Friday, June 16, 2017

Hawk parachutes might have failed

Yesterday I posted Hawk 108 ejection - what happened? and without any disrespect to the two late RMAF pilots and their grieving families, nor to the greater air force community, asked:

Major Mohd Hasri Zahari (left) and Major Yazmi Mohamed. 

... I wonder what could have gone wrong for the automated emergency parachutes not to save their lives?

Did those parachutes malfunction? Both?

I also mulled over the ejection being done too low, but the disappearance of the plane from the site of the two bodies, but now found near Kampung Yak Yah, about 25 to 30 nm (40 to 50 km) away (from the bodies) argued against that.

MM Online - Missing fighter jet found in Terengganu (extracts):

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — The Hawk 108 fighter jet which disappeared from radar yesterday has been found near a village in coastal Chukai, Terengganu, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) confirmed today.

In a statement, the RMAF said the fighter jet’s wreckage was discovered near Kampung Yak Yah at 10.27am today, after search operations resumed at 7am.

That would mean the two pilots ejected but the jet minus the pilots and their ejection seats (including the cockpit canopy) continued flying on for another 40 to 50 km before it crashed.

looks as if the aircraft plunged straight into the ground instead of gliding down to belly-crash like most transport type aircraft minus engine power 

above aircraft (including one bomb for illustration) plunging straight into the ground 

 above aircraft belly-crashing

I also discussed about types of ejection systems in fast jets like the Hawk 108 including having probably a zero-zero ejection capability, meaning the ejection would have been safe to activate at zero forward speed (eg. stationary at an airport apron site) and zero altitude (eg. on the ground).

with zero-zero ejection seat 

KEMAMAN, June 16 — “One of the pilots was making a cross sign with his hands in my direction and I thought they were in a training session,” said a witness who captured a glimpse of two pilots on parachute who subsequently plunged to their death after their 108 Hawk fighter jet had crashed.

Siti Zamilah Mohd Hussin, 27, said she was sweeping the courtyard of her house on a hill in Kampung Pondok Pasir here about 12.30pm when she spotted the two men on parachutes.

I saw one of them tugging at his parachute rope and making a cross sign with his hands in my direction. I responded by waving at them because I thought the two men were involved in parachute training,” she told reporters here this evening.

She said the two pilots were subsequently seen plunging in the rear of the house before she heard a loud thud.

Believe me, Cik Siti Zamilah, the Muslim pilot was NOT making any 'cross' sign but rather struggling with his parachute strings, because his parachute did not deploy fully and correctly.

I have arrived at the sad conclusion that my questions yesterday, to wit, I wonder what could have gone wrong for the automated emergency parachutes not to save their lives? Did those parachutes malfunction? Both? might have been probably right. I wish I wasn't.

Though both pilots ejected successfully (for whatever technical reason which has to be another 'story'), they found to their immense horror that the automated parachutes did not deploy as expected.

That's why and how both were probably killed in their fall to the ground without the safety aid of parachutes.

Because both parachutes had probably failed to deploy correctly, the RMAF must now immediately double-check the entire Hawk 108 parachute/ejection seat system.

The technical fault on the plane which caused both pilots to eject is a separate matter.


  1. As a person of keen aviation interest, u have asked some right questions.

    Monsterball has pointed out the possible fraudulence in the parachute deployment mechanism.

    He has also correctly raised an issue about maintenance competency!

    Perhaps, the fundamental​ question here lies with the Pak lah's quotable quote;

    "1st world infrastructure, 3rd world maintenance"

    It all convergent down to people lah (hint: meritocracy)!

    1) did the pilots perform the ground safety checks before taking off to the sky? Especially in a training drill.

    2) why he didn't manage to spot the possible parachute failure?

    3) did the maintenance crew do the necessary preventive maintenance on the fighter jet?

    4) why didn't the possible flaws (primary & secondary) in the parachute deployment mechanism detected by the maintenance crew during routine maintenance?

    Checking failsafe life saving mechanism in a critical equipment is a top priority must!

    5) did the pilot perform manuveur to ensure that the jet crashed in area far away from human habitat?

    Judging from the distance (40 - 50km) between the jet wreckage site & the pilot bodies, the plane was un-maned for at least 5 min before crashing!

    It's lucky this time!

    What caused the panic & ejecting from the plane?

    6) the past air crashed records of RMAF r a dismayed data of BIG question!

    Do the planes (any types), under service, have a good service records?

    Do the maintenance crew have a indisputable service records?

    Do ANY lessons being learnt from the past incidents??

    I'm in the mind of a blogger's euphemism : once the car runs out of petrol, they just get down & wait at the road side, don't know what to do.

    1. aircraft maintenance are at several levels. The simplest and before-every-flight is done prior to notification of a flight, whilst the more complex level of parachute cum ejection seat system could have involved the packing of the parachutes, but are done at periodic intervals like 'x' number of hours or weeks.

      the pilots normally duplicate the simple before-every-flight checks, which might NOT have revealed signs of malfunction which could have been in the more complex packing of the parachutes.

      That both parachutes failed could indicate a systemic failure somewhere. The RMAF must look into this.

      when pilots have to eject, it could be due to fire on board (or, in a naval case on board a carrier, the aircraft has not achieved clean lift-off, meaning it was catapulted into flight but the flight configuration for continuing safe flight has not been and would not be achieved) which doesn't leave them much time for any fancy manoeuvring, but most pilot have been taught to consider post-ejection impact area.

    2. Uncle told me about 40 years ago, a RMAF aerobatic team of 4 in Alor Setar flying the Bulldog aircraft suffered a catastrophe crash by one aircraft in its aerobatic team, killing the pilot as well as some villagers-spectators.

      One aircraft, No 4, crashed while in a low-level inverted flight position. Post-accident investigation found his seat moved because the seat-position-locked mechanism was not in place (just like your car seat moving suddenly into a new locked position while driving). That sudden abrupt movement at a critical time (pilot in low level inverted flight) was the fatal factor.

      An angry village mob besieged RMAF Alor Setar to demand retribution and it had to take some high powered people to 'slow-talk' and mollify them.

      That sad incident made the RMAF revised its aerobatic display rules. Sadly, several years later, the dead pilot's brother, also a pilot but on Tebuans in Kuantan, perished in a SIMILAR low-level inverted flight display, but thankfully no spectator was hurt.

      Nasib? Karma? Coincidence? Fate? Both brothers perished in similar circumstances. Uncle said both were wonderful mateys.

    3. It's now known as the Proton auto window syndrome le!

  2. No la...lks-selective-memory-bad sector syndrome...leaving only good memories and so proud of those memories

  3. Any wonder WHY those RMAF planes/helicopters dropping like ten pins!!

    The aircraft ejection seat should form part of the investigation.

    BUT, the most important question IS what caused the pilots to eject themselves during flight!

    Comes to mind, again, that euphemism of once the car runs out of petrol, they just get down & wait at the road side, don't know what to do.

    Sad indeed!

  4. There is a tendency in Bolehland to label anybody who questions or criticises the authorities on military-related matters as "Disloyal". Either that , or hide behind the veil of Official secrets.

    To me , secrets apply to Operational details, but Not to defects in policy or overall execution.

    In actual operations, either the enemy's forces or the physics and chemistry related to an accident don't care about such accusations of "disloyalty".

    1. your "defects in policy or overall execution" are actually important information/intelligence for the enemy as those tell about operational capability and competency

    2. So, meanwhile what r u going to do about your "defects in policy or overall execution"?

      Let it be & continue as NOTHING happens - just like the Proton auto window syndrome, while yr competitors slaughtering yr market share?

    3. As I pointed out, that kind of secrecy, if it leads to defects not being corrected, will matter shit when the enemy actually attacks, or when a life-threatening accident occurs.

      I like the American system, with open hearings with the House and Senate Armed Services committees.
      The generals and admirals are held accountable for their commands, but they don't discuss classified operational details. The assumption is Russia and China already know the broad outlines of the issues and problems brought up, and there is no point hiding the problems from the American people.

      Obama made a bad mistake silencing his commanders from talking about the readiness problems in the US military. It was to cover his own ass, but it did no good to their military preparedness.
      50% of the US Marine's F/A-18's are stuck in the hangar, and only now being addressed with a massive order for spare parts.