Monday, March 23, 2009
By JAY ALABASTER, Associated Press Writer (Video Footage after the news)
TOKYO – A FedEx cargo plane smashed into a runway and burst into a ball of fire while attempting to land at Tokyo's main international airport Monday, killing the American pilot and copilot. Investigators believe wind shear, or a sudden gust of wind, may have been a factor.
Questions were also being raised about the safety of the MD-11, a wide-body airliner built by McDonnell Douglas and based on the DC-10.
The flight from FedEx's hub in Guangzhou, China, appeared to bounce after its initial touch down, and then skipped along the main runway at Narita Airport before flipping over and coming to a fiery halt, footage from airport security cameras showed.
Firefighters and rescuers immediately swarmed the MD-11 plane but the pilot and copilot — Kevin Kyle Mosley, 54, and Anthony Stephen Pino, 49 — were killed. Mosley lived in Hillsboro, Oregon, while Pino was from San Antonio, Texas, according to online records at the Federal Aviation Administration.
They were the only two people aboard.
Investigators said the accident may have been caused by low-level turbulence or "wind shear," sudden gusts that can lift or smash an aircraft into the ground during landing, said Kazuhito Tanakajima, an aviation safety official at the Transport Ministry.
Unusually strong winds of up to about 47 miles per hour (76 kilometers per hour) were blowing through Narita City on Monday morning around the time of the crash, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
But Tanakajima said the wind speed at the time of the accident was not enough to be considered dangerous, unless wind shear was involved. He said there was headwind of about 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour), and a crosswind of about 7 miles per hour.
Strong winds and turbulence have caused other recent incidents at the airport.
Last month, a flight from the Philippines was jolted by severe turbulence as it circled prior to landing, injuring 50 passengers and crew members.
The MD-11 has been involved in accidents in which it flipped while landing, and pilots have complained about the aircraft in the past. The plane is no longer used by carriers for passenger travel but is widely employed for moving cargo.
In 1999, an MD-11 flipped over and burst into flames, killing three people during a crash landing in a storm in Hong Kong. And in 1997 one of the planes landed hard, flipped and caught fire while landing in Newark, N.J.
Tomoki Kuwano, a former Japan Airlines pilot and aviation expert, said that although wind shear could not be ruled out, the MD-11 has a tendency to be unstable during landing.
"In the past, the MD-11 has a record of landing failure," he said. "And when that happens it often flips over."
FedEx said it was investigating the cause of the accident.
"We will continue to work closely with the applicable authorities as we seek to determine the cause for this tragic incident," it said in a statement.
The plane smashed into the longer of Narita's two runways, which remained closed Monday with all incoming flights diverted, said airport spokeswoman Misuho Fukuda.
Parts of the wreckage were still burning hours after the crash, forcing the cancellation of dozens of flights. At least 10,000 passengers were affected, according to airlines contacted by The Associated Press.
Japanese media reported that Monday's was the first fatal crash at Narita Airport, a major international hub located about 35 miles (60 kilometers) east of central Tokyo. It is Japan's second-busiest airport, after Tokyo's Haneda Airport, which is used primarily for domestic flights.
Last month, FedEx opened a new $150 million operations hub for the Asia-Pacific region in Guangzhou.
Sandra Munez, a spokeswoman for FedEx in the U.S., said customers that had packages on the plane will be dealt with on an individual basis through the company's risk management and claims departments.
"As soon as the authorities give us permission, we contact customers and notify them of the incident," she said.
Associated Press writers Tomoko Hosaka, Shino Yuasa and Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Another Garuda Indonesia Commercial during the 1990's Golden Age. Adding another newest fleet of that time, including: 5 Airbus A300-B4, 8 MD-11, 3 Boeing 747-400, and 15 Boeing 737-400.
akarta, Mar 10, 2009 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX) -- The ministry of transportation has ordered the grounding of all Lion Air MD-90 aircraft for three to four days for safety checks after one of them skidded at Soekarno-Hatta airport here on Monday.
"The decision was taken to ascertain the safety of all the aircraft," the ministry's director general of air transportation, Herry Bhakti Singayuda, said here on Tuesday replying a press questions about Monday's incident.
A Lion Air MD-90 skidded on the runway of Soekarno-Hatta airport after landing in heavy rain but none of its 165 passengers and crew members were injured in the incident.
Previously, on February 23, another Lion Air aircraft of the same type made an emergency landing at Hang Nadim airport in Batam after its front wheel failed to function. All passengers were safe but 30 percent of them suffered shock.
Herry said although nobody was killed in the two incidents the authorities considered it important to check all MD-90 planes because they had often been involved in accidents.
"The checks are to be done as an anticipatory effort to prevent the recurrence of incidents. It is also to be done to make sure that all of the planes are still airworthy. The decision on whether or not the planes are airworthy will be taken fairly and wisely after thorough investigations," he said.
He said the pilots that had flown the ill-fated planes meanwhile had been banned from flying any plane for a month pending the results of the investigation on the incidents by the National Committee for Transportation Safety (KNKT).
"If the results show human error they will be given a sanction," he said.
He said plane accidents could be caused by various factors but the main three of them were human, weather and technical factors. In view of that he said a thorough study had to be done to find out the real cause of the two incidents and this was the authority of the KNKT.
"Study was also needed to see if the planes have routinely been checked in line with aviation rules and the law," he said.
Herry said accidents could happen on any plane including the new one accidents. He said the government could not as yet tell if the MD-90 type could still be operated or not.
According to the ministry's data only Lion Air operated MD-90s totalling five units. "So, if they are all grounded it is hope it will not disrupt national seat capacity," he said.