IN FOCUS: Accident reports published in first six months of 2012

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  • A Boeing MD-90 of Indonesian carrier Lion Air skidded sideways off runway 25L at Jakarta on 9 March 2009 just after touchdown. It was badly damaged, but none of the 166 passengers and six crew were hurt. The inquiry said this followed an unstable approach flown by the co-pilot, in which the captain took control at 100ft (30m) on short final intent on landing. The weather was rainy with a moderate crosswind, and touchdown was to the left of the centreline, but the aircraft was crabbing strongly to the right. The captain tried to contain the drift by deploying asymmetric reverse thrust but the crabbing continued, with the aircraft almost ground-looping as it slewed off the runway's right-hand side. The gear collapsed and there was serious wing damage. The investigator recommended that Lion Air review its cockpit resource management training.

 

  • The just-published final report for the June 2009 crash of an Air France Airbus A330 in the south Atlantic has ruled that the accident was precipitated by a disconnection of the autopilot/autothrust systems to which the crew reacted inappropriately, and that the crew was unaware the aircraft had quickly entered a stalled condition, which they failed to recognise despite stall warnings, and therefore failed to apply stall recovery action. The investigators discussed at length how the crew could have become so disorientated. Meanwhile, last March Air France signed an agreement with its main pilot union, the SNPL, to create a "gatekeeper" role, so that independent experts could liaise with pilots who have been involved in an incident to understand fully the reasons behind it, and work with an airline committee that would meet regularly to review events, procedures and necessary training.

 

  • The crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 on 25 January 2010 - which occurred during the climb away from Beirut, Lebanon over the sea at night - was caused by the crew's "mismanagement of the aircraft's speed, altitude, headings and attitude through inconsistent flight control inputs leading to a loss of control". The airline and the Ethiopian aviation authority have filed a disagreement, saying the accident was the result of an unidentified condition, possibly sabotage, because the main body of wreckage was not recovered from the sea, although the flight recorders were. The report says that the captain, who was the pilot flying, became disorientated, the co-pilot did not recognise this, and when the aircraft stalled following two prolonged periods of stick-shaker warnings and 11 "bank angle" aural warnings, the captain reacted incorrectly to the stall. The aircraft remained in a recoverable state until very shortly before impact, says the report.

 

  • The Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit has issued an interim statement on the Manx2 Airlines Swearingen Metro III crash at Cork airport in February 2010. The aircraft went out of control and crashed during a late final go-around attempt, killing six of those on board. The crew had let the speed decay below approach speed, but the unit has discovered that the engines were delivering different power settings for the same throttle level position, and it is trying to establish whether this was a factor in the loss of control when the crew advanced the power to go around. This torque difference had been known for more than 100 flying hours before the accident.

 

  • Engine oil fumes entering the cabin and cockpit of an Air Berlin flight on 18 November 2011 caused the co-pilot to be overcome with nausea, according to the German investigator the BFU, which is carrying the investigation further. The aircraft was a Boeing 737-700 operated for Air Berlin by Germania. A blood sample taken from the co-pilot tested positive for exposure to tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate, the BFU has reported. TOCP is a toxic organophosphate known to cause a condition called aerotoxic syndrome.