Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stalling Aircraft

Modern passenger planes cruise at very high altitude and very close to their stall speed, flying on a knife edge, in order to minimize fuel consumption.  The problem is that when a plane encounters turbulent air due to a storm or a side wind, it can stall unexpectedly, while still traveling at high speed.

It appears to me, that in the relentless pursuit of lower drag and lower fuel consumption, the designers have compromised aircraft stability and safety. 

The situation now, that a passenger plane can stall at 30,000 feet and then fall out of the sky, with the total loss of aircraft, crew and passengers, unable to recover despite the best efforts of an experienced flight crew, because the plane was designed to save every last drop of fuel, is inexcusable.

Aircraft designers should always put stability and safety first and should not be driven by marketing only.

Postscript
In October 2018, a brand new Boeing 737 Max crashed in Indonesia with great loss of life, because it had a new anti-stall feature that the pilots were not informed of.  The plane was forced down by the automatic system, due to a faulty AOA sensor and crashed into the sea, while the pilots were fighting the system for control.

Maybe airlines should consider buying more conservatively designed Ukrainian and Russian planes, instead of over engineered American ones.

Herman

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