Friday, February 13, 2009

Airplane Threes

So, if you believe things come in threes, then maybe we're done with the February aviation drama--all within 24 hours. First, of course, was the Colgan Air tragedy in Buffalo last night that claimed 50 lives. The aircraft in question, believed to be N200WQ (sn 4200) can be seen in the pic. Taken at Port Columbus International (KCMH) on June 1 of last year.

This is the plane--operating as Continental Express 3407--that iced up on final approach to KBUF and departed controlled flight shortly after the approach flaps were extended. Plane dove directly into a home just inside the Outer Marker on approach to Rwy 23 and killed everyone aboard and one man in the home (his wife and daughter escaped the wrecked home with injuries).

The crash has re-ignited the old debate about de-icing boots vs. electric de-icing systems. First indications are that the de-ice system was in the "on" position, but it's unclear whether the boots were working and/or what phase of the cycle they were in at the time of the crash.

Incident number two happened a few hours later and would have been a MAJOR tragedy if it led to a crash. Air Pacific's nightly B744 KLAX to Nadi, Fiji run departed the Southland last night sometime after midnight and about an hour outbound the pilots discovered some sort of fuel transfer issue. They wisely returned to KLAX without incident and the 441 souls aboard were likely highly inconvenienced, but escaped unscathed. Buried in the garbled news reports about the incident was the idea that the plane itself may have been overweight. That leads the mind to spin all sorts of terrible scenarios about a runway overrun or some other horrible outcome of an overloaded 747-400.

The third incident occurred on Friday evening at London City airport as a British Airways commuter BAE-146 had a nosewheel collapse on the landing rollout. Passengers deplaned via slides and only a few minor injuries resulted.

So that's three in quick succession. January had Captain Sully and US Airways 1549, which in itself was at least three plane crashes wrapped into one.

photo: richillini via

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