Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Qantas Boeing 747 uncontained engine failure near San Francisco

by B. N. Sullivan

Qantas logoA Qantas Boeing 747-400 (registration VH-OJP) experienced an uncontained engine failure last night during climbout from San Francisco.  The aircraft's No. 4 engine, a Rolls-Royce RB-211, was badly damaged and was shut down in flight.  After jettisoning fuel, the aircraft returned to San Francisco International Airport, where the crew made a safe emergency landing.  The aircraft was carrying 212 passengers and a crew of 19; no one was injured.

According to news reports, the accident occurred shortly after midnight on August 31, 2010 as Qantas Flight QF 74 was still climbing after departure from San Francisco, en route to Sydney.   (The aircraft  had departed San Francisco at about 23:30L on August 30, 2010.)  The track log on FlightAware.com suggests that the aircraft was climbing through FL250 at the time of the accident. 

Here is the link to the flight track for Qantas Flt QF 74 on FlightAware.com.

I will post updates here on Aircrew Buzz should more information about this event become available.

UPDATE: Australia's ABC News posted this video clip of their news report about the accident on YouTube. The clip shows some mobile phone video of sparks coming from the engine, and still photos of the damaged engine cowling.

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blaming the victim: Compass Airlines flight attendant fired for revealing her low income qualified her for food stamps

by B. N. Sullivan

If this isn't a classic case of blaming the victim, I don't know what is:  A Compass Airlines flight attendant has lost her job because she dared to say publicly that, due to her low wages, she qualified for food stamps.  The flight attendant was fired by the regional carrier after revealing in an interview on a local television show that she had been approved for food stamps in order to compensate for her low income.

Even though the flight attendant worked a full-time schedule at Compass Airlines, she was paid poverty-level wages.  She applied for food stamps to supplement her inadequate income -- and she certainly is not the only poorly paid flight attendant to have done so -- but she didn't keep her mouth shut about it.  She spoke out about her situation during a television interview.

Oh, the audacity!  You are SO fired for revealing the dirty secret that the airline pays many of its line employees so poorly that they can't make ends meet without public assistance.

Since late 2009, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA)  has represented the flight attendants at Compass Airlines, which conducts regional flying on behalf of Delta Air Lines.  Currently, the AFA is  engaged in contract negotiations with Compass Airlines for their first agreement.  At present, Compass flight attendants are paid at or near the minimum wage with a starting flight attendant annually making between $13,842 ($1,153.50/month) and $15,453 ($1,287.75/month), according to the union. That would make most Compass flight attendants eligible for assistance.

Well, you might think to yourself, if the job pays so poorly that the flight attendant had to apply for food stamps, why didn't she just quit and get another job?

Right.  Good jobs are plentiful just now.  If she left her job at Compass Airlines, she probably could have her pick among many well-paying jobs.  Not!!

While I don't know this particular flight attendant and her circumstances, I do know that many flight attendants are thankful that they have a job -- any job, even a poorly paid one -- in the current economic climate.  Which is worse?  Being employed in a low-paying job and having your meager income supplemented with food stamps?  Or being unemployed, with dim prospects in these times, and the risk of ending up on the welfare rolls?  You decide.

You also might wonder why this flight attendant took the job in the first place.  I mean, she must have known about the low pay before she signed on.  But who can say what her aspirations were, or what her situation was at the time she began working for Compass Airlines, and who knows how that situation may have changed in the meantime.  There might be any number of reasons why a person would accept a low-paying position, but that is not the point here.

The point is that the flight attendant in question spoke publicly about her low pay and her struggle to make ends meet, and was terminated by her employer for doing so.  That is just wrong.  It's not like airline pay scales are a closely guarded trade secret.  More likely it's that Compass Airlines was embarrassed by the public revelation that they do not pay their front-line workers a living wage.  So, as punishment for embarrassing her employer, the flight attendant was fired.

As I said at the outset, it looks to me like a clear case of  "Blame the victim."

Addressing this case, Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President said, "Poverty is not a crime and it is despicable that Compass Airlines would fire an employee for speaking the truth.  Unfortunately there are flight attendants across the country who have to rely on federal and state assistance to make ends meet.  Instead of paying hardworking flight attendants a living wage, airline management would rather shame them and make them fear for their jobs."

The AFA is calling for Compass Airlines to immediately reinstate this flight attendant.  I, too, hope they do so.

UPDATE Sep 3, 2010: From AFA:  Compass Airlines Flight Attendants will protest poverty level wages:
"You Can’t Silence the Truth – Give Kirsten Arianejad’s Job Back"
  • Tuesday, September 7, 2010
  • Time: 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm
  • Picketing: Across from ticketing – upper level; Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport; Minneapolis, MN

Thursday, August 26, 2010

One for the record books: FAA hits American Airlines with $24.2 million fine

by B. N. Sullivan

American Airlines MD-80A press release issued earlier today by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that the agency has proposed a $24.2 million civil penalty (i.e., fine) against American Airlines "for failing to correctly follow an Airworthiness Directive involving the maintenance of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft."  The proposed fine would be the largest ever levied against an airline by the FAA.  American Airlines has 30 days in which to respond, and the airline already has announced that it will challenge the proposed penalty, stating, "We are confident we have a strong case and the facts will bear this out."

The fine arises from alleged violations of a 2006 Airworthiness Directive (AD), which required the airline to inspect wire bundles in the wheel wells of MD-80 aircraft.  The AD required MD-80 operators to look for chafing or signs of arcing of the wire bundle for the auxiliary hydraulic pump, and to perform corrective actions if such defects were found.

The FAA explains:
The purpose of the Airworthiness Directive [AD 2006-15-15] was to prevent the shorting of wires or arcing at the auxiliary hydraulic pump, which could result in loss of auxiliary hydraulic power or a fire in the wheel well of the aircraft. The Airworthiness Directive also sought to reduce the potential of an ignition source adjacent to the fuel tanks, which, in combination with the flammable vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion.
The airline had until March 5, 2008 to accomplish the required inspections, but on March 25, 2008 the FAA discovered two aircraft that were not in compliance with the AD.  This prompted a series of re-inspections and maintenance work.
On March 26, after American performed additional maintenance on its MD-80 fleet, the FAA inspected eight aircraft at American’s Tulsa maintenance base and found that seven did not comply with the Airworthiness Directive. On April 7, the FAA inspected another nine MD-80 aircraft at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and found that eight of them still did not comply with the AD. A tenth aircraft inspected by American mechanics also did not comply. On April 8, American began grounding its MD-80 fleet to conduct new inspections and redo work as necessary.

The FAA subsequently determined that 286 of the airline’s MD-80s were operated on a combined 14,278 passenger flights while the aircraft were not in compliance with Federal Regulations. American ultimately completed the work required by the 2006 Airworthiness Directive.
The alleged non-compliance with the AD proved very costly for the airline, even before the current proposed fine.  During April of 2008, the temporary grounding of American's entire fleet of MD-80 (S-80) aircraft caused well over 2,000 flights to be canceled.  This disrupted the travel plans of many thousands of passengers and shippers, and resulted in a massive loss of revenue for the carrier.

In addition, American Airlines agreed to provide pay protection to pilots and flight attendants who had been scheduled to work the canceled flights.

It will be interesting to see what details emerge in the airline's response to the FAA.  The airline claimed at the time that the grounding of the MD-80 fleet for re-inspection was "related to detailed, technical compliance issues and not safety-of-flight issues."

Here is the link to the FAA report that details the violations that are the basis for the huge proposed civil penalty: Enforcement Investigative Report No. 2008SW210302 - 58-page 'pdf' document

Related posts on Aircrew Buzz:
[Photo Source]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fatal crash of Filair Let L-410 at Bandundu, DR Congo

by B. N. Sullivan

A Let L-410 turboprop aircraft operated by Filair crashed this morning near Bandundu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  News reports say that the aircraft crashed while on approach to Bandundu.  The aircraft was said to be arriving at Bandundu from Kinshasa, the capital city of the DRC.  There was no post-crash fire.

It is unclear exactly how many people were on board, but various news sources report 19 or 20 fatalities, with possibly one survivor.  Some reports say that the aircraft crashed into houses, and that there may be some ground casualties as well.  Other sources say that occupants of a house that was hit "had managed to flee."

The AFP news service, quoting an official from Bandundu province, reports that "the owner of the private airline Filair, Belgian Daniel Philemotte, 62, was at the controls and was among those killed, along with the co-pilot and stewardess."  This has not been independently confirmed.

Objective information from this part of the world is difficult to come by, but if any more facts emerge, I will post an update.

Note: The photo on this page, taken at Kikwit airport, DR Congo in July of 2008, is a Let L-410 in Filair livery.  It may be the accident aircraft.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Henan Airlines Embraer 190 crash at Yichun City, China

by B. N. Sullivan

An Embraer E190 aircraft (registration B-3130) operated by Henan Airlines has crashed at Yichun City, in northeastern China.  The accident happened late in the evening of August 24, 2010, as the aircraft, operating as Henan Flight VD8387, was landing at Yichun following a scheduled flight from Harbin, China.

Early reports about the accident suggest a runway excursion during the landing roll.  There was a post-crash fire.  China's Xinhua news agency reports 91 souls on board, and some survivors, but no further details at this point. [Edit: Later reports mention five crew and 91 passengers, for a total of 96 on board.]

There was some initial confusion among Western media sources about the name of the airline.  Henan Airlines is a regional Chinese carrier based in northern China.  Henan Airlines was formerly known as Kunpeng Airlines.  The name was changed to Henan Airlines in 2009.   This is not the same as Hainan Airlines, which is a much larger Chinese carrier, based at Haikou, Hainan.

At one point, Mesa Air Group was a financial partner in the carrier (when it was called Kunpeng Airlines), but Mesa sold its shares in mid-2009.

UPDATE: China's Xinhua news agency is now reporting that  this accident resulted in 43 fatalities.   Xinhua also reports that 53 injured survivors have been hospitalized.  Xinhua says the time of the accident was 21:36L.

UPDATE Aug 25, 2010: It has been reported that the captain of this flight is among the survivors, although he is reported to be seriously injured.

The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) have been recovered from the wreckage.

Readers may be interested in the Aviation Herald's report on this accident, which includes some details about the weather at the time of the crash; METARs; and some still photos of the crash site.

Here is some video footage of the crash site, shot by news organizations:

Video: 42 die in plane crash in Yichun CCTV News - CNTV English

AP Raw Video (Chinese narration):

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Agni Air Dornier DO 228 crash in Nepal

by B. N. Sullivan

A small passenger aircraft, believed to be a Dornier DO 228, has crashed in Nepal.  The accident happened early on the morning of August 24, 2010.  Initial reports say the flight, operated by Agni Air, was en route from Kathmandu to Lukla, but could not land at its destination due to poor weather.  The flight was said to be returning to Kathmandu when it crashed in Nepal's Makwanpur District, south of Kathmandu.  The crash site is believed to be near the village of Shikharpur.

The number of people on board the accident flight is uncertain. Some news reports from the region say the plane was carrying three crew members and 11 passengers; others report as many as 18 may have been on board.  Their fate is unknown at this time.

More to follow as reliable information becomes available.

UPDATE: The accident aircraft has been identified by several sources as 9N-AHE.  The flight number was AG-101.

UPDATE Aug 24, 2010: New information suggests that the aircraft was attempting to divert to Simara after developing "technical problems."  News reports variously mention engine failure or generator failure, but neither has been officially confirmed.  According to The Himalayan, the crash site was located at Bastipur. 

I am sorry to report that there were no survivors among the three crew and 11 passengers on the accident flight.   The Himalayan has published a list of those on board Agni Air Flight AG-101. The three crew members were:
  • Captain Laxman Pratap Bikram Shah, pilot
  • Sophia Singh, co-pilot
  • Sahara Sherpa, air hostess
Condolences to the families and friends of all those who lost their lives in this accident.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Update: Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 loss of thrust control during flight

by B. N. Sullivan

The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (CAD), Accident Investigation Division, has released preliminary factual information regarding its inquiry into the loss of engine thrust control during flight on a Cathay Pacific Airways Airbus A330-342 aircraft (registration B-HLL).  The crew experienced control problems with both of the aircraft's Rolls-Royce Trent 700 turbofan engines during the scheduled passenger flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Hong Kong on April 13, 2010, resulting in a high-speed emergency landing at Hong Kong. During the high-energy braking, five tires on the aircraft's main landing gear burst, and fire broke out on the wheels.  Emergency evacuation of the aircraft on the runway caused injuries to 57 passengers, 10 of whom had to be hospitalized.

Engine Thrust Control Problems During Flight

In its first report on this accident [see link below], issued in May of 2010, the CAD revealed that the crew first noticed Engine Pressure Ratio (EPR) fluctuations during climb-out from Surabaya.  Twice during the cruise phase of the flight an ECAM (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring) message, ENG 2 CTL SYS FAULT was annunciated, and the crew dealt with the situation, following ECAM procedures, in consultation with Cathay Maintenance control.  All engine parameters remained normal, except for some EPR fluctuations.

During descent to FL230, at about 100 nm southeast of Hong Kong, the CAD report says "the ECAM messages ENG 1 CTL SYS FAULT and ENG 2 STALL annunciated within a short period of time. The flight crew completed the necessary ECAM actions with No. 2 thrust lever at idle position. No. 1 thrust lever was advanced to Maximum Continuous Thrust (MCT) position."  At this point, the crew declared PAN PAN, advised Hong Kong ATC that they had No. 2 engine at idle thrust, and requested track shortening and priority landing.

When the aircraft was about 45 nm from the airport and was about to level off at 8,000 ft AMSL, the ECAM message ENG 1 STALL was annunciated.  The crew carried out the ECAM procedures, and declared a MAYDAY.  According to the CAD report, "The commander then tested the engines by moving the thrust levers.  During these movements, the No. 1 engine speed increased to about 74% N1 while the No. 2 engine speed remained at about 17% N1."

"The commander flew the aircraft manually for a visual approach for runway 07L... During the final approach with both thrust levers at the idle position, No. 1 engine was stuck at about 74% N1, and decreased to about 70% N1 during touchdown, and No. 2 engine was stuck at about 17% N1 throughout the approach and landing."

The aircraft touched down at a ground speed of 230 knots.
On landing, the lower cowling of No. 1 engine contacted the runway surface briefly.  Spoilers were deployed automatically.  Only No. 1 engine thrust reverser deployed.  The commander applied maximum manual braking and the aircraft came to a complete stop on the runway.  The No. 1 engine was still running at 76–79% N1 with the No. 1 thrust lever at idle.  The flight crew shut down both engines."
Fuel Problems Discovered

In its second bulletin, issued last week [see link below], the CAD reported preliminary findings related to the accident aircraft's fuel, noting that the aircraft had been refueled at Surabaya prior to its departure for Hong Kong.  The report describes these anomalies:
The examination of engine fuel components revealed that the Main Metering Valves (MMV) of the Fuel Metering Units (FMU) of both engines were seized at positions consistent with the corresponding final engine power.  The Variable Stator Vane Controller (VSVC) of the No. 2 engine was also found seized. Fine spherical particles (spheres) were present in the FMU, the VSVC and the Variable Stator Vane Actuator (VSVA) of both engines.  No faults or failures have so far been observed with any of the removed components, other than those associated with the contamination by the spheres.  Examination and analysis indicated that those spheres could not have been generated from within the aircraft airframe or engine systems under normal operating conditions and environment.

The examination of fuel samples collected showed that there were also spheres in the fuel samples from the engine fuel system and the aircraft fuel tanks.  Traces of such spheres were also present in the monitor filters layers and the fuel samples collected downstream of those monitor filters in the dispenser used to uplift fuel to the aircraft.  These spheres appeared to be similar to those found in various aircraft engine fuel components examined.
The report also states that analysis of data from the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and the Quick Access Recorder (QAR) revealed "no evidence of unusual command signal from the Electronic Engine Controls (EEC), the manual thrust and the auto thrust systems.  The abnormal engines performance during the flight was believed to have been caused by stiction and eventual seizure of the MMV."

The report goes on to say that work had been performed on the hydrant refueling circuit at Surabaya not long before the Cathay A330 had been refueled there.  The investigation "noted that some of the re-commissioning procedures of that hydrant extension work were not in line with the guidelines and practices commonly used by aviation fuel industry, and that the hydrant refuel system for Stands No. 5 to 10 was used for refuelling, including the subject aircraft, before the completion of the re-commissioning procedures."

The CAD has not yet determined the exact source and nature of the spheres found in the fuel samples and filters.  The investigation is continuing.


RELATED: Dramatic emergency landing by Cathay Pacific A330 at Hong Kong - Apr 14, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 fuselage skin rupture: NTSB final report

by B. N. Sullivan

NTSB photoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its final report regarding the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300 that developed a hole in its fuselage during flight on July 13, 2009.  According to the NTSB report, the probable cause of this accident was, "Fuselage skin failure due to pre-existing fatigue at a chemically milled step."

At the time of the accident, the aircraft (registration N387SW) was en route from Nashville International Airport (BNA) to Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), operating as Southwest Flt WN2294.  A hole in the crown of the aircraft's fuselage developed when the skin ruptured just forward of the vertical stabilizer.  When the  hole opened, the cabin depressurized.  The crew diverted to Charleston, WV where they made a safe emergency landing at Yeager Airport (CRW).  No one was injured.

NTSB photoQuoting from the summary of the NTSB report:
Flight data recorder data revealed that the airplane took off and climbed for about 25 minutes to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet, at which point the cabin altitude warning activated, and the captain disengaged the autopilot. Postincident examination of the airplane revealed fatigue cracking of the fuselage skin near the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer adjacent to the rupture. The fatigue cracking penetrated the fuselage skin and created an approximate 18-inch by 12-inch flap in the skin that depressurized the airplane.

The fuselage skin assembly near the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer was manufactured by bonding two full aluminum sheets together, then selectively chemically milling away pockets (bays) of the inner sheet. Continuous fatigue cracks initiated from multiple origins on the inner surface of the skin adjacent to the step formed at the edge of the chemically milled area and propagated outward.

Following the Southwest Airlines (SWA) flight 2294 event, on September 3, 2009, Boeing issued Service Bulletin (SB) 737-53A1301, calling for repetitive external inspections to detect cracks in the fuselage skin along the chemically milled step at stringers S-1 and S-2 right and between BS 827 and BS 847. (The hole from the SWA event was within those boundaries.) If cracks are detected, operators are to contact Boeing for repair instructions. On January 12, 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration issued Airworthiness Directive 2010-01-09, which mandated the inspection requirements in SB 737-53A1301.
Note:  The photos on this page were released by the NTSB In July of 2009.  The first photo (top of this page) shows the section of fuselage skin facing inside the aircraft.  The second photo shows the section of fuselage skin on exterior of aircraft.  Clicking on either photo will take you to a larger version on the NTSB website.

Links to the NTSB report [NTSB ID DCA09FA065]:  SummaryFull Narrative


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Air Transat pilots vote to strike; Wasaya pilots have a TA; Evergreen pilots reject their TA

by B. N. Sullivan

ALPA logoLots of labor news from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) this week:

Air Transat

Pilots at Montréal-based carrier Air Transat recently held a strike ballot, in which 97% of pilots voted in favor of a lawful strike, "should it become necessary to conclude a fair collective agreement" with the airline's management.  ALPA reports that 90% of pilots eligible to vote had participated in the balloting.

Contract negotiations began in January of this year.  ALPA says that "substantial issues remain open, particularly in the areas of job outsourcing, pilot fatigue mitigation, and compensation."  In June, a conciliation commissioner was appointed by Canada's Minister of Labour.

ALPA explains:
The conciliation time line establishes a series of hard deadlines for negotiators, including a 60-day conciliation period that will expire on September 10, 2010, unless the parties agree to extend the process. Under the Canada Labour Code, both the strike authorization vote and written notification to the company are required steps before any withdrawal of services can begin. At the end of conciliation, a mandatory 21-day waiting period will go into effect, which concludes at midnight on October 1, at which time Air Transat pilots will be in a legal position to strike.
“Our pilots are seeking a contract that recognizes their contribution to the success of the airline that they have helped to build,” said Captain Sylvain Aubin, chairman of the Air Transat unit of ALPA.   “This [strike] vote serves as notice to the company that our pilots are united and stand firm behind our goal of achieving a fair and equitable contract,” Captain Aubin added.

Wasaya Airways

Also in Canada, Wasaya Airways pilots have reached a tentative contract agreement (TA) with their management.  ALPA says the new two-year agreement provides pay increases, establishes a seniority, and implements the first sick bank for the pilots.

Wasaya pilots will vote on the TA in the coming weeks.  Should the tentative contract agreement be ratified, it would be the first for Wasaya pilots, who joined ALPA in January of 2008.

Evergreen International Airlines

Pilots and flight engineers at Oregon-based Evergreen International Airlines have rejected a tentative contract agreement, which was reached in April of this year.  ALPA reports that 92% of eligible Evergreen crew members participated in the ratification balloting, and 96% of those voted against accepting the TA.

From an ALPA press statement:
ALPA and management negotiated for two-and-a-half years. Prior to the Evergreen crewmembers joining ALPA in 2007, negotiations dragged on for more than three years between the crewmembers’ independent union, The Aviators Group, and management. Mediated talks began in 2005 under the supervision of the National Mediation Board (NMB). The tentative agreement was reached in April 2010.

The tentative agreement was largely a renewal of the current collective bargaining agreement, which has been in place since 1999. The crewmembers concluded that the tentative agreement contract is not acceptable after more than 10 years of no improvements in pay or working conditions.
William Fink, MEC chairman of the Evergreen pilot group, said that the crew members "could not get past the fact that they are working under 1999 wages and works rules, and would have continued to do so for another two years" under the terms of the TA.

“We are aware that the holding company is struggling to meet substantial debt obligations, but are convinced that the airline can afford reasonable improvements in wages and working conditions for its employees,” said Fink.

The NMB, which still has jurisdiction over the negotiations between Evergreen and its crew members, will determine the next step in resolving this case.

RELATED: Evergreen Airlines pilots frustrated after five years of contract talks - Sep 15, 2009

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FAA grants provisional approval to Boeing for 787 Dreamliner pilot training

by B. N. Sullivan

Boeing will soon begin training pilots to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  According to a press statement, released yesterday by Boeing, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted provisional approval to Boeing Training and Flight Services for the company's training courses, which will allow pilots currently type-rated on the Boeing 777 to transition to the B787.  The provisional designation will be removed once the aircraft is fully certified.

The transition training can be accomplished in five to 20 days, depending on pilot experience, says Boeing.  The relatively short training period is possible because there is said to be a high level of commonality between the B777 and B787 airplane types, from a piloting perspective.

The airframer is now working with the FAA "to obtain provisional approval of the training devices at which point formal pilot training will commence."
The Boeing 787 pilot training program uses a sophisticated suite of training devices including a full-flight simulator, flight training device and desktop simulation station to ensure that pilots are ready to fly the Dreamliner.
"Gaining FAA approval for our courses is a significant milestone as we ramp up to the start of flight training," said Mark Albert, director of Simulator Services and 787 Training Program, Boeing Training & Flight Services. "It validates our approach to provide world-class training solutions at great value for the 787 Dreamliner."

Boeing training & Flight Services currently operates eight training suites at five locations around the world, including Seattle, Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, and Gatwick, UK.

Some individual operators of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner also will have their own training courses for pilots of the new aircraft type.  According to Boeing, local FAA offices will approve those courses, "and these may be based on provisional approvals."

[Photo Source]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aires Boeing 737-700 crash at San Andrés Island, Colombia

by B. N. Sullivan

A Boeing 737-700 aircraft operated by Colombian carrier Aires crashed on landing early this morning at Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport (ADZ), San Andrés Island, Colombia.  At the time of the accident, the aircraft (registration HK-4682), operating as Aires Flight 4C-8250, was arriving at  San Andrés from Bogotá, Colombia (BOG).  The aircraft broke up into several pieces, but there was no fire.  According to a press release issued by the airline, there were six crew members and 121 passengers on board; one passenger was killed, and many were injured.

The aircraft had departed Bogotá's El Dorado International Airport a few minutes after midnight on August 16, 2010.  The accident occurred at 01:49 AM local time as the aircraft was attempting to land at San Andrés in poor weather.  According to the Aviation Herald, the aircraft touched down about 80 meters short of Runway 06 at ADZ.  The Aviation Herald also mentions that at the time of the accident, "the visibility was reported at 4000 meters (13000 feet), rain and winds around 15 knots, there were thunderstorms in the area."  Some news media have reported that the aircraft was hit by lightning while on approach, but this has not been officially confirmed.

A list of the names and disposition passengers on Flight 8250 has been posted on the Aires website.

Boeing has announced that a technical support team is being sent to assist with the accident investigation, at the invitation of Colombian authorities.

[Photo Source]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Unique Jeppesen Approach Plate: The Hudson Miracle Approach

by B. N. Sullivan

Several days ago, a pilot friend sent me an email with a most interesting attachment. It seems that Jeppesen, the universally well-known publisher of aeronautical charts, had produced a special edition approach chart, detailing the Hudson Miracle Approach, as performed by the crew of Cactus 1549, the US Airways A320 that famously and successfully ditched in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009.  I'm told that the approach plate was handed out  at  the EAA AirVenture 2010 at Oshkosh, during the auction.

Truly a collector's item, the approach plate honors the five crew members of US Airways Flight 1549 by naming intersections after them, and noting their full names and experience in the box at the lower right.

If you'd like to save or print this keeper, click on the image below for a larger version, or visit:  http://www.jeppesen.com/images/misc/hudson-miracle-approach-chart.jpg

Great big thank you to Jeppesen for creating this wonderful keepsake, and to my friend Tam for passing it along to me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Aer Lingus cabin crew plan work-to-rule industrial action later this month

by B. N. Sullivan

IMPACT, the union that represents cabin crew at Irish carrier Aer Lingus, announced that its membership have voted overwhelmingly in favor of an industrial action, claiming that the airline unilaterally imposed contract changes last month. Aer Lingus cabin crew are not planning a strike; rather, they will work within their their existing contracts, i.e., the contract that was in place up until the time of this dispute.

According to the union, 67% of Aer Lingus cabin staff submitted ballots; of those, 96% were in favor of the work-to-rule plan, and only 4% against.

In a press release, IMPACT officials explained the union's position:
The dispute between cabin crew and Aer Lingus arose when management unilaterally imposed massive changes to working arrangements, supposedly to achieve the objective of 850 flying (or ‘block’) hours a year as part of cabin crews’ overall working time. Full-time cabin crew are currently contracted to work a 39-hour week, although they are only paid for 35 hours under an earlier productivity concession.

Cabin crew have accepted the requirement to increase flying hours to 850 a year, as part of overall working time, as set out in an agreed ‘Greenfield’ cost saving plan. They have not voted to accept the changes imposed by management last month.

Proposals for further changes to existing rules to achieve the annual 850 flying hours have been the subject of a Labour Relations Commission process, involving IMPACT and Aer Lingus management, as required under the ‘Greenfield’ plan agreed by management and unions.

But last month the company breached the ‘Greenfield’ agreement by unilaterally abolishing the existing agreed rules on working time and imposing new rosters based on minimum legal protections. These allow cabin crew to work 60 hours over a seven-day period, including long shifts without breaks.

IMPACT official Christina Carney said the ‘Greenfield’ plan, which was brokered by the Labour Relations Commission and accepted by cabin crew in a ballot in March 2010, did not contain the roster changes imposed by the company. Neither did it allow the company to arbitrarily impose changes to contracts or working rules. The union also says the imposition of the legal minimum rules is unnecessary to achieve the agreed changes and is contrary to practices used in most airlines.

Ms Carney said: “The 850-hours flying time can be achieved by agreeing changes to the existing working rules rather than abandoning them. June 2010 was the airline’s most successful month ever in terms of passenger numbers and yields, and that was achieved on the basis of existing contracts. For staff, this was a cause for celebration and continued commitment to working together to maintain the company’s success, in part by finishing the negotiations on an agreed implementation of increased flying hours. But management instead abandoned the negotiation and arbitration process being brokered by the Labour Relations Commission and unilaterally imposed unnecessary changes that nobody has voted on, let alone agreed, and which would leave cabin crew working 60 hours in seven days,” she said.

Aer Lingus responded with this statement:
Aer Lingus notes the outcome of the Impact Cabin Crew ballot. While we are at a loss to understand why another ballot was necessary, we welcome the decision by Impact Cabin Crew to work to their contracts and in particular the public confirmation earlier today by Impact that all cabin crew will work to the agreed 850 flight hours per year. These elements have always been an intrinsic part of the overall Greenfield cost saving plan and we welcome this clarification.

We continue to be party to the arbitration process however we will continue to gradually phase in the agreed productivity levels so that we can realign the cost base of the Company and position Aer Lingus for a successful future for the benefit of our staff, our shareholders and the travelling public.
IMPACT officials have stated that the union "is available for talks with the company or the State’s industrial relations bodies."

The union says their planned action will have no impact on flight schedules in and out of Ireland, and that this will not change "unless management escalates the dispute by taking disciplinary action against one or more cabin crew members for working within their existing contracts."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On a lighter note: Pillow fight aboard a Lufthansa aircraft

by B. N. Sullivan

This video was posted to YouTube in June with the tongue-in-cheek title, "The endless dispute between the French and the Germans." The blurb that was posted beneath the video explains:
LH687 from Tel-Aviv to Frankfurt. Economy class is occupied with a few dozens of French tourists. Suddenly they start a 'pillow war' inside the cabin.

Lufthansa flights attendant seems to take active part in the war.
Clearly, this was a good-natured "war" -- and everyone applauded at the end!

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.

Hat tips to YouTube user voerman19, who posted the video, and to Twitter user @Aife_Earthstone, who told me about it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Contract negotiations begin for FedEx pilots

by B. N. Sullivan

ALPA logoThe Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents the pilots at FedEx Express, announced today that contract negotiations have begun between the union and FedEx management.

The ALPA FedEx MEC said in a statement to the press that the pilots "are prepared for a focused bargaining on a limited number of significant issues."
Unlike the prolonged bargaining which produced contracts ratified in 1999 and 2006, ALPA expects a much more timely process.

“Our leadership team believes that our last contract negotiation took far too long to conclude. We fully expect that with the cooperation of FedEx Express management and the resolve of our pilot group, we will reach a deal that will be beneficial to us and the company. The bargaining of contracts over years instead of months is a broken model which is beneficial to neither side,” said Captain Scott Stratton, chairman of the ALPA unit at FedEx.
This will be the FedEx pilots' third collectively bargained contract.

Monday, August 09, 2010

An angry JetBlue flight attendant's dramatic exit

by B. N. Sullivan

The story is all over the newswires:  Earlier today, a JetBlue flight attendant made a very dramatic exit from an Embraer 190 aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York. The incident happened shortly after JetBlue Flt 1052 arrived at JFK from Pittsburgh.

According to news reports, it seems a passenger refused to remain seated until the aircraft came to a full stop at the gate and the seat belt sign was turned off.  Instead, the passenger left his/her seat and began trying to retrieve hand baggage from an overhead bin.  After a heated verbal exchange with the passenger, the flight attendant reportedly 'lost it'.  He made an expletive-laced announcement over the PA system, then popped one of the aircraft's emergency slides, and promptly used it to make his dramatic exit. Reports say he then bee-lined through the terminal to a parking lot, got into his car and drove home (where he was later arrested).

The flight attendant's actions were undeniably unusual, definitely costly for the airline, and certainly against FAA regulations.  Nevertheless, he has become an instant folk hero among flight attendants everywhere, judging from the volume and content of the chatter on Twitter, and comments made by crew members on several news websites and internet forums.

The prevailing view:  This flight attendant actually dared to do what so many other flight attendants have felt like doing at one time or another.

Flight attendants were not so much horrified by this event as they were amused and, yes, impressed!   They all know that this was a serious incident, yet it clearly struck a chord of  sympathy in cabin crew everywhere.  (And on Twitter,  even non-crew people tweeted and re-tweeted the story, with comments like, "Best way to quit a job, ever!")

Now, there probably is more to this story.  Who knows what else happened during that flight attendant's trip, or what might be going on in his life away from work.  While the uncooperative passenger's behavior may have triggered the flight attendant's meltdown, it likely was "the straw that broke the camel's back" -- the final stressor of many, which simply led to a sort of emotional circuit overload.

A Reuters report about the incident quotes a spokesman for the Port Authority police, who said that  the flight attendant "will likely be charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief."

I'm wondering if the misbehaving passenger will be charged with "interfering with a flight crew," too.

Here are links to some of the press stories about this event, replete with photos apparently lifted from the flight attendant's MySpace page.  And by the way, the comments on all of these articles make for an interesting read:
UPDATE: A man who says he was a passenger on the JetBlue flight wrote his account of the incident on his blog: Just a little excitement on my flight today, by Phil Catelinet  [Hat tip to @businessinsider for tweeting the link.]

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mexicana suspends international flights

by B. N. Sullivan

Less than a week ago, Compañía Mexicana de Aviación (CMA), AKA Mexicana Airlines, filed for bankruptcy protection, but said it would continue to operate while undergoing reorganization.  Nevertheless, the carrier suspended ticket sales a day later.  Now the situation appears to have deteriorated even further as Mexicana announced today that it will suspend many of its international flights, beginning tomorrow, August 9, 2010.   Its domestic operations, MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink also are at risk.

Quoting from a press release issued by Mexicana on August 8, 2010:
Mexicana Airlines today announced that its financial situation has deteriorated substantially in the last week due to a series of events that have strangled the cash flows the airline needs to finance its day-to-day operations. One such event was IATA’s decision to suspend the carrier’s BSP sales channel, forcing it to suspend the sale and issuing of tickets indefinitely, with serious repercussions for MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink sales. Other sources of revenue have either dried up or are being retained by financial institutions following the company’s recent decision to file bankruptcy proceedings.

Consequently, Mexicana Airlines will be forced to cancel certain flights over coming days to optimize available resources and ensure that priority is given to homebound passengers.
Beginning tomorrow, August 9,2010, Mexicana will suspend flights on most international routes. [Click here to view a list of suspended flights.]

Mexicana's most recent press statement says, "It is hoped an agreement will be reached with union leaders and that additional resources can be obtained to secure the financial viability of the carrier."

Sadly, it also says, "If you are planning on traveling by air in the immediate future, Mexicana Airlines suggests you consider alternatives, where possible."

Friday, August 06, 2010

American Eagle is hiring pilots

American Eagle
U.S. regional carrier American Eagle, a unit of AMR, Inc., is taking applications for First Officers.

According to the airline's Pilot Career page, applicants must be at least 21 years old, and must be U.S. citizens or possess the legal right to work in the U.S.

Among other qualifications, applicants must:
  • possess commercial pilot certification with multi-engine and instrument ratings
  • have total fixed wing time of 1,000 hours; multi-engine fixed wing time of 200 hours is preferred
  • possess a current FAA First Class Medical Certificate, IFR currency and an FCC license
Domiciles: Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Fleet aircraft types: CRJ-700, EMB-135, EMB-140, EMB-145, ATR-72.

Visit http://www.americaneaglecareers.com/Jobs/Pilots.html for more information, and to apply online.

Also, check out this page on Airline Pilot Central for more (though unofficial) information about flying for American Eagle.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

You know you're a flight attendant if...

NOTE: The post below was originally published three years ago on Cabin Crew News, where it became a perennial favorite. It's just as relevant and funny today as it was in 2007, so when I merged the Cabin Crew News archive into this blog, I decided to move this item up and publish it anew.

This list came to me as an email pass-around, and to be honest, it's the second or third time I've seen it. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to post here. I wonder which of these would seem mysterious to people outside of aviation? Probably the same ones that make flight attendants laugh the most!

You know you're a flight attendant if...........
  • You never unpack
  • You look to the ceiling when your doorbell chimes
  • You wish you had jet engines mounted in your bedroom so you could fall asleep faster
  • You don't ever write a full city name (and it bugs your non-aviation friends): DTW MCO FCO BOM
  • You get excited over certain types of ice
  • You silently curse every Bose headset-wearing dude -- ("Yes, the electronic device announcement means you, sir.")
  • You know how to look fresh in 5 day old clothes
  • No matter how many times you clean out your suitcase you still find ancient hidden treasures in there
  • You HATE boarding
  • You LOVE deplaning
  • You have figured out that turbulence is not caused by clouds but by the initial movement of all meal carts
  • You can't believe that people let their babies and toddlers play on the floor of the aircraft cabin -- ewww, nasty
  • You remember the passengers with great manners (that's sad)
  • You can't remember when UM's actually became bigger than you
  • You love foreigners because they can't adequately complain in English
  • You have to turn your head when you see a passenger in stocking feet enter a lavatory
  • You secretly cheer when another flight attendant has to deal with the medical emergency
  • You HATE on board duty free
  • You can't stand the frequent flyer who says "I fly more than you..." (yeah, right)
  • You hate running into your passengers at your layover hotel
  • Blankety-blank tray stackers!
  • You hate when the heavy drinkers start flirting and calling you by name
  • You long for the days when it was easy to rig the TV for free movies
  • You want to smack the nail clipping -- finger nail polishing -- nose picking -- snoring passengers
  • You want no passengers talking to you while you are non-revving
  • Even when you are not working a flight, you travel in uniform for the liquids, creams and gels exemption
  • If passengers can't find the flush to the toilet -- they should stay in there till they do!
  • You wish you had a button to press that would announce, "No I don't have a pen"
  • You are excited to find a can of different soda that is not supposed to be on your airline
  • You could scream when people use an empty seat to change their baby's diaper, and don't even put a blanket underneath the little one -- worse yet, they ask if they can change the baby on the floor of the galley!
  • You know a meaning for "crop-dusting" that has nothing to do with agriculture
  • You cruise the aircraft after all the passengers have deplaned to find the discarded magazines and paperback novels before the cleaners get them
  • You can spot the cover of a new crossword or sudoku book on an airport newsstand rack from 50 feet away
  • You hate early morning departures -- Who in the hell HAS to fly at 6 AM?
  • You wish every airline manager actually WAS a flight attendant at one point in their life (this goes double for flight attendant supervisors)
  • You can't believe the senior F/A at your airline is in their 80's (doesn't matter what airline they all have them)
  • You try not to go to the bathroom on the plane but you sure can catch a good nap in there
  • You hate that passengers think they can hear you without taking off their headsets
  • You are glad there are no hidden cameras in the galley
  • Your non-aviation friends truly don't get the commuting part: "So you have to fly when and your trip starts where??"
  • YES, "Remain seated for the duration of our flight" DOES mean YOU
  • You can't figure out why your manager is not held accountable for the same things you are
  • Your jumpseat partner knows more about you than your spouse or life partner
  • You have at least 6 items of your own you could add to this list
  • You had a memory for all of these, and understood every one.
And you can identify with this Nicoderm Commercial:

If you have any more items to add to the list above, you're welcome to post them in the comments.

Happy landings!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

SkyWest moves to acquire ExpressJet and merge it with ASA

by B. N. Sullivan

SkyWest Inc. and Express Jet Holdings, Inc. announced today that they had signed "a definitive merger agreement" whereby SkyWest will acquire ExpressJet and merge it with SkyWest subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA). The parties hope to close the deal by the end of this year, subject to regulatory approval.

In a press release about the merger deal, George Bravante, Chairman of the ExpressJet Board, said that "the combined airline will be able to provide a stable, platform for growth for ExpressJet employees after this transaction closes."

More from the ExpressJet press release:
It is anticipated that the combined airline will maintain significant operational presence in each of the hubs ExpressJet currently serves, including Continental's current hubs in Houston, Newark/New York and Cleveland, as well as hubs in Chicago O'Hare and Washington Dulles for United Airlines. In addition, it is expected that the vast majority of front-line employee positions will not be impacted by the acquisition.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents ExpressJet's 2,700 pilots, immediately issued a statement about the merger plans. Capt. Chris Cashmareck, chairman of the ExpressJet pilots’ unit of ALPA, said, "Every transaction presents opportunities and risks. We need to review and evaluate the plan for the combined airline before we can commit to taking a position to support or oppose the sale/merger. What I can state unequivocally is that, just as airline mergers over the past few years have shown us, it will take pilot involvement and support to realize any true measure of success for this or any transaction."

The pilots union for ExpressJet sent a letter to ExpressJet Holdings management stating the fundamental requirements for support of a sale/merger. Among them are the following:
  • the transaction must result in a profitable airline that provides long term stability and progressive career potential for our pilots;
  • the transaction must fully honor the scope and successorship provision of our collective bargaining agreement;
  • management must commit to negotiating a joint collective bargaining agreement with all involved parties that benefits all pilots; and
  • there must be a fair and equitable seniority list integration.
It should be noted that once this merger is realized, SkyWest Inc., the parent of both SkyWest Airlines and ASA, will be the world's largest regional airline company, with a combined fleet of aircraft numbering nearly 700.

SkyWest, Inc. also may be interested in further expansion. According to a Bloomberg article, SkyWest "would consider purchasing Comair from Delta Air Lines Inc. and said U.S. commuter carriers may benefit from further consolidation."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mexicana files for bankruptcy protection, blames labor costs

by B. N. Sullivan

Compañía Mexicana de Aviación (CMA), AKA Mexicana Airlines, filed an insolvency petition today with a Mexico City district court.  Mexicana also filed a Chapter 15 bankruptcy petition in New York.  The airline intends to continue operating while it reorganizes.  Domestic subsidiaries Click and Link are not a part of the bankruptcy filing.

According to a press release issued today by Mexicana, the filings were made "in order to obtain bankruptcy protection and injunction relief in both countries."  The 'Concurso Mercantil' filed with the Mexican courts is similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. in that it guarantees the operation of the company while it restructures.

Mexicana said yesterday that "the company's financial and labor situation is no longer sustainable," and the airline proposed drastic cuts to crew pay: 41% for pilots and 39% for flight attendants.  Mexicana also proposed to lay off about 40% of its present crew work force.  Quoting from the Aug. 2, 2010 press release:
...Concerted efforts have been made over the last four and a half years to restructure costs, efforts that have translated into savings of some US$800 million as a direct result of investment in IT systems, new routes and more efficient aircraft, but have not been sufficient to offset its crew costs.

Although the airline’s operating costs excluding crew labor costs are 30% lower than the average of legacy airlines in the United States, these non competitive labor costs are the main reason why the company has continued to suffer losses, to the extent that it is now financially non-viable. According to company sources, CMA’s pilots earn 49% more than the average wage paid by legacy airlines in the United States and 185% more than the average pilots flying Airbus A320s for other Mexican low cost airlines like Volaris or Interjet. Likewise, Mexicana Airlines flight attendants earn 32% more than the U.S. average and 165% more than their Mexican counterparts employed by the same airlines.

Numbers confirm, that if the CMA’s collective contracts had been more competitive, instead of registering losses of US$350 million from 2007 to date, the company would have posted profits of US$350 million, illustrating that CMA does indeed have the potential to be a profitable, financially viable carrier.

However, in light of the current situation, CMA has presented its pilots’ and flight attendants’ unions with two alternatives.

The first is the option to enter into a new collective contract to secure the CMA’s long-term financial viability. This would imply accepting cuts of 41% and 39% in wages and fringe benefits for pilots and flight attendants, respectively. This alternative also calls for additional cost-cutting measures, including downsizing 40% of the airline’s pilots and flight attendants. On the upside, it incorporates a profit-sharing plan whereby the unions would get a percentage of any operating profits that exceed 5% of the company’s total revenues.

As a second alternative, stockholders have offered to sell CMA to its unions for the token sum of $1 peso, proving them convinced of the vital role these labor organizations will play in the future of the company. As the only entities capable of turning the situation around, CMA’s management have stated that it would be willing to transfer control of the airline to its unions. The transaction would require further and more detailed negotiations with the unions, but in broad terms would require NGA to assume liabilities of US$120 million in bank credit lines, while the unions would have the option of retaining a BANCOMEXT loan for US$80 million or transferring this credit line and its respective sureties to NGA. The unions would also be given a six-month permit for the use of the Mexicana Airlines brand name, among other measures designed to allow for a smooth transition.

In response to statements by representatives of the pilots union (ASPA) to the effect that both proposals outlined by CMA would be rejected, the company said that it is time to acknowledge reality, that the paradigm of commercial aviation has changed worldwide and that only airlines that operate at competitive costs can hope to survive and continue flying. CMA will continue to negotiate with its unions.
A short time ago, Reuters published an article about the Mexicana situation, reporting that crews "already gave up multiple benefits in 2006, saving Mexicana around $35 million per year," and thus are reluctant to accept the pay cuts proposed this week.  The Reuters article included comments attributed to crew union leaders:
"We don't have any other option than continue negotiating," Fernando Perfecto, head of the pilots' union told Reuters on Tuesday after learning Mexicana had filed for creditor protection.

"We are not going to stop working, on the contrary, we will continue business as usual," he said, knocking down any possibility of a strike.

Lizette Clavel, who heads the flight attendants union, told Reuters on Tuesday the creditor protection filings came as a surprise to unionized employees.
Commenting on the option presented to crews to buy out Mexicana, Ms. Clavel said, "We reject the fraudulent intention of making Mexicana de Aviación file for creditor protection since this means sharing the losses while privatizing the gains by leaving Click and Link out of the proceedings."

UPDATE Aug. 4, 2010: Reuters is reporting that Mexicana suspended ticket sales this afternoon.

UPDATE Aug. 8, 2010:  Mexicana  has announced the suspension of international flights, beginning August 9, 2010.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Fairchild C-123K Provider lost in Alaska crash was featured in 'Con Air' film

by B. N. Sullivan

Yesterday, a Fairchild C-123K Provider (N709RR), operated by All West Freight, was destroyed in an accident in Alaska, about a mile from the headquarters of Denali National Park. The accident took the lives of all three people who were on board.

It turns out that the accident aircraft had been a movie star. According to information on the website Old Wings, N709RR, (ex 54-0709 msn 20158) was featured as 'Jailbird' in the 1997 action film Con Air, where it was used for all the flying scenes.

For more information about this historic airplane, visit C-123 Providers starring in "Con Air" on the Old Wings website.  Also on Old Wings, you will find a photo of the accident aircraft, parked at All West's airport in Delta Junction, AK in 2006, and a wonderful close-up shot of the aircraft's Large Marge nose art.

More information about the Fairchild C-123K Provider:

UPDATE:  The owner of the Old Wings website has kindly given me permission to post the two photos I linked to above. Note, these are copyrighted photos, used here by express permission from Aad van der Voet, the copyright holder.

Here is N709RR, photographed by Aad at All West Airport, AK on June 11, 2006.

Here is the close-up photo of the "Large Marge" nose art on N709RR.

By way of explanation, the photographer says:
All West Freight's C-123K Provider N709RR is adorned by this "Large Marge" nose art, armed with gun, badge and handcuffs. The signature at the lower left says Steven Pinder, and the red sticker at the upper left is a left-over from the annual air races at Reno, NV. The small print says "Scarlet Screamer IF1 Pylon Air Racer #50" and refers to Birch Entriken's Ivie Cassutt III M air racer (N135R). Reno is where this Provider was based before it came to Alaska in 2004. Photo taken at All West Airport, Delta Junction, AK on 11 June 2006.
Thanks again to Aad van der Voet for these wonderful photos of this historic aircraft.  So sad to know the aircraft will never fly again.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Fairchild C-123 freighter crash in Alaska's Denali National Park

by B. N. Sullivan

A Fairchild C-123 Provider operated by All West Freight has crashed and burned in Alaska's Denali National Park. According to a statement from the National Park Service, the accident happened on August 1, 2010 at about 3 PM local time. The aircraft impacted terrain on "the south-facing slope of Mount Healy within a mile of the park headquarters and approximately 200 yards north of the Denali Park Road." The aircraft was destroyed, and the three crew members on board are believed to have perished.

The Anchorage Daily News reports: "There is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) in effect over the crash site until further notice. Pilots using the park airstrip or transiting the Windy Pass area are cautioned to check Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) and be alert for firefighting and official aircraft."

A team of investigators from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is expected to arrive at the scene within hours.

UPDATE Aug. 2, 2010: The FAA's preliminary record of this accident confirms three fatalities, and identifies the aircraft as N709RR.

Condolences to the families and friends of those who died in this accident.

RELATED: Click here for more information about the historic aircraft (with photos).