14 April 2014

Update no.643

Update from the Heartland
No.643
7.4.14 – 13.4.14
To all,

The follow-up news items:
-- Dutifully reporting the information they are given . . .
“Asiana And Boeing Spar Over Flight 214 Crash Cause”
by John Croft
Aviation Week & Space Technology
Published: April 07, 2014
As I suppose must be expected, Asiana Airlines is trying to foist some of the culpability for the Flight 214 accident [604] at San Francisco International Airport last year, onto Boeing, the designer and manufacturer of the aircraft involved.  The problem I have with Asiana’s claim rests with their apparent insistence upon abdication of the pilot’s paramount responsibility – fly the airplane, first, foremost and ultimately.  Automation is provided to assist the pilot, not supersede him.  It does not matter what autopilot or autothrottle mode they were in or they selected, the pilot must continuously insure the automation he has chosen to utilize for any particular flight segment is in fact performing as intended.  Clearly, without a smidgen of doubt, the OZ-214 pilots failed to perform their most basic and fundamental duties.  That said, we may have an ancillary factor involved with respect to Asiana management setting up their pilots for this kind of accident with particular instructions or guidance to their cockpit crews regarding how they were to fly a visual approach; if so, Asiana’s continued tussle with the NTSB will not serve them well.  Me thinkst thou does protest too much!
-- The search for Malaysian Flight 370 [638 & sub] continues with some apparent progress by more detection events of the distinct, underwater locator beacon signal, a 10ms pulse every second at a 37.5 kHz pulse frequency.  The last detection was nearly a week ago.  I suspect this is the best they are going to get, as the expected beacon battery life has expired.  The next step should be a painstakingly slow bottom search of the suspected area.  Yet, among the many persistent questions, why is there no surface debris field?  Usually, aircraft that crash into water break-up upon impact, which allows the floaty stuff to stay or reach the surface.  Well, there could be several potential answers.  Given other data regarding the flight of MH370, I suspect the most likely is a controlled ditching.  Open ocean ditching is not a simple or easy task, but it is possible for a skilled pilot.  In a controlled ditching, especially with no attempt at egress, the aircraft would have a high likelihood of remaining essentially intact, thus no surface debris.  I believe they will eventually find the aircraft.  However, the process could take several years, as it did with Air France 447 [391, 493].
-- The situation in the eastern provinces of Ukraine continue to deteriorate [640 & sub], as Russian special forces in unmarked uniforms press their attacks on Ukrainian government facilities.  Gunfire has been reported in numerous eastern cities.  Russian main assault forces remain staged at the border.  Now, the Ukrainians have ordered their mobilization of their military, which suggests they are heading to war.
            The unfolding events indicate Putin intends to utilize the successful tactics of Crimea, with an objective of annexing the eastern provinces of the Ukraine, under the same guise of “protecting” ethnic Russian inhabitants in those areas.  The Russians have a long history of successful subterfuge operations to achieve or maintain their objectives.  Putin certainly recognizes the West is virtually impotent to stop him.  I’m afraid Putin’s megalomania will spread until he is satisfied or stopped.  None of us have any inkling of where that boundary may lay.
-- Senator Feinstein takes her case to the public domain.
“Why the Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation program should be made public”
by Dianne Feinstein and Jay Rockefeller
Washington Post
Published: April 10 [2014]
The report at issue here is the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program [642], specifically regarding the CIA’s use of secret detention centers, the rendition process, and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) [381, 416, 548] in support of waging war successfully during the War on Islamic Fascism..  The senators said, “We believe that public release is the best way to ensure that this program of secret detention and coercive interrogation never happens again.”  I shall respectfully disagree, and I trust the President will see the larger picture.  The declassification request might have carried a little more weight if Committee Vice Chairman Senator Clarence Saxby Chambliss of Georgia co-authored the opinion column.  Regardless of the apparent, political, partisanship underpinnings of this effort, there can be no justification for the apparent CIA penetration of the Committee’s computers [639].  I guess public disclosure of classified material is OK for that fugitive in Russia, then what the hell, why not for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence!  Screw it!  Let us make everything public that way we lessen this damnable political posturing and haggling over leverage for the next election.  After all, political domination of one party or the other is far more important than waging war successfully.

Continuation from Update no.641:
“I do not understand your use of the term “generous” in my seeking to attribute rational motives to President Putin's Crimean actions. I seek accuracy in my understanding, not a source for a blame game. We cannot read minds but we can look for logical reasons someone would commit one action rather than another. Replacing logic with emotion just leads to trouble.
“There is an implicit threat to Russia's Black Sea access in a Ukrainian turn to the West. The Russians have no reason to expect that Ukraine would not treat them unfairly if Russia becomes less important to their economy. Leases and “other legal documents” such as treaties are often invalidated when times change. That is history, not speculation. Americans should know that based on our own history with Native Americans. We continue in that pattern, freezing assets of entire nations, using blockades and otherwise deciding that past commitments no longer apply. Other nations use the same tools.
“The change of Crimean official status in 1954 was, at that time, rather like a decision that counties in the US belong in one State rather than another. It might have been a nuisance, but Moscow ruled the entire USSR. When the USSR broke up, that quickly became a different issue. The comparison to South Texas makes a very poor analogy for reasons I already gave. The Crimean attachment to Russia cannot be considered “long dormant,” any more than the rest of the Ukrainian nation's distaste for Russia can be seen that way.”
My reply:
            Re: Putin.  Rationale depends directly upon perspective.  I have no doubt Adolf Hitler truly believed his decisions were very rational.  I can understand Putin’s motives.  I simply believe they are megalomaniacal, egocentric, and otherwise destabilizing to world peace.  Hey, other than that, I suspect he is convinced he is doing what is best for Russia; screw everyone else.
            Re: implicit threat.  I imagine Putin does think like that, as a product of Soviet KGB indoctrination.  I would agree with his perception, if this was 1950; but, it is not.  The West had the perfect time to strike Russia in the post-collapse, early 90’s.  Yet, we did not strike; we extended our hand to help Russia recover and transform.  That is hardly threatening.  The Russian military is far stronger than it was in 1992.  They do not need to occupy their neighbors to protect their security . . . any more than we would need to occupy Mexico or Canada for our security.  The sanctions so far imposed upon Russia were against individuals, not against the nation, contrary to what was done against the IRI.
            Re: Crimea.  True.  Further, when the USSR broke up in 1991, Crimea was part of Ukraine SSR, and thus became part of the Republic of Ukraine.  It was not part of Russia.  My analogy is a comparative tool, not a reflection of pending action; it is purely hypothetical for discussion purposes.  Bottom line: the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea is not justifiable, except in Putin’s mind.

Comments and contributions from Update no.642:
Comment to the Blog:
“I heartily agree on the worthiness of Beethoven. His work has proven worthy of any audience.
“In reference to your statement on Flight MH 370, the phrase “highly evolved monkeys” is usually used to apply to human beings generally, not to single out any particular group. I believe the point of the comment Mr. Wise made is that perfect aviation accident prevention is beyond the capacity of any human. He phrased it poorly, both because he was certain to offend people in aviation and because it misinterprets evolution.
“You focus on the source of that report on the CIA; I focus on the content. Apparently the CIA has consistently lied to Congress in order to protect its brutal low-yield methodology. Perhaps they do this for fun. If so, only a skilled psychologist is qualified to discuss this. I am more interested in reports that former Vice President Richard Chaney says he has no objection to water boarding. However, he turned down the chance to experience it. If that method produces high value information, I would like to see it used on him. We could then prosecute him.
“Cal Thomas has once again distorted both religion and morality. When he began with the quote, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's,” I fully and reasonably expected him to advocate that Hobby Lobby follow the law in anything that did not affect their own practice of their religion. He disappointed me yet again. Mr. Thomas courts the wrath of his God by misusing his religion this way.
“I believe the current Supreme Court took leave of its senses by the time it made the Citizens United decision. The McCutcheon ruling supports that conclusion.
“General Motors might be about to pay a high and appropriate price for its delays and secrecy regarding the ignition switch issue. While I understand the malfunction in not assigning a new part number to the revised part in question, the phrase “configuration management” carries no meaning to me. Please advise. Incidentally, I might not be the only one wondering whether the timing of Mary Barra's promotion allowed someone else to escape scrutiny.
My response to the Blog:
           Re: “highly evolved monkeys.”  At best, Wise’s comment was ill-advised and displayed a profound ignorance regarding the work of pilots.  He offered no solution.  Automation is NOT the answer, either.  Until HAL 9000 or his brethren become reality, no set of computers can outperform a well-trained, human pilot . . . and even HAL made a mistake.  That said, I was involved in developing specific automation software in the 1980’s for recovery of a single-seat aircraft in the event of pilot incapacitation (for any reason); we demonstrated that it worked.  I will freely admit there is more we can do to protect the aircraft in the event of pilot compromise, or better track the aircraft even in a major malfunction.  If there is anything good that comes from MH370, perhaps it will be better tracking systems to at least locate a crashed aircraft quickly.
            Re: Senate CIA EIT report.  I believe you misunderstood my comments.  Likewise, I am focused on the contents . . . if we ever get to see the contents.  We should not continue our previous, fruitless debate.  Your perspective is hardened, as apparently mine is as well.
            Re: Cal Thomas.  Good point.  He implied that God commands voters elect a Republican president and congress in 2016.  His reasoning is PRECISELY why religion must be removed from secular governance and political debate.  Agreed; God is not on his side.
            Re: McCutcheon.  I shall withhold by opinion until I have read the decision.  Based on the Press reporting on McCutcheon, I suspect you are correct.
            Re: General Motors.  High price, indeed! 
            Re: Configuration Management is a process by which we maintain a clear definition of the detailed design of anything . . . in my profession, aircraft.  It entails strict approval and identification of the original design as well as EVERY subsequent change to include the reason for the change, so that an affected, suspect lot can be readily and clearly established when something goes wrong.
            Re: Barra promotion.  Interesting question.  I had not thought of that aspect, but it does make sense, actually.
. . . follow-up comment:
“Thank you for the clear definition of configuration management. What I know from news reports suggests that configuration management works well in aircraft but less so in automotive design. For current examples, contrast the general industry information regarding the precise design and capacity of the aircraft used for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 to GM's difficulties over what should have been a minor change to a small part of the ignition system. In fairness to them, they are not alone (see Toyata's current massive recall) nor are they the first. We can go back at least to the Ford Pinto fuel tank for precedents. Perhaps regulation could have prevented or mitigated this.”
 . . . my follow-up response:
            As always, you are most welcome.  Configuration Management principles apply to any object from a child’s toy to a space vehicle.  I do not know about the inner workings of the automotive industry, but their failure to apply good configuration management principles is their choice, not some endemic process.  We argue that configuration management is an essential discipline for safety of flight of passengers and crew.  That same argument can and should be made for any vehicle or device that affects public safety.  The GM ignition switch would apply.  Conversely, such regulation for the automotive industry would add cost.  I imagine they have and will continue to argue the cost-benefit ratio is too small to justify the expense.  We shall see.

My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cheers,
Cap                        :-)