Investigators call for changes to airline's safety and training processes after 2003 fatal loss of Boeing 737-200

Algerian investigators have strongly criticised the captain of the Air Algerie Boeing 737-200 that crashed fatally in March last year, and have recommended changes to the airline's safety and training processes.

All but one of the 102 occupants of the 21-year-old aircraft died when the crew failed to retain control after the failure of the left-hand Pratt & Whitney JT8D-17A engine immediately after take-off from Tamanrasset, Algeria.

In their final report on the 6 March 2003 accident, the investigators say the aircraft reached only about 400ft (120m) before descending rapidly, crashing violently and catching fire.

The captain took control of the aircraft from the first officer after the engine failure, but failed to raise the landing gear and maintained a high nose-up attitude, causing the speed to reduce, resulting in loss of control.

The report states: "The accident resulted from the loss of an engine during a critical phase of flight, from the failure to raise the landing gear after the engine failure, and from the taking of control by the captain before he had completely identified the nature of the failure."

The aircraft took off at 150kt (280km/h), and immediately after the first officer called for the undercarriage to be raised the first stage of the No 1 engine high-pressure turbine suffered a major uncontained failure. Several seconds after the left engine failure there was a "significant" unexplained power reduction on the right engine, and the captain took control.

He maintained the same rate of climb, but the speed decreased toward the stall and the aircraft descended, generating a ground proximity warning system "don't sink" alert. Contributory factors to the accident included the aircraft's near-maximum weight at a "hot and high" airport.

The investigators recommend that Air Algerie and other Algerian airlines ensure their crew resource management training effectively trains crews on the procedure for transferring and sharing control of the aircraft, and that Algerian civil aviation authority DACM puts in place an operation to oversee the process. They also call for the DACM to ensure Air Algerie and other airlines set up an incident-reporting programme, and to monitor flight data. Finally, they recommend Algeria establish a permanent specialist body for investigating civil aviation incidents and accidents.



Source: Flight International