Recently I watched a show on the tv about the crash of Air Ontario flt 1363 (operated by Fokker F-28-1000; C-FONF, cn 11060) at Dryden, Ontario in 1989.
Basically what happened was they were running late and had a inoperative APU. When they made a scheduled stop at Dryden, Ontario, the facilities needed to start the engines without the use of the APU were not availible, so they opted to keep one engine running during the turn around. This worked just fine and is done by many airlines with no problems. But when it came time to take off, there was a good layer of snow on the wings. Normally, the procedure would be go to the deicing area, shut down, get deiced, fire up the engines again and you're set. Both Fokker and Air Ontario required both engines be shut off during de-icing. However, with an inoperative APU and no other options on the ground if they chose to deice then they would not have been able to start the engines, causing major delays to an already delayed flight.
So the pilots opted instead to take off the way it was, and assumed that the speed of the takeoff run would blow the snow off the wings. This almost worked, but there was also ice under the snow which prevented the wings from providing the ammount of lift that they should. They took off, but used nearly the whole runway and struggled to gain altitude. Shortly after they hit the trees and went down, destroying the aircraft and killing 24 of the 69 people on board.
Anyways, on to my question. Near the start of the show they talked about how Air Ontario was "anxious to keep the aircrafts flying for revenue purposes", and "they were in a hurry to introduce the F-28s into commercial air service and they let alot of the things that should have been attended to go by the way side." Also, they mentioned the scary fact that maintenance had logged more than 170 defects on this F-28 in the months leading up to the crash. The part that makes it scary was "Air Ontario instructed its pilots to note snags on the aircraft on scraps of paper, and these scraps were passed from air crew to air crew; and they were not to enter these snags in the log book because if they did then the aircraft, by law, would have to be grounded..."
My question is, was this what I would think is dangerous and unnacceptable way of doing things a one time thing, or is this more common than most people would think? As a pilot or maintenance person, would you ever do things this way? We do it where I work, but casually mentioning minor problems to our mechanic regarding lawn mowers and golf carts isn't the same thing as doing it with commercial airliners.
Photo © Trevor Ogle
Photo © Den Pascoe
Thanks for your time and sorry for the length