No Worries, a Mere "Allision"

bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
That'll buff right out.... (well, except for the part that touches the Captain's resume)
 

Teranodon

Member III
The video is painful to watch, even for a typical sailor who regards cruise ships with snooty condescension. Glory, on the right, is moving, the other ship is not. I poked around on the internet and found that Glory is one of the company's older ships, launched in 2003. She has a diesel electric propulsion system, linked to two fixed propellors. So she is not a modern cruise ship with propulsion pods that incorporate electric motors, and can swivel 360 degrees. Hence less maneuverable. Add some wind and current, and this is what you get. No doubt the wretched skipper will soon be handing out pool towels, possibly on land.
 

tenders

Innocent Bystander
Everyone needs to know the word "allision." Thank you, Christian, for spreading the word! As allisions go, this one was pretty minor, but still pretty spectacular.

I learned the word as an ensign in the Navy in an even less significant allision when my ship's bow plowed at a fraction of a knot into a wooden pier extension at Seal Beach. The bridge was heavily manned, we were technically at "sea and anchor detail," and I was supervising the helmsman and had a bird's eye view of the situation as it unfolded. The captain was on the bridge, and it was his first time underway on that ship although he had commanded several ships before. The LA harbor pilot was on the bridge, and was very familiar with the specific ship. Two tugs were supposed to be tied up, amidships and astern - but only one was, and the other was having difficulty attaching the mooring line for some reason.

It all happened in super slow motion. Everyone expected the ship to start pivoting around under the tugs' power, and it just didn't. Four people could have detected that the ship was going too fast: the pilot, the captain, the officer of the deck, and the junior officer of the deck, but they all deferred to the fact that the captain seemed unconcerned. As it turned out, the captain had been told in error by the pilot that the disconnected tug was pulling when in fact it hadn't been. I can remember a feeling of inevitability for what must have been 30 seconds or longer as the pier and the shoreline gradually disappeared from our field of view under the ship, with the ship's steam engines finally ordered at emergency back full and the collision alarm sounding. (Turns out, Navy ships do not have an ALLISION alarm!) The wooden pier gave way like a stack of matchsticks, the noise was impressive, but there was no contact between the ship and the steel seawall behind it.

The ship's navigator convinced us junior officers that the entire group of four would be permanently removed from the ship before sunset, possibly doing hard time at Leavenworth, even though the damage was limited to about five gallons of scraped-off paint. An investigation was conducted over the next ten days and they all kept their jobs, which seemed like a reasonable outcome to me - this particular ALLISION was a dumb thing to happen, but it was also a dumb thing to stop careers over. The commanding officer of the base came aboard while the bridge was still in shock mode, and jokingly thanked the captain of the ship for removing the pier extension, which was supposedly scheduled for demolition. Nobody knows how true that part was, but I'm still in touch with half the JO's who were on the bridge that day and we still joke about it when we get together.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Great story.

They all deferred to the fact that the captain seemed unconcerned was a big deal in aviation when accident studies revealed that cockpit crews deferred to the captain even when they knew he was wrong--and died rather than challenge him. Some cultures typically had more built-in deference to authority than others.
 

Teranodon

Member III
Everyone needs to know the word "allision." Thank you, Christian, for spreading the word! As allisions go, this one was pretty minor, but still pretty spectacular..
This great story reminds me of the the episode in The Caine Mutiny when Captain Queeg tries to take his new command out at Pearl Harbor. Which in turn reminds me that this is one of the top maritime novels of all time. Better even than the wonderful movie.
 

Tin Kicker

Member III
Great story.

They all deferred to the fact that the captain seemed unconcerned was a big deal in aviation when accident studies revealed that cockpit crews deferred to the captain even when they knew he was wrong--and died rather than challenge him. Some cultures typically had more built-in deference to authority than others.
Yes, aviation has had more than it's share of deference accidents all around the world, leading to Crew Resource Management (CRM). CRM is basically giving each person a job, which 100% includes formal checks on what each other is doing. It's one of the five major things that cut the rate of major US airline accidents from one a month to less than one per Presidential administration. (CRM procedures, SMS, stabilized approach procedures, TCAS, GPWS)

The basics are things some people do on their personal boats and a couple people here have discussed them before. But because the topic is worth repeating at least in part:

Handing out assigned jobs before-hand so everybody has a task and knows (you're going to, I'm going to),
Discussing both what's happening as it happens and going to happen next (we are passing the first waypoint and next will...),
Questioning the person taking action is expected if required,
Self review/critique after

btw - The opposite of deference to the captain is the Asoh "fucked up" Defense. I know people who were there when the very prim proper Japanese captain said it in a response at the Public Hearing for the accident, in front of a number of television cameras, shocking everybody.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Airlines_Flight_2
:jawsdown: ;)
 

bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
Yes, aviation has had more than it's share of deference accidents all around the world
Including deference to automated systems. IIRC, the SFO/Asiana incident (2013?) boiled down to the crew trusting that the automation knew what it should be doing for the approach.

Friends (I live in Boeing country) contend that the two 737-Max incidents might also boil down to "deference to automation" issues, or perhaps, failure to understand what the automation is doing.
 

Tin Kicker

Member III
Including deference to automated systems. IIRC, the SFO/Asiana incident (2013?) boiled down to the crew trusting that the automation knew what it should be doing for the approach.

Friends (I live in Boeing country) contend that the two 737-Max incidents might also boil down to "deference to automation" issues, or perhaps, failure to understand what the automation is doing.
Deference to a commanding captain and mistaken assumptions about avionics are quite different. I can't tell you how many fatal and non-fatal accidents I worked in which the crew had wrong ideas about what the airplane was doing. Almost always, the airplane does what the crew told it to and they just thought they input something different.

I worked the Ethiopian 737-MAX and that is yet another subject that is even more complex. It combines design assumptions that let in a single-mode failure scenario, a flawed certification process that NTSB warned FAA about after the 787 batteries and a Learjet accident, training & crew issues, and big-money politics.
 

Tin Kicker

Member III
To my mind, the ultimate analysis on the Max is Wm Langewiesche in the NYT mag https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/magazine/boeing-737-max-crashes.html

It is cheaper to teach the plane to fly than to teach pilots to fly it.


I remember that article and he got a lot right for being written when we were so early into it, but he also missed some basics or got them wrong. From a proximate point of view, after a specific single point failure and then very short period of time, the crew could not recover the airplane regardless of training. I just can't go into much more depth here on that subject. Airbus has also had some tragic computer failures so this isn't just about Brand B.

The REAL problem and 800 pound gorilla that is the key to the MAX accidents, the 787 battery in 2013, and less notable ones is that Boeing led the industry (largely Airbus and all the suppliers) to successfully lobby Congress to cut FAA funding. The NTSB warned the FAA (cc to Congress) after a 2008 Learjet accident in Columbia SC and again after the 787 battery fires. fwiw - Airbus was successfully leading exactly the same effort with EASA. After all, who could be against a smaller Government? Maybe there'd be less taxes? (HA! The staff cost equates to less than a single DoD missile.) Who would ever question Boeing's ability?


The goal industry had and achieved was that while ATC grew in numbers, the FAA certification staff was continuously cut and cut again. They became so short-handed that the only way to produce airplanes was for Boeing "et al" to have the delegated certification authority that they lobbied so hard for. This largely followed when Boeing HQ moved to Chicago and engineering in upper management was reduced.

Want to blame somebody? Start here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_Commerce_Subcommittee_on_Aviation_and_Space
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_Transportation_Subcommittee_on_Aviation

As for Boeing's bosses in Chicago? Karma's a bitch.
https://www.chicagobusiness.com/joe-cahill-business/boeing-needs-new-flight-plan-get-back-faas-favor

Gee, it's liberating to be able to say this stuff.

On the up-side, the 727 in the 60s and 737 rudder problems were just as bad or worse and went on to become a couple of Boeing's biggest winners.
 
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Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Gee, it's liberating to be able to say this stuff.
It continues to bother me that the discussion around the 73Max never seems to go beyond training, MCAS, and the certification process that approved it. Has NO ONE asked, "What is it about the inherent aerodynamics of this aircraft that makes it need MCAS in the first place?" If the answer to that question is grave enough, then perhaps fixing MCAS and training still amounts to little more than just a "patch."
 
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supersailor

Contributing Partner
If you are going to ask that question, perhaps it's best to stay out of large aircraft. The slow oscillation in the 747 was always bothersome. In the meantime, don't get between a large ship and the dock.
 

Tin Kicker

Member III
Supersailor is on the right track in that many airplanes and boats have their trim quirks. For example taking a displacement hull faster than the design speed, but the Maxx is not squirrelly like that.

The Maxx has a low speed aft cg take off regime in which bringing up the power fast can result in control pressure to respond to and then trim out. This in pitch is a lot like or less than the yaw after shutting an engine in a light twin. It's just that now the regs are tighter on the allowable limits for the control pressure induced before trimming. This led to the automated MCAS design, and that series of automated actions introduced issues the pilots could not overcome.

The technical fix is not hard. The politics is that Europe, Japan,
and China are trying to sell competing airplanes. We are talking billions of dollars and national pride. Every day the Maxx is grounded helps those three national programs.
 
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