Safety board probes dramatic engine failure of Air Canada jet

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Safety
Bruce Campion-Smith Ottawa Bureau Chief,
OTTAWA—Canadian safety experts have launched a formal investigation into an Air Canada jet’s dramatic engine failure that dropped debris across Mississauga.

Calling the incident unusual, officials with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada confirmed Wednesday they will be doing a full investigation into the engine failure, with a written report at the end of their probe.

“It’s kind of unusual that we’re going to be shedding parts out of this engine. So it attracts our attention right off the bat. It’s the latest generation of aircraft and engine,” said Don Enns, regional manager for the Transportation Safety Board.

“The Americans are quite interested in it as well. They built and certified the airplane,” Enns said Wednesday.

Air Canada Flight 001 had departed Pearson International Airport for Japan Monday when the pilots of the Boeing 777-333 heard a loud bang and temperatures in the number two engine spiked. The pilots dumped fuel over Lake Ontario and returned to Pearson for a safe landing. There were no injuries.

However, the massive GE-90-115B engine had dropped a trail of debris under the plane’s flight path. The blackened pieces of metal have been identified as pieces of turbine blades, Enns said.

“We’re looking at some kind of failure in the turbine section,” Enns said, referring to the rear section of the engine.

It was a rare and dramatic failure for an engine which has a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most powerful jet engine in the world.

The same Boeing 777 had suffered engine damage in the past, according to safety board records.

In 2009, the aircraft struck geese while landing in Vancouver, causing damage to parts of the plane, including four fan blades in the number two engine.

On another flight a few months before that, pilots reported vibrations in number two engine. Mechanics later found that “numerous” fan blades were “delaminated” and had to be replaced.

Enns said investigators will be looking at whether the incidents are related and whether it’s even the same engine — it might have been swapped out with another one.

“All of that will come out in the history as we continue this investigation,” he said.

Enns said the length of the investigation depends in part on how long it takes to get the engine into an overhaul shop so it can be dismantled for inspection.

Full story and picture, here.
The Wall Street Jounal also reported that The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, GE, Boeing Co. (BA) will be part of the investigation.  The full Wall Street Journal story can be found here.
For more information about Brodkowitz Law’s work representing injured passengers and crew world wide, visit our website or contact us.

Reno Air Races plans to change course this fall

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Crashes, Safety


By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Organizers of the national air racing championships secured $100 million in necessary insurance and announced plans Tuesday to change the September race course for the fastest planes to keep them farther from spectators after last year’s mass-casualty crash near a grandstand.

Reno Air Racing Association Director Mike Houghton said he’ll ask the Federal Aviation Administration for its required permission to move the largest pylon course for the 49th annual championships away from the crowd that typically numbers in the tens of thousands a day.

He said the change would include the softening of some curves to ease the gravitational pull on pilots — including coming out of a stretch called the “Valley of Speed” where planes flying at speeds up to 500 mph gain momentum on the high Sierra plateau north of Reno.

“We had a choice to move the grandstands or some of the racing so we are pushing some of the racing further away,” Houghton said.

“It will make the race course on the turn there more consistent and probably less of a g-strain, for the less experienced race pilots,” he said, adding that details are still be worked out and subject to testing.

Houghton made the announcements after a blue ribbon panel of experts appointed by the association unveiled its list of safety recommendations, including formalizing plane inspection procedures.

The four-member panel, which included former National Transportation Safety Board chairman Jim Hall, also advised further study of possible age limits for pilots.

Jimmy Leeward was 74 when his World War II-era P-51 Mustang crashed nose-first into the box seats in on the apron of the tarmac in front of the grandstand on Sept. 16, killing him and 10 spectators and injuring more than 70 others.

The panel “talked at length” about whether age limits or other increased medical requirements should be imposed,” said Nick Sabatini, another panel member who worked as the FAA’s associate administrator of aviation safety. But he said they decided they were not qualified to make “what are in effect medical recommendations.”

Instead, they urged the association to create a formal position of director of aerospace medicine to review areas such as pilot age and the medical impact of gravitational forces on pilots. The panel also recommended creation of a formal director of safety, which Sabatini said is among several recommendations in the panel’s report that the association already has implemented.

“Our recommendations focus principally on institutionalizing much of what is already being done,” the panel summarized in its report.

Other suggestions included creating an internal evaluation program modeled after the kind airlines use and formalizing inspection procedures to be sure “uncorrected discrepancies” regarding airplane modifications “do not slip through the system.”

The association’s event at Reno Stead Airport is the only event of its kind, where planes fly wing-tip-to-wing-tip around an oval, aerial pylon track, sometimes just 50 feet off the ground.

Panel member Jon Sharp, an aeronautical engineer and the winningest pilot in the event’s history, said he likes the plans for the new course layout for the jets and unlimited class of aircraft, like the P-51 Mustangs.

“If I had to guess from what I know about it, the fans won’t notice the difference,” he said. “The planes will be a little bit farther away but they won’t be little dots.”

Houghton said he expects the association to comply with all the safety changes recommended by the panel as well as the NTSB, which continues to investigate the cause of the crash.

NTSB hasn’t made clear if it will complete its report before the races Sept. 12-16, but when it does, the special use permit the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority issued last week requires the racing association to meet any additional recommendations.

Houghton said he doesn’t anticipate demands that would prevent the event from going forward.

“If (NTSB) had something they felt was going to be a deal-breaker, I’m pretty certain that would have surfaced by now,” he said.

The association continues to face financial challenges, having lost about $1 million last year and facing a $1.7 million increase in its insurance premium under the new deal with underwriters, Houghton said. He said ticket sales have been sluggish due to earlier uncertainty about the future of the event. He urged the local community to buy tickets.

In recent years, the races have injected about $80 million annually into the local economy, he said.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the races have been an important part of the community for nearly a half century and that he is “confident it will continue.”

He said in a statement from Washington that the recommendations from the blue ribbon panel and the NTSB “will ensure the tens of thousands of spectators can safely watch and enjoy these races.”

Full Story, here.

Brodkowitz Law has been gathering information about the Reno Air Race since the crash in September of 2011.  To view these materials and for links to NTSB and FAA reports and recommendations, visit our Reno Air Race webpage or contact us for more information.

Jet Makes Emergency Landing in NC After Oil Leak

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Fumes, Safety



Reposted from

Leaking oil forced an American Airlines passenger plane to make an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Airport officials said the pilot noticed the leak shortly after taking off from Raleigh for Chicago around 8:15 a.m. Sunday. The first attempt at an emergency landing was scrapped, but the pilot brought the plane down safely as emergency crews stood by on the second attempt.

Authorities say none of the 138 passengers on the MD-83 jet were injured.

American Airlines was bringing in another plane to take the passengers to Chicago.

Reports by The Aviation Herald indicate that the MD-83, was N565AA. The Flight number for this flight appears to be AA 1645.

Information from our website regarding toxic fumes on airplanes (which can be caused by an oil leak):

All commercial jets (with the exception of the 787 Dreamliner) rely upon air pulled in through the engines to provide pressurized air to the cabin. During flight high-temperature compressed air is bled off the engines and, after being cooled, is re-circulated throughout the cabin and flight deck. Pyrolized engine oil or hydraulic fluid may contaminate the air in these compressors. As a result of exposure to this contaminated air, airline workers along with airline passengers, may develop chronic health problems leading them to seek attention from health care providers. 

Jet engine oil contains an organophosphate known as tricresyl phosphate (“TCP”), a neurotoxin capable of damaging the central and peripheral nervous system. After exposure to contaminated bleed air passenger and flight crew may suffer from  industrial asthma and neurological damage including cognitive problems, memory loss, uncontrollable tremors, numbness and tingling in the extremities, disabling migraines, speech impairment, and vision loss, among other symptoms.

Sometimes people describe contaminated bleed air as smelling like “dirty socks” or “bad cheese” or a “gym locker room.” Sometimes this injurious air does not smell at all. Some have described a metallic taste that they experience during a “fume event.” Others may have trouble breathing.

If you have been exposed to contaminated air on an airplane there is important information that your doctor should know. Click here to obtain the Bleed Air Medical Protocol, a document designed to help doctors treat victims of fume events. Bring this document to your doctor.

If you have any questions regarding this information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

How safe are private aircraft?

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Safety


In Canada the accident rate for private (including corporate) planes was 28.4 per 100,000 flying hours in 2002. That rate is much higher than the rate for commuter planes and airliners but the rate has been dropping over the years.

According to a 2002 TSB report, “the generally accepted factors that contribute to these higher accident rates include less stringent aircraft certification standards, reduced pilot training requirements, lower pilot experience, higher instances of single-pilot operations, greater proportions of time spent in low-altitude VFR operations, and more frequent use of small airports and landing strips that are not equipped with navigation and landing aids.”

In 2011, there were 224 accidents involving single engine aircraft in Canada, 29 of them fatal.

In the U.S. in 2010, general aviation aircraft were involved in 1,435 accidents, 267 of them fatal. General aviation excludes passenger planes, cargo planes, air taxis, air medical and air tours.

The complete story can be found at CBC News Canada.

For more information about Brodkowitz Law and our work to advocate for people injured in the aviation industry, including plane crash victims, visit our website or contact us.

3 feared dead in plane crash near Kelowna, B.C.

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Safety


Posted: May 13, 2012 9:12 PM PT, Last Updated: May 14, 2012 9:38 AM PT

Officials confirm 1 dead and 2 other people not expected to have survived 

It is feared three people were killed in a float plane crash about 25 kilometres southwest of Kelowna in the Okanagan region of B.C. on Sunday evening.

The single-engine de Havilland Beaver float plane went down in a heavily wooded area on an embankment below Highway 97C about seven kilometres west of the intersection of Brenda Mines Road around 6:45 p.m. PT.


Intersection of brenda mines road and 97C

On Sunday night emergency officials confirmed that at least one person died in the crash, but were waiting to access the site again on Monday morning before confirming the fate of the two other people.

Crews from B.C. Ambulance and the West Kelowna Fire Department responded to the crash, but officials say they do not believe anyone could have survived the fiery crash and they expect to begin the recovery effort on Monday morning.

The Transportation Safety Board was sending investigators to the scene to examine the crash site to determine a cause.

The plane was reportedly on a day trip from Pitt Meadows, east of Vancouver. It had departed Kelowna on its return trip when witnesses said they saw it flying low over the trees, according to RCMP Const. Claudette St. Thomas.

“They noticed that the airplane turned around and started heading back towards the Merritt area as if it were looking for a landing area, possibly the highway and … the plane went down.”

Weather conditions were good at the time of the crash.

The plane was carrying five people when it left Pitt Meadows, but Capt. Greg Clarke from the Joint Rescue Centre in Victoria said only three were on board for the return flight when it crashed.

For the full story, video and additional pictures, click here.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada posts aviation reports on their website, click here to monitor the website for report information regarding this incident.

Please also visit our website, or contact us for more information about our experience representing victims of aviation incidents.

FAA proposes $210,000 civil penalty against Alaska Airlines

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Safety


The FAA is proposing a civil penalty of $210,000 against Seattle-based Alaska Airlines (AS) for allegedly failing to properly document and tag deactivated systems and equipment before making repairs.

In a statement, the FAA alleged that on 10 occasions between June 19, 2010, and Jan.13, 2011, AS performed maintenance on six of its Boeing 737 airplanes but failed to document the alternative actions it took and install the appropriate danger tag. “These requirements are safety measures designed to reduce hazards to technicians during maintenance and to prevent potential damage to the aircraft and onboard systems,” FAA said.

An AS spokesman told ATW, “In these instances, Alaska performed the required maintenance work according to the aircraft manufacturer’s specifications; however, we did not properly document the alternate procedure. The maintenance was performed during ground operational checks and at no time were passengers or employees in danger.”

Since receiving the letter of investigation, AS said it has “implemented a number of changes to ensure compliance, including revising the maintenance manual, implementing a new training program for aircraft technicians and performing routine compliance audits. We are also working cooperatively with the FAA to resolve the proposed penalty,” the spokesman told ATW.

AS has 30 days to respond to the agency.

Full story, here. To view the FAA press release click, here.

Another press release from the FAA indicates a proposed civil penalty against Horizon Air in the amount of $445,125.00 for allegedly operating a Bombardier Dash-8-400 aircraft on 45 flights when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations, see below for a copy of the FAA press release:

FAA News
May 3, 2012

Contact: Allen Kenitzer or Mike Fergus                          

Phone: 425-227-2015


FAA Proposes $445,125 Civil Penalty Against Horizon Air

SEATTLE – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $445,125 civil penalty against Horizon Air of Seattle for allegedly operating a Bombardier Dash-8-400 aircraft on 45 flights when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.


The FAA alleges Horizon failed to comply with an airworthiness directive (AD) that required the airline to inspect for cracked or corroded engine nacelle fittings on its Dash-8-400 aircraft. The AD, with an effective date of March 17, 2011, ordered inspections of the nacelles every 300 operating hours, and repairs as needed.


Between March 17 and 23, 2011, Horizon operated the aircraft on at least 45 revenue passenger flights when it had accumulated more than 300 hours of flight time since its last inspection.


Horizon has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.


To view the press release via the FAA website, click here.

For more information about FAA civil penalties, click here.

For more inforamtion about what Brodkowitz Law is doing to advocate for injured passengers and crew, please visit our webiste or contact us.

Passengers Burned By Hot Coffee or Tea On Flights.

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Burns


Recently several passengers have sued after flight attendants spilled coffee on passengers during separate flights. A Canadian man was asleep when coffee was spilled on his arm. When he took his shirt off, his skin came off with it.  A woman suffered burns when a different flight attendant spilled coffee on her during a flight. If you have been similarly burned, seek medical attention and consult an attorney.

Passengers On Upset Flight Sue Airline

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events


By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief, AVweb

A $20 million class action lawsuit has been launched against Air Canada by passengers aboard a Toronto-Zurich flight that was mistakenly thrown into a dive by one of the pilots. As we reportedAt least 16 people, 14 passengers and two flight attendants, were hurt when the first officer, who had just awoken from a sanctioned in-seat nap, spotted an oncoming Air Force C-17 and thought they were on a collision course. Moments before, he’d mistaken the planet Venus for the C-17. The military plane was 1,000 feet below the 767-300 at 12 o’clock. The FO pushed the Boeing into an emergency dive, dropping 400 feet. It then, just as abruptly, climbed 800 feet before settling into level flight with the captain under control. Seven of the injured were taken to hospital when the aircraft arrived in Zurich three hours later. But it wasn’t the incident itself, which happened in January of 2011, that pushed the passengers to legal action. Their statement of claim alleges the airline “actively covered up the true cause of the terrifying episode.”

The suit alleges Air Canada blamed turbulence for the upset, offered modest cash settlements to the injured and asked some passengers to sign indemnity waivers. It wasn’t until Canada’s Transportation Safety Board issued its report on the incident that the passengers learned what really happened, the suit alleges. “I have been lied to for 15 months by this airline,” Jaragina-Sahoo told the Canadian Press. She was pregnant and was thrown against the ceiling of the aircraft. She accepted $3,500 for medical expenses and lost time at work from the airline. “Obviously, I would not have settled for the amount they offered me had I known it was a human error rather than just a course of nature.” Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline considers the suit without merit and will defend itself.

The complete Canada Transportation Safety Board regarding the incident can be found, here.

For more information about Brodkowitz Law and our work representing injured flight crew and passengers worldwide, visit our website or contact us.

F22 Raptor Pilots Should Carry Carbon Monoxide Detectors.

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events



 Having watched last night’s 60 minutes program describing the problems with the air delivery system on the F22 Raptor-   I cannot help but wonder if the F22 environmental control system is contaminated with oil. Apparently, one article advises that testing has revealed oil by products in the blood of at least one F22 pilot. Air contaminated with aviation jet engine oil has been recognized to impair the operational skills and abilities of flight crew which of course results in reduced controllability of the airplane. For instance, check out this airworthiness directive. Normally when a substance burns (for instance when dripping jet engine oil becomes pyrolized in or near the engine) it creates carbon monoxide. Are the F22s equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. They should be.

Plane Crashed on Purpose to Help People Survive

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events


Story by Jim Avila, ABC News

Discovery TV orchestrated a deliberate test crash of a Boeing 727, giving researchers an inside look at what happens when a plane goes down.

The test was done in a Mexican desert and was recorded by multiple cameras.

But beyond the incredible video, the crash acts as a science experiment to improve survivability on board.

The likelihood of dying in a plane crash is very small — crashes are very rare, and an astounding 76 percent of passengers aboard serious airplane crashes somehow survive.

In a 1989 DC-10 crash in Sioux City, Iowa, the plane tumbled and burned, but half the people on board survived.

And in an Ethiopian airliner that plummeted into the sea off the African coast in 1996, 50 people still lived out of 175 on board.

In other cases — including a fiery Denver takeoff in 2008, an American Airlines crash in Jamaica in 2009 in which a 737 broke  in two, and a 2005 crash landing in Toronto — everyone survived.

Because of the limited data, test crashes like this one are extremely important to the study of improving survivability.

In a similar NASA experiment nearly 30 years ago, there were crash test dummies on board who can be seen on film absorbing the impact.

“What you would do is instrument this airplane and put all sorts of sensors throughout the cabin on the dummies inside, to figure out what goes through a crash in terms of forces on people that are inside the cockpit,” ABC News Aviation Consultant Steve Ganyard said.

Among the things learned from these test crashes are ways to improve your personal safety:

  • Sit within five rows of an exit
  • Choose an aisle seat
  • And don’t sleep during takeoff and landing

An MIT study found that the chance of dying on a scheduled flight in the United States is one  in 14 million. At that rate, you would have to fly every day for 38 thousand years before getting caught in a fatal accident.

So despite — and in fact because of — some of these scary test crashes, even when all seems hopeless, surviving a plane crash is possible, even likely.

PHOTOS: See more pictures of Discovery Channel’s Boeing 727 plane crash.

For more information about how Brodkowitz Law works to represent victims and their families following a plane crash, view our website or contact us for more information.