View Full Version : Stratocruiser crash rumour........

10th May 2002, 11:00
From the Hyperscale board........

HB Bates
Boeing Stratoliner 307 Crash -- insider's story ??
Thu May 9 14:29:38 2002

Ok first don't flame me… but I just got this via a friend on the net ... you can decide if it's a load of B.S. or not but because most HyperScale reader love old aircraft I think most here would be interested to read….. …

Boeing Stratoliner 307 Crash -- insider's story by A. Mole in DC

Remember the ditching of the vintage B-307 in May? Here's "the rest of the story."

NTSB Summary

The Accident occurred Thursday, March 28, 2002 at Seattle, WA

Aircraft: Boeing S-307, registration: N19903

Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

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 subtantially 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 lift-off, 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 crew members safely exited the aircraft and were rescue within minutes of the accident.


"Now, the REST of the story...

"According to [deleted], who himself just finished talking to his "mole" at Boeing... Someone in the maintenance department, who was in on the Boeing interview of the pilots afterwards... The story is that these highly trained Boeing test pilots decided they'd take this airplane out for a flight, to do some circuits. They were paying for it themselves, out of their own pockets, so elected to only put *300 gallons* of gas in it when they were on the ground at Boeing Field. They were hoping to avoid Galvin Flying's extra $0.04/gallon by putting more in when they got to Paine Field (where gas was cheaper) to do circuits.

"Somewhere enroute to Paine Field, the fuel situation was driven from their mind, probably because they were having so much fun flying.....so they did circuits at Paine until the #3 engine coughed, then died. They feathered the prop, and decided they should probably land to investigate.

"They selected gear down, to find that the gear leg under the #3 engine wouldn't lower, because the hydraulic pump needed to do that was powered by the #3 engine (now feathered). So they lowered the gear manually, but decided (get this) to fly *back to Boeing Field* to park the plane, rather than land at Paine Field.

"Shortly after making that bright decision, the other engines started failing. No engines were running by the time it ditched, and three of the four props weren't feathered.

"The kicker here: The Stratoliner's maintenance base is apparently *at Paine Field*. Any maintenance to be done would require that it be brought back to Paine Field anyway (or a bunch of equipment moved to Boeing Field). When asked why they wanted to bring it back to Boeing Field, the response was

> > READY?

> > 'Well, our cars were at Boeing Field'.

"Someone should have asked where their *boats* were.

"A detail that may be useful, if you're keeping track in your head: According to [source], these engines, at 30" manifold and 2000 rpm, would burn about 50 gal/hr each in cruise, and would average more like 70-80 gal/hr each if you were doing circuits. Some things that weren't reported in the article below: When they peeled back the interior linings, they found that "it's all twisted at the bulkhead where the spar attaches to the fuselage." I didn't think to ask whether that meant the spar is twisted, the bulkhead is twisted,or what. [Source] said that both main gear legs were both ripped off by the ditching, and were found floating next to the aircraft... I thought I saw one hanging from the engine in the photos sent, but I could be wrong.

"The official explanation to date is that the engines failed due to "air in the fuel lines". I guess that's one way of putting it. My take is that the dipsticks were in the cockpit, and not in the fuel tanks."

10th May 2002, 16:07
Jeez, get the topic name right. Nearly fell off my chair.

12th May 2002, 23:43
"IF" the story is true...goes to show that jet guys have NO business in prop airliners, unless they have flown them extensively in the past....better to call the guys from the CAF for these machines. Most of them are old enough to remember.
Years ago in SQ (B707) mentioned to the F/O before start (joking)..."have a look out the right window and count fifteen blades..."
The Flight Engineer nearly fell off his seat laughing...but the young F/O had no idea what we were talking about. It took two hours of the seven hour flight to BAH to "explain" about the old days in round piston machines.:) :) :)

Chuck Ellsworth
13th May 2002, 00:19
Hey 411A:

Don't jets get hydraulic lock??

Cat Driver:

13th May 2002, 01:22
Chuck, don't laugh. You were supposed to turn the fan on the TFE 731 - Lear 30 series, Hawker 125's - by hand if you had to start them between twenty and forty minutes (or fifteen and thirty, I forget) after shutdown. The reason we were given was that because the dissimilar metals used in the construction of the engine had dissimilar cooldown rates, within those time limits something could be binding. The idea being that you wouldn't inadvertinetly gronch it with the starter, I suppose.

Chuck Ellsworth
13th May 2002, 03:42
Hi Pigboat:

Yeh we used to have to do the same thing with the Turbo Commander 690B.

Shaft wobble could cause blade scraping of the can if you did not cool them down by moving air through them.

I was trying to be funny with the hyd. lock comment.

I'm off to work on the 21st. so will not be playing around on Pprune for entertainment.

Cat Driver:

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

Captain Airclues
13th May 2002, 09:49

What is the difference between running out of fuel in a jet as opposed to a piston aircraft? Whatever you have on the wing, if you don't put enough fuel in the tanks for the length of flight then it will go quiet.


13th May 2002, 15:51
Captain Airclues

Quite right, it will go very quiet in both machines.

As these guys fly jets...in their jobs, all the time (flight test, everything well planned in advance) perhaps they had no idea of the fuel burn, especially doing circuits. Folks who fly these piston aeroplanes on a regular basis...certainly do. B-17's for example. A few here in the USA on the airshow circuit, and I certainly don't remember any running out of fuel. In fact, there is one here in Arizona that flies twice a week, then goes on tour in the summer.
A real shame that all that hard work, by so many, ended up in the drink because (if the story is anywhere near accurate)... those behind the pole had no idea.

The final report will make for very interesting reading.

Captain Airclues
13th May 2002, 20:36

Happy memories! Until we lost the PHX route to the 777 I used to visit Falcon Field regularly to see the B17. What a beauty!
Is the Connie at Marana still flying? The guys down there could not have been more friendly, and allowed me to crawl all over it to my hearts content.
As you say, a real shame. We should look after these old timers.


14th May 2002, 01:34
Chuck, are you gonna be flying 'CRR this summer, or something else? Bill Casselman is waiting to get a call from Soradis, I believe.
I just finished a model of 'NJB in the SK Govt scheme. If you're in the neighbourhood, drop in for fuel and pick it up.:)

Chuck Ellsworth
14th May 2002, 02:39
Hi PBoat:

I am going to Lisbon on May 21, to pick up the former CC-CCS ( Chilean ) we will fly it to Lake Como in Italy for type rating training with the new owners, they will then ferry it to Sidney Australia.

I will go to London and ferry N9521C to Virginia beach Va. ( and maybe to Oshkosh ) I brought 21C up from J-Berg with a seven month delay in Jeddah to change an engine.

Then I go back to London and move the former C-FHFN to Tel Aviv. ( one of Avalon Aviations PBY6A,s I used to waterbomb with.))

Then the plan is to start an around the world trip with C-FCRR.

That is plan A.

Now can anyone explain to me how in hell this is retirement???

The Sask. machine is here in Nanaimo I wil try and e-mail you a picture of it, it now has Blisters and an airstairs door.

Cat Driver:


:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

14th May 2002, 07:32
Yes indeed, Captain Airclues....the 749 at Marana is still flying, set to on tour during the summer, I believe. One more in the works there...for restoration.

IMHO...jet guys should stick to jets, unless they have the proper training for the 'ole piston slappers. It ain't difficult...but you just gotta know how....ahhhh, pistons! My favorite was the DC-6B...many happy memories.

Warning Star
14th May 2002, 12:42
Hi Chuck,

Those of us left behind in Sydney to keep the wheels in motion with the rest of the fleet ( Super Connie, Dakotas and Neptunes ), are looking most forward to the day next month when the PBY-6A arrives at Bankstown ( the major GA airport in Sydney ).

When the complete restoration and new paintscheme is accomplished, back here in Australia, the former CC-CCS will represent and pay tribute to the RAAF Black Cats, and the Qantas Indian Ocean Cats ( famous for their epic 28 hour plus, non-stop flights from Perth, Western Australia, to Koggala Lake, Ceylon
from July 1943 to July 1945 ). These were known as the Double Sunrise flights.

I am currently compiling an article for the Qantas News on this very subject.

I know the fellas are looking forward to getting those R-1830s turning.

All the very best.
Sydney, Australia

Chuck Ellsworth
14th May 2002, 16:44

Yes indeed, CB16 and B.M.E.P. beats E.P.R. anyday.


It will get done...

Sometimes when manufacturers upgrade an existing airplane the end result is not all that much better.

Consolidated really did improve the PBY with the 6A.

Conversley Douglas did not with the DC3 to Super 3 / C117 conversion. I preferred the 3 to the C117 at least for x/wind operations.

Is there really an Australia?

Cat Driver:

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

Feather #3
15th May 2002, 00:08

Speaking to one of the Edward's [?] brothers at Chino yesterday. He was relating the time [43hrs] it took to do the ferry from Jedda to UK. Hope you've allowed enough time to get to Aust!?

G'day ;)

15th May 2002, 00:25
Good luck with plan A! Looking for the e-mail.
One quick question though. What are they doin' with a PBY in Tel Aviv?

17th May 2002, 07:57

Thank you for your help in the past about R-NAV approval .
As you seem to know some stuff about piston engines, ;)
I would like to have your point of view about leaning techniques.

Which one are you using ? What do you think about "leaning to the poor side of the EGT peak"

I was told it was the proper way to tune the mixture :

Lean to reach your EGT peak, then continue to lean to make it drop by 50 F . (most people will tell you to enrich once at the peak)

It seems it was the way DC 4 and Connies Flight engineers were setting their P&W or Wright contraptions

Any info welcome

Feather #3
17th May 2002, 08:44

Unless you have a BMEP guage, stick to -50F on the rich side!!

Connie et al a/c with a BMEP guage use/d a 10% manual lean technique with the R-2800/3350's. I'll take the R-2000 on the DC-4 on advice.

Someone has come up with the concept of sliding onto the lean side with a gross misinterpretation of the "10% manual lean technique" on engines without the ability to accurately measure the effects.

G'day ;)

17th May 2002, 08:52
Silly question :

What's BMEP ?


Thanks Feather3

17th May 2002, 09:04
Feather #3

found that link on theweb


So ?

I'll put that on the tech log soon or later

Really am trying to make my mind about those techniques.

Feather #3
17th May 2002, 10:15
The major purpose of the torquemeter (or BMEP gauge) was to set cruise power by leaning to peak power, then to the lean side of peak power to some value of power loss. Some said "12 BMEP drop" (R-2800 on the M-404), while others said "10% drop in power." The power sensor was in the nose case of the engine, picked off the outer "floating" ring gear of the prop reduction gearing. We generally don't have that in flat engines, and where we do the gearing system is different, so we cannot easily measure pure power or torque. (Braly can, though, and I sure wish he'd market that neat little device!)

This quote gives you a 'heads up' on the concept. Turbo-prop's live by their torque measurement and the BMEP guage gave the same sort of indication to the later big pistons.

However, his comment about modern instrumentation enabling a similar relationship within the engine to be determined so that an LOP technique can be used needs further thought from other parties. In Australia, we've had a tragic accident which may have been caused by "agressive leaning" [I stress, not necessarily the LOP method] and the synopsis may well be that it's cheaper in the long run to lean ROP!!

My thought would be that until the manufacturer AND regulator positively support it, stay away from 'alternative' schemes.

G'day :)

17th May 2002, 12:55
Hey, Chuck....how about clearing customs thru' Stansted - give us a treat for the eyes!!!!!

Chuck Ellsworth
17th May 2002, 15:57
Piston engines have three enemies that cause failures.

( 1 ) Heat

( 2 ) Friction, ie. high R.P.M.

( 3 ) Hamfisted throttle jockeys.

No pax:

Are you an air traffic controller? If so all I need is approval for a low fly by.

Would you prefer norman or inverted?

Feather #3:

Hey, PBY's may be slow but just imagine all the time we have to sight see. :D

Cat Driver:

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D