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Pinnacle Airlines aircraft incident

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Pinnacle Airlines aircraft incident

Old 19th Oct 2004, 04:16
  #21 (permalink)  
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The CRJ200 is not FADEC controlled, there was a bulletin out a few years ago if I remember correctly about the oil pumps not being to good at high altitude, FL370 and above. causing "gulping" in the oil system. Leading to low oil pressure warnings which resulted in the crews shutting down the offending engine. A descent to lower altitude usually cured the problem.
The CRJ700 is FADEC controlled.
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Old 19th Oct 2004, 11:24
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Absolutely hilarious!

Where did you get that theory??

The CF 34 has an engine driven pump.

The memory items for low oil press is to reduce thrust and observe the result.

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Old 19th Oct 2004, 11:47
  #23 (permalink)  
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Cant believe the oil pump theory either.The pumps are driven by the gearbox and altitude has no effect on their operation.
Someone earlier said about bleed problems.There are no customer bleed issues that would result in engine failure ever. However an engine bleed issue could result in an engine failure at the right [wrong?] time but for it to be a contributary factor to this accident could surely be ruled out as there would have had to be two separate problems,one in each engine,to have had this result.
There are not too many issues to think about other than fuel starvation/contamination that would effect two engines in cruise surely?
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Old 19th Oct 2004, 12:41
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Re: the oil pump story. why don't we just ask if somebody has access to the SBs attached to this engine model for support or understanding?

Re: the bleed theory. Yes it can affect an engines health at high altitude, but again one needs access to SBs vs maintenance on this aircraft to see if the bleed system is likely to affect both engines at the same time?

There is no use in filling in potential causes before an attempt is made to gather supporting facts.
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Old 19th Oct 2004, 16:06
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The subject aircraft had a low speed RTO earlier in the morning due to a bleed air WARNING in one engine.
It was dealt with in accordance to the AMM, MEL and dispatched as Serviceable.

I have no reason to suspect air bleed in one engine would cause a double engine failure at FL410. Do you?

Anyone familiar with the CRJ probably discounts the bleed air and oil pump theories as not plausible causes.

The most credible speculative theory at this stage of the game, seems to be fuel. I personally don't believe for an instant this aircraft didn't have the required dispatch fuel, so therefore, IMHO, it didn't run out of gas. That leaves me to suspect fuel contamination. I appreciate the fact that I'm still speculating without the benefit of facts.

Neither engine re-lit on descent. I imagine the crew got in a couple of attempts. My guess is that if it wasn't fuel, at least one of the two engines had a very high probability of starting.

No further information has come out for public consumption. But one thing is for sure, something catastrophic happened Thursday night.

My heartfelt condolences to those who knew this crew and their families.

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Old 19th Oct 2004, 16:35
  #26 (permalink)  
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From a US RJ operator to its crews:

GE has found problems with their improved scavenge pump. Oil gulping may occur when engine is operated at high altitudes (above 370). After prolonged gulping, the oil will begin to foam and then a loss of oil pressure will follow. There is no actual loss of quantity. XXX has had five (5) such events. In three (3) cases, the crew chose not to shut down an engine, but descended to a lower altitude where the foaming stopped and oil pressure returned to normal state. In two (2) cases, the crew chose to shutdown the engine. All crews made the correct decision.

My edit with the XXX to keep the operator anonymous.

"Cant believe the oil pump theory either. The pumps are driven by the gearbox and altitude has no effect on their operation"

"Absolutely hilarious!

Where did you get that theory??

The CF 34 has an engine driven pump"

Be careful
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Old 20th Oct 2004, 10:42
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West Coast


Very interesting.
I've heard of the oil 'foaming' but the rest is rather suspect.
How does 'gulping' occur? That's a new one to me.

Not wishing to 'eat crow', I'll get back to you on this.
I'll go through my GE Flight Crew bulletins on the CF34 and let you know what I find.

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Old 20th Oct 2004, 21:46
  #28 (permalink)  
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Updated info from NTSB

Updated info from NTSB....


National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594

October 20, 2004




Washington, D.C. -- The National Transportation Safety Board
today released the following update on its investigation of
the October 14, 2004 crash of Pinnacle Airlines flight 3701
in a residential area in Jefferson City, Missouri, about
three miles south of the Jefferson City, Missouri, airport.
The crash resulted in the deaths of the two crewmen. The
airplane was destroyed by the impact forces and a post crash
fire. There were no passengers onboard, nor were there any
injuries on the ground.

On October 14, 2004, the aircraft departed Little Rock,
Arkansas about 9:21 p.m. (CDT), on a repositioning flight
en-route to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Air Traffic Control
At about 9:43 p.m., the flight crew checked in with Kansas
City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) and indicated
that they were climbing to 41,000 feet. At approximately
9:52 p.m., the flight crew acknowledged that they were at
41,000 feet. At about 9:54 p.m., the flight crew asked for
a lower altitude. At about 9:55 p.m. the flight crew
declared an emergency. At about 9:59 p.m. the flight crew
requested an altitude of 13,000 feet. At about 10:03 p.m.,
the flight crew reported that they had experienced an engine
failure at 41,000. At 10:08 p.m., the flight crew stated
that they had a double engine failure and that they wanted a
direct route to any airport (According to the Flight Data
Recorder both engines stopped operating almost
simultaneously at 41,000 feet.) Kansas City ARTCC directed
the flight to Jefferson City Missouri Airport. At about
10:13 p.m., the flight crew stated that they had the runway
approach end in sight. The last radar contact for the
flight was at 900 feet above ground. The plane crashed at
about 10:15 p.m.

On October 14, the day of the accident, the airplane
underwent maintenance to replace the 14th stage bleed air-
sensing loop on the right engine. During a scheduled 7:45
a.m. departure from Little Rock, Arkansas to Minneapolis
St.-Paul, Missouri, an Indicating Crew Alerting System
(ICAS) message stating "R 14th duct" occurred during take-
off and the flight crew (not the accident crew) aborted the
take-off and returned to the gate. The 21 passengers were
deplaned. The airplane never left the ground.
Two mechanics from Pinnacle's Memphis, Tennessee facility
did the repair. During a Safety Board interview on
Saturday, the mechanics stated that they only replaced the
No. 2 (right) engine's 14th stage bleed air sensing loop.
The mechanics completed the repair and tested the system.
The aircraft was released for flight. On-scene evidence
confirms that the repair was done in accordance with the
Aircraft Maintenance Manual.

The aircraft was equipped with two GE CF34-3B1 engines. The
right engine had accumulated 2,303 hours and 1,971 cycles
since new. It was installed new on the aircraft on October
23, 2003. The left hand engine had 8,856 hours and 8,480
cycles since new. It was removed from another aircraft on
October 30, 2003 and installed on the accident aircraft on
April 6, 2004. Maintenance records indicate that during an
A4 check on June 9, 2004, the left engine igniters were
replaced. During an A5 check on August 18, 2004, the right
engine igniters were replaced. The most recent check was
the A5 check performed on August 18, 2004.

The Operations group traveled to Memphis to interview pilots
who had flown with the two crew members and to interview
some of the airlines training personnel and managers. There
are 10 to 12 interviews scheduled.

On-scene examination of the wreckage shows there was no sign
of an in-flight fire on the structure of the aircraft. The
airplane was found inverted and separated in several
sections. All four major flight surfaces were found at the
main wreckage site. The cockpit area was severely damaged
by the post crash fire.

During the Safety Board's examination of the engines, it was
noted that there was some thermal damage to the No. 2 engine
and that will be further looked at during a teardown in
Lynn, Mass. The engines will be shipped out today.

The wreckage is being shipped to Rantoul, Kansas.

Since the accident, the operator, Pinnacle Airlines, has
placed a new company altitude restriction on the flight
ceiling for their CL600-2B19s of 37,000 feet.

Parties to the investigation are Pinnacle Airlines, Federal
Aviation Administration, Air Line Pilot's Association,
National Air Traffic Controller's Association, and General
Electric (GE). The Transportation Safety Board of Canada
has sent an accredited representative along with technical
advisors from Transport Canada, the agency that certified
the aircraft, and Bombardier Aerospace, the manufacture of
the aircraft.

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Old 20th Oct 2004, 23:42
  #29 (permalink)  
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Perhaps I have missed something in the article so send me where I need to go, but it doesn't matter if ATC denied descent clearance with both engine gone.

Many years ago at another employer I was part of an acceptance crew for a CRJ. One of the pre delivery checks was to turn off the packs up at higher altitudes and check the cabin rate of climb. It was no where near rapid as one might think. Exact numbers escape me but it was a lot less than I would have thought. There are cabin pressure cutions at 8500 CPA I believe and a warning message at 10,000 CPA. Plenty of warnings to don masks if you lose pressurization.
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Old 21st Oct 2004, 01:10
  #30 (permalink)  
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Thanks West Coast I knew i had read the info correctly but could not find the memo to post.
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Old 21st Oct 2004, 04:43
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There is suspicion among CRJ crews at Skywest, that the fueler at Little Rock Airport (LIT) mistakenly put Avgas into the plane, instead of Jet A. Could a "Jet A" truck mistakenly have Avgas onboard? We rode in the same hotel van in Saginaw (MBS), Michigan.

Others wonder whether there was water in whichever fuel was pumped into the plane. Another word is that the Pinnacle CRJs' max ceiling is now several Flight Levels lower than before the tragedy.

A Pinnacle pilot who jumpseated with us told me that one of the deceased pilots was a friend, and was married with one child, and another "on the way". The worst type of tragedy for a young family and the other various family members.
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Old 21st Oct 2004, 10:42
  #32 (permalink)  
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13,000 is for the engine relight activity.

It's unlikely, as West Coast says, pressurization was a problem initially.

I've been checking with contacts about the 'frothing issue'.
If I've got it right, this WAS a problem as you've stated. It seems to not be a reason for engine failure as the system is aerated if the oil bubbles.

AVGAS?? Possibly.

Maybe fuel without a freezing additive. Who knows?

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Old 21st Oct 2004, 11:17
  #33 (permalink)  
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Ignoring the reasons for the engine failures for a moment, from 41,000ft and a 20 minute glide, am I the only one who is a little surprised the outcome is as it has been.

Would you have expected them to get it into the airfield (any airfield in fact, previous posts mentioned it travelled over 100 miles) under such circumstances?
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Old 21st Oct 2004, 11:52
  #34 (permalink)  
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my personal experience as a tre on the crj is that it is very unforgiving during low speed and low altitude manoeuvring, with double engine failures in the sim frequently resulting in low altitude loss of control.

the aircraft has no leading edge high lift augmentation and almost imperceptible pre stall buffet especially with the gear down and possible inadvertent speedbrake deployment.

these guys were extremely unlucky to be faced with a nightmare situation.
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Old 21st Oct 2004, 16:20
  #35 (permalink)  
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I am walking a fine line here as I don't want to speculate on the reasons for the crash. I am talking systems and staying away from probable cause.
That said I don't know if the oil frothing is a potential area or not. Professionals in that field will determine that. My earlier response about the oil pumps was strictly to enlighten pilots that there has been problems with the oil system at higher altitudes.

As far as a freezing additive, to my memory there is no manufacturer requirements for Prist type additives as the aircraft is equipped with a fuel heaters via a heat exchanger with the number 3 hyd system. There are also a caution message for low fuel temperatures that sounds off somewhere near + 5C.

Bulk fuel is another story with much lower temps possible.
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Old 22nd Oct 2004, 04:44
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I wonder, and gotta ask...

Just why would these guys take the aeroplane to FL410 anyway?
What was the cruise buffet onset boundary at this altitude and the acft weight in question?

Was it really necessary to go that high...or was it a case of guys just wanting to get there (height) because they don't see this in normal revenue service.

Early jet transport pilots found out soon enough that higher is not always better.
Perhaps junior jet guys never bothered to learn...from others misfortunes.
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Old 22nd Oct 2004, 04:44
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I've been reading a lot about this accident on another forum in the US. As usual, many pilots that operate this aircraft a commenting.

Must say I'm alarmed at what appears to be a remarkable lack of technical knowledge of the aircraft's systems and procedures on the part of pilots that claim to work in it.
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Old 22nd Oct 2004, 10:39
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I once had a student with several thousand hours accept 41 without checking its operational acceptability.
When I questioned him about it he told me the aircraft was certified to 41 so we could accept the clearance.

You'd be surprised at the lack of technical knowledge AND aerodynamic knowledge of most new to jet flying and to the RJ.

But, IMHO, the greatest portion of very highly experienced Regional Airline pilots is turbo-prop experience flown at the mid altitudes. That's not to put them down it's to point out why this lack of knowledge needs to be filled by instruction.
I'm afraid, like many things in aviation, there seems to be far too much taken for granted.


Thanks ever so much for the excellent site on Controlling Oil Aeration and Foam to learn something.

much appreciated
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Old 22nd Oct 2004, 11:25
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How can we comment on the FL that the pilot chose to operate at without knowing the reasons he chose to do so? Company pressures, post maintenance requirements, and do we know in fact this crew was low on jet experience? What was the optimum FL for this aircraft at the existing weight/flt plan speed? Many good reasons may exist for operating at a rather high FL,...or they may not...theorize...yes...criticise...not yet!
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Old 23rd Oct 2004, 21:28
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411A and Willie raise some possibly highly valid points.

I would not be surprised to hear that high altitiude training at this airline is under intense scrutiny by NTSB/FAA in light of the nearly instant 37K limitation imposed by this airline on their crews. If there was an immediate technical concern to cause that limitation, would there not be a general warning issued to all operators while the investigation continued? This limitation appears to be only related to the subject airline.

The apparent lack of a successful airborne relight in the several minutes available is also most odd.

High altitude performance and training will be under the microscope. The highly unscientific poll results I have done on RJ friends since this accident - NOONE has been up there in this type of plane.
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