Re: DC-9 Hail damage

Date:         18 May 98 16:03:16 
From:         Chuck Till <ctill@mindspring.com>
Organization: MindSpring Enterprises
References:   1
Followups:    1
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David Lesher wrote:
> I've not seen any photos, but the ValueJet [yes, I call it that]
> -9 was described as losing the windshield.
>
> How the dickens can the crew survive that?

Outer panes of the windshield were cracked. By the way, this
incident reminds me of a very similar incident with Southern
Airways in April 1977 -- a DC-9 approaching Atlanta encountered
a thunderstorm not far away from Calhoun, Ga; but both engines
failed and would not restart. The pilot got the aircraft onto
a highway, but there were 70 fatalities.

NTSB Identification: MIA98FA152
Scheduled 14 CFR 121 operation of AIRTRAN AIRLINES, INC.
Accident occurred MAY-07-98 at CALHOUN, GA
Aircraft: Douglas DC-9-32, registration: N948VV
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor, 85 Uninjured.

On May 7, 1998, about 1920 eastern daylight time, a Douglas DC-9-32,
N948VV, registered to and operated by Airtran Airlines, Inc., as
flight 426, Title 14 CFR Part 121 scheduled domestic passenger
service from Atlanta, Georgia, to Chicago Illinois, encountered
turbulence and hail near Calhoun, Georgia, while climbing through
20,000 feet, after departure from Atlanta. Instrument meteorological
conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight
plan was filed. The aircraft received substantial damage. One flight
attendant received serious injuries, and one passenger received minor
injuries. The airline transport-rated captain, first officer, 2 flight
attendants, 1 jumpseat rider, and 80 passengers were not injured. The
flight originated from Atlanta, Georgia, the same day, about 1905. The
flightcrew stated that while at a position about 50 miles north of
Atlanta, they asked for and received permission from the FAA air traffic
controller to fly a heading of 330 degrees to go around weather. This
would take them between two weather returns and also allow them to
follow another aircraft ahead of them. They had not given the flight
attendants permission to leave their seats, and the captain again called
them and asked them to remain seated. While climbing through 20,000 feet,
they encountered severe hail which lasted about 5 seconds, and moderate
turbulence which lasted about 30 seconds. The three front windshields
shattered and the radome separated from the aircraft. The captain's and
first officer's airspeed indicators became inoperative and it became
very noisy in the cockpit. They declared an emergency with the FAA air
traffic controller and asked for directions to the nearest airport. An
approach to landing was made to Lovell Field, Chattanooga, Tennesse,
with FAA air traffic controllers reporting the aircraft's ground speed
about every 10-15 seconds. A landing was made at 1940, and after
inspection of the aircraft by fire department personnel, the aircraft
was taxied to a gate. Postlanding examination of the aircraft by an NTSB
investigator showed the radome had separated and portions of it had been
ingested into the right engine. The three front windshield outer panes
were shattered. The wing leading edge devices, horizontal stabilizer
leading edge, vertical stabilizer leading edge, and both left and right
engine inlet cowls had sustained impact damage. The left and right engine
fans had sustained foreign object damage.