“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Is Airbus fly-by-wire technology flawed?

Airbus, 310, 330, 340, have numerous allegations regarding design flaw caused accidents that were attributed to pilot error. Were they design errors? Are the design errors due to the insatiable demand for greater fuel efficiency? I believe that is so.

The dirty secret in aircraft design is they are not built as strongly as possible, but as weak as reasonably tolerable. Why is that? Weight, fuel prices and the absurd pricing of commercial air line tickets.

If you fly in many USAIR aircraft today, you will find that the video equipment has been stripped off the plane to save fuel. The increased use of composites is to save fuel.

There may be a wider lesson in that the same design and manufacturing strategy will be used by automakers.

What should the airlines do?

The first step is to to reasonably price the cost of air travel. Find the true demand and adjust the capacity. Charge the true cost per mile plus a profit, and base the ticket on the weight of the passenger and their luggage, times miles flown.

I don't want the tail rudder flying off my plane because too many passengers have tails too big and the plain has a tail too weak.

Previous Airbus Incidents:

In November 2001, eyewitnesses saw American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus-300, shed its vertical stabilizer, the tail fin and rudder, in flight. The airplane crashed in a neighborhood of Queens in New York City. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation said the airplane encountered wake turbulence from another aircraft and that the copilot flying the Airbus over-controlled the airplane’s rudder, which was not subject to computer limits at slow airspeeds, inflicting extreme loads on the structure that failed. The Air France crash has pilots and experts questioning the NTSB’s finding of pilot error in this and other crashes.

In May 1997, American Airlines Flight 903 experienced a non-fatal stall/upset incident involving the use of the rudder on an Airbus A300-600. Investigators determined that abrupt movements of the rudder “can lead to a rapid loss of controlled flight” and might inflict forces capable of ripping the vertical fin off the airframe. An immediate inspection of the tail found no damage, but subsequent detailed inspections of that airframe found cracks in the composite structure that led to the replacement of the tail.

In 2002, a FedEx pilot flying an Airbus A-300 freighter complained about uncommanded movements of the airplane’s rudder while in flight. Ground tests by FedEx maintenance crews found that the hydraulic actuators that swing the rudder left and right exceeded the rudder travel limits and tore holes in the structure in the same area where other Airbus rudders have detached from airplanes in flight.

In March 2005, Air Transat Flight 961, an Airbus A-310, was en route from Cuba to Quebec in level cruise flight when the rudder fell away from the airplane over the Caribbean Ocean. The airplane was able to return for a safe landing, but the incident added to questions about EADS’ use of composite construction technology, inspection methods, and computer controlled flight systems. There are at least two other Airbus 300-series aircraft that went down in oceans due to still unexplained circumstances, but the tail fin of one of those airplanes was found floating near where the airplane crashed.
Human Events

Rudder could be cause of Air France crash, pilots and experts say
There's been a pattern of irregularities linked to the tail fin, but Airbus says it's too soon to know.

By Alexandra Marks | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the June 18, 2009 edition

NEW YORK - As they work to unravel the mystery of Air France Flight 447, aviation analysts and pilots are now urging investigators to focus attention on the plane's tail fin, known as the vertical stabilizer, in addition to the design of the Airbus's computerized flight controls.

The vertical stabilizer is one of the largest intact pieces of the plane recovered so far, and the Times of London reported this week that "one of the 24 automatic messages sent from the plane minutes before it disappeared pointed to a problem in the 'rudder limiter,' a mechanism that limits how far the plane's rudder can move."

Aviation analysts note that several Airbus 300 series jets have had tail fin and rudder problems in the past. (The rudder is the flight control on the vertical stabilizer, or tail fin.)

The most recent incident was in 2005, when the rudder suddenly ripped off the stabilizer of an Airbus 310 flying at 35,000 feet from Cuba to Quebec, Canada. That plane managed to land safely.

The most deadly event was the 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587, in which 265 people died when the plane's vertical stabilizer tore off soon after takeoff. Investigators blamed that crash on "over use" of the rudder pedal by the co-pilot. But critics note that just prior to take off, that plane also had problems with a computer tied to the rudder. That computer was reset by a technician prior to takeoff.


In light of the circumstances surrounding the loss of AF447, some analysts and pilots are now calling for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to reopen the investigation of AA587 in light of potential similarities between the two crashes. They're also calling for a thorough review of all past vertical stabilizer, rudder, and computer incidents on Airbus planes.

"Absolutely the NTSB should reopen the investigation," says Lee Gaillard, an aviation analyst in Saranac Lake, N.Y. "Given the implications that seem to be surfacing in this Air France crash involving the rudder and potential computer problems, the whole [Airbus] computerized system needs to be taken a very close look at."


French investigators Wednesday said they're now developing "an image that is progressively less fuzzy" about what happened that stormy night June 1 over the Atlantic Ocean, when Flight 447 disappeared.

Judging from the wreckage and bodies recovered so far, and the few clues sent electronically in the last four minutes of the flight, investigators believe the Airbus 330-200 jet probably broke apart in flight, then scattered over several miles.

"We are in a situation that is a bit more favorable than the first days," Paul-Louis Arslanian, head of the French civil aviation safety agency told reporters at a press conference in Paris on Wednesday. "We can say there is a little less uncertainty, so there is a little more optimism ... [but] it is premature for the time being to say what happened."

He cautioned that the search is continuing for the flight data recorders, which could hold critical clues as to what happened.

Investigators so far have focused on the potential that speed sensors, called Pitot tubes, could have iced up and provided faulty information to the flight control computers. In the past week, Air France has replaced the Pitot tubes on all of its Airbus 330s.

That theory was gleaned from the burst of automated messages about mechanical events sent during the last four minutes of the flight. Most of the messages appear to be linked to "incoherent" speed readings, which then affected other systems of the plane, Mr. Arslanian said.


But the report that one of those automated messages also indicated problems with the rudder limiter has renewed concerns first made public during the AA587 crash investigation in 2001.

At the time, a group of American Airlines pilots presented to the NTSB a 68-page dossier documenting incidences of uncommanded rudder movements in the A300 series jets.

The NTSB eventually concluded the cause of the crash was not a computer problem, but the co-pilot over-using the rudder pedal during some wake turbulence.

The animation in this NTSB simulation shows the pilots pushing the rudder pedals abruptly and sharply to the floor, which is what investigators believed caused the plane to lose its vertical stabilizer and crash.

But some pilots familiar with the A300 series jets still doubt that conclusion. They say that it would be physically very difficult for a pilot to make the kind of abrupt rudder pedal movements indicated in the simulation, particularly while going 250 knots, which the NTSB indicated was the plane's speed at the time.

"I just don't see the co-pilot making the kind of abrupt movement at that speed," says an A330 pilot with more than 20 years experience in military and commercial aviation. "At 250 knots I don't think you can move the rudder pedal that far. It's going full deflection [which means it would be extremely difficult to push down as far as the simulation asserts]."

This pilot suggests that a computer malfunction could also have caused the rudder to fluctuate wildly, particularly because of the past incidences of uncommanded rudder movements in some Airbus jets.

But NTSB investigators note that the investigation took almost three years, and they say potential computer problems were thoroughly investigated at the time.

"In that case, the flight recorder was the source of detailed information that indicated how rapidly and frequently the rudder was moved. Then it was just a matter of aerodynamic calculations to see [what caused the tail to tear off,]" says Richard Healing, who was a member of the NTSB at the time of the investigation. "We were totally convinced the pilot's feet were on the pedals and he was moving the controls manually."

But the A330 pilot and others note that Airbus's computerized flight controls are highly complex and have resulted in other uncommanded rudder and other component movements.


In addition to the rudder incidents documented by American Airlines pilots prior to the 2001 crash of AA587, last year two Qantas Airlines Airbus 330s experienced uncommanded pitches nose-downward.Nine months before that, in January 2008, an Air Canada Airbus 319 also "experienced a sudden upset when it rolled uncommanded 36 degrees right and then 57 degrees left and pitched nose-down," according to a report on file at the NTSB.

As a result, some pilots and analysts would like to see a more thorough investigation of whether a potential computer glitch may have played a part in the dramatic rudder movement during the AA587 crash. They believe that could hold a key to help understand whether a similar "uncommanded" movement could have played a part in the Air France plane suddenly breaking apart and losing its vertical stabilizer mid-air during a routine flight.

"Airbus has every single incentive to do whatever it takes to find out what could have gone wrong to be sure that information gets in the right hands to prevent further accidents," says Kevin Mitchell, chairman of The Business Travel Coalition in Radnor, Pa. "On the other side of the issue, if they have fundamental structural or design flaws and billions of dollars invested, then it doesn't get any worse in terms of strategic prospects. So organizations like the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration must be on the alert for potential conflicts of interests."

Airbus has not returned calls asking for comment on this story. But in a conversation earlier this week, an Airbus spokesman speaking on background cautioned against continued speculation about the cause of the accident.

"All we know at the moment is that, yes, there's a piece of the rudder that's been found and that we know that there were some maintenance messages sent from the aircraft, and one said there was inconsistency with air speed measurements. That's all we know, and it's not enough to build a picture of what happened to the aircraft, which is why it's so important to find the missing black boxes," he said.


  1. At the time, a group of American Airlines pilots presented to the NTSB a 68-page dossier documenting incidences of uncommanded rudder movements in the A300 series jets.

    Trust the pilots, or the animators?

  2. My best advise, take the train.

    Or drive.

  3. Is there not a plane czar we can call?

    If not, you fellas figure there should be?

    Or should we all just agree not to fly on Airbus. Caveat emptor

  4. I can't avoid them, but they are as safe as the rock of Gibraltar compared to these twin engines props I have to take over Central American mountains in rainy season,especially with some of these young pilots that haven't quite grasped the concept of turning back.

    Ex-C.I.A. Chief Hurt and Wife Killed in Air Crash
    Published: Monday, January 17, 2000
    NY Times

    "Adm. Stansfield Turner, a former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency, was among 17 people injured in a weekend airplane crash that killed his wife, a couple from the United States and a Spaniard, Costa Rican authorities said today.

    Mr. Turner, the agency's director under President Carter, was in a San Jose hospital. No details on his condition were available.

    His wife, Eli Karen, was killed on Saturday afternoon when their Taxi Aereo Centroamericano flight crashed into a home shortly after taking off in San Jose, a spokesman for the United States Embassy said.

    Also killed in the crash were Siegfried Richert and his wife, Therese, of San Francisco and a Spaniard, Antonio Sanchez Diaz, according to the embassy spokesman and Javier Montero, chief of the Judicial Investigation Organization in Costa Rica.

    Mr. Turner and 16 other people, most of them Spaniards, were injured when the Czech-built LET 410 hit a house near the Tobias Bolanos airport, Red Cross officials said.

    Three people were in the house, including a housekeeper who suffered minor injuries.

    ''It was like a bomb,'' the housekeeper, Yamileth Saenz, told the daily La Nacion. ''Pieces of cement, wood and even a wall fell on top of us.''

    In addition to Mr. Turner, the injured passengers and crew members included nine Spaniards, two French citizens, one Salvadoran and three Costa Ricans, the Red Cross said. Most were in stable condition in San Jose hospitals.

    The cause of the accident was under investigation. It was unclear whether heavy winds played a role."

    unclear was it?

  5. As President John Adams told US, long ago, about the United States of America.

    "A government of laws and not of men."

    But what would he have known about it?

    Thinking that the Law was something to be followed ...
    or enforced.

    We have left that concept far behind US, on both the "left" and the 'right".

  6. This fellow, Marta Mossburg, writes about the subject of laws and men, just yesterday.
    Marta, now what kind of a name is that, what was his mother thnking?

    Marta Mossburg: Americans need a rule of law, not one of men

    Men and women fail, often. It's inherent to humankind. That is why the rule of law is so important.

    That should be the take-away for each person who witnessed Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina admit last week to a tawdry and juvenile need to put self-fulfillment above all else.
    If he can fail so completely, along with so many other moral crusaders -- including former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., what does that say about the rest of us floundering in moral purgatory from the day we were born?

    More importantly, what does that say about President Barack Obama, a man of great moral vision for a green, healthy, poverty-free America that only allows safe investments? His weakness may not be for a woman with great tan lines and big eyes, as Sanford and others have described his mistress Maria Belen Chapur, or any other woman. But he is flawed like everyone else.

    He's the one who testily told reporters last week that "only I am the president of the United States." He's the one hastily pushing through a "public option" in health care and the one attempting to quash pollution at the same time; the one running General Motors through the Oval Office and rewriting the rules of Wall Street with lots of other smart people Americans are supposed to trust unequivocally

    The power is in the office, not the men.

    THe power is the problem, not the men. The men operate within the processes that the power has created. It is those processes that have broken down the checks upon abuses of the law.

  7. "only I am the president of the United States." .

    Right up there with
    "I'm the Decider"

  8. Of course it is the uniform, the trappings, the ribbons and the intoxicating regalements of office. It only takes the military weeks to mold the motley into the regimented.

    Human beings are formed by stem cells, molded by fate, education, culture and the expectations of fellows.

    We are pliable, resilient and predictable.

  9. "only I am the president of the United States." .

    He would have shown himself to be a wiser man had he made a slight adjustment to the syntax:

    "I am only, the president of the United States."

  10. That would have admitted a limit to his authority and power, which he does not believe to exist, based upon his actions.

    But then Mr Bush behaved in much the same way. While the Congress abdicated on its responsibilty with the block granting of the TARP monies, without individual authorizations.

    To use just one current episode to illustrate a much greater challenge.

  11. The GM buyout was not envision or approved, when the monies were allocated.

    George Will went on and on about it, I think he was basicly correct in his assessment or the unConstitutional illegality of the TARP program.

  12. Obama wants Lula as next World Bank president, Brazilian magazine saysAppointment of non-US citizen would symbolise commitment to fighting global poverty.

    Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent,

    Lula, an immensely popular leader at home and abroad, has indicated he would be "honoured" to take the job at the bank after he steps down as Brazil's president in 2011, according to the Brazilian magazine Exame.

    Marcelo Onaga, a columnist for the respected business weekly, reported that the US state department had sounded out senior officials in Brasilia over the proposal and received a positive response.

    The report followed a recent article in Foreign Policy, a Washington-based journal, that the Obama administration was considering Lula or Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, to head the financial institution.

    As the biggest shareholder, the US has traditionally chosen the bank's president, which is a five-year, renewable post. The bank has been accused of being a Washington tool and neglecting the alleviation of poverty and environmental protection. It is tasked with giving financial and technical assistance to developing countries.

    Lula, a former metalworker and trade union leader, is riding high at home and abroad for delivering economic growth and social gains in Latin America's largest economy. The moderate leftist raised eyebrows by recently blaming "white, blue-eyed bankers" for the global financial crisis.

  13. While the NYTimes repots"

    Obama’s Stance Deflects Chávez’s Finger-Pointing

    CARACAS, Venezuela — From the moment the coup in Honduras unfolded over the weekend, President Hugo Chávez had his playbook ready. He said Washington’s hands may have been all over the ouster, claiming that it financed President Manuel Zelaya’s opponents and insinuating that the C.I.A. may have led a campaign to bolster the putschists.

    But President Obama firmly condemned the coup, defusing Mr. Chávez’s charges. Instead of engaging in tit-for-tat accusations, Mr. Obama calmly described the coup as “illegal” and called for Mr. Zelaya’s return to office. While Mr. Chávez continued to portray Washington as the coup’s possible orchestrator, others in Latin America failed to see it that way.
    After the dust settles in Honduras, Mr. Chávez’s alliance will still include some of the region’s poorest and most conflict-ridden nations, like Bolivia and Nicaragua, with larger countries choosing other development paths.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Chávez’s threats of belligerence in Central America led one opposition party here, Acción Democrática, to issue a statement on Monday that was full of irony:
    “Hugo Chávez has become the George Bush of Latin America.”

  14. Now a Yemeni airbus went down in the drink. Allahu Akbar. God and his bombs are great, man's airplanes are weak.

  15. As was the case in FL 2000, the Courts have decided an election recount. The electoral process finally ends, eight months after the vote.
    The winner of MN 2008, by unaminous decision, Al Franken.

    The new Senator from MN,
    "not ready for prime time player"

    People thought it outlandish that Caligula appointed his horse consul of Rome. While the people of MN have elected a horse's ass to be their Senator.

    America, Love it or Leave it!

  16. If a third and fourth AirBus were to fall from the sky, then even duece would avoid them.

    Creating true economic hardship in the lands of the Franks and the Saxons. One that those "in the know" could really profit from, asymetrically.

    The Taking of Pelham 123

  17. Some of the reports are Mel was deep into importing/exporting drugs from Venezuela.

    Maybe it's true. On the other hand it's an easy charge to make. So who knows for sure. Mel, of course.

    Mat sent me a couple of pictures that are said to have been taken from the plane that went down in the Atlantic. One shows some poor guy just as he's being sucked out the back of the plane.

    Dramatic photos, if they are real. If I could figure out how to post them I would.

  18. Federal agents hunt for guns, one house at a time.

    By DANE SCHILLER Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle.

    Success on the front lines of a government blitz on gunrunners supplying Mexican drug cartels with Houston weaponry hinges on logging heavy miles and knocking on countless doors. Dozens of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — sent here from around the country — are needed to follow what ATF acting director Kenneth Melson described as a “massive number of investigative leads.”

    All told, Mexican officials in 2008 asked federal agents to trace the origins of more than 7,500 firearms recovered at crime scenes in Mexico. Most of them were traced back to Texas, California and Arizona.

    Among other things, the agents are combing neighborhoods and asking people about suspicious purchases as well as seeking explanations as to how their guns ended up used in murders, kidnappings and other crimes in Mexico.

    “Ever turning up the heat on cartels, our law enforcement and military partners in the government of Mexico have been working more closely with the ATF by sharing information and intelligence,” Melson said Tuesday during a firearms-trafficking summit in New Mexico.

    Firearms dealers visited
    The ATF recently dispatched 100 veteran agents to its Houston division, which reaches to the border.

    The mission is especially challenging because, officials say, that while Houston is the number one point of origin for weapons traced back to the United States from Mexico, the government can’t compile databases on gun owners under federal law

    But the Federals are not bound by the law. Until they are caught.

    Even then, the mitigating circumstances will provide ample excuse for ignoring the law.

    Untold numbers of lives will have been saved. An adminstration lawyer will write a memo, it'll all be good.

  19. Well I've deleted the photos, it seems. Anyway, quite dramatic, everyone with oxygen masks, big hole towards the back of the plane, then a photo of a guy getting sucked out. It said they found the camera phone on one of the recovered bodies, I believe.

    Can't vouch for the authenticity of any of this though.

  20. The first plane ride I ever had was on a DC-3 Walk up. Trip to Boise with dad. Really noisy as I recall. Smelly too. One stewardess.

  21. DC-3

    Really bouncy ride over those mountains of Idaho.

  22. And then I remember seeing my first Boeing 747 at that airport outside of London, on my only trip to Europe. Geez, I was impressed.

    Monstrous big.

  23. Piper Cub my first flight.
    DC - 6 first commercial.

    Most dangerous planes on Earth:
    Twin Prop Air Ambulances.

  24. Free Our Health Care Now Online Petition

    How health care 'reforms' will mess with your coverage--Dr Betsy McCaughey
    Sen. Edward Kennedy's health proposal, the Affordable Health Choices Act, is now being marked up in committee, a first step toward a vote. Critics are mounting a battle against the bill's public insurance option.

    What is a "qualified" health plan?

    ...Doctors will be paid with "incentives" or hit with penalties to encourage cost-effective care.
    One such method is capitation, which means doctors get paid a flat fee per month per patient.
    With capitation, the fewer tests and referrals you're allowed, the more your doctor makes (sec. 2707).

  25. Doug, I think the U.S. Forest Service has a couple of these Twin Otters in use around here.


  26. Al Franken is a repeat of the stolen election in Washington in 2004.

    Go ACORN!

  27. I'd bet the Otters are a lot safer than the average twin.

  28. can be flown slowly (80-160 knots/150-300 km/hr) and in tight circles

    They use 'em over the mountains, and in the river canyons, they can get right down close.

  29. Probly plenty of power to fly on one engine, with them turbopropeller things.

  30. ...unlike piston jobs, which are accidents waiting to happen.

  31. Just heard a story about the Big Bopper:
    Forget who was who,
    but Bopper laughed at the guy left out, I think, and said:

    "I hope your car crashes"

    the guy that got left out of the flight replied:

    "I hope your plane crashes"

    Never lived it down.

  32. ...related by
    Billy Joe Shaver

  33. Billy Joe Shaver
    Father shot his mom when she was pregnant w/him.

    She said
    "If it's a boy, I'm gone."

    Don't remember who raised him.

  34. Do airbuses have cable backups like the original fly by wire planes?

  35. "Or should we all just agree not to fly on Airbus.
    Caveat emptor
    Fly Boeing Good Weather
    in daytime.
    Deuce will explain how to accomplish that.

  36. "…Doctors will be paid with “incentives” or hit with penalties to encourage cost-effective care.
    One such method is capitation, which means doctors get paid a flat fee per month per patient.
    With capitation, the fewer tests and referrals you’re allowed, the more your doctor makes (sec. 2707).
    Federales, CongressCritters and Illegals are exempt, of course.

  37. al-Bob,
    So did Cal Poly SLO Football Team returning from some Bowl in Ohio.
    That's when John Madden became afraid to fly.
    ...he knew all the kids.
    Being a former coach, I think.

  38. I took off on, I quess it was a DC 10, (I think) anyways, one of those with the one engine on each wing, and one on the tail, from Honolulu International, and by God, I had a really bad feeling, this sucker was old, old, old, and filled to the brim with passengers, and luggage.

    Took forever trying to get speed on the runway, then, BOOM, an engine disintegrated, right out my window, just as the pilot was putting the nose in the air.

    God Almighty, he chose to try to stop, put the nose on the ground, slammed on the brakes, and we stopped, a few feet from the lagoon.

    He came on the radio, voice quivering, said, all is well, I could have taken off on one engine, if I'd wanted.


    Whole cabin smelled of aviation fuel.

    Jesus it's enough to make a man drive a car.

    Even across the Pacific Ocean.

  39. Pilots aren't supposed to quiver.

  40. I've got an Encyclopedic response to comments on this thread in the Previous Thread.
    ...I was wondering why I got no response!

  41. Pilots aren't supposed to quiver.

    heh,well maybe, but he did.

    One odd thing was it was totally quiet in the cabin. It was scary, everyone was scared, but nobody let out a gasp, or anything.

    Total quiet.

    Then the doors were opened, we filed out, in good order.

    When we got back to the airport lounge, I talked to a couple of the other folks. They were just like I was, amazed that it had happened, and kind of getting used to the idea we had come real close to death, maybe.

  42. Mark Sanford should be stoned to death.

  43. Mark Sanford should be stoned to death.

    Al-Doug, surely you don't really mean this.

    Take a walk, my friend, and think of compassion. Never be critical of the other, unless you have walked a mile in their moccasins.

    "The Glory Of The Lord Is In Compassion."

  44. Waylon Jennings, doug, was the fellow that gave up that seat.

  45. Whether it is funny, doug, or just tragic, depends upon where ya are.

    As I've said, many times, there has been a fundemental shift in the United States, Obama merely representative of that shift, not an aberration.

    Iran and Honduras: For Obama, Two Challenges, Two Different Responses.

    Who knew Joe Biden was so clairvoyant?

    ... when Zelaya took his place in the Honduran seat on the floor of the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday, he was greeted with sustained applause by the representatives of the world community. They condemned his removal and demanded the "immediate and unconditional" restoration of Honduras' president. Obama had put the United States foursquare behind that proposition, and it led to an immediate payoff.
    Zelaya's loony pal Hugo Chavez had been railing that Washington was behind the Honduran coup. Zelaya laid that one to rest himself.

    "The United States," he said, "has changed a great deal."

  46. (Reuters) - Honduras is defying international pressure to reinstate President Manuel Zelaya, ousted in a military coup on Sunday.

    Here are some of the key personalities involved.

  47. By VOA News.

    Former Iranian president and leading reformist Mohammad Khatami says the outcome of Iran's disputed presidential election is a "coup" against democracy.

    Khatami also accused Iran's government of suppressing the rights of people to protest the election results.

    His statement Wednesday comes two days after Iran's powerful Guardian Council upheld the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    Defeated presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi also criticized the election outcome Wednesday, calling the government led by Mr. Ahmadinejad "illegitimate."

  48. QASIM PULA, Pakistan
    Islamist charities and the United States are competing for the allegiance of the two million people displaced by the fight against the Taliban in Swat and other parts of Pakistan — and so far, the Islamists are in the lead.

    Although the United States is the largest contributor to a United Nations relief effort, the Pakistani authorities have refused to allow American workers or planes to distribute the aid in the camps for displaced people. The Pakistanis do not want to be associated with their unpopular ally.

    Meanwhile, in the absence of effective aid from the government, hard-line Islamist charities are using the refugee crisis to push their anti-Western agenda and to sour public opinion against the war and the United States.

    Last week, a crowd of men, the heads of households uprooted from Swat, gathered here in this village in northwestern Pakistan for handouts for their desperate families. But before they could even get a can of cooking oil, the aid director for a staunchly anti-Western Islamic charity took full advantage of having a captive audience, exhorting the men to jihad.

    “The Western organizations have spent millions and billions on family planning to destroy the Muslim family system,” said the aid director, Mehmood ul-Hassan, who represented Al Khidmat, a powerful charity of the strongly anti-American political party Jamaat-e-Islami

  49. ""The United States," he said, "has changed a great deal.""
    Manuel is the master of understatement.

  50. If we had bombed Waziristan to rubble, there wouldn't be so many refugees.

  51. Yeah, the bus hits him, any second now.

  52. The Joker is no Ceasar Romero.

    No hoy, y nunca mas.

  53. via Small Wars Jurnal

    Call in the Cavalry! - Patrick Devenny, Foreign Policy.

    As American troops in Afghanistan seek to rebuild a flagging campaign, they might do well to read up on the lessons of another troubled Afghan project, the Anglo-Afghan Wars -- and specifically, the lessons of one Captain Charles Trower, a British cavalry officer who deployed to India in the 1830s. His 1845 memoir, Hints on Irregular Cavalry, says pretty much all there is to say about one of the most complicated problems in Afghanistan today: the training and oversight of local defense forces

  54. Should find a book on herding cats.

  55. 12. WSL:

    @7 pererike: “What happens on the day that every single job is a government job? I guess we just all pass the same dollar bill around to one another and say we’ve been paid.”

    Actually, there’s a story making the rounds that illustrates just this theme.

    It is May. In a small town on the South Coast of France, holiday season is in full swing, but it is raining so there is not too much business happening. Everyone is heavily in debt.

    Luckily, a rich Russian tourist arrives in the foyer of the small local hotel. He asks for a room and puts a Euro100 note on the reception counter, takes a key and goes to inspect the room located up the stairs on the third floor.

    The hotel owner takes the banknote and hurriedly rushes to his meat supplier to whom he owes E100.

    The butcher takes the money and races to his supplier to pay his debt.

    The wholesaler rushes to the farmer to pay E100 for pigs he purchased some time ago.

    The farmer triumphantly gives the E100 note to a local prostitute who gave him her services on credit.

    The prostitute goes quickly to the hotel, as she owed the hotel for her hourly room use to entertain clients.

    At that moment, the rich Russian comes down to reception and informs the hotel owner that the proposed room is unsatisfactory, takes his E100 back and departs.

    There was no profit or income. But everyone no longer has any debt and the small town people look optimistically towards their future.

    COULD THIS BE THE SOLUTION to the Global Financial Crisis? Or, is there a catch here?

  56. The American Legion sent me their paperwork to join, I qualify under two periods of wartime. I might last longer there than I did on the EB board, and they have a nice hat.

  57. Don't BITCH, my Lady, I have supported you many a time.

    You always go off on the half wire.

    I, again, nominate Teresita for the Board of Directors.

    If she will accept same.

    You are saner than Desert Rat, for instance.

  58. pointed insights are welcome...

    those who storm off and demand removal from the role should be accepted...

    those who do this should not (on a repeated basis) request membership again..

    I for one vote NO....

    T is welcome to post...

    no more... no less.....

  59. I like T.

    She knows her Huck Finn.

  60. Some days more,
    Some days less,
    Some days censored entirely.

  61. WIO was not commenting on a personal basis.
    Merely describing his reactions to someone's BEHAVIOR.

  62. He didn't say she was BORN that way, for instance.

  63. Are liberals born that way,
    or is it cultural conditioning?

  64. I'm going to cut the neurons to my left leg, replace them with RC Robot electronics, and have a walk by wire leg.
    See how it works out before doing my arms and other leg.

  65. I enjoy Teresita's posts. She's been away a quite a while. I'm glad she's back. Let's not spoil it already. She didn't.

    And can't we all just get along?

  66. It's my understanding that Airbus is 100% computer controlled. That is; there are no cable or mechanical flight controls....only electrical and hydraulic systems controlled by computers...

  67. Bobal: She knows her Huck Finn.

    "I crope out, all a-tremblin', en crope aroun' en open de do' easy en slow, en poke my head in behine de chile, sof' en still, en all uv a sudden I says POW! jis' as loud as I could yell. SHE NEVER BUDGE! Oh, Huck, I bust out a-cryin' en grab her up in my arms, en say, 'Oh, de po' little thing! De Lord God Amighty fogive po' ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive hisself as long's he live!' Oh, she was plumb deef en dumb, Huck, plumb deef en dumb -- en I'd ben a-treat'n her so!"

  68. I nominate Teresita to the Board of Directors of the Elephant Bar on the basis of her understanding of "Huckleberry Finn".

    Our great Amaerican novel.

    Which says, we are all Americans now.

    We got to get along, etc. ....

  69. Whit might be nice to have old school flight controls as a backup, in case there's no power.

  70. Doug: I'm going to cut the neurons to my left leg, replace them with RC Robot electronics, and have a walk by wire leg.

    If it works there's hundreds of Iraq War vets wanna try it.

  71. Parachutes.
    Plenty of Parachutes.
    And Oxygen.

  72. I move that there be a limit by each member of nominating the same person over and over on the same thread....

    I also move that there is no requirement to BE on the role to post...

  73. You remind me:
    They already have stuff that puts my RC Equipment to shame.

  74. I'm a Swedo, T., bless her lively soul, is a Phillipino, that's the way it should be, Americans reading some good books!

    I want T on the board of directors of the Elephant Bar.

    Vote now.

  75. WIO is for Standards.
    The Swede: Free Love.

  76. I like standards....

    we all can read what members say....

    I suggest that ONE for or against comment per member per thread is enough...

  77. Bobal, I'm not asking to be on the board. I'm not ask to not be on the board either. If they put me on the board that's fine. If not, that's fine too.

  78. When the computers can no longer correctly sense speed or attitude the controls "Default" to direct law, in direct law its FBW but full stick = full control & the computer cant overide any more, its basically back like an early airliner but electric rather than control cables.

  79. And Bobal, my father is a naturalized Filipino. My mother is a naturalized Filipina. I'm an American. I don't cotton to hyphen-people.

  80. Doug, you're just talking about analog synchros and servos, no more of this newfangled digital stuff. More and more it looks like the 21st Century is going to be the incompetent little brother of the mighty TwenCen.

  81. "TerreStar weighed 6.9 metric tonnes (15,200 lb) at lift-off and was built by U.S. satellite manufacturer Loral Space & Communications Inc (LORL.O).

    The current Ariane-5 rocket series is capable of launching payloads of up to 10 tonnes. The company plans to expand its launcher fleet with the introduction next year of Russian Soyuz rockets to be launched from the Kourou base.

    Arianespace is 30 percent owned by European aerospace giant EADS (EAD.PA).

    Wednesday's launch was the 31st consecutive successful mission for Paris-based space transport company Arianespace. (Additional reporting by Alexander Miles; Editing by Louise Ireland)

    Frogs are kicking our ass thanks to NASA.
    Should have been abolished after Saturn.

  82. Forget who it was, but some commenter used to work on a big analog computer.

    Hundreds or thousands of servos!
    I asked about Pot maintenance.
    He said it was as bad as you could immagine.

  83. Doug, it was a US company built the satellite, this isn't North Korea here.

  84. Yeah, Loral is a supplier of intel to the Chi-coms.
    My comment concerned our (lack of) heavy launch ability.

    RWE and the AF could have had ten times as much for 1/3 the cost of NASA.

  85. bobbie searches for his live's identity, he is, by his own admission, not even a real American, but a hyphen.

    He and his wife, the only ones amongst us that compete with Acorn in stimulating illegal voting.

    Then is sanctimonious in his ignorance of election law.

    On top of that, he supports nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.

  86. Whadaya expect out of a Swedish-American?

  87. whit said...

    It's my understanding that Airbus is 100% computer controlled. That is; there are no cable or mechanical flight controls....only electrical and hydraulic systems controlled by computers

    My understanding also.

    This whole situation involving the pilots' 68 page dossier documenting uncommanded rudder movements and NTSB's finding of pilot error through stompin' on the rudder pedals, in effect ignoring the pilots, has bothered me all day.

    There's no way a pilot could, by simple physical exertion in the cockpit, cause the extreme control surface movement cited, especially if he had cables and pulleys to serve him, which he doesn't.

    NTSB's finding just doesn't pass the smell test. There has to be a serious design flaw, perhaps many, in the A300 control systems.

    I'll leave it there, before I get in over my head.

  88. I can go down to Hobby Town and buy a joystick controller that provides tactile feedback to the operator that simulates airfoil resistance to the flight controls. This stuff has been around for decades, and now it's in toys.

    How dumb do they think we are?

  89. I suggest that ONE for or against comment per member per thread is enough...

    I prefer Trish's solution.

    The bar attracts me because of the lack of rules. I think the "he farted in church" treatment works well. The quickest way known to become invisible to all around you.

    I witnessed it in action just this evening at our local drugstore. I'd just finished a tasty Mexican supper and let out one of my signature belches while standing in the checkout line. Nobody batted an eye when I said "Oops, 'scuse me!" but I caught a few smirks between the others, and the checker winked at me.

  90. All this hyphen american stuff got started back in the sixties, as I recall. Afro American, Native American, that sort of thing. I'
    ve never much liked it.

    Some of the opinion out this way--I pick this up from some lawyers and farmers around here--is that at this time in our history we ought to do away with the reservation system, and the old treaties.

    I really don't know how I feel about that, but, it' an idea.

    We just be all of us Americans.

    I think many of the reds want to stick with the old way, for the simple reason of the benefits derived from the same.

    Casino, for instance.

    I had a really nice tenent of the Spokane Tribe. I really got along well with her, good lady.

    I used to joke with her, about how she had so much more citizenship than I, being an American, a Native American, a voter in our city, when I can't vote in Lapwai, Land of Butterflies, nor do I have the right to open a Casino, and swindle the people.

    She had the most beautiful kids. I bounced them on my lap many a time. One time, I attacked them with a squirt gun, her kids, fully loaded with water, moving up by the retaining wall.

    Man, did they fight back.

    Indians coming from three directions, bob covered in water.

    It was fun.

    Though there is no real following of the old ways any longer. Those days are gone.

    Just in remembrance, and lore.

    That's ok too, I quess.

    A little like hanging onto a Viking identity.

    Her name was Christine. She had tawny colored skin, black hair, a quick smile, and a wonderful sense of humor.

    I loved her in my way. She was nice.

    After she got her degree from our racist white university here, she got her sheepskin, as we call it, she went back up to northern Washington, driving a pickup truck as I recall, and, I've seen her once or twice, since then.

  91. She drove a Ford, I recall.

  92. We ain't got hyphenated Americans here in Parodise, we just got locals.
    ...although we like to show our familiarity with an occasional use of "Flip," or "Haole."
    Can't think of any nickname used for the Japs, come to think of it.
    Not even I use that word in public.

  93. One of the most likely suspects, linear, is the rudder travel limiter.
    When the pitot tubes quit working the computer can't give useful info to the limiter, which varies the amount of travel allowed depending on airspeed.

    The 737 used to have a suspected rudder problem, also.
    Very infrequently, it was said to get stuck on full travel to one side!
    Less than Ideal.
    Some pilots survived with lots of opposite ailerons and god knows what else.

  94. The 737 used to have a suspected rudder problem, also.

    Do you remember the Alaska Airlines 737 that crashed after takeoff from southern California not too long ago? At the time one of the safest carriers around. Rudder problem was blamed. Crew had complained earlier, as I recall, at a couple of stops prior. A bolt had broken or worked loose, something like that.

  95. I'm an aircraft freak, esp. it seems when things go awry.
    That AK Airliner had to be one of the most terrifying for the victims.

    It was an MD-80 (started as DC-9) with the elevator on top of the stab.
    There is a worm screw arrangement that moves the elevator.
    Seems AK maintenance in Oakland neglected to grease that worm screw.
    ...then the (highly experienced) pilots blew it.
    When the thing started to seize, instead of landing ASAP, they continued on, using trim tabs to maintain control until that worm really seized (instead of turning) and the poor bastards went through a series of amazing acrobatics, with the pilots on tape talking about trying to regain control while inverted in one of several loops (LOOPS!) the MD did before splashdown.

    Amazing it didn't come apart in mid-air.
    Would have been a blessing compared to that terminal thrill ride.

  96. Fear and facts on Airbus disasters

    In the case of AF447, it seems that the crew faced conditions that were beyond them. They were flying at night at high altitude in a storm that appears to have played an important role in the chain. After the speed sensors and computers played up, they had no airspeed indication. Saving the plane would have been a very tough job. It is assumed that the two junior pilots were at the controls. Captain Marc Dubois, 58, would have been resting.

    That is the scenario described to me yesterday by Cédric Maniez, a colleague of the late captain who flies A330s for Air France. The blocked speed sensors -- the pitot tubes -- were the originating cause of the accident, he said. This led to the cascade of electronic breakdown. Air France has now intensified training for such a situation, he said. He had tried last week to fly an A330 simulator that recreated the conditions on AF447 and he had found it "very very delicate".

    Maniez, who is also a spokesman for the SNPL pilots' union, said he was now satisfied that the airline had solved the problem because it had replaced all the unreliable pitot tubes. "I have more confidence than ever now that the problem has been elucidated and corrected," he said.

    That will not get Airbus, the airlines and the regulatory agencies off the hook. Questions are bound to be asked about why nothing was done to mandate replacement of the unreliable pitot tubes and to explain the erratic electronics -- which had been known since 1994. ..

    Some pilots are worried that the French accident bureau, the BEA, will play down the technical failures and play up the storm and shift blame to the crew. Why they flew through the storm rather than avoiding it, we don't know. Without the black box cockpit voice recorders, it's unlikely that we ever will.

  97. The latest crash was an ancient Bus, w/o fly by wire.
    France would not allow the Yemmini Rattletrap in their airspace.
    Went down on approach in high winds.
    ...likely no connection to 447 or the Bus that came down on Long Island right after 9-11.
    (tail fell off that one, too!)

  98. We had one of the early commuter Buses (small, but w/4 turbines!) come down just a few miles from our farm as the crow flies.
    (mountains in between, we didn't know until we saw in the paper)

    A disgruntled (probly Muslim!) employee or ex employee got in the cockpit and brought it STRAIGHT Down.
    Most of the pieces were 1 inch square, or smaller.

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