Saturday, May 22, 2010

ATSB: Preliminary report on the Airnorth Embraer 120 crash at Darwin

by B. N. Sullivan

AirnorthThe Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a preliminary factual report concerning the crash of an Airnorth EMB-120ER at Darwin, Australia earlier this year. The accident happened as the aircraft (registration VH-ANB) was departing from runway 29 at the Darwin Airport on the morning of March 22, 2010. Both pilots were killed; there were no passengers on board.

The new ATSB report confirms that the accident flight was a training flight. Quoting from the report's abstract:
The training captain advised the aerodrome controller that the departure would incorporate asymmetric flight (simulated engine failure) and was approved by the controller to perform the manoeuvre.

After becoming airborne, witnesses reported seeing the aircraft roll and diverge left from its take-off path. They watched as the aircraft continued rolling left, and entered a steep nose-down attitude. It disappeared into trees south of the runway threshold from where a column of black smoke was seen shortly afterwards.

Aerodrome rescue and fire fighting services were in attendance very shortly thereafter and extinguished the fire. Both pilots were fatally injured and the aircraft was seriously damaged due to impact forces and an intense post-impact fire.
The report says that both the flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) were located in the aircraft's tail section, and had sustained minor damage.

The CVR's 30-minute recording "covered cockpit preparation, engine start, taxiing and the flight. Prior to departure the crew's conversation included briefing for the simulated engine failure exercise and subsequent training manoeuvre." The FDR "contained 25 hours of aircraft operation covering the accident flight and 15 previous flights."
The CVR and FDR information showed that a simulated left engine failure exercise was conducted during the accident flight. The simulated left engine failure commenced about 1 second after the aircraft became airborne.
Analysis of the CVR and FDR data is ongoing.

The ATSB report noted that the crew consisted of a supervisory pilot/training captain and another captain who was undergoing a check for the renewal of his command instrument rating (CIR). Planned for the training flight were "a number of emergency training manoeuvres, including a simulated engine failure at takeoff, known as a 'V1-cut'."

As a result of the investigation, to date, the ATSB has identified safety issues that "should be addressed by the relevant organisations," including fleet inspection and "the use of aircraft simulators for asymmetric and other high risk training."

Here is the link to the report: ATSB Preliminary - VH-ANB (7-page 'pdf' file)

Earlier posts on about this accident:
[Photo Source]