Friday, September 30, 2005

Accident of the Week

Here's the NTSB's initial report on the JetBlue flight with the landing gear facing the wrong way. Kudos to the flight crew for doing an exceptional job of bringing everyone home safe!
NTSB Identification: LAX05IA312
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of Jet Blue Airlines, Inc.
Accident occurred Wednesday, September 21, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA
Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A320, registration: N536JB
Injuries: 146 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On September 21, 2005, at 1818 Pacific daylight time, Jet Blue Airlines flight 292, an Airbus A320, N536JB, landed at Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, with the nose wheels cocked 90 degrees. Jet Blue Airlines, Inc., was operating the airplane as a scheduled domestic passenger flight under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 121. The airline transport pilot licensed captain, first officer, 4 flight attendants, and 140 passengers were not injured. The flight departed Burbank, California, at 1531, as a nonstop to JFK Airport, New York, New York. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

The first officer (FO) flew the first leg. The initial departure did not indicate any problems, and he observed a positive rate of climb. After the captain attempted to retract the landing gear, two error messages displayed on the Electric Centralized Aircraft Monitoring (ECAM) system: nose gear shock absorber and nose wheel steering fault. There was no master warning so the FO continued flying the airplane while the captain troubleshot the ECAM system.

The FO flew the airplane over Palmdale, California, at 14,000 feet mean sea level (msl) while the captain consulted the flight crew operating manual (FCOM). The FCOM noted that the nose gear "may be caught at 90 degrees." The captain continued to evaluate the problem to ascertain the systems' status. The flight crew continually updated the cabin crew and passengers.

The flight diverted to Long Beach, California. The captain decided to perform a fly-by of the tower for verification on the gear status. The tower, Jet Blue ground personnel, and a local news helicopter advised him that the nose gear was cocked 90 degrees to the left. The flight crew decided to divert to Los Angeles. The crew flew for several hours to burn fuel so that they could land at a lighter weight.

The captain communicated with the cabin crew and passengers. The cabin crew emptied the first three rows of seats, and moved the baggage as far aft as possible. They placed able-bodied persons in the exit rows, and removed all baggage and paperwork from the seating area. They showed the able-bodied persons how to operate the doors, and gave additional instructions.

The flight attendants spoke to each passenger individually prior to the landing to ensure that they knew the emergency procedures that would take place and how to properly brace themselves. The flight attendants checked and double checked each others' work to ensure that everything was completed and would go according to plan.

The captain took note of the fuel burn to ensure that the center of gravity stayed within limits. The captain also advised the cabin crew that in the event the nose gear collapsed, evacuation from the aft doors was not available so everyone would deplane from the forward exits. The flight crew advised the cabin crew to take the emergency procedures up to the point of egress, at which time the captain would advise the method.

Prior to touchdown, the captain announced to "brace" and the flight attendants also transmitted "brace" over the public address system.

The captain flew the airplane for the landing. He touched down at 120 knots, and applied normal braking at 90 knots. He held the nose gear off of the ground as long as possible. At 60 knots, the flight crew shut down the engines. They did not use ground spoilers, reverse thrust, or auto braking. During the landing, the forward cabin crew could smell burnt rubber. The cabin crew remained at their stations as previously defined by the captain. The air traffic control tower confirmed that there was no fire, and the captain announced this to the cabin crew. After this notification, the passengers deplaned normally using an air stair.

Both nose tires collapsed during the landing roll, and about half of the two wheels was ground off.

Maintenance personnel jacked the airplane up, and removed the damaged wheels. They installed a right nose wheel, and towed the airplane to a maintenance hangar.

Maintenance personnel removed the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and digital flight data recorder (DFDR). The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) sent them to the Safety Board Vehicle Recorder's Division for examination.

Maintenance records indicated that Jet Blue maintenance technicians replaced a proximity sensor on the nose wheel prior to the previous flight's departure from New York earlier in the day.

A post flight maintenance report indicated the following faults:

At 1531 PDT L/G Shock Absorber Fault (2)
At 1532 PDT Wheel N/W Strg Fault.

The IIC retained the nose gear assembly and several other components for examination.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Let's See if This Works

It certainly can't hurt, now can it?
Robyn Singleton, Q.C.
County of Lethbridge No. 26
#100, 905 – 4 Ave. South
Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 4E4

Re: Invoice #20163

Dear Counsellor Singleton:

I recently received County of Lethbridge invoice number 20163 for $500 (copy enclosed) for dispatching the fire truck to Lethbridge Airport in connection with engine troubles that we were experiencing with our aircraft in July. Fortunately, we landed without incident and no services were required. The documentation attached to the invoice report shows that the truck was dispatched for a total of 11 minutes.

Pursuant to Section E of Schedule A of County of Lethbridge By-Law No. 1267 (which I note does not provide for charges for dispatching the fire truck in the event of an emergency at the airport), I am respectfully requesting that these charges be waived as they were incurred in respect of a matter that reasonably qualifies “as an emergency or of a humanitarian nature.” Your favorable consideration of this matter would be appreciated, and would provide a positive incentive to fellow aviators to err on the side of caution and request assistance in the event of possible emergency. Should a forced landing be necessary, having fire services standing by can only serve to prevent unnecessary, and potentially fatal, injury.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


The IFR Pilot
I'll let you know what happens.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Quick Links Available

The IFR Pilot has once again demonstrated his mastery of basic HTML skills. The template for the blog has been updated to provide a table of contents to the entries from the Alaska trip. Now that it's over, it's probably easier to read it chronologically, rather than trying to pull the whole month of July up at once.

John, thanks for the invite to go flying in SFO. I'm still planning to be there in March, but you'll have to be the PIC!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Accident of the Week

Another one this week for the pile of "What Was He Thinking???"
NTSB Identification: ANC05FA144
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 12, 2005 in Nenana, AK
Aircraft: Bellanca 7GCBC, registration: N36237
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On September 12, 2005, about 1800 Alaska daylight time, a Bellanca 7GCBC airplane, N36237, sustained substantial damage when it collided with terrain following an in-flight loss of control while maneuvering, about 14 miles east-northeast of Nenana, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal local flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The private pilot and sole passenger both received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed.

During an on-site inspection by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on September 13, it was noted that the airplane impacted heavily wooded level terrain in a steep nose down attitude, about 150 feet from a riverbank.

During a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC on September 16, the Alaska state trooper who interviewed the pilot's relatives, said he was told by family members that the family, including the pilot and passenger, witnessed a demonstration of extreme flying the previous day. He said the pilot told family members he was going to go out and do some "trick" flying like he had seen the day before. The state trooper said he also interviewed a fisherman who saw the airplane flying low along the river, pull into a vertical climb, and then spiral nose-down to the ground.
The report doesn't make clear if this pilot had an experience with aerobatics. Sounds like he got all tickled by what he saw the day before and decided that he could do it too.

What makes this thing irresponsible is taking someone else with you. My feeling is that if you want to kill yourself because you're stupid and do something for which you haven't been trained, be my guest. Just leave a note telling your executor not to sue someone over your own stupidity.

But it's totally different when you drag someone else along. You should have to pay out the wazoo. And I can only hope that there's enough evidence in the report that the money to pay the judgment comes from your personal assets, not your insurers. Because if it comes from the insurer, I'll end up having to pay my share of it when my rates get jacked up at renewal next year.

Y'all have a nice weekend. I'm grounded. Anyone want to take me flying?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dear County of Lethbridge #26

Thank you so very, very much for the present you sent me while I was in the hospital with two bleeding ulcers. I can't tell you how much the bill for $500 for sending the fire engine out for 11 minutes during my rough engine encounter in Lethbridge means to me. I mean without that bill, I'd certainly never remember this experience. And I'm absolutely sure that your fire engines and firemen are reasonably billed out at $2727.27 per hour. It's especially reasonable when I convert that to US dollars.

Do you take Visa? At least I might get some frequent flyer miles out of it...

Can any of my Canadian readers suggest an approach to reduce this obligation? I've got no problem paying the reasonable value of sending the fire truck out in case the landing didn't turn out as well as it did, but I can't help but flinch at this outrageous pricing!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Accident of the Week (slightly belated)

(This post slightly delayed, due to the IFR Pilot's recent, unexpected, unplanned, unwanted, and un-enjoyable visit to the local ER and ICU for two heretofore unknown bleeding ulcers. Thanks, Motrin, you're so giving. The IFR Pilot may be grounded for about 6 months due to this little episode. I'll keep you updated.)

This week's accident falls into the category of Job Well Done, Young Pilot!

NTSB Identification: IAD05LA133
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, September 06, 2005 in Babylon, NY
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N8270M
Injuries: 3 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On September 6, 2005, at 1725 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-161, N8270M, was substantially damaged when it overran a parking lot during a forced landing to Robert Moses State Park, Babylon, New York. The certificated private pilot and two passengers sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal flight that departed Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York, at 1711. A visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot provided a written statement, and was interviewed by telephone. He said that it was a "gorgeous, perfect day," and that he intended to fly along the Long Island coastline. The pilot completed the preflight, taxi, and before takeoff checks according to the checklist. He then departed Farmingdale, and climbed the airplane to 2,000 feet with no anomalies noted.

After leveling the airplane at 2,000 feet, the pilot encountered "a lot of roughness in the engine." The engine rpm fluctuated greatly, and the entire airframe vibrated. The pilot declared an emergency via radio to air traffic control at Republic Airport, and stated that he planned to return there.

The engine power continued to decrease, the airplane could not maintain altitude, and the windscreen became obscured by engine oil. The engine oil pressure gauge showed no pressure, and the oil temperature gauge was "as high as it could go." The pilot amended his plan, and elected to land in a parking lot at the Robert Moses Park.

The pilot selected a parking lot for landing due to the relative scarcity of cars parked there. One vehicle was positioned in the center of the lot. The pilot circled the lot in the descent to keep the landing area in sight, as the windscreen was obscured, and selected a ground reference point to ensure that he cleared the vehicle in the center of the lot during landing.

During the landing, the airplane cleared the vehicle, touched down, overran the lot, and collided with two rows of bushes before it came to rest against a sand dune. The right wing separated from the airplane during the accident sequence.

An FAA aviation safety inspector responded to the scene on the day of the accident, and the airplane was then moved to Republic Airport.

The pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land on June 1, 2005. He was issued a first class medical certificate in September 2004.

The pilot reported 60 hours of total flight experience, 55 hours of which were in make and model.

The airplane was examined at Republic Airport on September 8, 2005. Examination of the airplane revealed holes in the engine case in the area of the #1 exhaust tappet and the #3 exhaust tappet.

An examination of the airplane's maintenance records revealed that the airplane's engine had accrued 7,069 total hours of flight time, and had accrued 2,771 total hours since major overhaul.

At 2153, the weather reported at Republic Airport included clear skies with 10 miles visibility. The winds were from 130 degrees at 10 knots. The temperature was 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dew point was 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here's a pilot who had just received his private ticket a couple of months before executing a near-perfect emergency landing in a parking lot. And he did so with only "minor" injuries to himself and his two passengers. Kinda surprising, given what the wreckage looked like:

(picture from

My only question is why this particular engine had 2771 hours SMOH. It's used in rental (the aircraft is registered to Nassau Flyers, Inc.). My understanding is that TBO is obligatory, not just advisory, when the aircraft is used for commercial instruction purposes. So, why/how someone let this engine go 700+ hours past TBO is going to be an obvious question that somebody better be prepared to answer.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Accident of the Week

(Thanks, Blogger, for losing the first iteration of this post and making me write it again!)

This week's Accident of the Week reminds us that the Pilot in Command must aviate the plane until it is completely on the runway and below flight speed:
NTSB Identification: LAX05LA286
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 02, 2005 in Yuma, AZ
Aircraft: Cessna 172, registration: N5070A
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On September 2, 2005, at 0830 mountain standard time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N5070A, was substantially damaged when it impacted the displaced threshold for runway 8 at the Yuma International Airport, Yuma, Arizona. The private pilot/owner of the airplane sustained serious injuries and the passenger was fatally injured. The pilot operated the airplane under the auspices of 14 CFR Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight that departed Yuma around 0715.

During a telephone interview with the pilot, he reported that the purpose of the flight was to photograph some private property of his that was for sale. The passenger was seated in the left seat to photograph the property and the pilot was flying from the right seat.

They finished taking photographs of the property and were returning to the airport when the accident occurred. The airplane was on final approach and the pilot was conducting a full-flap landing. He reported that everything was fine, but the airplane began descending too fast. He applied some power to go-around, but the airplane encountered a gust of wind and stalled on short final.

Witnesses informed the FAA inspector who responded to the accident site that they observed the airplane on short final. The nose pitched up to a level position about 50 feet above the ground and then nosed down until impact with the ground.

Photographs taken of the accident site by airport operations personnel displayed tire marks on the displaced threshold followed by parallel gouges in the asphalt that were perpendicular to the airplane's direction of travel. The airplane came to rest upright about 80 yards from the initial impact point and erupted into flames. The center fuselage was burnt in its entirety and the wings were bent down and the tips were touching the ground. The floorboard behind the front seats was bent up and the aft fuselage and empennage were lying on the ground.

At 0856, the weather observation facility at the Yuma International Airport reported the wind from 080 degrees at 7 knots.
Now, if I recall correctly, a 1955 model 172, which this plane was, has 40 degrees of flaps available. If that is correct, and the pilot was using all of them (hence the statement "full-flaps landing"), you have to ask: WHY? The winds were right down the runway at less than 10 knots (landing runway 08, winds at 080 at 7 knots). We have degrees of flaps in 78S, and almost never use them to get into our home base, which is 2450 feet long. Who needs them on a 6146 foot runway? Perhaps if there hadn't been as much drag, the go-around attempt might have produced better results.

Fly the airplane onto the ground. Avoid stalls on short final. Don't flare 50 feet above the runway.

And, as other accident writers, would say, "This article represents the opinon of the writer only. All information is taken from the NTSB Accident report. No effort is made to assign blame. This is merely food for thought."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Work Interferes

The IFR Pilot has had to cancel his joyride to Wisconsin. An important client-related matter requires his presence in the hometown on Saturday. Sometimes the avocation must yield to the vocation.

On another note, a great deal of time was spent on Sunday upside down dealing with repairs on 78S's panel. Do they teach contortionism when you go to A&P school? Because the work itself wasn't hard, but being on your head trying to get your hands behind the panel to fix a loose wire required a substantial degree of flexibility with otherwise not-so-flexible body parts!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Plane Envy; Podcast Released

The IFR Pilot has owned his 172 (more precisely, shares of his 172) for about two years now. During that time, like most pilots, I've yearned for faster, more "capable" aircraft. Finances, and the reality that I fly mostly for fun and don't need the operating and maintenance expenses of anything beyond a 172, have dictated that the status quo remain as is.

Until today. No, race fans, the IFR Pilot didn't go out and purchase that brand new glass panel Mooney, Columbia, or Cirrus that I surely lust after (and will most certainly buy when I win the lottery).

Instead, I got a call from Angel Flight Central, looking for pilots with aircraft who could volunteer for three days to do relief flights in Western Louisiana and Eastern Texas.

Picture this:

IFR Pilot: "Great, I can go. Where do you want me and when."

Angel Flight representative: "What kind of plane do you have?"

"A Cessna 172."

"Is that a high performance aircraft?"

"Um, no. Why?"

"Right now, we are only seeking pilots with access to high performance or twin aircraft. We'll take your name and call you in a week or two if we still need help."

EXCUSE ME? I understand that you want to get as much out of every flight as possible, and I'll grant you that a high performance aircraft could probably carry a heavier load than my 172. But, I can still carry close to 500 pounds of people or cargo, more if I don't need a full load of fuel.

Why isn't that satisfactory? I'm willing to give of my time, and my money, and my airplane. I want to help, especially in light of the nearly six years that I lived in NOLA and the many friends that I have there.

Alas, finally I have an objective reason to justify that new purchase. All I need is the money. Or, does someone with not so much time want to loan me their high-performance aircraft for a week? I've got the endorsement, and will pay for the fuel myself....

* * *

On a separate note, the IFR Pilot's interview on the General Aviation Weekly podcast has been released. Check it out for yourself here (or here for a direct link to the mp3 file). Thanks, Keith.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ears Up!

Demonstrating his increasingly frail memory, the IFR Pilot forgot to bring the camera to work today to photograph the activity at BKL for the airshow. But I will take some when I visit this weekend.

I made up for it by being interviewed for a podcast on General Aviation Weekly. I'll let you know when the episode airs. In the meantime, go listen to the archives. Keith's doing a bang-up job and deserves the traffic!

Angel Flight East may be calling on the IFR Pilot's services soon. If so, I'll let you all know and try to bring you some updates from the front lines of relief activity. Some time off from work and some av gas is a small price to pay for the people of the city I love so dearly...

Accident of the Week

This accident reports falls into the category of "What were they thinking"? A tad reminiscent of JFK, Jr: at night + IMC + over water + non-instrument rated pilot = 2 dead people that shouldn't be. Judge for yourself:
NTSB Identification: ATL05LA154
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 28, 2005 in Wrightsville Bh, NC
Aircraft: Samson Seawind 3000, registration: N88PS
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On August 28, 2005 at 0212 eastern daylight time, a Seawind 3000 experimental airplane, N88PS, registered to Samson Flying Service and operated by the private pilot, collided into the Atlantic Ocean about two miles off the coast of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The non-instrument-rated private pilot and the passenger received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The flight departed Wilmington, North Carolina, about 0208.

A review of preliminary radar data revealed a target with a transponder code of 1200 was detected by radar about 0208 at an altitude of 400 feet in the vicinity of Wilmington International Airport, Wilmington, North Carolina. The data showed the flight headed eastbound to the coast and climbed to approximately 1,200 feet. The flight then crossed over the coastline and continued eastbound briefly before its altitude fluctuated and it entered a 360-degree turn and descended rapidly into the ocean.

Composite debris from the airplane's fuselage and tail section was found floating on the surface; the remainder of the airplane was not recovered. A review of recorded weather data from Wilmington International Airport revealed at 0153 conditions were winds from 020 at 5 knots, visibility 8 statute miles, cloud conditions broken at 300 feet, temperature 23 degrees centigrade, dew point 22 degrees centigrade, altimeter setting 29.89 inches.
Now, don't get the IFR Pilot wrong. I'm sorry that these people were hurt. But doesn't this seem like an archetypical example of an accident that could completely have been avoided? Why are you taking off in the middle of the night into IMC conditions over water -- even in an amphib -- WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE AN INSTRUMENT RATING?

Look at the temperature/dew point spread: 1 degree. Geez, I think everyone learns in ground school that a difference of 4 degrees or less results in the substantial likelihood of fog. Some we're not just talking about a few low clouds creating IMC. We're talking about what was probably a substantial ground fog (even if it was listed as broken; I'm willing to bet that it was broken bordering on overcast).

By the way, with a bit of Googling, I found a picture of N88PS. She certainly was a beautiful aircraft, that's for sure.

It'll be intersting to see what the NTSB determines is the probable cause. Anyone want to lay odds on "S-P-A-T-I-A-L D-I-S-O-R-I-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N"?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Jealousy, Plain and Simple

This weekend is the Cleveland National Air Show at Burke Lakefront Airport.

The IFR Pilot's office is located one-half mile to the south of the approach ends of Runways 6L and 6R. My office is visible somewhere here:

Thanks, Google Maps.

Thusly, the IFR Pilot is, each year, treated to fabulous views as the Airshow takes shape, with lots of arriving aircraft, aerobatics practices, and flybys. On occasion, telephone conversations have needed to be halted for the din to subside!

Today, it began again in earnest. I've had a red biplane practicing aerobatics all morning (I think it was Sean Tucker's) and a couple of flybys compliments of the USAF Thunderbirds, this year's headline act. It should only get better tomorrow.

Now, if only I remember to bring to the office the handheld transceiver that I brought back from the hangar. It doesn't do much good sitting on the rec room floor. I'll bring the camera to work tomorrow and see if I can snap a couple of photos, if you promise not to drool on your computer monitors...