Monday, June 28, 2010

Aviation Accident & Incident Update for June 28, 2010

[Accidents & Incidents published by are preliminary and not meant to reflect the complete or official record of aviation accidents/incidents and their causes.]


June 27 - A helicopter carrying photojournalists crashed in Rotterdam, Netherlands, killing two and injuring three.

June 26 - The pilot of a banner-towing plane was killed after crashing near West Jordan, Utah. Witnesses said the aircraft appeared to lose power and the pilot released the banner before the crash. (AVSIG Discussion)

June 26 - A WW-II-era trainer crashed at Eagle Creek Airpark near Indianapolis, Indiana after the pilot reported the brakes locked on the aircraft during landing. No injuries were reported.

June 26 - No injuries were reported after a Cessna 180 spun and crashed on landing at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Illinois. The left landing gear of the aircraft reportedly snapped off prior to the crash.

June 25 - A Continental flight bound for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico from Houston made a safe emergency landing at San Antonio International Airport after losing cabin pressure shortly into the flight.

June 24 - A Continental Airlines 737 bound for Newark from Seattle made a safe emergency landing at Hector International Airport in Fargo, North Dakota after a fire broke out in the galley. Flight attendants were able to extinguish the flames prior to landing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Aviation Accident & Incident Update for June 21, 2010

[Accidents & Incidents published by are preliminary and not meant to reflect the complete or official record of aviation accidents/incidents and their causes.]


June 20 - Three crew members were injured after a Thai Airways flight encountered severe turbulence at 18,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean off Kochi Prefecture.

June 20 - The pilot of a 1943 Taylor Craft L2 received minor injuries after crashing near a recreational lake in Canton, Ohio. Authorities used the pilot's cellphone GPS signal to locate the wreckage.

June 20 - The pilot of a single-engine plane was killed after crashing in a suburb of Toronto. The aircraft reportedly crashed into a parking lot on approach to Buttonville Airport.

June 19 - An Air New Zealand Beech 1900 made a safe emergency landing at Woodbourne Airport near Blenheim, New Zealand. The crew noticed a vibration coming from the front of the plane shortly after departing Gisborne.

June 19 - A DC3 "Candy Bomber" which participated in the Berlin Airlift made an emergency return landing to Berlin's Schoenefeld Airport after encountering undisclosed trouble shortly after takeoff. Seven passengers were reportedly injured during the landing. The aircraft is currently operated by Air Service Berlin, which provides tourist flights.

June 19 - No injuries were reported after a Robinson R22 helicopter crashed near Hillsboro, Oregon. The pilot reported losing power before the crash.

June 19 - A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed on Unalaska Island in Alaska, killing the pilot and injuring both passengers.

June 19 - A twin-engine Cessna operated by Oasis Flight Services crashed in a residential area near Plymouth, Massachusetts, injuring all three aboard. No injuries were reported on the ground.

June 19 - A single-engine plane clipped a van before crash-landing on Highway 99 near Merced, California. The pilot reported that his engine had begun shaking violently before the forced landing. No injuries were reported.

June 18 - No injuries were reported after a twin-engine plane crash-landed at Perranporth Airfield in Perrenporth, Cornwall, U.K. The pilot reported losing an engine on takeoff.

June 18 - All 11 aboard a Mexican military helicopter engaged in drug trade intervention were killed after crashing near Durango, Mexico. Poor weather was reported in the area at the time of the crash.

June 18 - A 1910 Glenn Curtiss replica crashed on its maiden flight out of Penn Yan, New York, seriously injuring the pilot.

June 18 - The pilot of a Siai Marchetti F260 was uninjured after making a gear-up landing at Somerset Airport in Bedminster, New Jersey. The pilot reported that his landing gear failed to extend.

June 18 - Both aboard a South Korean Air Force F5 were killed after crashing near Gangneung, South Korea. The aircraft was on a training flight at the time of the crash.

June 17 - A Cessna Caravan seaplane operated by V1 Jet Management LLC struck a rock while landing off Long Island, New York, causing substantial damage to the aircraft. The four occupants swam safely to shore.

June 17 - A six-place Cessna 310 registered to Rod Aviation crashed on landing in Sierra Blanca, New Mexico, killing five of seven aboard. The aircraft reportedly overshot the runway while landing. (AVSIG Discussion)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Calling the Yes-way Police

Recently this humble blogger's year-old Ford failed to start in the driveway.  After a flatbed tow to the dealership,  the service tech determined that the vehicle's onboard fuel cut-off inertia switch had been tripped.

"We've determined that the switch isn’t faulty," he further asserted.  "And it would take a major impact to trip it.“

Yet there sat the pristine Ford, not so much as a spider-web washcloth scratch on it, never mind any sign of impact. 

Humble Blogger: "Did we have an earthquake this morning?"

Ford Tech: No.

HB: "Then what do you 'spose tripped the fuel cut-off switch?"

FT: "I don't know, but the switch tests-out OK and there's no way you could even trip it by slamming on the brakes.  Not even if you dropped it from four feet in the air.  It had to be a major impact.  And if you think about it, that switch is a great idea.  Cuts off the fuel in the event of a crash.  They’ve really thought of everything."

HB:  [Tries high-school-stage-worthy over-acting once-over double-take of the uncrashed Ford.  Just sitting in the driveway.  Winds west at 7.  No earthquakes].

FT:  No response.

Fuel Cut-off Inertia Switch checks out OK.
No way could anything but a Major Impact cause that switch to trip. 

Unimpacted, Unscathed Ford.

“No way” is a comforting phrase in all forms of denial.   So is “One-in-a-million-chance” and “Next-to-nil.”  It’s not only used by car service techs, but by people who drill for oil, and by people who design airplanes.

In the 90s we noticed the first automated airliners going about their business just as the programmers designed, flying themselves into trouble as pilots fought for control in situations that apparently wouldn't likely happen in any operating model envisioned by the pocket protector crowd of that era.

More than one engineer, you can bet, said “one-in-a-million” to the likelihood of a number of in-flight emergencies (if considering them at all) in the rush to perfect the computer-controlled safe flight envelope. 

Maybe even a few said, “No way.”

So airplanes entered Go-around Mode.  Limp-home Mode.  Everything-but-what-the-crew-is-trying-to-do Mode.

We’re not done yet.

In September, 2008 a Lear 60 ran off the runway at full throttle in Columbia, SC as its crew attempted full-on thrust reversers during a post-V1 on-again-off-again-on-again aborted takeoff on severely underinflated tires.   Apparently after these human miscues, the crew was under the impression that as a last resort, activating the thrust reversers to slow the airplane down would activate the thrust reversers and slow the airplane down. 

But a sensor damaged by a tire blowout prior to the high-speed abort signaled the reversers that the airplane was in flight ... that their services would no longer be needed ... leaving the Lear on fast-forward before the crash that killed four of six aboard.

According to NTSB investigation, the thrust reverser levers in the cockpit of the Learjet remained in the raised full-reverse-thrust position even as the flight systems computer decided the aircraft was in “Air Mode” and stowed the reversers.  Effectively, the computer let the pilots play at being pilots while it went off into I Know Better Than You Mode.

Whether computer programming brilliance is crashing airplanes or shutting your car down or making synthesized female voices at the self-serve grocery check-out call for pepper spray and handcuffs (Please place the item in the bag.  Please Place The Item In The Bag. I know you didn’t place the item in the bag.  Please freeze ... please don’t move ... until authorities arrive) it’s clear that we’re long past the point in computer automation where we don’t have a dedicated killjoy group of people to do battle with the No–way Could That Happen Group of get-the-code-out computer engineers who have otherwise thought of everything.

Somehow the phrase "Yes-way Police" sounds catchy in a WayneGarthian sort of way, so let's use it.

Our grand new automated world needs formal Yes-way Police to crack down on the No-way scofflaws of Murphy’s Law, a law that doesn’t care how perfect any plan or machine might be.   A law that really digs our fascination with automation, it turns out.

These knaves need to be positioned where they’ll exact the most damage: at initial project planning, design, and production.  Of course they will be unpopular deadline derailleurs ... but only if deadlines don’t provide book time for this unsavory work.

In aviation, once you’re up there, you’re stuck with what you’ve got.  Sometimes an Al Haynes or Chesley Sullenberger saves the day despite the best mislaid plans, but safe flight relies on good airplane design for starters.

When the wheel chocks are away and something goes wrong, no crew should be held hostage by non-defeatable code-solid operating decisions made by people who have thought of everything. 


Monday, June 7, 2010

Aviation Accident & Incident Update for June 7, 2010

[Accidents & Incidents published by are preliminary and not meant to reflect the complete or official record of aviation accidents/incidents and their causes.]


June 6 - A passenger aboard a Lufthansa flight bound for Frankfurt from Buenos Aires became ill and died during the flight. An autopsy suggested that one of 104 cocaine capsules in the man's stomach burst during the flight.

June 5 - Both aboard a Beech 19 received serious injuries after crashing shortly after takeoff from Long Island MacArthur Airport in Long in New York. The pilot was reportedly performing touch-and-goes at the time of the crash. (AVSIG Discussion)

June 4 - A Royal Australian Air Force C-130 made its second emergency landing within 24 hours after smoke fumes entered the cockpit. The aircraft landed safely at an RAAF Base in Edinburgh, South Australia. The aircraft reportedly made an emergency landing at Richmond Air Base near Sydney hours earlier due to an engine fire.

June 4 - An Alliance Air ATR-42 operating on behalf of Air India made a safe emergency return landing to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Pathankot, Punjab, India after airport personnel found shards of tire rubber on the runway shortly after the aircraft departed.

June 3 - A Federal Aviation Administration Beech King Air made a safe nose-down landing at Fort Worth Alliance Airport in Texas after the nose gear failed to deploy. The FAA check pilot was reportedly on a check flight at the time of the incident.

June 3 - A JetBlue Airways A320 bound for New York made an emergency return landing at Orlando International Airport for undisclosed reasons.

June 3 - A Hawaiian Airlines flight made a safe emergency return landing to Honolulu International Airport after the crew was forced to shut down an engine shortly after takeoff.

June 3 - A Utah National Guard C-130 made an emergency landing at Salt Lake International Airport after smoke was reported in the cockpit during an exercise.