B-757 Puerto Plata Accident

From:         randl@direct.ca
Organization: Internet Direct
Date:         16 Feb 96 04:33:20 
Followups:    1
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure


Here's my thoughts regarding the 757 accident Feb 6/96. I am an
Airline Transport Pilot, familiar with POP (Puerto Plata) and the
Dominican Republic Air Traffic Control System. FYI, No, I have not
flown 757/767's.

Reported Facts:

B-757 charter flight, routing POP to Berlin and Frankfurt, Germany.
Total 189 (on board? passengers?). B-767 was original equipment. 757
sub due to hydraulic prob on 767. Turkish crew. Late night (23:00
local) departure.

Radar controller first to notice anything wrong. He/she saw flight
turn right, away from flight-planned route. No reported radio contact
other than "Standby". Otherwise, no emergency mentioned at all.

Aircraft crashed into the ocean just two minutes into the flight, less
than twelve miles off-shore. Last news reported that as of 23:00
eastern time Feb 07, no reported survivors; no inflated life-vests,
etc.

Weather reported as "raining with lightning". Does anyone have the
actual aviation weather report, including altimeter setting?

Suppose the following:

Crew sets 29.92" (normal QNE setting) shortly after departure.
Altitude alerter set for initial FL. Normal takeoff, with handoff to
SDQ (Santo Domingo) ACC. Flight turns back for reasons unknown
(Pressurization prob? Overheated or on-fire tire(s)? Px Medical?
Turbulence?).

Looking forward to flight home (at least on the "home side" of the
Atlantic since crew was Turkish), crew is not set up for rapid return
to POP. With Alt Alert set to go off on the climb, it would not chime
(in this hypothetical explanation) on descent back to POP, thus not
warning crew of low altitude. "Black Hole" situation present if crew
turns back relying on visual cues. Without instrument cross-checking,
in the rush to get back to POP, situational awareness easily lost.

Rapid decent, with one or both altimeters mis-set, and combined with
the above, can lead to CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain - in this
case, the Atlantic Ocean).

Their GPWS (Ground Proximity Warning System) would have likely have
gone off. Recently, we've been trained to respond immediately on any
GPWS alert (in past many false alarms occurred, leading many crews to
second guess the alerts). This flight crew was said to have turned
right, towards a (relatively) high outcropping of land just east of
POP, and may have discounted GPWS warning because of this (if they
knew the local area, that is).

Weather also seems to be a factor (perhaps the primary). If so,
microburst encounter?? (Although Most CB's (Thunderclouds) in the area
form over the northern mountains just south of POP.

------------------------------------------------------------------

All of the above chain of events seem plausible. I have dealt with
numerous accidents similar to the above, all with the same unfortunate
results.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Does anyone know if the 757 involved here uses the same
engine/reverser system that Lauda Air used on that 767 that had it's
reverser deploy in cruise a few years back?? (Another explanation??)

What about a mainwheel-bay fire (from dragging brakes?) (Although I'd
tend to doubt this since the flight took off at night; mind you the
temp. may have been still at least high 70-80's and the taxi for
take-off at POP is still quite a distance if they departed eastbound).

-------------------------------------------------------------------

If you feel this is all premature, DON"T BOTHER FLAMING ME! My primary
interest is flight safety. The accident just happened; we all know it
takes months of proper accident investigation to find probable cause.
Just don't waste everyone's time mentioning this or flaming me - we
all know these facts. But it seems with such an excellent record this
type has, I can only think of this as a possible cause, so I wanted to
get everyone thinking SITUATIONAL AWARENESS and WEATHER right away!

Remember, never assume a thing in flying. Armchair accident
investigation is easy - we'll all have to consider the report once it
is released. That will show the real work of considering what
happened.

Use this unfortunate accident to remind your crews and yourself
"things happen". It all takes just a few seconds of pre-planning to
avoid losing situational awareness. Break the chain of events and you
will all hopefully get home safely!

Any thoughts???

Posted to alt.disasters.aviation / sci.aeronautics /
sci.aeronautics.airliners (I feel this is relavent to all three).

FLY SAFE!