The following information provides an awareness of problems that might be avoided in the future. The information is based on final reports by official investigative authorities on aircraft accidents and incidents.
Fluid Spill Caused Arcing
Embraer ERJ 190-100. Substantial damage. No injuries.
The regional jet was en route from Boston on a scheduled flight with 61 passengers and four crewmembers to Toronto the afternoon of May 25, 2016, when a warning alarm sounded and the master warning light illuminated. The autopilot disengaged automatically, three of the five main electronic flight instrument displays went blank, and several warning messages appeared on the engine indicating and crew alerting system.
“These messages informed the flight crew that an electrical emergency had occurred and that both integrated drive generators (IDGs) — the main sources of electrical power — were off line,” said the report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). “The ram air turbine (RAT) automatically deployed within moments of the electrical failure and … restored power to the essential buses.”
At the time, the ERJ was cruising at 36,000 ft in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) 97 nm (180 km) west-northwest of Boston and 290 nm (537 km) from Toronto. “The crew discussed declaring an emergency but decided that they would attempt to restore main electrical power first,” the report said.
They informed air traffic control (ATC) of the situation and requested a heading toward Toronto. “ATC asked if the flight crew required assistance,” the report said. “The crew told ATC to stand by because they were uncertain of the severity of the problem.”
Shortly thereafter, the crew requested and received clearance to descend below 30,000 ft. This is the maximum altitude at which the auxiliary power unit (APU) can be started — the first action prescribed by the emergency checklist. ATC cleared the crew to descend to 24,000 ft.
One of the pilots made an announcement on the public-address system, but the announcement could not be heard over noise generated by the RAT. A cabin crewmember then spoke directly with the pilots and subsequently relayed the information to the passengers.
After starting the APU, the crew was able to bring both IDGs back on line, which fully restored main alternating current and main direct electrical current. “At this point, the electrical emergency was over, and, although a few non-critical components were unavailable, the [electrical] system as a whole was back to normal operation,” the report said.
The aircraft was then 170 nm (315 km) from Toronto. The crew advised ATC that they had restored some electrical power. They also requested vectors to the longest runway available at the airport because they planned to land with a lower-than-normal flap setting per the emergency checklist. All of the ATC facilities that subsequently handled the flight made accommodations to minimize delays, and the aircraft was landed without further incident on Runway 23 at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport about an hour after the electrical failure occurred.
Examination of the ERJ revealed substantial fire damage in the middle avionics compartment. Investigators determined that the fire was caused by electrical arcing resulting from an unidentified fluid that had come in contact with an alternating current bus bar. “It could not be determined exactly when or how [the fluid] was introduced into the avionics compartment,” the report said. “There was no record of maintenance personnel entering the middle avionics compartment in the seven months preceding the flight.”
The crew had not been aware of the fire during the flight. “Within 36 seconds of the initial fault, power was lost to all main bus bars, and, as a result, the smoke detector in the recirculation bay and the recirculation fans lost power,” the report said. Thus, the pilots had received no warning of the fire, and none of the flight attendants or passengers had detected smoke in the cabin.
Thirty Seconds of Severe Turbulence
Airbus A330-243. Minor damage. Seven serious injuries, 17 minor injuries.
The A330 was on a scheduled flight with 262 passengers and 12 crewmembers from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to Jakarta, Indonesia, the afternoon of May 4, 2016. Nearing Jakarta, the flight crew saw cumulus clouds ahead and planned to stay clear of them during the arrival.
The aircraft was at 39,000 ft and about 15 minutes from top of descent when it encountered severe clear air turbulence. At the time, the flight attendants were standing and some passengers did not have their seat belts fastened.
The aircraft experienced vertical speed fluctuations of 2,000 to 2,500 fpm during the encounter, said the report by the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee. Six passengers and one cabin crewmember were seriously injured, and 14 passengers and three crewmembers sustained minor injuries during the turbulence encounter, which lasted for 30 seconds.
The A330 subsequently was landed in Jakarta without further incident. Examination of the aircraft revealed that several cabin fixtures, including ceiling panels and passenger-service units, had been damaged during the encounter.
Loose Clamp Causes Depressurization
Boeing 737-600. No damage. No injuries.
The 737 was climbing through 32,000 ft during a flight from Prague to Djerba Zarzis International Airport in Tunisia, the morning of May 14, 2017, when the cabin depressurized. The passenger oxygen masks deployed automatically, and all the passengers used them. The flight crew donned their oxygen masks, initiated an emergency descent to 10,000 ft and diverted the flight to Munich, where the aircraft was landed without further incident.
“According to the medical services at Munich Airport, neither passengers nor crewmembers had reported any health impairments,” said the report by the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU).
Investigators determined that the depressurization likely had been caused by an APU bleed duct leak that was created when a loose clamp detached completely from its position on the APU duct valve seal. After the APU bleed duct was repaired, a cabin pressure test revealed an additional bleed air leak in the left air-conditioning pack. The report said that the pack was shut down by maintenance technicians, and, after a satisfactory cabin pressure test, the 737 was released for flight up to 25,000 ft without passengers, pending further repairs.
Crosswind Limit Exceeded
Cessna CJ4. Substantial damage. No injuries.
Preparing for a charter flight from Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., the afternoon of May 9, 2014, the flight crew started the right engine without difficulty. However, while they were starting the left engine, a fire erupted inside the cowling. The pilots shut down both engines, and they and their two passengers evacuated the airplane without injury through the main cabin door.
“The fire continued to burn and was extinguished by aircraft rescue and fire fighting crews who arrived quickly,” said the report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “The fire resulted in substantial damage to the empennage and the left engine pylon. The rear of the left engine cowling was mostly consumed.”
The report noted that the CJ4 flight manual specifies a crosswind component limit and a tailwind component limit of 19 kt during engine start, to prevent disruption of airflow through the engine. Investigators found that during the attempted engine start, the accident airplane was oriented on a heading of 325 degrees in surface winds from 210 degrees at 19 kt, gusting to 27 kt. This resulted in a crosswind component of 17 to 24 kt and a tailwind component of 8 to 11 kt, according to the report.
For Want of a Checklist
Beech King Air B200. Substantial damage. No injuries.
Shortly after the King Air leveled off at 6,000 ft in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) during a flight from Santa Ana, California, U.S., to Palm Springs the afternoon of May 16, 2015, a complete electrical failure occurred. The pilot climbed into VMC, turned westbound and descended through a hole in the clouds over the Pacific Ocean, the NTSB report said.
The pilot attempted to advise ATC of his problem and intentions, but his radio transmissions were unintelligible. He flew the airplane to McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, California, where airport traffic controllers saw the airplane circling and projected a green light, authorizing the pilot to land.
The pilot told investigators that he did not perform any emergency procedures after the electrical failure occurred because the checklist was in a cabinet that he could not reach. He attempted unsuccessfully to extend the landing gear and flaps normally before landing at Carlsbad. The King Air was substantially damaged during the subsequent gear-up landing, but the pilot escaped injury.
The pilot said that he might have inadvertently turned on the engine-start switches before departing from Santa Ana. The report said that this would have disengaged the generators and subsequently depleted the battery of charge.
The accident might have been avoided “if the pilot had the emergency checklist available and followed the emergency procedures for a loss of electrical power, which required resetting the generators, or if he had attempted to manually extend the landing gear,” the report said.
Pounded by Hail
Daher-Socata TBM 850. Substantial damage. Two minor injuries.
The aircraft was operated by the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology and had been used to transport a college administrator from Zaria to Abuja the afternoon of May 21, 2013. While the TBM was being refueled in Abuja, the pilot obtained a weather briefing indicating that thunderstorm activity was expected to develop on the route back to Zaria.
The pilot was anxious to begin the flight back to Zaria, said the report by the Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau. He had been on duty for 12 hours when the aircraft departed from Abuja with an observer aboard. “The pilot was tired, and this was confirmed during his discussions with the observer before the incident flight,” the report said. “The weather forecast received by phone added anxiety and further tiredness.”
About 40 minutes after departing from Abuja, the aircraft encountered severe turbulence and an intense area of hail associated with a severe thunderstorm while descending through 13,000 ft, the report said. Both occupants sustained minor injuries, and the TBM’s radome and engine cowling were substantially damaged by hail. “However, whilst the damage was relatively severe, the aircraft remained in a safe condition and was able to continue to the intended destination,” the report said.
Fuel Line Fractures … Again
Cessna 208B Caravan. Substantial damage. One minor injury.
Shortly after the Caravan took off from Acampo, California, U.S., for a skydiving flight the afternoon of May 12, 2016, the engine lost power. The pilot began to turn back to the airport but realized that the airplane would not reach the runway. He then attempted to land in an open field.
“During the landing roll, the airplane exited the field, crossed a road, impacted a truck and continued into a vineyard, where it nosed over,” said the NTSB report. The pilot sustained minor injuries, but none of the 17 skydivers was hurt.
Examination of the Caravan revealed that a fuel pressure line between the engine’s fuel control unit and the fuel pressure transducer mounted on the airframe had fractured. The fuel line had been replaced the night before the accident flight due to a similar fracture. However, the maintenance technician who performed the replacement either did not inspect or did not adequately inspect a cushioned support clamp that protects the fuel pressure line from vibration-induced damage, the report said. A tab in the clamp was fractured, rendering the clamp ineffective.
After the fuel line was replaced, the Caravan was flown about four hours before the fuel line failed again. “The presence of the fractured clamp combined with the fact that the two pressure tubes failed in similar modes in short succession indicated that the clamp most likely failed first, resulting in the subsequent failure of the tubes,” the report said.
Long, Painful Fall
ATR 72-212A. No damage. One serious injury.
While deplaning at Cork (Ireland) Airport on a cold, wet afternoon on May 26, 2017, a passenger fell from the top of the ATR’s doorsteps, sustaining serious head, shoulder and knee injuries. The passenger was holding two pieces of hand luggage and was wearing “deck” type shoes when she fell, said the report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit of Ireland (AAIU).
The passenger told investigators that she tried unsuccessfully to grab the hand rail to break her fall. Airline maintenance technicians and investigators for the AAIU found no discrepancies with the steps and noted that the non-slip covering was in good condition.
Noting that reported incidents of slips and trips on aircraft stairs are relatively few, the report said that such incidents could be further reduced by encouraging passengers to avoid rushing, using hand-held devices and carrying luggage while deplaning. “Unfortunately, most of these activities are synonymous with modern air travel,” the report said.
Fuel Depleted 10 Miles Short
Piper Chieftain. Substantial damage. No injuries.
The pilot was conducting a private flight with four passengers from Gainesville, Texas, U.S., to Page, Arizona, on May 28, 2013. The Chieftain had been airborne for about 4.5 hours and was about 10 nm (19 km) from the destination when the left engine lost power. Shortly thereafter, the right engine also lost power.
The pilot feathered both propellers and landed the airplane in the desert about 5 nm (9 km) from Page. The right engine separated from the airplane and the left wing buckled during the forced landing. None of the five occupants was hurt.
“The pilot reported that the airplane had run out of fuel and that there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation,” the NTSB report said.
‘Not Fit to Fly’
Piper Twin Comanche. Destroyed. One fatality.
Recorded radar data showed that shortly after taking off from Wolfsbehringen, Germany, the morning of May 27, 2013, the Twin Comanche entered IMC, climbed about 1,750 ft and then completed two erratic right turns before descending rapidly into a forest. The pilot was killed, and the aircraft was destroyed.
Investigators found that the 62-year-old pilot was “not fit to fly” and had “become incapacitated or lost consciousness due to tachycardic arrhythmia,” or excessive heart rate, during the departure, according to the BFU report.
“For several years, the pilot had been suffering from a chronic progressive structural heart disease,” the report said. “In spite of continuous treatment, the course of the disease merely slowed. … The pilot had realised that his health condition had decreased over the past few weeks [before] the accident.” There was evidence that he had experienced chest pain, shortness of breath and several episodes of tachycardic arrhythmia.
The report noted that he had not told his cardiologist and general practitioner that he was a pilot, and had not told his aviation medical examiner (AME) about the chest pains and shortness of breath during an examination three weeks before the crash. “However, due to the combination of [the pilot’s] individual illnesses, the AME should not have issued a medical certificate … even without further details,” the report said.
The BFU concluded that among the factors contributing to the accident were “inaccurate aeromedical evaluation” and “lack of self-reflection [by] the pilot regarding his illness and fitness to fly.”
Glassy Water Affects Depth Perception
Grumman G-44 Widgeon. Substantial damage. One fatality.
Witnesses saw the amphibious airplane descend to land on the Hudson River near Catskill, New York, U.S., the afternoon of May 2, 2013. The Widgeon leveled off close to the surface of the river and suddenly banked left. The nose and left pontoon then struck the water, and the airplane flipped over, caught fire and sank, the NTSB report said.
Examination of the wreckage showed that the airplane had been configured properly for a water landing. “At the time of the accident, a light breeze was blowing, the river was at slack tide and the water conditions were calm,” the report said. “It is likely that the glassy water conditions adversely affected the pilot’s depth perception and led to his inability to correctly judge the airplane’s height above the water.
“He subsequently flared the airplane too high, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack, entering an aerodynamic stall and impacting the water in a nose-low attitude.”
Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness
Bell 206B JetRanger. Destroyed. Three serious injuries.
The crew was conducting infrared scanning of a logged area near Tchentlo Lake, British Columbia, Canada, the morning of May 4, 2016, when the helicopter entered a right spin and descended to the ground. The pilot and the two crewmembers sustained serious injuries, and the JetRanger was destroyed.
Investigators determined that the helicopter had experienced a loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE), which is defined by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Helicopter Flying Handbook as an “uncommanded, rapid yaw towards the advancing blade which does not subside of its own accord,” the TSB report said.
“The handbook explains that LTE is an aerodynamic phenomenon [that] occurs when the airflow through a tail rotor ‘is altered in some way, either by altering the angle or speed at which the air passes through the rotating blades of the tail rotor system,’” the report said.
Investigators determined that the pilot was flying the JetRanger about 150 ft above the ground during the scanning operation. He was conducting a left turn with a groundspeed of 14 kt and a tailwind of about 10 kt when the loss of control occurred.
“The combination of high gross weight and high power setting while the pilot was manoeuvring at low speed, downwind and out of ground effect put the helicopter in a regime that resulted in LTE,” the report said. “The LTE occurred at a height above ground at which there was insufficient time for the pilot to recover before the helicopter struck the ground.”
Skid Snags Platform on Takeoff
Bell 47G-3B. Substantial damage. One fatality.
The pilot was attempting to take off from an elevated wooden platform atop a service truck in Portia, Arkansas, U.S., the morning of May 13, 2016, when the agricultural helicopter’s right skid plate became entangled on a screw that had backed out of the platform’s deck.
“The pilot attempted to free the skid by applying power and pitching the helicopter forward,” the NTSB report said. “As the skid broke free, the helicopter pivoted forward and yawed to the right.”
The helicopter then descended to the ground in a near-vertical attitude. Debris liberated from the helicopter on impact struck and killed a worker who was standing nearby. The helicopter’s main rotor blades, tail boom and fuselage were substantially damaged during the accident, but the pilot escaped injury.
|Date||Location||Aircraft Type||Aircraft Damage||Injuries|
NA = not available
This information, gathered from various government and media sources, is subject to change as the investigations of the accidents and incidents are completed.
|March 1||Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan||Avro RJ-85||substantial||NA|
|The flight crew returned to Bishkek and landed the four-engine jet without further incident after experiencing an uncontained failure of the no. 1 engine during departure.|
|March 1||Ferris, Texas, U.S.||Beech 60 Duke||destroyed||1 none|
|The Duke struck trees during a forced landing after experiencing engine problems.|
|March 1||Charallave, Venezuela||Beech King Air 200||substantial||NA|
|No fatalities were reported when the King Air’s landing gear collapsed during a runway excursion.|
|March 4||Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo||Boeing 737-300F||substantial||NA|
|No fatalities were reported when the nose landing gear collapsed after the freighter veered off the runway on landing.|
|March 4||Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S.||MBB BK 117-B2||substantial||3 none|
|Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed when the pilot felt restricted movement of the cyclic during approach to a hospital helipad. The pilot diverted to the Sheboygan airport, where the helicopter touched down hard, skidded off the runway and came to rest upright. The pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic were not injured.|
|March 6||Latakia, Syria||Antonov 26||destroyed||39 fatal|
|The An-26, operated by the Russian air force, was on approach to Hmeimim Air Base when it struck terrain 500 m (1,641 ft) from the runway.|
|March 7||Blair, Wisconsin, U.S.||Hughes 369D||none||1 serious, 1 none|
|A worker who was being transported on a long line beneath the helicopter sustained serious injuries when he came into contact with power lines during departure.|
|March 8||Laredo, Texas, U.S.||Piper Navajo||destroyed||2 fatal|
|Shortly after the Navajo took off, an air traffic controller advised the pilot that smoke was emerging from the left side of the airplane. Security cameras showed white smoke trailing from the Navajo as the pilot returned to the airport. The bank angle increased as the airplane turned onto a left base leg for landing. The Navajo then struck terrain in a near-vertical attitude.|
|March 11||Shahr-e Kord, Iran||Canadair Challenger 604||destroyed||11 fatal|
|The Challenger was en route from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, to Istanbul, when it descended from 36,000 ft and crashed in mountainous terrain.|
|March 11||New York||Airbus AS350-B2||substantial||5 fatal, 1 minor|
|The helicopter’s doors had been removed to accommodate aerial photography, and company personnel had helped the passengers don their seat belts, shoulder harnesses, life vests and supplementary full-body harnesses before a sightseeing flight. The helicopter was in a right turn at about 2,000 ft near Central Park when the engine lost power. The pilot turned toward the East River and tried unsuccessfully to restart the engine. He initiated an autorotation and activated the helicopter’s floats when he was certain of reaching the river. He found that the emergency fuel shutoff lever was engaged and that the front-seat passenger’s tether was underneath the lever. He disengaged the emergency fuel shutoff and tried again to restart the engine. The engine began to start, but the pilot decided it wasn’t spooling up quickly enough and shut it down as the helicopter descended through 300 ft. The helicopter rolled over and filled with water after touching down on the river. The pilot was able to evacuate the helicopter, but the five passengers remained inside and were killed.|
|March 12||Kathmandu, Nepal||de Havilland Dash 8||destroyed||52 fatal, 19 NA|
|A thunderstorm was in the vicinity of the airport when the flight crew conducted a go-around during the first approach. During the second approach, the Dash 8 veered off the runway after touchdown, traveled down an embankment and came to a stop on a soccer field. Forty-eight passengers and the four crewmembers were killed; 19 passengers were injured, some seriously.|
|March 16||Hastings, Nebraska, U.S.||Beech C99||substantial||2 none|
|The C99 was on a cargo flight when it veered off the runway on landing.|
|March 17||Montreal||Canadair CRJ-200ER||substantial||4 none|
|The CRJ was parked at a gate when it was struck by a service vehicle. Two flaps on the right wing and a fiberglass panel on the lower fuselage were damaged.|
|March 20||near Deadhorse, Alaska, U.S.||de Havilland Twin Otter||substantial||1 serious, 5 none|
|The flight crew saw a pedestrian standing near the left side of the departure end of the remote sea-ice airstrip 140 nm (259 km) north of Deadhorse when they initiated a takeoff. Shortly after lift-off, the captain began a left turn. Both pilots heard a loud thump, and the captain felt an aileron control anomaly. The crew landed the Twin Otter on the airstrip without further incident. The left wing apparently had struck the pedestrian and inflicted serious head and neck injuries.|
|March 22||Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.||Cessna 310R||substantial||2 none|
|The right main landing gear collapsed shortly after touchdown at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. The 310 skidded about 1,500 ft (457 m) and veered off the runway.|
|March 25||Aurillac, France||ATR 42-500||minor||NA|
|The flight crew landed the ATR without further incident after a left main landing gear door separated and struck the wing root on approach.|
|March 27||Murcia, Spain||Airbus A319-111||NA||NA|
|The flight crew rejected the takeoff after striking seagulls, some of which were ingested by the A319’s engines.|
|March 28||Tel Aviv, Israel||Boeing 737-700, 767-300ER||substantial||NA|
|The 737 was being pushed back from the gate when its empennage struck the 767’s right horizontal stabilizer.|
|March 29||Riberalta, Bolivia||Swearingen Metro 23||substantial||14 NA|
|No fatalities were reported when the Metro overran the runway during a rejected takeoff due to a bird strike.|
|March 29||Mexico City||ATR 72-600, ATR 42-500||substantial||NA|
|The 72’s engines were being tested when the aircraft jumped its chocks and struck the 42. The 72’s left engine and the 42’s tail cone and rudder were substantially damaged.|
|March 31||Gardiner, New York, U.S.||Cessna 208B Caravan||substantial||7 NA|
|No fatalities were reported when the nose landing gear collapsed as the Caravan was being landed in a field following an engine malfunction during a skydiving flight.|