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Aviation Human Factors Industry News

June 28, 2006

Vol. II, Issue 22.

Johannesburg airport worker’s legs severed by Boeing jumbo jet

JOHANNESBURG - A ground worker at Johannesburg International Airport had his legs severed by the landing gear of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet on Sunday, media reports said.

The ground engineer was helping a British Airways jumbo jet to its parking position and was believed to have been placing the wheel chocks on the aircraft’s wheels when the accident happened, according to the South African Press Agency Sapa, citing local reports.

The agency cited unconfirmed eyewitness accounts as saying the man had passed out and fell under the main landing gear.

Passengers were kept on board for an hour while the scene was cleared. The incident was being investigated, Sapa said. The British Airways plane had arrived on a flight from London.

Batteries get scrutiny in UPS plane fire
NTSB hearing scheduled for July


Shipments of potentially hazardous lithium batteries will be scrutinized at a hearing in Washington next month as part of the federal investigation into a fire aboard a UPS jet Feb. 8.

The DC-8 caught fire in flight; the three-member crew landed it at Philadelphia International Airport and escaped with minor injuries. The fire severely damaged the aircraft and destroyed much of its cargo.

The National Transportation Safety Board said its investigation has determined that lithium batteries and at least one flammable solvent were on the flight, but has not said publicly what role, if any, those materials played in the fire.

The board's July 12-13 hearing will consider the safety issues surrounding the transportation of hazardous materials aboard cargo aircraft.

"The public hearing will focus on an accident that occurred on a cargo plane that caught fire while carrying potentially dangerous goods," said Deborah Hersman, an NTSB member who will preside over the hearings. "We will … determine what needs to be done to protect the crew, the aircraft and the cargo on these types of flights."

Representatives from the NTSB, Federal Aviation Administration, UPS, Boeing and the Independent Pilots Association will gather information from industry and government representatives on topics including airport rescue and firefighting response to the UPS flight.

"We're working along with the NTSB and cooperating fully with the investigation … hopefully identifying the cause of the incident," UPS spokesman Mark Giuffre said.

The design, testing and recalls of lithium batteries; regulations concerning shipping lithium; and aircraft fire detection and suppression systems also will be discussed.

The NTSB will use information from the hearing to prepare a final report on the incident, including safety recommendations.

According to NTSB records, a company's improper packaging of lithium batteries was the "probable cause" of an Aug. 7, 2004, fire in a freight bin at FedEx's air hub in Memphis, Tenn. The bin had been raised on loading equipment and pushed halfway onto an airplane when loading personnel smelled smoke.

When Memphis firefighters opened the bin, a fire broke out. Only the battery package in the bin had fire damage.

The board cited "failure of unapproved packaging" that was inadequate to protect the batteries from short circuits during transport.

Lithium batteries are commonly used in electronics equipment.

Fires involving the combustible alkali metal are resistant to extinguishers using water, gas or certain dry chemicals.

Transporting lithium metal aboard passenger aircraft is prohibited, but it may be shipped on cargo aircraft if each package weighs less than 15 kilograms, the NTSB said.

Since January 1989, six other air-transportation incidents involving lithium batteries have been reported, the agency said.

In one case, the batteries were damaged, but there was no evidence of fire or charring.

In the other five incidents, there was some evidence that the batteries had caused fire or charring of the packaging.

NTSB to reopen 1967 Hendersonville collision crash probe
The NTSB has agreed to reopen an investigation into a 1967 mid-air collision involving a Piedmont Airlines 727 and a Cessna 310 over Hendersonville. Local amateur historian Paul Houle filed a petition for reconsideration in March 2005 after years of investigating the history of the collision. Houle's petition makes three main arguments: 1) The original NTSB report ignored the fact that the Cessna pilot reported his heading, which should have alerted the air traffic controller that there was a problem; 2) The NTSB report made no mention of a fire in a cockpit ashtray that preoccupied the Piedmont crew in the final 35 seconds before the collision; and 3) The lead NTSB investigator of the accident was the brother of a Piedmont vice president.

Maintenance issues found at tiny airline

The vintage Chalk's Ocean Airways seaplane that crashed last year off Miami Beach is shown with the red arrow indicating the spot where the right wing separated.

The wreckage of the vintage seaplane. NTSB documents released Thursday do not provide a conclusion about what caused the 58-year-old Grumman G-73T Turbo Mallard to crash.

WASHINGTON — Federal investigators examining a fiery seaplane crash that killed 20 people last December in Miami have discovered maintenance problems at the small but popular airline that operated the flight.

Several pilots quit their jobs at Chalk's Ocean Airways in the year before the crash out of concern over maintenance, according to documents released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB also said it found evidence of improper repairs and undocumented maintenance.

Chalk's Flight 101 lost its right wing shortly after takeoff on Dec. 19 and plunged into a shipping channel. The plane, which burst into flames, was captured on video during its final moments. Everyone on board was killed, including three infants.

The NTSB said the Grumman Mallard G73 took off with a nearly 16-inch-long crack in its right wing. A cause for the crash hasn't been determined, but the crack is a central focus of the investigation.

According to Chalk's pilots who were interviewed by investigators, a group of pilots discussed problems a year before the accident.

"There was a widespread perception that pilot complaints were not properly addressed by maintenance and that it was often necessary to write up the same problem repeatedly until it was fixed," according to an interview with Robert Lutz, a captain at Chalk's whose comments were included in the NTSB reports.

Lutz said three pilots left the airline as a result, but Lutz and others said the maintenance had recently improved, the NTSB said.

Investigators examining the wreckage found that metal near the crack had once been repaired, according to the NTSB documents. Investigators could not find any record at the airline documenting the repair work.

Other maintenance problems included substandard repairs on the wing that failed and an uninspected repair performed in 2000, according to the NTSB. Rivets were installed improperly on the wing, including one that apparently was attached in a way that prompted a crack, the NTSB said.

The airline, which stopped flying its fleet of seaplanes after the crash, operated between Florida and nearby islands. The saltwater that seaplanes come in contact with can quickly corrode aluminum and other metal parts. Records indicate that the plane that crashed and others in Chalk's fleet had numerous repairs of corroded areas. The plane in the accident was built in May 1947 and had made 39,743 flights.

Chalk's did not respond to a request for comments on the NTSB records.

The Federal Aviation Administration is developing an inspection program for the remaining Grumman Mallards in the USA, but until those inspections are performed, the planes cannot fly, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

Tawian: five meteorologists indicted over accident
Five Taiwanese Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) meteorologists were indicted over their alleged failure to issue a bad weather warning that led to a tragic plane crash in December 2002. The ATR-72 crashed off the Taiwanese coast, probably as a result of icing.

Pilots got varied runway reports

    Southwest Airlines pilots received differing reports on runway conditions as they approached Chicago's Midway Airport, where their jet skidded off the runway last winter and killed a 6-year-old boy, according to a cockpit transcript released yesterday.
    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking into procedures for landing at short or slippery runways as a result of the Dec. 8 accident. The jet, landing in snowy conditions, crashed through a fence into the street, killing Joshua Woods of Leroy, Ind., as he was riding in a car.
    During yesterday's NTSB hearing, safety officials were told there is no single, reliable way to measure a runway's slickness in bad weather, making it hard for pilots to figure out how much room they need to land.
    "It continues to be more of an art than a science," said Bill DeGroh, a safety representative for the Air Line Pilots Association, the world's largest pilots' union. The organization has urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop a standard method of describing and reporting runway surface conditions.
    Fifty-two minutes before the Boeing 737 touched down at Midway, the pilots were told that runway conditions were "fair," with snow-covered taxiways. Nine minutes before touchdown, they got a report that conditions were "fair," except at the end, where they were "poor." Five minutes later, they were told that conditions were "good" for the first half of the runway, "poor" for the second.
    And one minute before touchdown -- at 7:13 p.m. CST -- they were told that conditions were "fair to poor." The pilots knew they couldn't land safely in poor conditions because there was a 9 mph tail wind and tail winds of nearly 6 mph are Southwest's upper limit for a safe landing in poor conditions.
    Southwest Airlines Co. now requires pilots to use the more restrictive condition when calculating how much room they need to land. If conditions are reported as "fair to poor," they must use "poor." The FAA also set stricter standards for landings by passenger jets, starting Oct. 1.
    Pilots will have to add 15 percent to the length of runway they think they need to land safely. They will also have to take the more conservative value when they receive differing reports on conditions. The FAA has also given a $15 million grant to Midway to build soft concrete beds that can slow airplanes that overshoot runways.
    The Midway runway does not have a 1,000-foot buffer zone at the end for airplanes that overshoot their landings. During the flight, the pilots wrestled with the question of how they would land in bad weather at Midway, even considering other airports, according to the recording. They even talked about crashing through the fence at Midway if their automatic brakes failed.
    "No procedure if that sucker fails when you touch down?" said co-pilot Steven Oliver. "We just go through the fence? We never talk about any of that stuff, ya know?"
    The recording revealed the unfolding drama in the cockpit as the plane skidded toward a fence.
    "Son of a [expletive]," Capt. Bruce Sutherland said.
    "Jump on the brakes, are ya?" Mr. Oliver said.
    "Get that back there," Capt. Sutherland said moments later. "We ain't goin', man."
    The pilots then told each other to "hang on" just seconds before the airplane crashed through the fence.

The danger’s of eggs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

Consider the egg: Is it a dietary demon chock-full of artery-clogging cholesterol, or a perfect food, rich in healthful nutrients?

Put to a vote, American Idol style, "dietary demon" would probably come out on top, even though "perfect food" is closer to the truth. Let’s unscramble the egg facts and myths first.

Fact: An egg is a good source of nutrients. For about 15 cents, you get 6 grams of protein, some healthful unsaturated fats, and a smattering of vitamins and minerals. Eggs are also a good source of choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss.

Fact: Eggs have a lot of cholesterol. The average large egg contains 212 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol. As foods go, that’s quite a bit, rivaled only by single servings of liver, shrimp, and duck meat.

Myth: All of that cholesterol goes straight to your bloodstream and then into your arteries. Not so. In the average person (we’ll come back to this later), only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes directly into the blood. The liver makes most of the cholesterol that circulates in the bloodstream, largely in response to saturated and trans fats in the diet. Studies dating back to a classic 1950 experiment carried out by pioneering Harvard cardiologist Paul Dudley White and colleagues show that the amount of cholesterol in food generally has a small impact on cholesterol in the blood.

Myth: Eating eggs is bad for your heart. The only large study to look at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease — not on cholesterol levels or other intermediaries — found no connection between the two. In this study of nearly 120,000 initially healthy men and women, those who ate one or more eggs a day were no more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke or to have died of cardiovascular disease over a 14-year study period than those who ate fewer than one egg per week. In people with diabetes, though, egg-a-day eaters were a bit more likely to have developed heart disease than those who ate eggs rarely.

Reputation rehabilitation

Eggs’ reputation as good food took a tumble in the 1960s when researchers first made the connection between heart disease and high cholesterol levels in the blood. The American Heart Association (AHA) and other influential groups set an upper limit for daily cholesterol intake at 300 mg a day (200 mg if you have heart disease) and warned Americans to avoid eating egg yolks. The warning on egg consumption was based on the logical — but incorrect — assumption that cholesterol in food translated directly into cholesterol levels in the blood.

Eggs’ fall from grace may be ending. In 2000, the AHA eased up on eggs. Instead of specifically recommending that we avoid or limit eggs to a certain number per week, the association’s dietary guidelines focused on limiting foods high in saturated fat and keeping cholesterol intake under 300 mg a day. The AHA acknowledges that you can hit this target "even with periodic consumption of eggs and shellfish."

Eggs and you

Guidelines, unfortunately, aren’t aimed at the individual. That’s a problem when it comes to dietary cholesterol in general and eggs in particular. In many people, cholesterol in food barely affects the amount of cholesterol in the blood. In some, though, it has a substantial effect.

The trouble is there’s no easy way to tell if you are a "responder" or a "nonresponder" to dietary cholesterol. You could, of course, have your cholesterol checked after staying away from eggs for a month or so, then eat an egg a day for a few weeks and have your cholesterol checked again.

That’s overkill for most people with normal levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. If you enjoy eggs, eating one a day should be okay, especially if you compensate in other ways:

Weed out other bad actors. Cutting back even further on saturated and trans fats will have noticeable and positive effects on your cholesterol.

Skip around. If a single fried egg looks too lonely on your plate, or a one-egg vegetable omelet doesn’t fill you up, have two eggs one day and none the next.

Keep tabs. Have your cholesterol checked in two or three months to see if it has changed.

No yolking. All of an egg’s cholesterol is in the yolk. If you are making scrambled eggs, use one whole egg and just the white from another. When baking, you can sometimes substitute two egg whites for one egg. Most grocery stores carry pourable egg whites or yolk-free egg substitutes.

Do you need eggs in your diet? Not at all — you can get along just fine without them. But they are an excellent source of complete protein, have other healthful nutrients, are easy to fix and easy to chew, and don’t cost much.

END with thanks to jetBlue