back to article Passenger jet grounded by two-hour insect attack

Wasps have been found to be the reason an Airbus A330 aborted a takeoff attempt and then made an emergency landing. The incident took place in the Australian city of Brisbane in November 2013. The Airbus arrived from Singapore without incident. An attempt to take off on the return leg was aborted after instruments reported it …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Nothing New

Some of the original touch screens used arrays of lightbeams across the screen to identify where you've left your grubby fingerprints.

Unfortunately the little holes in the monitor surround for the light beams happened to be absolutely perfect for certain species of tiny tropical wasp to nest in.

HP TouchScreen 0 - Tiny Tropical Wasp 1.

5
0
Bronze badge

Re: Nothing New

Ahhh, the HP150 and (I think) some variant of the 2382 (shadow) terminal....gone, but not forgotten....

Funny how no one wanted touchscreens then, but now......

Same thing with Spectra-Physics...bought 3D Systems in 1986 or so, who made a 3D resin-based printer...not sure what happened with that venture, but they were wayyyyyy ahead of their time.

(Maybe some sort of bugs got them too.....)...

0
0
Silver badge

Balancing Imbalance

You know what you never see? Australia + (animal) articles that don't end in death, destruction or permanent psychological scarring. Australia + (animal) is the divide-by-zero of the natural world.

For the most part, anyone capable of creating a divide-by-zero error also knows that can't work. Some software throws an error, but a lot of specialized software doesn't warn you. For some unknown reason it'll let you attempt the impossible, and will reward you with something really fucked up. Which is exactly what we've got with Australia. Someone has attempted the impossible and now shits all fucked up. If it doesn't eat you, poison you, gut you, drown you or steal your baby, then you're going to get chlamydia from the only 'cute' thing on the entire god forsaken island.

If I woke up tomorrow and the news said the entire Human population of Australia had been killed by a giant, fire breathing penguin I would nod, solemnly, and be 100% comfortable that fact. That's exactly what I thought would happen. That same thought would be echoed around the globe followed shortly by everyone wondering if this could have a negative impact on the huge variety of cheap, and very drinkable, Australian wines and if Paul Hogan was still alive.

35
0

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Wasps in every crack or cavity, most of the world's deadly snakes and spiders, even ticks which can paralyse and kill you with their venom, tiny thumbnail size irukandji jellyfish which can't be seen or felt whose sting is fatal, great white sharks cruising the waters, a risk of nasty tropical fevers every time one of the plentiful mossies bites you, the risk of meeting a crocodile on your next bush walk, but hey, its home :-)

9
0
Bronze badge

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Ah, Queensland .... beautiful one day, fatal the next :-)

That said, 2 hours doesn't seem a very long time for a mud wasp to locate a site and build a nest (even though they are very quick). Are they completely sure the plane hadn't been left standing somwhere previously with the probe uncovered, but no-one had (ahem) noticed that it wasn't working?

3
0
Mushroom

Re: Balancing Imbalance

> wasps ... snakes ... spiders ... ticks ... sharks ... mosquitoes ... crocodiles ...

Don't forget plants. Mustn't forget the plants!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stinging_tree

Icon because it's the only way to be sure when dealing with Australian fauna and flora...

5
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

Re: Balancing Imbalance

You're welcome, rest of the World.

Oh, and everyone know giant, fire-breathing penguins do not exist. It's the Giant Desert Wallaby that breathes fire to kill its prey.

4
0
Bronze badge
Happy

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Indeed, a country that is not friendly to life with many other ways to die for the unprepared or unlucky. One can freeze or die of heat stress plus thirst in central deserts, get buried in snow and not be found for years, get run flat by NT road trains or ram assorted wildlife on not so remote roads. Some truly nasty spiders and vegetation that has given the world 1080 and other lethal poisons. The giant nettle tree, nice soft leaf, just right for a quick dump cleanup along a Cape York track followed by anal pain unimaginable. Daintree Rainforest has trees with fruit/seeds that even cassowary wont touch. Hmm, another bird you don' t want to meet. Many areas have ferns with nuts containing neurotoxins. Tasmanias horizontal scrub that lets you blindly step off cliffs. Deadly insects and spiders or just cause lots of pain. If we are not in drought, its only because the floods washed the dust down river and bogged the beer truck. Earthquakes are not strong compared to the Shaky Isles, but all the more unexpected. Only disaster we might have to import aside from pom and yank political advisors and CEOs is avalanches. And what is the Aussie response ? Invent even more lethal wild life. Hoop snakes and drop bears. And make movies about mass murderers of backpackers.

Aussies, we know how to suffer (a bit) As for being wiped out, most likely to be done by some imported expert releasing yet another damn pest, such as a heat tolerant carnivorous giant flying cane toad/tiger hybrid to destroy the chronic problem of gnat infestations. I will take it any day over some hell hole where the cops and self defense leagues shoot first, the local crackpots get elected then start shooting, you can't breathe the air or everyone is obsessing over magic dirt locations and killing each other over it. Apathy has an upside !

9
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Balancing Imbalance

I chuckled the whole way through your piece. Then you started impugning our state-sponsored entertainment and lost me completely.

1
0

Re: Balancing Imbalance

>and if Paul Hogan was still alive.

$100 he walks out of the burning flames with a sizzling pan of penguin brains and heart, he takes of his hat to shake out the dust, but it is burnt and many carbonized bits flake off, he places what is left of the hat back on his head and says "that was a hot one, lets eat mate."

You can collect in any currency you like, I''l take Canadian.

3
0
Def
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Re: Balancing Imbalance

But no worries, mate.

1
0
Silver badge
Coat

Ok, now I get it

Now I understand why every single post-apocalyptic Hollywood film ever made looks like Australia.

It's because the only people that can possibly have a hope to survive are the ones defying death on a daily basis no matter what they do.

Even lying in a hammock in your backyard can apparently get you killed over there.

I tip my hat to the Nation of Road Warriors and Future of Humanity.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Don't forget the dropbears.

2
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Exactly.

1
0
MrT
Bronze badge

Cries of disbelief: "Paul Hogan's dead?...

... Does his plastic surgeon know?"

and

"Quick! Pass me that fire extinguisher - they cure everything!"

0
0
Windows

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Hehehe!

That'll be why they sent British miscreants to OZ.

"Stick 'em in open prisons! That'll thin the buggers out"

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Dropbears. Fucking dropbears. I'll never forget dropbears. It was a few weeks after I finished my graduate work and my first big time paper dealing with reducing cycle times in molds for casting certain titanium alloys had been published. In a few months I was going to start work on a major project at ORNL and the company where I did my internship had just bought me a fancy new car for some things I had figured out while I was with them.

Fuck yeah right? Young, fairly well liked, swanky new car, a little overdressed, but hey, I was young. But I was a badass, in my own mind anyway. I had met this pretty girl from New Zealand and it was going well and she starts telling me about New Zealand and Australia.

This bit is really important! She tells me about Dropbears, I'm really impressed, I had never heard of these things! How could that be? Later that evening I decided I would look them up on the web. But that hadn't been invented yet. So I dialed up some online places and tracked down some Australians who confirmed the Dropbear was real, and dangerous, if a bit overrated.

Few days later I'm talking with the girl again and tell her what I've discovered. She said about the same as the others, but added that lemons were their favorite, non-meat, food and the Australian lemon industry had been just devastated by the Dropbear. They had discovered a solution a long, long time ago. It seems the Dropbears wouldn't eat lemons until they were fully ripened, so Australia started harvesting and exporting the lemons and they would ripen in transit.

Anyway, the unripe lemons were a big global success and instead of calling them unripe lemons, they called them limes. It's still that way today, limes are just unripe lemons.

Man, I believed that shit for years. A really, really long fucking time. The issue had come up occasionally, and the people I knew would just look at me strangely and carry on. They thought I had to be joking. It was just too stupid to be true. It had to be at least 11-12 years before somebody told me the truth. If it wasn't such an odd thing I'm sure somebody would have told me sooner, but Dropbears and their impact on Australian fruit markets just doesn't come up often.

By this time I was a recognizable person in my field and a bunch of us were in San Jose and were going to be working with some senior engineers from Intel and Motorola, kind of a big deal. Still young, suits and ties were still cool fancy drinks with smart people, it was good.

The company I worked for had recently hired this young lady and this was her first job after graduating college, her first airplane trip had been getting to San Jose and they've sent her along with us for a few months. We're talking and the lime thing comes up. For the rest of my life I will never see such a confused look on someone's face. She just looks at me for a moment then gets up and leaves. In a few minutes our waiter brings me a note written on a napkin and it's this young lady requesting I meet her in the lobby.

The poor thing was so scared. She didn't want to make me look stupid, but she also didn't want me to make her look stupid by association. She handled it well. She explained it all to me and we went to the hotel library and she proved I was stupid with an encyclopedia.

Up until that very moment I had never been speechless. Ever. I started trying to remember who all I had told this to. I was really freaked out. I'm wrong sometimes, a lot of times really, but never this wrong. Shortly after I sent an 'electronic mail' message to the girl from New Zealand who had beguiled me. Since that day, every Christmas, and every year for my birthday, I receive a lime from her as a gift. Without fail, a single lime. She went on to become quite famous and maybe 12-15 years ago I also discovered that in the case where she keeps pictures of herself with well known people there is a lime in there with no name or explanation, just a single lime.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Keep your perspective. Some of the sheep are quite placid.

0
0

Re: Balancing Imbalance

Had you gone to NZ or Oz in that state someone would have sold you the Auckland or Sydney harbour bridges in double quick time. It's sad that the Information Age has killed the skilled art of kidding the gullible. Used to be great fun in NZ youth hostels with assorted World Travellers.

If this Kiwi girl was a lawyer, I think I might know her, but not in the Biblical sense, way out of her league.

0
0
Thumb Up

Wasps here in Queensland are an absolute pest. I've even found the beginning of small wasps nests in the plastic cavities of clothes pegs. They're very fast, and a total nuisance if you don't euthanise them with a good squirt of outdoor surface spray.

1
0
Coat

Brings a whole new buzz...

...to the phrase "there's a bug in the system"!

Awright, I'm getting me coat ;-)

5
0
Bronze badge

Re: Brings a whole new buzz...

Ehmmm... Not so new, I am afraid. Not since the days of Mark II. Look it up. ;-)

3
0
Pint

Re: Brings a whole new buzz...

Also, ironically, the term "debug" originated in the context of aircraft engines.

.

"The related term "debug" also appears to predate its usage in computing: the Oxford English Dictionary's etymology of the word contains an attestation from 1945, in the context of aircraft engines

5
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

I was going to comment on how wrong you were about the origin of the word debugging, and went to find a citation to prove my words, but, while reading the part I was expecting to justify my post, I found out that you're actually right.

Thank you for that enlightening experience.

3
0
Thumb Up

Re: Brings a whole new buzz...

Well... not so new after all! Thanks for the heads up :-)

0
0
Silver badge

What? No pitot covers?

Back in the late 60's, I was in Marine Corps aviation. The plane landed, taxied to the spot on the apron and someone chocked the wheels and someone else put on the pitot covers. And this was in the USA. Didn't matter if the plane was done for the day or going back out in a hour or two.

One would think that there's a body of knowledge that insects love dark, hidey holes and it doesn't take them long to find one.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: What? No pitot covers?

Yes, this is nothing new, happened years ago in South America, but the stop then was much longer and the result was bad. You will find it in air crash investigation on YouTube.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: What? No pitot covers?

Presumably the issue is either that people are too lazy to get out the requisite ladders etc to put in covers which they then have to take out on takeoff a couple of hours later, or just as likely that the airlines don't want to pay somebody to do it.

2
1
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Mark 85 Re: What? No pitot covers?

In the UK at least, the RAF first introduced covers because they were often flying bombers at night, and whilst the engineer/navigator started checking the instruments the captain would do a walk around of the aircraft, checking that the control surfaces were moving freely, etc. This led to many accidents, a common one being the captain touching the pitot tube. How would that harm him? They were electrically heated to avoid icing up in flight. So the RAF started using canvas tube covers. In the Far East they ran into two new problems with the pitot tube. The canvas would become sodden and rot, and ordering new ones was beureacratic and might entail waiting months for delivery. If the covers were left off then local wildlife would invade the tubes (everything from bats to wasps and even small snakes!). The RAF had long used rubber gaiters for protecting gun barrels and the ground crew simply started replacing the canvas covers with easily replaceable condoms, which did raise a few Catholic eyebrows. It seems someone in Queensland needs to take a trip to their local chemists.

2
0

Re: What? No pitot covers?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birgenair_Flight_301

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What? No pitot covers?

Sounds like they need automatic coverings...

0
0

Re: What? No pitot covers?

Spookily I watched an episode of Air Crash Investigators (or Mayday as i believe its also known as) on National Geographic a couple of days about about Birgenair Flight 301 that crashed most likely due to wasps in the air speed tube.

0
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: Mark 85 What? No pitot covers?

<blockqoute>This led to many accidents, a common one being the captain touching the pitot tube. How would that harm him? They were electrically heated to avoid icing up in flight

</blockqoute>

Cobblers.

All the pitot tubes I've used are electrically heated. There's a switch to turn the heater on. I use it on the second walk-round because it drains the battery.

It's part of the check to grab the pitot and check the heater is working. Some days, it's hard to tell if it is...

Vic.

0
0

Not wasps, wasp

Just one builds the nest; she then stings a spider and bites its legs off so it can't run away. It's then placed into the nest with an egg and provides a fresh food source for junior wasp. They're a fact of life here in Brizzie; I have had them make nests inside my desktop when I've been stupid enough to leave it with the case open.

Nature is a mother.

2
0
Silver badge

FUD Disinformation Operations Fall on Stony Ground and Deaf Ears of New Orderly World Controllers

Here at Vulture South, we'd also be interested to know how internet of things advocates will explain this to their prospects. After all, if even the safety-conscious aviation industry can have multiple sensors confused by just two hours' worth of insect action, how are all those billions of sensors we're told will be installed any day now cope with similar complications? And how will users know when not to trust their input?

Well, Vulture South, successful prospecting internet of things advocates be not confused enough to think and believe any such guff that proposes sensors tomorrow to mitigate and/or extraordinarily render harmless and/or inoperable, bug action, will ever be a reality for todays yet to come any time soon.

And to be in any way successful, be it necessary for one and everyone to realise that and to imagine the internet thing and things that go on in and pass through servering internet servers which intelligently mentor and design monitoring services, are not at all like anything which has gone before to be controlled by anyone or anything as before either, and such is a massive major storming breach facility for wholesale takeover and/or makeover advocates of Unifying Status Quo SCADA Command and Control Systems.

In both dexterous and sinister hands, which do constant epic battle to be brave hearted and smarter minded, are such systems alloverempowering and/or totally self-destructive, dependent upon one's own earlier deliberately chosen personal courses of concerted action/shared private and imagined to be kept secret pirate thoughts.

0
4

btdtnt

Same thing happened to Birgenair 301 back in ´96 on the trip back from the Dom Rep. Was a 757 back then, autopilot got confused, then the pilots messed it up and... fireball.

0
0
Silver badge

It's bad procedure to take off using your backup systems

What happens if they fail in flight? Certain systems that aren't critical you can get away with, but the pitot and static air systems can and do cause crashes when they fail.

1
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: It's bad procedure to take off using your backup systems

What happens if they fail in flight?

Instrument Ratings require the pilot to be trained for various types of instrument failure. There is a fair bit of redundancy in the system.

Certain systems that aren't critical you can get away with, but the pitot and static air systems can and do cause crashes when they fail.

On a modern aircraft, you've always got GPS to fall back on. But a reasonably experienced captain could land an airliner entirely visually in the right conditions (i.e. VMC from a few miles out).

That said, there are clearly some remarkably inexperienced ATPL pilots around. Just look at AF447...

Vic.

5
2

Re: It's bad procedure to take off using your backup systems

GPS does not indicate airspeed and it's airspeed that generaties the lift to keep the aircraft in the air. If airspeed indication is unreliable pilots fall back to flying on known pitch and power settings

3
0

Re: It's bad procedure to take off using your backup systems

I thought it did. At the very least, taking two readings a few milliseconds apart should give you the speed.

BTW, when that B2 crashed because of condensation in the pitot tube, could that have been prevented by a proper cover? There, of course, the problem was fly-by-wire, plus the fact that they were taking off. No time to recover when the computers went crazy.

0
3
Bronze badge

Re: It's bad procedure to take off using your backup systems

> I thought it did

airspeed <> groundspeed

5
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: It's bad procedure to take off using your backup systems

> GPS does not indicate airspeed

No, it indicates groundspeed.

> it's airspeed that generaties the lift to keep the aircraft in the air.

This is true.

But there's a fairly simple delta between groundspeed and airspeed, and that is W/V. And if you're landing anywhere with A/G or better - as you would be in a jet - you'll be given that on final, if not before. ATSU is always helpful...

> If airspeed indication is unreliable pilots fall back to flying on known pitch and power settings

Not on final, we don't. PAPIs, VSI, eyeballs are all good. Trying to land on pitch/power leads to a crash, a bounce or a "CFIT"[1].

Vic.

[Yes, I have passed now]

[1] Without the "C"...

0
0
Silver badge

Re: It's bad procedure to take off using your backup systems @vic

If you're going to take a jet airliner up to cruising altitude (30,000 ft +) you'd be happy to take off with a failed pitot system? All current jets have a GPS system that displays altitude and ground speed in a way easily accessible to the pilot when instrument flying? You can fly an aircraft visually to landing, even if you're in or above 8/8 cloud?

For someone who claims to have qualified you're failing to recognise that pilots are rarely killed by tigers, but more often nibbled to death by ducks (it's a combination of smaller, normally non fatal problems that get you).

0
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: It's bad procedure to take off using your backup systems @vic

> you'd be happy to take off with a failed pitot system?

No, and I've never said I would be. I said that there is GPS to fall back on should the pitots fail. THat doesn't mean I'd commence a flight with a failed system - just that there are backups should they be necessary.

> All current jets have a GPS system that displays altitude and ground speed

I have not surveyed every single jet in the world, but it would surprise me greatly if you could find an example of a jet in service without GPS. It's been there a long time.

> You can fly an aircraft visually to landing, even if you're in or above 8/8 cloud?

And if you'd bothered to read my post rather than just flame away, you'd see I specifically and explicitly mentioned VMC.

> you're failing to recognise

I'm not. You're simply failing to read the words that are there.

Vic.

1
0

Illegal Immigrants

So I presume that said bugs, if still alive have been sent to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nauru_detention_centre ?

Given our kleptomaniac ocker cousins famed levelheadedness and passion for fair play, integration of different peoples and love of nature and dingoes.

1
0

These wasps are common as well

There wasps are everywhere, particularly at the moment. They are also close to the size of an Airbus. Completely harmless but good for terrorising tourists.

As for how to deal with sensors that don't agree, it really isn't hard. On an aircraft the potential outcome of a sensor reporting incorrect data is significant. So you take the steps they took. If your sensors are the outside temp at your house and 1 is showing 5c less you just ignore it and put it on the list of things to check later. Basically because the data doesn't really matter.

0
0

Shades of Birgenair flight 301

Dauber wasps are thought to have been responsible for the loss of Birgenair flight 301, again by clogging pitot tubes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birgenair_Flight_301

0
0

Sounds Familiar...

This sounds like almost exactly what happened to a 757 in 1996 -- except in that situation, the pilots didn't know how to handle it and stalled the plane (killing everyone).

Pilot's pitot tube was obstructed by a wasp nest.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Fauna can do worse than that...

Over 70 years ago, what might have developed into a smashing attack by a Panzer division was thwarted before it began by Communist rodents.

"On November 19, 1942, Operation Uranus began. The great Soviet counter-offensive encircled the German 6th Army and much of the 4th Panzer Army and smashed the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, including the 22nd Panzer Division. Many of the division's tanks had been parked in dugouts for an extended period of time and protected from the frost by straw. When the tanks were called on to respond to the Soviet offensive, many could not be started because mice had sought refuge in the straw and then in the tanks where they chewed up the insulation of electric system wires".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/22nd_Panzer_Division_%28Wehrmacht%29

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums