyaay
Bryan McKee 7
You have a remarkable ability to act like a hard ass over the internet don't ya!?! I am entitled to my opinion and that is simply what it is AN OPINION so let it go!
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 0
I wouldn't say he evidenced dire straights at all. I thought he was very plane in his request and explanation . However, he was not thorough enough with his explanation and up to then he was not monitoring his instruments thoroughly enough. I don't think he, the pilot recognized the seriousness of the situation and that is not the fault of the atc. They only know wht they're told.
bbabis
Bill Babis 6
Once again the use of the mask, if it was working, would have made this an almost non event. Why it wasn't used has been speculated on. This thread discusses the controller's role and I think that the controller did everything that one could expect except read the pilot's mind. If a pilot needs an urgent change of clearance he/she must declare an emergency to guarantee the deviation or at least mitigate the problems from a loss of separation should it occur. In this case, I would venture that even if the pilot was asked if he wanted to declare an emergency he would have said no. He made two requests and never mentioned it. As the effects of hypoxia piled up why would he have changed his mind.
bizjets101
biz jets 6
With the effects of hypoxia you are no longer cognizant - which would explain a failure to even think of putting on your mask, and failure to declare an emergency. This pilot was clearly in an emergency situation, but no longer had the ability to comprehend it.
bbabis
Bill Babis 3
We only know that now in hindsight which is always 20/20. At the time, the controller only had a request and did what he could. The pilot sounded cognoscent and complied with the heading change request. He was aviating and navigating. The very request for lower meant he knew the situation and the thought of oxygen needs where in his head. Failure to use the mask is the whole kit and caboodle on this one. Why, is anybody's guess.
nar1403
nar1403 3
What a shame....no investigation has been carried out, none of us were there, none of us know what the pilot or ATC was thinking,seeing or sensing yet all seem to know what happened and who to blame. Thought the idea these days was to understand the causes and prevent re-occurrence, not blame people. To all those who think it cannot happen to you, ask yourselves... how many errors have you made, how many times have you bent the rules to get airborne and what makes you think it will not get you one day...after all, many have done the same and are not here. And if you do break rules...what are you going to do to make the skies safer? The pilot and his wife have not yet been recovered so maybe a little respect would be appropriate.
mcurvin
mcurvin 3
The controller probably could have been more intuitive, but nothing in the FARS say he had to be. A request to descend from FL28 to FL18 is an obvious attempt on behalf of the pilot to increase his TUC from 2.5 minutes to 20-30 minutes. He could have been partially incapacitated on the first call to ATC. He spent well over 6 minutes above FL250, which is not survivable. It appears there are 2 problems - the pilot was too complacent - which apparently cost him his life. ATC is not required to compensate for pilot complacency - sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. A few years back (student pilot) I took off from my home airport and promptly misread the VOR indications. Unknowingly I was getting close to controlled air space when the ATC kindly pointed out that I was 90 degrees off course and then she gave me a new heading. She could have just sat on her hands and watched me violate controlled airspace for which I would have been "busted" and fined, and my ticket could have been pulled. In my own case, ATC has always been a great friend. Traffic on the frequency was very high, and the controller may simply have been too busy to spend focus additional time on this one plane. Prayers to the Glazer family. RIP.
tbpera
Tom Pera 4
as an ex ATC guy - I can say we would drop EVERYTHING when a pilot declares an emergency... call in supervisor - coordinate with other controllers and clear everything out of the way for the pilot... altitude chamber experience taught me that an insidious loss of oxygen isn't always recognized in time.. Atlanta Center pretty busy - also, for some reason, some pilots reluctant to declare emergency...why is that? Preacher?
bbabis
Bill Babis 4
I have declared Mayday three times with many years separating the situations. Two years since the last time. I have never been asked to fill out any paperwork and no one identifying themselves as FAA has ever asked me anything. Two of the times I fouled runways at major airports after getting safely on the ground with much help. I would implore any pilot NOT to be afraid to use all available resources.
yr2012
matt jensen 2
I've declared twice. Once with #4 on fire and once with loss of hydraulics. I immediately sought out the closest airfield - one was Caracas and other in Calgary. At neither time was I called out or written up.
preacher1
preacher1 2
I'd say those were 2 real good reasons to Holler E. LOL
preacher1
preacher1 1
What goes up is going to come down, whether you live thru it as you say, or if you don't, as happened here. I could never testify to the actual followup needed as in all my years I was extremely blessed and never had to declare the E. The closest I ever came was on final to KFSM on fine VFR day, already stabilized, and only about a mile or so out in a 757. Me and FO lost our whole panel, as in completely dark. I told the tower we had a little problem happen but no biggie. Nothing else around anyway. Came on in; turned out to be simple, whatever it was. Now, had we been further out and higher, I would have been talking to somebody.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
Wow, now I know what is going on. I'm getting yours and my share. A thank you is in order.
cjhall
C. J. Hall 2
Tom,
A friend of mine once was flying an L-1011 30 min out of Miami going transatlantic. An engine lost oil pressure. He shut it down, got on the radio, asked to turn back. No problem, approved. A few minutes later, a SECOND engine lost oil pressure. OK NOW he called emergency. A coast guard jet caught up with him, so they'd know where the splash was. He himself was asking what do two engines have in common, that the third doesn't? He dumped fuel, restarted one of the two failed engines just prior to touchdown, and probably kissed the ground when he got out. Turns out oil seals were changed on two engines, but they ran out of time before doing the third before morning.

Bottom line: 15 years later, he kept getting forms to fill out asking the same questions over and over, that he must answer. He SWORE he would NEVER declare an emergency again. <snicker> I was on the ground at a test range years later, he blew an engine on a T-29 (Think tricycle gear DC3) and I listened to him arguing with Davis Monthan AFB on the radio on his way back to land "NO, I AM ABSOLUTELY NOT DECLARING AN EMERGENCY, I HAVE ONE PERFECTLY GOOD ENGINE!!!" They rolled the trucks anyway. Wonder how many forms he had to fill out on that one...
preacher1
preacher1 0
Well, idk. There is a tale going round that the FAA paperwork afterwards is monstrous and while knowing what they ought to do, being taught that from day 1, they are gunshy about getting embroiled in all that afterwards. Then on the other side, had an ATP out of KJAN the other day tell me 10 minutes tops, so idk.
sandmflyer
shawn moore 2
Basic situate, Pilots are very very reluctant to declare and EMERGENCY. 30 years ATC experience and 10,000 flight experience talking. The pilot only said "We have a problem with the airplane." That in itself does not alert the controller immediately that its pressurization.

Some airplanes require a descent to FL410 ,CJ3, because of a loss of hydraulics. A similar situation could have been occurring.

Pressurization issues, by common sense, require the pilot to immediately don the O2 and then think. Thats what I teach. Rather be embarrassed because you put your mask on than a worse situation. Then we talk to ATC after doing the correct procedure.

This does not make it ATC's problem. Oh but the FAA will pay without admitting quilt, a small insignificant amount after years of drawing it out and causing stress and anger to the families. That will just make it go away. At that point some of you will say, if you even hear about a settlement, "See the FAA ATC was at fault."

Well, feel good at that point if you want but this pilot and wife are not around anymore.

If only he had put his mask on…………...
a2bferry
David Plange 2
If my Auntie had testes, she would be my Uncle. The controller may have been very busy but irrespective, if he had heard the words Emergency or Pan Pan, they would have for sure got his attention and it would have been handled differently.
As a pilot, the last thing you ever need is a clearance to allow you to self preserve and in some instances, fear of disobeying a clearance seems to override physical safety?? That has to lay at the door of the pilot in command. Maybe hypoxia had already taken hold and he missed the warning signs? Certainly no blame on the part of the controller
cjhall
C. J. Hall 2
One - If the pilot sounded impaired, ATC should have IMMEDIATELY assumed hypoxia, smoke inhalation, or some other event needing immediate action. BUT, Over the radio, it's hard to understand a pilot sometimes, much less gauge his mental state, so I really can't blame ATC for that one....

TWO - If you're flying at FL 280, aren't you supposed to have an O2 mask you can put on in seconds? I KNOW it's required for airline pilots.

THREE - Isn't there a freakin' alarm that starts screaming above a cabin altitude of 12000 to warn of a pressurization failure? WHY NOT? FAA can fix that one with <egads> a new rule!

FOUR - PAN PAN PAN is a good call short of Mayday. "UNABLE to maintain altitude, descending to 12000" would also have been an appropriate call to ATC.

And the pilot had the right and duty to IMMEDIATELY begin a high speed descent to 12000, and explain it to ATC on the way down. (UNLESS he had an O2 mask so he could comfortably wait to descend. - Which begs the question of passenger safety.)

Last, even if he had done something that broke FARS for survival reasons, filing a report with NASA within 24 hours would likely have prevented disciplinary action. Hey, If you're dying of hypoxia, ANY action to survive is justifiable.
preacher1
preacher1 2
According to the ATC tape, he didn't sound impaired. You are correct on the mask being handy. Apparently no audible alarm and he was dealing with an indicator that for whatever reason, he thought was giving him a false reading. All the rest is speculation
cjhall
C. J. Hall 1
Haven't heard the ATC tape. I personally find it morbid to go looking for things like that. I've personally seen death up close and personal, did not like it, and I don't want to listen to it coming on. That's the stuff of "If it bleeds, it leads" journalism. If it happened to me, I wouldn't want the tape in the public domain, but I WOULD want accident investigators to have the data to help prevent the next one.

Agreed, the plane will likely never be recovered, and it probably is in lots of pieces. We'll never know the story for sure.

Flying is safe, but terribly unforgiving of errors, mechanical or human.

Still, an alarm that screams at cabin alt above 12000 seems like it should be required equipment, except for unpressurized planes like my normally aspirated Skymaster (Getting to 17k is about my limit. Even if my O2 failed, I could get to 12000 altitude in maybe 3 min.)

In anything less than an explosive decompression, a LOUD audible alarm would give enough warning to take appropriate action.

Then again, I see stupid design errors all the time. Most piston aircraft don't have a centrally placed, BRIGHT idiot light announcing low oil pressure or high CHT. You are expected to maintain scan of all instruments at all times...which is good, but WHY NOT an idiot light too? Cars have had 'em since what, the 1950s?
AJACOBS2
Alan Jacobson 1
I kind of agree with you. Cars had gauges, and performance models still come with all four essentials but most today have idiot lights., basically only showing water temperature and fuel. Alternator charge and oil pressure virtually eliminated. Cheaper and most folks could't read it anyway.
The gist of the situation is human error known as "idiotosis" since the gas gauge usually also has a low fuel warning light when you are two gallons or three gallons left. My AAA guy tells me he handles ten to twelve cars out of gas per day. You can teach, train, provide, install, activate and checklist... and things still happen.
AirBalance
Jeff Lewis 1
Good points all. The tape I heard, the pilot did sound like he might be impaired. I would be very disappointed in myself if I went home at the end of that shift, after listening to the recording and writing my controller statement. Especially if I knew I wasn't very busy and was getting complacent, failed to take care of the situation.

I have known controllers to be balancing their checkbooks while plugged in (back when that was done on paper), but they always (well, almost always) focused on taking care of all their traffic. We all know there have been controllers watching TV or DVD movies (like the hot mic at Cleveland Center, three years ago).
cfiblythe
How stupid can a person be......you do what you have to for safety. The hell with the controllers. Worry about that after you get on the ground.
sandmflyer
shawn moore 1
I agree
AJACOBS2
Alan Jacobson 1
Something not being spoken about, as it was vague in the news, I believe they mentioned his wife the other passenger was a pilot also. Now it gets interesting if this is true, anyone know if that has been validated ?

Regardless once again Sir Murphy-Lawes the Patron Saint of Mishap put together a collection of littles that became a biggie and two precious lives were lost. Little things, a mis-step in procedures, protocols, no mask no query, the list grew.

Decades ago, as a student pilot, my Sr. instructor followed me on a walk around of one of the planes the school had. It had been flown earlier that day twice. It had been storming off and on that day so we decided, stay close, some local pattern work was the prudent call.

I had a good teacher. Little things like smelling the gas from the sump drains was hammered into my noggin, don't just look at it. ... No smell.... didn't bubble, on a dry spot on concrete. Almost a half gallon of water from the wing sumps went into a bucket and you could hear the screaming a mile away when he marched into the schools flight office.

Little things.....
preacher1
preacher1 1
I think it was validated that she was a pilot and current, BUT, she must have been laying in the back asleep or something as there was no mention made of her by the intercept pilots and there was no mention of spaghetti hanging down in the back, so we just don't know. You are very correct on Mr. Murphy and I would hope that here is a certain amount of SIM time devoted to his cockpit intrusions at inopportune times, for our newly minted 121 guys. Lots of difference in 1500 hour banner pulling ATP than in the cockpit of heavy metal.
AJACOBS2
Alan Jacobson 1
Funny you mention banner towing, we lost a 70 year old banner tow pilot just last week at Albert Whitted Airport, I believe he just made the snatch, and as the small craft climbed, the pilot released the banner it was dragging, nose dived, stalled left wing and the AG plane just lost it. They got the wreckage out and the impact was horrendous, the PA-23 AG just folded up...
Mmamidipelli96
Very unfortunate, would it be a commercial plane,result could be a catastrophe.
preacher1
preacher1 2
Sad part is that after a bit, it will all settle down and be forgot, just another GA accident
kylemcm
Started flying with an Aerox blood oxy meter on finger after a slow leak on a warm day in King Air cockpit caught myself and copilot by surprise. Cheap insurance and not inconvenient. It sounds like TBM had a slow leak, not a rapid decompression. Rapid decompression makes it easy to declare an emergency, usually accompanied by loud "bang"! It's the slow leaks that are insidious.
Random
Randy Brooks 1
As PIC, you are in command and must take a positive action in case of any safety item. You can always address the controller/FAA after you have stated your I tensions and taken positive action.
nasdisco
Chris B 1
Absolutely in agreement with this approach. Emergency scenarios like this call for immediate action and being nice to ATC afterwards.
chris85713
I may be looking at this wrong but wouldn't the initial request for 18,000 indicate that he was already suffering hypoxia?

My training said declare and descend to 8.000 in any pressurization situation.
sandmflyer
shawn moore 1
Chris, Did you ever fly in the western states? ANything below 14,000 and you better know exactly where you are. Planning all the time!
tretpflr
Gary Holt 1
Obviously a pressurization problem. A few things I find puzzling, It would appear the at the onset the pilot realized a possible problem, his first indication was probably noticing that the cabin pressure altitude was not being maintained normally by his gauge. This could indicate a slight leak or a failing system, it appears at that time that it wasn't a rapid decompression. His communication with ATC sounded normal with no signs of hypoxia i.e. slurred speech, confusion and he had not yet committed to declaring an emergency and making an immediate decent to a breathable altitude. Why did he not take the precaution as pilot in command of utilizing supplemental oxygen for himself until ATC cleared him for a lower altitude? If he was sitting on pins and needles with a known potential problem, watching his cabin pressure altitude gauge and noticed a rapid drop, he would have made an immediate decent and advised ATC.Recovery for investigation will be difficult under the circumstances in 6k deep waters.



http://www.bing.com/videos/searc...
Mooney62L
Buz Allen 1
THINK THE QUESTION NOW IS, WHY DIDN'T HE (PIC)DECLARE AN EMERGENCY ??? iN MY 44 YEARS OF AVIATING I HAVE HAD TO DECLARE NUMEROUS TIMES, MOSTLY AS A USAF PILOT, I GUESS SOME PILOTS ATTACH A STIGMA TO DECLARING !!! ONE THING IS SURE, YOU WILL GET ATC'S ATTENTION !
dcamburn
David Camburn 1
My 2c.
1) Euphoria is a huge symptom of Hypoxia.
2) Everyone's personal symptoms are not the same.

In the Navy tactical communities we have done away with the altitude chamber and incorporated a Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device that every tactical aviator is allowed to explore his/her own symptoms for reporting to the medical community.
Having intentionally been very hypoxic 5 times now- it is remarkable how difficult it is to do simple things once hypoxia has taken over. If the symptoms are not immediately dealt with, even an experienced not hypoxic pilot would have difficulty getting through to a hypoxic pilot.

Experienced or not, if the thought that you may actually be hypoxic doesn't trigger immediate action...you are at the mercy of the air you breathe.

Due to lack of urgency and no declaration of emergency, my speculation is that the pilot did not recognize his symptoms.
mx747
mx747 1
Damn spell check quit on me!
jdanish
John Danish 1
Still all things written here, when he noticed a cabin pressure problem, why did he not go to oxygen until he either got lower or found the problem? MY guess is he was dealing with some kind of warning
preacher1
preacher1 1
I think that is what the story says as to how all this started. He asked ATC for lower as he had an indication that shouldn't be. I guess 2nd guessing is all that can be done now but after 19000 + hours, my hard fast rule was "better safe than sorry. I have had false indications before but there have also been many true ones too. Those bells and whistles are there for a reason. If they are not working properly, tis better to fix them on the ground. Even something simple or obvious, a good MTC cannot tell you to do something but they can tell you what they would do if in your place. Problem is, he had no MTC. Pull it down to 10 grand, continue the flight and have it fixed at Naples.
yr2012
matt jensen 1
He didn't declare an emergency. We won't know what caused the crash now.
cm5299
Chuck Me 1
"According to the LiveATC.net audio recording of the episode, the controller never asked the TBM pilot if he wished to declare an emergency. "

What is that about? Pilots need permission form ATC to declare emergency? Come on.
sandmflyer
shawn moore 1
Agree
HA4T
John Kliewer 1
Don oxygen masks, perform emergency descent, then at some point in the descent inform ATC of what you are doing. It is one of the first drills in every simulator recurrent session. Flight in the flight levels is for professionals only even if your personal family Suburban has wings, a turboprop and is pressurized.
mx747
mx747 1
Bottom line is Nobody wants to die. Truth of the matter is more people die by accident than almost anything. Not like the guy tried killing himself. Things happen when we least expect and they happen sometimes very quickly and sometimes so slowly that by the time we realize a problem exists it's to late to do much if anything about it. Flying an airplane ain't no different than operating any piece of equipment. Shit happens and when it does even the most experienced wind up in the rhubarb!
KSjetfixr
According to my little chart I just happen to have sitting on my desk...at 28K, you have 2-3 minutes of conciousness. In this case, I'd assume 2 minutes, due to the age of the pilot.

A catastrophic failure/loss of cabin pressure would IMO caused the pilot to declare an emergency immediately. Assuming this, the problem was that the cabin dumped gradually.

(Putting aside what the regulators/manufacturers/FSI/lawyers say you SHOULD do.......)

So the cabin starts climbing.......what typically happens? Depending on the cabin climb rate, a pilot might not even notice it initially. The first clue might be the cabin ALT warning going off (ASSUMING it goes off. I've done functional tests on aircraft with single switches that failed). Then comes a euphoric/what, me worry? stage.

At some point, most people will go "WTF?" and start checking switch/valve positions and settings, etc., troubleshooting the problem. So you are starting to burn thru the 2-3 minutes..

Then, (theoretically) he'd don the mask before contacting ATC. Which would require him to remove whatever headset/mic he had on, and don the O2 mask, put on the headset again, then declare an emergency, using the mike in the mask.

This assumes that the mask actually works, and is plugged in; that it's not full of dust and bugs, that the O2 cylinder has O2 in it, and that he remembered to turn the regulator/shutoff valve "ON", because they system had a leak, and the guy was tired of paying the FBO $100 buck a pop, to refill his oxygen.

So, more of that 2-3 minutes gets burned.

And this assumes there were no other distractions.

The short version? You don't have nearly as much time to get the mask on as you might think. And there are a lot of reasons why the O2 system won't work.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
If wreckage is not recovered, it becomes very important what the intercept pilots saw or didn't see during their escorts. What I think we know: *The plane was on autopilot HDG & ALT *The pilot was slumped forward and breathing with no mask *There was condensation on at least one window. What we don't know or haven't heard: *The seating location of the passenger *Were the rear masks deployed from the ceiling *The extent of window condensation on any other windows. Ideally the pilots took pictures or videos. Then more analysis can be done. If not, it will be a matter of how bad Socata or the family want to know what happened. If anybody absolutely knows more info, feel free to post it.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Your points and questions are very direct and should be answered. I feel that both the family and Tocata would want answers. Tocata has the deepest pockets and it is almost a necessity that they raise it to find out what happened, since it was brand new. On the other hand, as long as it is on the bottom, there is not much chance for a lawsuit. However it goes and for whatever reason, we have a husband & wife dead and a plane at the bottom of the ocean without a real good explanation.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
I'm no lawyer but I think lawsuits against the manufacturer are a given. Most likely in multiple venues. The theory is, it depressurized and crashed therefore something must have been wrong with it. It doesn't matter what and all you have to do is convince sympathetic jurors.
preacher1
preacher1 0
It will be interesting. Man, I was sitting here at my desk and got to taking about that decomp on NWA several years back. I still remember that like yesterday and ain't never been that cold in my life, Sitting here thinking about that and got a case of the chills like you wouldn't believe; had to put on a leather jacket, turn the AC off and just now warming some and stopping the shaking LOL
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
Thank goodness the crew did it right or right enough. With the cockpit doors, you weren't getting up there to help them.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I never did know what happened. We didn't no lose the door but you could sure see daylight around the seal. Never did get warm on the rest of that trip either. KTYS was an mx base for Pinnacle. They put us up in a Hotel and fixed the door. Mid summer and I remember calling front desk for extra blankets.LOL
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
I've been at TYS for 20 years. Would've brought another blanket if I'd known. Or a good scotch.
AirBalance
Jeff Lewis 1
o...r you could just go to the KTYS TRACON and see if you can borrow their sleeping facility. Ask for Poindexter.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
Hi Jeff. Maybe I'll come visit.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I think the scotch might have been a better idea.LOL I don't know what they are doing over there now since DAL got a good hold of them and closed down KMEM and moved it all to KMSP
old51crow
In Col. Bud Anderson's autobiography, there's a very telling story about the lack of oxygen and a pin hole.

Actually IMHO, there are quite a few educational bits for the young aviator in his book.
dabuzzo
Buz Page 1
I fault the people that trained this poor soul. With only one pilot in the cockpit the remaining one always wore the mask at those kind of altitudes. It was emphasized strongly every six month check. And 90 degree turn and diver down if you become depressurized...The poor man and his wife were never trained up...
MDAutry
Michael Autry 1
Please don't pretend that ATC is going to help you in this situation, oxygen mask on roll 90 degrees while throwing every drag device out and dive for the lowest safe altitude. This is a sad situation...
devsfan
ken young 1
There are to many missing pieces to this story.
CFRife
Craig Rife 1
Don't Talk. Squawk 7700 and Plummet
preacher1
preacher1 2
Sounds like a plan
antmichalopoulos
Remember HELIOS crash in Attica- Greece (Gramatikon) .Almost the same cause .

Hypoxia in all passengers and crew due to wrong position (manual and not automatic) in the compression - decompression indicator of the 737.
antmichalopoulos
HAVE A LOOK .

https://www.google.gr/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=helios%20crash%20video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWJzgljoJ7A TRY TO LOOK THE NEXT 4 VIEOS ON THIS ISSUE.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBKokazW9Ms



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios_Airways_Flight_522



http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xn8yr5_air-crash-investigation-ghost-plane-helios-522-greek-subs_shortfilms



HELIOS airways / Cyprus / Athens /Greece 2005 / Hypoxia /


WRONG POSITION ON THE INDICATOR .
antmichalopoulos
READ THIS ARTICLE



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios_Airways_Flight_522
antmichalopoulos
Toxicological medical examinations will show exactly what was happend which caused the loss of consciousness .More than one cause, causing the drop and the crash of an aircraft,of each aircraft unless a violent result such as a missile attack cause explosion and immediate destruction.
Its not so simple to find out what was happening up there or what is happening to each aircraft and pilots,too.
Only the investigation results will show us the cause or the causes of this unfortunate fall and crash and the loss of human souls.
The same is happening almost always in air crashes accidents and plane crashes all the time.
It is the price for man to fly to go quickly to distant destinations.
N1190Q
Mike Owens 1
The pilot knew he had an issue of some sort. I hate to be the Monday morning QB, But it was his responsibility to communicate the problem and it's severity to ATC. How are they supposed to know what's going on if he doesn't tell them? The other side of the coin, at FL 280 he wouldn't have had very long to deal with a serious pressurization issue before becoming incapacitated. None of us know what really happened with this flight, it's tragic.
oowmmr
oowmmr 1
Makes me want to scream emergency for him. Maybe he was worried about declaring and having the FAA on his back, or some spot inspection. How stupid...
Av8nut
That's what I was thinking. Once you declare an emergency, it'll be all over the news and no doubt, an FAA investigation will ensue. Maybe he was a little over-confident, take care of itself?
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
That is along the lines of my thinking. I even postulate that O2 may not have been available for some reason and he knew it. To declare an emergency and risk exposure to that situation would be heavy on his mind. That would also explain the non use of the mask. It was worthless. One thing that would help to know is if any of the intercept pilots noticed a sphagetti jungle in the back of hanging masks. They should have been out and it takes pressure in the system to drop them.
yr2012
matt jensen 1
I think I'll wait on the autopsy reports.
ricmech23
Easy to assume when your not in a situation!
preacher1
preacher1 1
yep, all is speculation although some is pretty close, based on ATC tapes and the intercept pilots observation.
ricmech23
I myself have never experienced lack of oxygen but the first thing I ask myself is did he not see his cabin climbing if in fact that was the case? I see far too many times where pilots make assumptions as to what is going on with the aircraft because my guess would be they have a bazillion hours instead of following provided emergency checklist for the aircraft.
jdanish
John Danish 1
No oxygen on the plane?
jdanish
John Danish 1
Standby oxygen was on the plane, my thought was that over a certain altitude, after the Payne Stuart crash in a lear, it had to be used? I have not taken or needed high altitude training in a while, but fly weekly, just a thought
wlwjr
Walter Wilson 2
The flight was not operating anywhere near where O2 is required to be used continuously. Nothing changed in the way of O2 requirements after the Payne Stuart crash. I can tell you that I was flying a Lear 35 at the time four serial numbers from that Lear 35 and did not operate above FL290 for a few flights. FAR Part 91.211 "Supplemental oxygen" will provide one with good bed-time reading.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I don't have the FAR here nor time to pull it up on the web, but are you saying that FL280 would not put you in supplemental O2 territory?
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, I took a quick glance at it. Long and short of it is as follows:

"In 91.211, in the FARs, you can learn about supplemental oxygen. In fact, from 12,500 feet to 13,999 feet, if I’m at that altitude for more than 30 minutes, I have to be on supplemental oxygen".

You can download the whole PDF file but the long and short of it for a pressurized AC at that altitude is that 10 minutes supply must be available to each occupant.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
I don't know it perfectly either but what I do know is; must be used above 350 when single pilot or if a pilot leaves the flightdeck in a crewed aircraft and above 410 when two pilots. Some older types of masks, like the early Lears may have had, lower those numbers I think.

On another note. You can tell when a pilot is transmitting through a mask mike and it amazes me at the number of pilots I hear check-in in the mid and upper 40s with no mask on. Thank God the equipment is good and some of the planes can come down on their own, because if a window or something would go, they ain't makin' it.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I didn't go that far into it on 2 pilot operation but you are correct there. The section about 35k starts right after the one above. It is bad enough for explosive decomp in big iron. I was a pax on an NWA several years ago. Seems like we were just inside RVSM at around 32k and the galley door blew out somewhere over TN. All masks came down and as there had been some turbulence, everybody was belted, but it didn't take long to get that CRJ down. We were headed from KMEM to KGSO, went in at KTYS.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
You're exactly right on decomp in big iron vs smaller iron. Hell, the outflow valves in a 747 may be able to make up for a window going out and the crew might only sense a bump. At the most though it will only be a rapid decomp. In a small cubic foot cabin though like a Lear or Citation it will be explosive, like snap your fingers and its gone. Cold, extreme noise, you can't see, and someone punched you in the solar plexus. As your mind tries to get around that you are now 5 seconds into your 10 seconds of TUC. Your mind's first thought is WTF happened! By the time you think of the mask, can you get it on and in emergency flow before time runs out? Hope I never have to try.
preacher1
preacher1 3
Like I said above, that galley door went and they couldn't hold on to it. I know it turned white and cold in there in a hurry. Masks came PDQ but I had a woman and brat next to me that went into absolute panic. Should have let the brat go. LOL
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
Now that's funny! Glad it all turned out alright.
wlwjr
Walter Wilson 1
The flight was not operating anywhere near where O2 is required to be used continuously. Nothing changed in the way of O2 requirements after the Payne Stuart crash. I can tell you that I was flying a Lear 35 at the time four serial numbers from that Lear 35 and did not operate above FL290 for a few flights. FAR Part 91.211 "Supplemental oxygen" will provide one with good bed-time reading.
CoastalJet
Jeff Pinder 1
If a pilot asks to decrease his altitude for an unspecified problem, ATC should have allowed it at once, Period!
1rocky1
Walt Leuci 2
Jeff I agree especially since the pilot, though he didn't declare an emergency, did tell ATC that he had a problem & needed fl 180....hello ATC doesn't that give you a clue that something may be more seriously amiss than stated. The pilot & his wife could have already been feeling the effects of hypoxia. The controller did "STEP" the pilot down but with the slurred speech from the pilot the controller should have sensed something wrong & "cleared" other traffic out of the way. Maybe these arm chair quarter backs should take a "ride" in an altitude chamber. To say that ATC had absolutely no reason to suspect anything different without an emergency being declared by the pilot is totally irresponsible thinking.
Jeff...FYI...you'll find all the aviation arm chair quarter backs right here giving their opinions & laying blame before the facts are in.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
Walt, hindsight tells us more now but at the time he didn't even use the word "problem." An ATC system based on giving clues, guessing, and sensing is called chaos. It may work in some out of the way place but not the Northeast coast. Procedures are in place and readily available. They weren't used, period.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I'll have to back that up. ATL center is pretty busy airspace and request for altitude changes come all the time. Even if E word not used, ATC can and usually does detect but in listening to ATC on this one, there is no sense of urgency and to go from FL280 down to 18 is not something you would associate with oxygen drop.
AirBalance
Jeff Lewis 2
You guys who are pinning this on the pilot are failing to see one important reality among those of us trained in ATC: we live our job for situations like this, to be vigilant and catch the problem and fix it, ideally so that nobody even knows a problem was developing.

Multiple requests for lower, slurred speech: these cues should prompt ATC to say "Are you declaring an emergency?". Some have noted, this hypoxia may have been almost fully set in. There is no time to be wasted. Plus, the controller does not even have to ask; based solely on the slurred voice, he could have declared the emergency and told the guy present heading descend now to 10,000 and then cleaned it all up with his aircraft and the lower sector. Practically everyone has a fish-finder, so a steady descent at a good rate is easily worked around (and if minimum radar separation is busted by a mile, so what, it is an emergency).

On the recording, multiple ATC voices. If this recording has two sectors stacked together (being worked by different controllers), that makes two slow sectors look like one busy sector. The voice quality of the controller at the start sucks; bad annunciation and rate of speech. It would definitely help, to understand 'why' ATC was so unengaged on this situation, if FAA would kindly tell us a few facts such as the sector, whether training was in progress, whether there were equipment issues, how many planes the controller had on frequency, etc. Sadly, FAA prefers to stay quiet about these things.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
It don't and can't work that way Jeff, particularly in busy airspace. A pilot can always do it on his or her own though by invoking their Emergency authority. That was available to this pilot and all pilots.
AirBalance
Jeff Lewis 1
...we have no evidence that this sector was 'busy airspace' at the time the problem was setting in and identifiable by ATC (slurred speech clue).
preacher1
preacher1 1
On top of that, from FL280 to 180 doesn't indicate anything about lack of oxygen. Had he requested to go all the way down to 10-12, it might have got more attention, who knows.
blakerl
Larry Blaker 0
ATC is not a fault for this. The PIC could have declared or called for a PAN. However if this had been a American Airlines 727, with the same conversation the ATC controller would have acted differently. Also has anyone looked as I can find no conflict tracks for the delay in giving clearance for a lower altitude?
I know ATC controllers will give the response we treat everyone the same, but how many private pilots fell that is true. I have been forgotten and ignored by ATC at one time or other.
preacher1
preacher1 1
A declaration or PAN call would have taken any guesswork out of it and had it been done, we might not be having this conversation. Why it was not done is all speculation at this point. I am not gonna speak about ATC and the airlines other than to say they are always there and generally carrying multiple pax, BUT, the only real difference is their pilots are talking to their MTC before talking to a controller in most cases, rather than having to figure things out themselves. Exceptions being explosive decompression or looking for a hole somewhere if there is smoke or fire. Then they declare and go, sometimes going before declaring.
vulcancruiser
This guy was head cheerleader for TBM and he was in control of the latest and greatest toy from them, a 900 with all the best stuff and it cost $4mil+. What could go wrong? Those who go out to play at 280 need to pay more attention than the low and slow. And this day overconfidence met the slow to catch on at ATC. ATC was legal and following protocol and had no duty to go beyond what he did. This is a case of "what if"......and what if you knew a guy was at 280 and he said he had a bad indication and needed to go lower. To anybody that knows anything about hypoxia this would be screaming out get this guy lower and now, he's already losing judgment. But there was no "what if" that day. It's as simple as that......he and his wife were both pilots, he had thousands of hours but could have used a hand that day. No one can say with certainty that even if ATC had cleared him to 5,000ft and told him to expedite lower that he would or could have done it, but it couldn't have hurt.
mx747
mx747 0
The F-15 pilot should have matched speed with the TBM. Then very gently lower his gear into the TBM . Then simply descend till the TBM pilot wakes up! If it ends badly the F-15 pilot simply ejects. I blame the F-15 pilot! Bad things happen when good pilots fail to engage!
pianist337
Lee Ensminger 2
What are you smoking? Or are you suffering from the effects of hypoxia yourself?
sandmflyer
shawn moore 1
HAHAHAHA
arturosu27
arturosu27 0
Well if you guys let me say my opinión It's clear there were several mistakes from both ATC and Pilot whys is that?

First when you have an emergency like lost cabin pressure inmidiatly you use your OXYGEN MASK and for safety procedures there is one rule in that case "AVIATE NAVIGATE COMUNICATE"

AVIATE: If you lost cabin pressure OXYGEN MASK DEPLOYED AND EMERGENCY DECENT PROCEDUR
as single pilot

NAVIGATE: Where I am and Where I am going to and Transponder 7777

COMUNICATE: Atlanta Center N000SW In Emergency Decent 25000ft looking for lower lost cabin
pressure

And here is the situation pilot didn't say wha't kind of indication was that Is clear that the pilot was not using the oxygen mask (coz when you use it the voice change while you speak)and he didn't punt the transponder in emergency code 7777

Coz and airplane with Code 7777 catch attention in ATC radar and gets preferences to decents as son as posible dosen't matter busy air space


Now from ATC is celar that the Controller in charge did'nt ask the next questions:

Whatr kind of indication do you have? coz the pilot said there were and indication

Do you need immediate decent or assitance? Coz the bpilot said we need lower than 20000ft


And if the pilot were turning code 7777 the controller shoud be awere of that in the screen radar to provide al assintance and ask for more info concerning the emergency

As I said is my personal opinión as a pilot with 3000hr flingt time as single pilot and ATC controller
justindpilot
justindpilot 1
may want to edit to 7700.
carlsonj
James Carlson 2
7777 makes you an interceptor. That'll definitely attract some attention.
arturosu27
arturosu27 1
YES SORRY ABOUT THAT MY MISTAKE 7700 EMERGENCY CODE
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
Emergency code aside, you're reading something different in the article than was my understanding. The PIC had some aversion to declaring an emergency of any kind wehether by transponder or by voice radio. He asked for a lower altitude but said his instruments indicated "something wrong". That's about as definate as a maybe. He was in fact authorized to a lower altitude,then lamented that it wasn't low enough. The controller gave him what he asked for but he wanted something more than he asked for. The question seems to be, if he was suffering from 'altitude sickness' by the time he made the radio call and already making poor decisions or was he inept.
flypapa
Civilian pilots rarely declare an EMERGENCY when they should. My experience of 63+ years of flying both military and civilian. Why is that?
flypapa
With my experience of 63+ years as a pilot, CFII, both civilian and militray, CIVILIAN PILOTS rarely declare an EMERGENCY when they should do so. Why? The FAA knows why: TOO MUCH PAPERWORK....
sandmflyer
shawn moore 2
As ATC, Air Traffic never has you fill out paperwork unless you get close to another airplane while complying with your emergency. It is only cursory in nature.

Now FSDO might want some more explanation but at least you are alive to give it.
sandmflyer
shawn moore 1
Did you every get hurt worse than a paper cut from paperwork?

[This poster has been suspended.]

preacher1
preacher1 8
Problem is Phil, he wasn't low time, or inexperienced
mariescreations
Jerry Rader 1
I don't think flight time and experience control how a pilot reacts to all situations. A low time pilot just fresh out of an extensive flight training course might act entirely different and make correct decisions quicker than a high time pilot who has not had any recent recurrent training and has become somewhat complacent because he has not had any problems to deal with. I'm not saying that is what has happened with Mr. and Mrs. Glazer but it certainly bears looking into. Also, since I do not know for sure, do all pressurized airplanes deploy a mask when cabin pressure fails? Does the TBM900 have that feature? If so, it would be a reminder to use it. If it doesn't deploy automatically, one could be incapacitated before he realized what was happening and then it would be too late to think clearly enough to manually eject the mask and use it. It comes down to training and to recognize the situation soon enough and react accordingly. This is just a comment and does not lay any blame for this accident on anyone. My sympathy goes out to the family of this tragedy.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
Good question Jerry. From some of our posts on here it could be confusing. In most pressurized aircraft, particularly turbine powered aircraft, the supplemental oxygen systems basically work the same but the crew must know the particulars in the aircraft they fly. Masks for the passengers in back, the yellow strap-on cups, can be manually dropped by the crew and they should automatically deploy if cabin pressure drops below a preset level. The crew masks in the cockpit do not auto deploy. They are much more capable than passenger masks and known as quick donning, fast to put on and get O2 flowing. They are securely stowed and should be within easy reach of the pilots. In an emergency or anytime a pilot needs to use the mask they must grab it and put it on. There is no auto deploy of crew masks but they are always ready to grab and go. The TBM900 is this way.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 1
SO you're admitting that French built airplane is super???

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