Turbulence & a Learjet

Earlier today, the Secretary of Communication and Transportation Luis Téllez held a press conference to discuss the analysis of the cockpit voice recorder from the first of the black boxes. 

The results of the analysis seem to indicate that turbulence, likely caused by the preceding Boeing 767, was the cause of the accident.  In particular, the transcription shows the pilot referring to turbulence in the seconds before the disaster.

Piloto: Órale la turbulencia de éste
Copiloto: Ay guey
Piloto: Ay cabrón

Pilot: Hey, there’s some turbulence
Copilot: Oh boy
Pilot: Uh-oh

Of course, that’s not the full story… in his statement, the Secretary states that the pilots may not have been qualified to fly the plane and that the audio tape indicates that the pilot was unfamiliar with both the terrain of the flight path as well as the aircraft’s electronic flight instruments.  At the time of the accident, the Learjet was only 4.15 miles behind the Boeing… as the pilots had taken more than a minute to heed air traffic control’s request to slow down.  And to put you conspiracy theorists to rest: there is no sign of an explosion — ASA Director, Gilberto López Meyer.

Could turbulence be to blame?  Wake turbulence creates a highly localized but very severe vortex (see post on the unions) that, in theory, could have trailed the 767 by several miles.  The Learjet, which was on approach to the airport, only 1000 meters (or so) off the ground, and was already at or near minimum airspeed could have had trouble had it hit such a vortex.   And to quote a friend of mine: “These planes aren’t meant to fly upside-down.”


México, D.F.


One Response

  1. […] Wake Turbulence Epilogue Posted on November 21, 2008 by mikesnotes In the news today, Communication and Transportation Secretary Luis Téllez again discussed possible discrepancies with the certification of the pilot of the doomed flight two weeks ago in Mexico city.  (The first instance is mentioned in this past post on the cockpit voice tapes.) […]

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