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Aviation Human Factors Industry News

March 15, 2006

Vol. II, Issue 10.


747 Freighter Blows Its Nose During Testing

Pressurization Test Goes Awry

Aero-News has learned that workers at Boeing's Everett, WA plant got something of a shock last week, when a Boeing 747-400 freighter undergoing a routine pressurization test blew its nose... door.

An unidentified worker told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the aircraft was undergoing a "high blow" pressurization test when the accident occurred, during which time the internal pressure was approximately 3 pounds per square inch.

No one was injured in the Friday afternoon mishap, although the aircraft was significantly damaged. The worker reported the nosedoor -- which is hinged at the top to allow for cargo loading, as seen in the photo above from the 2005 Paris Air Show -- was shoved back so far that it struck the cockpit windows, shattering them.

The plane's radar dome was hanging off to the side after the incident, according to the unnamed witness, and some of the door's aluminum skin was peeled back.

A Boeing spokeswoman confirmed that a 747-400 freighter was damaged during a pressurization test, and that a team was investigating the cause of the accident.

The jet was in the final stages of assembly, and while Boeing would not disclose whose jet was damaged... the worker told the P-I the 747-400F was scheduled to be delivered to a customer in China.

NTSB Rules Pilot Error Led To Flight Attendant's Death

Failure To Depressurize Cabin Caused Fatal Fall

The NTSB has determined pilot error led to an American Airlines flight attendant being sucked out of an airplane following an emergency landing in Miami more than five years ago.

American Flight 1291 took off from Miami en route to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, on November 20, 2000. The aircraft turned around shortly after takeoff due to pressurization problems. Upon landing in Miami, the captain ordered an evacuation due to indications of fire onboard the aircraft -- but did not depressurize the aircraft's cabin.

Flight attendant Jose Chiu, 34, struggled to open the left-front cabin door. After reporting the problem to the flight crew, he returned an attempted to open the door again. It was then the door exploded open, hurling Chiu out of the aircraft and forcing other cabin attendants to the floor as they, too, were sucked towards the open door.

Chiu's lifeless body was found 60 feet away from the aircraft. He had fallen two stories onto the tarmac. Apart from Chiu, three passengers received serious injuries, and one flight attendant and 18 passengers received minor injuries in the accident. There were 121 passengers onboard the aircraft.

NTSB investigators determined the plane's flight crew had not used a manual control to depressurize the aircraft once it was on the ground.

"It was an extremely isolated and rare incident," said American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith on Thursday. "We changed both our training and our procedures as a result of the situation to make sure people followed the procedure to avoid this happening."

As for the excessive amount of time in releasing its Probable Cause report, the NTSB says the report was actually completed over three years ago; however, a glitch on the NTSB website kept the report from posting.

Japanese transport ministry to tighten checks on Skymark

The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will tighten its checks of Skymark Airlines. The airline had operated a Boeing 767-300 (JA767E) for about nine months past its repairs deadline. A dent 6 centimeters long, 1.5 cm wide and 1 millimeter deep under a front door on the right side of the plane was found during maintenance at a Taiwan airport in June 2004 when it was being operated by a Brunei airline. A Taiwanese maintenance company put a plate over the dent to repair it under the instructions of Boeing, which said more repairs needed to be done in a year. The 767 was bought by Skymark, and operated apparently without being aware of the deadline. In a statement, Skymark acknowledged there was such a document but blamed the failure to meet the repair deadline on insufficient liaison between it and the Taiwan maintenance firm. (Kyodo)

Near misses in India up by 33%

During 2005, 21 air-miss or near-accident cases involving commercial aircraft were reported in India, an increase of almost 33 per cent over the previous year. In two cases there was an actual risk of collision. In the wake of the rise in the number of aircraft, the transport ministry has started imposing a ban on general aviation aircraft during the peak periods at Delhi and Mumbai airports. (Hindustan Times)

South Korea concerned over low cost airlines

Three low-cost airlines have come under criticism from the South Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation for their frequent delays and substandard safety measures. The airlines are Thai Sky Airlines, Orient Thai Airlines and Royal Khmer Airlines. The government inspection detected 18 items which violated or did not satisfy aviation standards. In the case of Thai Sky, some pilots` working hours exceeded the 110 hours monthly limit, and planes were not provided with repair checkup manuals. Engineers in Korea who help with the airline`s aircraft checks were found not to have licenses issued by the Thai government. Orient Thai also did not update safety and operational regulation manuals. Safety equipment on planes, such as fire extinguishers and oxygen tanks was not functioning correctly. For Royal Khmer, nine lights indicating emergency exits on planes were inoperative, and flights did not carry updated guidebooks for air routes including information about Inchon International Airport. The planes also loaded engine oil together with passengers` baggage without proper safety measures. (The Korea Times)

US Navy Stands Down For Safety Review

Nine Serious Accidents Since October = Stand down.

That's the order from the Navy to all non-deployed aircraft, in the wake of a series of aircraft and helicopter accidents over the past five months. It's the first operational stand-down for the Navy in nine years... this one sparked by a series of aircraft and helicopter accidents over the past few months.

Commander, Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Jim Zortman, directed a Navywide aviation safety stand down March 3, to be conducted by all non-deployed squadrons no later than the end of this week.

The safety stand down includes, but is not limited to, a thorough review of our operating environment, operational tempo, standard operating procedures, maintenance material condition, as well as focusing on personnel issues.

"Iím directing this stand down in the wake of a series of aviation mishaps that have occurred over the past two months," said Admiral Zortman. "While no single factor can be attributed to these incidents, itís important that we stop our daily training and thoroughly review our procedures and the risks of the environment in which we operate."

Deployed squadrons will conduct the stand down as operations permit.

Since October, there have been nine Navy crashes that ended in a loss of life or loss of the aircraft -- or both. Perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back was the crash of a Navy E6-AB Prowler in Oregon on Friday. As Aero-News reported, all four onboard that aircraft ejected and were rescued after a brief search.

"While weíre almost exactly where we were at this time last year, it is important that we halt this trend of the past two months, and thatís why Iíve directed this stand down. Accomplishing the mission and returning home safely, remain our priorities. We continue to be the best-trained, most qualified war-fighting aviators in the world. I want to ensure weíre focusing on the fundamentals, which are key to achieving success," said Zortman.

Cracking in wings caused fatal '04 plane crash, NTSB says

T-34s were grounded after aircraft crashed near Lake Conroe, killing 2

Federal transportation authorities have determined that ''extensive fatigue cracking" of the wing structure caused a fatal plane crash near Lake Conroe in 2004.

The 1953 Beechcraft A-45, which has a military designation T-34, lost its left wing in-flight and spiraled to the ground Dec. 7, 2004. Pilot Richard Gillenwaters, 51, of Conroe, and passenger Pietro Migliori of Venezuela were killed.

In a final accident report released Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane's wing and carry-through structure failed as a result of extensive and widespread cracking in specific channels and webs.

The report said that ''cracks in the channels were hidden and probably could not have been detected without extensive disassembly of the structure."

However, it said the cracks in the webs were easily detectable and that a crack in the forward web had been detected and poorly repaired.The airplane was owned by Texas Air Aces, a Spring company that provides planes for training and air shows.

Another T-34 airplane owned by the same company crashed in the Lake Conroe area Nov. 19, 2003, killing pilot Don Wylie, owner of Aviation Training Safety and Texas Air Aces, and a passenger. The plane lost a wing during mock aerial combat exercises with another plane. Because of the T-34's history of wing problems, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency directive grounding all T-34 airplanes about a week after the 2004 accident.

Importance of Breakfast

It has been engrained in most of us since childhood that a good breakfast helps us perform at our top level the rest of the day. But is this actually true? A team of British researchers studied 144 healthy adults and tested them after eating no breakfast, having just coffee for breakfast and a moderate breakfast. Those who ate the moderate breakfast scored the highest on mental skills tests and had the most energy. And those who had no breakfast were the most fatigued and scored the lowest of the mental skills test. (Anahad OíConnor, "Skipping Breakfast Can Affect Your Mood and Energy Levels During the Day" The New York Times, February 21, 2006)

If youíre working the day shift, than this study is an important reminder to eat a moderate breakfast before work. However, if you work nights, sometimes eating a large or even moderate breakfast can interfere with your ability to sleep during the day. The key for shiftworkers is to eat regularly scheduled meals and to avoid eating too much between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. because your bodyís circadian rhythms make it hard to digest food. Also, eating a good dinner before working at night can help you stay alert and functioning at a high level.

END Thanks jetBlue