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Weather Analysis for Delta Flight 1889. Pilots need WX in the cockpit.

Scott Dennstaedt, ForeFlight's weather scientist, analyzes the weather affecting Delta flight 1889. ( Altro...

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preacher1 5
It is simply amazing to me that, for simplicity sake, that the flight patch on this flight was not changed at origin or at worst, by the time they got to NE. This flight was going to Vegas and an air detour would have been a lot better than a diversion with major damage.
That is 20/20
Ken Lane 1
It seems foolish to me to count on those holes of less than a hundred miles. Things move too fast.

Were they so tight on fuel they could not turn a hundred miles south? Never mind that decision should have been made way back at the Mississippi.
sparkie624 4
It will all come down to the money.... Will the airlines pay for it or will the FAA require it... It is needed, but how long will it take to happen.... Keep in mind the FAA pushes legislation and pays for them with Tomb Stones...
Its a nice promo for ForeFlight and sad that GA has better cockpit weather available than 121 carriers. Don't understand why this is happening. Things have to change before we get a headline no one wants to read.
Hi, I cannot speak to what Delta's inflight capabilities are now, but having merged with Northwest, I can say that we had regular updates in the cockpit via ACARS. Most NWA pilots will recall the Turbelence Plots (TPs) and the re-routes we sometimes got enroute. As someone has already stated, the pilot is the final authority.
Really. I was on a Signature Hawker 800 last year, the pilots had Ipads linked to the plane that could show them the weather all the way from BWI to Centennial, not just the 150 mile range of the radar on the plane. (As well as engine status etc.). I felt good about that.
According to the articles i've read, they decided to thread the needle between two storms. Then the cell in question which did the damage came up in the space of a few minutes. Having additional apps would not have helped them in this particular event. what they should have done was go around the Wx entirely by a couple hundred miles. Improved technology in the cockpit will only come with FAA mandate.
captoats 1
Griff, we still have the TP system and there were TP's out for that area. At NWA, the TP uplink to the aircraft was automatic in World Flight. After the merger with Delta, its up to the dispatcher to send the TP to the crew. That is the weak link. If dispatch is busy, fast updating TP's might get missed. Has happened to me on several occasions. We can request them through ACCARS by region or number and I always do that. Sad thing is most RD's don't fully understand the TP system like us former NWA pilots. I'll bet there will be some dialog about putting a higher priority on TP training during CQ!

Other point to mention is all Delta jets have WiFi and we can access Deltanet on our company Surface tablets. Although we're not supposed to use them for that purpose, I will when situations like this are developing. Delta meterology is a awsome resourse with everything any GA pilot has access to and our in house weather guys.
Thanks, nice to hear an update from an active pilot. Most all of my class is now retired. We were old to start with. LOL.
captoats 1
There are a few cowboys floating around that will do stupid stuff like that at all airlines. But I disagree that there is any push to go by management at any airline. The captain has the ultimate go no go call and I have used that many times with no feedback or questions. Delta for one will support any decision a captain makes regarding safety of flight including canceling, diverting, or waiting out weather. I would suspect the corporate guys have more pressure to launch due to the high net worth passengers they fly.
Jim Smirh 1
(@ preach1 ATL-LIT) I wonder if that was the night we were flying back to MEM from MSP? The storms had passed through MSP before Dinner, but the line was still solid to nearly DAL. We flew basically S, while the line moved east. We made a few quick turns east to look for holes. I finally decided to wait it out and get some more fuel in the old Kansas City river front airport! By the time we fueled, refiled and re-dispatched, we had an uneventful return to MEM and we still made the sort! ;-) Of course, I was a young '27 Capt then, but I already had a healthy respect thunderstorms growing up in the mid-west. Normal ops was to avoid a storm by at least 20 miles, back then. My rule was a mile for each thousand feet of the storms height! Hard to estimate that at night, so I just flew so far away I couldn't see the lightening!! :+P I WISH! lol! I was always amazed to see passenger flights between me an the CB's, even when I didn't use my 40 mile rule!!
japanjeff 1
Flight tracks:
s2v8377 1
Excellent article!!!
ADXbear 1
There is also the attitude that the flight is going no matter what, by crews and flight ops.. agreed that better resources should be there and they are.. its called dispatchers.. what were they doing when this flight was headed in that direction?
30west 3
I disagree with your comment that the attitude is the flight is going no matter what. Airlines cancel flights by the hundreds for weather events and pilots don't want to endanger themselves, pax or aircraft. We all want to get home safe and very few can be intimidated to risk their lives or careers to do something stupid/unsafe. If that was the prevailing attitude within the 121 community there would be a lot more metal spread across the landscape. I'll let someone else comment on the attitude of other sectors within the commercial aviation industry.

I totally agree with your comment about dispatch apparently not being involved with alerting the crew. I can recall many times when either an ACARS message from dispatch gave us a reroute to work out with ATC or Center advising us that they have a Company requested reroute, "ready to copy, you are cleared to xyz direct then..............".
preacher1 1
Well, IDK if it was Captain or company but I was on a DAL DC-9 one night as a pax, ATL to LIT with a s/o in MEM. Captain came back and said plane was going to LIT, whether we were on it or not. Coaches were coming for those that didn't want to fly, but there was a wx line from above ORD to below HOU, lowest topping was 42k. We punched thru it in about 10 minutes and went on to LIT. When we touched down at LIT there was no damage and coaches had not even left MEM. That said, knowing what I know now, I don't think I'd want to do it again.
Ken Lane 1
How long ago was that? There was a time they were a lot more daring in weather than they are now but they knew a heck of a lot less about most weather phenomena as DAL191 proved.
cmp5n 1
A little overblown/shameless plug for Foreflight. Agreed that it would help safety overall but I'm sure Anderson and other will look at the cost of iPads and Foreflight subscriptions versus repairing a A320 every once in a blue moon. I don't think the passengers are at risk in the absence of WX information in the cockpit - That's what dispatchers/operations/good preflight planning/and ATC are for.
The risk not discussed here is flying at high altitudes in a narrow stall envelope if turbulence near a known convective feature is encountered. So it is not just the hail/precip danger but the possibility to have wing lift disrupted and in a sense be shaken out of the sky re a high altitude major reason to not play these holes/gaps so close or get too near the perimeter of these formations. At night without a full moon this can become very dicey.

The PIC makes the final call for his own life and career by pushing it to the limit with of course the load of human cargo sitting behind him. Just because you tweak yourself cleverly around the crayon colors on your wx radar doesn't mean you are flying as prudently as you can and/or were trained to fly.

The CVR (if available) and the ARTCC tapes ..what was being said about this line of storms both in ground to ground interphone calls....controller to pilot information/avoidance strategies......PIREPS being actively distributed..and finally what was this crew discussing with each other and their own company as they approached this area.

NWA which is now DELTA prided itself to be the world's leader in wx/turbc avoidance routes in this very region..let's hope those professionals can help relook at how Delta is flying up there...

With some trillions of dollars invested in the ATC and weather radar/sat systems and in aircraft instrumentation and performance....having this kind of incident boil down to a single human decision point of "gee that doesn't look too good out there" after having available all the FAA, NWS, DELTA dispatcher, and cockpit resources in terms of radar and years of pilot training and experience with Delta/NWA and potentially with current (reserves) and/or past military training background/experience also factored in.

For all this to narrow down to a single point of failure is an attention getter for everybody to learn AGAIN some lessons. An honest and complete narrative autopsy of this incident would be instructional for EVERYBODY young and old since we have the luxury of not have scores of actual ones.

This should never happen in the United States in a full radar environment....This was not the North Atlantic or the Pacific beyond Adak, Island.

Lot to learn here about ourselves and practices for everybody in the aviation community... We didn't dodge one if we don't pause and look at this with a great deal of interest and concern...

The obliterated front of that jet should be a poster photo for some years to come least we all get a little too casual up there at FL350 or working as controllers or weather support for these pilots and passengers...


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