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Aviation Human Factors Industry News

May 11, 2006

Vol. II, Issue 18.


By Catherine Jones

Search Team at Crash Site of ValuJet Flight 592

Ten years ago today, just 10 minutes after takeoff from Miami International Airport, ValuJet Flight 592 crashed into the Florida everglades, killing all 105 passengers and 5 crew members on board.

Adding to the tragedy was the difficult and dangerous nature of the recovery process. The crash site, a deep-water swampy area, was more than a quarter of a mile from the nearest road and contained the usual hazards of aircraft fluids and fuels, as well as contaminated water, heat, stormy weather and dangerous reptiles.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation determined that the accident was caused by an in-flight fire in the forward cargo compartment. In the compartment were more than 100 expired chemical oxygen generators and three aircraft tires. The generators, improperly labeled, were not protected by the installation of safety caps. One or more of the oxygen generators activated and initiated a fire.

Other factors cited by the NTSB:

1. The fact that the airline was not authorized to transport hazardous materials and did not monitor its maintenance program to ensure compliance;

2. The failure of the airline’s contract maintenance company to properly prepare, package and identify the materials; and

3. The federal regulatory agency’s failure to require smoke detection and fire suppression systems in the cargo compartment.

A Decade After ValuJet Crash in Everglades, Hearts Are Still Aching

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - There is no closure for David and Lorna Lane. A decade after ValuJet Flight 592 crashed in the Everglades, killing all 110 on board, including their son and daughter-in-law, their hearts still ache.

But they hope to find solace in gathering with 40 to 50 other family members of crash victims in Miami on Thursday, the 10-year anniversary of what is still Florida's most deadly air disaster.

"It helps to be with other families and share thoughts," said David Lane, of Alpharetta, Ga. "It's meaningful."

Arriving from Texas, Georgia, Louisiana and other states, family members first will hold an informal ceremony at 10 a.m. at Woodlawn Park Cemetery in south Miami-Dade County, where many of the victims' remains were laid to rest.

"It will be kind of a participatory memorial, where people can talk about their loved ones," said Gail Dunham, president of the National Air Disaster Alliance Foundation and the coordinator of the anniversary events.

At 3 p.m., families will visit the ValuJet Memorial in far west Miami-Dade County, off State Road 41, about eight miles from the crash site. There, 110 cinderblock columns have been erected, honoring each person killed on the plane.

While the public is not invited, anyone who shows up will not be turned away, Dunham said.

Among those expected to attend the remembrances: Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, who blasted the Federal Aviation Administration for a lack of aviation oversight. Also John Goglia, who chaired the National Transportation Safety Board hearings into the accident.

The ValuJet DC-9 took off from Miami International Airport on May 11, 1996, bound for Atlanta. It crashed 11 minutes later, about 17 miles northwest of the airport, a raging inferno in its forward cargo hold. It would later be determined more than 140 volatile oxygen-generating canisters had been improperly packaged for shipment and then placed on board.

Since the crash, families have visited the ValuJet Memorial several times. They became their own extended family in the process.

David Lane said being with others who have gone through the ordeal is important, whether it's a major anniversary year or not.

His son, Roger, 36, and daughter-in-law, Dana Nelson Lane, 26, had been returning from Venezuela, where they were planning to open a school to teach English.

"They had been married only six months," he said.

Some relatives plan to bypass this week's ceremonies, including Atlanta attorney Richard Kessler, who lost his wife, Kathleen, on the plane and has since remarried. He said he wants to move on.

"I loved my wife, but I love my new wife, too," he said.

Air Force B-1B Damaged In Gear-Up Accident

What IS The Deductible On A B-1B?

An Air Force B-1B Lancer was heavily damaged during a landing at a forward operating location, in SW Asia, May 8. The aircraft, with its crew of four, slid 7,500 feet before coming to rest on the runway with its landing gear in the retracted position.

All four crewmembers exited the aircraft safely.

The B-1B was deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

Indonesia Bans Imports of Boeing 737-200

Indonesian airlines are not allowed to import Boeing 737-200 aircraft for safety reasons following a number of accidents involving such planes. (Maintained right, they are as safe as any aircraft)

Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa was quoted saying: 'Any requests to import Boeing 737-200s will be definitely rejected'. While restricting new purchases, The government would not ban the use of existing aircraft but will conduct a comprehensive audit to ensure that they are airworthy.

Significant Fire at Sabena Technics Hangar

Sabena Technics hangar at Brussels Airport was destroyed Friday by a heavy fire that damaged three A320s plus a C-130 belonging to the Belgian Air Force that were in the shop for heavy maintenance.

One A320 belonged to Armenian airline Armavia, which lost another A320 two days earlier when it crashed into the Black Sea. Additional A320s reportedly were owned by an Armenian entrepreneur and Hellas Jet, which was operating them with Volare titles.

"All four aircraft that were in hangar 40, which is used only for heavy maintenance, are very badly damaged," Sabena Technics spokesperson Carla Daniels confirmed to ATWOnline. The MRO provider's offices also were located in the hangar. Authorities launched an investigation into the cause. "We don't exclude anything, but we do not suspect at this moment any malicious intent," Daniels said. Sabena Technics employs some 1,200 people at BRU and had revenue of €120 million ($151.6 million) last year.

US NTSB Plans Hearings on Southwest 737, UPS DC-8 Incidents

US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) acting chairman Mark Rosenker says he is planning public hearings this summer on two high-profile airline accidents that occurred in December and February.

Rosenker, who has been nominated by US president George Bush to be NTSB chairman, says the 8 December runway overrun at Chicago Midway airport by a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 will be the subject of a June hearing. Rosenker also plans for a NTSB hearing "sometime in July" on the 8 February  fire aboard a UPS McDonnell Douglas DC-8 freighter during approach to Philadelphia from Atlanta.

Safety issues to be addressed by the board during the Southwest 737 inquiry will include the calculation of runway stopping distances and the lack of adequate runway safety zones at Midway and other US airports, says Rosenker.

In January, the NTSB issued its first recommendation on the Southwest overrun to the US Federal Aviation Administration, which requested the agency prohibit carriers from using thrust reversers when calculating runway stopping distances.

Almost three months after the incident, the NTSB is still trying to determine the cause of the fire. "We’re still scratching our heads as to where this began," he says.

Rosenker did not discuss any particular recommendations regarding the UPS fire

Plane Bumped by Fuel Truck, No Injuries

NEW YORK (AP) _ A fuel truck bumped a plane at LaGuardia Airport on Monday in a low-speed incident that resulted in no injuries, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said.

American Airlines flight 4724 was carrying 36 passengers and three crew members when it was hit at around 6:40 a.m., spokeswoman Holly Baker said.

The plane, which was on its way to Raleigh, N.C., was just starting to back out from an airport ramp, Baker said.

The flight was cancelled and authorities were examining the plane, Baker said. Minor damages to the aircraft would likely be found, she said.

10 Research-proven Tips For a Better Memory

Normal age-related changes in the brain can slow some cognitive processes, making it a bit harder to learn new things quickly or to ward off distractions. The good news is that, thanks to decades of research, most of us can sharpen our minds with proven, do-it-yourself strategies. Here are some ways to boost your ability to remember as you age.

1. Believe in yourself.

Myths about aging can contribute to a failing memory. Middle-aged and older learners do worse on memory tasks when exposed to negative stereotypes about aging and memory, and better if exposed to messages about memory preservation into old age.

2. Economize your brain use.

Take advantage of calendars and planners, maps, shopping lists, file folders, and address books to keep routine information accessible. Designate a place at home for your glasses, keys, and other items you use frequently.

3. Organize your thoughts.

New information that’s broken into smaller chunks, such as the hyphenated sections of a phone or social security number, is easier to remember than a single long list, such as financial account numbers or the name of everyone in a classroom.

4. Use all your senses.

The more senses you use when you learn something, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining the memory. For example, odors are famous for conjuring memories from the distant past, especially those with strong emotional content, such as visits to a cookie-baking grandparent.

5. Expand your brain.

Widen the brain regions involved in learning by reading aloud, drawing a picture, or writing down the information you want to learn (even if you never look back at your notes). Just forming a visual image of something makes it easier to remember and understand; it forces you to make the information more precise.

6. Repeat after me.

When you want to remember something you have just heard or thought about, repeat it out loud. For example, if you’ve just been told someone’s name, use it when you speak with him or her: "So John, where did you meet Camille?"

7. Space it out.

Instead of repeating something many times in a short period, as if you were cramming for an exam, re-study the essentials after increasingly longer periods of time — once an hour, then every few hours, then every day. Spacing out periods of study is particularly valuable when you are trying to master complicated information.

8. Make a mnemonic.

Mnemonic devices are creative ways to remember lists. They can take the form of acronyms — such as the classic "Every good boy does fine," to remember the musical notes E, G, B, D, and F on the lines of the treble clef. For older learners, a particularly helpful system is a story mnemonic — that is, a brief narrative in which each item cues you to remember the next one.

9. Challenge yourself.

Engaging in activities that require you to concentrate and tax your memory will help you maintain skills as you age. Discuss books, do crossword puzzles, try new recipes, travel, and undertake projects or hobbies that require skills you aren’t familiar or comfortable with.

10. Take a course.

Memory-improvement courses are becoming more common. Choose one run by health professionals or experts in psychology or cognitive rehabilitation. Stay away from courses that center on computer or concentration games, which generally won’t help you with real-life memory problems. Select a course that focuses on practical ways to manage everyday challenges.

END thanks again to jetBlue