Mid-air collision between an F-16 military aircraft and a Cessna 150 in Moncks Corner, SC on July 7, 2015
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the mid-air collision between an F-16 military aircraft and a Cessna 150 which occurred in Moncks Corner, South Carolina on Monday, July 7, 2015. The Air Force confirmed that the pilot of the F-16 ejected safely from the plane. The pilot and passenger on board the Cessna were killed.
At the time of the crash, the F-16 pilot was participating in an instrument training exercise following his departure from Shaw Air Force Base, roughly 100 miles north west of Charleston. The collision occurred approximately 2,000 and 3,000 feet above ground shortly after the Cessna departed from Berkeley County Airport in Moncks Corner. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
DeHavilland DHC-3T Otter floatplane crash carrying cruise passengers in Alaska on June 25, 2015
On June 25, 2015, a single-engine, turbine-powered, float-equipped DeHavilland DHC-3 (Otter) airplane crashed in mountainous tree-covered terrain about 24 miles northeast of Ketchikan, Alaska. The floatplane, which was operating a sightseeing excursion for passengers of a Holland America Line cruise ship, crashed into a cliff roughly 800 feet above Ella Lake at about 2 p.m. The airplane was owned by Pantechnicon Aviation, of Minden, Nevada, and operated by Promech Air, Inc. of Ketchikan. The commercial pilot and eight passengers were fatally injured. The flight departed from a floating dock located in Rudyerd Bay about 44 miles northeast of Ketchikan for a tour through Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness. At the time of the accident, the flight was returning to the operator's base at the Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base in Ketchikan.
Promech Air reported that the accident airplane departed Rudyerd Bay as the third of four float-equipped airplanes on air tour flights over the Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness that day. The airplanes departed about 5 minutes apart, and the standard route of flight was southwest over an area of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and mountainous tree-covered terrain. When the airplane failed to return to Ketchikan, Promech Air initiated a search for the missing airplane and heard an emergency locator transmitter signal along the plane’s anticipated route of flight. The airplane impacted trees and a near vertical rock face in a nose high, wings level attitude at an elevation of about 1,600 feet mean sea level and came to rest upright on top of its separated floats, in an area of heavily forested, steep terrain. Weather conditions prohibited rescue personnel or members of the National Transportation Safety Board to reach the crash site for two days.
The aircraft was equipped with an avionics package known as automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, also known as "Capstone." The Capstone technology provides pilots with situational awareness by displaying the airplane's position over terrain using GPS technology coupled with an instrument panel mounted, moving map display. The Capstone equipment installed in the floatplane included two Chelton multifunction display units, one of which provides the pilot with a moving map with terrain awareness information, and the other provides primary flight display information. The two display units were removed from the wreckage and shipped, to the NTSB recorder laboratory in Washington, D.C. The plane was also equipped with a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A engine that produces 750 shaft horsepower. A comprehensive post-accident examination of the engine and airframe is currently underway by the NTSB as part of its investigation.
Amtrak Derailment in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015
On May 12, 2015 at approximately 9:21 PM, Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 was traveling from Washington to New York when it derailed near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The train was carrying 243 passengers and 8 Amtrak crew members. The train entered the Frankford Junction curve at a speed of 106 mph, despite the fact that the speed in the curve is expressly restricted to 50 mph. The speed limit immediately before the curve is 80 mph. As the train entered the curve, the engineer applied full emergency brakes only seconds before the train derailed. Sadly, eight passengers were killed, and more than 200 others were injured.
Federal investigators have had a difficult time determining the cause of the crash because the train’s engineer sustained a concussion and does not recall what happened. An examination of the signals systems has revealed no anomalies or malfunctions. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that Amtrak install crash and fire-protected inward and outward facing audio and image recorders in the operating cabs of all of its trains, and that it review the recordings to ensure that their crew’s actions are in accordance with all procedures.
Amtrak has acknowledged in responses to lawsuits filed against it as a result of the crash, that it will not contest liability, and that it will pay compensatory damages to the passengers and the families of those killed. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will determine where the cases filed against Amtrak will be consolidated for pre-trial discovery.
Germanwings Flight 9525 crash on March 24, 2015
On March 24, 2015 an Airbus A320 operated as Germanwings Flight 9525 with 150 passengers and crew on board, crashed in the French Alps on its way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, Germany. Germanwings is a low-cost airline owned by Germany's flagship carrier Lufthansa.
The French Bureau of Investigations and Analysis for the Safety of Civil Aviation (BEA) and the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU) are investigating the accident, with assistance from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and representatives from Airbus and CFM International.
According to the BEA, after reaching cruising altitude, the captain of the flight told the co-pilot that he was leaving the cockpit and asked him to take over radio communications. Minutes later, the selected altitude on the flight control unit changed from 38,000 feet to 100 feet. Seconds later, the autopilot and autothrust modes were changed, the aircraft started to rapidly descend and both engines’ RPMs decreased. The speed management indicator changed from “manage” mode to “selected” mode, and a second later, the selected target speed was changed causing the plane’s speed to increase along with the descent rate. Over the following 13 seconds, the target speed changed six times until it reached 302 knots.
Air Traffic Control asked the flight crew what cruise level they were cleared for, as the airplane was then at an altitude of 30,000 feet and descending. There was no answer from the co-pilot. Air Traffic Control attempted to contact the flight crew repeatedly without any answer. A few minutes later, the French Air Defence system tried to contact the flight crew on three occasions also without any answer. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recorded noises similar to violent blows on the cockpit door on five occasions. Also noted was the low amplitude inputs on the co-pilot’s sidestick. The flight crew of another nearby airplane also attempted to contact the flight crew of Flight 9525 with no success. The terrain aural warning was triggered by the airplane’s systems, and remained active until the end of the flight. The Master Caution warning was recorded, as was the Master Warning which was also triggered and remained active until the end of the flight.
Both French and German officials have publicly stated that they believe the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 purposely crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing all on board. While the history of the co-pilot’s mental and emotional state has come under scrutiny, his conduct raises questions for airline operators and aviation government regulatory agencies about pilot background checks, psychological evaluations, and whether the procedures in place are adequate to protect passengers.
Metro-North Crash in Valhalla, NY on Feb. 3, 2015
A Metro-North train was involved in a collision with a passenger vehicle on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 which resulted in the deaths of six train passengers and the driver the Jeep Cherokee who was crossing the tracks, and injuries to more than a dozen other train passengers. The crash took place at the Commerce Street crossing, in Mount Pleasant near Valhalla, in Westchester County.
According to preliminary information from the National Transportation Safety Board, the gates at the train crossing came down on top of the vehicle which had stopped on the tracks. The driver got out of the vehicle to look at the rear of the car, returned inside and drove forward when the SUV was struck by the train. The train pushed the motor vehicle 1,000 feet down the tracks and, as it went along, tore up 400 feet of electrified rail. The electrified rail first penetrated the motor vehicle from behind and below the driver’s seat, and exited the vehicle by the right rear tire. It then pierced the train, breaking up in 80-foot segments. At least one of those segments penetrated the second rail car. The NTSB is looking into the safety of the railroad crossing itself, as well as the actions of Metro North personnel during the accident sequence, and the design of the third rail integration.