Thursday, September 30, 2010

Captain Peter Burkill to resume flying for British Airways

by B. N. Sullivan

Captain Peter Burkill, who was the commander of the British Airways Boeing 777-236ER that crash landed at London's Heathrow International Airport in January of 2008 will soon return to work as a pilot for the airline.  The aircraft, operating as British Airways Flight 038, was arriving at Heathrow from Beijing when itt experienced an uncommanded loss of thrust in both engines.  The aircraft (registration G-YMMM) landed short of Heathrow's runway 27L.  The plane was damaged beyond repair, but all 16 crew members and 136 passengers survived.

After a lengthy investigation, the UK's Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) determined that ice had formed within the fuel system and had obstructed fuel flow to the engines during the approach to Heathrow, causing the dual engine rollback and subsequent failure to respond to throttle inputs.

The actions of the crew in the face of such an unprecedented emergency saved the lives of all on board.  The AAIB report concluded that it was Capt. Burkill's split-second decision to reduce the flap setting that had allowed the aircraft to avoid colliding with an ILS antenna and to land as near to the runway threshold as it did.  All of the flight's three pilots and 13 cabin crew were awarded the British Airways Safety Medal for their actions that day.

Nevertheless, several months after the accident, Capt. Burkill took voluntary redundancy and left the British Airways.  Unfortunately, he was unable to find an appropriate position elsewhere.  Capt. Burkill and his wife told the tale of the events surrounding the accident and its aftermath, and the effects on their lives in a book called "Thirty Seconds to Impact," published earlier this year.

Now, nearly three years after the accident, Capt. Burkill is preparing to return to work at British Airways.  Yesterday he posted a message on his blog, which said in part:
I am delighted that the discussions with British Airways, have come to a mutually, happy conclusion. In my opinion British Airways is the pinnacle of any pilots' career and it is my honour and privilege to be returning to an airline that I joined as a young man.
He also expressed "thanks for all the support we have been given over the past couple of years, from family, friends, colleagues and strangers. We are looking forward to resuming a 'normal' life and anonymity once again!"

Godspeed, Peter Burkill.

NOTE:  Click here to view all posts on Aircrew Buzz about British Airways Flt 038.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Evergreen International fined $4.855 million by FAA over pilot training

by B. N. Sullivan

Evergreen International Airlines faces a $4.855 fine, proposed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  "for allegedly using pilots on 232 revenue flights who had not bee trained in accordance with an FAA-approved training program."

In 2009, Evergreen aircraft were equipped with a new Flight Management System (FMS).  The FAA says the new FMS was different enough from the prior system that it required pilots to be specifically trained on it.  According to the FAA, Evergreen "did not complete its FAA-approved training for pilots before assigning them to fly revenue trips using the new FMS."

In a press release announcing the proposed civil penalty, the FAA explains:
The FAA alleges Evergreen line pilots received ground training and a check ride on the new FMS, but that the company did not provide required familiarization flights supervised by the company’s check pilots despite being told to do so by the FAA.  The familiarization flights are part of the FAA-approved training program for Evergreen aircraft equipped with the FMS.  Evergreen also failed to distribute copies of the required system manual to crews who would be using the FMS.

Subsequent to these improperly conducted flights, Evergreen has ensured that its pilots are trained in accordance with its FAA-approved training program and continues to operate under an FAA-approved training program.
The flights in question took place between February 19, 2009 and July 9, 2009.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said, “Even though Evergreen now complies with its training program, this penalty is appropriate because requiring operators to complete required, approved training is the only way to make sure crews are fully qualified to operate the equipment and systems to manage flights safely.”

Evergreen has 30 days to respond to the FAA regarding the allegations.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Southwest Airlines to acquire AirTran Airways, will hire hundreds of new pilots and flight attendants

by B. N. Sullivan

Southwest Airlines logoIn a move that surprised just about everyone, Southwest Airlines announced today that it will acquire AirTran Airways. Once the two carriers' operations are combined (pending regulatory approval), the merged airline will operate under the Southwest name.

According to the initial press release about the transaction, the combined company will have its headquarters at Dallas.  The acquisition will include AirTran's entire fleet of aircraft, including its Boeing 717s:
Based on current operations, the combined organization would have nearly 43,000 Employees and serve more than 100 million Customers annually from more than 100 different airports in the U.S. and near-international destinations.  In addition, the combined carriers’ all-Boeing fleet consisting of 685 active aircraft would include 401 Boeing 737-700s, 173 Boeing 737-300s, 25 Boeing 737-500s, and 86 Boeing 717s, with an average age of approximately 10 years, one of the youngest fleets in the industry.   Southwest Airlines also announced, previously, that it is evaluating the opportunity to introduce the Boeing 737-800 into its domestic network to complement its current fleet, providing opportunities for longer-haul flying and service to high-demand, slot-controlled, or gate-restricted markets.  This acquisition supports Southwest Airlines’ evaluation of the Boeing 737-800.
No word yet on seniority integration plans for crews, although I'm sure the respective unions are brainstorming already.

The very good news is that no crew furloughs are expected in the foreseeable future. On the contrary, word is out that Southwest is planning to hire 150-200 new pilots, and 250-300 flight attendants very soon.  Michael Van de Ven, Southwest's Chief Operating Officer, said today that training classes for both pilots and flight attendants were anticipated to begin in early 2011.

Here is the link to the Southwest-AirTran merger website:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ASA CRJ-900 landing drama at JFK ends well for all on board

by B. N. Sullivan

High drama at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday evening, September 25, 2010:  A CRJ-900 aircraft (registration N133EV) operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) landed with its right main landing gear retracted.  ASA Flight 4951 -- also listed as Delta Connection Flight 4951 -- had been en route from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) to Westchester County (HPN), but diverted to JFK after the crew were unable to lower the right main gear while on approach to HPN.  The aircraft landed on JFK's runway 31R and came to a stop with its right wing scraping the surface.  The aircraft was evacuated on the runway.  To the credit of the pilots and flight attendants, no one among the four crew and 60 passengers on board was injured.

The video below was posted on New York Daily News YourTube channel.  The video reportedly was shot during landing by a passenger on board the flight.

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

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Horizon Air pilots have a tentative contact agreement

by B. N. Sullivan

The pilots at Horizon Air have a tentative contract.  The agreement between Horizon management and the pilots' union was reached following more than four years of negotiations, and months of federal mediation.  Horizon pilots are represented by Teamsters Local 1244, The Airline Professionals Association.

No details about the new contract have been publicly released, pending a ratification vote.  The union leadership expects to present the contract to the pilot membership for a ratification vote next month.

In a statement about the tentative agreement, Joe Muckle, President of the Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1244, said, “The Union leadership and negotiators worked very hard to finalize the provisions in this tentative agreement.  I thank and congratulate the negotiating teams on both sides for their collaborative efforts.  While the agreement is still contingent upon the membership’s vote to ratify the contract, I believe that it adequately provides for the Company’s needs and also recognizes the very high level of service and professionalism the Horizon pilots provide.”

“The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has been negotiating for the Horizon Air pilots since March 2006, and the industry landscape has changed dramatically during that time,” said Captain David Bourne, Teamsters’ Airline Division Director.  “This is a good agreement with significant quality of life improvements and other incentives."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Update on the UPS Boeing 747 freighter crash in Dubai

by B. N. Sullivan

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates has provided some preliminary details about its investigation of the crash of a UPS Boeing 747-400 freighter in Dubai earlier this month.  The accident occurred on September 3, 2010.  Both pilots perished in the accident.

In a news release dated September 5, 2010, the GCAA gave this account of the accident:
The UPS6 B744 had departed from Dubai International Airport at 14:53 UTC (6:53pm local time) headed to Koln-Bonn (Cologne) - Germany.  At 15:15 UTC (7:15pm local time) information was received from Bahrain that the aircraft was returning to Dubai Airport with a smoke in the cockpit, unable to maintain altitude and requested the airport for landing.

The UAE ATC Centre issued a clearance when aircraft was approximately 40 kilometer from touchdown.  The aircraft was high on the approach and was at 8500ft at 24 kilometer from touchdown.  It passed the overhead the airfield very high and made a right turn. Position reports were passed the tower as well as advising that all runways were available for the aircraft to land on. The aircraft tracked south west and rapidly lost altitude.  At approximately 15:42 UTC (7:42pm local time), radar contact was lost.  The B744 crashed in in an unpopulated area between the Emirates Road and Al Ain Highway after 50 minutes from departure and after returning back from Bahrain FIR (Flight Information Region).

The GCAA responded by launching an immediate investigation team who are currently on site collecting evidence, analyzing the initial onsite evidence, coordinating with all of the emergency services to secure the accident site, liaising with the aircraft manufacturer technical specialists and international accident investigation bodies who have invited to assist the GCAA onsite in the UAE under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

The investigation team recovered the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) approximately 6 hours after the accident; the onsite GCAA investigation team is continuing the recovery effort to locate the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR), while investigating the aircraft structure, systems, engines and flight controls as part of the forensic evidence collecting and data capturing activities associated with major air accident investigation.
Then, in a news release dated September 13, 2010, the GCAA announced that the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) also had been recovered from the aircraft wreckage, and was in "reasonable condition."  The GCAA said that both devices were being sent to the United States for analysis.  One GCAA investigator will travel to the U.S. "to work on data recovery with the American investigation team."

An article published online by the Khaleej Times reported on preliminary data gathered by the GCAA.
The initial analysis of the downloaded data indicated that there was a fire warning followed by smoke in the cockpit as reported by the crew about 28 minutes from takeoff.  The crew were asked by Bahrain Air Traffic Control to land at Doha, but they decided to return to Dubai.  Then they experienced cockpit visibility and commutation problems.  Later on the crew declared Mayday (a call used to declare that aircraft is in distress).  The Captain was in control up to the end of the recording.
The investigation is continuing.

RELATED: Click here to view all articles about this accident on Aircrew Buzz.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Conviasa ATR-42 accident at Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela

by B. N. Sullivan

An ATR-42-300 turboprop aircraft operated by Venezuelan carrier Conviasa crashed this morning at Puerto Ordaz, Ciudad Guyana in eastern Venezuela.  The aircraft (registration YV1010) impacted terrain on the grounds of an industrial facility called Siderurgica del Orinoco (SIDOR).  The flight was reported to have 47 on board.  News reports from Venezuela say that at least 13 passengers were fatally injured.  All four crew members are said to have survived.  The aircraft was destroyed in the crash.

There is still some confusion about the flight's origin and destination.  Some news reports say that the aircraft had just departed Puerto Ordaz (SPVR) en route to Porlamar (SVMG), while other reports say that the aircraft was on approach to Puerto Ordaz from Isla Margarita at the time of the accident.  When the correct information emerges, I will post an update here.

Venezuelan television network Globovisión has posted a number of photos of the accident scene on Flickr.

UPDATE: The Aviation Safety Network reports:
Flight Conviasa 2350 had departed Porlamar-del Caribe Santiago Mariño International Airport (PMV) on a domestic service to Puerto Ordaz Airport (PZO). It came down in an industrial area about 8 km from runway 07.

Conflicting news reports indicate that the airplane also have been on a flight from Puerto Ordaz to Porlamar. Yet the flight number mentioned by several other news sources is a flight from PMV to PZO.
UPDATE 2:  Here is a link to a news release about the accident issued by Venezuela's Instituto Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil (INAC).

UPDATE Sep 14, 2010:  Earlier today, Transportation Minister Francisco Garces told news reporters that some of those who initially survived the Conviasa accident had succumbed to their injuries, raising the death toll to 17.

Condolences to all those who have lost a family member or friend in this accident.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

JetBlue Airbus A320 landed with parking brake engaged, says NTSB

by B. N. Sullivan

JetBlue A320The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report on an incident last month involving an Airbus A320-232 aircraft operated by JetBlue Airways.  On  August 26, 2010, the aircraft (registration N590JB) flew from Daugherty Field, Long Beach, CA (LGB) to Sacramento International Airport (SMF), operating as Flight JBU 262.  Shortly after landing at Sacramento, a fire erupted in the area of the main landing gear, prompting the crew to carry out an emergency evacuation of the aircraft on the runway.  The NTSB found that the aircraft's parking brake was engaged during the landing.

From the NTSB preliminary report:
According to the flight crew, the flight and approach to runway 16R were normal.  The first officer was the flying pilot.

On touchdown, the airplane began a rapid deceleration, and the first officer remarked to the captain that it felt like a main landing gear tire blew out.  About this time, air traffic control tower personnel reported observing sparks and smoke in the area of the main landing gear.  The captain took control of the airplane.  He maintained directional control, and the airplane came to a stop about 2,000 feet from the touchdown point.

The captain directed the first officer to initiate the ground evacuation Quick Reference Checklist up to the evacuation decision point.  At that time, air traffic control tower personnel confirmed smoke and fire was still visible around the main landing gear.  Based on this information the captain elected to evacuate the airplane.

Crash fire rescue personnel and equipment responded to the airplane, which had stopped on the runway.  According to the flight crew and flight attendants, a swift and orderly evacuation was performed via emergency evacuation slides at the L1, R1, and L2 doors.

The airplane was subsequently examined by the operator and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel.  Airplane damage was limited to four deflated main landing gear tires and ground down wheel rims.  The main landing gear tires showed evidence of being locked on touchdown.  Ground damage was limited to minor grazing to the runway's surface.

According to airplane recorded flight data, the parking brake had become engaged during the landing approach approximately 5,100 feet mean sea level, and it remained engaged throughout the landing.  During interviews with the flight crew, neither pilot recalled any abnormal indications or warnings associated with the braking system prior to landing. [NTSB ID: WPR10IA430]
Seven of the 86 passengers on board sustained minor injuries during the evacuation process.  The two pilots and three flight attendants were not injured.

It is still unclear how the parking brake became engaged during flight. The investigation is continuing.

[Photo Source]

Friday, September 10, 2010

New science-based rules for mitigating pilot fatigue proposed by the FAA

by B. N. Sullivan

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced what it calls "a landmark proposal to fight fatigue among commercial pilots by setting new flight time, duty and rest requirements based on fatigue science."  The new rules, if adopted, will apply to pilots of all carriers that operate under Part 121 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.  It will not apply to pilots at Part 135 carriers.

The FAA spells out details of the new rules in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) announced on September 10, 2010 [link below].  In summary, the NPRM states:
The proposal recognizes the growing similarities between the types of operations and the universality of factors that lead to fatigue in most individuals.  Fatigue threatens aviation safety because it increases the risk of pilot error that could lead to an accident.  The new requirements, if adopted, would eliminate the current distinctions between domestic, flag and supplemental operations.  The proposal provides different requirements based on the time of day, whether an individual is acclimated to a new time zone, and the likelihood of being able to sleep under different circumstances.
In some areas, the FAA proposes to relax current requirements, while in others, it strengthens them to reflect the latest scientific information.  Here are some key differences between the new proposal and the rules currently in place:
  • The proposal reflects the universal nature of fatigue.  The proposed rules would be the same for all types of Part 121 flights (passenger and cargo airlines): domestic, flag (international), or supplemental (unscheduled).  Currently, there are different requirements for each of these categories of operations. The proposed rule does not apply to Part 135 operators, but FAA says it may address fatigue for Part 135 operators in the future.
  • Unlike the current rules, the proposal provides a circadian component for reducing the flight time and duty time when the pilot is operating in his or her window of circadian low.   The proposal clearly states that fatigue mitigation is the joint responsibility of both the airline and the pilot.   A pilot may not accept an assignment if that pilot is too fatigued to fly.
  • The proposal would give airlines the flexibility to adopt individual Fatigue Risk Management Systems.  Fatigue Risk Management Plans, recently mandated by Congress and now addressed by FAA policy, would set out a carrier’s own policies and procedures for reducing the risk of fatigue and improving alertness.  These plans are specific to an air carrier’s type of operations, are subject to the FAA’s review and acceptance, and include fatigue education and awareness training.

The new rule proposes to set a nine-hour minimum rest period prior to flying-related duty.  Under current rules, there is a minimum daily rest requirement of 8-11 hours for domestic flying.   For international flying, the current minimum is 8 hours, or twice the number of hours flown.

Flight Time

Weekly:  Currently, pilots flying domestically are limited to 30 hours of flight time in any seven consecutive days.  Those flying international operations are limited to 32 hours in seven consecutive days, and there is no seven-consecutive-day limit for supplemental operations.  The proposal provides all Part 121 pilots with at least 30 consecutive hours per week free from all duty, compared to the current 24 hours free from all duty on a weekly basis – a 25 percent increase.

Monthly:  Under the proposal, there is a 100-hour maximum for flight time in any 28 days.  Current rules set a limit of 100 hours for every 30 days.

Yearly:  There is a current limit of 1,000 hours in any calendar year for domestic flights.  Under the proposal, all types of operations will now be limited to 1,000 hours per 365 days.

Duty Time

There is currently a 16-hour duty period between rest periods. The proposal would limit the daily flight duty period to 13-hours, which could slide to nine hours at night (depending on take-off time and number of segments scheduled).
Importantly, the provisions of this new rule indicate that the FAA finally has recognized that there are no physiological differences between pilots who fly cargo and those who fly passengers.  It's about time that pilots flying for Part 121-Supplemental operators are treated identically to those who fly for scheduled airlines.

Likewise, the elimination of the domestic/international distinction in favor of a focus on the length of a trip will be beneficial.  The FAA proposes to deal with longer flights through crew augmentation "rather than simply by extending the allowable flight time."

The NPRM states that crew augmentation requirements should take into consideration "circadian rhythms, acclimation to time changes, and multiple flight segments should be considered in determining how much augmentation is required.  Further consideration should be given to the quality of the available rest facility."

The issue of crew fatigue has been a perennial item on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 'Most Wanted List' for aviation safety improvements.  It's good to see some concrete movement on this issue, and it's even better that the proposed rule changes are based on well-established scientific data about fatigue rather than on mere politics.

The 60-day public comment period closes on Nov. 13, 2010.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Air Transat pilots have a tentative contract

by B. N. Sullivan

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced that they have signed a tentative contract agreement with the airline's management, following more than eight months of negotiations.  Details will not be made public until ratification is complete.  A ratification vote will take place in early October.

“With unwavering support from our Union, ALPA Int’l, and the full backing of the Association’s resources, we were able to achieve our contract goals,” said Capt. Sylvain Aubin, chairman of the Air Transat unit of ALPA. “The Air Transat MEC is hopeful that the membership will ratify the agreement and we look forward to implementing a new collective agreement with the Company if it is ratified by our members.”

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

ALPA responds to Comair plans for drastic fleet reduction, crew furloughs

by B. N. Sullivan

ComairLast week, U.S. regional airline Comair, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, announced plans for a drastic reduction of its aircraft fleet over the coming two years.  The carrier plans to retire 49 of its 93 aircraft, including most of its 50-seat CRJ 100s and 200s, by the end of 2012.  Furloughs are sure to follow.

Today, Comair management was scheduled to meet with union leaders from several of its work groups, including representatives of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and Teamsters Local 513.

Capt. Matt Lamparter, chairman of the Comair unit of ALPA released the following statement today:
“Obviously, we are deeply disappointed by the company’s plans to restructure the airline. However, our commitment has been and remains to our pilots and to protecting our contract, our jobs, and our futures.

“We intend to use the full array of ALPA resources to ensure that any downsizing of the company will have the input of our pilot group and will respect our contract. We have scheduled meetings with Comair management and plan to be a full partner as this restructuring moves forward.

“Despite the heavy burden of this announcement, Comair pilots will continue to demonstrate the professionalism and solidarity—both in the cockpit and out—that built this airline and carried it through a bankruptcy and a strike. As before, when faced with challenges, this pilot group has overcome and succeeded. Although the situation is different, our goal is the same: a strong and unified pilot group and a successful airline.”
Comair has not yet made public the number of crew and ground staff jobs that will be cut in the course of the restructuring.  Expect to hear about voluntary severance offers and furloughs in the near future.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Preliminary NTSB report for the Fairchild C-123K Provider crash in Alaska

by B. N. Sullivan

NTSB logoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report regarding the crash of a Fairchild C-123K Provider in Alaska last month.  The accident occurred on the afternoon of August 1, 2010 when the aircraft impacted terrain at Denali National Park, Alaska.  All three people on board perished in the crash, and the aircraft was completely destroyed.

The aircraft (registration N709RR) was owned and operated by All West Freight, Inc. of Delta Junction, Alaska.  The accident flight, which was conducted under Part 91 rules, originated at the Wolf Lake Airport (4AK6), Palmer, Alaska, and was destined for Unalakleet Airport (PAUN), Unalakleet, Alaska.  No flight plan was filed.  Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

The NTSB's preliminary report about the accident presents factual information about the accident flight, the crash site, and the crew.  No conclusions about probable cause are stated in the preliminary report.

The Accident Flight

According to the NTSB report, the purpose of the flight was to transport a large generator to Unalakleet.  The aircraft reportedly departed Wolf Lake at approximately 14:00L on August 1, 2010.  The pilot was not in contact with air traffic control (ATC) during the flight, and no radar service was provided. 

Quoting from the report:
At 1452, a witness, who was hunting about 10 miles south of Cantwell, Alaska, observed the airplane flying about 300-500 feet high above Parks Highway near mile-marker 195.  The witness, who is a certificated pilot, said the airplane was flying straight and level and headed north toward Denali National Park.  He stated that the landing gear and flaps were retracted and the engines were “really working” and “I felt the air vibrate as the airplane flew by.”

The witness did not observe any smoke trailing from the airplane or anything unusual.  He said the ceiling at the time was approximately 3,500 to 4,000 feet and the surrounding mountains were partially obscured.  The witness took two photos of the airplane and one of the mountain obscuration.  He provided a copy of these photos to the Safety Board, and they properly depict his observations.

Another witness, who was also a private pilot, was eating lunch on the deck at the Crow’s Nest, which is a restaurant on the hillside adjacent to the entrance into Denali National Park.  The witness first observed the airplane flying straight and level from her left to right near the main entrance area to the park.  Everything appeared to be normal.

The witness could not estimate the airplane’s altitude, but said it was in “slow flight” and in a 30 degree nose down descent.  There was no smoke trailing the airplane.  She then observed the airplane pitch straight up near vertical, stall, then roll left, and nose dive toward the ground.  The witness did not see the impact, but saw two large mushroom clouds after she lost sight of the airplane.  The weather at the time was “clear skies with a high ceiling.”  The witness took two photographs of the airplane.  The first photo shows the airplane in straight and level flight.  The second photo was taken several seconds later and showed the airplane inverted in a near vertical descent just above the tree line.

Numerous people observed the airplane flying low and slow over the park before it entered a steep left bank and then nosedive into the ground.  The sound of the engines was loud and an increase in pitch was heard right before impact.  Several of these witnesses also observed that the landing gear was retracted.
The Crash Site

The aircraft impacted wooded terrain near the main road into Denali Park. Quoting again from the report:
The airplane came to rest upright on a 060 degree heading at an elevation of 2,158 feet mean sea level (msl).  The wreckage was confined to an approximately 250-foot by 300-foot-wide area.

A post impact fire consumed most of the cockpit area, fuselage, inboard sections of the wings (around fuel tanks), both flaps, and damaged a majority of the tail section and outboard sections of the wings.  The post impact fire also started a small forest fire around the main wreckage and to an area adjacent to the accident site.

Examination of the airplane revealed that all major flight control surfaces were located at the site, including the two R2800 radial engines and the two jet-assist engines.  Flight control continuity was established for all flight control surfaces to the cockpit.  The left wing (including the aileron)exhibited impact and fire damage as did the right wing and aileron.  The vertical stabilizer, the rudder and rudder trim sustained impact and fire damage and came to rest on top of the cockpit area.  The right horizontal stabilizer exhibited fire and impact damage, and came to rest on top of the right wing.  A section of the right elevator remained attached to the stabilizer, but the fabric had burned away, exposing the metal framework.  The left horizontal stabilizer sustained extensive fire damage, and was found on the left side of the fuselage near where the left wing fuel tank was located.  A small section of elevator remained attached to the stabilizer.

The generator came to rest upright, and was in the center of the wreckage, which was consistent with the location of the cargo bay.  The nose gear was observed just forward and partially under the generator.  The ramp to the cargo bay and the main landing gear came to rest aft of the generator and exhibited fire and impact damage.

Both engines came to rest on their respective sides next to the cockpit. The left engine was upright, but partially buried in the ground and sustained impact and fire damage. A propeller blade remained attached, but was turned 180 degrees in the hub. The blade was intact and if orientated correctly, would be bent forward. The other two blades were buried in a small impact crater just forward of the engine. Both blades had separated at the hub and exhibited extensive leading edge damage and chordwise gouging and scoring. The left jet engine came to rest just forward of the left wing.

The right engine came to rest with the propeller hub buried about 2- 3 feet into the ground and sustained fire and impact damage.  A segment of one of the propeller blades was found on Park Road.  Another section of a blade was found just forward of the right wing, and another section of a blade was found in the impact crater near the propeller hub.  The right jet engine came to rest just aft of the right wing.
The Crew

There were three people on board the aircraft -- two pilots, and another person described by the NTSB as a passenger -- all of whom were fatally injured in the crash.

The pilot in command held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land and sea, multi-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument airplane. He also held a type rating for the FA-C123, and was restricted to flights conducted under visual flight rules only. As of May, 2010 the pilot reported a total of 20,000 flight hours.

The co-pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument airplane.

The NTSB notes, "According to the type certificate data sheet (NO. A12NM), the airplane required a minimum of two crew; a pilot and copilot.  However, according to the FAA, the co-pilot was not required to hold a type rating in the airplane but was required to have some training in the airplane."

The investigation is continuing.

Here is the link to the preliminary accident report:  NTSB ID: ANC10FA067

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about the All West Freight C-123K Provider accident on Aircrew Buzz.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Continental Airlines recalls furloughed pilots

by B. N. Sullivan

Continental Airlines logoContinental Airlines is recalling 132 pilots who were furloughed in September of 2008.  The recalled pilots will begin to return for training before the end of 2010. 

In a statement to the press, Capt. Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental Airlines unit of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said, “With the increases in flying due to increased passenger traffic and anticipated aircraft deliveries, combined with normal pilot attrition rates, we have been saying for months that we needed our pilots back in order to adequately maintain the level of service that Continental is known for."

Fifteen furloughed pilots returned to work at Continental earlier this year. The newly announced recall will bring back the remainder of the 148 pilots who were furloughed in 2008.

Friday, September 03, 2010

UPS Boeing 747-400 freighter crash in Dubai

by B. N. Sullivan

UPS has just confirmed that one of their aircraft has crashed in Dubai. Here is what the company said in a press statement:
At approximately 12 p.m. EST, UPS Flight 6 from Dubai, UAE, to Cologne, DE, a 747-400 with two crewmembers on board crashed on takeoff. At this time, we have not confirmed any casualties.

"Safety is a key priority for UPS," said Airline & International Operations Manager Bob Lekites. "This incident is very unfortunate and we will do everything we can to find the cause," said Lekites. "Our thoughts go out to the crewmembers involved in the incident and their families."

"We will also release more information as it becomes available, in cooperation with government authorities. We will not speculate about the cause. Until then, we ask for your patience in this difficult time."
Unconfirmed reports say that the crew did declare mayday, and that there may have been a cockpit fire.  There are reports of a "huge fire" at the accident site, said to be near the area known as Dubai Silicon Oasis, which is a housing area for Emirates crew members.

The story is developing. I will post more details here on Aircrew Buzz as they become available.

UPDATE:  The Aviation Herald reports that the accident aircraft was N571UP.  The same source reports that both crew members have died.  Still waiting for official word from UPS on crew status.

UPDATE 2:   Sadly, the report that the two crew members perished appears to be true.

Boeing has issued the following statement:  "Boeing extends its deep condolences to the families and friends of the crewmembers lost in the crash of UPS Flt. 6. Boeing will send a team to provide technical support to the investigation upon invitation from the authorities."

Various news media are quoting an official from the United Arab Emirates who says that the bodies of the two crew members have been recovered from the wreckage.

UPDATE 3:  The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) just announced that it "will dispatch an aviation investigator to assist the government of the United Arab Emirates" with the accident investigation.   NTSB says the team "will include NTSB specialists in the areas of human performance, fire, operations, and systems. The team will also include technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing, UPS, GE and Independent Pilots Association."

[Photo Source]