Our Mission: "To assist our clients in developing the best possible Safety System to meet their needs".

Aviation Human Factors Industry News

February 20, 2006

Vol. II, Issue 8.

Copter accident kills C. Fla. worker

Accident in Orlando. Witnesses said a worker was performing a test on the helicopter when the chopper began to shudder.

A 34-year-old maintenance worker at Orlando Executive Airport was killed Friday after he was thrown through the windshield of a helicopter and into its blades, according to FLORIDA TODAY news partner WKMG Local 6.

Witnesses said worker Kevin Connolly was performing a test on the helicopter at the airport at 3:30 p.m. when the chopper began to shudder.

Connolly was then thrown from the pilot's seat through the front windshield and struck by the rotating blades, according to the report.

"That worker did die as a result, we believe, of some maintenance that may have been being done on a particular piece of aviation equipment," Orlando police Sgt. Barbara Jones said.

The helicopter was not in the air at the time of the accident, Jones said.

Airliner May Have Stalled At 33,000 Feet

An MD-82 that crashed in Venezuela last August, killing 160, may have been behaving just the way Boeing had warned it might in a 2002 service bulletin. The bulletin warned that the autopilot might reduce engine power too much after a rapid climb, allowing airspeed to bleed off to the point of a stall. Pilots of the West Caribbean Airways flight, out of Panama for Martinique, may have been unaware, unnamed French investigators (Martinique is a French island) told the International Herald-Tribune. An interim report on the crash released by the Venezuelan government last November said the plane climbed from 31,000 feet to 33,000 feet and held the altitude for eight minutes before the autopilot turned itself off. The plane then descended for a minute before the stall horn sounded. It then fell to the ground at about 10,000 feet per minute, with the pilots pulling full back on the control yoke. The unnamed sources said the process would have happened gradually, with the autopilot trying to maintain altitude using pitch adjustments until shutting itself off just before the stall horn sounded.

The pilots reported that both engines had flamed out but flight data recorder information indicated the engines were running normally when the descent began, although the right engine was cut back to idle shortly after. Data wasn't available for the left engine. Evidence from the wreckage shows both engines were turning at high speed at the point of impact. The recorder also shows that rather than push the nose over to recover from the stall, the pilots held the yoke to their chests all the way to the ground.

Jet engine involved in fatality taken to GE

A Continental Airlines jet engine — involved in a fatal accident in El Paso, Texas, — has been shipped to Cowley County, a spokesperson for General Electric Engine Services said this morning.

"That is true," Deb Case said when asked if the engine was at a plant in this area. "It is there for repair."

Case, who spoke by phone from GE offices in Ohio, said the company could not release details about when the engine arrived here. GE operates two plants in the county, one at Strother Field and one in Winfield.

Case did not say which of the two plants would work on the engine, but a bulk of the company’s work occurs at the Strother Field plant. Case said the engine is the commercially popular CFM-56 engine which is produced under a join partnership between GE and Snecma Moteurs of France.

Veteran mechanic Donald Gene Buchanan, 64, died earlier this month after he was sucked into the engine of a Boeing 737 preparing for a flight to Houston, according to news reports. Buchanan was the first to die that way in the United States while an aircraft was being prepared for flight, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

"It has not happened a lot, but it has happened before. Just not while boarding," NTSB spokeswoman Lauren Peduzzi told the Houston Chronicle.

She said previous U.S. civilian instances of "engine ingestion" have occurred during maintenance or other operations in which a plane was not involved in a flight operation.

A total of 114 passengers and five crew members were boarding at the time, according to reports.

The NTSB has obtained the cockpit recording devices and will pore over the maintenance manual, checking it against engine level data to see if the jet was operating at a proper level with workers nearby.

The incident occurred at El Paso International Airport.

Case said the plants here do a considerable amount of work on military aircraft engines but also do some commercial work. An NTSB spokesperson told the Courier that the board had no role in repair of the engine and could not comment.

NTSB blames mechanic for plane crash on I-680 Associated Press

PLEASANT HILL, Calif. - A mechanic rushed a repair job on a single-engine plane causing it to crash on a busy freeway, federal transportation safety officials said.

The National Transportation Safety board ruled Wednesday that mechanic Robert Lee Barber used improper parts to repair a broken exhaust valve on the Piper Turbo Arrow plane, failed to check whether pieces of the damaged valve had fallen into the engine, and spent just three hours to complete a job that he was told would take about 20 hours.

The board concluded that the plane, which crashed on Interstate 680 in Pleasant Hill shortly after takeoff on April 13, 2004, crashed because of "a loss of engine power due to improper maintenance repair procedures and use of improper parts."

The plane landed on a minivan carrying Arianna Jimenez, who's now 13, and its propeller nearly sliced off the girl's entire left leg, leaving it attached to her body by just millimeters of muscle, a nerve and the femoral artery.

The former standout athlete had her fifth surgery last fall and said she wants to play soccer or join the swim and cheerleading teams when she starts high school next year.

The pilot, Robert Curt Hatch, and his son were unhurt in the crash.

The safety board's finding is likely to play prominently in a lawsuit filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court by the girl's family against the pilot, the plane's owner, the valve manufacturer and the engine maker. The mechanic is not a defendant in the suit, which is scheduled to go to trial in May.

Plane in South Carolina crash wrong fuel tank

ROCK HILL, S.C. - The fuel selector switch of a plane that crashed last summer - killing two Ohio men and injuring a third - was switched to an empty tank, authorities said.

The three men were flying a single-propeller Beech V35 Bonanza from Columbus, Ohio, to Rock Hill on July 24 when it crashed in a subdivision about a mile from the Rock Hill-York County Airport.

Passengers Eric "Ted" Johnson, 43, of Columbus, and Dr. Bill Coulman, 49, of Worthington, Ohio, died. The pilot and flight instructor, commercial pilot Matt Sullivan, also of Columbus, was seriously injured. No one on the ground was hurt.

The National Transportation Safety Board report found fuel in the plane's two main tanks. But the fuel selector switch was turned to an empty wing tip tank, investigators found.

Johnson was going to Rock Hill to visit family. A review of radar records showed the plane went 10 miles southwest of the airport, turned around, and flew back toward the airport, according to the report.

Witnesses saw the plane's engine quit and said the pilot steered the plane clear of homes in the subdivision before the crash.

AeroVeritas Responds to Demand for FAA Repair Station Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to upcoming FAA regulatory changes effective April 6, 2006, AeroVeritas Aviation Safety Consulting Limited has launched a series of online FAA repair station training courses designed to provide an effective solution to a long standing industry problem, and improve aviation safety.

Faced with the requirement to develop new FAA approved training programs for maintenance employees, thousands of aviation repair companies worldwide are feeling the pressure. Related industry partners are also feeling the strain. According to the DOT Inspector General's office, most of the US airlines named in a recent report were not providing an adequate level of training for their employees.

Questions raised over aviation maintenance personnel competency levels, combined with the critical trend toward outsourcing major aircraft maintenance and inspection tasks, have exposed potential risks for the flying public. In addition, diminished FAA inspector staffing still presents concerns regarding the ability to provide effective oversight. However, recent responses from the industry and regulatory officials indicate a general acceptance of the need for improved training.

"The adequacy of repair station training has been in question by regulators for many years," said Mark Mohelnitzky, President of AeroVeritas.

"Most people would agree that the upcoming change to the Federal Aviation Regulations will help support higher standards of aviation safety," added Mohelnitzky. "Companies recognize the need to train their employees, but they currently face challenges with availability, affordability, and convenience of regulatory type training by qualified instructors."

As a former FAA Principal Airworthiness Inspector, and former airline maintenance training instructor, Mohelnitzky has expert knowledge of the regulatory and training requirements for repairs stations of all sizes.

Prior to the new FAA regulation, there were no requirements for repair stations to have an approved training program with specific courses. Consequently, repair stations focused primarily on technical training rather than company inspection procedures and FAA rules governing maintenance.

Mr. Mohelnitzky explained that in addition to technical training for aircraft and component maintenance, all repair stations must now provide their employees basic knowledge of applicable FAA regulations, maintenance human factors concepts, hazardous materials requirements and other non technical subjects.

"Technical training is not a significant problem for repair stations," Mohelnitzky said. "Our goal is to help companies develop customized training programs, and provide them with high quality regulatory training within their budget limits."

China Has Better than World Average Civil Aviation Safety

A top Chinese aviation official says that China has a better than world average level of air safety in term of major accidents per million flight hours.

Deputy director of the General Administration of Civil Aviation Gao Hongfeng made these comments Tuesday in Beijing.

The CAAC deputy director said that in the past five years, China recorded 0.29 major accidents for every one million flight hours, lower than the world average. He also noted that during the same period China had signed bilateral agreements on air transportation or aviation rights with 42 countries.

Meanwhile, the country has also implemented a new policy regarding foreign investment in China’s civil aviation industry, with easier provisions regarding investment ratios and other matters.

A Soft Chair is Hard to Find

According to a recent study performed by WorkRite Ergonomics, sixty percent of workers report being planted in their chairs for more than six hours a day. The study also stated that nine out of ten workers report end-of-workday aches, pains and fatigue. Sitting for long periods of time puts pressure on the disks in your lower back and can disrupt circulation in your muscles. Also, holding the same position for long periods of time can cause repetitive strain injury. It is a good idea to stand up and stretch every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds. Using an ergonomically sound chair can also help. (Dana Knight & Jo Dee Black "Remain seated or take a stand against wicked office chairs" Great Falls Tribune, October 10, 2005.)

While shiftworkers on average may not sit as much as this study suggests, there is an increased incidence of musculoskeletal disorders among shiftworkers. One study found that a higher proportion of shiftworkers have back problems (16%) compared to day workers (14%). Ironically, the study suggests that this increased prevalence of back problems could be related to work that is more strenuous than day work (on average). Musculoskeletal problems are one of the leading causes of lost productivity.

END with thanks to jetBlue