Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer Aircraft Crash in Arkansas

 At the Sheridan Municipal Airport in Arkansas, several people were injured when the Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer Aircraft crashed while taking off, at approximately 11:30 a.m. on January 31, 2012.

A statement made by a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said then the Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer went down, two people on board the aircraft suffered serious injuries and were transported to a hospital for treatment. 

Grant County deputies were alerted when one of the men on board called 911 for help. Deputies said inside the plane was Wesley Griffin and the pilot Warren Wilkerson.  Mr. Wilkerson was flown by helicopter to a Little Rock hospital and Griffin is now recovering in a hospital close to Sheridan.

Reasons for the crash are not known at this time; however FAA investigators were headed to the scene for further investigation.

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Defect May Cause Superjumbo Engine to Explode


SYDNEY – Australian investigators on Thursday identified the source of an oil leak that caused a superjumbo engine to blow apart in mid air last month, and said a suspected manufacturing defect in the Rolls-Royce engine was to blame.

They warned airlines the potential flaw could cause engine failure.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommended the three airlines that use Rolls-Royce’s massive Trent 900 engines on their A380s go back and conduct more checks now that it had pinpointed the problem area. Three airlines fly a total of 20 the Airbus planes.

Earlier warnings blamed an oil leak for a fire and subsequent chain of failures that sent heavy parts flying off an engine on a Qantas A380 shortly after it took off from Singapore on Nov. 4, the most serious safety problem for the world’s largest and newest jetliner.

The ATSB, which is leading the international investigation into the Qantas breakup, added some specifics on Thursday, saying a section of an oil tube that connects the high-pressure and intermediate-pressure bearing structures of the engine was the danger area.

“The problem relates to the potential for misaligned oil pipe counter-boring, which could lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage and potential engine failure from an oil fire,” the ATSB said in a brief statement.

It called the problem “a potential manufacturing defect.”

Counterboring involves placing a larger hole over a smaller hole to make room for a seal. The ATSB said a misalignment of those holes had produced a thinning of the oil pipe wall and fatigue cracks. That could have led to oil leaking into a section of the engine containing extremely hot gas — a mixture of burned fuel and air. If oil comes into contact with the hot gas, it will burn.

“It is a design error and obviously a major one,” said Peter Marosszeky, a jetliner maintenance expert at the University of New South Wales.

Rolls-Royce had no comment Thursday morning.

The ATSB recommended close inspections of all Trent 900 engines to look for signs of the problem. Any engines that display such signs should be removed from service, it said.

In response to that recommendation, Rolls-Royce, affected airlines and other safety regulators were taking action to ensure the A380s involved were safe, the ATSB statement said.

The three airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Germany’s Lufthansa, conducted extensive checks of their Trent 900 engines and modified some parts in compliance with a Nov. 11 directive from the European Aviation Safety Agency. That order was to look for oil leaks in the same section of the engine, but did not mention a potential source.

On Thursday, the agency said it had no immediate plans to change that directive following the ATSB’s recommendations.

“We believe the safety of the engines is ensured by our previous (Nov. 11) airworthiness directive, namely the engine inspections,” spokesman Dominique Fouda said. “But if there are additional findings in the next several days, we reserve the right to change that directive.”

Regulators have said preliminary investigations show an oil fire broke out in the section of the Qantas engine that houses the turbines, which are spun at great speeds by combusting jet fuel. An oil pump and network of tubes lubricate and cool the turbines.

Experts say the fire could have caused the rotor to which the turbine blades are attached to expand, bringing the blades into contact with the casing that encloses the engine. Part of a shattered turbine disc was found in the wreckage of the engine, and another part flew off in the disintegration and hasn’t been recovered, the ATSB said.

Qantas, which grounded its six A380s for more than three weeks after the blowout, said Thursday it would conduct one-time checks on its superjumbos. Spokesman Simon Rushton said the inspections were not expected to take long, or disrupt service.

Qantas replaced 16 Trent 900s before putting just two of its A380s back into the skies five days ago. The others are still undergoing tests.

“After discussions with the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau and Rolls-Royce, it was decided it was prudent to conduct further inspections of engine components, although there is no immediate risk to flight safety,” Qantas said in a statement.

The ATSB finding strengthens Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s stated belief the engine blowout was caused by a manufacturing problem, not a maintenance issue for which the airline could bear responsibility. Rolls-Royce has remained largely silent about the issue since it happened, and the London-based company’s share price has seesawed. Rolls-Royce shares were down 1.4 percent at 610 pence in the first hour of trading on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Qantas said Thursday it filed a statement of claim in a federal court that will allow it to pursue possible legal action against Rolls-Royce if it isn’t satisfied with a compensation offer from the engine manufacturer.

“Today’s action allows Qantas to keep all options available to the company to recover losses, as a result of the grounding of the A380 fleet and the operational constraints currently imposed on A380 services,” Joyce said in the statement. He has refused to specify how much compensation the airline wants.

On Nov. 12, the company said its full-year earnings would be “slightly lower than previously guided” because of the problem with the engines. In July, it had forecast underlying profits would grow by 4-5 percent compared to 2009.

John Page, an aircraft designer and senior lecturer in aerospace engineering at the University of New South Wales, said one possible explanation for a misalignment of the oil tubes was a programming error in computers used in the manufacturing process.

“The problem with it is if there is an error in the coding of the machining, then (to) some extent it’s not as obvious — because nobody’s actually doing it by hand,” he said. “As designs become more and more automated, people are expecting more perfection. It’s much closer to perfection — it just ain’t perfect.”

The ATSB is due to publish its preliminary report into the Qantas incident on Friday.

Chief commissioner Martin Dolan said it pre-empted the report with Thursday’s safety recommendation because it realized only on Wednesday in discussions with Rolls-Royce the significance of the counterboring issue.

“We considered it was a sufficiently significant safety issue that we should immediately release it to parties who were operating with these engines,” Dolan told The Associated Press.

Singapore Airlines has 11 superjumbos which use Trent 900 engines and Lufthansa has three.

Singapore Airlines said Thursday it is conducting new checks of its engines. The airline “is complying with the recommendations and carrying out the new inspections, alongside other inspections recommended by Rolls-Royce and included in the directives from the European Aviation Safety Agency,” it said in a statement.


Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.

NTSB Meets on US Airways Airbus Flight 1549 Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board held a public Board meeting on May 4 on its investigation into the accident in which a US Airways jetliner came to rest in the Hudson River near New York City after a low-altitude encounter with a flock of birds.

The purpose of the meeting was to determine the probable cause of the accident and to consider proposed safety recommendations to reduce the likelihood of future such mishaps.

On January 15, 2009, at 3:27 p.m. EDT, US Airways flight 1549, an Airbus A320, lost engine power after striking a flock of Canada geese shortly after departing New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The captain brought the plane down into the Hudson River after determining that landing at an airport was not feasible. The plane, destined for Charlotte, N.C., carried 150 passengers and a crew of five. Four passengers and one flight attendant received serious injuries.

To supplement the facts discovered during the on-scene and subsequent follow-up investigation, the Safety Board held a three-day public hearing on this accident in June 2009. Transcripts, documents and other items from that hearing are available at:  http://www.ntsb.gov/events/2009/Weehawken-NJ/Default.html

The Board meeting was held in Washington on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, at 9:30 a.m. EDT, in the NTSB Board Room and Conference Center at 429 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W.

A live and archived webcast of the proceedings will be available on the Board’s website at http://www.ntsb.gov/Events/Boardmeeting.htm. Technical support details are available under “Board Meetings.” To report any problems, please call 703-993-3100 and ask for Webcast Technical Support. 

A summary of the Board’s final report, which will include its findings, probable cause and safety recommendations, will appear on the website shortly after the conclusion of the meeting. The entire report will appear on the website several weeks later.

NTSB Looks at Near-Crash over California

The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the near collision of a commercial jetliner and a small private plane at the intersection of two active runways at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport in Southern California.

At about 10:58 a.m. PDT on April 19, Southwest Airlines flight 649, a Boeing 737-700 (N473WN) inbound from Oakland, carrying 119 passengers and a crew of five was landing on runway 8 while a Cessna 172, in the departure phase of a “touch and go” on runway 15, passed over the 737.  A “touch and go” is a practice maneuver in which an aircraft briefly lands on the runway before accelerating and becoming airborne again.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplanes came within 200 feet vertically and 10 feet laterally of each other at the runway intersection. No one was injured in the incident, which occurred under a clear sky with visibility of 10 miles.

NTSB investigator Betty Koschig, an air traffic control specialist based in Washington, is traveling to Burbank today to begin the investigation.

Poor Maint Started Chain Resulting in Runway Crash

Washington, DC – A chartered business jet crashed at a South Carolina airport 18 months ago because of the operator’s inadequate maintenance of the airplane’s tires and the decision by the captain to attempt a high-speed rejected takeoff, which went against standard operating procedures and training, the NTSB determined today.

On September 19, 2008, at 11:53 p.m. EDT, a Bombardier Learjet Model 60 (N999LJ) operated by Global Exec Aviation and destined for Van Nuys, California, overran runway 11 during a rejected takeoff at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. After the airplane left the departure end of runway 11, it struck airport lights, crashed through a perimeter fence, crossed a roadway and came to rest on a berm. The captain, the first officer, and two passengers were killed; two other passengers were seriously injured.

The investigation revealed that prior to the accident the aircraft was operated while the main landing gear tires were severely underinflated because of Global Exec Aviation’s inadequate maintenance. The underinflation compromised the integrity of the tires, which led to the failure of all four of the airplane’s main landing gear tires during the takeoff roll.

Shortly after the first tire failed, which occurred about 1.5 seconds after the airplane passed the maximum speed at which the takeoff attempt could be safely aborted, the first officer indicated that the takeoff should be continued but the captain decided to reject the takeoff and deployed the airplane’s thrust reversers. Pilots are trained to avoid attempting to reject a takeoff at high-speed unless the pilot concludes that the airplane is unable to fly; the investigation found no evidence that the accident airplane was uncontrollable or unable to become airborne.

The tire failure during the takeoff roll damaged a sensor, which caused the airplane’s thrust reversers to return to the stowed position. While the captain was trying to stop the airplane by commanding reverse thrust, forward thrust was being provided at near-takeoff power because the thrust reversers were stowed. The Safety Board determined that the inadvertent forward thrust contributed to the severity of the accident.

The Safety Board also found that neither the Federal Aviation Administration nor Learjet adequately reviewed the Airplane’s design after a similar uncommanded forward thrust accident that occurred during landing in Alabama in 2001. While the modifications put into place after the Alabama accident provided additional protection against uncommanded forward thrust upon landing, no such protection was provided for a rejected takeoff.

“This accident chain started with something as basic as inadequate tire inflation and ended in tragedy,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “This entirely avoidable crash should reinforce to everyone in the aviation community that there are no small maintenance items because every time a plane takes off, lives are on the line.”

The safety recommendations that the NTSB made to the Federal Aviation Administration as a result of this investigation are: provide pilots and maintenance personnel with information on the hazards associated with tire underinflation, including the required intervals for tire pressure checks, and allow pilots to perform pressure checks in air taxi operations to ensure that tires remain safely inflated at all times; require tire pressure monitoring systems for all transport category airplanes; identify and correct deficiencies in both Learjet’s thrust reverser system safety analysis and the FAA’s design certification process to ensure that hazards encountered in all phases of flight are mitigated; require that simulator training for pilots who conduct turbojet operations include opportunities to practice responding to events other than engine failures near takeoff speeds; require that pilots who fly air taxi turbojet operations have a minimum level of pilot operating experience in an airplane type before acting as pilot-in- command in that type; and require that airplane tire testing criteria reflect the loads that may be imposed on tires both during normal operating conditions and after the loss of one tire.

A synopsis of the Board’s report, including the probable cause, conclusions, and recommendations, is available on the NTSB’s website, at http://www.ntsb.gov/Publictn/2010/AAR1002.htm. The Board’s full report will be available on the website in several weeks.

Cessna 152 Plane Crash Kills Pilot and Student

Investigators on Friday identified the bodies of a Scottsdale flight instructor and her student pilot who were killed when their small plane crashed into a mountain in the West Valley.

Officials said the instructor, Ondrea M. Benner, 34, of Scottsdale, and her student, Clint A. Bergum, 21, of Michigan, were the victims. Bergum was living in Phoenix but his primary residence was in Ypsilanti, Mich.

The wreckage of the single-engine Cessna 152 was spotted Thursday afternoon by a construction worker on a mountainside above the Quintero Golf & Country Club in Peoria. No one witnessed the crash, and the instructor and student were dead when emergency crews arrived, Peoria police spokesman Mike Tellef said.

Federal Aviation Administration records indicate Benner was issued a commercial pilot’s license in September 2003. FAA records also indicate she had been issued her flight instructor license two years ago as of June 26.

The aircraft belonged to the Pan Am International Flight Academy at Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, Tellef said.

The academy referred calls to its corporate headquarters in Florida, which was closed Friday evening.

The cause of the crash is unknown. It will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA.

SOURCE: Staff and Wire Reports

Learjet 35 Plane Crash

GROTON, Conn. — A Learjet 35 registered to religious broadcaster Pat Robertson crashed in Long Island Sound while flying in heavy fog Friday, killing both pilots, authorities said. All three passengers escaped without serious injury.

Robertson was not aboard.

The twin-engine Learjet 35 went down a half-mile short of the runway at Groton-New London Airport. Authorities said the passengers were able to get out on their own and were pulled from the water and taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Preliminary information showed that the plane may have hit an approach light mounted in a cove near the airport, said Christopher Cooper, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.


US Airways Express Flight 5481 Crash

On January 8, 2003, about 0847:28 eastern standard time, Air Midwest (doing business as US Airways Express) flight 5481, a Raytheon (Beechcraft) 1900D, N233YV, crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 18R at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina. The 2 flight crewmembers and 19 passengers aboard the airplane were killed, 1 person on the ground received minor injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 5481 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Greer, South Carolina, and 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 the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: The airplane’s loss of pitch control during take-off. The loss of pitch control resulted from the incorrect rigging of the elevator system compounded by the airplane’s aft center of gravity, which was substaintially aft of the certified aft limit.

Contributing to the cause of the accident were (1) Air Midwest’s lack of oversight of the work being performed at the Huntington, West Virginia, maintenance station; (2) Air Midwest’s maintenance procedures and documentation; (3) Air Midwest’s weight and balance program at the time of the accident; (4) the Raytheon Aerospace quality assurance inspector’s failure to detect the incorrect rigging of the elevator control system; (5) the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) average weight assumptions in its weight and balance program guidance at the time of the accident; and (6) the FAA’s lack of oversight of Air Midwest’s maintenance program and its weight and balance program.