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ANA plane makes steep dive over Shizuoka

27 Comments

Two ANA cabin attendants were injured when the plane they were working on unexpectedly made a sharp dive over Shizuoka Prefecture on Tuesday, the airline said Wednesday.

ANA said in a statement to media that the plane went into a dive when the co-pilot hit the wrong switch while attempting to unlock the cockpit door. Flight 140, with 117 passengers and crew on board, was on its way from Naha in Okinawa to Haneda Airport in Tokyo. ANA said no passengers were injured.

According to the Transportation Ministry, the Boeing 737-700 dived approximately 1,900 meters in under 30 seconds during the incident that took place just before 11 p.m. The co-pilot was apparently moving to open the cockpit door for the captain, who was returning from the restroom, and inadvertently hit the switch for the rudder that changes the plane's heading, causing the aircraft to lose stability.

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27 Comments
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once again a human error...! caused by well paid and when drunk officials.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

Another brilliant and insightful comment, some14. Wanna try again, this time in English?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

WTF, How lucky can you be some idiot flying the plane hits the wrong button. Maybe he's just clumsy whatever the reason someone needs to be taken out of the cockpit....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Carelessness can be fatal at anytime let alone on a plane, this co pilot guy needs to be stood down and given the job of cleaning the aircraft instead of co piloting it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

caused by well paid and when drunk officials.

Caused by somebody hitting the wrong button. Read the article!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The plane made a steep dive and now so will someone's career.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Was he trying to imitate a ZERO fighter, taking such a steep dive? Seriously, the rudder trim is large and hardly the size of a switch, you could never mistake the two.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

??? Something's not right with this article. The rudder is controlled by foot pedals, not a switch. The rudder trim (which fine-tunes the rudder deflection when no rudder is applied) is a spring-loaded switch. If the co-pilot accidentally hit that switch, the plane would only start to change course slightly, not go into a 208 fps dive. This appears to have been initiated by the elevator (the horizontal part of most aircraft tails) control, not the rudder (the vertical par of most aircraft tails) control.

(Before someone challenges my math: 1900 meters = about 6233 feet. 6233 feet / 30 seconds = about 208 feet per second or 12,480 feet per minute. Compare this with a "normal" descent into an airport area which is usually around 500 feet per minute)

Different plane models have different auto-pilot (A/P) configurations. The A/P is usually configured so that if one of the pilots make a control input, the A/P automatically disconnects so they aren't fighting each other for control of the plane. There's normally an audible alarm when that happens, though. I could see the co-pilot bumping the control yoke as he got up, but he should have immediately noticed the buzzer warning him that the A/P no longer was controlling the plane.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Even if that's really the mistake that was made, it's a pretty serious and stupid error. At the very least the guy needs to be taken out of circulation for a certain period of time, and forced to review safety procedures and parts, etc. Then when back in the cockpit he should be on probation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the co-pilot hit the wrong switch while attempting to unlock the cockpit door.

that's some switch!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Fadamor: your math looks right. I'm just wondering how one puts a plane into a 12,500 feet/minute dive by hitting just a rudder switch. The only thing I can come up with is low speed + high angle of attack + sudden rudder deflection = stall/spin. But the pilot would have been on the flight deck at such a time, because low speed and high angle of attack only occur during takeoff and landing (in an airliner).

I guess it's possible that the co-pilot leaned his knee against the rudder trim switch and held it there just long enough to upset the plane. After that, you're losing altitude while you're recovering from the spin.

That's all I can think of, anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pilot error is definitely identified as the cause of large fraction of aircraft accidents and it's pretty clear that the human error factor does play a large role in air accidents. Whether this incident was a unconscious error, I wouldn't know but the carelessness of this co-pilot didn't score him any points. Maybe he'll get reprimanded or suspended and his promotion to become a pilot has probably been set back. However the principal concern should not be to fix the blame but to identify corrective action to reduce the likelihood of a similar mistake to reduce the likelihood of a potential accident. The co-pilot should be grateful to the pilot for watching over him, but he sure needs to be more dependable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

seem we have 2 clear options now:

on one hand you have pilots that enjoy up-skirt photos and letting female co-pilot sit in his seat during flight. on the other hand is a pilot confusing cockpit switches.

i don't want to see a 'drink & drive' type of pilot in the future.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Co-pilots can sit in the left seat, there's no real reason why they couldn't. The issue with that other pilot was that he was essentially "on break" but was distracting the co-pilot from her duties by having her look away from what she should have been monitoring.

As I said previously, something's wrong with the article because the description of what he did doesn't match the maneuver the plane performed.

My follow-on question would be to the pilot: "A flight from Okinawa to Tokyo wouldn't be that long. Why did you need a potty break?"

3 ( +2 / -0 )

Having spent some time up front as an observer, I too say there is something wrong with the article or the reporting. Generally you don't just accidentally press the wrong switch and cause the plane to dive as described. There's more to the story then we are reading, the article seems like a more dumbed down version of the events.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When you're up there at over FL200 or higher, you don't mess around. Complete pilot error here. I'm quite surprised I didn't get a warning on my FlightAware24 application for Iphone. Usually they sqawk a general emergency code.

ANA's aircraft are fitted with ModeS Transponders with ADS-B so you can see most of these flighs on Iphone. The fact that the pilot did not squawk 7700 makes me wonder if they were following proper procedures up in that cockpit.

Trippy right. Got a warning system for Earthquakes on iPhones. There's an app to track almost every plane flying over your head. That general emergency alert could buy you some time before an ANA jet lands on your head.

Wanted to get on that new 787 Dreamliner to Hong Kong but now I think I'm going to wait. Sad, we could build them a great plane but they'd probably crash it into the ocean.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The airlines reason for the nose-dive sounds like complete bull$hit! I'm sure the passengers enjoyed the terrifying ride and would love a true explanation (I'd expect compensation and dry cleaning for the crap I'd have taken in my pants!)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Two ANA cabin attendants were injured

i.e. they each broke a fingernail

I'm quite surprised I didn't get a warning on my FlightAware24 application for Iphone.

thank you, that was necessary. we needed to know you have an Iphone. Congrats. you're cool.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

1900m in 30seconds isn't really THAT big of a deal, yes, it's a little quicker than on landing, but it isn't anything "terrifying". When we make landings into Iraq, we make MUCH faster declines than that, and it isn't "terrifying" either.

The original Japanese article didn't use the word "rudder", it only said "wrong control" IIRC.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wonder if Patrick Smith will come to the co-pilot's defense in his Ask the Pilot column

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is an example of professional negligence and lack of common sense in the pilots. I have an experience of such dive when the aircraft I was in met with a turbulence and it went about 500 meter down all of sudden. It happened few years back. But I still feel scared when I recall those moments. The ANA plane dived 1,900 meter, I can't imagine how I would feel if I was there. There have been many such things in news media recently with JAL, ANA, Cathy etc. I don't know why these people (crew members) are acting irresponsibly these days.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

just wondering how one puts a plane into a 12,500 feet/minute dive by hitting just a rudder switch

Could be a mistranslation and they're actually talking about the tail elevator.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One thing you should have in mind from reading JT news articles is: get the gist of the story, not the facts from it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

ANA is plain lying here... no such a dive is ever possible by flicking just one wrong switch...airplanes are not designed by idiots, you know...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A few questions,

Is 200 feet per second actually that fast? At 400/500mph would it not take only a very slight downward angle to produce that rate of descent? If it was a very steep descent why were there only reports of minor injuries and not more serious injuries which I would expect to occur if people were standing up and being flung all over the place? Why did it take them 30 seconds to rectify the problem, when such a steep dive should have been obvious immediately?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is 200 feet per second actually that fast? At 400/500mph would it not take only a very slight downward angle to produce that rate of descent?

Aircraft measure their rate of climb/descent in feet per MINUTE (fpm). A normal descent is around 500 fpm which corresponds to about 8.3 feet per second (fps).

If it was a very steep descent why were there only reports of minor injuries and not more serious injuries which I would expect to occur if people were standing up and being flung all over the place?

This is a guess but, seeing as the plane was so close to Tokyo, the pilot had already turned on the fasten seatbelt sign as part of the descent checklist. This would explain why only the flight attendants were injured.

Why did it take them 30 seconds to rectify the problem, when such a steep dive should have been obvious immediately?

Once the dive was established you cannot just snap the plane right back into level flight. Doing so would exceed the G-limits of the aircraft and in all likelihood rip the wings off. Wings in a diving plane must fight gravity PLUS the inertia of the plane in order to regain level flight. Power must be removed and the plane leveled-off while staying within the plane's airframe limitations. 30 seconds is not that bad for a dive recovery of this type.

3 ( +2 / -0 )

Thanks for the reply Fadamor. I'm just still wondering how steep the dive actually was, or felt like, though. 500fpm is a "normal descent" but it's a controlled commercial aircraft landing descent. Like I said, an object travelling at 400/500mph would not need much of a downward trajectory to achieve a 200fps rate. If a plane had to take emergency measures to take evasive action for some reason, is there a standard recommended dive rate? Another poster said he used to do steeper landings than this for the military.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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