F-35 Vinson Mishap

Ed Lada

Super Anarchist
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It sounds like these planes can land themselves at this point...
Yes, they can actually.  

There are some complaints, and probably valid, that pilots, military and commercial are losing their hand flying skills due to automation.  The F35 has an auto land feature in it and can and does land on carriers without human input.  The Landing Signals Officer (LSO) and the Meatball, the lights that help the  pilots line up on the deck properly are going to be obsolete soon.

 

Foreverslow

Super Anarchist
It sounds like these planes can land themselves at this point...
I like the line in Ward's followup where the original F35 test pilot says "the system is so good that there is a joke that the carrier deck has grooves worn into it from every landing hitting the same 3 wire perfectly every time".

Having said that,  they also mentioned pilots are required to do a manual landing every 7th flight or so to keep their skills up.  May be the pilot was coming in manually.    The fact they have not Red Lined the landing system means Navy Brass believes the landing system had no part in this crash.

 

Ed Lada

Super Anarchist
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I like the line in Ward's followup where the original F35 test pilot says "the system is so good that there is a joke that the carrier deck has grooves worn into it from every landing hitting the same 3 wire perfectly every time".

Having said that,  they also mentioned pilots are required to do a manual landing every 7th flight or so to keep their skills up.  May be the pilot was coming in manually.    The fact they have not Red Lined the landing system means Navy Brass believes the landing system had no part in this crash.
They pretty much agreed that what they saw indicated it was pilot error.  It will be a long time before the Navy releases the result of their investigation to the public.  

 

Crash

Super Anarchist
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It’s important to understand the difference between JPALS -Joint Precision Approach Landing System - which IS a precision landing system that enables “hands off” landings in poor weather/visibility and PLM- Precision Landing Mode - which is a digital flight control mode designed to maintain a 3.5 degree glide slope.  Yes, if an aircraft with PLM active is stabilized on its approach and perfectly on glide slope, on centerline, and on speed, it might enable a “hands off” the stick landing, but PLM design function is to reduce pilot workload during VFR landings on the boat from the 300+ corrections a Tomcat pilot had to make, or the 200+ an F-18 pilot had to make to around 10-20.  
 

Critically, one of the inputs the pilot must make to PLM is the ships speed.  So a potential error was an incorrectly entered ships speed. 

Another potential error was that the pilot was not in Delta Path mode and instead was still in Flight Path Rate Mode

Or maybe for some reason PLM kicked off, and the pilot was trying to re-enable it during the approach and therefore didn’t recognize or correct the sink rate issue in time

Or maybe PLM kicked off and he never realized it till the LSOs hit the wave off lights and started screaming for “power”

Because the PLAT videos start with the aircraft in “the middle” we can’t see if there was a poor start (not stabilized on speed, on glide slope, on centerline).  A good start is still the key to a good landing, whether your hand flying it in an “analog” F-14, or flying an F-35 with PLM engaged.

 

DarthSailor

Super Anarchist
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Yes, they can actually.  

There are some complaints, and probably valid, that pilots, military and commercial are losing their hand flying skills due to automation.  The F35 has an auto land feature in it and can and does land on carriers without human input.  The Landing Signals Officer (LSO) and the Meatball, the lights that help the  pilots line up on the deck properly are going to be obsolete soon.
rarely used, not obsolete for a while yet.

 

Borax Johnson

Anarchist
591
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I am astonished at the lack of security that would allow these images and videos to make it into the public domain in the first place. 

But I guess the oath to defend the country and the constitution gets a pass when you have an opportunity to generate "likes" on YouTwitFace.com
With all of the metadata attached to any digital media, who in their right mind would throw away a career for that?!?

Oh. A Millennial. With a selfie and a Facebook post.

 

Bump-n-Grind

Get off my lawn.
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Critically, one of the inputs the pilot must make to PLM is the ships speed.  So a potential error was an incorrectly entered ships speed. 
wouldn't ship speed be something that is "obtained" electronically in a system like this?

seems odd that it wouldn't be.  I mean AIS can tell me how soon that freighter is going to run into me if I don't tack. 

 

Crash

Super Anarchist
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wouldn't ship speed be something that is "obtained" electronically in a system like this?

seems odd that it wouldn't be.  I mean AIS can tell me how soon that freighter is going to run into me if I don't tack. 
Good question.  In times of EMCON...i.e. no electronic emissions from the ship, you wouldn't want that.  So I don't know if its broadcast by the LSO's, or if you take a quick radar lock yourself, or how its input.  But the briefings I've seen on it very specifically call out ships speed as an input to PLM.

Back in the last millennium, when I was bagging traps in the back seat of an F-14, you looked out the side of the cockpit at the water, waves, whitecaps, and sorta guessed the windspeed and ships speed as a result.  But the pilot was hand flying the whole approach anyway, so ships speed gave you a bit of situational awareness, but was not a direct input to any system on the airplane.

Just heard tonight that we successfully recovered the airplane from a depth of over 12,000ft.   

 
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Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
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I remember watching flight ops from a tin can in the "close guard" spot about two miles off the stern quarter. Amazing to watch these jets come in slow and kinda wobbly.

It's a lot more complex than it looks, noteworthy that the US Navy and the UK Royal Navy are the only ones that hold regular flight ops at sea. It's a strategic high card, although as Ed L pointed out, it's a damned costly one.

- DSK

 

Grande Mastere Dreade

Snag's spellchecker
I remember watching flight ops from a tin can in the "close guard" spot about two miles off the stern quarter. Amazing to watch these jets come in slow and kinda wobbly.

It's a lot more complex than it looks, noteworthy that the US Navy and the UK Royal Navy are the only ones that hold regular flight ops at sea. It's a strategic high card, although as Ed L pointed out, it's a damned costly one.

- DSK
don't forget the pitching and rolling of the deck...     my dad said those decks can drop 20 feet in a second while you're coming in..

 

Tax Man

Super Anarchist
2,090
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Toronto
I remember watching flight ops from a tin can in the "close guard" spot about two miles off the stern quarter. Amazing to watch these jets come in slow and kinda wobbly.

It's a lot more complex than it looks, noteworthy that the US Navy and the UK Royal Navy are the only ones that hold regular flight ops at sea. It's a strategic high card, although as Ed L pointed out, it's a damned costly one.

- DSK
France - one newish carrier with traditional tailhook/wire landing.

 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
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France - one newish carrier with traditional tailhook/wire landing.
You're right, I just read about them doing carrier ops. I had the impression they did not devote as much time to it.

The Russians tried carrier based air strikes on Syrian rebels a few years back. They did more damage to themselves than to the targets. The Chinese are spending at least some time with their (rehabbed Russian) carrier at sea.

There are a lot of folks who have said, condescendingly, "Carriers are just big targets" and "Carriers are obsolete in the age of drones" (oh really, what do you think could 'carry' a hell of a lot of drones right up to an enemy's coast) and they've been saying the same sort of thing since about 1947. One of these decades they'll be right, but I don't think it's this one.

- DSK

 

Ed Lada

Super Anarchist
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There are a lot of folks who have said, condescendingly, "Carriers are just big targets" and "Carriers are obsolete in the age of drones" (oh really, what do you think could 'carry' a hell of a lot of drones right up to an enemy's coast) and they've been saying the same sort of thing since about 1947. One of these decades they'll be right, but I don't think it's this one.
Carriers can certainly deliver a lot of hurt to almost anywhere in the world.

The only problem is the carrier battle group, a large, very expensive, bunch of ships whose main function is to protect the carrier, has never been battle tested in combat against a modern naval force, obviously either Russia or China.  China doesn't have much of an ocean going navy yet, and the Russian navy isn't exactly all that either, but still...

There is no doubt that in todays low intensity, asymmetrical war model, the US Navy carriers play a powerful role.  Whether it's worth the tremendous cost is an entirely different discussion.

 


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