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Home > Air Crash > Did the faulty altimeter cause the Turkish plane to crash at Amsterdam?
Did the faulty altimeter cause the Turkish plane to crash at Amsterdam?
Aviation - Air Crash
Sunday, 15 March 2009 14:47

According to the investigators, one of the plane's altimeters had registered that the plane was flying below sea level and caused the autopilot to rapidly reduce power before the crash.

Chief Investigator Pieter van Vollenhoven said that the Boeing 737-800's flight recorders showed false readings from the same altimeter on two flights before the crash. Read more here.

I am not sure if the crew was carrying out an autolanding (either a real one in actual bad weather conditions or a practice - normally to maintain their currency) but according to the chief investigator, he said, "Landing the plane on autopilot was not unusual and the pilots could not see the runway as the plane began its descent because of clouds and a light rain".

To conduct an autolanding, the crew must be fully qualified and recent. The procedures call for heights on the radio altimeters to be checked and verified by the copilot through a system of challenge and response.

The typical autolanding automatic callouts start at 2000 feet, 1000 feet, 500 feet, 100 feet to minima (lowest decision height) and "minimum" (the decision height which could be 100, 50 or 20 feet depending on the pilot's qualification).

Where the automatic callouts (by the computer) fail, then the copilot (or pilot non flying) must make those specific calls. It is the captain's responsibility to abort the landing when he notices any discrepancies.

According to Van Vollenhoven, at 1,950 feet, the airplane's left altimeter suddenly registered an altitude of 8 feet below sea level and passed the reading on to the automatic landing system. The autopilot, thinking it was about to touch down, then began to reduce power on the engines. This caused the plane to lose speed, decelerating until, at a height of 450 feet when it was about to stall.

It appears that that the pilot immediately selected full power but it was too late to recover.

However, the deputy chairman of the Turkey's Pilot's Association said that the preliminary Dutch findings were "not satisfactory" and said it would be odd for the pilots to not react to a false altimeter reading in time to save the plane.

So there are still some doubts as to what may actually cause the plane to crash.

Hmmm... sounds a bit like the Boeing 777 accident at Heathrow???


Turkish Airlines crash at Amsterdam (Recreation)

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The same faulty Rolls Royce engine, perhaps?
Derek , 18 May, 2009

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