Tag Archives: airline disasters

The Air Crash Investigation episode on The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team crash

Greetings, readers. As you know, I love aircraft, flight simulation, as well as the TV series Air Crash Investigation. I like to see what went wrong and how the investigators come to their conclusions. A couple of stories really get under my thumbnails. This is one those stories. I got my information from the show, and from an entry of Wikipedia.

Late in the afternoon of September 7, 2011, a tragedy rocked one of Russia’s top hockey teams. The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team was about to fly from Yaroslavl Russia to the city of Minsk in Belarus for their season opening game. The plane crashed shortly after take-off on the bank of the Volga river, killing all but one of the forty-five people on board. The airplane was a Yak-42 and the airline was Yak Services. As flight #9633 roared down the runway, the three-engine airplane would not lift off. It had more than enough runway and the investigation concluded that the flaps and slats were configured correctly. What could have happened? As with the story of Air Florida Palm 90, the answer makes me furious.

One of the pilots on the three-pilot crew was the vice president of operations, who “pulled some strings,” as the episode phrased, to be able to fly his hockey heroes to their season-opening game. I’m not going to mention names because that is not important, but he had a health condition which turned out to be part of the cause of why the plane crashed. He should not have been flying.

The Yak-42 had enough speed to take off, but mysteriously remained on the ground. Faster and faster it went. The pilots must have thought any second they would take off. Then they ran out of runway and only got airborne momentarily when the plane began bouncing off the grass. It was too late. A wing struck a small tower and veered out of control. It slammed into the ground at the edge of the river, killing all but one. The city and the Kontinental Hockey League were in shock.

The Russian president at the time demanded answers, according to the show. At that time, Russia was not known for its aviation safety. The president wanted better and demanded it. Hockey in Russia was more of a religion, even more than football and baseball is to us. Lots of the players were from the town of Yaroslavl. Not only did they lose their hockey team, but some of them lost good friends as well.

In aviation, I despise it when seemly easy to avoid accidents occur. The pilot responsible not only falsified his health documentation, he falsified his training on the airplane. He had his foot on the brake pedal instead of on a safe foot rest. On the Yak-40, a slightly smaller version, the foot rest area is different in that his foot would not have been touching the brake. In the United States, pilots are not allowed to fly more than one aircraft type at a time. I believe it is to avoid just such mistakes. Russia’s president did make Russian aviation clean up its act, but not in time to save Yak Services charter company. They closed soon after.

To the families of the players, my sympathy. If this blog entry brings up any bad memories, I apologize. My condolences to you.

Until next week, stay cool if you are in the heat wave. Take care and happy reading.

My initial thoughts on Malaysia flight 370

Greetings, readers. I am treading lightly on today’s subject. As with many people in the world I’m sure, Malaysia airlines flight 370 is on my mind. Something doesn’t quite seem right. There are enough satellites circling Earth to pinpoint nearly anything, yet it has taken nearly two weeks to find the remains of this Boeing 777; if it indeed crashed.

As I understand it, the plane was taken off-course on purpose and could be anywhere within the large plane’s fuel load capacity. I totally get that. That bird can fly many, many hours. This does put the searching teams at a great disadvantage. Start from the runway and search each of the 360 degrees in the full circle and then fly the flight’s fuel capacity. Am I saying they should have found it after two days? No. But to me it is smelling more and more like a possible, if not probable, cover-up.

I saw on the news that the pilot had a home version of a flight simulator and part of the flight plan of MA 370 was deleted. Was this to see if he could get away with something and not have it detected? There is a red flag for ya. And what about the co-pilot? He was either in on it, knocked unconscious, or killed. It’s looking like it is going to take months, if not years, to unravel this mystery. I was going to do some speculation of my own, but I have decided to wait for more facts.

To conclude, again many thoughts and prayers to the friends and families of those on the flight. I can only imagine the horror you are going through. Good news or bad, may there be some form of closure soonest.

Until next week, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Top ten list of Air Crash Investigation stories

Greetings, readers. As I’ve mentioned before, begin fascinated with aircraft, I watch the TV series Air Crash Investigation. There is a huge part of me that likes to understand what goes wrong when aircraft don’t make it to point B. Here is a top ten list of Air Crash Investigation episodes that I have studied, not really in any particular order.

#10. “Catastrophe at O’Hare” – American Airlines flight 191 [The year was 1979 and a DC-10 aircraft lost an engine – literally – right after takeoff. With hydraulic fluid leaking from the wing, the plane never stood a chance. All on board were killed. It was determined that the engine was removed, serviced, and incorrectly re-mounted.]

#9. “Blow Out” – British Airways flight 5390 [Year 1990. Due to an incorrectly refitted windscreen that blew out, the captain was partially sucked out of the cockpit. Two flight attendants hung on to his legs while the co-pilot wrestled with the stricken plane and successfully landed it. The captain survived.]

#8. “Unlocking Disaster” – United Airlines flight 811 [Year 1989. 747 From Honolulu Hawaii to Auckland New Zealand. The locking clamps on the cargo bay door opened causing an explosive decompression.]

#7. “Turning Point” – Northwest Airlines 85 [Year 2002. The top part of the tail rudder went to one side due to mechanical failure and would not come back. The long flight luckily had two crews aboard who took turns wrestled the plane and landed the flight at its point of origin, Anchorage Alaska.]

#6. “Lockerbie” – Pan Am Airlines 103 [Year 1988. A terrorist planted a bomb inside a radio and packed it in his suitcase, which was put in the cargo hold.; the passenger never boarded the plane. All on board are killed and parts of Lockerbie Scotland are also destroyed when burning debris fell.]

#5. “Focused on Failure” – United Airlines 173 [Year 1978. DC 8. The captain fixated on a landing gear light that malfunctioned to the extent that he did not realize that he was running out of fuel, even with warnings from the crew.]

#4. “Lokomotiv Russian Hockey Team” – YAK Service 9633  [Year 2011. YAK 47 Russian airliner. Co-pilot had a nerve problem that was never reported and he didn’t know he was putting his foot on the brake, which kept the nose from lifting from the ground.]

#3. “Cracks in the System” – Chalk’s Ocean Airways 101 [Year 2005. Due to horrendous maintenance practices and stop-gap repairs the right wing of the plane broke off shortly after take-off. The flight never had a chance.]

#2. “Hudson River Runway” – U.S. Airways 1549 [Year 2009. Just outside of LaGuardia airport, birds flew into both engines and caused a double flame-out. The captain landed the plane on the Hudson River.]

#1. “Missing over New York” – Aviancia 52 [Year 1990 . From Colombia to New York, the flight was put in several holding patterns due to bad weather. Because of bad communication between crew and air traffic controllers, the fact that they were running out of fuel was never truly understood. The plane went down with fuel tanks empty.]

There you be. These are the ten episodes of this series that I have studied the most. The episodes that have intrigued me and that have made me angry. MY thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims.

Until next time, when we post number 200, take care, enjoy your day, and happy reading.

UPDATE: On June 13, 2014 I wrote a post on a specific episode, #4 on the list above, Lokomotiv Russian Hockey Team. Here is the link to that entry, if you wish to read it too: https://josephmkockelmans.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/the-air-crash-investigation-episode-on-the-lokomotiv-yaroslavl-hockey-team-crash/

UPDATE: On February 1, 2017 I did another top ten list of Air Crash Investigation episodes that I have watched and studied. If you wish to read it, here is the link: https://josephmkockelmans.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/top-ten-list-of-air-crash-investigation-stories-part-2/ Thank you for reading.