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Fire Fighter crash

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Fire Fighter crash

Old 21st Jun 2002, 19:46
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First of all- heartfealt commeriserations to the familys,

there is an awful lot of verbiage on these posts----many posts allude to the fairly complex nature of the c130 structure. the question is quite simple---the aircraft was designed as a long range transport (in 1960) --not as a dive bomber. what steps were taken by the operator to account for the change of operating profile--the UK air force for example has various fatique models into which every sortie must be allocated ===
no one can just take any aircraft and just flog it to death
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Old 21st Jun 2002, 20:18
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The photo accompanying this news story gives a clearer idea of the possible manoeuvering g-loads and turbulence modes in that firefighting situation.

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Old 22nd Jun 2002, 02:42
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Couple of points

Retardant carrying and delivery capabilities of the C-130 and P-3 are identical.

The accident aircraft was not USCG, it was civilian with a civil paint job - cream with red trim. It was ex-USAF (1957 build), its history is being discussed on the C-130 board.
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Old 22nd Jun 2002, 08:22
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Without repeating my original post on page 1 (which covered "spars", Wobbles), there are some clear points from analysing the KOLO video.

1. When the C130 was filmed passing over the camera in its spiral descent, she clearly had flaps extended to around 50% which, as observed elsewhere, further reduces the operating g-limit.

2. Towards the end of the retardant drop, the body angle appears to be c -17º, rotating to c +6º within 2 secs, which is a significant rate, and failure commences at this point.

3. In the sacbee.com link, provided by arcniz above, the first pic, shows a dark object rising between the apex of the breaking wings as they reach about 40º dihedral. This is the same object behind and above the C130 in pic 2, and looks very much to me like a large piece of the centre box. View the video to see more clearly.

I would reiterate comments by others that flying this and any type in a very punishing rôle requires a carefully controlled programme of stress-monitoring by the operating company and regulating authority (FAA). One has to ask in this case as to what degree, if any, this was and is being done. The Herc has been around longer than most and has a well known, fully documented history of its wing fatigue tendencies, resulting in progressive weaknesses.

Certain quarters are already shaping-up to lay the blame squarely on the crew, which is a common let-out in so many accidents. This is a particularly challenging and dangerous job for the crews. Let us hope that the investigation will not opt for a single conclusion, as so many have done in the past.
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Old 25th Jun 2002, 05:16
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Dr Syn: I doubt that those planes had any CVRs or FDRs onboard.

Heck, if the NTSB (..Safety Board) pins the primary cause on the Captain or rest of crew, this helps all of the various participants avoid liability. Many years ago, a TWA crew saved a B-727 which went out of control at very high altitude over Michigan. There was intense pressure to accuse the crew of an unauthorized enroute procedure or technique. A few years ago, according to either "Aviation Week ***" or "Flying" magazine, someone found a logbook entry from the same ship, which was entered BEFORE the serious incident, and concerned an uncommanded leading edge slat extension or other such glitch. This logbook page had been allegedly misplaced or lost for over twenty years or so. There was very strong pressure to find the crew at fault. At least one of them counter-sued either Boeing or the NTSB.

Lots of NTSB reports state something such as "the pilot failed to maintain control, leading to in-flight break-up", as with so many tragic private aircraft accidents etc. Whether the FAA used required oversight or not, even if any extra subjective concerns about wing fatigue were ignored, maybe the company documentation was "legal" and so might this have led to a bit of complacency on everyone's part, knowing the tough reputation of the old plane? For example, "well, they made it through Vietnam (and + or- lots of assault landings with almost no flare) plus lots of fires and never broke...".

Is it possible that fighting so many large fires out west becomes top priority as in wartime? Heck, years ago, the C-130 E/H models could supposedly go from the max takeoff weight of 155,000, but use 175,000 pounds in a combat theater, could it not?

Last edited by Ignition Override; 26th Jun 2002 at 05:39.
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Old 30th Jun 2002, 05:49
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Further to Dr Syn's detailed and informed comments above, the following appears in Aviation Week.
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Old 8th Jul 2002, 14:27
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Cyclic - Good link.

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Old 8th Jul 2002, 20:06
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Ignition Override,

You must be referring to the 727 that had a rather innovative crew and tried to improve the cruise performance of the 727 with a load of passengers and unknowing crew.

The pilot and the co-pilot had cooked up this idea that they could improve the L/D on the 727. During this flight they waited for the FE to head to the biffy and then put their plan into action. After disabling the leading edge extension by pulling the breaker they pulled the flap lever to a slightly extended(maybe 2-3 degrees) position and since this setting was not on the detent they used a pair of vice grips to secure the flaps in this position.. Well it worked and they did gain altitude and speed for the same EPR setting, BUT……… They never let the FE in on the plan. When he returned from the biffy and chatting with the stews he sat down at his station and noticed the breaker sticking out and without saying anything pushed it back in. BAM out came the slats at Mach .9 ripping one or more off(I can’t remember if it was one or two) and instantly they did a split S and only an act of God saved that plane and the unsuspecting people on board. I guess the moral of that story is don’t do things that get you into trouble unless you think your good enough to get yourself out.

"Screw around screw around and soon you won't be around"
Old 8th Jul 2002, 21:03
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Believe it or not I actually flew that 72 (years after the incident). That thing was terrible to fly. It was impossible to keep it in trim.

Two things saved them.

1. The 72 is one hell of a well-built airplane.
2. They threw the gear out at about 400kts +.

I don’t know if it is still flying or not, the last I heard it been converted in to a cargo airplane and Express One out of Dallas was operating it.
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Old 8th Jul 2002, 21:14
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Post Update from the Forest Service

From airtanker.com

USDA Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Briefing Paper

July 3, 2002

Topic: Contract C-130A Airtanker Fleet Disposition

Issue: The Forest Service has suspended operations of the C-130 Fleet pending further developments in the NTSB accident investigation.

Background: On June 17, 2002, a C-130A modified as an airtanker crashed fatally injuring its 3-member crew while dropping fire retardant on the Cannon Fire that was being fought on the Toyiabe National Forest.

Key Points:

· The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading the investigation of the accident. Jack Blackwell, Region 5 Regional Forester, will be the leader of the Forest Service Management Evaluative Team.

· Pending receipt of the preliminary indications of the cause of the accident, the Forest Service has ordered the stand-down of the remaining C-130A tankers. Any further speculation concerning future actions based upon this accident is premature.

· Three contractors are effected by this grounding: Hawkins and Powers Aviation, Inc. of Greybull, Wyoming; TBM, Inc of Tulare, California, and International Air Response, Inc. from Chandler, Arizona. Hawkins and Powers and TBM have current contracts with the Forest Service.

· As a result of this stand down, there are 39 operational tankers under contract. Eight Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) aircraft operated by the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve are also available.

· In order to be able to reactivate the aircraft as soon as possible if the investigation determines it feasible, the Forest Service will continue to pay daily availability for the C-130As during the course of the investigation. The Forest Service has a liaison with the NTSB investigation team monitoring developments in the investigation.

· A team of contract, operations, and maintenance specialists are standing by to facilitate rapid reactivation of the C-130 fleet if this option becomes available.
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Old 8th Jul 2002, 21:53
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Thanks Cyclic for that link to AW (I hope life is treating you well in the Great Wilderness!). At least one responsible publication appears to be keeping an eye on the ball. Their lesser body angle figures, taken no doubt from clearer evidence copy than I had, and load factor estimates, add weight to my initial suspicions if correct.

I wonder if others would agree that periodic "inspections" are an unsatisfactory alternative to a proper, ongoing fatigue-monitoring program (as mentioned by MaxProp, myself and others), when these airframes are being subjected to such demanding operating conditions.

As for "Several years ago, a crack was found in the lower left panel of the wing center box and was repaired with a doubler" (my emphases) - any Engineers care to comment on the long-term effect of strengthening one part of a load-bearing structure?

The great God Cash should not be used as an excuse for re-learning past lessons and the loss of life.
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Old 14th Jul 2002, 22:10
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Post Story from KATU TV

There is more about the information on the airtanker programme on the KATU site. See the 3 Throw away Planes Throw away Pilots stories.

The video stories are interesting viewing if you have an Internet connection capable of watching them.
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Old 15th Jul 2002, 01:12
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Why Did These 10 Men Die? (Willamette Week, 1997)

Some insightful journalism about the C-130, coincidentally from a Portland newspaper. There's lots in there about maintenance, politics, and the in's and out's of military crash investigations. There are a bunch of sidebars and followups on the main page, most of which are mostly worth reading.

For those of you who may remember, this was the "King 56" case. Ten Air Force Reservists died when their C-130 crashed just off of the Pacific coast. The problem appears to have been "four-engine rollback", a malfunction in the box that keeps the engines out of phase -- it kept slowing all 4 of them.

These articles may not apply directly to the problem at hand; but, it's very good reporting, and it may resonate with the current discussion. I remember this being a very big deal when it came out, esp. since this "alternative weekly" was the only media outlet that dedicated resources to uncovering the truth.
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Old 15th Jul 2002, 11:50
  #74 (permalink)  
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The Hoot Gibson 727

I.O, Con-P and 747F,

That 727 is still currently flying today with Custom Air Transport, last seen sitting on the cargo ramp in Austin. N220NE...
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Old 10th Jan 2003, 09:59
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air tanker was former CIA plane; flight records missing.

Why would you even consider pulling a plane such as this out of the desert?

NTSB: Airtanker Once Flew Spy Missions
Mon Jan 6, 2:41 AM ET Add U.S. Government - AP to My Yahoo!

By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. - The investigation of an airtanker crash during a wildfire may have been hampered by missing records on the former Air Force plane — missing, in part, because the plane used to fly spy missions for the CIA (news - web sites), a federal investigator said.

The revelation has renewed criticism of the Forest Service for putting the surplus military plane to work fighting fires.

"Apparently this ... airplane at one point in time was set up along with a few others for electronic surveillance — as in CIA activity — somewhere in the world," said George Petterson, an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board (news - web sites).

"Those kind of airplanes basically don't exist records-wise. That could be the reason why we don't have a good history on this airplane," he told The Associated Press.

Investigators are unsure how long the C-130A cargo plane had flown — as little as 3,000 hours, or possibly more than 20,000 hours — with the wing assembly that broke off its fuselage in June, killing all three crew members in a crash near Walker, Calif. The airtanker was built by Lockheed in 1956.

Last month, the Forest Service came under fire for having been repeatedly told the aging aircraft never should have been released from the Air Force "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 1988. A blue-ribbon panel investigating the matter at the request of the Forest Service recommended enhanced safety standards in planes used for fighting fires.

Petterson said the Air Force modified many of its C-130As with new wing parts in the early- to mid-1980s, though he can't tell whether the crashed plane was one of them.

"The modifications were being done because they were having problems with the airplanes' wings cracking," Petterson said. The NTSB (news - web sites) investigator has identified fatigue cracks — one more than a foot long — in the wings of the plane that crashed in June and he suspects the same structural failure caused a 1994 airtanker crash that killed three crew members north of Los Angeles.

The Air Force indicated the records of the wing modifications have been destroyed, Petterson said.

Complicating matters is that the company that performed the modifications, Aero Corp. in Lake City, Fla., "kept the records for many, many years, but they since have been disposed of," he said.

He added that "it would help make the fatigue cracking a little more understandable" if the plane had flown more than 20,000 hours, as opposed to as few as 3,000.

Aero Corp. no longer exists. Michael Moore, general manager of the company that acquired it, Timco Aviation Services of Greensboro, N.C., declined to comment.

An Air Force Reserve spokesman at the Pentagon (news - web sites) said paperwork typically accompanies surplus military aircraft to the new owner, but he had no information on the plane.

Critics of the Forest Service firefighting fleet have alleged that planes on contract to the agency were being used in covert operations after they left the military and were in the possession of private contractors.

This plane involved in the crash was one of nearly two dozen the Air Force released to private contractors in the late 1980s and early 1990 under an aircraft exchange program. Two men involved in the program landed in federal prison after their 1996 convictions on charges of conspiracy to steal the planes.

Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc. of Greybull, Wyo., received seven of the C-130As, including the one that crashed in June.

The head of aviation at Forest Service headquarters in Washington said the lack of documentation is a major concern.

"We know some aircraft that were part of the aircraft exchange act ended up flying overseas. I don't know for what agency. If he says CIA, he might be right," Tony Kern, national aviation officer, said of Petterson's remarks.

"We also are aware there are gaps in the records of these aircraft, not just for that period of time, but records that never were transferred across from the military," he said. "If you don't know the flight hours, that's a big problem."

The aircraft exchanges were halted under the Clinton administration, but most of the planes remain in the hands of the private contractors.

The transfers were portrayed at the time as necessary to bolster the Forest Service's depleted firefighting fleet. But Gary Eitel, a former Vietnam War combat pilot who filed a lawsuit to try to force the return of the planes to the government in the mid-1990s, testified before Congress that the CIA used the Forest Service to cover up its use of the aircraft for secret missions.

Kern said the Forest Service needs complete documentation on its firefighting fleet.

"This is a major issue we are going to address with whatever aircraft we go with next," Kern said. "We need to have that so 20 years from now there's not another guy in this seat asking, `How the heck did we get into a scenario where the NTSB can't find records on these aircraft?'"
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Old 11th Jan 2003, 06:31
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747FOCAL (is that you "J", formerly with Pan-Am Express/Cimber Air [Berlin] and Air Mauritius A-340 ops?): The so-called procedure that the TWA pilots were blamed for, was dreamed up by Boeing, in order to explain what happened to the airplane. Boeing was very nervous after it happened, and had to create any plausible procedure to 'pin on' the crew, which would reduce the aircraft's liability. It was apparently believable enough for many US airline 727 pilots to have suspected that they did such a bizarre procedure, which guys with fifteen or more years on the 727 (even as FE instructors...) had never heard of. The Captain was already fortunate to have recently flown aerobatic planes and had almost no time to recover, but good old Boeing and the NTSB had many weeks and even months to be 'Monday morning quarterbacks' and second-guess the one intense 'play', so long after the 'game'.

Boeing must have done an excellent job 'cooking up' those steps (they have the factory and the technicians who could invent it), which convinced many people that many pilots were already aware of it. By the way, I've never been trained on the 727.

1) The crewmembers counter-sued Boeing (or the NTSB?) and won.

2) What proof or personal testimony (on the part of any of the crewmembers) is there, that any of the crew did what they were accused of?

3) Why did the aircraft maintenance logbook page from the same aircraft ship number, which detailed documented problems with the slat, disappear for so many years and not long ago reappear, according to 'Aviation Week & ST' magazine?
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