Saturday, March 19, 2016

Did Microburst Cause FlyDubai Crash in Russia?

News reports saying that the doomed jetliner "clipped the runway with a wing" are not correct. The FlyDubai plane crashed 800 feet from the threshold of the runway. The fireball on the security camera video below shows the plane still had plenty of fuel. The steep descent is obviously not anywhere near a normal final approach profile. It looks like an airplane that has lost lift.




The FlyDubai jet would have had their weather radar on. It is designed to detect wind shear and microbursts, both which can be extremely nasty. In the illustration below, note how the airplane goes quickly from a headwind to a tailwind. (University of Wisconsin) At a low enough altitude, such as final approach, there may not be time for a pilot to correctly react.




On August 12, 1985, an L1011 Delta jet designated Flight 191 was slammed to the ground a mile from the runway in Dallas by a microburst. That's when the U.S. finally got serious about wind shear and microbursts, which had been a factor in numerous crashes. Now, U.S. airports carry equipment to identify wind shears and microbursts. The controller might tell a pilot this:

RUNWAY 27 ARRIVAL, MICROBURST ALERT, 35 KT LOSS 2 MILE FINAL, THRESHOLD WIND 250 AT 20.

Bear does not know if Russian airports are similarly equipped. But the obvious choice is weather as the cause. And the pilot flying through "hurricane force winds" instead of diverting.

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