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US FBI seeks mechanic at large for 1996 ValuJet crash

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US FBI seeks mechanic at large for 1996 ValuJet crash

Old 6th Apr 2018, 11:08
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US FBI seeks mechanic at large for 1996 ValuJet crash

5 April 2018.

The FBI is still looking for Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes, considered a fugitive from justice since 1999. Reyes worked for SabreJet, the maintenance outfit that improperly prepared the oxygen generators for transport in the belly of the crashed DC-9. The FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the man's arrest and field agents and victim's families hope to put this to rest with his capture.

FBI Wanted Info here @ FBI.gov

The immediate investigation proved challenging—both to determine the cause of the crash and to identify the remains of the plane’s occupants. In some cases, Fruge asked victims’ families to provide personal effects that might contain latent fingerprints that could be matched with remains found at the crash scene. A baby album helped investigators identify one woman who was a young mother. Fingerprints in a playbook helped identify a football player.

Victims’ families have marked anniversaries of the crash by visiting a memorial site built in 1999 for the third anniversary. On the 20th anniversary in 2016, FBI Miami issued a press release reminding the public that Valenzuela-Reyes was still on the run. He has connections to Atlanta, Georgia, where his ex-wife and kids have resided, and Santiago, Chile, where he has family and may be residing today under a false identity.

“We’ve tried over the years to find him,” said Fruge, who has been a special agent for 29 years and hopes to close this case while it’s under her watch. “It bothers me. I’ve lived and breathed it for many, many years.”

The crash investigation, led by the National Transportation Safety Board, ultimately led to new aircraft safety standards. Two other SabreTech employees who were charged in the criminal case were acquitted. If captured, Valenzuela-Reyes would face charges related to the crash and additional federal charges, issued in 2000, for fleeing and failing to appear at his trial.

Fruge said she hopes the new reward and poster—which is being circulated in Chile as well as the U.S.—might lead to a tip that brings the fugitive to justice and some peace to the victims’ families.
Link to NTSB Final Report [PDF] indicates the many vectors that came together in causing the crash, and led to several changes to regulations and procedures, but in a somewhat rare move by the US DOJ, three mechanics were criminally charged, although the two that remained and faced trial were acquitted.
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Old 6th Apr 2018, 16:37
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FBI “tread” revival—after 22 years, this is brought back to life?

GF
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Old 6th Apr 2018, 17:07
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They must not want him all that bad, ten grand ain't much in the grand scheme of things.

Is he even alive?
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Old 6th Apr 2018, 17:13
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Originally Posted by flyboyike
Is he even alive?
That would be a reasonable assumption, given that he's only 47 years old.
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Old 6th Apr 2018, 19:48
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One might wonder if this man, being as how he didn't show up to defend himself, was used as a convenient scapegoat - cemented by co-workers that managed to acquit themselves of any wrongdoing.

If there's a lesson to be learned by this man's actions alone - be strong, show up and stand before those that accuse you of wrongdoing. Take your chances or take your lumps, but do not take your leave.
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Old 7th Apr 2018, 02:09
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One might wonder if this man, being as how he didn't show up to defend himself, was used as a convenient scapegoat
From my view, he was in the causal chain but not a cause. However, his negative influence on the investigation was noted.

I hope in the end he will answer to what charges are filed.
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Old 7th Apr 2018, 04:32
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OTHER INDUSTRY REPORTS

But what if the 02 generators did not contribute, - or had started this fire ?

A PREVIOUS FIRE REPORT REFUTE THE ‘02’ SCENARIO.

So said the Danish authorities in (DENM Report 2/96), and the FAA Technical Center in their investigation of a fire gutting of the cabin of a Danish Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) DC-9-MD-87 cabin fire MD-87 in 1993. The oxygen generators were consumed, -- but exonerated by the Danish investigators which concluded that, - “discharge of oxygen from the generators had only a minor effect on the fire.” Included as Appendix D, dated May 4, 1993, the FAA Tech Center tests concluded that operating 02 generators in a burning package, - and then in a tray of burning jet fuel, - that the “intensification of the fire was confined to a small hot spot”.

THE ‘TIMELINE’ – WHY THE COCKPIT ABNOMALITIES ?

Why did the crew note a simultaneous anomalies in the air speed, rate of climb and the altitude ? (The NTSB report refers to this as the “beginning of the timeline”.) All get their data from the Air Data Computer and the ADC relies on static pressure from the static sensor ports on the fuselage skin. From the Chairman’s Fire and Explosion Report (at page 7, para 2), it said - “The line for the left (alternate static) port was not attached but was present.” “The threaded fitting that attaches the static line to the (left) static port had what appears to be molten metal filling the threads.” A breach in the static lines accounts for these abnormalities and the beginning of the NTSB’s “timeline”.

LOOK-A-LIKE FIRE SCEANARIOS FOLLOWED.

Two Delta Airlines DC-9 MD-88 fires followed ValuJet; one on September 17, 1999, and on January 3, 2000. Faulty ‘Electrofilm’ electric heaters flush-mounted against the static air pressure sensing ports to ensure that the ports do not become blocked by ice used in throughout all commercial aircraft were to blame. In NTSB’s Safety Recommendation Letter A-01-03-05, it said nine other Delta aircraft were found with “arced, burned, or melted parts” heater installations. Another two had “charred and exposed heater elements on the heater surface. Seven others had “cracked and flaked rubber on the heater surface, which can lead to electrical arcing if a liquid is introduced.
NTSB Letter A-01-03-05 Link > http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-re.../A01_03_05.pdf

THE FUEL ?

What could feed such fires once ignited? In a August 1996 “All Operators Letter”, Douglas aircraft warned the industry of “recent MD-80, and MD-11 ground insulation fires on the ground”. A copy was included in the Dannish Report above (page 64). Boeing followed with a - “Boeing Service Letter. August 6, 2004. “Subject; Preventing Contamination That Affects Flammability Of Insulation Blankets. Effectivity; 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777s. Also DC9s, 10s, 11s and MD-80s and 90s.” The Original was referenced to March 23, 1998. Source; Chinese Aviation Safety Council Final Report # ASC-AFA-09-05-002 issued 2/25/2011.

ADs Regarding Flammable Insulation Blankets included AD 2000-11-01 in June 2000 (MPET insulations) and 2008 with AD-2008-23-09 which, - “requires replacing any insulation blanket constructed of polyethyleneteraphthalate (PET) film, and that,
The FAA further noted that, - “We have determined that each material is susceptible to ignition and propagation from a small ignition source and thus presents an unsafe condition”.

SOURCE OF IGNITION ?

From 1975 through 2007, Eight Heater Airworthiness Directives. AD-75-04-10 for L-1011s, AD 2000-11-10 for MD-90-30 series, AD-2001-10-10 for DC-9-81, -82, -83 and 87s, AD 2001-10-11 for MD-90s, AD 2004-15-13 for MD 80s, AD 2007-17-18 for DC-9s, DC-9-81s,-82s, 83s, 87s and 88s, AD 2007-19-16 for 747s, AD 02-18 -767s, and AD 2007-17-19 for MD 90-30s.

HOW HOT IS HOT ENOUGH ?

The NTSB did not do any measurements to determine the average exterior temperatures on activated oxygen generating canisters. However the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Atlantic City Technical Center nearly two years after NTSB Report was published on August 19, 1997 did. A May 1999 FAA Technical Center report (# DOT/FAA/AR-TN99/9), with references to ValuJet, concluded with results of the Scott generator models carried on ValuJet to be 250 to 410° F. (See “Activation of Oxygen Generators in Proximity to Combustible Materials. Link > http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/tn99-9.pdf

Manufacturers Materials Specification sheets cite the auto ignition (AIT) temperatures required for bubble wrap and common packing paper materials to be above 500 degrees F.

There is lots more but space here is limited.
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Old 7th Apr 2018, 06:12
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Originally Posted by vapilot2004
One might wonder if this man, being as how he didn't show up to defend himself, was used as a convenient scapegoat - cemented by co-workers that managed to acquit themselves of any wrongdoing.
Whether attributing the cause to the Oxygen generators was right to wrong, it was larger than that one guy. That would have been the finding regardless of his testimony. He was just the guy who put the oxygen generators in the box.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 06:09
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Manufacturers Materials Specification sheets cite the auto ignition (AIT) temperatures required for bubble wrap and common packing paper materials to be above 500 degrees F.
That seems a sensible autoignition temperature range in air having normal levels of oxygen concentration. Do these specs contain autoignition temps of the same materials at high O2 concentrations? As you should no doubt be aware, autoignition temperatures for combustible materials are generally reduced with an increase in O2 concentration.

The conclusion of the FAA tests linked above was that the external temps produced by the O2 generators were sufficient to ignite the packing materials within the enclosed oxygen-rich environment of the box containing the generators. Temperatures recorded in the resultant fire in the test chamber reached 2,900 F. In fact, they almost burned down the test facility!

I used to demonstrate the effect of a pure oxygen environment on small quantities of lube grease by directing an unlit welding torch with the O2 flowing at the grease. Let's just say the autoignition temp of grease is lowered substantially in an oxygen-rich environment! As it tends to be with a great many materials.

As for this person they seek, he was just one of many incompetents employed by a highly unprofessional and ethics-challenged company. The whole chain of events leading to the packaging and loading of that box onto the airplane was fraught with amateurish ignorance and incompetence from start to finish. Cheapo company with low standards. The Value Jet accident was just one of many questionable actions occurring while doing business under the DBA "SabreTech". The only good thing to come out of the loss of all those lives was the demise of SabreTech. Value Jet changed it's name and lived on until being absorbed by another airline/corporate entity.

If they ever find this guy, it'll probably in a grave from a drug overdose.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 06:22
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Originally Posted by A Squared
Whether attributing the cause to the Oxygen generators was right to wrong, it was larger than that one guy.
The $2m fine imposed on his employer would suggest that that was recognised.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 07:25
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$2m !! and did it get paid ????
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 07:29
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
The $2m fine imposed on his employer would suggest that that was recognised.
Sure, I get that. I was just responding to the guy who suggested that the oxygen generators were blamed because the mechanic wasn't there to give testimony. I'm just saying that the finding wasn't based on the presence or absence of the testimony of one minor player.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 08:17
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The heat from a single activated generator is surprising and if left in a cardboard box would get to a point of scorching before being removed, so a box of them packed together would generate a substantial amount of heat and a fire.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 09:52
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Originally Posted by A Squared
Whether attributing the cause to the Oxygen generators was right to wrong, it was larger than that one guy. That would have been the finding regardless of his testimony.
I think we're agreed. It was much larger than he who remains the target of the FBI manhunt. This accident was the result of an imperfect system, a system failure, one that did not involve the flight crew.

There were over 600 techs involved in the heavy maintenance check of ValuJet's three MD-80s - the source of the O2 generators. Nearly 1000 hours were spent on replacing those units alone. The AMM is quite clear about how to handle them after removal, but management at SabreTech were not and there were multiple (missed) opportunities to make good on the work requirements.

I'm just saying that the finding wasn't based on the presence or absence of the testimony of one minor player.
I agree about the investigation findings, but the criminal indictments were something altogether different in my opinion, and promoted our "minor player" into the major leagues. He was but one link of a long chain with many broken links all along the way.

Data Guy thank you very much for the interesting sidebar. Judging by the final report and the known characteristics of the flight and engine controls, it appears the fire began inside of the forward cargo compartment and not at the heating elements involved in other incidents.

$2m !! and did it get paid ????
The company lawyers settled for $1.75 million and had the $9 million in retribution vacated. SabreTech was $22 million in the hole at the time of the court agreement and soon went belly up. I do not know if the fine was ever paid. It wouldn't surprise me if it was not.

Last edited by vapilot2004; 8th Apr 2018 at 10:59.
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 18:42
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Originally Posted by Data Guy
THE FUEL ?

What could feed such fires once ignited? In a August 1996 “All Operators Letter”, Douglas aircraft warned the industry of “recent MD-80, and MD-11 ground insulation fires on the ground”. A copy was included in the Dannish Report above (page 64). Boeing followed with a - “Boeing Service Letter. August 6, 2004. “Subject; Preventing Contamination That Affects Flammability Of Insulation Blankets. Effectivity; 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777s. Also DC9s, 10s, 11s and MD-80s and 90s.” The Original was referenced to March 23, 1998. Source; Chinese Aviation Safety Council Final Report # ASC-AFA-09-05-002 issued 2/25/2011.

ADs Regarding Flammable Insulation Blankets included AD 2000-11-01 in June 2000 (MPET insulations) and 2008 with AD-2008-23-09 which, - “requires replacing any insulation blanket constructed of polyethyleneteraphthalate (PET) film, and that,
The FAA further noted that, - “We have determined that each material is susceptible to ignition and propagation from a small ignition source and thus presents an unsafe condition”.
Just to illustrate

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Old 9th Apr 2018, 20:56
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Originally Posted by PashaF
Just to illustrate
Looks like the cargo loading vehicle fire at HKG last October ...
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