Archive for the ‘Florida Plane Crash’ Category

Friday, August 13th, 2010

August 13, 2010

Three aircraft crashes earlier this week in two mountainous areas outside of Anchorage, Alaska emphasize to pilots the importance of constant situational awareness and proper weather and flight planning.  The first crash occurred on August 8 about 8,500 feet up Knik Glacier, approximately forty miles northeast of Anchorage, and involved a Piper PA-32 aircraft on a sightseeing tour.  The pilot reported hitting a downdraft that caused the plane to hit the side of the glacier.  In one interview, the pilot reported that the incident seemed surreal because even though he had established climb power and had a nose up attitude, the plane’s altimeter indicated a significant descent.  Fortunately, of the five people aboard, only two sustained minor injuries.

The second crash arose from the same incident but involved an Alaska Air National Guard HH-60 helicopter that was attempting to rescue the sightseers stranded on the glacier.  At some point during the operation, the helicopter slid on the glacier and rolled for a short distance.  The pilot of the downed PA-32 stated that it looked to him like the helicopter also hit a downdraft.  None of the crew members aboard the helicopter were injured.

The third crash happened the next day near Dillingham, Alaska and involved a DeHavilland DHC-3T Otter aircraft.  This crash has received a great deal of press coverage because it killed five people, including former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, and critically injured four others, including former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe.

The cause of this crash is currently being investigated by the NTSB and there is currently not much information available, so no one can say for certain at this point why the plane went down.  There are, however, a couple of possibilities, which, even if are ultimately determined to be unrelated to the crash, are worth a few minutes of every pilots’ thoughts.

First, it seems likely that a mountain downdraft, also known as a mountain wave, caused the first plane to crash on Knik Glacier, and may have caused or contributed to the crash of the rescue helicopter.  It is also very possible that a downdraft caused the crash of the plane that killed Senator Stevens.  Indeed, the ground scar leading up the mountain to the plane’s wreckage could be quite consistent with that scenario.

According to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), “mountain waves occur when air is being blown over a mountain range or even the ridge of a sharp bluff area.”  The air hitting the upwind side of the mountain rises and generally causes a smooth updraft.  The smooth updraft, however, often turns into a violent downdraft as the air passes the crest of the ridge.  The AIM further states that “all it takes to form a mountain wave is wind blowing across the range at 15 knots or better at an intersection angle of not less than 30 degrees.”

In order to safely fly in mountainous areas, the AIM recommends that when flying on the leeward side of a mountain always expect a downdraft and always add an extra thousand feet or so of altitude above ground level because, just as the pilot of the PA-32 discovered, “downdrafts can exceed the climb capability of the aircraft.”  The AIM also recommends that approaches to a mountain ridge from the downwind side should be made at about a 45 degree angle to the horizontal direction of the ridge.  This allows for a safer retreat from the ridge if necessary.  One should also always be prepared for significant turbulence when flying near mountains.

Another possible cause of the DHC-3T Otter crash in Alaska is an unexpected encounter with fog or clouds.  According to news accounts, the aircraft was on a VFR flight plan at the time of the crash.  As experienced pilots know, however, when flying in mountains fog can accumulate in valleys very quickly and clouds banks can move in just as quickly to obscure the surrounding terrain.  The AIM defines the later situation as Mountain Obscuration (MTOS) and it can be quite dangerous for obvious reasons.  In mountainous areas, the ground level can vary greatly over small distances and with the mountain tops being obscured, a pilot encountering sudden MTOS may well be in immediate danger of flying into the terrain.

An additional danger associated with MTOS, as with all inadvertent flight into IMC conditions, is disorientation.  The sudden loss of ground references and the shift from visual cues outside the cockpit to complete reliance on instruments can have an adverse effect on even the most seasoned pilots.  Thus, pilots should frequently review and practice their procedures for minimizing and responding to disorientation situations.

Avoidance of all of the dangers mentioned above involves proper flight planning, proper in-flight execution, good judgment and constant situational awareness.  No amount of experience makes a pilot immune from the necessity of reviewing and practicing the basics, and perhaps the most basic thing for any pilot to remember is that Mother nature is always in charge.  Ignore her at your own risk.

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

This is a post from an aviation blogger named Unal Basusta.  I could not make the link work, so I just cut and pasted.  It is a nice article about the problem with the Airbus A300 rudder system that caused the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens, NY on November 12, 2001.

(NewsCore) – The widely used Airbus A320 airliner has a flaw in its rudder system similar to a problem that helped trigger the second worst crash in U.S. history, federal accident investigators said Friday, according to USA Today.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the A320′s rudder pedals are so sensitive at high speeds that pilots can unintentionally make the rudder panel on the tail swing violently back and forth.

This can create enough force to break a jet apart, the board wrote in a safety recommendation.

It concluded that a design flaw in the Airbus A300-600 rudder was part of the reason that an American Airlines pilot made several abrupt movements of the rudder shortly after takeoff from New York on Nov. 12, 2001, tearing the fin off the top of the jet’s tail.

The crash killed all 260 people aboard the jet and five people on the ground in Queens.

The NTSB said: “The Airbus A320 family is also susceptible to potentially hazardous rudder pedal inputs at higher airspeeds.”

The board’s safety recommendation is the first indication that a similar problem could exist on other commercial aircraft models.

Canadian accident investigators discovered the issue while investigating an incident on January 10, 2008, aboard an Air Canada A319, a slightly smaller version of the A320.

The A320 family of four similar jets is the world’s second most popular model behind the Boeing 737 family.

On November 12, 2001, about 0916:15 eastern standard time, American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus Industrie A300-605R, N14053, crashed into a residential area of Belle Harbor, New York, shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York. Flight 587 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight to Las Americas International Airport, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with 2 flight crewmembers, 7 flight attendants, and 251 passengers aboard the airplane. The airplane’s vertical stabilizer and rudder separated in flight and were found in Jamaica Bay, about 1 mile north of the main wreckage site. The airplane’s engines subsequently separated in flight and were found several blocks north and east of the main wreckage site. All 260 people aboard the airplane and 5 people on the ground were killed, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 587 was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the in-flight separation of the vertical stabilizer as a result of the loads beyond ultimate design that were created by the first officer’s unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs. Contributing to these rudder pedal inputs were characteristics of the Airbus A300-600 rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program.

The safety issues discussed in this report focus on characteristics of the A300-600 rudder control system design, A300-600 rudder pedal inputs at high airspeeds, aircraft-pilot coupling, flight operations at or below an airplane’s design maneuvering speed, and upset recovery training programs. Safety recommendations concerning these issues are addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Direction Général de l’Aviation Civile.

Posted by Unal Basusta at

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has long been viewed as a maverick in the aviation industry, still offering passengers free peanuts and employing flight attendants who aren’t afraid to call you “hon.”

While Southwest is the envy of other airlines when it comes to passenger goodwill and loyalty, it can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to oversized- or inappropriately dressed passengers. Earlier this year, actor/director Kevin “Silent Bob” Smith lit up the Internet when the media reported that was forced to deplane after Southwest flight attendants told him he was too large for a single seat.

The opposite occurred last week when a reed-thin 110-pound passenger flying standby was removed from a plane to make room for an obese 14-year-old who required two seats.

Dallas Aviation attorney William Angelley says the airline could have handled the situation better last week when it removed a 110-pound passenger to make way for an obese 14 year old.

“They probably should have asked for volunteers in order to make a seat for this 14 year old,” William Angelley of Hightower Angelley LLP tells MyFoxDFW’s Peter Daut .

The incident occurred during boarding for a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Sacramento. A 110-passenger, who was flying standby, had settled into her seat when the airplane crew asked her to deplane to make room for a 14-year-old passenger who needed two seats due to the individual’s weight.

“It’s a very sensitive issue and it’s a very real issue because the airlines have seats of certain size,” Angelley, a former Navy pilot, tells Daut. “They can’t retool these aircraft – it would be cost-prohibitive to do that.”

Angelley, who has commercial pilot ratings for both airplanes and helicopters, says Southwest Airlines acted well within its rights in removing the woman to make way for the larger passenger, who arrived late.

Southwest Airlines tells Daut that the incident was atypical.

“When transporting millions of passengers a year, we are sometimes faced with extenuating circumstances and we try to make the best decisions possible,” Southwest Airlines spokesperson Marilee McInnis said in a prepared statement to Daut. “The events that took place were certainly not reflective of a typical flight. We have reached out to the adult customer.”

Daut reports that this isn’t the first time Southwest has made headlines in how it handles seating passengers due to weight issues.

In February, Southwest flight crew reportedly asked Hollywood actor/director Kevin Smith (who starred as “Silent Bob” in the cult classic “Clerks”) to deplane because he didn’t fit comfortably in his seat. Smith was flying standby from Oakland to Burbank, Calif.

As a result, Smith blasted Southwest with a barrage of Tweets.

As for Angelley, the Dallas attorney focuses on aviation, products liability and business litigation. Having practiced in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, Angelley has litigated and been lead trial counsel in cases pending in state and federal courts throughout the United States.

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

July 19, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to create a more accurate aircraft registration database, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requiring re-registration of all civil aircraft over the next three years and renewal every three years after that.

The rule establishes specific expiration dates over a three-year period for all aircraft registered before Oct. 1, 2010, and requires re-registration of those aircraft according to a specific schedule. All aircraft registration certificates issued on or after Oct. 1, 2010 will be good for three years with the expiration date clearly shown.

“These improvements will give us more up-to-date registration data and better information about the state of the aviation industry,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

Current regulations require owners to report the sale of an aircraft, the scrapping or destruction of an aircraft, or a change in mailing address, but many owners have not complied with those requirements.

Re-registration of all U.S. civil aircraft by Dec. 31, 2013 will enhance the database with current data derived from recent contact with aircraft owners. The new regulations also will ensure that aircraft owners give the FAA fresh information at least once every three years when they renew their registration. The FAA will cancel the N-numbers of aircraft that are not re-registered or renewed.

The schedule for re-registration and registration expiration is:

Re-registration and registration expiration

Certificate issued (Any year) Certificate expires Re-registration required
March March 31, 2011 Nov. 1, 2010–Jan. 31, 2011
April June 30, 2011 Feb. 1–April 30, 2011
May Sept. 30, 2011 May 1– July 31, 2011
June Dec. 31, 2011 Aug. 1– Oct. 31, 2011
July March 31, 2012 Nov. 1, 2011–Jan. 31, 2012
August June 30, 2012 Feb. 1– April 30, 2012
September Sept. 30, 2012 May 1– July 31, 2012
October Dec. 31, 2012 Aug. 1– Oct. 31, 2012
November March 31, 2013 Nov. 1, 2012–Jan. 31, 2013
December June 30, 2013 Feb. 1– April 30, 2013
January Sept. 30, 2013 May 1– July 31, 2013
February Dec. 31, 2013 Aug. 1– Oct. 31, 2013

The final rule can be found at: .htm

Contact: Les Dorr or Alison Duquette 
Phone: 202-267-3883

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Posted Sunday, Jul. 04, 2010

The Associated Press

ALPINE, Texas — A patient and his wife were among the dead when an air ambulance crashed shortly after takeoff from a West Texas airport, killing all 5 people on board.

The crash happened about 12:15 a.m. Sunday about a mile east of Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport, around 200 miles southeast of El Paso. The twin-engine Cessna 421 had just taken off for Midland International Airport in Midland when it went down in an open area, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The aircraft was carrying a patient and his wife to Midland, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. It identified the dead as 78-year-old patient Guy Richard Folger of Alpine, his 59-year-old wife, Mary Folger; two flight nurses, 49-year-old Sharon Falkener of Fort Davis, and 42-year-old Tracy Chambers of Alpine; and 59-year-old pilot Ted Caffarel of Beaumont.

Caffarel was apparently trying to make an emergency landing when the plane hit a rut in the muddy field, overturned and burned, the DPS said.

The FAA listed the aircraft as registered to O’Hara Flying Service II LP of Amarillo. Company owner Denny O’Hara declined to comment to The Associated Press.

The National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Corey said.

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

For Immediate Release

June 29, 2010
Contact: Les Dorr or Alison Duquette
Phone: 202-267-3883

FAA Proposes Major Changes to Icing Certification Rules

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a significant expansion of its icing certification standards, including a new requirement that manufacturers show airplanes can operate safely in freezing drizzle or freezing rain, conditions that constitute an icing environment known as “supercooled large drops” (SLDs).

The proposed regulations would improve safety by mandating that new transport category aircraft most affected by SLD icing conditions meet expanded safety standards, including additional airplane performance and handling qualities. The rule also would require all new transport category designs be able to fly in conditions where supercooled liquid and ice crystals exist.

The FAA is also proposing changes that would expand the icing certification requirements for engines, engine installations and some airplane components (for example, angle of attack and airspeed indicating systems).  These systems would need to be able to perform in freezing rain, freezing drizzle, ice crystals and combinations of these icing phenomena.

“These new icing standards are part of our continuing effort to make the world’s safest aviation system even safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“These regulations will help ensure future aircraft can operate safely in some of the toughest icing conditions,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

The proposed rule is based largely on recommendations from the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The FAA tasked the ARAC to study how icing certification regulations should be expanded after the tragic 1994 icing-related accident in Roselawn, IL. The NTSB recommendations stemmed from the same accident.

Previously, the FAA issued 112 airworthiness directives for transport category aircraft related to icing. Of the 112 ADs, 21 were specifically related to SLD. The ADs require flight crews to exit icing conditions when they see visual cues indicating the conditions exceed the capabilities of the aircraft’s ice protection equipment.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found at: