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Aircraft Crash and Accident Investigation

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The National Transportation Safety Board describes an independent Federal Agency, which has a dedication in enhancing railroad, aviation, pipeline, marine, highway, and hazardous materials safety. The agency was established in 1967 and has the mandate of the congress via the Independent Safety Board Act established in 1974 for studying transportation safety concerns, investigating transportation accidents, and evaluating the safety efficacy of government agencies engaged in transportation (National Transportation Safety Board). The National Transportation Safety Board usually makes its decisions and actions public through safety studies, accident reports, safety recommendations, special investigation reports, and statistical reviews. One of the accident reports compiled by the National Transportation Safety Board concerns the USAir flight 427. In this assignment, the USAir flight 427 report will be discussed as indicated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Flight History

On the 8th September, 1994, USAir flight 427 crashed as it maneuvered to land at the Pittsburgh airport. At the time, the flight was following the guidelines of 14 code of Federal Regulations, part 121 as a domestic flight scheduled to operate from Chicago-O’Hare Airport to Pittsburgh. It flew from Chicago-O’Hare at approximately 1810 having three flight attendants, carrying 127 passengers and two pilots (Wood, Sweginnis, & Lederer, 2006, p. 2). The plane became uncontrolled and crashed near the city of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The individuals on board were all killed and plane was destroyed by the fire and impact forces. Weather conditions prevailed for the plane that operated on instrument flight rules. The accident happened on the third day of a 3-day trip series for the flight crew. Pilots reported for duty on the day of the accident at around 1215 in Jacksonville and departed the Jacksonville airport using the accident plane designated as USAir flight 1181 to Charlotte approximately at 1310.

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The flight 1181 arrived at the Charlotte airport around 1421. The following trip segment, also designated as flight 1811, kicked off from Charlotte for Chicago-O’Hare Airport at around 1521. The plane arrived the target destination at around 1707. It was in Chicago-O’Hare Airport that the plane became designated as USAir flight 427 having an intended target destination of Pittsburgh and the same flight crew performed flight duties. The flight left the gate of Chicago-O’Hare Airport at around 1802 and became airbone approximately at 1810. The flight plan indicated an approximated en route time of 55 minutes. Reviewing of cockpit voice recorder and air traffic control data depicted that the captain on the plane was performing radio communications and other pilot-not-flying responsibilities, and the first officer was performing plot-flying responsibilities with the auto-flight system engaged (Wood, Sweginnis, & Lederer, 2006, p. 12).

The cockpit voice recorder depicted that at approximately 1845:31 air traffic control personnel at Cleveland air route center cleared the flight 427 to descend from its en route cruise altitude of flight level 290 to a flight level 240. At around 1853:15, the cockpit voice recorder recorded the opening of the cockpit door and its closing. At approximately 1853:26, a flight attendant inquired about flight and gate information and inquired if pilots wanted anything to drink; however, the attendant exited the cockpit at around 1854:02. At approximately 1854:27, Cleveland center reiterated instructions of crossing CUTTA intersection at 10,000 feet mean sea level and instructed pilots to mitigate airspeed to 250 knots. According to radar information and air traffic control, at that time Delta Air Lines flight 1083 that sequenced to precede the flight 427 was in level flight at 10,000 feet mean sea level with an assigned airspeed of 210 knots and heading of 160 degrees. Delta flight 1083 was in communication with personnel in Pittsburgh controlling terminal radar. At around 1856:16, Cleveland center said that USAir flight 427 was supposed to mitigate speed to 210 knots through the PIT approach. After 11 seconds, Cleveland center controller informed pilots of USAir flight 427 that they were not supposed to make the issued crossing restriction issued previously.

Flight data register depicted that at around 1902:53, USAir flight 427 was rolling out of the left bank as it approached the air traffic center-assigned heading of 100 degrees and was maintaining the air traffic center-assigned airspeed and altitude. According to the cockpit voice recorder transcript, the cockpit voice recorder recorded a sound similar to three thumps in one second. Between 1902:57 and 1902:58, flight data recorder information depicted that USAir flight 427’s airspeed declined from approximately about 190 knots to around 193 knots and declined to 191 knots within the following four seconds. At 1902:58, the cockpit voice recorder recorded additional thump sounds, sound of engine’s noise got louder, and sound of captain inhaling and exhaling swiftly one time. Besides, the flight data recorder indicated a brief forward movement of the control column. At around 1902:59, the left roll became arrested, and the plane began to roll briefly towards a wings-level altitude. The flight data recorder depicted that between 1902:59 and 1903, the plane left bank declined to approximately 15 degrees. Also, the plane’s heading data that had been moving left steadily towards the air traffic center-assigned heading of 100 degrees commenced moving left at a fast rate, passing via the 100 degrees heading. After 1903, the plane had commenced rolling swiftly back to the left again; the speed was about 191 knots. Further, by 1903:01, flight data recorder heading depicted that the plane’s heading moved left through approximately 089 degrees and continued moving left at a rate of approximately 5 degrees per second awaiting the activation of stickshaker at around 1903:08 (Byrne, 2002, p. 62).

Approximately between 1903:01 and 1903:04, the cockpit voice recorder recorded the grunting sound of the first officer and making of brief exclamatory remarks as the plane continued rolling left with numerous fluctuations in the roll rate. Flight data recorder data depicted that just before 1903:03 the plane’s angle increased to approximately 43 degrees; the plane commenced descending from the assigned altitude of 6000 feet mean sea level; the control column commenced moving aft, and the airspeed commenced to decline below 190 knots. After one second, the cockpit voice recorder recorded the thud of the autopilot disconnect horn. Then, in the next five seconds, the flight data recorder recorded an increasing left roll, decreasing altitude, and declining airspeed of approximately 186 knots. At around 1903:23, the plane impacted a hilly terrain close to Aliquippa approximately six miles northwest of PIT. The accident happened at daylight hours.

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