Blind Landing is an amazing story of the world's largest and newest airliner flying non-stop from Sydney to London, carrying 510 passengers, how it was hijacked and then crashed, trying to land at Heathrow in freezing fog. The aircraft was certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency using the latest Galileo European Satellite System for landing. The cause of the accident was a complete mystery but the accident inspector felt convinced, despite the hijacking, the cause was an error by the pilots and clearly felt that a party on the beach in Sydney the night before the flight was a contributory factor.
Unusually there were leaks of the the flight recorder crew conversation
to the press. Peter Talbert, safety expert and consultant on the
interface between the flight crew and the aircraft’s automatic flight
controls controls, was retained by an insurance firm to determine if the
cause of the accident was really due to the pilots making a mistake and
he soon became convinced that the situation was far more complex technically than the inspector thought.
The Government launched a Court of Inquiry and Peter decided he must go to Sydney to talk to the airline that had serviced the aircraft before departure and to find out what had actually happened at the party. On a beach in the middle of the night with one of the girls at the party he learnt that the situation was a lot more complicated than was first thought. Slowly Peter started to find out what had actually occurred and, much to his UK girl friend's reservations, he returned to Sydney to sail with the girl and try to persuade her to come to England and give evidence. Only at the last minute was Peter able to find the true reason for the crash and explain the situation to the Inquiry.
The story that is told is entirely credible. The aircraft uses the latest flight deck technology and the scenes on the flight deck are completely realistic. There is an epilogue at the end of the book entitled 'Analysis -- Could it ever happen' where the safety issues in the book are discussed and what needs to be done to try to ensure that
remains a 'flight of fancy'.
This is the first book in a series of
seven featuring Peter Talbert, insurance investigator. The other titles are
Final Flight, The Right Choice, Flight to St Anthony, Now You See it,
Dire Strait and
Java Waters Run Deep. They will appeal to anyone who likes a mystery story as well as to the aviation enthusiast and followers of Peter Talbert will feel very much at home! People who have read one book have great difficulty not going on to read the rest.
A tangled, technical and detailed investigation into an unexplainable plane crash
A jumbo airliner on a nonstop flight from Sydney to England is hijacked and the hijackers demand the release of 6 jailed terrorists and fuel and a flight plan to Karachi. Unfortunately, the plane crashes short of the runway with many people, including some on the ground, killed. The landing took place in extreme, freezing fog, so it was done completely on instruments.
Despite the known presence of the hijackers, the initial conclusion is that the crash was caused by pilot error. Peter Talbert is an airline safety expert who works on a freelance basis for the airline industry and companies who insure the airlines. When he becomes involved, nothing makes sense. The official transcript of the flight recorder shows the pilots acting completely in order and no indication of the presence of a hijacker.
Once he starts digging into the situation, Peter starts discovering small anomalies, none of which in isolation could have caused the accident. By persistent probing, he starts to find potential synergies of the anomalies, some of which could have reinforced each other. When he is called to testify, he states his conclusions, some of which expose government deception and he weaves a trail of compounding small errors, the sum of which led to the pilots receiving false information. Even though the data was only a few hundred feet off, it was enough to cause the crash.
Blackman weaves a detailed investigative thriller; his expertise in avionics comes through on every page. While there are times when the technical details of the mechanisms for flying a modern large airliner are over your head, complete understanding is not necessary for enjoying the story.
NOTE: This book is a complete revision of the author's first fiction book A Flight Too Far. The book has had the technology brought right up to date, the plot tightened up and the analysis at the end of the book has been completely revised so that it discusses important issues which need addressing by both designers and regulators. In addition the chapters have been rearranged to aid clarity.
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