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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

MH370 Fire? Fire? Fire?

I do not believe so!

Last night on CNN, the anticipated 20 minutes of discussion shifted to 2 minutes because of breaking news with the search in the Indian Ocean. Which has been updated to they have floating objects. Hopefully as you read this we have verification that the plane has been found.




One of the other guests on CNN stated there was a fire that took out all the radios and then our time was over. The power of blogs... I can respond here.

Burning Radios?

Despite what some think, a fire did not take out the radios, incapacitate the pilots and then the plane flew into the distance for 7 hours. 

When there is a fire in our automated electronic aircraft such as the A330, the pilots get a fire warning in the flight deck and the ECAM displays steps to shutdown various systems. If there is a fire in the equipment bay on the Airbus, we get an Avionics Vent Smoke message. I assumed the B777 had a similar warning system in their compartment. But someone commented and politely told there are no smoke sensors in equipment bay. Which I am surprised. I found a set of manuals and could not find reference to it. So I called my Boeing contact who said, "Yes, we have smoke detection in the equipment bay." But he did not bring home his computer and said he'll call me tomorrow and tell me what the ECAM message is.

However the smoke would be cycled through the air-conditioning system and the pilots would smell it. If they did... or we get a message...

The first thing we do: Don oxygen masks and establish communications. Then we remove power from the source if the fire is accessible.

Both pilots would put on their oxygen masks with a warning or an odor. One would fly the plane and turn to the nearest suitable airport for landing while declaring an emergency. The other pilot would perform the action items on the ECAM or in their Quick reference manual. There are only four items to shutdown with a smoke, fire, and fumes procedure: Turn off the recirculation fans, APU Bleed air, Gasper and the passenger seats.

This is not a daunting task that would overload the pilots. The image the experts paint by saying that we have to "put out the fire" and are too busy to talk brings to mind firefighters fighting a raging fire. This really is not what happens on a plane with smoke and fumes.

Facts:
Captain Shah was an experienced pilot who would have donned his oxygen mask at the first sign of smoke. He would not have "pre-programmed" a waypoint. He would have programmed a new destination and flown direct to it notifying ATC.


A fire would not have made the plane climb to 45,000 feet then descend to 23,000. This plane will not fly away from its altitude dialed into the mode control panel. Someone had to make that happen, and it was certainly not incapacitated pilots.

Despite what someone thinks, there is no way a plane "on fire" will fly for 6 hours. This is why we put the plane on the ground when there is a fire. We don't have time in a burning plane.

Communications would have picked up oxygen flow from the mask microphone during the final comment. And... they would have told ATC where they were going and why.

The radios are not all on the same electrical bus. There are many buses for redundancy and to say they all went, might be a little far fetched. The probability of someone gaining access to the flight deck is far more likely without an explosion.

Besides... someone programmed that waypoint in the number three FMS. Why? 

Question to you pilots... wouldn't you either stay on course while you attempted to solve the problem, or if you knew you needed to land immediately, declare an emergency and head to an airport? Why would you put in a random waypoint and not notify anyone? The "all right good night" came after the programmed turn. I could buy the noxious fumes that were overwhelming and incapacitated the pilots if they continued on route and pressed on. If they smelled nothing...and it took them without being able to don their masks... why that turn?


Automated Aircraft Education... New Gen Planes

The B777, B787, A330 and A350 are different planes than what we use to fly. Major differences is the amount of help the plane gives the pilots during an emergency.

We don't need to figure out what the problem might be and search for a procedure, like we once did. We have a screen that names the emergency and provides steps to secure and deal with it.

We can fly, talk and navigate. The quick donning masks are not like the old planes, they can be pulled out with one hand and suck to your face.

This is a new world of aviation and dealing with emergencies is fast, easy, and efficient. A pilot with Captain Shaw's experience where flying comes second, would have dealt with any emergency. Think about this, if he couldn't do it... then who could?

CNN update! NEXT week after my trip.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

27 comments:

  1. I spent a couple of decades (I won't say how many) in the TV business, I think you held your own...and managed to preserve your dignity in the process. CNN is crazy into this story, but they have to hitch their star to something. The guy they placed you with was a loud windbag...plus you had better hair! Keep up the great work!

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    1. Lol... And that's what's most important, ask my daughter! Seriously... yes, he was. I wish I could have seen who I was on with. I was sitting in a dark room. Tonight they had to reschedule but planning when I get back to town around the end of the month. Hopefully we'll know more then!
      Thanks so much for the comment.

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  2. Karlene, even though you were briefly on, you were wonderful!! Hopefully tonight will be a different ballgame. Tonight you will show them and I as well as others will be watching!

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    1. Thanks Jeremy! And tonight they rescheduled and I could not be happier. Heading out on a long trip tomorrow and need the sleep more. We'll re do this when I return. And hopefully with more answers.

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  3. MH370 is SR111.
    Both were crewed by superior pilots.
    Both battled valiantly against impossible odds.
    Both were doomed by Kapton wrapped in Mylar.

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    1. Yes... know that story well. But they did call Pan Pan and made a distress call. The real question is why not. Nope...that's not the real question. The real question is why a pilot would plug in a waypoint with a plan to turn...and not to an alternate or departure, as the case with this being so close.
      And to fly for 7 hours... with a fire?

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  4. Total Rubbish...."When there is a fire in the equipment compartment on one of our automated electronic aircraft such as the 777, the pilots get a fire warning in the flight deck and the ECAM displays steps to shutdown various systems." There are fire warnings for fire/smoke in the cargo compartments. Absolutely none at all for in the electrical bays or the flight deck!!!! For obvious reasons the crew will be aware of a fire there- but for the equipment bays none at all

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    1. You've opened quite a discussion. I have not flown a 777 but standard Boeing has smoke detectors in the E&E. So I dug up 777 manuals and it wasn't clear.

      Contacted a Boeing friend... he said "absolutely" and will provide reference tomorrow. Then contacted line checkairman who said "Absolutely, standard Boeing." So here we have it... I'm searching because my books appear as what you say, but everyone contradicts.

      Thanks for your comment. Well... the rubbish we could do without, but other than that... I love to learn so if you're right, thanks. But we'll know more soon.

      More to come on this. Thanks for bringing up this

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  5. This is a report from a Malaysian news agency that I don't see being mentioned in any other media, do you think communication is maybe, possible? Thank you. http://english.astroawani.com/news/show/mh370-hishammuddin-brushes-aside-communication-possibility-31734

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    1. This is very interesting. It could be real. Why hasn't it made the news... like CNN? I think anything is possible. This would be good to know. Thank you so much for your comment.

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  6. Sorry , 3rd FMC? Connected to what ? This all definitely falls into the La La land theory.

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    1. Yes... these planes have three flight management computers.

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  7. Thank goodness for common sense, that post has been doing enough rounds on my social media accounts to unnerve me slightly! 7 hours? With deeply tragic events such as SwissAir 111 and ValuJet 592, the industry knows all to well that an aircraft could not fly for as long as the Inmarsat ping data seems to be indicating MH370 flew if a fire got so potent it began destroying aircraft systems. There is just no way. Fires are enemy number one on any aircraft, if my "20 years of following, reading and absorbing aviation" is any guide.

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    1. I think Chris Goodfellow touched on something very important regarding MH370. Reporting for the event, and back-and-forth banter by interested people on the internet have largely been devoid of any emotion in an event that is deeply human - and deeply personal for all those involved, including family and rescue and salvage people as well as investigators both technical and medical (see this Esquire Magazine article http://t.co/h9fJeDGcUW). It is a story that two weeks on deeply needs a hero to save the day. And despite the technical flaws in the article itself, I think the overriding opinion that the pilots where fighting a heroic battle will endure for some time --- and may yet be proven the truth. Nobody knows the truth. Most people hope for the best. That is why that article went viral

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    2. I'm thinking too sometimes we lose common sense while looking for answers. Thank you so much for your comment.

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  8. Hi Karlene, unfortunately I didn't catch the interview but I'm sure you did well..your input would have been far better and accurate than others.

    There was some story that pilot wanted to divert to Pulau Langkawi. Most people who write these kinds of things don't know that there are other airports much nearer with over 11,000 feet runways and one didn't have to divert that far out to Langkawi..as you mentioned, you'd be looking for the closest suitable airport.

    Regarding the comment above from anonymous, I find that hard to believe. As I understand MH 777 doesn't have wifi on board and that far out and that high, you wouldn 't be able to get a signal to post on instagram or tweet or call or whatever. Doubt that story.

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    1. Capt Anup, I don't think it had Wifi either. I think sometimes stories get going and run wild without thought. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. TV newspeople are hired for their looks, not for having any particular knowledge on ANY subject.

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    1. And sometimes they miss on both! lol.

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  10. Hello Karlene,

    unfortunately I wasn't able to catch the time you were on due to a late night class. I can't say I believe a fire was going on either.

    I was curious though would you ever depressurize your airplane at a high altitude to suffocate a fire if it was in the cabin or the luggage area? I was thinking it might be a good way of doing things if the passengers have twelve minutes on their oxygen mask you might be able to suffocate the fire and climb back down to an altitude where they can take off their mask without getting hypoxic.

    Also have you known any other accidents to be this mysterious or to receive this much news coverage in the past?

    Thanks Again,
    Martin Knife

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    1. Hi Martin, No... we would not climb to put out the fire. The cargo compartments have fire extinguishing agents. So, that would be the best way to put out the fire. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  11. Quote-"This is not a daunting task"says Capt.Karlene Petitt.
    Perhaps my English sense of irony is showing thru or perhaps I just realize some people do really cool stuff much better than the rest of us!

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    1. Lol... well, this is what they train us to do. Survive to save the passengers! Thanks for the comment.

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  12. Would the pilot try to shut down the majority of systems if he believed there was an electrical fire, but in fact it was a fire in one of the aircraft holds. Ie a lithium battery fire. Could a slow burner decompress the aircraft slowly and incapacitate the crew and passengers then go on a ghost flight .

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    1. They would declare an emergency and divert and then deal with the fire issue. So.. not the way it happened Thanks for the great question!

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    2. Thanks for your reply karlene, really does look like an act of madness, and although it's three months on now very surprising that there has been no trace of the aircraft at all. I suppose until its found if it ever is, it will remain one of the biggest aviation mystery,s since the likes of Amelia Earhart and Glenn miller here in the uk. Thanks and safe flying.

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    3. You're welcome. Yes, I think it will be a mystery too. Hopefully one day we will know. And then the downed plane... just so sad. Okay...on the good side of flying, Planes Fire and Rescue is out. Something fun in the time of sadness. http://tinyurl.com/nqlcuvr

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