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Home > Air Crash > The Plane That Flew Too High
The Plane That Flew Too High
Aviation - Air Crash
Friday, 19 October 2012 16:10

West Carribean 708 Animation
 
Dear Capt Lim,

I am a fan of yours and every time I fly with AirAsia, the first thing I do on-board the aircraft is to flip through the magazine and look for your article. It is so informative and exciting.

Anyway, after reading your explanation about the incident above, I have a further question with regards to your answer.

I just watched a program last week on National Geographic about the incident of West Caribbean airline 708, the aircraft had fallen immediately after it lost both engine powers, without gliding.

I hope you can further explain why the Boeing 747 is able to guide while the West Caribbean Airline aircraft cannot.

Many thanks.

Your Fan.
Lim S Moon

Hi S Moon,

All planes can glide as long as there is height and airspeed, the pilot is well trained and the plane is intact with the wings attached. To land safely, there must be a span of flat land ahead without any obstacles.

On the West Carribean 708, two major elements were missing – airspeed (aircraft stalled) and pilot training was lacking (captain was too fixated on the engines instruments and failed to follow the stall recovery technique when his co-pilot prompted him about it)

On the McDonnelll Douglas MD-82 - the captain could have recovered from the deep stall by pushing the nose forward to regain the speed and glide down. As it was, when the plane impacted the ground, it was dropping at around 12,000 feet per minute with a very high nose attitude. This is inconsistent with a well-controlled glide of around 1300 to 1500 feet per minute rate of descent.

Other contributory factors could be that the plane was overweight and it was cruising too high - near the ‘coffin corner’ – an aviation jargon meaning that it was near its operating limits in terms of engine power and altitude.

Unlike other planes, recovering from a deep stall on a T-Tail plane such as the MD – 82 is more difficult than the conventional planes like the later Boeing or Airbus.

Please see video below for more information...

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim


The Plane That Flew Too High

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