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UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:03 am

This last Christmas, a UTA 727-200 that was bound operating a winter charter from Cotonou, Benin to Beirut, Lebanon crashed off the coast of Benin after take-off.

French and Lebanese authorities have concluded that the cause of the crash is because the aircraft was 10 tons overweight and the weight was poorly spread throughout the plane.

Union des Transports Africains (UTA) is partially Lebanese owned and wanted to register itself in Lebanon, but was denied registration by Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority's due to unacceptable safety procedures, as a result it registered itself in Guinea.

Originally the airline was denied authorization to begin flights to Beirut, but then somehow was able to represent acceptable safety procedures and was able to launch flights.

Lebanese officials stated that when the time comes, those responsible for the tragedy will be prosecuted in Lebanon.

More than 130 people died in the crash.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?categ_id=2&article_id=1316

Regards
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L-188
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:08 am

How in the hell to you get a 727 20,000 lbs overweight?

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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:13 am

I accept the fact that pilots are under quite a lot of pressure from the airlines to fly - but 10 tons overweight? I'm no expert, but isn't that a situation where a pilot should say "I want to fly, but I also want to be alive at the end of this day, so I won't fly the plane the way it is now"?

I mean - 10 tons... that's not just 2 or 3 extra mangos (or fish) on board... that is a huge amount!

Regards,
Frank
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planemaker
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:13 am

That's a lot of car transmissions that people were carrying in their luggage...
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:15 am

I guess this airline didn't bother with trivial little items such as weight and balance, let alone let the pilot have the figures to set trim, take-off speed, etc...
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Tom in NO
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:15 am

From Boeing's website, http://www.boeing.com/commercial/727family/index.html#

"The 727's highest gross weight was eventually raised to 210,000 pounds (95,300 kg)."

I agree with L-188, how do you overload a 722 by a good 10 percent?

Tom at MSY
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DC10GUY
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:17 am

It must have been fuel.... 130 people plus full tanks could have put it over its max t/o weight.....
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Horus
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:20 am

A tragedy that could have easily been avoided (and saved 130 lives), if it wasn't for putting profits ahead of safety.
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:20 am

It was reported there were more than 200 people on the plane. People were sitting in the aisles and people were sharing seats. That's right, 2 or 3 people in 1 seat and people sitting on the floor in the aisles.

Don't know exactly what they said, but it was reported the plane was also packed with cargo, too much of it and too heavy.

That's all I know unfortunately........

I'll try to find more articles.

Here's an article from the BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3351083.stm

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:26 am

According to http://aviation-safety.net/database/2003/031225-0.htm, there were 156 pax plus the crew on the plane.

"Union des Transports Africains de Guinée operates two flights a week from Conakry, Guinea to Beirut and Dubai with their newly acquired ex-American Airlines Boeing 727. On December 25, UTA Flight 141 departed Conakry, Guinea for a scheduled flight to Beirut, Lebanon with a planned intermediate stop at Cotonou. At Cotonou nine of the 92 passengers deplaned and 73 persons boarded the flight. It was a warm afternoon at a temperature of 32 deg. C with a light breeze as the 727 taxied to runway 24. Runway 06/24 is an asphalt runway, measuring 2400 (7874 feet) meters with a 61m (199 feet) overrun zone. According to FAA runway length requirement calculations, a fully laden Boeing 727-200 with JT8D-9 engines and a 25-degrees flap setting would, given the weather and airfield elevation, need a runway length of approx. 8000 feet.
Apparently the 727 barely climbed after takeoff, causing the main undercarriage to strike the roof of a 2-3 meters high small building housing radio equipment. The operator inside the building suffered injuries. The plane continued, smashed through the airport boundary fence, crashed and broke up on the shoreline."


Tom at MSY
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Horus
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:29 am

Jesus! 200 on a 727!

I thought most passengers were Lebanese? how did they let something like this happen? Personally I (and probably most people) wouldn't fly on a plane if passengers were sharing seats and being strapped to the foor
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:40 am

I thought all of AA's 727-200s were fitted with -15 instead of -9 engines....
Anyone knows?

RM  Smile
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:41 am

Horus,

Nevermind, Tom is right. There were 156 people on board, not 200.

Old reports stated that there were 200 people onboard, but later on it was concluded that there were 156. This mix-up was caused because UTA did not have a passenger list handy!

What a wonderful, organized airline..........

They were only able to get an accurate passenger load after counting all the bodies and the survivors......

There were people sitting in the aisles and sharing seats however....it was confirmed by a few survivors who had been interviewed.

And yes, most of the people were Lebanese....

As you know, there is a very large Lebanese diaspora in West Africa. They migrated to there in the late 1800's and early 1900's because of the many job opportunities rising in West Africa, mostly the mining business.

Regards

[Edited 2004-03-30 00:43:48]
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
Tom in NO
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:44 am

I just randomly checked 3 of their ex-722's, and they each had the -9 engines.

Tom at MSY
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Horus
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:44 am

BA

It was a horrible tragedy and hopefully the last

Where most of the passengers Lebanese or African?
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 9:02 am

Most of the passengers were Lebanese. As you know, there is a very large Lebanese diaspora in West Africa. They migrated to there in the late 1800's and early 1900's because of the many job opportunities rising in West Africa, mostly the mining business.

Union des Transports Africains (UTA) was started sometime in the 90's with a fleet of Antonov's. I believe AN-12s or AN-24s, not sure.

This year, 2 Lebanese-American business men bought this 727 from American Airlines for UTA for use on charter flights.

As I said, they wanted to register this plane in Lebanon and base it out of Beirut, but were denied by the Lebanese Civil Aviation Authority because it failed the safety inspection test and the safety procedures the airline does.

So as a result, they registered it in Guinea with their Antonovs.

That's all the history I know of this plane and airline.

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
JetPower580
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 11:30 am

Your average single axle dumptruck full of gravel weighs about 20,000 lbs to give you an idea of how much weight that is. The 727 is a magnificent powerful bird but that was just too much to ask. Not to mention that if tail heavy the bird would have been evil handling.
She never had a chance.
 
LVZXV
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 12:21 pm

156 pax
+ 5 crew
________
161

21 survived

XV

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hisham
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 12:25 pm

The owners/pilots should go to jail. This seems to be criminal negligence not just an accident...

Hisham.
 
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 12:38 pm

Hisham,

One of the owners was killed in the crash.

The pilot was killed also. The F/O survived though.......or maybe it was the other way around? Either way, you get the point.

But yes, those responsible for this tragedy should definately go to jail.

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
JBirdAV8r
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 12:54 pm

The owners/pilots should go to jail.

How in the world do you know it's the flight crew's fault? How do you know that the weight and balance data given to the crew before flight wasn't falsified/forged/just plain incorrect? How do you know the working conditions? How do you know the crew themselves? How do you know the OWNERS themselves? Tell us your source, PLEASE!! We are dying to know!!!
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L-188
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 12:56 pm

The owners/pilots should go to jail. This seems to be criminal negligence not just an accident

Nooo, nobody has ever givin false/incorrect weight and balance to a flight crew.....never

Unless you can prove that they knowingly used incorrect data or fudged the numbers you have no case.
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BA
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:01 pm

The flight crew were definately responsible in some way. Having people share seats and sit in the aisle is absurd. These are not qualified crew members if they allowed this.....

It was also reported that the crew accepted having passengers bring on MORE weight than they were allowed by paying around $15 per extra kilogram....
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
LVZXV
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:13 pm

Am I the only one to notice that 156 pax aboard a B722 is nothing unusual? The plane is certified to carry up to 189 pax, and since 3X-GDO belonged to an African charter airline, I don't understand why it would be carrying fewer than 156 seats? Why was the cabin overcrowded? I'm sure even if UTA was strapped for cash, the previous AA configuration must have had around 156 seats.
All indicators point to the excess 20,000lbs being either fuel or cargo or both. Nothing unusual about those pax numbers, unless they were all enormous.

XV

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L-188
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:16 pm

No you wheren't LVZXV.

That number didn't seem unusally large to me either.

By comparison the -100's that I used to work with where configured for a max of 110 seats and they where restricted because of some arangement sacrifices made for them to be combi aircraft!

156 for a -200 doesn't seem out of line to me.
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:20 pm

The 727 was equipped with around 130 seats.

Regards
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LVZXV
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:24 pm

BA:

Well excuse me but that is LUXURY!!! Did any other carrier ever fill a 722 with so few seats? There must have been huge gaps in the cabin. Did those two Lebanese-American businessmen run out of money or something when equipping the aircraft?

XV

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toBEYwithMEA
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:26 pm

They had stools in the back of the aircraft!
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:32 pm

LVZXV,

I don't have much details. Perhaps there were more seats, but they were really old and run down and were removed? Who knows.....

toBEYwithMEA says they had stools in the back......maybe they did...who knows.....
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
hisham
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:32 pm

I guess you're right, it may not be the airline's fault. But there are a few facts that raise some questions:
* There's no way the pilots didn't know people were sitting in the aisle.
* No passenger list. Why?
* The airline was denied registration in Lebanon....

Hisham.
 
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 1:45 pm

* The airline was denied registration in Lebanon....

Lebanon has always had tough safety requirements.

Since they never were able to get the plane registered in Lebanon, they registered it in Guinea and immediately applied to for authority to fly to Lebanon.

They tried 3 or 4 times in the beginning and flunked the safety inspection each time. On the 4th or 5th time, they *somehow* were able to present sufficient safety procedures. They also apparantly *fixed* up some of the problems the 727 had.

I guess they did it just for the safety inspection, then returned to being a poor, cheap airline with poor safety procedures.

As a result of this accident, Lebanon has made its safety requirements even stricter and does thorough inspections on "suspicious" airlines more often now.

4 charter airlines were banned from Lebanese airspace.

They pulled TMA's operating certificate simply because they flew 707s. Even though the two they operated were in good shape and were maintained well.

As a result, TMA is now grounded.

Here are two shots of the two 707s taken back in July before they were grounded:

In the old cucumber colors from Braniff:


The other 707 in the new colors.


I'm not an expert, but I've been told the new safety regulations are a bit excessive because there was nothing wrong with TMA's 707s. I heard they were in very good condition and were taken well care of. They were simply grounded because they were 707s....

Regards

[Edited 2004-03-30 05:54:22]
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 2:03 pm

So TMA is not chartering aircraft anymore? There are photos in the database of TMA flights operated by other airlines.


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Hisham.
 
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Tue Mar 30, 2004 2:13 pm

Hisham,

They are still chartering, but not as much because of financial problems. The chartered flights are used to Europe only.

The 707s were flown to the Middle East because noise regulations there haven't banned the 707 like they did in Europe.

Regards
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toBEYwithMEA
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 1:20 am

Why didn't they just huskit the 707's to fly into europe?
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Horus
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 3:26 am

ToBEYwithMEA

I think its due to the high cost of refitting the engines with the hushkits. It might not be a good financial decision in the long term, to spend large sums of money upgrading an old inefficient jet that may not have many flying hours left in it.
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SegmentKing
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 3:53 am

A buddy of mine used to fly 727s for TWA.

He told me on takeoff roll you can FEEL your plane and know it was overweight, especially on rotation, as the plane took a couple of seconds to get airborne once you pulled back...

So don't tell me this crew didn't know they were overweight on the takeoff roll. Just like a car, you know how it accelerates if you drive it enough..

-n
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JBirdAV8r
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:08 am

@SegmentKing:

So don't tell me this crew didn't know they were overweight on the takeoff roll. Just like a car, you know how it accelerates if you drive it enough..

Who is to say that these guys had a lot of 727 time? Who said they were seasoned 727 veterans? And how would HE know what an overweight aircraft rotates like? Has he been illegally taking a known overweight aircraft flying? Gee, if that's true, I'm sure Mrs. Blakey would love to talk to him.

Anyway, most likely, even if they felt something was wrong by V1 (I mean, most likely to make a valid assumption on aircraft performance based on acceleration they'd have to let the aircraft accelerate significantly), they likely wouldn't have been able to reject takeoff successfully with the small amount of remaining runway. And besides, if he could tell on rotation (like YOU pointed out), it'd REALLY be too late then, wouldn't it?

Come on, Nate. You are a smart guy and contribute lots of good stuff to the forum, but you are not a pilot...stick to the facts you know and leave the broad blaming to the...less intelligent members of the board.

@BA:

The flight crew were definately responsible in some way. Having people share seats and sit in the aisle is absurd. These are not qualified crew members if they allowed this.....

Once again, how can you prove they knew? How can you PROVE to me that they weren't sitting in the cockpit the entire time, getting the load sheet (if they even had one) from an outsider, not watching the boarding process, and not watching the plane fill with passengers? How can you prove this? I'd be interested to know. I don't know of many airline pilots that watch pax board the aircraft.
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OD720
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:29 am

According to reports from survivors, the plane failed to take off once and the pilots pushed for a second one which ended in disaster.

Also, the surviving co-pilot tried to escape from the Benin authorities. I guess he knew that he was guilty.

The plane was overloaded with passengers and cargo and some people close to the airline were saying that it wasn't the first time they were doing it. SO the pilots knew about it and it was a tragedy waiting to happen.
 
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:33 am

According to reports from survivors, the plane failed to take off once and the pilots pushed for a second one which ended in disaster.

Doesn't mean the reasons were related. I've seen RTO's for unbelievably small things.

Also, the surviving co-pilot tried to escape from the Benin authorities. I guess he knew that he was guilty.

Source, please. Again, if this is even true, how does this prove anything?

The plane was overloaded with passengers and cargo and some people close to the airline were saying that it wasn't the first time they were doing it. SO the pilots knew about it and it was a tragedy waiting to happen.

Once again, how does that show the FLIGHT CREW was responsible? It takes more than the pilots to make a flight happen, you know.


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OD720
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:40 am

JBird,

I've been following the news closely about the crash. About the co-pilot, it was in the papers but I don't have a URL now. He was hospitalized in Benin, tried to escape and later he was moved to Libya (he was Libyan) under the protection of the Libyan authorities.

The plane had a prior attempt for a take off before the crash. The pilots eventually asked to unload some of the weight so they knew about it.
 
ebos
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:43 am

@Hisham: Air Memphis B707 SU-AVZ is now operating for TMA

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Sven
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SegmentKing
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 5:12 am

JV8,

Thanks for the comment, but I work with pilots daily (at our own airline). I've also spent some time in flight training, so I understand the fundamentals of the planning of your take off roll. I do not know everything about flying, but enough to get by.

V1 is your decision speed. This speed must be met at a point in which you can properly do an accelerate-stop (rejected takeoff). A plane and a car accelerate in the same way. If it's a lightly loaded car, you can feel it accelerate faster, and when its weighted down, it takes much longer to get to the speed you want.

A properly trained pilot knows his airplane and how it feels.

So I still stand by my comments, that if the pilots had ANY knowledge of how overweight they were, they'd know the moment they spooled up those engines. As a pilot, you are 100% responsible for your aircraft, and in this case, 100% of the lives on board. I really haven't followed this crash like others, but I've seen what overweight issues do to planes, and it unfortunately kills.

I didn't mean to start an argument, but I do know that V1 must fall within safety guidelines and it must be met with enough distance to safely stop an aircraft.

-n
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hisham
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 5:21 am

Thanks Sven! Is it a scheduled flight to OST? If so, do you know the schedule?

Hisham.
 
ebos
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 6:13 am

@ Hisham: MHS is operating at least once a week for TMA. Scheduled service is OST-BEY on saterday, dep. 19.00 local time.

Sven
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prebennorholm
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 6:20 am

They say that this particular plane with -9 engines at MTOW would need an 8000 feet RWY. It was less than 7900 feet. 20,000 lbs overload.

There cannot have been any V1 taken into account. The VR would have been very close to the RWY end.

32 deg. C (90 deg. F). That's pretty hot. And did AA overhaul those engines before they handed over the plane? Probably not. How many percent degrade?

Conclusion: The crew knew very well that they were taking a high risk and very flying very illegally. They had ignored any V1 and calculated VR at the RWY end. Their calculation was probably just 1% wrong.

There is no way there can have been anything like a normal V1 call.

20,000 lbs overweight! A full truckload of gravel too much! That is not a question about a few dozen extra pax or what 160 pax can carry of overweight. It is much more than that.

I read in the press shortly after the disaster that UTA was known for carrying high loads of cargo on that particular sector, vegetables, fruit and such. That must have been the reason.

It is the latest (or dare we say the last) example of extreme greed killing innocent people (plus a few guilty people).

Preben Norholm
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 6:28 am

ASN.net lists the pax number at 161. Nothing unusual as to me as well.
But given the stories and rumors so far stated about UTA, it wouldn't surprise me, if they 'converted' their 727 from all-pax into a combi version and ripped a few seats out of the back. That way they would have been able to load even more personal effects of the passengers at the outrageous rate of $15/kgs.
With the limited lower deck capacity of 727, I think that's also the only way to produce such a massive 10t overweight and maybe that's why the ground crew didn't calculate that cargo into their weight & balance sheet.
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BA
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RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 6:50 am

JBirdAV8r,

You do realize the pilots are not the only flight crew onboard aircraft, right? There are flight attendants, to say that the flight attendants did not know people were sitting in the aisle and sharing seats is absolutely absurd.
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
JBirdAV8r
Posts: 3454
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2001 4:44 am

RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 7:16 am

@SegmentKing:

I do see your point. V1 is the maximum speed by which an abort must be initiated (which of course, backs up your accelerate/stop distance comment), totally dependent on runway length/condition/temperature/weight/power/etc. It does seem that you would be right in your assumptions, if all the facts we have available are correct. So for that, I apologize. I was just put off by some of the "man those pilots were stupid" style comments above. So I apologize.

@BA:

That's fair enough. I separate them into "flight crew" and "cabin crew" usually, so that was just a lack of understanding what you were saying on my part. It does make you wonder, though, what kind of pressure they were under to fly the aircraft in such a condition. I mean, threat of pay cut? dismissal? something worse?
I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
 
BA
Topic Author
Posts: 10166
Joined: Fri May 19, 2000 11:06 am

RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 9:12 am

JBirdAV8r,

They wanted to make as much money as they could. Even if it meant going over the number of seats the aircraft had.

Like I said also, cabin crew accepted an excess amount of luggage from the passengers by charging them I think $15 for every additional kilogram they brought on board. This shows you how careless and uneducated this airline is.

It was a terrible tragedy and I hope one like it never happens again.....

The airline has been permanently banned from Lebanese airspace. They will never be able to fly there again in the future........even if they fix themselves up.....

Ebos,

Good to see TMA is still operating flights. They are on the verge of shutting down because of very very serious financial trouble. They asked the government for help. We'll see what happens.... The problem is TMA is a private airline, so if it recieves government aid, it will probably be negligible.

Regards
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
 
hisham
Posts: 682
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 1999 11:32 pm

RE: UTA Plane Crash - 727 Was 10 Tons Overweight

Wed Mar 31, 2004 10:26 am

BA,
Charging for extra weight is a common practice. Most aircraft can handle much more than 20 kgs/pax or whatever the limit is. As long as the extra weight is added to the gross weight of the aircraft, it's not a problem. They can always reject additional luggage when it surpasses MTOW.

Hisham.

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