More thoughts on PCL 3701
First off, it turns out that the crew was slightly above the maximum altitude for their weight and air temperature. They were at 37,600 lbs, and the air temp was ISA + 9.4d C. The performance charts for 38k and ISA+10 show 40,400 feet as the maximum climb ceiling. Furthermore, at Pinnacle the climb profile called for Mach .70 or 250 kts minimum, whichever is slower (since Mach changes with air temp). As the crew approached FL410, they were at Mach .57 and a mere 180 knots. Given all this, the media's contention that the crew was acting recklessly is looking uncomfortably close to the mark.
In the comments section of my previous post, Glenn mentioned that there seemed to be very little CRM practiced - it was very chaotic, with both pilots trying to do too many things. Mind you, they didn't have a lot of time to burn, and it's easy to say "practice better CRM!" in the comfort of one's own living room. Still - if the dual flameout checklist would've been followed better, the thrust levers would've been moved to shutoff; they apparently remained at idle, which caused fuel to remain flowing to the engines. This, together with continuous ignition being selected to "ON," apparently caused significant melting of the turbine blades in the #2 engine. Thus, the number two engine never could be restarted.
Glenn mentioned in his blog that they attemped a windmilling airstart below the recommended speed of 300 kts, causing a hot start. Actually, they started to run that checklist, but discovered that the high pressure turbine (N2) was not windmilling, so they elected to instead try an APU-assisted start at 13,000 feet. As to why the #1 engine would not turn when they attempted the start, General Electric has admitted that the CF34 engine is subsceptible to "core lock" when flamed out at low speed. You can find out more about core lock from ALPA.
Many of the recent airline accidents are completely unforseen things - such as TWA800's fuel tank explosion or the stabilizer jackscrew snapping on Alaska 261. For this accident to happen, then, when we have 50 years of experience with high altitude jet flying, is pretty freaking senseless. Did nobody teach the young captain about these things? Many Pinnacle pilots have decried their company's poor training department and their practice of hiring very low-time applicants. Of course, they're not going to attract a lot of high-quality applicants with some of the lowest pay in the industry.
I'm a political conservative. Still, if free-market competition among the regionals results in a body count, I don't see what alternative the government will have to re-regulating the industry.