View Full Version : Boeing 307 Ditching

2nd Apr 2002, 05:08
Does anyone know more about the ´undetermined mechanical problem´ that forced the crew of the smithsonian´s Stratocruiser to ditch the beauty into Pudget Sound on Friday ???


(See AirDisaster (http://www.airdisaster.com/photos/n19903/photo.shtml) for more pictures)

Lu Zuckerman
2nd Apr 2002, 12:51
NTSB Identification: SEA02FA060

Accident occurred Thursday, March 28, 2002 at Seattle, WA
Aircraft:Boeing S-307, registration: N19903
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On March 28, 2002, approximately 1305 Pacific standard time, a Boeing S-307 Stratoliner, N19903, registered to the National Air & Space Museum, operated by The Boeing Company, as a 14 CFR Part 91 maintenance and proficiency flight, ditched in the waters of Elliott Bay, Seattle, Washington, following a loss of engine power. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was substantially damaged. The two airline transport pilots and two flight engineers were not injured. The flight departed from Everett, Washington, and was destined for Seattle, Washington.

During an interview, the flight crew reported that the purpose of the flight was for maintenance/systems checks and crew proficiency. The flight departed from Boeing Field (BFI), Seattle, approximately 1230 en route to Everett, Paine Field (PAE). The Captain reported that he made a full stop landing at PAE without incident. The aircraft was taxied back to the runway and the takeoff was initiated. Shortly after liftoff, the number three engine experienced a momentary surge, then normalized. Due to this anomaly, the flight crew decided to discontinue the flight activities and return to BFI. In preparation for landing at BFI, the landing gear was lowered, however, the left main gear did not fully extend. The approach was aborted to orbit the area to try and remedy the situation. The Captain reported that the flight engineer at the radio station, left his station to try and manually hand-crank the left gear down. After a few minutes, the flight crew reported a green (fully extended) light for the left main. The flight then headed back to BFI when a low fuel pressure light was noted for the number three engine followed by a loss of power. The flight crew feathered the engine when low fuel pressure was noted to the remaining three engines which all subsequently began to lose power. The Captain reported that he did not believe that the aircraft could make it safely to BFI and opted to ditch the aircraft in Elliott Bay near the shoreline. The aircraft impacted the water in a slightly right wing low, level attitude and remained upright. The aircraft remained afloat and all four flight crewmembers safely exited the aircraft and were rescued within minutes of the accident.
Index for Mar2002 | Index of months

3rd Apr 2002, 13:17
Boeing Statement

Options Explored for Stratoliner Restoration

Seattle, April 2, 2002 – Boeing currently is determining the overall feasibility of restoring the 307 Stratoliner airplane to the condition it was in when the initial restoration was completed last year. The team has inspected the damage and while it is generally more than anticipated, the primary airplane structure is largely intact. The Boeing team will begin looking at all options as soon as possible.

Now that the airplane is back at Boeing facilities in Seattle, current priorities are to focus on the removal and salvage of the airplane's interior, including instruments and radios, seats and cloth fabrics as well as the wood paneling. The challenge will be removing the salt water and cleaning the fabrics before it becomes permanently stained.

The Boeing Stratoliner team is especially grateful to the public for the outpouring of support for the recovery efforts. Boeing has received dozens of e-mails offering supportand volunteering assistance in restoring this airplane to flying condition. This support has meant so much to the team, realizing that there are many people around the world who appreciate this airplane's role in aviation history.

Special thanks go to the Seattle Harbor Patrol, the Seattle Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Foss team, Salty's Restaurant and so many more for the outstanding support provided during the crew rescue and airplane recovery efforts.

Tiger_ Moth
3rd Apr 2002, 18:57
BUT: wasnt the wright flyer heavily aided by strong winds, ie: it could not have flown without them? Surely you cant say it flew solely under its own power if it couldnt have without wind?

Why was Pearse any less in control when he took off from the road than the wright flyer?. Sounds like they had pretty similar controls: elevator, rudder + dodgy wing warping.

Fr O'Blivien
8th Apr 2002, 16:29
That sentence about the remaining three engines showing low fuel pressure and then failing sends a shiver of ice down my spine.

I know we don't speculate, but the reasons for a three, possibly four engine near simultaneous failure following loss of fuel pressure are few indeed. And in a big plane like that feeding four huge engines from multiple tanks with multiple pumps I fear the possibilities are further reduced. Either way, how awful.

Let's hope the Smithsonian has the moxie to bring her back.

Shore Guy
10th Apr 2002, 22:49

Aerospace Notebook: Stratoliner inquiry focuses on fuel levels, sources say
Wednesday, April 10, 2002


Although the National Transportation Safety Board is far from ruling on the
cause of last month's ditching in Elliott Bay of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner,
the four-engine, one-of-a-kind plane apparently ran out of gas, according to
people familiar with the evidence gathered so far.

But what is not yet known, they stressed, is whether some kind of instrument
or mechanical malfunction caused or contributed to the accident, and how
much blame, if any, eventually will fall on the flight crew.

Two of Boeing's most veteran and skilled commercial test pilots were at the
controls and have been widely praised, including by the NTSB, for the way
they executed a very tricky water landing when power was lost on all four
engines. None of the four crew members on board was injured, and the plane,
though badly damaged, was later recovered from the water.

Neither Boeing nor the safety board will comment on what the accident
investigation has so far found. But in a preliminary report that it is
required to file, the safety board said a low-fuel-pressure light was noted
on engine No. 3, followed by a loss of power. That engine was feathered when
low-fuel-pressure lights came on for the remaining three engines and they
subsequently lost power.

After the crash, the NTSB drained the wing fuel tanks to measure how much
fuel was left.

The safety board is examining the fuel gauges from the plane, along with
other fuel-related systems. Boeing has not said how much fuel was in the
plane at the time it took off March 28 from Boeing Field for what was to
have been a flight to check systems and to maintain crew proficiency. The
NTSB now has those records.

It is not clear whether the plane was fueled at Boeing Field the same day as
the flight. The Stratoliner had not been flown in six or seven months.

The flight was fairly short. The plane splashed down in Elliott Bay near
Salty's restaurant about 35 minutes after it took off from Boeing Field.

The Stratoliner, which had been beautifully restored by volunteers over
several years, is the only one remaining of 10 that Boeing built in the
1930s and early 1940s. It was to have been delivered next summer to the
National Air and Space Museum's new Dulles annex near Washington, D.C.

The plane took off from Boeing Field and flew to Paine Field in Everett,
where it made a brief stop. The pilot in command, Buzz Nelson, decided to
return to Boeing Field when, on takeoff from Paine Field, there was a brief
power surge in engine No. 3. That's the inboard engine on the right side.

As the plane approached Boeing Field, the left landing gear would not fully
extend and Nelson broke off the approach.

According to the preliminary NTSB report, the flight engineer left his radio
station to try to manually hand-crank the gear down. After a few minutes,
the flight crew reported a green light, indicating that the gear was fully

The crew was headed back to Boeing Field when the No. 3 engine lost fuel
pressure, followed by the loss of fuel pressure in the other engines.

The fuel gauges on the Boeing Stratoliner are on an instrument panel
monitored by the flight engineer.

But there is some concern within Boeing about whether the FAA might take
some kind of disciplinary action against the pilots if a mechanical cause
for the accident is ruled out.

Both Boeing pilots who were on the Stratoliner are highly regarded, in and
outside the company.

Nelson is the company's chief 767 test pilot.

His co-pilot March 28 was Mike Carriker, who has been chief engineering
pilot for the 737 and was first officer on the maiden flight of the Boeing
Business Jet, which is a modified 737-700.

Carriker is Boeing's chief pilot for the sonic cruiser, a program to develop
a commercial jetliner that will cruise at nearly the speed of sound.

The Federal Aviation Administration, as is typical in such accidents, is
looking into the actions of the crew as part of the Stratoliner crash probe.
The agency declined comment yesterday.