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Aviation Human Factors Industry News

March 20, 2006

Vol. II, Issue 11.

Fuel truck hits plane at airport

A fuel truck struck the rear of a Continental Express jet at 6:16 a.m. at Richmond International Airport. No injuries were reported and airport officials described the damage to the plane as "minimal."

The Houston-bound aircraft was taken out of service as 44 passengers were rebooked on other flights.

Airport spokesman Troy Bell said the accident is under investigation by the state police and Federal Aviation Administration. (Why the state police?)

No fuel was spilled after the mishap at the rear of the plane, which occurred moments before it was to push off from the terminal.

It was the second fuel truck-plane accident this year involving Million Air, a private aviation company servicing Continental, Delta and Northwest airlines. (Do you think "Be more careful out there" will help? - GD)

Lightning hits Skymark jet

Lightning struck a Boeing 767-300ER on Thursday, but Skymark Airlines Co. used the damaged jet for a return flight from Tokushima Airport to Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

The jet is the same one the discount airline company had flown for nine months without properly repairing a dent on its fuselage.

The lightning caused enough damage on the front of the jet to require repairs under regulations set by Boeing.

A more detailed check at Haneda found eight damaged spots on the plane, including a rivet below the left front door.

The plane will undergo repairs, forcing the cancellation of 32 flights between Friday and Monday.

At least 45 injured in plane's (B737) landing accident in Spain

MADRID, March 18 (Xinhua) -- A landing passenger plane veered off the runway Saturday in the southern city of Seville, leaving at least 45 people injured.

The Air Algerie's Boeing 737-600 airliner ran out of the runway when it was trying to land at the San Pablo airport, a local government official told a press conference, blaming the accident on the malfunctioning landing gear. (Maintenance? - GD)

The plane, with 101 passengers and seven crew aboard, did not explode or go up in flames, and none of the injuries was serious, the official said.

After the accident, the airport was temporarily shut down, forcing about 40 flights to resort to other airports for landing.

The passengers, mostly Spaniards, just ended their visit to Algerian camps near Tindouf for Western Sahara refugees.

NTSB Reports Increase In Aviation Accidents In 2005

Sun, 19 Mar '06

The NTSB has released preliminary statistics for 2005 showing an overall increase in civil aviation accidents for both scheduled airline and general aviation operations.

U.S. civil aviation accidents increased from 1,717 in 2004 to 1,779 in 2005. However, total fatalities decreased from 636 to 600, and most of these occurred in general aviation and air taxi operations.

"The increase in accidents is disappointing," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker, "but the decrease in total fatalities is a hopeful sign. Overall, it is clear that we need to maintain a strong focus on safety in all segments of the aviation community," he said.

General aviation accidents increased from 1,617 in 2004 to 1,669 in 2005. Of these, 321 were fatal accidents, up from 314 in 2004. The general aviation accident rate increased from 6.49 per 100,000 flight hours in 2004 to 6.83 in 2005. The fatal accident rate increased from 1.26 to 1.31.

The number of fatalities rose slightly from 558 to 562.

In 2005, 32 accidents were recorded for Part 121 scheduled airline operations, including three that resulted in 22 fatalities. In June, the driver of a mobile belt baggage loader at Washington Reagan National Airport was fatally injured when the vehicle struck a US Airways Express EMB-170 being prepared for flight.

In December, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 slid off the runway at Chicago's Midway Airport, went through a barrier fence and onto a roadway, killing a passenger in a passing automobile. Also in December, a Chalk's Ocean Airways Grumman G73T experienced an in-flight breakup shortly after takeoff in Miami, resulting in 20 fatalities.

Air taxi operations reported 66 accidents in 2005, the same number as reported in 2004.

The accident rate for this category showed a slight decrease from 2.04 per 100,000 flight hours in 2004 to 2.02 in 2005, with fatalities dropping markedly from 64 in 2004 to 18 in 2005.

NASA to employees: Be more careful!

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- Kennedy Space Center employees returned to work Friday with orders to be more careful a day after a stand down was ordered following a spate of recent accidents.

James Kennedy, the space center's director, ordered work stopped for two hours Thursday while he addressed nearly 15,000 employees on safety issues over closed-circuit television.

He warned that a major accident could derail NASA's plans to complete the international space station and begin exploring the moon and then Mars.

"We must stop in their tracks the events that led me to call for this safety stand down," Kennedy said.

In January, workers did not lock down space shuttle Endeavour's nose wheel landing gear while transferring it between floor jacks, causing the orbiter to pitch forward. No serious damage was done. Later, workers put too much pressure in the water coolant loop of space shuttle Atlantis, requiring repairs.

This month, the arm of space shuttle Discovery was dented by a platform being used to clean up broken glass. A few days later, an X-ray film container was dropped on Endeavour, requiring tile repairs.

And last week, workers repairing the roof of the vehicle assembly building inadvertently started a small fire. The solid rocket boosters and the external tank, which are used to launch the shuttle, were in the building but not directly under the fire. They were unharmed, said Mike Rein, a NASA spokesman.

Until this week, workers had been under pressure to finish preparations for a May launch of Discovery. But NASA officials delayed the launch until at least July so workers can replace sensors on the fuel tank. (It appears they are human too) - GD)

Crash survivors reject first Air France redress offer

OTTAWA (AFP) - A handful of survivors in the fiery crash landing of Air France Flight 358 in Toronto have settled their claims with the airline, but most plan to sue, their lawyer said.

Air France made a first formal, written offer last month to each of the 297 passengers. All escaped serious injury after their Airbus 340 skidded off a runway at Toronto airport on August 2, 2005, lawyer Paul Miller told AFP.

Proposed reparations for burned luggage, injuries and suffering ranged from about 5,000 to 15,000 Canadian dollars, he said.

In a letter obtained by AFP sent to 120 passengers considering litigation, Miller strongly recommended they reject the airline's attempt to atone.

"The offers were pretty weak. Nobody was happy with them. None of our clients have accepted them and we're moving forward with the lawsuit," he said in an interview by telephone from Toronto.

"However, we've heard that 12 to 15 people without legal representation have accepted offers," he added.

A class-action lawsuit was filed last year accusing of negligence Air France, Toronto airport authorities, control tower staff, Airbus, the two pilots and Goodrich, which built the jet's escape chutes, two of which malfunctioned. (That sounds like maintenance? - GD)

A majority of the passengers suffer from psychological problems and a few dozen still feel pain from physical injuries, Miller said.

The suit seeks 150 million Canadian dollars (124 million US).

A judge will decide in the coming months whether to allow the class-action lawsuit to proceed, Miller said.

Transport Safety Board lead investigator Real Levasseur said the jet was too high on its approach and touched down too far along the rain-soaked runway before skidding off into a ravine and bursting into flames.

He found no mechanical malfunctions, leaving human error and severe weather conditions as the likely culprits.

The board's conclusions, however, cannot be used in court to find fault.

FAA Issues Emergency AD On GE CT7-8A Powerplants

AD #: 2006-06-51

The FAA is sending an emergency airworthiness directive (AD), 2006-06-51, to all owners and operators of certain General Electric Company Aircraft Engines (GEAE) CT7-8A turboshaft engines installed on Sikorsky S92 helicopters.


This emergency AD results from two failures of the No. 3 bearing in GEAE CT7-8A engines. Bearing contamination by Aluminum Oxide caused the first failure. The Aluminum Oxide contamination is a hard-particle contamination, left in the air cavity of the front frame core after cleaning, that entered the bearing and caused damage and metal loss at the roller ball and race interface. The loss of metal caused a warning light for an electrical chip detector to illuminate in the cockpit. The pilot reduced power to the engine. Inspection found the bearing unserviceable. The engine accumulated

458 flight hours-since-new before the failure. Improper use of a bearing support tool at production assembly caused the second failure. Damage from improper use of a bearing support tool caused bearing metal loss at the roller ball and race interface. The loss of metal caused a warning light for an electrical chip detector to illuminate in the cockpit and signaled an impending oil bypass. The pilot performed an in-flight shutdown of the engine. The engine accumulated 686 hours since-new. This condition, if not corrected, could result in failures of the No. 3 bearings and possible dual in-flight shutdowns of the engines. (Maintenance or more correctly manufacturing personnel again - GD)


You may remember the well publicized crash of a Japanese high speed train in 2003. The driver was later determined to have suffered from sleep apnea. As part of the aftermath of this crash, Yomiuri Shimbun asked 37 Japanese railroads about how they deal with sleep apnea. All 37 companies comply with the law and conduct regular health checks. But since there is no legal stipulation on how to check for sleep apnea, companies use very different methods. Only two companies test their drivers for sleep apnea using blood oxygen levels. Ten companies use doctorsí consultations and 23 firms use self-assessment questionnaires. (The Yomiuri Shimbun, "Train firms lack uniform breaks, health tests." The Daily Yomiuri, October 17, 2005.)

The issue of sleep apnea is certainly not a Japanese problem. Americans tend to be larger, which contributes to the risk of developing the disorder. And the problem is not limited to the transportation industry either. It is estimated that around 4% of adults suffer from sleep apnea in the U.S. This number is even higher in the shiftworking population (around 11%). Some leading companies already have programs that check their employees for sleep apnea and sponsor the treatment. With a host of costly disorders directly linked to sleep apnea, in addition to the greatly increased risk of serious accidents, these programs can be a worthy investment. (This is something we could be doing as well - GD)

END with thanks to jetBlue