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Near-crash Uncovers Crack In Air Safety System  
User currently offlineLGB Photos From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 4107 times:

For almost five years, one of the world's largest jetmakers knew that the 27-foot-tall tail fin on one of its jets had almost snapped off in flight.

Officials with manufacturer Airbus understood that losing a tail fin would prove catastrophic. Even so, they kept their concerns to themselves until after a tail fin did break off one of its jets, causing the second-worst aviation disaster in U.S. history.

Not until after American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in 2001 -- a catastrophe investigators say was caused when the tail fin broke off the A300 jet -- did Airbus disclose its findings from an incident in 1997 to government safety officials, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

Had federal regulators known earlier how easily tail fins could break in flight, the crash of Flight 587 -- and the deaths of 265 people -- might have been prevented, according to some accident investigators and aviation safety experts. The jet crashed Nov. 12, 2001, just after takeoff from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The nation's aviation safety system is designed to prevent crashes by learning lessons from close calls. In this case, the system broke down.

''When I heard (about what Airbus knew), it made me sick,'' says Bernard Loeb, who headed the National Transportation Safety Board (news - web sites)'s (NTSB (news - web sites)) aviation division until January 2001. ''People are kicking themselves.''

The system is dependent on airlines and jetmakers sharing their knowledge and experience with federal regulators. The NTSB, an agency with limited resources, cannot function without this help, current and former investigators agree. But those are the very entities the NTSB investigates.

Airbus officials say they did nothing wrong. They say that the crash of Flight 587 was due to mistakes by the pilots and that there is nothing they could have done to prevent it. Attempts to find fault with the company are ''projected wisdom in hindsight,'' spokesman Clay McConnell says.

USA TODAY reviewed hundreds of pages of NTSB documents and interviewed more than a dozen government officials and knowledgeable sources. The review found that on May 12, 1997, American Airlines pilots on Flight 903 from Boston to Miami lost control of the jet. In response, they made a series of radical maneuvers that placed extreme stress on the tail fin, nearly snapping it off. Eventually, they landed safely.

Within days, federal investigators knew that the jet had nearly crashed, but they did not realize how close it came to breaking apart in midair. Then last year, a closer examination of the tail revealed that it had cracked during the incident. If federal regulators had known this information, they say, they could have warned pilots to avoid the nearly identical maneuvers that caused the crash two years ago.

It's impossible to know for certain whether a more thorough investigation in 1997 could have prevented the 2001 crash, several senior investigators say. Those officials still do not know why the co-pilot aboard Flight 587, leaving New York for the Dominican Republic, suddenly began his maneuvers. A final report on the accident is expected early next year.

Even so, said NTSB board member Carol Carmody, ''It's enormously frustrating that we didn't have this information.''

Carmody was acting chairwoman of the agency when Airbus revealed its findings last fall. ''I feel that we missed an opportunity,'' she said in an interview.

The stakes are also enormous in lawsuits stemming from the 2001 crash. Airbus and American Airlines are battling over who should pay damages for the crash.

The close call

Flight 903 from Boston had been routine, if a little bumpy. The pilots, waiting for storms over Miami to clear, reminded passengers to buckle their seatbelts. Controllers ordered them to hold at 16,000 feet near West Palm Beach.

At 3:29:14 p.m. May 12, 1997, as the jet began a turn, it suddenly banked hard to the right, back to the left, then to the right again.

''It was horrifying,'' Michelle Singh, 36, who was seated in row 16, recalled in an interview. ''There were no words to explain. People crying. People hurt. People scared. I was ready to die.''

Passengers clung to each other as the gyrations tossed them from side to side. Anything not strapped down -- shoes, briefcases and passengers themselves -- flew about the cabin, according to NTSB records. After 12 seconds, the jet began to plunge. It fell 3,000 feet in 18 seconds. Melanie Joison's baby flew out of her arms. Joison unbuckled her belt to grab her baby and crashed face-first into the ceiling. The blow knocked her unconscious and broke four of her ribs. Other passengers safely caught the baby.

''The terror and the screams were more than I have ever experienced,'' Scott Stow, an American pilot sitting in the passenger section, told investigators then.

Capt. Mark Eberle and co-pilot Donald Rescigno told investigators it seemed that a mysterious force -- perhaps a powerful downdraft -- had blown the jet out of control.

Initially, the jet banked 56 degrees to the right -- twice as steep as a passenger jet ever gets in a normal flight. The co-pilot tried to level the jet with the control wheel, which activates panels on the wings. It had no effect.

Rescigno tried the rudder, a large vertical panel at the rear of the tail fin. His left foot stomped on one of two pedals that move the panel. The rudder swung left.

A jet's rudder has tremendous power. It keeps the jet flying straight if one of the two engines fails. The control wheel, which looks similar to a car's steering wheel, is the preferred way to level a jet's wings, but the rudder accomplishes the same thing in a clumsy, overpowering way.

Rescigno held the rudder pedal down for four seconds. By then, the jet was rolling back to the left so quickly he could not control it. The left wing dropped sharply. Rescigno responded by slamming on the right rudder pedal, which began the cycle again. The jet banked back to the right even more steeply, to 65 degrees.

Overall, the jet banked left or right nine times within 40 seconds. In the most severe bank, the jet tilted at 83 degrees -- its right wing pointed nearly at the ground.

Eventually, the pilots increased the speed of the jet enough to regain control. Thirty minutes later, the jet landed in Miami, the cabin a mess of upended food carts, luggage and trembling passengers.

The pilots' rudder movements were nearly identical to those on Flight 587. The co-pilot on the later flight whipped the jet's rudder left or right five times.

On its last swing, the tail fin snapped off the fuselage.

Pilots caused 'stall'

Soon after Flight 903, NTSB investigators discovered that the incident had little to do with a gust of wind. The pilots had made a series of errors that caused the wild ride.

The pilots allowed the jet to slow too much as it entered the holding pattern, the jet's data recorder showed. The pilots apparently put the engines in idle as they descended and neglected to add power after leveling off at 16,000 feet. As a result, the jet essentially stopped flying, a condition known as a ''stall.'' When the pilots began the initial bank to the right, the stall caused the right wing to drop more than the pilots intended.

The discovery that pilots could forget to maintain enough speed disturbed the NTSB. The agency focused on that failing as the central problem.

A yearlong probe began.

Federal investigators had no idea that within a month of the incident, Airbus engineers in Europe found an additional problem: The jet's gyrations had put massive strain on the tail fin.

In an internal memo on June 12, 1997, an unidentified Airbus official wrote that his department ''urgently'' recommended additional inspections of the jet because the forces on it had apparently exceeded the ''design limit.'' That meant that the wind and jostling on the tail fin had exceeded the greatest forces it had been expected to experience in its lifetime.

Then, on June 19, a more complete analysis showed that the forces not only had gone above the design limit, they also apparently had reached the ''ultimate limit.''

When engineers build a jet, they compute the greatest forces likely to hit surfaces, such as wings and the tail. These are known as design limits. For a safety margin, international aviation regulations mandate that they make those surfaces 50% stronger. These are the ultimate limits, above which a tail fin or other surface is expected to fail.

It's extremely rare for commercial aircraft to reach a design limit in flight. It's almost unheard of for one to reach an ultimate limit. That would mean it had come dangerously close to breaking apart. Such a finding would get immediate attention from federal investigators -- if they learn about it.

Had Airbus pressed the matter in 1997, its findings would have been worse. Flight 903's tail fin reached or exceeded its ultimate limit three times during the incident, Airbus itself calculated last year. A Federal Aviation Administration (news - web sites) official testified at an NTSB hearing in October that a conservative estimate found the stress on the tail fin went well above the ultimate limit -- to within 1% of the force required to break it off.

In June 1997, Airbus requested that American Airlines perform another inspection of the jet to ensure it was not damaged. American inspectors, following Airbus' instructions, examined the tail fin. But they did not use methods that would have allowed them to see inside the tail fin. They saw no damage from their visual inspection, and the jet continued to fly for nearly five years.

Only last March, as part of the Flight 587 investigation, did Airbus conduct an ultrasound inspection of the tail fin on the jet involved in the 1997 incident. The inspection found two crescent-shaped cracks at one of the points where the tail fin attaches to the fuselage. The fin was replaced. Airbus says the tail fin was still strong enough to meet regulatory requirements.

Airbus engineers weren't the only ones who expressed worries about the incident. A high-ranking American Airlines pilot wrote a memo to a senior official in May 1997 warning that the pilots' use of rudder had nearly caused major structural damage to the jet. Paul Railsback, flight operations managing director, urged immediate changes in American's pilot training, says the memo obtained by USA TODAY.

Again, the NTSB has no record that Railsback's concerns were brought to its attention. American says it altered its training to reflect his comments.

Airbus' response

Airbus officials deny withholding data or hindering the probe of Flight 903. ''I am convinced that my company made a good faith effort to raise these concerns,'' says McConnell, Airbus' spokesman.

Officials also say they did not realize that the tail fin on the jet had nearly broken loose. In part, that's because Airbus built the tail fin 25% stronger than regulations required. By insisting on an additional inspection of the tail, Airbus felt confident that it had not been damaged, McConnell says.

Furthermore, he says, the 1997 assessments were imprecise and Airbus did not calculate the actual stress on the tail until last year. The NTSB and American had access to the same data and failed to raise concerns, he says.

At the NTSB hearing in October on Flight 587, an American Airlines official was permitted to put questions to Airbus officials. With the two firms feuding over who is at fault in the 2001 crash, the questioning quickly grew tense. Airbus' Michel Curbillon said the company had shared its concerns about Flight 903 with federal investigators and others. ''This has been known within the company and was also informed to everybody,'' Curbillon said.

His questioner, American's Tim Ahern, who had worked on the Flight 903 investigation, disputed him. ''Frankly, as a party to that event, sir, this information was just (released) this year,'' Ahern said.

Curbillon pointed to a report submitted to the NTSB in August 1998, on the Flight 903 investigation. Airbus' flight safety director, Yves Benoist, wrote that pilots needed to be trained better on how to use the rudder. ''Using too much rudder in a recovery attempt can lead to structural loads that exceed the design strength of the fin,'' the report said.

Airbus officials say they underscored their concerns in 1997 by raising repeatedly the broader issue of pilot training on rudder use. For example, an August 1997 letter sent to American and written by Airbus, Boeing and the FAA warned that pilots could damage a jet with too much rudder.

But the NTSB has no record that Airbus disclosed what it had learned about the stress put on Flight 903's tail fin. The submission to the NTSB contained only a general warning about rudder use. The letter to American did not mention Flight 903 and was not sent to the NTSB until last year.

NTSB and American officials say the Airbus warnings were so vague that they did not attract attention in the Flight 903 probe.

When Loeb, who has retired from the NTSB, learned in October that Airbus knew in 1997 about the high stress on Flight 903, he was dumbstruck.

He had overseen the earlier investigation and never heard a word about the high stress on the tail fin, he says. Even if the calculations were preliminary, Airbus had a duty to share them, he says.

''That's a significant, significant issue,'' Loeb says. The jet involved in the incident should have been grounded until regulators were certain it was not damaged by the extreme forces, he says.

Officials who were part of the probe in 1997 say if they had known of Airbus' findings and the damage to the fin, it would have changed the focus of the investigation. Rather than focusing on the pilots' actions, the NTSB would have looked more closely at the rudder itself, they say. ''I think the answer is most assuredly we would have done something more on 903 if we had known this, if we had heard this from Airbus,'' the NTSB's Carmody says.

What about safety board?

Among the small circle of senior accident investigators, there is also debate about whether the NTSB itself should have seen the clues back in 1997 that rudder use could damage a tail fin.

According to former NTSB chairman James Burnett, the answer is yes. The agency's job is to turn the jumble of aviation incidents into nuggets of common sense that prevent accidents. By definition, it should have unraveled the puzzle and acted, Burnett says.

But, with only 60 aviation accident investigators and engineers to work cases involving airlines, it does not surprise him that the NTSB occasionally misses things. This is especially true during busy periods such as 1997, when the board was occupied with two crashes that had occurred the prior year: TWA Flight 800 and the ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades. ''But it should be an occasion for taking stock,'' Burnett says.

Such concerns are not new. A Rand Corp. report in 1999 warned that the agency was too dependent on the airlines and aircraft manufacturers it investigates. The report urged greater use of independent experts to supplement NTSB investigations.

Loeb says he wishes now that, in the midst of perhaps the busiest period in the agency's history, he had spent more time on Flight 903.

''People are saying, 'We should have done more.' But the fact is, these are people who are working 60 hours, 70 hours a week and getting paid for 45 or 50. Yeah, they are going to miss things and feel bad about it,'' he says.

''On the other hand,'' Loeb adds, ''if Airbus did the calculations and didn't bother to tell us, shame on them.''

41 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBackfire From Germany, joined Oct 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 4060 times:

Yeah, yeah...a "USA Today investigation"...how melodramatic...too bad a British TV documentary dredged all this up weeks ago.

User currently offlineIkarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 4018 times:

OK, that report is rather sensationalist.... especially the headlines make it sound much worse than the actual omissions & errors seem to have been.

But the report is rather interesting: It highlights the dangers of human reaction time. The stall and pilot induced bank oscillations of Flight 903 were at a frequency similar to that of human reaction time, if I read it correctly, leading to the positive feedback and escalating oscillations.

The second factor - a really really interesting and worrying one, is the "visual inspections" bit. Every aeronautical engineering student is taught in their materials lectures that any composites components mustn't be inspected just visually, because damages are often (in fact, generally) not visible from the outside. When Airbus suggested some inspections, and they only performed visual ones, that suggests a really serious safety issue: Either the inspection guidelines by Airbus (or the FAA or whoever prepares them) were flawed by not specifying that composite components MUST be inspected with UV or x-ray methods, or the inspections carried out were shoddy. Either way, the issue of inspection of composite components stands out more in my mind than speculative back-of-the-envelope-calculations by Airbus engineers that weren't immediately shared with the NTSB. If Airbus engineers did a full analysis, they should have shared their suspicions. If they just did some preliminary educated guesses, then they perhaps should have pursued the avenue of investigation further. They even did that by asking AA to inspect the tailfin. I suppose it boils down to a genuine error, and not a hush-up: After they inspection they must have felt calmed that nothing was wrong (even though it was wrong and they just did not know about it). If the NTSB and Airbus had the same data, then they are both equally to blame for not recognizing the threat, but in all honesty, with hindsight everything is so much easier to say, so I don't think either of them deserves any blame for not predicting that AA587 could happen.

But who is to blame for the purely visual inspection of components that usually suffer damages internally, without visual clues? That would interest me much more! And, even more importantly, what are the guidelines today - for the A300 as well as more modern airliners?

Regards

Ikarus


User currently offlineTeva From France, joined Jan 2001, 1875 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 3978 times:

Ikarus, thanks for your info regarding how to conduct an inspection on composite.
Another reason that has made airbus overconfident is their recommandation on AA pilots training on the use of the rudder.
If pilots are trained on the limits of the use of the rudder on a plane, the plane has been certified for those limits, and nothing should happen.
If you don't respect the limits, mthen, you will have consequences.
But it is true for other aspect of our industry.
you load too much weight on your plane, or you don't respesct the loading instruction, and you will end with an incident (such as autorotation) or an accident (the fine air crash)
In this case, and from what I understand, Airbus did basic calculations, (not detailed and precise ones), asked AA to inspect to make sure it was OK, and then concluded there was no nee to go deeper in the calculation, because AA would modify their trainig, and pilots would not overcome the limits.
And as Ikarus sai, everyone had the same info, (NTSB, AA, ...) and had the same overconfidence on this, considering it was a non issue.
Teva



Ecoute les orgues, Elles jouent pour toi...C'est le requiem pour un con
User currently offlineN79969 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 3970 times:

Although overcontrolling an airplane is generally not a good thing, I think it is peculiar that pilots can actually snap off the tail through rudder use in an otherwise normal flight profile. That has always been a curious aspect for me. If the airplane were anywhere near max speed or in an unusual flight attitude, then it would make more sense. I don't think the pilots of AA 587 should be blamed.

User currently offlineB757300 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 4114 posts, RR: 22
Reply 5, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 3867 times:

I don't think Airbus has ever admitted fault in an accident so why should they start now? Almost every crash of an Airbus has been due to "pilot error". Remind me never to fly any aircraft when the pilot is a current or former 'Bus driver.


"There is no victory at bargain basement prices."
User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 3861 times:

I don't think Airbus has ever admitted fault in an accident so why should they start now? Almost every crash of an Airbus has been due to "pilot error". Remind me never to fly any aircraft when the pilot is a current or former 'Bus driver.

Oh please, Airbus isn't some evil company that denies when it makes mistakes. Remember the botched job Boeing did on the JAL 747SR? How many people died? The Amsterdam El-Al crash? The Alaska MD-80?

Not to mention the 737 rudder hardovers! How did long Boeing say it was nothing more than termals flipping over the 737s?

Boeing isn't a saint.


User currently offlineFlying-Tiger From Germany, joined Aug 1999, 4166 posts, RR: 36
Reply 7, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 3818 times:

Ehmmm... if I readthis paragraph correctly it says something completely different:

"Within days, federal investigators knew that the jet had nearly crashed, but they did not realize how close it came to breaking apart in midair. Then last year, a closer examination of the tail revealed that it had cracked during the incident. If federal regulators had known this information, they say, they could have warned pilots to avoid the nearly identical maneuvers that caused the crash two years ago."

I read "federal investigators" and "federal regulators" here, "federal investigators" who knew about this problem within days and who didn´t bother to do some deeper research into this problem - and who apparently didn´t inform the regulators about this either. I don´t see where Airbus is supposed to be at fault, it is a mere fault of the Federal Authorities in this case IMO.

Regards
Flying-Tiger
http://fly.to/rorders



Flown: A319/320/321,A332/3,A380,AT4,AT7,B732/3/4/5/7/8,B742/4,B762/763,B772,CR2,CR7,ER4,E70,E75,F50/70,M11,L15,S20
User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16908 posts, RR: 51
Reply 8, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 3786 times:

What's worse, the Feds not finding the problem or Airbus knowing about it and not saying anything.

"Airbus officials deny withholding data or hindering the probe of Flight 903. ''I am convinced that my company made a good faith effort to raise these concerns,'' says McConnell, Airbus' spokesman.

Officials also say they did not realize that the tail fin on the jet had nearly broken loose. In part, that's because Airbus built the tail fin 25% stronger than regulations required. By insisting on an additional inspection of the tail, Airbus felt confident that it had not been damaged, McConnell says.

Furthermore, he says, the 1997 assessments were imprecise and Airbus did not calculate the actual stress on the tail until last year. The NTSB and American had access to the same data and failed to raise concerns, he says.

At the NTSB hearing in October on Flight 587, an American Airlines official was permitted to put questions to Airbus officials With the two firms feuding over who is at fault in the 2001 crash, the questioning quickly grew tense. Airbus' Michel Curbillon said the company had shared its concerns about Flight 903 with federal investigators and others. ''This has been known within the company and was also informed to everybody,'' Curbillon said.

His questioner, American's Tim Ahern, who had worked on the Flight 903 investigation, disputed him. ''Frankly, as a party to that event, sir, this information was just (released) this year,'' Ahern said.

Curbillon pointed to a report submitted to the NTSB in August 1998, on the Flight 903 investigation. Airbus' flight safety director, Yves Benoist, wrote that pilots needed to be trained better on how to use the rudder. ''Using too much rudder in a recovery attempt can lead to structural loads that exceed the design strength of the fin,'' the report said.

Airbus officials say they underscored their concerns in 1997 by raising repeatedly the broader issue of pilot training on rudder use. For example, an August 1997 letter sent to American and written by Airbus, Boeing and the FAA warned that pilots could damage a jet with too much rudder.

But the NTSB has no record that Airbus disclosed what it had learned about the stress put on Flight 903's tail fin. The submission to the NTSB contained only a general warning about rudder use. The letter to American did not mention Flight 903 and was not sent to the NTSB until last year.

NTSB and American officials say the Airbus warnings were so vague that they did not attract attention in the Flight 903 probe.

When Loeb, who has retired from the NTSB, learned in October that Airbus knew in 1997 about the high stress on Flight 903, he was dumbstruck.

He had overseen the earlier investigation and never heard a word about the high stress on the tail fin, he says. Even if the calculations were preliminary, Airbus had a duty to share them, he says.

''That's a significant, significant issue,'' Loeb says. The jet involved in the incident should have been grounded until regulators were certain it was not damaged by the extreme forces, he says.

Officials who were part of the probe in 1997 say if they had known of Airbus' findings and the damage to the fin, it would have changed the focus of the investigation. Rather than focusing on the pilots' actions, the NTSB would have looked more closely at the rudder itself, they say. ''I think the answer is most assuredly we would have done something more on 903 if we had known this, if we had heard this from Airbus,'' the NTSB's Carmody says."







Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently offlineEGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 34
Reply 9, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 3731 times:

why is it Airbus at fault here? Shouldn't American be at fault as surely they carry out their own maintenence and noticed a crack in the tailfin of one of their aircraft that their pilots had caused?

User currently offlineGoing64 From Netherlands, joined Oct 2002, 329 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 3713 times:

and here we go again B757300; always and always the anti Airbus blablabla without any facts but 'personal 'I hate Airbus so let's spit it out whenever possible'; is it so difficult to provide facts on this forum based on publications etc.? Look at the others in this topic, they come up with proper information!

This topic took quite some time to read and I wanna say I'm very pleased with the level of detail provided. Very interesting and I guess to be continued .....

Peter


User currently offlineTekelberry From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1459 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 3608 times:

Another reason to never fly Airbus jets unless necessary. They just aren't built the way Boeing jets are.

I am disappointed that AA hasn't planned the A300's retirement yet.

"why is it Airbus at fault here? Shouldn't American be at fault as surely they carry out their own maintenence and noticed a crack in the tailfin of one of their aircraft that their pilots had caused?"

They followed the procedures Airbus had provided them.


User currently offlineStaffan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 3596 times:

"Another reason to never fly Airbus jets unless necessary. They just aren't built the way Boeing jets are."

What major differences are there in the way the two are constructed?

Staffan


User currently offlineTekelberry From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1459 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 3592 times:

"What major differences are there in the way the two are constructed?"

Obviously they are doing something wrong, at least with the A300 since the A300's tail has a hard time staying attached to the airplane.

[Edited 2003-05-28 00:04:29]

User currently offlineStaffan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 3579 times:

How many times has it happened? Was it due to construction or because inspections weren't what they should have been after the first incident?

Staffan


User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16908 posts, RR: 51
Reply 15, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 3568 times:

"What major differences are there in the way the two are constructed?"

The use of carbon fibers in place of good ole' aluminum, it's much much tougher to detect cracks in the carbon fibers than aluminum.

You have to X-ray (for lack of a better term) the heck out of the carbon fibers to find the cracks.

Eastern had similar problems with the A-300s, finding cracks.



Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently offlineStaffan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 3554 times:

Different materials is going to need to have inspections carried out in different ways, it scares me if people think they are all done the same.

In many cases even aluminium can't be inspected visually, so what's the deal here?

If it's done properly, there should be no problem!

Staffan


[Edited 2003-05-28 00:23:06]

User currently offlineIkarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 3551 times:

Carbon fibres are the way of the future. They're used in ever-increasing amounts in more and more important structural parts, by all manufacturers. Indeed, the 7E7 will, if it is built, probably be more plastic than aluminium. There's nothing wrong with using composites instead of aluminium. What's wrong is if inspection guidelines are insufficient. Or, if in the spirit of pioneering materials, certain things get used before all qualities and all pitfalls are known (eg if they used the carbon fibres and wrote inspection guidelines without being aware of the potential for visually invisible internal damages - note I said IF because I am not aware of enough details to form an opinion)

Regards

Ikarus


User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16908 posts, RR: 51
Reply 18, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 3545 times:

The manufacturers are the ones who set the inspection guidelines, lack of communication from a manufacturer is the basis of the discussion/ argument with regards to AA flight 587 (and 903).


Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently offlineStaffan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 3538 times:

Yeah, I was just answering the crackdown on airbus.
I think the article is good food for thought, but none of us here is in much of a position to comment on who is right or who is wrong, based on an article. At least that's what I think.

Staffan


User currently offlineM717 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 608 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 3518 times:

"I read "federal investigators" and "federal regulators" here, "federal investigators" who knew about this problem within days and who didn't bother to do some deeper research into this problem - and who apparently didn't inform the regulators about this either. I don't see where Airbus is supposed to be at fault, it is a mere fault of the Federal Authorities in this case IMO."

While at first glance, it appears simple to fault the "federal investigators" for not "digging deeper", and assign them the fault here, the facts are that the NTSB is chronically and severely under funded and under staffed. One of the most telling bits of information in that article I'm sure goes virtually unnoticed by anyone (including the readers on this forum) reading that article.

There are only 60 investigators and engineers to work these cases, and these investigators typically work 60-70 hour weeks while getting paid for 45-50. During this time period of this incident, the Safety Board investigators were also busy with TWA 800 and the ValuJet crash. I wouldn't exactly categorize the investigators as "not bothering to dig deeper".

It's all too easy to sit here and criticize and assign fault in hindsight. Try handling 50 cases at one time, attempting to prioritize, getting called out in the middle of the night to who knows where for who knows how long, and still doing a remarkable job of accident investigation and fostering aviation safety with no regulatory powers to mandate changes, only the duty to recommend them. These handful of investigators work endlessly, handicapped by too few trying to do too much with a woefully inadequate budget. The work they do is nothing short of remarkable. As an aviation professional, I am deeply indebted to them for their continuing and tireless dedication to aviation safety.


User currently offlineMagyar From Hungary, joined Feb 2000, 599 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 3492 times:


IMHO, there are two important questions to answer:

1. How come that AA had two nearly identical incidents, one near miss
and one fatal, but we do not know (not yet at least) any other airlines
experiencing similar problems? If the AA pilots following standard
procedures then why no similar incident has been yet documented
since many other airlines fly A300 around the world?

2. If the AA pilots fly an abusive way why no other airliners were
the subject of similar incident. What would have happend if Flight
903 was not an A300 but let's say a B757. How that plane would have
behaved under similar circumstances? Is the A300 particularly vulnarable
for an abusive piloting?


User currently offlineAussiePete From Australia, joined May 2003, 72 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 3425 times:

Any accident or incident is like looking at Swiss cheese. You can have any number of holes but the incident only happens when the holes line up in all parts of the cheese.

So, you have to consider the situation that AAL were in, how they operated the airplanes, how the airplane is constructed and the way things work etc. I find that airlines like AAL are amazing for their ability to fly over 5000 flights per day (including Eagle) yet have such a good safety record. This is despite flying in some of the trickiest weather areas in the world (from hot stormy windy to cold frozen).

As for why Airbus is different from Boeing it is generally accepted that Boeing airplanes are designed with a higher factor of safety in its structures than Airbus. This becomes evident when you put the two airplanes into heavy checks - the Airbus parts can't always be repaired.....


User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 85
Reply 23, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 3362 times:

They followed the procedures Airbus had provided them.

No, they didn't, and that's the point. Flight 903 didn't crash, and there was no problem, despite reaching the ultimate limits of the fin 3 times. That sounds like an amazingly well built airplane, one that flew many years after. Focusing on the rudder, which stayed attached, and not the pilots, which clearly were in error according to the investigation, would have been possibly even further detrimental, as I analyze below.

Obviously they are doing something wrong, at least with the A300 since the A300's tail has a hard time staying attached to the airplane.

That's a stupid statement. Only one fin has ever detached from one... and it wasn't the fin itself that failed, it was the connection point - the weakest part of any structure.

Further, its like saying "Obviously, Douglas is doing something wrong, since the DC-10's engine nacelles have a hard time staying attached to the airplane." You want to make the same statement? Probably not.

That was a case where the manufacturer recommended a specific maintenance program, and American disregarded it, and many people died.

The use of carbon fibers in place of good ole' aluminum, it's much much tougher to detect cracks in the carbon fibers than aluminum.

Boeing uses composite fins too... Even the 757 and 767 have mostly composite fins, and the 777 has an entirely composite one, as well as lots of other composite components. Many composites exibit strength MANY TIMES that of regular alloys...

other inane rambling

Its clear that there was nothing Airbus could have done to prevent 587 based on the first incident. They assumed that the fin stayed on during a little heavy action... what they didn't know was that it really stayed on during FAR MORE HEAVY action. If they had learned that, they might have been even more lax with their recommendations.

I don't know how you can equate parts survivability to safety. It can't be done. If the part needs to be replaced or repaired, they do it. Its a cost issue not a safety one... and saying that means Airbus is unsafe is retarded.


There are some members here with rampant anti-Airbus rhetoric that also make valid assessments most times. They're well respected by me and others. There are others with analysis like "obviously they're doing something wrong", and I certainly hope they are incapable of reproduction.

N


User currently offlineTekelberry From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1459 posts, RR: 4
Reply 24, posted (11 years 7 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 3279 times:

No, they didn't, and that's the point. Flight 903 didn't crash, and there was no problem, despite reaching the ultimate limits of the fin 3 times. That sounds like an amazingly well built airplane, one that flew many years after. Focusing on the rudder, which stayed attached, and not the pilots, which clearly were in error according to the investigation, would have been possibly even further detrimental, as I analyze below.

The article made it clear that an airplane like that shouldn't have had a problem with the fin.

That's a stupid statement. Only one fin has ever detached from one... and it wasn't the fin itself that failed, it was the connection point - the weakest part of any structure.

But that doesn't count, of course? :rolleyes:


25 Gigneil : The article made it clear that an airplane like that shouldn't have had a problem with the fin. It didn't. The article made that clear as well. That f
26 AussiePete : I fail to identify with statements such as "only one has ever fallen off". Using statistics to justify such events is not what the aviation industry i
27 Gigneil : I'm not at all trying to justify the event with statistics. From a moral/ethical perspective, no event that causes the loss of life can be justified.
28 T prop : They followed the procedures Airbus had provided them. No, they didn't, and that's the point. In June 1997, Airbus requested that American Airlines pe
29 Staffan : "Why would anyone not follow exactly what the manufacturer instructs? By not following thier instructions exactly you release them from liability. Ame
30 PW100 : People fail to understand that the problem here is not the structure of the airplane. The JFK A300 crashed because the vertical tail sustained forces
31 Gigneil : T Prop- We're talking about different instructions. The original poster was talking about pilot training. N
32 Post contains links Redngold : Link to story (USA Today, 27 May 2003): http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-05-26-a-cover_x.htm I hope that before you post that this is a "sensa
33 Bruce : Quote, "Only last March, as part of the Flight 587 investigation, did Airbus conduct an ultrasound inspection of the tail fin on the jet involved in t
34 Redngold : The 1997 incident involved a different A300. The cracks were found in the tail of that plane, not in the Flt. 587 aircraft (at least not prior to the
35 Ikarus : I watched the animation. Sickeningly sensationalized. Regards Ikarus
36 Magyar : Nicely said, these were my thoughts exactly. One thing you should know though! This is not a responsible forum, so you should not expect any objectivi
37 Scorpio : STT757, I've noticed on various occasions that you say things which are blatantly false, and which you fail to back up in any way. When corrected, you
38 LGB Photos : That animation was incredible! Stephen
39 747-451 : "Although overcontrolling an airplane is generally not a good thing, I think it is peculiar that pilots can actually snap off the tail through rudder
40 AussiePete : QUOTE from SCORPIO: Aussiepete, As for why Airbus is different from Boeing it is generally accepted that Boeing airplanes are designed with a higher f
41 AJ : The aviation industry continues to run on a 'tombstone imperative', or to expand nothing changes until someone dies. Generally after an accident the m
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