Object Class: Safe
Special Containment Procedures: While not in testing, object @@@ is to be kept in a standard cardboard box lined with foam. The box must be sealed with self-adhesive tape. On the upper surface of the box, the following information is to be placed:
"EQUIPMENT FAULTY. NOT FAA-APPROVED. NOT TO BE USED FOR NAVIGATIONAL PURPOSES"
Object @@@ must not be installed in an operational aircraft without written authorisation of O5 personnel.
If subjected to tests, Object @@@ must be handled according to the following rules:
1. Object @@@ must be installed in an experiment aircraft by a FAA-certified aviation technician.
2. While installed in an aircraft, Object @@@ must be at all times marked by a bright red border around it's mounting plate.
3. In the aircraft cockpit, in an easily spotted place, there must be affixed a red placard with following information written in black lettering:
"WARNING: EQUIPMENT IS EXPERIMENTAL. NOT TO BE USED AS NAVIGATIONAL AID."
4. During test flights, all other gauges and instruments must be continously monitored for any readings inconsistences. The altitude, direction and spatial orientation of the experiment aircraft are to be continously monitored by a chase plane, and the readings from the chase plane should be continously feeded back by radio communication to pilot in command of the experiment aircraft. Should any inconsistences between the readings occur, the pilot in command of the experiment aircraft must rely on the information from the chase plane.
5. All crew on board the experiment aircraft should be equipped with parachutes and wear them at all the time during flight. All crew must be trained in using the parachute and bailing out from the experiment aircraft.
6. If, during test flights, radio contact between experiment and chase aircraft is lost, or the chase plane is not able to determine the experiment aircraft's flight parameters, the test should be terminated immediately and both planes diverted to nearest airport.
7. In any case, if the pilot of experiment aircraft is not able to determine it's flight parameters based on terrain visibility or data feedback from chase plane, the crew of the experiment aircraft is to bail out immediately and open parachutes as soon as possible. In this case, the instruments of experiment aircraft should be considered faulty and unreliable.
Description: @ is an aviation barometric altimeter, identical to a standard █████████ AM-90 model produced between years 1985 and 1992. @'s serial number is imprinted on it's case in a place which is normal for █████████-produced instruments of this type and period. Research conducted in █████████ factory showed that the serial number had been assigned to AM-90 part manufactured on 14.08.1989 and assembled by technician Josh █████████. A national databases search for this employee of █████████ factory showed that this person had been admitted to █████████ Mental Health Facility in █████████ on 21.01.1991 and deceased at this same place on 7.02.1991. The cause of death was undetermined.
Research within FAA database allowed the SCP personnel to determine the history of @@@ installations in various aircrafts:
- On 3.09.1989 @ has been installed in a factory-new Cessna 172 at Cessna Manufacturing Plant in ███████, KS. This aircraft has been involved in @-Alpha incident (see Addendum 1)
- On 12.02.1994 @ has been installed in a 1985 Cessna 208 Caravan. This aircraft has been involved in @-Beta incident (see Addendum 2).
- On 23.05.1995 @ has been installed in a home-build Cirrus VK-30. This aircraft has been involved in @-Charlie incident (see Addendum 3)
- On 14.11.1998 @ has been transferred to a NTSB facility in █████████ for further examination, apparently because of it's connection with serious aviation accidents. Shortly thereafter, @ has been released into custody of SCP Foundation.
@ lacks any means to dismantle it, although according to █████████ Technical Manual, it should be possibly done by unscrewing 4(four) torx screws on the back plate of @ and unblocking the input tube by turning it counterclockwise by 45 degrees and pulling with relatively small force. @'s screws seem to be molded into the case and can not be unscrewed even by using WD-40 lubricating/penetrating agent and industrial-grade electric screwdriver. It is currently not determined if the @'s case can be open by using electrical cutting tools, as any further experiments on opening @ are postponed until experiments on @'s activity pattern are completed.
@@@ is active only when installed in an aircraft as part of the instrument board, and connected to a appropriate input tube. Furthermore, for it's effects to manifest, it must be actively observed by aircraft's pilot. It's effects are variable and depend mostly on the level of stress exerted on the crew of the aircraft, but also on weather conditions, and, in a lesser degree, on general technical state of the aircraft [Note from dr ███████████: The latter is dubious].
@ is apparently very resistant to shock, fire, high temperature and mechanical pressure. These properties have been concluded from the fact that @ survived 4(four) severe accidents intact. The comparison experiments with several purchased original █████████ AM-90 altimeters showed that the original gauge would be destroyed in these accidents with 99,9998% probability. However, it is not yet determined if @@@ is indestructible, since all possibly damaging experiments are postponed.
The effects of @@@ include:
A. Incorrect readings of itself - showing a barometric altitude too high or too low comparing to real altitude of aircraft in question. The readings incorrections are small at the beginning of effect, but the error increases with time and stress level exerted on crew. It was noted that the speed of error increase is consistent with stress level (which, in non-experimental environment, is in turn increased by the apparently incorrect altitude readings).
B. Incorrect readings of other flight instruments installed in aircraft in question. This effect manifests itself after 15(fifteen) to 45(forty five) minutes of flight with effect A in progress, depending on crew stress level caused by effect A.
C. Progressive failure of aircraft's various mechanical systems, apparently leading to in-flight disintegration or uncontrolled descent and collision with terrain. The initial phase of this effect has been observed personally by SCP Foundation researchers only once (see Addendum 5).
D. A significant level of control over weather, manifesting paralell with effects A and B. The meteorological conditions during flight performed by @@@-equipped airplane almost completely mirror the stress level exerted on afflicted aircraft's pilot and crew and typically deteriorate quickly because of duress caused by malfunctioning instruments. Following weather effect have been observed: light clouds, heavy clouds, fog, precipitation, wind, wind gusts, thunderstorm.
Addendum 4: Experimental Flight 1
Conducted by: Dr ████████████, and David ████, commercial rated pilot, 32 years old, 8400 h in-flight experience.
Experimental plane: 1993 Cessna 172
Chase plane: None
Factual report: @ was installed in Foundation-owned aircraft Cessna 172, similar to a plane involved in incident @-A. Beside @, a backup altimeter was installed. Pilot and researcher have been equipped with military-grade parachutes. Experiment aircraft took off from █████████ airport, climbed to 2000 feet(608 m) AGL (above ground level) and headed east. About 10 minutes of flight, the @'s reading started to increase, despite that pilot maintained leveled flight, what could be easily confirmed by visual observation of terrain. In about 25th minute of flight a temporary loss of visual contact with terrain occured, caused by flying into cloud. During traversing the cloud, @@@'s reading increased to over 7000 feet(2134 m). The backup altimeter's reading was unaltered. After several minutes of flight inside the cloud, pilot expressed concern about the size of the cloud, which, contrary to previous observations, seemed to be very large.
The pilot suggested climbing to transfix the ceiling of the cloud and researcher agreed. During climbing, the @@@'s reading decreased and backup altimeter's increased, to be consisted again after clearing the cloud. However, pilot expressed concern that the backup altimeter is also failing, for he assessed the altitude visually and determined it to be lower than indicated. In 40th minute of flight pilot expressed concern about airspeed indicator, which also seemed to provide incorrect readings. Researcher suggested return to airport, but pilot stated that he is able to navigate using terrain as reference.
The aircraft descended to 1500 feet (457 m) AGL to maintain visual contact with terrain below cloud base, and headed to Delta VFR point over ████. During this flight phase, @' readings changed variously, backup altimeter's readings also changed variously but inconsistent with @'s indications, besides that, airspeed indications, engine temperature indications and VOR gauge indications also changed in apparently random way. All these changes did not correspond to real flight parameters. After reaching Delta point, the pilot changed course and headed to █████████ airport.
During this flight phase, all gauges in aircraft's dashboard provided more or less incorrect readings. About half distance to the airport, visual contact with ground has been again lost due to localised fog spreaded over land. Several minutes after terrain visibility loss, both @@@ and backup altimeter consistently started to indicate slowly decreasing altitude. The pilot has been adviced by researcher not to rely on this indications. The pilot stated that he intends to maintain level flight, but if the terrain visibility will not be restored, he may be not able to do this.
In next 15 minutes the terrain visibility was not restored and pilot expressed intention to climb again and find a region clear of clouds. Researcher agreed and pilot climbed aircraft to an undetermined altitude, but the visibility was not restored either. The pilot stated that the aircraft must be flying through the cloud again. In this moment, the spatial orientation was lost completely, since the visibility was 0(zero) and the pilot could not navigate using instruments. The pilot and the researcher decided to abandon the aircraft, and the crew bailed out and landed safely 17 miles (27,35 km) north of █████████ airport. The aircraft collided with terrain 21 miles (33,80 km) north of █████████ airport and was destroyed completely with exception of @@@.
Experiment analysis: It seems that @ starts with providing incorrect readings, than spreads it's errors to nearby instruments. We were not concerned of it's errors at the beginning, but when Mr. ████ (the pilot) stated that the backup altimeter is not working properly, we started to be anxious. The errors of further instruments confirmed our concerns. It is also possible that @ has a control over weather, since when we took off, the sky was almost clear, and during our flight several large clouds formed on our flight path. The fog that caused visibility loss was also suspicious. We decided to bail out because descending without working instruments and without terrain visibility would almost certainly lead to collision with terrain.
Addendum 5: Experimental flight 2
(E) experiment aircraft crew
(C) chase plane crew
1. David ████, male, 32 years old, commercial rated pilot with 8400 h in-flight experience (E) (pilot in command)
2. Martha ████████, female, 40 years old, airline rated pilot with 6700 h in-flight experience (E)
3. Dr ████████████, SCP Foundation researcher (E)
4. Cpt Mark ███████, male, 27 years old, US Navy pilot with 5600 h in-flight experience (C) (pilot in command)
5. Thomas ██████████, male, 36 years old, commercial rated pilot with 3600 h in-flight experience (C)
6. Ronald ███, male, 24 years old, US Navy WSO (C) (radar operator)
7. ████████████, SCP Foundation researcher (C)
8. Dr ██████, SCP Foundation researcher (C)
Experiment aircraft: Beechcraft King Air C90B
Chase aircraft: Piaggio P.180 Avanti
a) high visibility light beacons under and over the fuselage
b) high visibility wingtip lights
c) military-grade radar transponder with independent power unit and GPS unit, capable of transmitting position data in real time
Besides that, as in former experiment, the experiment plane has been equipped with backup altimeter.
The chase plane crew has been provided with observation equipment, and radar receiver unit has been installed on the plane.
All crew has been issued parachutes and underwent training in bailing out from aircraft in flight.
Factual report: The chase plane took off about 0930 local time and circled airport. The experiment plane took off about 0940 local time, climbed to 4000 feet (1219 m) and headed north. The chase plane followed, maintaining visual and radio contact. The meteorological conditions were medium, with several cumulonimbus type clouds formed with base of 5500-6000 feet (1676-1829 m). There was a light precipitation in the region.
30 minutes into the flight, the indications of @@@ started to change slightly. The indications of backup altimeter remained unaltered, what was consistent with continous data feedback from chase plane. The weather conditions also deteriorated slightly, but did not obscure visual contact between planes.
45 minutes into the flight, the planes entered a cloudy area and the visibility started to diminish. Nevertheless, the experiment plane was still visible on radar unit, and the data feedback from radar transponder was correct. In the same time, @'s indications started to decrease in quick steps. The backup altimeter also started to indicate false readings, consistent with readings of @.
55 minutes into the flight, the planes changed course according to flight plan filed before takeoff. The pilot of experiment aircraft observed that the course indicator (compass) also started to indicate false bearing, and help from chase aircraft was necessary to put experiment plane on correct course. In this moment, researcher on board of the experiment plane declared all instruments faulty and advised pilots to navigate using only help of chase plane.
During the next 20 minutes into the flight the navigational situation remained unaltered. The meteorological conditions deteriorated, and planes entered an area with visibility reduced to about 150 m. In spite of that, the navigation was successfully conducted using advices of the chase plane crew. At this point, the researchers on board of the chase plane commenced Phase 2 of the experiment, that is, ordered the pilots to sever radio communication with experiment plane and increase distance between planes, while still maintaining radar contact. The experiment plane crew were unaware of this procedure. The purpose of this procedure was creating an (apparently) real dangerous situation, to see if @@@'s escalation of effects will be triggered by crew's stress level. Note: experiment plane crew deliberately has not been provided any instruction in case of radio contact loss.
2 minutes after last transmission from chase plane, the experiment aircraft's pilot started to hail chase plane over the radio, repeating every 30 seconds. The transcription of communication recording follows:
[Note: Experiment aircraft's pilot commenced climbing with a speed of about 1300 ft/min (396 m/min).]