Saturday, July 11, 2009

Final report issued for Kalitta Air Boeing 747 freighter accident at Brussels

by B. N. Sullivan

Kalitta B747 Brussels, AAIU photoThe Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of Belgium's Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport agency has released its final report on the 2008 Kalitta Air freighter accident at Brussels, Belgium. On May 25, 2008, the Boeing 747-200 aircraft (registration N704CK) overran runway 20 of Brussels Zaventem Airport (EBBR) after a rejected takeoff. The aircraft came to a stop 300 meters beyond the end of the runway, where it broke into three parts. The four crew members and one passenger suffered minor injuries.

The accident aircraft was departing Brussels for Bahrain at the time of the accident. A bird, later identified as a European kestrel, was ingested by the number three engine during the takeoff roll. According to the AAIU report, the bird strike caused "a momentary loss of power, accompanied by a loud bang, heard by the crew and external witnesses, and by flames, seen from the control tower."

The bang and the loss of power occurred four seconds after the V1 speed call-out.
Two seconds after the bang, all four engines were brought back to idle, and braking action was initiated. The aircraft reached a first embankment, dropping from a height of 4 m, and broke in three parts. The aircraft came to a stop just above the top of the railroad embankment.
There was no post crash fire.

Although the captain stated he applied maximum braking power during the stop run, the thrust reversers were not deployed. The captain stated he applied speed brakes, however "the speed brake lever was found in the retract position in the cockpit, while the speed brakes themselves seemed in a stowed / retract position."

The AAIU has determined that this accident "was caused by the decision to Reject the Take-Off 12 knots after passing V1 speed."

The report lists the following contributing factors:
  • Engine Nr 3 experienced a bird strike, causing it to stall. This phenomenon was accompanied by a loud bang, noticed by the crew.
  • The aircraft line up at the B1 intersection although the take-off parameters were computed with the full length of the runway.
  • The situational awareness of the crew,
  • Less than maximum use of deceleration devices.
  • Although the RESA [runway end safety area] conforms to the minimum ICAO requirement, it does not conform to the ICAO recommendation for length.
Several safety recommendations are included in the report, including this one regarding Kalitta’s training program:
We recommend to modify the training program of the flight crew (initial and recurrent), and related documentation, to highlight the risks involved in rejecting TO around V1, as well as the importance of respecting procedures.

The training program of Kalitta was amended and an in-house DVD training video was developed, that demonstrates proper and improper reject procedures that is modeled after rwy 20 in BRU. The content of the DVD was reviewed by both Boeing and FAA.

This revised training program is currently in place.
The AAIU Final report, in English, is available for download here: Ref. AAIU-2008-13, July 10, 2009 (66-page 'PDF'file)

Alternate source for the same document.

[Photo Source]