A cargo plane crashed into a Texas bay last year after the co-pilot became disoriented and pushed the nose down because he mistakenly thought that the jet was about to stall, investigators said on Tuesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the co-pilot’s poor training and inability to handle pressure contributed to the crash of Atlas Air Flight 3591. The co-pilot withheld parts of his work history from the air carrier to conceal his troubles at other airlines and was a “train wreck” in training, board members and investigators said during a Tuesday hearing on the crash.
The Boeing 767 was carrying cargo from Miami for Amazon.com and the U.S. Postal Service when it went from a slight climb to a high-speed dive and disintegrated upon slamming into a shallow bay east of Houston. All three people on board, including a pilot hopping a ride in the jump seat, were killed.
The board said Tuesday that the plane was being flown by Conrad Aska, the 44-year-old first officer. Investigators believe that as the plane passed through mild turbulence Aska unintentionally hit a switch that put the plane into a “go-around,” an acceleration maneuver normally done only to abort a landing.
As the plane tipped slightly higher, Aska became disoriented and wrongly believed the plane was about to stall, or lose the ability to stay aloft. He pushed the nose of the plane down, triggering the nosedive, investigators said during the hearing.
The board found that the captain, 60-year-old Ricky Blakely, had failed to intervene to stop the crash.
The final seconds of the flight were captured on grainy footage from a security camera operated by the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office. The plane dropped more than 3000 feet (914 meters) in 30 seconds before smashing into Trinity Bay, 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the intended destination of George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The board also highlighted past problems in Aska's training, including that he hid his record from Atlas, and criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for being slow to set up a database of pilot records.
“The first officer's training record was bluntly, well, terrible,” said NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg.
The co-pilot's training record showed he acted “impulsively” during training exercises at several previous airlines and had a history of failed check rides, in which an instructor or supervisor watches.
“He had an inability to remain calm during stressful situations," investigator David Lawrence, a pilot, said.
The investigation determined that Aska had hid his record from Atlas by not disclosing he had spent time at two regional airlines. In its findings of probable cause, the safety board faulted the FAA for not fully enacting changes in pilot record reporting that Congress mandated years ago.
“The FAA has dragged their feet on implementing a sufficiently robust pilot records database,” said Chairman Robert Sumwalt.
An FAA spokesperson said there is a voluntary version of this database. The agency expects to publish a rule that would require air carries share pilot records in January 2021 and will complete the database after that, she said.
Atlas Air’s president and CEO, John Dietrich, said his company has improved its hiring, training and pilot review procedures since the crash. He also backed the NTSB’s call to make pilot records more accessible.
“Of critical importance is the need for an improved federal pilot records database to provide airlines with full visibility of pilot history in the hiring process,” Dietrich said in a statement.
(Jake Bleiberg and David Koenig - Associated Press)
Friday June 26, 2020 saw the arrival of two USMC F-18 Hornets which will be spending the weekend here at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) performing several flight sorties during their stay before departing on Sunday afternoon.
It’s always hard to say goodbye, especially when you know that it is for good. However, today (June 26, 2020) Air France says goodbye as it operates its final Airbus A380 flight on an aircraft less than ten years old. The French flag carrier becomes the first airline to scrap the gentle giant altogether.
October 30th, 2009, was a ‘giant’ day for Air France. The French flag carrier took delivery of its first Airbus A380. The airline went on to take 10 of the super-jumbos. However, after today, the A380 will no longer fly for Air France.
Air France picked a fitting flight number for its final Airbus A380 flight. Flight "AF380" was explicitly scheduled by the airline to say goodbye to the type. Much like an aircraft’s delivery flight, this exceptional trip was strictly by invite only. But how did you get an invite?
The flight was open to 500 members of staff, chosen from the pool of crew that had worked on the Airbus A380 during its time in service. After departure at 15:57, the aircraft climbed to 21,000 feet and flew roughly South from Paris until it reached Montpellier.
Unfortunately, the aircraft didn’t get to fly over its Toulouse birthplace. However, it did get to rendezvous with an undelivered Airbus A350 in Air France colors over the Gulf of Lyon. At the time of writing, the aircraft was flying back towards Paris for its final landing to mark the end of an era.
Why is Air France bidding au revoir?
The retirement of Air France’s A380 aircraft didn’t come as a huge surprise. The airline had earmarked the entire fleet to be retired over the next couple of years. Indeed, it had already retired its first A380 before the pandemic.
While it is unfortunate that aircraft under ten years old are being retired, it makes sense for Air France from a financial point of view. According to the airline, retiring the A380 fleet immediately will set them back by a total of €500 million ($550 million). The airline will book this expense in the second quarter as a non-current cost/expense.
However, the alternate doesn’t make sense for the French flag carrier. Air France had earmarked the aircraft for retirement over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, IATA doesn’t believe that demand will return until 2023/24. This means that there is little to no chance these A380s will fly again before they were retired anyway. There is no point in paying to maintain something that won’t fly again.
While sad, this won’t be the end of the Airbus A380. Indeed, the largest operator, Emirates, said that the giant would return to the skies in its colors in mid-July.
The last and smallest of the upgraded variants of Bombardier’s legacy Global family, the $46 million Global 5500, has entered service with a recent delivery to an undisclosed customer, the Canadian airframer announced today. Unveiled alongside the upgraded Global 6500 at EBACE 2018, the Global 5500 received its type certification from Transport Canada, EASA, and FAA last year.
Featuring three living areas with Nuage seating and powered by a pair of 15,125-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engines, the 5500 has a range of 5,900 nm—200 nm more than originally planned. “This spacious and efficient aircraft is the ultimate business tool, with the range and access to safely take our customers where they need to be,” said Bombardier Aviation president David Coleal.
Coleal noted that the 5500, along with the earlier 5000 variant, breaks from tradition with interior completions done at Bombardier’s Wichita site, where the Montreal-based company assembles Learjets, operates service and flight-test centers, and performs specialized aircraft work.
With a top speed of Mach 0.90, the 5500 accommodates up to 16 passengers. It also has Bombardier’s Vision flight deck, Ka-band connectivity, and an air purification system with an advanced HEPA filter.
WeWork puts its $60 million jet up for sale in 2019 following the company's failed IPO bid.
The luxurious Gulfstream G650 is now for sale for $49.9 million online — a 16% discount.
The plane was a particularly salient example of the company's exorbitant spending, employees told Business Insider at the time.
WeWork isn't finding any buyers for its luxurious private jet 9 months after deciding to put it up for sale.
The 2018 Gulfstream G650 — one of the world's most opulent and expensive models — is now advertised at a "reduced price" of $49.9 million on a pre-owned aircraft site, with just 414 total flight hours and 131 landings.
The jet played a role in WeWork's failed bid to go public in 2019. Sources told Business Insider at the time that employees were upset at the optics of spending $60 million on a jet for a money-losing company. CEO Adam Neumann was said to hold meetings on the jet since he was rarely in the office.
"I know of instances where people got on the plane, flew across the country, and flew commercial home," one employee said at the time.
In one particularly salient incident, the Wall Street Journal reported that Neumann and friends smoked marijuana on the plane on the way to Israel, with the flight crew angered by finding a "sizable chunk" stashed away for the return trip.
Private jet sales, like those for commercial aircraft, have plummeted amid the coronavirus-induced travel glut, but industry insiders say the market is set to rebound quickly, which could be good news for the We Company as it seeks to offload the plane.
66% of members polled by the International Aircraft Dealers Association in May said they're optimistic about the pre-owned market after the pandemic, with most expecting a slight ding to used prices, such as that of WeWork's jet.
This ex-Southwest Airlines machine is still going strong as we see her on a very short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon as she arrives from Laughlin / Bullhead International Airport (IFP/KIFP) as "SWQ6854" at 18:15 PDT.
Seen arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 13, 2018 on a simply gorgeous day here in SoCal.
The aircraft performed her maiden flight on September 4, 2017 followed by delivery on September 27, 2017.
I had the honor of flying on her first revenue flight on October 1, 2017 (the very first WN 737-8Max revenue flight) between Dallas Love Field (DAL/KDAL) and Houston - William P. Hobby Airport (HOU/KHOU).
Arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 24, 2019 wearing the special "100" marking commemorating the carriers 100th birthday.
The aircraft took to the skies on her first flight, October 3, 1996 and later delivered to the carrier on October 15, 1996.
Having served the carrier for 23 1/2 years, the aircraft was prematurely retired on March 27, 2020 and later ferried to Mohave Airport (MHV/KMHV) in California for storage on May 26, 2020 due to the Wuhan Covid-19 virus outbreak.
Seen on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 15, 2018.
She was delivered to the carrier on April 29, 2008 following her first flight on April 3, 2008 as F-WWCH. The aircraft was originally destined for Virgin Atlantic Airways G-VJAM but was not taken up by the airline.
The aircraft served with Lufthansa for only 12 years before being retired and ferried (MUC/EDDM) - (TEV/LETL) for storage May 19, 2020.
UTA Flight "UTA772" was operating a scheduled international passenger flight of French airline Union de Transports Aériens (UTA) from Brazzaville Airport (BZV/FCBB) in the People's Republic of the Congo, via N'Djamena (NDJ/FTTJ) in Chad, to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG/LFPG) in Paris when it crashed in the Ténéré desert, near Bilma, Niger, following an in-flight explosion on September 19, 1989 with 170 people on board.
The DC-10-30 departed from N'Djamena International Airport at 13:13 when forty-six minutes later, while cruising at 35,100 ft, a suitcase bomb exploded in the cargo hold, causing the aircraft to break up over the Sahara Desert 280 miles east of Agadez in the southern Ténéré of Niger. The explosion scattered debris over hundreds of square miles of desert and resulting in the death of 156 passengers and 14 crew members.
The DC-10-30 took to the skies for the first time on March 13, 1973 followed by delivery to the carrier on May 1, 1973 from the Douglas factory in Long Beach, California. She had accumulated 14,777 flight cycles over 60,276 flight hours at the time of the crash.
It was always so fantastic to see the UPS DC-8-73CF's come home to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) every afternoon back in the 90's! This fine example is seen in April 1998 on short final to Rwy 30 the same Rwy she returned to following her first flight back in November 1969 as she would have departed from Rwy 12 on her departure.
She was delivered to Trans International Airlines as N486FT on December 29, 1969 as a DC-8-63CF. In the following years she flew with the following:
Union de Transports Aériens (UTA) - (August 1972 - December 1972) as N486FT Trans America Airlines as N486FT Spirit of America Airlines as N486FT United Parcel Service (UPS) as N486FT Flying Tiger Line as N486FT and N705FT
Federal Express (FedEx) as N705FT and N405FE and finally United Parcel Service (UPS) as N814UP until her retirement in 2009 when she was placed into storage at Roswell (ROW/KROW), New Mexico and later scrapped.
Captured at Frankfurt Rhein-Main International Airport (FRA/EDDF) on October 27, 2017 sporting special "747 Friend Ship" markings in commemoration of her final flight which took place on October 29, 2017 between Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN/RKSI) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO/KSFO).
Captured on short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on June 18, 2020. It is one of the carriers newest 767 Freighters having been delivered on November 25, 2019 following her first flight on November 15, 2019.