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dc9man

MD-11 Landing Instability

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I tried putting this on the PMDG forum but apparently the moderator didn't like the content. Anyway this is some info some of my retired NWA pals sent me regarding the MD-11 landing incidents the most recent at Narita in Japan involving a FedEx MD-11. These opinions do not reflect adversely on PMDG's excellent MD-11 rendition of which I am a proud owner. From time to time I thinks it's interesting to peer into the real world discussions of the aircraft we love to fly in our simulators and I think this qualifies in that catagory, please let me know what you think about it. Regards, Capt. Tom Helwick NWA retired, Livingston, MontanaFrom a co-workers Father who worked for Douglas.................. What happened here (in Narita) is the same as what happened in Hong Kong(to a China Airlines MD-11) and Newark NJ (to another FedEx MD-11) someyears ago. The hard landings, which resulted in ALL cases from failure of theaircraft to respond appropriately to pilot control inputs, resulted inrupture of the wing spar by the main gear oleo strut, breaking the wing; thelift from the wing not yet broken then caused the aircraft to roll, and turnupside down. In the case this morning, both wings broke - first the left,and then as the roll angle reached about 80

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good stuff. thank you for sharing! Ed should feel even more proud of his out-of-the-world DC10 now.

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I really don't know enough about the MD-11 to comment with real authority on the minutia of its flight characteristics. But one thing I do know is that to second guess the NTSB and Boeing, and then to further accuse them of being a clique which covers stuff up is probably not advisable, nor indeed very fair if you are not in possession of all the facts, which even Boeing aren't at this point since the Narita accident investigation is not over. So how do you know they will attempt to 'cover stuff up'? Or even that there is anything to cover up? Do you imagine that Boeing would not want to learn from an investigation?I can understand that some pilots might complain and want to shift any potential for blame onto the aircraft makers, it's somewhat natural for pilots to do that sort of thing, but them doing so and you posting about it is pretty much what you then go on to complain that the aircraft manufacturers and the NTSB will supposedly do, so how come it is right for one group to indulge in that and not for another? If indeed they would.I did hear that some pilots refer to the MD-11 as 'the scud', supposedly because 'you never know where it will land', and whilst that's quite funny as a nickname, pilots have always had morbid nicknames for their particular aircraft and the traits they display. When pilots stop ######ing about stuff, then you'll know something is really amiss - I used to fly an aircraft with the serial letters DNJ on it, and all the pilots used to refer to it as 'do not jump' in reference to the canopy being difficult to open and thus probably very tricky to bail out of if you got in trouble, which is a serious problem in truth, but we all treated it as a big joke. F-104 pilots used to call their mount 'the aluminium death tube', because the Starfighter was notoriously tricky to fly, and if you were sloppy about things it would bite back, but being difficult to fly does not mean 'inherently dangerous' it invariably means that there are specific techniques you have to use to remain in a safe flight envelope. And until we know any different, I'm guessing that an investigation into the Narita accident will probably seek to highlight such things as opposed to trying to cover anything up, after all, why would Boeing want to cover stuff up if it meant they'd have to do it again and again when other aircraft and pilots suffered the same fate? If it turns out otherwise, that's the time to complain, not when you simply assume that's what will happen based on the views of some pilots with an axe to grind. They might have a legitimate gripe of course, but then again they might not, we simply don't know at this point.The argument put forward about the MD-11's flight characteristics in comparison to the DC-10 is flawed in any case. One of the reasons the elevator was reduced in size on the MD-11 relates directly to problems with the DC-10 having an extremely powerful elevator which, before the problem was corrected, meant that it could actually put too much stress on the wing spars, and if I recall correctly, I think it did damage the spars on some early models of DC-10, so to compare the DC-10 as somehow faultless in comparison to the MD-11 is not an accurate appraisal of the entire strata of things. And if one claims that the MD-11 does not fly like the DC-10, there's an obvious thing a pilot should bear in mind if that's the view they hold, and that is: then don't fly it like a DC-10.I also don't think it's accurate to confer upon the MD-11 a blanket 'inherently dangerous' label, because if that were so and Boeing were somehow 'covering it up', what makes you think that all the airports around the world would feel compelled to go along with such a cover up? After all, it is these places which have to pick up the pieces and deal with the poor image a crash confers on them in terms of passenger confidence.Having said all that, it's always interesting to hear the views of pilots who actually drive the thing, and I'll admit they are likely to know more about the aircraft than I do, so it's an interesting post. Incidentally, this thread should really be in 'Hangar chat'!Al

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Thanks--very informative--having flown the F-111 in my early AF days I know the "issues" associated with an ill designed system (not saying the MD-11 falls into that category). As I watched the Narita MD-11 video in horror, I could only think to a similar incident in 1986 at Cannon AFB, NM. The F-111 had alpha probes on either side of the nose cone which fed in part AOA info to the pitch gains of the flight computer. At slow speed, high GW, in high cross winds (with plenty of rudder input to crab down centerline), the alpha probe on one side of the jet might "blank" out and feed bogus info to the other side resulting in a nasty pitch over.A squadron pilot mate of mine was on short final with about 25kts direct cross when he got a pitch over about 100 feet above the ground--the only thing that saved him and his WSO, was that he instinctively took his feet off the rudder pedals bracing for impact--which neutralized the rudder, and he was able to regain control.Electrons can and often do go wrong at the absolute worst time in electric jets.Col (ret) R. Perry, USAF

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I dont think PMDG had any issue with you posting this on there forum, why would they? I have read the exact same thing that you have posted on other forums and have also studied all the NTSB reports on the MD11/DC10 fedex and UPS incidents. It surprises me when I hear supposedly qualified crews making statements like the MD11 is dangerous.How many Take off and Landings do Fedex and UPS perform on the MD11/MD10 aircraft everyday 24 hours a day all year in various weather conditions without incident!? The machine can be very unforgiving when landing near to it's limit's, the high VREF at MLW alone is enough to make things tricky, when in in doubt hit TOGA and get outa there! that does not make the aircraft dangerous.Now if the Narita crew experianced an LSAS failure or some other issue then thats another story, but think about the 737 rudder hardovers, does that mean we should never fly in one? Rob

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I dont think PMDG had any issue with you posting this on there forum, why would they? Rob
Obviously they did - they removed the post.Gerry

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i read this post a few times and i must say i am somewhat surprised at you....your question why would boeing or any company try to cover anything up that result in loss of life...really now we are talking about a large company that has alot of money and alot to loose...and could loose it to court battles..and pilots with an ax to grind??COME ONNNNNNN....these guys do this everyday and have MORE to say about an aircraft than boeing (in this case)ITSELF does..there butts are in the sling as well as yours and mine if we are aboard an aircraft like the md11.dont care what the test pilots say.. dont care what the engineers say ..you want to know about an aircraft in and out talk to the pilot that has 10000 hours in that aircraft not a test pilot that took it around the sky for 100 hours in better than normal conditions..lol.. and make improvments from there... you want to know about an aircraft get the feed back from the guys who drive them ...THE PILOTS THAT LIVE IN THESE THINGS have more to say about them than anyone else on the planet ....to use the term ax to grind was totaly inappropiate and totaly unfair.you made professional pilots with hundreds of hours of training and retraining and testing and more testing seem like a bunch of snot nose spoiled brat kids.and was insulting .AND im here to tell YOU or ANYONE else out there ,,there not.. .they should have and deserve more respect than what was shown here...and who knows ..in high winds there just may be something inherently dangerious with this aircraft.and i would listen to a type rated pilots conclusions on the subject before anyone else..i.e faa ntsb or boeing.. ...do you think boeing or anyother company will come out and say .....oh ya good fair weather plane but god help you if theres wind at the airport you are going..who would get on one.. .....being a pilot myself i know the plane i fly inside and out,,i know what it will do and know what it wont do..you came down hard on the captain here and i only hope you dident insult him out and away from avsim ...we need men and women like him who has alot to share on a great site like this and shouldent be ridiculed by you or anyone else.i have read many of your other posts clock and found them to professional and informitive.and a wonderful contribution..dont know why you felt to do here what you did..it very out of character...i have said what i said here with a bit of anger ...but i have said it however .... all with respect...nuff said ......

I really don't know enough about the MD-11 to comment with real authority on the minutia of its flight characteristics. But one thing I do know is that to second guess the NTSB and Boeing, and then to further accuse them of being a clique which covers stuff up is probably not advisable, nor indeed very fair if you are not in possession of all the facts, which even Boeing aren't at this point since the Narita accident investigation is not over. So how do you know they will attempt to 'cover stuff up'? Or even that there is anything to cover up? Do you imagine that Boeing would not want to learn from an investigation?I can understand that some pilots might complain and want to shift any potential for blame onto the aircraft makers, it's somewhat natural for pilots to do that sort of thing, but them doing so and you posting about it is pretty much what you then go on to complain that the aircraft manufacturers and the NTSB will supposedly do, so how come it is right for one group to indulge in that and not for another? If indeed they would.I did hear that some pilots refer to the MD-11 as 'the scud', supposedly because 'you never know where it will land', and whilst that's quite funny as a nickname, pilots have always had morbid nicknames for their particular aircraft and the traits they display. When pilots stop ######ing about stuff, then you'll know something is really amiss - I used to fly an aircraft with the serial letters DNJ on it, and all the pilots used to refer to it as 'do not jump' in reference to the canopy being difficult to open and thus probably very tricky to bail out of if you got in trouble, which is a serious problem in truth, but we all treated it as a big joke. F-104 pilots used to call their mount 'the aluminium death tube', because the Starfighter was notoriously tricky to fly, and if you were sloppy about things it would bite back, but being difficult to fly does not mean 'inherently dangerous' it invariably means that there are specific techniques you have to use to remain in a safe flight envelope. And until we know any different, I'm guessing that an investigation into the Narita accident will probably seek to highlight such things as opposed to trying to cover anything up, after all, why would Boeing want to cover stuff up if it meant they'd have to do it again and again when other aircraft and pilots suffered the same fate? If it turns out otherwise, that's the time to complain, not when you simply assume that's what will happen based on the views of some pilots with an axe to grind. They might have a legitimate gripe of course, but then again they might not, we simply don't know at this point.The argument put forward about the MD-11's flight characteristics in comparison to the DC-10 is flawed in any case. One of the reasons the elevator was reduced in size on the MD-11 relates directly to problems with the DC-10 having an extremely powerful elevator which, before the problem was corrected, meant that it could actually put too much stress on the wing spars, and if I recall correctly, I think it did damage the spars on some early models of DC-10, so to compare the DC-10 as somehow faultless in comparison to the MD-11 is not an accurate appraisal of the entire strata of things. And if one claims that the MD-11 does not fly like the DC-10, there's an obvious thing a pilot should bear in mind if that's the view they hold, and that is: then don't fly it like a DC-10.I also don't think it's accurate to confer upon the MD-11 a blanket 'inherently dangerous' label, because if that were so and Boeing were somehow 'covering it up', what makes you think that all the airports around the world would feel compelled to go along with such a cover up? After all, it is these places which have to pick up the pieces and deal with the poor image a crash confers on them in terms of passenger confidence.Having said all that, it's always interesting to hear the views of pilots who actually drive the thing, and I'll admit they are likely to know more about the aircraft than I do, so it's an interesting post. Incidentally, this thread should really be in 'Hangar chat'!Al

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AND im here to tell YOU or ANYONE else out there ,,there not.. .they should have and deserve more respect than what was shown here...and who knows ..in high winds there just may be something inherently dangerious with this aircraft.and i would listen to a type rated pilots conclusions on the subject before anyone else..i.e faa ntsb or boeing.. ...do you think boeing or anyother company will come out and say .....oh ya good fair weather plane but god help you if theres wind at the airport you are going
Well if pilots deserve respect, then don't you think it's a bit rich to have a pop at the Boeing and McDonnell Douglas test pilots and dismiss their type certification testing by claiming that they did nothing more than 'took it around the sky for 100 hours in better than normal conditions'? Those are your words, and I might add that they betray a staggering lack of appreciation for how long an aircraft has to fly to gain a type certification, not to mention being hugely defamatory to the pilots and technicians involved in that testing process. If you have so much respect for those with a type rating, you might do well to consider who it is that determines what is required for a type rating in the first place. Furthermore, yes, I do think a company will come out and say stuff about limitations for an aircraft in various weather states, that's what crosswind limitations are for a kick off.'who knows, in high winds there just may be something inherently dangerous' Your words again, confirming the point I was making, i.e. 'who knows?' I did not say there was no chance it could not be the case, but at the time the comment was made, the wreckage had barely stopped smouldering, and at that point nobody knows an exact cause, the investigation into the incident is not completed and had in fact barely started at that time. It may very well turn out to be the cause, but claiming to know exactly the cause of an accident from viewing a pixellated bit of footage off TV without access to any data from the FDR with regard to control inputs, thrust settings, reverser selection, autopilot settings, flap selections, rudder inputs, actual crosswind measurements at the threshhold at the time of the incident, wake turbulence, fuel state, CoG, maintenance condition and a whole host of other parameters, any one of which might possibly have a bearing on the incident, is preposterous beyond belief.It may well turn out to be a correct guess, but without technical data to back it up, a guess is all it could be at that point. And to use what is evidently nothing more than a guess, even if it may be an educated one - which could equally be incorrect - as the platform upon which to mount an attack on both the NTSB and the aircraft manufacturer. Well, if you don't call that having an axe to grind, then I would like to know your definition of what would qualify for the title.Al

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boeing is a great company..the people at boeing are very knowledgeable..as are the test pilots..and in my opion make the best planes around..but the pilot who flys the aircraft haveing said that is something none of them have,,thousands of hours in the seat..and experence... and alot more to say about it...i hold in a very high regard what has been said in the original post from the captain who wrote it...but again you are completely discounting what the pilots who fly them are saying about this plane..and you concidering there comments to be a simple educated guess..YOUR WORDS.. im not discounting boeing or the test pilots etc...all im saying is the pilots who fly day in and day out should be the most valued in any investigation.technical data is important of course but is not the end all ..it can be flawed... as far as technical data goes it should be concidered that its technical data that says a bee cant fly ...so who you gonna beleive ...the data or the bee..think about it..as far as an ax to grind on my part and mounting an an attack on the ntsb goes there is none i beleive a pilot and trust there experence before anyone else ..seems you are up playing my comments..it seems you have an ax to grind againsed pilots baised on what has been said about there knowledge and this plane ,,,i bet you a coffee the ntsb will find this horrable crash to be pilot error ,regardless of what pilots say..(check out you tube ..type in md11 and you will see another md11 in high winds landing at night and crash if you havent alerady ..same conditions as the fedx except at night ) ,,

...so..... with that you and i will agree to dis agree on whats what.......no need to beat a dead horse..
Well if pilots deserve respect, then don't you think it's a bit rich to have a pop at the Boeing and McDonnell Douglas test pilots and dismiss their type certification testing by claiming that they did nothing more than 'took it around the sky for 100 hours in better than normal conditions'? Those are your words, and I might add that they betray a staggering lack of appreciation for how long an aircraft has to fly to gain a type certification, not to mention being hugely defamatory to the pilots and technicians involved in that testing process. If you have so much respect for those with a type rating, you might do well to consider who it is that determines what is required for a type rating in the first place. Furthermore, yes, I do think a company will come out and say stuff about limitations for an aircraft in various weather states, that's what crosswind limitations are for a kick off.'who knows, in high winds there just may be something inherently dangerous' Your words again, confirming the point I was making, i.e. 'who knows?' I did not say there was no chance it could not be the case, but at the time the comment was made, the wreckage had barely stopped smouldering, and at that point nobody knows an exact cause, the investigation into the incident is not completed and had in fact barely started at that time. It may very well turn out to be the cause, but claiming to know exactly the cause of an accident from viewing a pixellated bit of footage off TV without access to any data from the FDR with regard to control inputs, thrust settings, reverser selection, autopilot settings, flap selections, rudder inputs, actual crosswind measurements at the threshhold at the time of the incident, wake turbulence, fuel state, CoG, maintenance condition and a whole host of other parameters, any one of which might possibly have a bearing on the incident, is preposterous beyond belief.It may well turn out to be a correct guess, but without technical data to back it up, a guess is all it could be at that point. And to use what is evidently nothing more than a guess, even if it may be an educated one - which could equally be incorrect - as the platform upon which to mount an attack on both the NTSB and the aircraft manufacturer. Well, if you don't call that having an axe to grind, then I would like to know your definition of what would qualify for the title.Al

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