Tag Archives: Spain

Wrong trim setting caused fatal F-16 crash during TLP

The cause of the dramatic Greek F-16 crash in Albacete, Spain, on January 26 was the result of an incorrect trim setting that went unnoticed, an accident investigation board has concluded. Eleven people lost their lives that day. The board’s findings were made public by the French Ministry of Defense on Monday 27 July. Most of the fatalities in the accident were French.

According to the board, the yaw trim was inadvertently set to maximum right deflection, drastically affecting the aerodynamics of the aircraft during takeoff. After the pilot of the two seat F-16D completed his before take off check list 20 minutes prior  to the aircraft’s actual departure, the incorrect setting went unnoticed. In the time between the check and the actual take off, the knob for the trim setting may have accidentally been hit by something in the cockpit.

As the aircraft rotated, the incorrect setting caused the F-16 to turn right, heading for a platform were other aircraft were preparing for their mission. Data showed pilot tried to correct the unwanted turn by steering left, but the control inputs were insufficient to counter the right roll. The crashing F-16 hit several French Air Force aircraft as it came down, writing off a Mirage 2000D, two Alpha Jets and an Italian AMX. Several more aircraft sustained damage. Pics of the aftermath are here. The two pilots crewing the F-16 ejected, but fatally hit the ground.

Nine more people died in the crash at Albacete airbase in Spain. All were French personnel on the ground. Another 29 military personnel were wounded. The Greek F-16 was part of large formation of aircraft taking part in the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) exercise.

The investigation board found that the manual trim panel in the F-16’s cockpit  does not prevent all inadvertent movement of the setting. In this case, a check list used by the pilot is likely to have hit the panel without the pilot noticing it. The cockpit is also not equipped with a warning system for aircraft “mistrimming” prior to take off.

Other critical factors leading to the crash were the aircraft  heavy gross weight, asymmetric configuration and a cross wind.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Hellenic Air Force F-16 up close (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Nice Monday for ATR at PAS15

The new week starts nicely for ATR Aircraft, one of the many companies present at the Paris Air Show 2015 (PAS15) at Le Bourget. A fresh Spanish order on 15 June 2015 and the 1,500 ATR aircraft delivered are nice milestones for the manufacturer of turboprop airliners.

Canary Islands airline Binter signed an agreement for six new ATR 72-600 aircraft, following their first batch for six ATR 72-600s in February 2014. The total orders for ATR aircraft are now at thirty.

Binter is modernizing its fleet and chooses the ATR 72-600s to be more fuel efficient, apart from having nicer planes of course. The Spanish company already flies 16 ATR 72-500s. Its first 600 version is expected to arrive later this year, with the final of 12 on order to be received in 2017.

The ATR 72-600 has a capacity of 68 to 78 seats. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney 127M engines, giving it a maximum of 2,750 horse power per engine at take-off. The range with a 100% seat occupation is 900 nautical miles (1,665 km).

Created in 1988, Binter starting operating its first ATR in 1989 on the Canarian inter-island network. The airline, originally owned by Spain’s flag carrier Iberia, was purchased in 2002 by a local group of entrepreneurs. Their 16 ATRs represent one of the largest fleet of ATR aircraft in Europe, and have transported more than 35 million passengers, not only in inter-archipelago operations, but also with direct flights to Morocco, Portugal’s island Madeira and Cape Verde.

The ATR 42-600 in Japan Air Commuter livery (Image © ATR Aircraft)
The ATR 42-600 in Japan Air Commuter livery (Image © ATR Aircraft)

Japan Air Commuter
Earlier on Monday Japan Air Commuter Co. – part of the JAL Group – singed a firm deal for 8 ATR 42-600s, plus 1 option and 14 purchase rights with a total value of 496 million dollar.
It marked the 1,500th aircraft sold by the European aircraft manufacturer and the first for ATR with a Japanese ariline.

The operations with JAC’s new 50-seat ATR 42-600s will start in 2017 with the remaining aircraft to be delivered over the next three years. With its brand new fleet, Japan Air Commuter will replace its current regional aircraft on its main routes as well as on operations to smaller islands of the country.

The ATR42-600 turboprop is equipped with a so-called glass cockpit with navigation technologies also available to the wide-body Airbus A380. The aircraft have a range of 800 nautical miles (1,483 km).

Founded in 1983, Japan Air Commuter is for 40% owned by 12 municipalities of the Amami Island of Kagoshima, Kyushu. Based in Kagoshima Airport, Japan Air Commuter operates 21 aircraft, 141 daily departures on 27 routes, and serves as the essential public air transport means for 1.8 million passengers annually between the Amami islands and Western Japan.

Source: ATR Aircraft
Featured image (top): The ATR 72-600 in Binter livery (Image © ATR Aircraft)

More trouble for Airbus A400M

More evidence of the apparent disrespect for quality checks at the Airbus A400M manufacturing plant in Seville (Sevilla) in Spain – at least on the aircraft produced so far – has come to light this week. The issues are that serious that the German Air Force is going to keep its ancient C-160D Transall airlifters airborne into the next decade.

According to Luftwaffe inspection reports leaked to German media like Der Spiegel magazine, very important bolts that hold the big and very essential rudder of the aircraft show defects that are a direct result of problems during the assembly that should normally have been seen during routine quality checks. So far the defects are only confirmed on the single Luftwaffe A400M, as the French, British and Malaysian air forces have so far not given information on the matter.

Plastic bag
The rear end of the A400M already has given the Germans unpleasant surprises. During flight tests in April this year the Luftwaffe A400M crew heard repeatedly strange noises in the tail section of the plane. When investigating the matter further they found a plastic bag with screws left behind by a mechanic on the inside of part of the tail section.

Hohn Airbase
Not trusting the Airbus product Berlin has now made an alternative plan to keep the Air Force providing enough airlift in the near future:  as reported earlier here on Airheadsfly.com, the aging C-160 Transalls will have to soldier on until at least 2021, costing the tax payers 300 million euro extra and keeping Hohn Airbase in the north of the country open as C-160D location.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The first German Air Force A400M (54+01 or MSN18) during taxi trials on 13 October 2014 at the Airbus plant in Seville, Spain (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)

Crashed A400M suffered power freeze on 3 engines

The numbers 1, 2 and 3 engine of the Airbus A400M that crashed on Saturday 9 May in Sevilla, Spain, experienced a power freeze immediately after take off, according to a Accident Information Transmission (AIT) issued by Airbus Defence and Space on 2 June. This AIT informs that the digital flight data recorder and CVR readouts have been successfully completed and that preliminary analysis has been conducted.

Investigators confirm that engines 1, 2 and 3 experienced a stuck power setting after lift-off and did not respond to the crew’s attempts to control the power setting in the normal way, whilst engine 4 responded to throttle demands. When the power levers were set to “flight idle” in an attempt to reduce power, the power reduced but then remained at “flight idle” on the three affected engines for the remainder of the flight despite attempts by the crew to regain power.

The aircraft crashed a short distance from Sevilla airport, hitting a power line first. Four people died in the crash, while two others were taken to hospital in serious condition. The aircraft was almost totally consumed by fire. An engine problem was suspected soon afterwards, as reported here on Airheadsfly.com.

Preliminary analyses have shown that all other aircraft systems performed normally. Accordingly, Airbus Defence and Space does not have any additional specific recommendations, other than the Alert Transmission Operator (AOT) already issued on 19 May. That AOT told all A400M operators to inspect the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) on all engines.

The problem by have been caused by incorrect installation of software during final assembly of the A400M concerned, which was destined for Turkey. Airbus Defence & Space has stated it is battling quality control issues in the A400M’s final assembly.

According to Airbus, the investigation continues and further updates will be given if significant new information becomes available.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): The cockpit section of the crashed A400M. (Image received through social media; photographer unknown)

Opinion: “Luftwaffe doesn’t trust A400M”

The German Air doesn’t trust the A400M it got in April this year, or any the future airlifters it will get from Airbus, until something radically changes at the European aircraft manufacturer’s plant in Seville (Sevilla) in Spain.

That a possible software bug in the Electronic Control Unit that commands the engines has led to the 9 May crash in Seville is not something the Luftwaffe command fears is all. Especially because the bug was neither found in the single A400M the German Air Force has since December 2014, nor in the six machines of the Armée de l’Air.

According to document German leading opinion magazine Der Spiegel got, Luftwaffe technicians fear more software programming mistakes, as well as the lack of quality control on the technical parts as well. The German Air Force apparently found between 800 and 900 errors in the single A400M – a majority of which should have been found if Airbus had done proper quality control on the product it delivers.

The fears of the Air Force technicians now seem to get support … from Airbus. “We have a serious final assembly quality problem,” Airbus group’s chief of strategy Marwan Lahoud has now told the German daily business newspaper Handelsblatt, basing is findings on the preliminary reports of the black box transcripts of the 9 May crash. Although many say it is officially too early to tell, Airbus itself now thinks a sloppy placed Electronic Control Unit might have either contributed or have been the cause of the engine problems that led to accident.

The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate (Image © Marcel Burger)
The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall (Image © Marcel Burger)

Unfortunately, the Seville plant – where the A400M takes off from – is not the only one with this issue. Earlier the German Defence Ministry complained about the lack of quality control of the production of its Eurofighter EF2000/Typhoon, in which Airbus is the major share holder with 46 percent participation. Moreover, the problems with the NHIndustries NH90 – Airbus Helicopters holds a 62.5 percent share – are not fully over yet either.

Hopefully the investigation results in the crash of Airbus’ military flagship on 9 May in Spain will mean significant changes in how Airbus does things, and that the four lives of the crew on board were not lost in vain. A lack of quality control is known to cause problems in ship, car and train building as well, but a shocking and deathly crash like with the A400M due to possible fundamental construction process problems is something the European aircraft manufacturer cannot afford a second time. Big buyers Germany and France are already looking in options to buy Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules aircraft instead.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Take-off of the first Luftwaffe A400M from Seville, Spain, on 14 October 2014 (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)