David wrote:
> I'm going through some of the materials I pulled down from your
> web site. Some questions:
> What is a long-haul RPT? For the life of me, I cannot figure out
> what this acronym means.
> Who is Dagger Dirk?
> Somewhere in these materials, it is mentioned that Qantas
> re-introduced the second officer cum flight engineer. When did this
> happen? On all or on just some aircraft?
> Virgin bus: You have argued for this kind of "get-you-home"
> capability, but how would it be wired? I mean, wouldn't all wiring
> eventually have to go to the same places? If you could provide
> additional and detailed thoughts on your concept, I would not only
> appreciate it, I might print your suggestion in a side box.
> Many thanks,
> David

Subject: Replies to your Queries
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 02:22:10 -3440
From: IASA Safety <>
To: David Evans <>

Dagger_Dirk is a pseudonym (nom de guerre). It was also my Forward Air Controller callsign (from my war-like days). It was originally my intention to keep the site anonymous (but I was forgetting how easily recognisable my old callsign was).

Long-haul RPT is the in-term for trans-oceanic Regular Public Transport. RPT is a much used ICAO acronym that differentiates charter and air-cargo and air-work from the more serious business of pax-carrying in accordance with a published schedule. In the sense in which I use it I am particularly discriminating between (and contrasting the different considerations for) puddle-jumper feeder-liner regional commuter operations (which are never more than 10 to 12 mins from a landable airport in CONUS) and international flights which are always way above landing weight for the first three hours and then too remotely located for an urgent recovery. Farnborough AVMED in 1998 had some in-depth seminars on the subject of chronic pilot fatigue (or ennui) brought about by very inactive long duty hours. In the older turbo-props and jets those hours were broken up by the demands of Loran Navigation, HF selcal comms and cross-feed, cross-transfer tasks, how-gozit charts, comms relay
etc. Nowadays,because of FMS and TCAS collision avoidance systems, the typical airline pilot has very little function enroute and most Company OPS manuals don't permit reading books or newspapers etc. Ennui fatigue has led to a lot of Aviation Medico's grounding pilots for short periods on other
pretexts - because airline management construe complaints of ennui fatigue as shirking or opportunistic hypochondria. Fatigue due to enforced inactivity is slowly being recognised as a CRM factor. Of most concern is the low awareness thresholds that accompany it. A pilot being alerted to a malfunction by a seductive female EICAS voice is not likely to instantly galvanize into action. On the contrary, he is highly likely to misinterpret a situation and react inappropriately.

QANTAS has always had second officers on RPT Long-Haul. In part this was a hang-over from the B707 and Super Connie era and the fact that most international flights are long-haul sectors ex OZ. Mostly it is because QANTAS see the progression through that position to FO and then eventually into Command Training as a logical progression. By the time a pilot is FO qualified he has a very substantial grounding in aircraft technical subjects. The Second Officer does most of his backup through participatory observation and cruise seat time. It is a participatory post and not a dead-heading relief crew position as in Virgin Atlantic's Long-Haul routes to HK and beyond. The presence of a younger crash-buddy tends to promote more teaching/learning review and revision than would otherwise be the case in a two man show. It was always necessarily thus in Air Force crews where the throughput was higher. The presence of a junior always tends to put the seniors more on the qui vive and less prone to ennui induced errors (like overrunning beacons for a CFIT experience). However a lot of older F/E's would say that the old duty statement for a FE was a sounder proposition (i.e. no progression to a pilot seat and a defined responsibility for turn-around maintenance - i.e. an FE career structure as still exists with the RAAF, RAF and USN's plane captains ). In my experience they were always a tight, proud brotherhood and were rarely found wanting.

Look again at this extract from my landings3.html page:
Many long-haul airline pilots live in the reverse spectrum – of chronic fatigue as compared to a state of fatigue-inducing awareness and concern. Low thresholds of awareness are brought about by circadian dysrhythmia (crossing time-zones) and the monotony of seeing the meridians slip by so slowly. It’s called ennui – a mental weariness stemming from lack of occupation or interest or stimuli. Modern aircraft are so reliable that you need never awake from your low arousal state torpor. But chances are, that when you are rudely awakened by EICAS, you’ll be behind developments and your adrenaline supply will be as indisposed as you are. A lot of the Aviation Medicine quackery at this year’s Farnborough was all about this topic. i.e. Airlines won’t recognise chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS aka malingering) so the Avmed Doc’s are grounding pilots for spurious chest infections – until their body clocks are back in whack. It is against this background that I make my case, on behalf of the ignorant public, for Man Three as a Man Friday. He’s just your insurance against the odds of a million pulsating rivets and a skillion miles of zipping volts ganging up on you both -and every-one getting the warm kero bath.
One final esoteric thought on the Flt Eng debate. However much you belabor CRM the captain/copilot relationship is always going to revolve around the basic premise of "Gear Up". "Yes Sir". The guy in the LHS has got it made and you (still in the RHS) are very aware that he’s the boss. It’s not a circumstance conducive to the free exchange of ideas amongst peers. I always found that when I was in the LHS or RHS in cruise the Flt Eng was always the pivot for safety or tech debate (same thing). For years I had the same shit-stirring FE team that was always ready to drop me in it with a profound techo question. It kept me on my toes because I didn’t want to look bereft in front of the COJO. He similarly boned up because he wanted to be seen as a serious contender for command. All-in-all it was a very healthy atmosphere and I learnt a lot more than I would’ve otherwise. We shone in the sim. It goes without saying that the FE union was never going to allow the pilots to steal any marches on them so you genuinely couldn’t have had a smarter, safer, more alert environment.


He who does not prefer exile to slavery is not free by any measure of freedom, truth and duty. Kahlil Gibran A learned County Court judge in a book of memoirs recently said that the overwhelming amount of his time on the bench was taken up "with people who are persuaded by persons whom they do not know to enter into contracts that they do not understand to purchase goods that they do not want with money that they have not got." Lord Greene {Altruism and Cynicism}

Here are a few extracts from my site (and I'll wrap it up at the bottom) landings3.html
Considering the smoke checklist itself (see tan text at link), please note
my argument that it is almost universally being run as a reverse of what
sound logic would dictate. In other words, first up, pilots should be able
to activate an easily selectable (but minimal) electrical configuration and
then warily restore the electrics and avionics (but only as and if
required). In this way the situation is hopefully nipped in the bud. If the
authorities are not to ground Kapton wired aircraft generally, it may be the
only sensible thing to do. Technically, it's not a massive task to wire the
relevant buses through a single non-essential buses' monitoring switch
(which may end up as having a second position of "Flight Essential" or BATT
power) and a third (gated) position of "OFF"
(for just such a situation as SR111's). This last switch position would
leave the pilot with a functioning standby Attitude Indicator that was
running off an integral battery and a transponder and COM set that was
similarly isolated. Most competent pilots, thus equipped and minus the
smoke, could make a reasonable fist of recovering the bird, even if a last
minute power-on of the Flt Ess Bus was required to configure and land.

2.An entirely separate (virgin) electrical system containing the rudimentals
for IFR flight in IMC should be selectable. The ability to immediately
select such a system, fundamental though it may be, is infinitely preferable
to the contrasting, existing, interminable checklisting situation. At
present crews have to allow any electrical fire to continue and develop
whilst they trouble-shoot it and the situation worsens. The fact that it can
rapidly deteriorate and compound was shown graphically by the Swissair
accident. Fire-in-the-air stories abound as does the fact that in many cases
crews survived by the narrowest of margins. If you look around you, at the
fire notices in whatever building you happen to be in now, you will notice
that the overpowering imperative in case of fire is to alert everyone and
evacuate. There are many instances of what panicking passengers will achieve
if alerted, at best distracting trim changes – at worst total pandemonium.
And, of course, evacuation isn’t an option. The only way to sensibly combat
electrical fires airborne is to immediately inert the normal electrical
system and fall back on manually deployable air-driven generators or ram-air
turbines. These will maintain charge to batteries that are powering
inverters (for three-phase and single phase AC requirements) and DC
instrumentation (required flight and engine instruments and avionics only –
no weather radar, FADEC, EICAS etc). Such a package may add 800 kgs to the
average long-haul RPT airliner’s zero fuel weight but that is a small price
to pay for passenger security and confidence. Crews would also be relieved
of the concern that, unlike the travelling public, their exposure to the
fire risk is every day of their working lives. If the bean-counters throw up
their arms aghast at how much this modification would cost in the airliner
of the future I urge them to consider the following points:
The weight cost of hauling the extra safety hardware is being
rapidly offset by the use of lighter-weight composites in airframe
components; an extra 800kg is not a big penalty in terms of the increase in
security it affords.
The fact that certification of longer-range trans-oceanic
multi’s and ETOPS twins need not mean that internal RPT airliners and
commuters need be so equipped. The fact that most internal flights will
rarely be more than ten minutes flying time from an emergency alternate
should enable conscionable exclusions from particular type ratings. The real
problem for crews is being on fire with a very distant alternate, whilst at
the same time being in very poor shape to ditch. The ditching
characteristics of large underwing turbofans are also very poor,
whatever their approach configuration - so such events are likely to be
relatively unsurvivable.

MORE ON .......The Virgin Bus
The older generations of jets could actually be operated in an electrically inert state if required (say they couldn't locate the source or cause of a worsening fire/smoke situation). Unfortunately that's now not an option in FBW and glass-cockpitted (EFIS-equipped) aircraft. Their flight controls are hydraulic and the hydraulics are electrically operated - no redundancy at all in that proposition. In fact it's the reverse and therefore a nasty trap. The very proposition of a "total electrics" was horrific to Swissair Chief Pilot Hildebrandt when the investigator (Gerden) pointed out at a press conference that it was a likely cause for both the CVR and DFDR prematurely cutting out. How can a "total electrics" failure come about? Firstly, if the Kapton wire bundles flash-over and the bus-tie (and therefore the buses) are shorted out, hey presto - no ergs. If it's a propagated fire through the insulation blankets it may get to that stage due to externalised wiring damage - but it's more likely then that the pilots will earlier on succumb to the toxic smoke. If the pilots are so overwrought by smoke that they see a total shutdown as the only option they may opt to ditch all electrics. If the wiring flash-over or fire occurs in close proximity to a circuit-breaker panel you may have massive ongoing thermal trips. The electrical interdependence of modern electrics and electronics means that scant few components have to malfunction in order for a ripple effect to take out whole systems or buses or create unresettable trip faults in generators (overvoltage, undervoltage, over and under-frequency etc) or a phase imbalance in inverters. A lightning strike can do it even if the earthing and bonding integrity is 100%. But by far the greatest hazard now extant is the presence of Kapton kindling and metallized mylar blankets as tinder. If pilots continue to ponder lengthy trouble-shooting checklists, and thereby allow unseen fires to take hold, we may have a few more Swissair style accidents.
A sensible solution is action appropriate to a worst-case scenario. If you smell and see smoke you should assume that an electrical manifestation is shortly to occur. It may be as simple as a CB trip, static on a radio, a system outage, a CDU or CRT fading or flickering. That to me would be more than sufficient confirmation - and I can anyways nasally discriminate between an aircon unit's oil contam and electrical smoke. So can most people. In an ideal world (and in an ideal aircraft) I would then immediately select "FLT ESS BUS". This would deploy the ADG. The ADG coming on speed and assuming its GEN load would automatically kick out all the normal buses. I would then be on a stand-alone virgin bus that had on it about a 65% load of get-you-home items (transponder, scant avionics, comms, analogue standby flight insts, essential cockpit illumination and Nav lights, pitot/static heat, a hyd pump for flight controls and later configuring, essential analogue eng instrumentation of N1, N2 and TOT). The ADG will maintain charge to batteries that are powering inverters (for three-phase and single phase AC requirements) and DC instrumentation (required flight and engine instruments and avionics only – no weather radar, FADEC, EICAS, TCAS, anti-ice etc). Any underway developing electrical fire will lose its electrical impetus and fizzle out if action is promptly taken. Any electrician will back up that assertion. The wiring of the Flt ESS bus would have absolutely minimal conjunction with the normal electrical system. Wiring harnesses would be independent TKT and not even cross-over a Kapton loom without adequate protection. Any necessary conjunctionality would be protected by reverse flow diodes. This is what preserves the virginality and electrical integrity of this backup bus. The cabin would be dead (but only electrically).

My solution adds a few kilometres of wiring but a lot of security to an otherwise totally unforgiving circumstance. Unfortunately it will be "publicity unacceptable" to the scions and lions of deregulated aviation because it would be a tacit admission that Kapton is a deadly mamba stretching throughout our civil airline fleets - but, after the next one, I'll at least be able to point to this and say: "I told you so". And they'll be the ones facing the families with guilt and worthless avarice written all over their deadly, evasive PR facades. It really takes balls to face up to facts and unfortunately the only ones we're seeing are the ones that the FAA are keeping in the air. Sooner or later these lethal jugglers will drop the first ball and then the sound of them all hitting the ground one after the other will be the sound of legal thunder.

hope that's helpful, feel free to cut and paste
Thanks for the info about the IFE wiring. It's what I suspected.


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