It is very difficult to achieve the ideal ditching. Even if you do, you have the next problem of flooding of the airplane. Let us not go out of the scope of the discussion.
Me: Anything more about the plane?
Mr. Shalin: Weight of the plane when it comes down.
Mr. Gaurav (The person sitting next to him): Even this is not actionable. We cannot reduce the weight of the plane.
Mr. Shalin: We can, if we utilize the fuel in the aircraft we can actually reduce the weight.
Me: Excellent point. Mr. Shalinbrought up two important factors in one go. The pilots flew the aircraft, which had 46,860 pounds (21,255 kg) of aviation fuel, in a figure eight pattern between Burbank and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for more than two hours in order to burn fuel and lower the risk of fire upon landing. This also served to lighten the plane, reducing potential stress on the landing gear and dramatically lowering landing speed as well.
Ms.Trupti: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Airport? When did the plane reach there?
Me: We will know how LAX came in picture when we list all important points.
Mr. Dishant: (As soon as he got the hint)Emergency facilities at the airports! They took the plane to LAX airport because the airport has the most modern emergency and safety equipment. Also, it would have been the best choice in the possible airport options, considering the fuel in the plane.
Me: Very good. Yes availability of emergency response facilities at the airport was a very important consideration for finalizing LAX as the emergency landing site. But that was not the only and most important criteria for selecting LAX.
Mr. Arindham: The length of the Runway.
Me: Bulls eye! Yes. The length of the runway was very important. This is because the pilot had been advised to perform a modification in the landing technique. He was advised to keep the plane on the back landing gears after touchdown for as long as possible without letting the nose gear touch the ground. In an attempt to keep the nose gear off the ground (as long as possible), reverse thrust was also not used to slow the aircraft.
Because of such a method, the pilot might not use the brakes effectively. So, the pilot-in-command made the decision that the aircraft should land at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), in order to take advantage of its long, wide runways. He thought it was the most critical X of all probable X’s. At Long Beach the longest runway is 3.05 km. While at LAX, the longest runway is about 3.7 km.
Me: Anymore points? Well, let me tell that, there is data from crash investigations about the impact at different locations in the plane. So based on historic data analysis, the front three rows in the plane were shifted behind before the emergency landing.
Also, brace position is itself based on extensive analytical work. Brace or crash position is an instruction that is given to prepare for an aircraft crash. There are many different ways to adopt the brace position, with many countries adopting their own version based on research performed by their own aviation authority or that of other countries. There is commonality among all brace positions despite these variations.
(You can read more on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brace_position)
(Image Source: air21.se/paxsafety.htm)
The last thing you want to hear on a flight from the pilot is these 3 words “Brace for Impact”.
The panicked crowd was instructed to select their suitable brace positions which terrified them even more. The live TV relay was cut down in the plane since the sensational commentary on the news channels was scaring everyone on the plane.
(The whole training session was curious now. I stop the story again).
Me: Let us plot a fishbone.
(They cannot wait for the suspense anymore and timidly start drawing the fishbone diagram in their books).
Most of them drew a similar kind of diagram. I have represented it below:
Now though most of them could enlist everything we discussed and also could classify them correctly, there were few corrections.
The weight of the plane is dependent to a good extent on the fuel in the plane. These two are not mutually exclusive. (‘Mutually exclusive’- A statistical term used to describe a situation where the occurrence of one event is not influenced or caused by another event). We should populate reasons which are mutually exclusive.
Also the speed of the aircraft while landing may be affected by the weight but there are many other factors (Reverse thrust, spoilers/”lift dumpers, drag flaps etc.). So, it can be enlisted.
Me: Now that we have understood the fishbone, let us find out the suspense of our story.
Me: The name of the flight is JetBlue Flight 292. You can read more. The plane survived the Emergency landing with all 146 on board, safe and sound. What do you think was the most important decision (Critical X’s) from all probable options (Probable X’s). It was the length of the runway which the pilot deemed to be most important. The plane stopped at 3.382 km. which is about 90% of the runway at LAX. Do you remember the length of the longest runway at Long Beach? Yes it was 3.05 km. Had they decided to land at Long beach……..
Well, we don’t want to discuss this but the learning here is important. The learning about how important is to list out all possible causes (Probable X’s) for an effect. The decision of finding out most important causes(Critical X’s) should be further justified by suitable techniques which we will learn next.
The class is happy that the plane landed safely and they have learned the fishbone as well.
Me: Wait, didn’t I tell Mr. Nazim to park his point for a while. Yes, the temperament of the pilot was the most important thing in this whole situation. Moments before safely landing the crippled JetBlue aircraft, the pilot was calm and even joked with a colleague. He also joked that he was sorry he put the plane down 6 inches off the center line off the runway. See, even for him, being in the center of the specification is so important
The above case has been presented by Parag Mehta, the scientist in our team. The question below is posed by VK (Vishwadeep Khatri). We shall continue the debate for next few days.