This month we’ll take a look at a serious incident at London Stansted Airport in which a Gulfstream 550 hit the ILS aerials mounted on the Runway 22 approach light structures and then plopped down some 520 meters (1,706 ft.) short of the touchdown zone. Despite those dire circumstances, the incident resulted in no injures among the four crewmembers and three passengers. Still, the sequence of events demonstrates how quickly an unstabilized approach can put even an experienced crew into harm’s way.
This month we are looking at another recent approach stall accident involving a large airplane with a highly experienced pilot serving as PIC. The NTSB says the FAA’s oversight of the operating company — Fresh Air Inc. — was lax, the operation of the airplane was sloppy and the crew coordination was poor. Training records were haphazard and de facto SOPs did not comply with the aircraft flight manual (AFM).
Pilots operating under Part 125 are not required to receive any specific training as defined by the FARs. However, per 14 CFR 125.287(b), captains are required to meet certain experience requirements, and both pilots are required to receive an annual competency check. In addition, per 14 CFR 125.291(a), each pilot-in-command (PIC) must receive an instrument proficiency check every six months. The instrument proficiency check is generally a more comprehensive check, so Part 125 allows the pilot to substitute an instrument proficiency check for the competency check.
Many of today’s pilots never had the opportunity to operate aircraft with big, radial, piston engines. These powerplants are beefy and complex and have systems to extract extra energy from heat and to deal with high heat and pressures. A water injection system, also known as anti-detonation injection, or simply ADI, is one of them. Another is an auto feathering system, designed to accelerate the feathering of a failing engine while preventing the manual feathering of the running engine. Choosing to use either or both systems creates takeoff weight restrictions.
Investigators from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board often do their on-scene investigations under difficult circumstances, but working in Antarctica can be just about as difficult as it gets. This month, we’ll look at the loss of a de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter and its crew of three in a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident on Mount Elizabeth, Antarctica. The airplane belonged to Kenn Borek Air Ltd. (KBAL).
Five passengers were killed and two pilots suffered serious injuries when Beech Premier 390 — N777VG —crashed during a balked landing at Thomson, Georgia on Feb. 20, 2013. NTSB has completed its investigation with a finding that the probable cause was “the pilot’s failure to follow airplane flight manual procedures for an antiskid failure in flight, and his failure to immediately retract the lift dump after he elected to attempt a go-around on the runway.
This month we’re looking at the loss of a Beech 1900C that crashed while setting up for an approach at Dillingham, Alaska, Airport (DLG). Both pilots were killed when the airplane crashed into rising terrain about 10 mi. east of Aleknagik, Alaska.
The NTSB has completed its investigation into the loss of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 — a Boeing 777 that crashed into a seawall then cartwheeled on Runway 28L at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on July 6, 2013 — with a widely anticipated probable cause finding that the crew let the airplane get low and slow during an unstabilized visual approach.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in its determination of probable cause for the loss of Beech E90, N987GM, that “Contributing to the accident was the failure of air traffic control personnel to use available radar information to provide the pilot with a timely warning that he was about to encounter extreme precipitation and weather along his route of flight or to provide alternative routing to the pilot.”
The 52-year-old pilot of Beech King Air N987GM, an E90 model, was certainly experienced — the FAA's airman records showed he reported 5,300 hr. total time at his most recent second-class physical examination even though, inexplicably, his personal logbooks showed over 9,000 hr., 6,500 hr. of that in multiengine airplanes. The logbooks also indicated the pilot had accumulated 718 actual instrument flight hours. Whatever the case, he had spent a good amount of time in the cockpit.
According to the DC-6 emergency checklist, the proper procedure for an engine fire is to ensure the engine is feathered first before pulling the fire-extinguishing handle. The checklist notes the effectiveness of the fire extinguisher system is greater after engine rotation has stopped. A letter submitted to the NTSB by the operator, says, in part:
“Engine rotation may be the source of the engine fire. Feathering and stopping engine rotation may remove that source.”
This month, we'll look at two NTSB investigations —one recent, one many years past — both involving inflight fire. One tells of the importance of maintenance follow-up; the other demonstrates how a small deviation from checklist procedures can lead to disaster.
Cessna 401 (N9DM) was lost on May 11, 2012 in Chanute, Kan. Four persons died and one was seriously injured.
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