Sunday, January 13, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- January 13

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jan 13, 1982: A Boeing 737 operated by Air Florida crashed near Washington National Airport shortly after taking off during snowfall. The aircraft hit a bridge, killing 4 persons in vehicles, and plunged into the icy Potomac River. Of the 79 persons aboard the jet, only four passengers and one flight attendant survived.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the crash was the crew's failure to use the engine anti-icing system during ground operation and takeoff, their decision to take off with snow/ice on the airfoil surfaces, and the captain's failure to abort takeoff when his attention was called to anolomous engine instrument readings. Contributing to the accident were: prolonged delay between deicing by ground crew and takeoff, during which the aircraft was exposed to continual snowfall; the known pitchup characteristics of the 737 when the leading edge was contaminated by even small amounts of snow or ice; and the crew’s limited experience in jet transport winter operations. As a result of the accident, FAA and the aviation industry took a number of actions to increase awareness of cold weather hazards and the proper response to them. (See Dec 12, 1985.) “

If you’re old enough to remember the crash of “Palm 90” (Air Florida’s callsign that day) you’ll remember how ugly it was. Here is a video of a news report about it.

Deregulation strikes again.

Don Brown
January 13, 2008

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