Thursday, 4 March 2021

Remembering Caledonia Flight 153

Caledonian Airways Flight 153 was a multi-leg non-scheduled passenger service from Luxembourg to Lisbon via Khartoum, Lorenzo Marques (nowadays Maputo) and Douala. On the 4th March 1962 a Douglas DC-7C performing the Douala Airport (DLA/FKKD) Cameroon to Lisboa-Portela de Sacavém Airport (LIS/LPPT) Portugal leg crashed shortly after takeoff from Douala International Airport with 10 crew and 101 passengers on board. 
The heavily-laden DC-7 was making a night takeoff from Douala runway 12 in conditions of high ambient temperature and humidity. After a long takeoff from the 9,350 feet long runway, it gained very little height. Some 2,300 yards (1.3 miles) from the runway end and 500 yards (0.2 miles) left of the extended centreline, the left wing struck trees 72 feet above aerodrome elevation. The DC-7, named "Star of Robbie Burns", crashed into a tidal swamp and exploded on impact.

The aircraft, leased from Sabena Airways, had flown a total of 14,548 hours. Of these 583 hours were undertaken when leased to Caledonian Airways.

In spite of the very numerous expert examinations and all the tests on the ground and in flight which the Commission of Inquiry has carried out or caused to be carried out, the state of the wreckage and its position in an inundated forest area have prevented the Commission from determining with absolute certainty the cause of the accident to DC-7C. The commission considers, however, that there is evidence to show that an elevator spring-tab mechanism may have jammed before impact. This jamming would have resulted in abnormal elevator control forces during the takeoff. Flight tests have shown this to be consistent with a prolonged takeoff run and a risk of losing height during flap retraction. Furthermore, the following features, all adverse, may have aggravated the circumstances in which the accident occurred: - the implementation of a procedure for gaining speed which was conducive to the aircraft being flown at a low altitude - the fact that a positive rate of climb was not maintained at the time of flap retraction which, in the Sabena procedure applied by Caledonian Airways, is not subject to any altitude limitation other than that of obstacle clearance - the presence in the co-pilot's seat of a check pilot whose attention may have been attracted more by the actions of the first pilot than by the indications on his own instrument panel. The Commission had been unable to eliminate an instrument failure as a possible cause of the accident, as the instruments were not recovered or were too seriously damaged to allow of any valid expert examination.

Aircraft Information
Airline: Caledonian Airways
Code: CA
Aircraft: Douglas DC 7C
Registration: G-ARUD
Serial Number: 45160
Engines: 4 x Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone Turbo-Compound engines
First Flew: November 1957
Age at Accident: 5 yrs 5 Mts

The aircraft was purchased new by Sabena in 1957 as OO-SFD, it was later leased out to Persian Air Services as EP-ADU, before being leased to Caledonian Airways and registered as G-ARUD.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Remembering Turkish Flight 981


Similar to the United 811 story I posted a few days ago, The crash of Turkish Airlines 981 occurred when an incorrectly secured cargo door at the rear of the plane burst open and broke off, causing an explosive decompression that severed critical cables necessary to control the aircraft. To maximize the working space within the cargo hold, the cargo doors opened outwards, making them vulnerable to being forced open at high altitudes under normal in-flight pressure. To prevent this, a special latching system was used that locked shut under pressure when properly closed. To ensure the latches were properly positioned, a handle on the outside of the door pressed small metal pins into the latches; if the latches were not in the proper location the pins would not align and the handle would not close.

On Sunday the 3rd March 1974 flight TK981 departed Istanbul (IST/LTFM) for a flight to Paris-Orly Airport (ORY/LFPO), France to London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL), United Kingdom. The DC-10 landed at Paris-Orly at 11:02am and taxied to stand A2. There were 167 passengers on board, of whom 50 disembarked. The aircraft was refueled and baggage was loaded onto the plane. The planned turnaround time of one hour was delayed by 30 minutes. An additional 216 passengers embarked. Most of the passengers were booked on this flight because of a strike at British Airways. The door of the aft cargo compartment on the left-hand side was closed at about 12:15 pm. When all preparations were complete the flight received permission to taxi to runway 08 at 12:24. Four minutes later the crew were cleared to line up for departure and were cleared for departure route 181 and an initial climb to flight level 40. The aircraft took off at approximately 12:30 and was cleared by Orly Departure to climb to 6000, which was reached at 12:34. The North Area Control Centre then cleared TK981 further to FL230. Three or four seconds before 12:40:00, the noise of decompression was heard and the co-pilot said: "the fuselage has burst" and the pressurization aural warning sounded. This was caused by the opening and separation of the aft left-hand cargo door. The pressure difference in the cargo bay and passenger cabin, the floor above the cargo door partly collapsed. Two occupied tripe seat units were ejected from the aircraft. All the horizontal stabilizer and elevator control cables routed beneath the floor of the DC-10 and were thus also severely disrupted. Also the no. 2 engine power was lost almost completely. The aircraft turned 9 deg to the left and pitched nose down. The nose-down attitude increased rapidly to -20 deg. Although the no. 1 and 3 engines were throttled back the speed increased to 360 kts. The pitch attitude then progressively increased to -4 degrees and the speed became steady at 430 kts (800 km/h). At a left bank of 17 degrees the DC-10 crashed into the forest of Ermenonville, 37 km NE of Paris killing the 11 crew and the 335 passenger - total of 346 SOB.

The crash is also known as the Ermenonville air disaster. At the time, Flight 981 was the deadliest plane crash in aviation history until 27th March 1977, when 583 people perished in the collision of two Boeing 747s in Tenerife. It remained the deadliest single-aircraft accident until the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 on the 12th August 1985, and the deadliest aviation accident without survivors until the Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision on the 12th November 1996. It remains the deadliest single-aircraft accident without survivors, the first fatal and deadliest crash involving the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and the deadliest aviation accident to occur in France. It is also the deadliest aviation accident that does not involve a Boeing 747.

Aircraft Information
Airline: Turkish Airlines
Code: TK/TKY
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10
Registration: TC-JAV
Serial Number: 46704
Engines: 3 General Electric CF6-6D
First Flew: 15/02/1972
Age: 2 Yrs 1 Mth

Monday, 1 March 2021

Australia lifts 737 MAX suspension

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) on Friday (26th February) announced that it has lifted a ban on Boeing’s 737 MAX jet, which had been grounded for almost two years following two crashes that killed almost 350 people and led to a serious shake-up in Boeing’s leadership as well as billions of dollars in losses. While no Australian airlines currently operate the Boeing 737 MAX, two foreign airlines flew these aircraft types to Australia before the COVID-19 pandemic – Singapore-based SilkAir (now integrated into parent Singapore Airlines) and Fiji Airways. In addition to Australia, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently issued return to service airworthiness directives for the Boeing 737 MAX. CASA’s acting CEO and director of aviation safety, Graeme Crawford, said the initial suspension had been in the best interests of aviation safety. “CASA was one of the first civil aviation regulators in the world to suspend Boeing 737 MAX operations. We took early action based on the information we had to ensure our skies remained safe while the cause of the accidents was investigated,” Crawford said. “We have accepted the comprehensive return-to-service requirements specified by the Federal Aviation Authority as State of Design for the 737 MAX and are confident that the aircraft are safe. Our airworthiness and engineering team has assessed there are no additional return to service requirements for operation in Australia.” There is no indication of when Singapore airlines and Fiji Airways will resume their operations to Australia. In addition to those airlines, Virgin Australia has 25 of the planes on order. Singapore Airlines and Fiji Airways will need approval to resume flying the 737 MAX from their national aviation regulators and from other authorities where they need to use airspace. Singapore’s aviation regulator has not said when such clearance will be granted. Singapore Airlines said it would continue to work with and be guided by regulators on 737 MAX operations. A Fiji Airways spokesman said it was still working with other regulators in the region, including those in Fiji and New Zealand, before returning the 737 MAX to service, according to media reports. New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had worked closely with counterparts in Australia and Singapore on the return of the 737 MAX in New Zealand. “The CAA will not issue a blanket approval for the Boeing 737 MAX to fly into New Zealand but will work with any future operators on a case-by-case basis to clear flight operations into New Zealand,” the CAA said in a Reuters report, noting Fiji Airways was still restricting international flights due to COVID-19. Regulators in the United States, Europe, Britain, Canada, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates are among those that have already approved the 737 MAX’s return to flight following technical modifications and additional pilot training. Japan lifted its restrictions at the end of January following decisions by counterparts in the United States, Europe, Canada and Brazil, an official at Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau said on Friday. China was the first country to ban the 737 MAX from its airspace in 2019 and it has not indicated when it will lift the ban.

Story Sourced from here
Australia lifts 737 MAX suspension - Asian Aviation

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Three killed as plane crashes shortly after take-off

Three adults on board a Florida-bound plane have died after it crashed in a wooded ravine after taking off from Georgia.

A Cessna 182 travelling from Gainesville-Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport, GA (GVL/KGVL) to Daytona Beach International Airport, FL (DAB/KDAB) had just taken off from north Georgia early Friday evening when it crashed into a wooded ravine, shortly after 6 p.m. (along Memorial Park Drive and Atlanta Highway near Gainesville) killing all three adults on board.
A family had just sat down for dinner when one of the plane's wings landed on their mobile home.
The four adults and one child inside the home were uninjured but had to leave due to the extensive damage caused to their home. According to US media, the pilot was trying to turn the plane around and head back to the airport when the crash near Gainesville occurred.

"The plane did leave from Gainesville and we confirmed they were en route to Daytona Beach authorities said, "And its only speculation at this point, but the pilot turned around for some reason and tried to get back to the airport," said Gainesville Fire Department.

Investigators have identified the victims as 44-year old Dan Delnoce of Gainesville, 45-year old Courtney Flanders of Gainesville and 39-year old Matthew Delnoce of Ohio.

Aircraft Information
Owner: Private
Aircraft: Cessna 182 Skylane RG
Registration: N3652C
Serial Number: R18200296
Engine: Lycoming 540 Series
Built: 1978


Saturday, 27 February 2021

Two years since Budgam Mi-17 shootdown,

At around 10 am on the 27th February 2019, a Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force crashed in the Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir. The incident took place the same day that Indian and Pakistani fighter jets engaged in fierce aerial combat in Nowshera, a day after the IAF's surgical strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot.
The Mi-17 V-5 chopper belonging to the 154 Helicopter Unit crashed within ten minutes of taking off from Srinagar after it was hit by the Air Force’s own Spyder air defence missile. Later, a Court of Inquiry confirmed that the crash was the result of "friendly fire", called "blue on blue" in military parlance. Six IAF personnel onboard, as well as a civilian on the ground, were killed in the crash, a rare incident in the IAF's history. The helicopter was flown by Squadron Leader Siddharth Vashisht with other members—Squadron Leader Ninad Mandvgane, Kumar Pandey, Sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat, Corporals Deepak Pandey and Pankaj Kumar.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Bhadauria, while admitting the crash was a "big mistake" on part of the air force, has assured that the IAF would "ensure such mistakes are not repeated in the future". With strict compliance of laid down Standard Operating Procedures along with stringent punishments for their violation, air force headquarters has taken measures to avert such accidents in future. Besides, the helicopter fleet is also undergoing major upgrades to its early warning suits.

It is learnt that the ill-fated chopper was mistaken as a possible drone, though even the IAF’s Barnala-based Integrated Air Command & Control System could not designate the helicopter as ‘red’—the classification for enemy aircraft. The Integrated Air Command and Control System are tasked to locate any hostile aircraft from the Pakistan side.

It was found that the helicopter's Identification of Friend or Foe’ (IFF) system, a transponder-based identification system, was switched off during the flight, which led to vital gaps in communication and coordination between the ground staff and the crew of the chopper. IFF is installed in all military aircraft and it communicates with radars to establish whether an aircraft is friendly or from the enemy. During a combat situation, air traffic controllers give a path to all aircraft and helicopters to fly in a green corridor.

Air Headquarters, has adopted a zero-tolerance approach for any deviation from laid down SoP. "In case of deviation of SoP, strict disciplinary action will be taken against the involved officer. Besides, integration of weapon with platform is also being done to prevent such mishaps," an official said while adding that it is being done if both (missile and helicopter) platforms are compatible with each other. The Mi-17 was a Russian chopper while the Spyder air defence missile was from Israel. Moreover, the Mi-17 helicopter fleet is also going for major upgrades including radar warning receiver, missile approach warning systems and countermeasure dispensing system.

Currently, IAF operates around 150 Mi-17 V5 helicopters, procured from Russia since 2008. While disciplinary action was initiated against the chief operations officer and senior air traffic control officer at the Srinagar base after both were found guilty by the COI, both pilots of the ill-fated chopper were posthumously awarded the Vayu Sena medal for gallantry along with Mention-in-Despatches posthumously awarded to four other IAF personnel.

Story sourced from here

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

United 811 disaster 32 yrs ago today

UNITED B747-422 N194UA (MSN 26982)

On the 24th February 1989 a United Airlines Boeing 747, Flight 811, departed Honolulu International Airport, HI (HNL/PHNL), United States of America at 01:33 local time, bound for Sydney, Australia (SYD/YSSY), with an intermediate stop at Auckland, New Zealand (AKL/NZAA). The initial climb passed through an area of thunderstorms, so the captain elected to keep the seat belt sign on. As the aircraft was climbing, between 22,000 and 23,000 feet, an explosive decompression was experienced. An emergency was declared at approximately 02:20 HST. The captain initiated a 180-degree left turn to avoid a thunderstorm and proceeded toward HNL. The forward lower lobe cargo door had opened in flight, taking with it a large portion of the forward right side of the cabin fuselage. The starboard side engines (no.3 and 4) were damaged and had to be shut down. Parts of the leading and trailing edge flaps where also damaged resulting in the crew electing to use only 10-degrees trailing edge flaps for landing (a non-normal configuration). This resulted in the aircraft having to land at a higher speed than it would under normal conditions. The aircraft was cleared to land at HNL runway 08L. At 02:34 HST, Honolulu tower was notified by the flight crew that the airplane was stopped and an emergency evacuation had commenced on the runway. During the decompression, nine passengers had been ejected from the airplane and lost at sea.

Probable Cause:
The sudden opening of the forward lower lobe cargo door in flight and the subsequent explosive decompression. The door opening was attributed to a faulty switch or wiring in the door control system which permitted electrical actuation of the door latches toward the unlatched position after initial door closure and before takeoff. Contributing to the cause of the accident was a deficiency in the design of the cargo door locking mechanisms, which made them susceptible to deformation, allowing the door to become unlatched after being properly latched and locked. Also contributing to the accident was a lack of timely corrective actions by Boeing and the FAA following a 1987 cargo door opening incident on a Pan Am B-747.

About the Aircraft
The aircraft involved was a Boeing 747-122 registration number N4713U - Serial Number 19875/89
It was delivered to United Airlines on November 3, 1970.  At the time of the accident, the Boeing had accumulated 58,814 total flight hours, 15,028 flight 'pressurization' cycles, and had not been involved in any previous accident.

On the 24th February 1989, the aircraft was scheduled by United Airlines to operate as Flight 811 from Los Angeles International Airport to Sydney Airport in Mascot, New South Wales, Australia, with intermediate stops at Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii and Auckland Airport in 
New Zealand. Flight 811 operated without incident on the first leg of its scheduled flight, from Los Angeles to Honolulu, and there were no difficulties reported by the flight crew upon arriving at Honolulu, where a crew change occurred.

After the accident, the aircraft was repaired and put back into service with United, but was re-registered N4724U. In 1997, the aircraft was taken out of service and passed onto Air Dabia as C5-FBS. Air Dabia ceased operations in 1998, and the aircraft was abandoned at Plattsburgh International Airport, where it was scrapped in 2004.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage - Alice Springs

Last August I flew out to Alice Springs to view the aircraft at the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage facility (APAS) and back then there were around 65 aircraft.


Last Friday I once again flew out to Alice Springs especially to view the aircraft parked there. This time there were 140 aircraft and it really is a sight that needs to be seen.


Like last time, I hired a helicopter from Alice Springs Helicopters Alice Springs Helicopters – Sightseeing Flights ALice Springs for a twenty minute hover around the air park. Kat, the pilot, is amazing seriously and will go and do what ever you want. Higher, lower, closer, further out, no issues. I strongly recommend hiring a helicopter as seeing these aircraft from the ground doesn't do it justice, as you can see by the below photos.

The world's newest "airliner boneyard" was completed in 2013; it began operations in June of 2014.
The storage facility is operated by Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) Ltd. which chose Alice Springs because its dry, arid climate is ideal for aircraft storage and preservation. It caters to Asia-Pacific carriers as well as other airlines from around the world. It is capable of handling all aircraft types, including the Airbus A380, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777. APAS represents the first commercial aircraft storage and recycling facility in the Asia Pacific region. The facility was ultimately selected due to its climatic suitability, significant existing infrastructure and capacity for major expansion. Alice Springs offers the perfect environment for the preservation of aircraft and their inherent capital value. The facility benefits from an arid desert environment characterized by an average year round humidity of approximately 25%, outside Australia’s cyclone zone, low rainfall, and with low lying vegetation providing additional dust suppression qualities.

It takes a team of a dozen people up to five days to induct a plane for storage. Two of those are spent entirely on taping and covering everything to protect the engines and systems, a process that can take between 40 and 50 rolls of tape. Every plane has different requirements, depending on the manual. Airbus, for example, requires all passenger windows be covered and taped as well, while Boeing does not. Once inducted, sealed and towed to a parking bay, each plane is on a rolling system of 7, 30 and 90-day checks. During this time, bags of desiccant* in the engine bays are examined, tyres are rotated, and brake systems are maintained. Storing a plane is certainly not simply a matter of parking it and walking away. When will these aircraft return to their owners remains an open question. For now, these planes sit silently in the Australian outback, a surreal monument to a different time.

*The primary purpose of desiccant bags is to absorb moisture in small areas. The packets help prevent the development of moisture and, from there, mould forming on the surface.

Alice Springs Airport (IATA: ASP, ICAO: YBAS) is a regional airport 13 km (8.1 miles) south of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. The airport has two runways, the principal one (12/30) at 2,438m in length and 45m in width, the second (and rarely used) is 17/35 and is 1,133m in length. The only scheduled flights using the airport are domestic, although international charters do use the airport at times. The airport is open 24/7 and there are no restricted flight paths for noise abatement procedures.