Airline Accidents Update

By Michael FaginWeather for PilotsWith 0 comments

Airline Accidents Updates and injuries and the first thing you think about is fatalities. Late October (2016) there were two different aircraft accidents one in Chicago at O’Hare and the other in Fort Lauderdale Florida occurred. Thankfully no fatalities occurred.

Two different types of aircraft were in use, two carriers but some at least superficial similarities. In both cases the media reported that the, Landing gear collapsed”.

Aircraft landing gear is extremely durable and well designed and built. The first incident, an American Airlines Boeing 767 was later reported to have had one or more tires blowout, just like on your car, but the debris was ingested by one of the engines.

Jet engines are designed so that things like birds can be ingested with little harm, unless you’re the bird. They really do not like rubber and steel that make up aircraft tires. The pilots had not yet reached take off speed, called VR in the trade. That means velocity and rotation, or, the point at which the nose leaves horizontal and starts to climb.

Instead they were still accelerating and had sufficient time and runway space, to abort the takeoff. The crew did a magnificent job of keeping the aircraft on the runway and while the resulting fire would have totaled the aircraft no lives were lost and only a few injuries were reported. Had the aircraft run off the runway it is possible that it would have ground looped, or had that gear assembly caught in the grass pivoting the aircraft around and out of control.

In the Fed Ex incident in Florida a DC-10, an older McDonnel Douglas aircraft used as a cargo hauler appears to have had a similar incident which is still called a gear collapse but is equally likely to have been blown tires and debris ingestion. In this case the aircraft was reportedly landing and the two person flight crew escaped unharmed.

National Transportation Safety Board

Both incidents are under investigation by the NTSB, National Transportation Safety Board. These investigations typically take six months to a year to complete. A thorough study of the aircraft maintenance logs will be done with questioning of the ground crews as well. The flight crew and the aircraft black boxes will be analyzed and a report issued.

Since there was no loss of life detailed reconstruction of the aircraft will not be required. Engineers from the NTSB, the manufacturers and airlines will also be examining the wreckage to determine what could or should have been done to prevent the losses. It is highly unlikely to vanishingly small chances that either aircraft will ever be back in the air. Scrapping and recycling are the best that can be expected.

Also none of the initial reports indicated any weather issues were involved but again that’s in the initial reports.

On a personal note I have just spent too much time flying cross country and have paid far closer attention to the safety instructions given by the cabin crew. One factor in the Chicago incident was people retrieving their bags from the overhead compartments while evacuating the plane. Do not do that. It wastes time and endangers everyone behind you trying to get off.

Flying still remains the safest way to travel long distances. While not as much fun or as much of an adventure as it used to be it’s safe and convenient. Enjoy the free drinks and pretzels.

Here is an update issued 11-7-2016 regarding the American Airlines incident in Chicago on 10-28-2016. An update to the October 28th American Airlines incident in Chicago.

It was first reported as a landing gear collapse, speculated as a blown tire. Now, the NTSB has announced that a rear pressure plate in the engine, a GE turbine of great reliability, had fractured sending shrapnel through the engine and into the wing. This is not entirely unprecedented but is very rare.
Metallurgy analysis is ongoing but 95% of the plate has been recovered. These plates are designed to withstand extreme pressure and temperatures above 3,200 degrees F.
The are forged and cast several times to remove impurities which may cause fracturing. GE made modifications to all their CF series engines, several thousand around the world, when the front plate had shattered in at least three incidents over the last several years. At least two other rear plate fracturing incidents have been reported and this is also a possibility on the engines of other manufacturers.

It is expected that GE will review and modify manufacturing processes to eliminate such incidents

Written by Robert Morthorst

Airline crash

Airline crash and fire photo Kevan Shokat