Bad things that happen close to home do get your attention, especially when they relate to your chosen field.
A Phenom 100 light jet, flown single-pilot by its owner, a physician and businessman, crashed into three houses when on final approach to runway 14 at Montgomery County Airpark in Maryland at 10:42 a.m. on Monday, December 8.
The three people in the jet died. In what was the worst possible outcome on the ground, a mother and her two young sons, one an infant, died in their home. As the jet broke apart on impact, a wing of the jet apparently went into their house and exploded in a huge fireball.
There was cellphone video of the scene taken just moments later and there was evidence aplenty of heroic moves by onlookers. People in the neighborhood knew that the mother and two children were likely at home and tried to get into the burning structure but were repelled by the flames. The same thing happened to first responders who actually got into part of the house but couldn’t reach the victims.
When I watched the 4:30 a.m. news on the Thursday after the accident, it was still the lead local story. In a huge outpouring, folks had to that point donated $370,000 to a fund to help the surviving father who was at work, and child, who was at school, begin to recover from the tragedy. The news I watch comes from D.C., the breaking news capital of the world, and it is rare for a local story to be the lead for four days and counting. It was still going strong on Friday.
That this is a PR disaster for general aviation and for that airport is an understatement. It would be hard to think of anything more tragic.
As I watched the coverage I developed a high degree of respect and admiration for Robert Sumwalt, the NTSB member on the scene. He was there quickly because his office is right down the road and by Tuesday afternoon he had released enough hard information to quiet the instant “experts” the TV folks usually produce after an accident. I hope the NTSB will continue to release recorder information as soon as it is available.
While on final, with the airplane configured for landing, the pilot allowed the airspeed to decrease to a recorded 88 knots. The airplane was pitching and rolling and the stall warning sounded for the last 20 seconds of flight. The airplane has an aggressive stick pusher system that activates after the stall warning if the pilot does not reduce the angle-of-attack. This likely happened. When the stick pusher goes off to effect a stall recovery, minimum altitude loss is said to be from 300 to 500 feet. The airplane was descending through 500 feet 12 seconds before the stall warning sounded. Late in the proceedings, the pilot pushed the power up but it was too late.
In little more than 24 hours virtually all but one thing had been eliminated as a cause for the accident: the pilot.
Much was made in the local media of the fact that in 2010 the same pilot, from North Carolina but with business and professional interests in this area, had crashed a TBM 700 during a landing attempt at Montgomery County Airpark. He was not hurt but from the pictures the airplane looked like it was totaled. The engine was torn off and the wings were mashed up. It had gotten away from him on a go-around and came to rest in some woods off to one side of the runway.
The pilot was type-rated in the Phenom 100 (actually an Embraer EMB-500 by type designation), had an ATP and was reported to have 4,500 hours flying time. None of that means much when an airplane is stalled on final approach.
Of late, there have been a number of crashes where airplanes went into houses. Just a few weeks ago there was a picture on a news site of the tail of an Aero Commander sticking up out of a house near Chicago.
Over the years, too, there have been a number of accidents like this. It hasn’t been long since a Twin Commander took out a house in Connecticut while on a circling approach. A 737 took out houses near Midway many years ago, an Airbus went into a residential area in Queens not long after 9/11, A DC-8 wound up in the streets of Brooklyn after a midair a long time ago, and, in ancient history there is the runway at Newark that was closed because a C-46 crashed into Elizabeth, New Jersey, while on final to that runway.
The point being that busy airports are usually in urban areas where there is a good chance of a house or building being involved in any off-airport crash.
A friend of mine, Jim Richardson, and his father built Montgomery County Airpark in the 1950s. I started using the airport quite a bit in the 1960s and remember it then being out in the boonies. Where it was a rural area then, the northwestward sprawl from D. C. has made it into an urban area. All the houses in the area were built after the airport but that is true in a lot of places and in the public eye it is no longer considered a viable defense for an airport
The public wants the powers-that-be to do something to prevent future accidents like this. I saw utterances about examining flight paths and things like that but the simple fact is that airplanes are going to fly over houses to land at that and every other urban area airport in the country. The only real solution would be to close all the airports but that would be akin to closing all the highways to cut down on traffic fatalities caused by “the other guy.”
In the case of airplanes and houses, “the other guy” is us. Where it is perfectly fine with the public for us to take all the risks we want to take with our own skin, folks look askance at us when we expose them to risks. It is hard to convince a stay-at-home mom that there is some reward to her from the risk of a jet airplane flying overhead. I was going to add “slight as it may be” but, in this case, that doesn’t work.
As a practical matter the only thing that can be done to address this is in the left front seat of the airplane.
One thing that came strongly to my mind after this is what the thinking might have been of the insurance underwriter who covered this person to fly single-pilot in a jet. His accident in the TBM would have been enough to make me nix him in a jet. But there have been a lot of cases recently where a pilot was turned loose in more airplane than he could safely fly. That needs a close look.
Certificates and ratings are convenient to hide behind but an ATP in the billfold of a doctor or lawyer does not mean the same thing as one carried by an airline or corporate pilot. Neither does the best training in the world. Completion of the training means that you met the standards on one day. Is the mindset there to maintain those standards every day after that until more training is required? There is a good reason pilot and certification standards are higher for jets. The stakes are higher and the flying more demanding. The manufacturers can’t fudge on the certification of the airplanes but pilots can usually buy enough training to get the type rating even if they are marginal.
An accident like this does cast a shadow on the single-pilot operation of a jet by the owner. I think that anyone who can afford a jet can also afford a copilot but it is easy to shoot down the argument that another pilot would have prevented this accident.
When all is said and done it might just come down to the fact that the pilot failed to increase the power when the airspeed started to decay. Three other accidents immediately came to mind in which this happened but with two (or more) pilots in the cockpit. I remember a TBM-700 and a Citation where the power was not advanced until too late when the airspeed dropped to a dangerous value, and then there was the 777 at SFO that crashed for the same reason.
In other words, if one pilot can forget to shove the power levers forward, two pilots can do the same thing.
Autothrottles, where you select a desired airspeed and the autopilot system maintains that airspeed are a hardware item that addresses this. (The 777 at SFO had this but it had been disabled by the crew). These systems are not infallible. An altimeter problem fooled an autothrottle system on a 737 in Europe, the crew didn’t notice, and a crash resulted. For the most part, though, they have been good.
If I were King of insurance underwriters or head-honcho at FAA I would not approve any jet for single-pilot operation unless it had autothrottles. That would not make as great a contribution to safety as that found with mandatory ground prox equipment but it sure could help.
This was an event that I heard a lot about because it was close to home. It was also an event that the public will not quickly forget. We have to live and deal with that in an objective and constructive manner.
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- From the archives: Richard Collins goes behind the scenes at Center - June 4, 2019
“Should autothrottles be required for single-pilot jets?” is a “yes/no” proposition to the underlying real question: “how much sophistication – and authority – should be required of an ‘autopilot?’ ” Technology has advanced to the point where the answers to those questions principally are more about pilots’ ego-driven philosophies than about machine capabilities. The recent Montgomery County crash provides ample evidence of what happens when an apparently incompetent pilot is mated with a “stupid” (i.e., not intelligent) safety system – in this case, a stick-pusher. The SFO 777 crash was more astonishing, but at its root, no more mystifying. As long as human pilots are at the controls, they will continue to do things that are just plain stupid. Thankfully, most stupid pilot tricks are not fatal. But some are.
Would mandated autothrottles help? I doubt it. The problem is, autothrottles – and stick pushers – don’t know that “power plus pitch equals performance.” Each system is fanatical about its own tiny world. Ultimately, it’s the flight path that kills you – when you hit something that’s not a runway. In a fully-autonomous flight control system, the most important objective arguably is “don’t hit anything (terrain, other aircraft, etc.)” Achieving that objective requires that the control system has full authority over both power and pitch (among other items), just as a competent human pilot does.
But most pilots I know get apoplectic when confronted with the idea of ceding their authority to a machine. I wonder what the recently-deceased would say about that, if we could ask them…
Considering the fact that most of what constitutes today’s system of flight rules, aircraft certification rules, and the air traffic control system evolved from often tragic aviation accidents, it wouldn’t be surprising to see something like Richard suggests (auto-throttles required on single-pilot certified turbine aircraft) result from this accident (or others in the future). It would also be hard to argue that doing so amounts to nothing but knee-jerkism, since again, that is how most of today’s aviation rules were motivated. Yet it is also possible that the wrong (or a misguided) response could arise too (like the new 1,500 hour ATP rule that came out of the Colgan accident, despite the fact that both pilots on the accident aircraft had many more flight hours logged than 1,500).
I’m still skeptical (as Richard seems to be) that requiring either two pilots or auto-throttles on single pilot certified jets would make a significant difference in annual aviation-related fatalities or the accident rate.
However, insurance companies would seem to have a strong motivation to prevent under-qualified pilots from flying turbines single-handed, with or without auto-throttles. Seems a bit strange that this particular pilot, with his prior turbine aircraft landing accident, could thereafter be insurable in an even higher-performance aircraft.
In any event, even relatively easy-to-keep-sunny-side-up single engine piston aircraft all too frequently are involved in stall-spin accidents in or near the airport pattern, which can and sometimes do produce similar tragic outcomes on the ground. Auto throttles are not going to be required on legacy piston aircraft unless the FAA simply intends to deliberately destroy GA, even if someday that feature becomes common on next-gen models of GA aircraft.
There is as yet, regrettably, no sure-fire cure for the common issue of pilot incompetence.
Thanks for your blatant speculation based on a snipet of facts. Hey, why wait for a full investigation? Fast forward Dick ought to be your nickname. The NTSB most always blames the pilot rather than looking deeper to uncover WHY trained pilots make such obvious errors; obvious to Monday morning quarterbacks sitting in their armchairs anyway.
Bob – your comment castigating Dick here is out of line.
Dick Collins did not speculate about anything that happened inside the cockpit. He reported what was reported by the NTSB investigator based upon preliminary witness reports and the data recovered from the flight data recorder. The aircraft’s airspeed apparently dropped below Vref, which performance is directly controlled by the pilot. The aircraft behaved similarly to what is expected to result from an aerodynamic stall. It is known from the FDC that the engines were still operable (they eventually were spooled up, but far too late). The weather was good, and the aircraft basically fell out of the sky. Dick also reported the fact that the stick pushers on jet aircraft require some hundreds of feet in order to recover airspeed and end a stall, which is a big problem on short final approach when there aren’t hundreds of feet of altitude to spare.
The reason the NTSB blames pilot error for aviation accidents most of the time is because most aviation accidents are caused by pilot error. Period. Which is not in any serious dispute. That fact also is entirely consistent with the fact that most accidents involving human beings and machinery (car accidents, industrial accidents, electrocutions, ship groundings and collisions, pretty much anything that is accidental) are caused by human error. Particularly stall-spin accidents in aircraft operating at low altitudes and low airspeeds. Really – you want to dispute that fact?
Yes – we are probably a year or more away from a final NTSB report, which may or may not be conclusive … but in the meantime, the headlines are blaring, talking heads are talking, and politicians and regulators are contemplating decisions involving flight rules, aircraft certification and pilot certification. Rules that could affect at least some of us pilots as well as the general public. So no, contrary to your demand that we all say nothing until we know everything, these are important issues to pilots and to the public whose safety is at risk.
Amen, Duane. I would add on to what you said, but you nailed it. Too often the “don’t speculate” crowd seems to be an attempt to wish away the accident. The general media don’t, so we have to engage.
“One thing that came strongly to my mind after this is what the thinking might have been of the insurance underwriter who covered this person to fly single-pilot in a jet. His accident in the TBM would have been enough to make me nix him in a jet.”
That’s fairly judgmental language.
“My biggest mistake was not looking out of the left windows of a J-3 Cub, N77548 by name, on the afternoon of February 23, 1954. My omission meant that I didn’t see the Cessna 120 on a converging course.”
I say this as a fan, thank goodness Mr. Collins remained able to get insurance after this incident.
DC – of course any and all of us can and do make mistakes in airmanship from time to time. But not every pilot is skillful enough to fly high performance twin turbine single-pilot-certified aircraft, even if they are quite capable of handling a J-3 Cub.
Judgmentalism can often be misinformed, but it can also be well-informed. Dick, having flown hundreds of aircraft over the decades, from J-3’s to the Concorde SST, is in a position to judge.
Yes, of course he is. I’m sure we read the same NTSB accident summaries and Joseph T. Nall reports. Even if Mr. Collins and you and I knew nothing other than the fact that a plane had crashed somewhere the safe bet would be to say that it was pilot error.
In this case we also have one whole fact that makes our mastery of statistics look more like an educated guess – we know this guy went off the end of a runway previously. So, he’s dangerous, and shouldn’t have been flying. That can’t be right. It sounds just as wrong as suggesting that Mr. Collins should have stopped flying on that day in 1954.
Maybe the prior accident was a wake up call and actually made him a safer pilot. Maybe he had heart attack. Maybe he really was flying more plane than he could handle.
Maybe doctors and lawyers and other much more average fellows like me just can’t hope to ever be “real” pilots, no matter how many thousands of hours we accumulate. We’re just out there buying ratings to stuff in our billfolds and hide behind. Or maybe we’ll wind up like two former CAP wing commanders who made their careers in USAF and flew their combined 40K+ hours of experience into the side of a mountain in VFR in 2007.
As a soon-to-be-newly-minted PPL, I read about this incident with some concern. If a pilot with 4000 hours can do something as careless as drop below VS0 on approach, with a stall horn blaring “Hey dummy, add power or you’re going to crash!!”, am I going to be able to make the right decisions if I’m ever faced with a similar tough spot? I mean, if I was anywhere below about 1500 feet, and the stall horn started going off, I’d be punching that power without even thinking about it! I don’t mean any disrespect for the dead, but what could he possibly have been thinking? “I’ll just ride out this stall?” I don’t get it.
For the record, I agree with Dick’s assessment and tone of the article.
If you haven’t seen this video (http://bit.ly/1DDVI7P) showing a gear-up approach landing, you owe it to yourself. The entire approach is executed with the gear horn blaring and the look of surprise at the end is speaks volumes. The approach was steep, the airport appears to be a short and perhaps challenging place to land. They were fixated the whole way down.
Eastern Flight 401 (http://bit.ly/12ZuW9c) is another classic where an entire crew became pre-occupied with an indicator light and neglected to fly the aircraft (an L10-11 Tristar no less).
Lest we think this is an old-school issue, Air France 447 fought the stall all the way down in 2009. In this case the automation added to the problem.
It’s easy to look at this and view it as a single-pilot mistake (and another pilot may indeed have made the difference), but adding more flight crew doesn’t necessarily bring improvement if distraction is allowed to fully take hold. We must be always vigilant.
I’ve worked as an airline dispatcher – planning, monitoring, and a few times, intervening where required in the 40,000 flights I’ve been priviledged to manage. High time pilots with tens-of-thounsands of hours can be complacent and dangerous like anyone else. Don’t put them on a pedestal unnecessarily.
Generally the system works and pilots are safe when they make a reasonable effort to be so. I believe you and I can operate as low time pilots effectively managing the risk we undertake.
The analogy of closing the highway system and closing airports is a bit flawed. Frankly, if all the airports were closed, 99% of the population wouldn’t notice; we walk a fine line. If the highways were shutdown, it’s a bigger deal.
There is mention of a stall warning horn and a stick pusher, but does the airplane also have a shaker? In the final analysis maybe it will be found that there were other distractions going on? Maybe the runway looked awfully short (although I wouldn’t think 4200 ft would look that short)?
It is kind of hard to believe a guy could train to that level and make that kind of mistake, but as you point out, it has happened before. On the other hand, I don’t believe a person gets checked much on stick and rudder skills at that level either.
In 25 years of flying I have seen automation and things such as auto throttles make pilots much less proficient in basic core piloting skills. Many pilots rely on automation and lose basic skills. If you can’t manage your airspeed on final what makes you think you can manage the automation? Better training and more emphasis on hand flying is key.
Jet or Piper Cub, doctor or professional pilot, single pilot or three in the front, all planes that are flow low and too slow will crash and burn. Nothing special or more dangerous about the turbine engine in his regard.
We are all sitting here in “armchairs.” However, from the information furnished to us, this appears to me to be a case of “Back to the Basics” rather than more automation. Stick and rudder skills” might be more aptly include “Stick, rudder, power, and configuration” skills.
Dick mentioned a Citation crash with fatalities. One such crash that I am familiar with was a case where the approach was shot in a flaps up configuration with the target speed for 1.3 Vso full flaps. The full flap approach speed in this case was just barely above the flaps up stall speed and the engines needed to be at flight idle to maintain speed. At the last moment in a high sink rate there was not enough time for the engines to spool up, and a fatal crash occurred.
Knowing the power and configuration parameters for an approach in a light jet or piston aircraft is a must. For an approach configuration in a light jet there will be a power (fan speed or fuel flow) setting that should be close to the setting for Vref. So the question is what was the power setting at this time? Simulator training instructors normally drill this initial power target setting or some other technique into any initial student’s simulator training.
Something is basic skills seems to be missing. The 88-knot speed on approach mentioned in some reports seems to be too slow.
Adding another level of automation to the aircraft does not seem to be the answer versus understanding the fundamentals or “Stick, rudder, power and configuration” skills.
If a well qualified Co-Pilot had been on board and CRM procedures utilized, it is much less likely the recent Phenom accident would have occurred. During my 40 year career as an Aviation Insurance Underwriter, it became clear that two crew turbojet ops provided a significant safety margin vs SP ops. SP turbojet ops have resulted in 50% higher accident rates.
How is a Phenom 100 more demanding for single-pilot operation than your Cheyenne?
I would guess it’s rather the opposite.
I have never flown a jet. I have 2000 + hrs pic in Bonanzas. Being spoiled by the instantaneous response of of my IO550 has always made me wonder what the real thrust time lag is like is a small jet. Even if it is as little as 2 seconds that delay would be formost on my mind on short final. Do all of these new little jets come with angle of attack indicators from the factory?
No one plans to have an accident, but there IS such a thing as too much airplane and not enough pilot. I believe flying proficiency is a complex equation. How demanding is the aircraft? How skilled is the pilot? What is the depth of flying experience? Notice I did not say length of experience. One thousand hours in the pattern on a clear day is not the same as one thousand hours cross-country in weather. How frequently does one fly? How well is the aircraft and its systems understood? What sort of recurrent training is conducted? Probably most important is the mental state of the pilot at the time. The unalterable fact is that flying is based on physics, and Rule Number One is still “no matter what, fly the airplane”!
Letting the airspeed drop through the stick pusher while concentrating on the preceding aircraft amounts to sloppy pilot skill, whether it be a two pilot or one pilot crew. Adding auto throttles just adds complication to a split second decision that needs to be reduced to just good stick and rudder skills and power application in a hurry. I flew a G200 with autothrottles and they were great for speed management to comply with ATC restrictions, but were a nuisance when short final.
There are many of us professional pilots operating the Phenom 100 single pilot, me with now over 1000 hours in this great airplane.
I think it’s the incorrect response to let your ego as a pilot get in the way of analyzing a situation and learning as much as you can from other people’s mitakes. I think Dick’s article is well written, and based on the facts there is a high likelihood this pilot in the aforementioned crash made a critical error during a critical phase of flight. Most unfortunate is that the family in the house died along with him. As pilots we need to accept the fact that there is risk involved in aviation, and pilots will die from time to time. It’s much more hard to swallow when people on the ground happen to be killed too. Bob and DC’s comments are a little out of place for what an aviation debrief/discussion should be like though. The idea that “doctors and lawyers etc” can’t be “real” pilots is not true. However, realize that being a pilot can be both a hobby and a profession. I, for example, fly for my profession. I have the opportunity to fly the F-16 on average 10-12 days a month, or every 3 days. We as a fighter aviation community discuss emergency procedures daily, brief critical phase of flight emergency procedures before every sortie, do at least 1 emergency procedures simulator a month that covers all critical action procedures (boldface checklist items), and discuss personal flying errors with the group so we can all learn and get better every day. What i’m not by any means saying is that we are immune to mistakes and accidents. Far from it. The reality is that flying an airplane takes an enormous amount of humility and respect for the machine if you want to do it well. So lawyers and doctors can certainly be real pilots, but they should temper their ambitions as far as the amount of airplane they are willing to take on with not only their total time, but with how often they are actually in the cockpit, as well as how seriously they will take the responsibility. If in fact this pilot did lose control of his airspeed on final, stall, and crash all due to pilot error, I think we all know what the right course of action should have been. When he crashed the first plane due to loss of control (poor go around resulting in a broken plane certainly is 100% pilot error), in stead of moving up to a jet he should have spent extra time in a J-3 or something of the like working on basic aircraft control and airmanship. Avionics and automation are great tools, but they’ll never be perfect and cannot replace airmanship and solid aircraft control.
Fly safe, check six
Matt – thanks. Appreciate your service and your comments.
Of course, there is much that isn’t known about this accident and which may come out later that could have caused or contributed to the accident, even though history says the most likely cause is pilot error. We don’t know if the pilot suffered a medical emergency, or if there was a distraction on the flight deck from his non-flying passenger, or if there was a malfunction of any of the instrumentation or controls that would not necessarily show up in an FDR tape. There apparently (as expected) was no cockpit voice recorder (not required on this type of aircraft, apparently conducted under Part 91) so we have no idea what the pilot was communicating in the cockpit as he finished his fatal approach to land.
But we do see a fair number of pilots who take offense whenever pilot error is mentioned, as if it is some kind of cop-out for the NTSB. I guess I’ve flown long enough to understand that I am perfectly capable of making fatal mistakes due to loss of concentration or distractions in the cockpit. Safe piloting requires constant efforts to guard against both complacency and loss of situational awareness. I only fly a single engine GA aircraft, and have no first hand experience flying a complex aircraft like a Phenom 100, especially without benefit of a co-pilot.
Richard – Been with you a long time (1969)till now and almost always you were correct,but autothrottles are not the answer for lack of basic skills.I have flown single pilot in a Cessna Citation Encore for the last decade and single pilot in an Citation 525 before that.While they would be handy on an ILS, in the accident were talking about after twenty seconds of stall warning they would only help make a bigger smoking hole after stick pusher activation(if so equipped)and you managed to make it a few hours in 40RC without one.Sorry pal you missed it on this one.
It probably would have helped if the pilot had only remembered that the first rule of powered flight is to “FLY THE AIRPLANE”. This pilot clearly wasn’t doing that. All the colorful displays and other “little pilot helpers” didn’t assist him one little bit.
That this accident was due to pilot error will likely be the case. On the other hand, the cause of the deaths of the people in the house that was hit is equally obvious. The county allowed developers to build too close to the arrival/departure end of the runway. As I understand it, the airport was built in the early 1960s. The homes were build about 30 years ago. Did the people who bought those home have to acknowledge the fact that the airport was close and that the airport might pose a danger to them? Probably not. Now we get to see whether the insurance companies and lawyers try to put the airport out of business.
While working on B-52’s and KC-135’s engines in the Air Force I saw many air planes land and take-off, and many different ones doing shoot and goes.
The only experience I’ve had with house and airports was my half-sister in Memphis. I found her for the 1st time in about 93 or 94 and went for a visit. It was nice warm weather and we set out back on their patio quite a bit taking. And I noticed several passengers planes, mid-size to large one going above us. It seemed almost constant. Yet it seemed they mostly were taking off yet a few were landing and they were nearly right above or heads. Personally I do not understand anyone buying a house that is lined up with the run-way, to me that seems the most dangerous place to live. I fail to see why cities, counties, states lets house to built in line with the runways. I suppose for some the lots, houses, might be cheaper in those spots and some will got for them hoping the unthinkable will never happen to them.
The church I pastor is just west, maybe 1/2 mile as the crow flies, of our county airport. There has been a few times over the last 13 to 14 years I’ve wonder if a small plane is going to come down on us and or very close to us. We are no where close to being in line with the runway yet every once in a while a planes will fly very low over us sounding as if its tree top high with the engine at full throttle. To me it would seem the only time they would be that low would be when lined up with the runway upon take-off or landing which we’re not close to.
I’m not the least bit knowledgeable about air planes but I thought the article, I read it twice, written by Richard was very good.
Errors or mistakes on the part of pilots are the reasons behind lots, if not most, of the air accidents. I am not surprised that pilot made such a stupid mistake while descending, a lot of pilots have been making these errors time and again.
I wonder if all the aspects of piloting could be automated like auto pilot while flying and include auto landing, though a very tough and complex procedure than flying?
It seems Bombardier has listened to Richard’s advice. The Global 6000 has “automated” autothrottles that activate on their own to prevent a stall. Stall recovery practice in the simulator goes like this: With the power levers at idle and the A/Ts turned off, speed decreases towards stall. At a calculated point, the A/Ts will activate on their own (from OFF to ON), advance the power levers, and the engines will spool up just in time to prevent the airspeed from decaying to the posted stall speed. Previous generations of this aircraft had stall protection in that the autothrottles would advance if the aircraft slowed too close to stall speed. Could such a system system have prevented the tragedy at GAI? Seems plausible from the information we have on the crash.