Cause for Turkish Airlines flight known: Dutch Safety Board issues warning

Last Wednesday, a Turkish Airlines flight crashed in a field just 1 kilometer short of the runway at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The report as to what caused the accident has been released. After reading through it myself, and thanks to the paired down version of Gadling’s own Kent Wien, pilot and writer of Cockpit Chronicles, here are the details.

According to the report, there was a malfunction of one of the radio altimeters, the device that displays the distance of the airplane from the ground. The left altimeter, instead of reading the Boeing 737’s actual height at 1950 feet when the plane was descending, it read 8 feet.

At the point of the glitch, the auto-throttles went to idle because the reading said the plane was just above the runway thus about to land. This caused the plane to slow down more than it should have. The pilots didn’t have enough time to recover the speed needed to pull the plane out of a stall to a higher altitude in order to achieve a safe landing.

Along with determining the malfunction in the radio altimeter, the investigation also found out what happened to the plane upon impact. The tail of the plane hit first, then the undercarriage. When the plane hit the ground it was going at 150 kph. A normal landing speed is 260. Because the ground was soft, the plane had a “rapid halt” within 150 meters.

During landing, the tail broke off and the plane ruptured at the business class section which is where most of the fatalities and injuries occurred. Eighty passengers in all were injured and nine people died (4 crew, including the pilots and five passengers). The area of the plane around the wings was the most intact.

There are still investigations being made surrounding the altimeter’s malfunction and the Dutch Safety Board has issued a warning to Boeing.

For the report, click here. Prior to these findings, one theory about the cause of the crash was wake turbulence caused by a larger plane landing right before this plane’s attempt. (See article.)

Reinforced cockpit safety doors may have had opposite effect in plane crash

File this one under “tragic”.

According to eyewitness reports who were involved in the recent accident of Turkish Airlines flight 1951, the first officer of the aircraft was alive, but badly injured when the plane hit the ground.

Apparently, it took rescue workers 40 minutes to reach him, by which time he had passed away. The long delay was caused by the reinforced cockpit door, put in place after the 9/11 hijackings, and is of course intended to keep would-be terrorists from reaching the flight deck.

The door was so hard to penetrate, that rescuers gave up and cut a hole in the ceiling of the cockpit to reach the crew.

It’s a clear case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t – you need to keep the bad guys out, but if this makes it impossible to reach the crew during an accident it pretty much defeats its purpose.

I’m sure more news about the cockpit door will be released from more official sources during the investigation, and I am curious what pilots have to say about this incident.

Breaking: Yet another plane crash. This time near Amsterdam

I have to say, as much as flying does not bother me, it’s a bit unnerving to click on The New York Times to see if any thing new has happened in the past few hours to find out that the new thing that has happened is another plane crash. This time the crash was just outside Amsterdam, but in a soft field instead of on a house near Buffalo, New York, on snow near Nome, Alaska or on the Hudson River.

The Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800, en route from Istanbul, was almost to the airport when it suddenly lost speed and dropped. According to one person on board, the crash only took a few seconds. According to the article, most people did not suffer major injuries even though the plane broke into two pieces because there wasn’t much fuel left. If there had been more fuel, the outcome would have been worse. Still, the outcome wasn’t good.

Nine people died, including both the pilots. There were 25 with serious injuries, 24 with minor injuries and the rest walked away. In all there were 134 people on board. Considering that I was just in Amsterdam a couple months ago and flew into Schiphol Airport from the U.S., I’m thinking about how those fields looked when we were coming in for our landing. Yep, it’s a bit unnerving.

[This photo by PhillipC is of tulip fields when he was in route to Amsterdam from Gatwick.]

Breaking news – Turkish Airlines plane crashes at Amsterdam Schiphol

Details are only slowly being released, but a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 has crashed at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The plane was on its way to Amsterdam from Istanbul with 135 passengers on board. Flight number TK 1951 hit the ground before it was able to reach the “Polderbaan” runway.

As for right now, CNN is reporting 9 dead and an unknown number of injured passengers. The plane went down at 10:40am local Dutch time.

Update: Dutch news sources are reporting 50 injured passengers, of which 25 are in serious condition. Turkish Airlines has published a passenger name list on their site listing all the names of passengers on flight 1951.

Drunk Man Tries to Hijack Turkish Airlines Flight

A man on a Turkish Airlines flight from the resort town of Antalya, Turkey to the Russian city of St. Petersburg threatened to blow up the plane unless it was diverted. The man, who appeared to be drunk, approached a flight attendant and handed her a note to give to the pilot: “I have a bomb. If you don’t take me in (the cockpit) I will blow it up,” As he stumbled toward the front of the plane, he was overpowered by passengers. No explosives were found despite his insistence that there was a bomb strapped on his body. He appeared so inebriated that passengers did not take him seriously.

Turkish journalists have reported that the man was an Uzbek national, but his identity and true nationality have not yet been confirmed. After he was subdued, the plane continued on to its destination, though Turkish Airlines officials briefly considered setting it down immediately as a precaution. There were 167 passengers on board the aircraft, an Airbus A-320.


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