Aircraft Accidents and Aviation News 2009

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December 22, 2009
Passengers Lucky to Survive After Plane Overshoots Runway
Two passengers were seriously injured when American Airlines Flight 331 skidded off the runway as it attempted to land at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica, on Tuesday night. No one on board the Boeing 737-800 aircraft was killed during the mishap. There were a total of 148 passengers and six crew members inside the aircraft when it touched down during a rain storm and skidded on the slippery runway. The aircraft then barreled through a fence and crashed into a sandy embankment just short of the Caribbean sea. The left main landing gear collapsed and the aircraft's fuselage was significantly cracked during the accident. Both engines broke off on impact. Investigators for the FAA and NTSB have been sent to analyze the crash and determine what caused the plane to overshoot the runway.

December 21, 2009

New Rule Offers Passenger Protection During Long Tarmac Delays
The Transportation Department announced a new rule on Monday that allows passengers to deplane an aircraft that is delayed on a tarmac for more than three hours. Additionally, airlines are now required to provide food and water as well as operable lavatories if an aircraft is stranded on a tarmac for over two hours. The new rule is a reaction to cries for passenger rights after a nine month period this year saw 864 planes with passengers on board be delayed on tarmacs for over three hours. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the rule will become effective in 120 days.

December 16, 2009
NTSB Will Open Public Docket on Overflight Mishap of Northwest Airlines Flight 188
The National Transportation Safety Board released an advisory announcing that it will open the public docket on its investigation into the October 21, 2009 Northwest Airline overflight event. The mishap occurred when Northwest Airlines Flight 188, an Airbus A-320, overflew that Minneapolis airport by more than 100 miles. The public docket will be available on the NTSB's website on December 16 at around 10:00 a.m.

December 16, 2009
FAA Inspector and Pilot Injured in Helicopter Emergency Landing
A helicopter made an emergency landing in Maui, Hawaii, on Wednesday, injuring a Federal Aviation Administration safety inspector. The FAA inspector and a tour helicopter pilot suffered minor injuries when the chopper, operated by Sunshine Helicopters, experienced mechanical problems and made an emergency landing on a Maui shoreline near the town of Hana. The accident occurred during a routine, annual commercial pilot proficiency check. The accident is under investigation.

December 10, 2009
Flight Instructor and Student Killed in Ventura County Plane Crash
A single-engine plane crashed in Ventura County, California, on Thursday, killing a flight instructor and a student. The aircraft, a two-seat Piper Tomahawk registered to Aviation Pacific, Inc., crashed in the town of Ojai about an hour after taking off from Camarillo Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the fatal crash.

December 10, 2009
Crash Victims' Families Outraged Over FAA Stance on Airline Safety
The Families of Continental Flight 3407, a group formed after the crash near Buffalo in February 2009, chastised remarks made by FAA administrator Randolph J. Babbitt before the Senate aviation subcommittee on Thursday, December 10. In his testimony, Babbitt said the FAA was more interested in enhancing its existing pilot certificate system than increasing the number of flight-time hours for entry-level pilots. The family victims' group fears that Babbitt's comments could hinder legislation that would require higher flight-time requirements for pilots. Right now, entry-level pilots are required to have 250 hours of flight time, a number that is alarmingly low according to some aviation experts. A bill passed in the House in October will mandate that requirement be pushed up to 1,500 hours of flight time for entry-level pilots. The bill is awaiting its turn on the Senate floor after delays due to the focus on health care reform.

December 9, 2009
Private Contractor Posted TSA Airport Screening Manual Online, Napolitano Confirms
Janet Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, confirmed on Wednesday that a private contractor inadvertently posted the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) airport screening procedures manual on the Internet. Napolitano added that her department is conducting an investigation into how such a massive security breach occurred. Among the sensitive security information released were sample CIA, Congressional and law enforcement credentials as well as detailed airport screening procedures. Some state officials are outraged and have said that this information could be used as a "road map" to those that want to do us harm. Napolitano insists, however, that the security of the public has not been placed at risk.

December 8, 2009
Jury Awards $7.1 Million to Family of Passenger Killed in 2006 Plane Crash
A jury has awarded $7.1M to the family of Bryan Keith Woodward, a passenger killed when Comair Flight 5191 crashed in Kentucky in 2006. Woodward was one of 49 people killed when Flight 5191 crashed after taking off from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport in Kentucky. An investigation found that the runway used was too short for commercial jets, and the pilots failed to notice they were on the wrong runway. This has been the only Flight 5191 case to reach trial. All other cases settled. The family also plans to sue Comair for punitive damages for its alleged gross negligence during a separate jury trial expected to take place in a few months.

December 4, 2009
Boeing Urges Airlines to Retrofit Engine Thrust Reversers on 777 Jets
Boeing has released a service bulletin urging airlines to begin replacing the thrust reversers on the engines of wide-body 777 jets. Thrust reversers are used to help slow planes on landing. According to Boeing, there is a potential for excessive heat damage that could deteriorate the inner wall of the thrust reverser. There is no word yet on how much the retrofit will cost.

December 1, 2009
Federal Pilot Fatigue Proposal Delayed
The FAA has decided to push back the release of a proposal addressing pilot fatigue to early 2010. The proposal was expected to have been put in place later this year. The delay was announced at a Senate hearing on Tuesday along with details regarding the agency's anti-fatigue effort. One such detail shocked and angered the chairman of the Senate's Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee, Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND). The FAA's proposal will not ban pilots from commuting on red-eye flights the night before flying in the cockpit. The co-pilot at the helm of doomed Continental Connection Flight 340 7, which crashed near Buffalo in February, killing 50 people, had herself traveled on a red-eye flight before going to work that day. Although the final report on the accident has not been released, investigators have said that pilot error and pilot fatigue contributed to the fatal crash. "What I don't quite understand is that when we finish this whole process, nothing will have changed with respect to the circumstances that existed in that cockpit regarding fatigue," said Sen. Dorgan at Tuesday's hearing.

November 30, 2009
FAA to Delay Fixing Plane Engines Vulnerable to Icing, Despite Safety Warnings
The FAA has delayed replacing two parts in the engines of Boeing 777 aircrafts until 2011, despite repeated warnings by the NTSB and the Air Line Pilots Association of potential vulnerability to icing. According to safety experts, the engines in more than 130 Boeing jets are at risk of ice buildup in certain rare conditions. The FAA ignored these warnings, saying that the safety measures for the planes are sufficient, at the moment, to prevent any dangerous mishaps. Industry sources say that one reason for the later deadline is the limited availability of the Rolls-Royce engine parts.

November 29, 2009
Plan e Crashes in Florida, Killing Two People Onboard

Two people were killed when a single-engine plane crashed in Plant City, Florida, on Sunday afternoon. Witnesses reported seeing the plane flying low to the ground before it sputtered and nose-dived into the backyard of a home. The only two occupants in the aircraft perished. No one on the ground was hurt.

November 28, 2009
Glider and Small Tow Plane Collide in Mid-Air, Both Pilots Killed
A Schleicher ASW 27 glider and a Piper 25 tow plane collided on Saturday morning at Crazy Creek Air Adventures in Middletown, California. Each pilot was killed in the mid-air collision, which occurred as both aircraft were approaching the same runway from different directions. Aviation officials were at the scene on Monday combing through the wreckage. A final report on the crash is expected in a bout six months.

November 24, 2009
Captain of 2005 Charter Jet Crash Charged with Fraud
The captain of a charter jet that crashed four years ago has been charged with fraud and lying to investigators. The crash occurred in 2005, when the aircraft failed to properly take off from Te terboro Airport and then crashed into a warehouse, injuring 20 people. Captain John Kimberling is now believed to have bee a part of a plot by Platinum Jet Management, the company he flew for, to save money by lying about the aircraft's weight in order to overload it with cheap fuel. Prosecutors allege that the overloading of fuel caused the accident.

November 23, 2009
Smaller Commuter Planes will get Enhanced De-Icing Systems, FAA Says
On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced their plan to retrofit small commuter airplanes with enhanced de-icing systems. The proposed rule will require planes weighing less than 60,000 pounds after takeoff, mostly small turboprops and regional jets, to be equipped with improved ice-protection systems installed within the next two years. The FAA said the rule applies to 1,866 planes and it will cost operators about $5.5 million to implement.

November 20, 2009
British Airways Passengers Sue Boeing for Crash Landing
Boeing is being sued by 10 passengers aboard a British Airways flight that crash landed at Heathrow Airport in January 2008. The crash landing occurred when the Boeing 777 aircraft, carrying 152 passengers, ran low on fuel flow to its engines as it came in to land. Everyone on board survived the crash. UK officials have yet to release a final report on the accident but a preliminary report suggests the possibility of ice accumulation in the plane's fuel system. The lawsuit claims that the aircraft was defective and that Boeing is responsible for the mishap.

November 19, 2009
FAA Proposes new Rule to Partially Shut "Revolving Door"
After years of criticism, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that they will partially close the so-called "revolving door" between the agency and the nation's airlines. The revolving door refers to the movement of employees between the airlines and the FAA. The proposal suggests that safety inspectors leaving the agency be barred from working at airlines that they have regulated for two years after leaving the FAA. The proposal will not, however, restrict any top level regulators from moving through the same door. Public comment on the rule is open until Feb. 10, after which the FAA is expected to finalize its proposal.

November 17, 2009
Twin Engine Plane Crashes on Take-Off
A twin-engine light aircraft crashed during take-off from Fort Worth airfield in Texas on Tuesday. Only the pilot was aboard the Piper PA-34 aircraft and he escaped the crash with no injuries. According to the pilot, the aircraft's nose trim malfunctioned shortly before the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the accident.

November 16, 2009
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of DJ AM's Estate
The estate of DJ AM (real name Adam Goldstein) has filed a lawsuit claiming that the charter company responsible for a plane crash that the celebrity Disc Jockey was involved in back in 2008 is also responsible for his recent death. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the charter company responsible for the Sept 2008 South Carolina crash which badly burned Goldstein. The DJ died this past summer from an accidental overdose of drugs. According to the complaint, the accident and the burns it caused led Goldstein to take various drugs which ultimately led to his death. Before the accident, the DJ had been sober and clean from drugs.

November 16, 2009
FAA Splits Airspace Over Hudson River
The Federal Aviation Administration has announced a plan to divide the airspace over the Hudson River into two separate zones. The decision comes at the heels of a deadly collision between a small plane and a sightseeing helicopter which killed nine people. The airspace will be split into low-altitude local traffic zone and a higher altitude zone for long-distance flights. The changes are expected to take effect on Thursday, November 19.

November 14, 2009
FAA Investigates Single Engine Plane Crash
The Federal Aviation Administration has begun its probe into a fatal plane crash that occurred in San Gabriel, California. The single-engine aircraft crashed on Saturday, November 14, killing the pilot. Federal Authorities are looking into a post crash fire that could have been the cause of the fatality.

November 13, 2009
NTSB Warned FAA of Problems with Airplane Involved in Numerous Fatal Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board has released an advisory regarding an experimental airplane that was involved in another fatal accident. Last April, the NTSB urged the Federal Aviation Association to ground the aircraft, a Zodiac CH-601XL, after a flight control problem was linked to six accidents that killed a total of ten people. The most recent crash occurred on November 6 near Agnos, Arkansas. The sole occupant of the aircraft, the pilot, was killed.

November 8, 2009
Two Young Boys and their Grandfather Killed in Plane Crash
A 60-year- old man and his two grandsons, 12 and 13 years old, were instantly killed when the Beechcraft Bonanza plane they were in crashed in Comal County, Texas, on Sunday. The grandfather was piloting the aircraft. FAA spokesman said that the plane disappeared from radar without emergency transmission before it crashed. Weather conditions at the time of the accident were rainy with limited visibility. The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash.

November 5, 2009
Medical Helicopter Crashes in Reservation, Injuring 2
Two people were injured when a Native Air medical helicopter on a training flight crashed as it was landing at the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona on Wednesday night. The 2 people injured remained hospitalized on Thursday. The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash.

November 4, 2009
FAA Chief Calls for Refocus on Professionalism in the Cockpit
Aviation is facing an "extreme need to refocus on professionalism" said FAA Administrator Randy Babbit, who cited Northwest Flight 188 which overshot the Minneapolis airport by over 150 miles, as the most recent example of unprofessionalism amongst regional pilots. Babbit used the tragic regional airline crash over Buffalo that claimed 50 lives earlier this year as another example. Pilot error is believed to have caused that plane to plunge to the ground.

November 2, 2009
NTSB Begins Investigation Into Fatal Plane Crash
On Friday, October 30 th, a Cessna 310 crashed into a home in Gwinnett County, Georgia, killing the pilot and a woman inside the home. The home was engulfed in flames and completely destroyed. NTSB investigators combed through the wreckage on Monday trying to piece together the events that lead to the fatal crash. Authorities said the investigation could take months

October 26, 2009
Pilots Who "Lost Track Of Time" While On Personal Laptops Lose Their Pilot License
Federal investigators reported that the pilots flying the plane that overshot the Minneapolis Airport by 150 miles were using their personal laptops in the cockpit during the flight, a violation of airline policy. The pilots told NTSB investigators that they "lost track of time" because one was tutoring the other on a new scheduling system put in place by Delta Air Lines after they bought Northwest last year. A week following the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that they had revoked both the Captain and First Officer's pilot licenses.

October 22, 2009
Air New Zealand apologizes for crash 30 years later
Air New Zealand issued a public apology for an aviation disaster that took 257 lives 30 years ago. New Zealand's national carrier also unveiled a memorial dedicated to the nation's deadliest air disaster, which occurred when a DC-10 crashed into Mount Erebus in Antarctica on November 28, 1979. Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand Chief executive stated that it was his hope the apology would make up for "many of the gaps and failings that occurred in the days, months and years" following the tragedy. Fyfe, however, did not apologize for the actual accident, which was attributed to pilot error and faulty navigational computers. The airline had also been accused of covering evidence at the time during a sub-judicial inquiry and investigation of the crash.

October 19, 2009
U.S. Surviving Families of Those Killed in Air France Crash Sue Airbus and Others
A lawsuit was filed against Airbus SA and others on behalf of surviving family members of eight of the 228 passengers killed when Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic ocean in June. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified compensation and claims that the Airbus that crashed was "defective and unreasonably dangerous." Other defendants listed in the complaint include aircraft parts makers Honeywell International, General Electric Co, Rockwell Collins Inc, Thales SA and chip maker Intel Corp.

October 16, 2009
Eminent Wolf Biologist Gordon Haber is Killed in Plane Crash
Eminent wolf biologist Dr. Gordon Haber was killed after the Cessna 185 plane he was in crashed in a remote area of Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. The pilot of the aircraft survived the crash and walked approximately 20 miles before he found help and was able to call authorities. The aircraft was significantly damaged by the impact and post crash fire.

October 13, 2009
Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Comair Plane Crash Widow
A federal judge has ruled in favor of a widow whose husband was killed in the 2006 Comair Flight 5191 plane crash in Lexington, Kentucky. Following a landmark ruling, the judge decided that Jaime Herbert of Louisiana can sue for the loss of her husband's physical and emotional companionship, also called loss of consortium. Kentucky law had previously stated that a surviving spouse could only sue for this type of loss if their spouse was incapacitated, but not if they had died.

October 8, 2009
Federal Official Says Helicopter that Crashed Lacked Safety Equipment
A medical helicopter crashed in South Carolina in September, killing three crew members. Now authorities are saying that the aircraft lacked safety features recommended by experts. An NTSB spokesman explained that the helicopter lacked certain night-vision equipment that would have warned the pilots that it was flying too close to obstacles. The reason for the crash is being investigated and has yet to be determined.

October 8, 2009
Air Traffic Controller Joked About Dead Cat Moments Before Hudson Crash, FAA Says
The Federal Aviation Administration has released a report confirming that an air traffic controller was involved in inappropriate conversations over the telephone moments before a small plane and helicopter collided over the Hudson River in New York. According to the FAA the air traffic controller was joking to a woman about a dead cat when the Piper Saratoga PA-32 plane crashed with a helicopter carrying mostly tourists over the Hudson River on August 8. All aboard both aircrafts, a total of nine people, were killed.