Accident on 22 March 2001 at Orléans Saint Denis de l'Hôtel aerodrome (45) to the Piper PA-31-350 registered PH-ABD operated by Tulip Air
ph-d010322a

F O R E W O R D

This report presents the technical conclusions reached by the BEA.

In accordance with Annex 13 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, with EC directive 94/56 and with Law No. 99-243 of 29 March 1999, the analysis of the accident and the conclusions and safety recommendations contained in this report are intended neither to apportion blame, nor to assess individual or collective responsibility. The sole objective is to draw lessons from this occurrence which may help to prevent future accidents or incidents.

Consequently, the use of this report for any purpose other than for the prevention of future accidents could lead to erroneous interpretations.

SPECIAL FOREWORD TO ENGLISH EDITION

This report has been translated and published by the BEA to make its reading easier for English-speaking people. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French should be considered as the work of reference.

Glossary

DGAC French Civil Aviation Authority (Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile) 
FAR Federal Aviation Regulations
FO First Officer
ft feet
JAR Joint Airworthiness Requirements
kt knots
lbs pounds
QNH Altimeter setting to obtain aerodrome elevation when on the ground
UTC Universal Time Coordinated

 

SYNOPSIS

Date and time

22 March 2001 at 17 h 35 [1]

Aircraft

Piper PA-31-350 “Chieftain”, registered PH-ABD, certified as single pilot.

Site of accident

Orléans Saint Denis de l'Hôtel Aerodrome (45)

Owner

Tulip Air B.V. (Holland)

Type of flight

Passage charter flight TLP 2 B Orléans Saint Denis de l'Hôtel - Paris Le Bourget

Operator

Tulip Air B.V. (Holland)

 

Persons on board

2 Flight Crew, 8 passengers

Summary

The crew forgot to remove the flight control locking device before takeoff. At the end of the takeoff run, they could not rotate the aircraft. An attempt to abort the takeoff was undertaken but the aircraft overran the end of the runway after a slight track deviation to the left. It came to a stop on muddy ground in a field about one hundred and eighty-three metres from the end of the runway. The nose gear was broken, the propellers and the aircraft nose were damaged.

Consequences

  Persons Equipment Third Parties
  Killed Injured Uninjured    
Crew - - 2 Slight None
Passengers     8 Damage  

1 - FACTUAL INFORMATION

1.1 History of Flight

On 22 March 2001 at about 17 h 35, the PA 31-350 “Chieftain” registered PH-ABD, call sign Tulip 2B, began its takeoff from runway 23 at Orléans Saint Denis de l'Hôtel for and IFR departure to Paris Le Bourget. The flight was passenger charter flight TLP 2B.

The pilot flying, who was the co-pilot seated in the left seat, was unable to perform the rotation. He aborted the takeoff but braking failed to stop the aircraft before the end of the runway. The runway surface was wet. Marks were left by the tyres from one hundred metres before the end of the runway.

The aircraft ran across grass soaked with water. The nose gear broke and the aircraft came to a stop about one hundred and eighty metres after the end of the runway (photo of site and aircraft in appendix 1). The crew had forgotten to remove the flight control locking device.

1.2 Personnel Information

1.2.1 Captain

Experience:

The Captain had not been to Orléans Saint Denis de l'Hôtel during the previous twelve months. The rest period before his departure from Rotterdam was 15 hours 30 minutes. He performed the outward flight, which lasted two hours (5 h 30 / 7 h 30 ) between Rotterdam and Saint Denis de l'Hôtel, as pilot flying.

He was pilot not flying, seated on the right, during the accident flight.

1.2.2 First Officer

Experience:

1.3 Aircraft Information

Airframe

Engines

Left engine

Right engine

1.4 Meteorological Conditions

The Meteorological conditions recorded by the AFIS agent at the aerodrome a few minutes after the accident were as follows:

The observation made at 17 h 00 at the Orléans-Bricy aerodrome about thirty kilometres northwest was as follows:

1.5 Aerodrome Information

Orléans Saint Denis de l'Hôtel aerodrome (VAC chart in appendix 2) is open to public air transport. It has an aerodrome flight information service (AFIS) that is in service during scheduled hours and by arrangement outside of those hours. It has a tarmac runway 1,000 m long and 30 m wide oriented 235°/055° whose altitude is 396 feet and which has a slight slope towards 23. IFR activity is possible at the aerodrome.

The declared distances offered at the two QFU's are as follows:

This information is included on the Jeppesen chart that the crew was using.

1.6 Information on Organizations and Management

Tulip Air B.V. is in possession of an Air Transport Certificate issued on 1st March 2001 by the Dutch Ministry of Transport (RLD) for the operation of two Beech 200's, two Cessna F406's and three Piper PA 31-350's for transport of passengers, freight and medical evacuations. This certificate was valid at the time of the accident.

The aircraft was certified for single pilot operation but the airline operated its PA 31-350's with two pilots. The Operations Manual does not include any procedures relating to cockpit resource management (CRM) for this type of aircraft.

Note: the JAR OPS only specifies structured training in CRM when the presence of two pilots results from a regulatory requirement.

1.7 Additional Information

1.7.1 Weight and Balance

The Captain had established the weight and balance estimate (appendix 3) on the basis of the weight allowances for passengers without hand baggage (90 kg/198 lbs) and a crew with baggage 85 kg/172,25 lbs). These allowances are in accordance with criteria prescribed in JAR OPS 1.

The aircraft empty weight is 4,747 lbs. The zero fuel weight calculated by the crew was 4,747 lbs + (8 x 198 lbs) + (2 x 172,25 lbs), thus 6,676 lbs for 7,000 lbs maximum. The weight estimate indicated 381 lbs of fuel in the inner tanks for a maximum of 636 lbs. The ramp weight was thus 7,057 lbs for a maximum of 7,398 lbs. The fuel for start-up and taxiing was estimated at 30 lbs, which gave takeoff weight of 7,027 lbs for a maximum of 7,368 lbs. The consumption for the stage was estimated at 131 lbs, which brought the estimated landing weight to 6,896 lbs for a maximum of 7,000 lbs.

The aircraft occupants and their baggage were weighed following the accident. This brought to light a true weight of 1,984 lbs (900 kg) for the occupants, 55 lbs (27 kg) more than the weight allowance, but above all the omission of 262 lbs (119 kg) of baggage. Thus all of the weights were reduced by 317 lbs (146 kg). In addition, the Equipment List (appendix 4) shows a quantity of 171 litres of fuel unconsumed on arrival at Saint Denis de l'Hôtel and a top-up of 79.9 litres, an on-board total of 250,9 litres (180 kg/398 lbs), a weight slightly above that calculated for the weight estimate.

Nevertheless, the aircraft remained within the limits of the various structural weights, except for the maximum landing weight that would have been exceeded by 230 lbs (104 kg).

The balance sheet established by the crew shows a CG at the rear limit of the envelope for the three principal weights: zero fuel weight, takeoff weight and estimated landing weight. The position of the baggage in the various compartments and of the passengers in the cabin not having been established in the course of the investigation, it is not possible to calculate the CG in relation to the true weights.

Note: on consulting the Flight Report for the flight preceding the accident, an onboard fuel quantity of 466 litres (335 kg / 739 lbs) on departure from Rotterdam is noted. Taking into account the true weight of the occupants without baggage (1984 lbs), the aircraft's empty weight (4747 lbs), and of the fuel at takeoff (709 lbs), the true weight at takeoff was 7440 lbs for a maximum weight of 7,368 lbs. After the trip fuel of 276 litres (199 kg / 438 lbs), the true weight on landing is 7,002 lbs for a maximum weight fixed at 7,000 lbs.

1.7.2 Performance

With reference to the JAR-OPS, the operation of PH-ABD comes under performance class B (sub-section H).

The takeoff performance calculation sheet extracted from the airline Operations Manual (appendix 5) shows that the necessary run distance for takeoff is 480 m and the distance necessary for takeoff of 900 m for the selected weight of 7,027 lb. These values change, respectively, to 520 m and 950 m for the recalculated weight of 7,361 lbws.

Paragraph OPS 1.530 (a) stipulates that the operator must ensure that the takeoff weight does not exceed the maximum takeoff weight specified in the Flight Manual, taking into account the pressure-altitude and the temperature at the takeoff aerodrome.

Paragraph OPS 1.545 stipulates that the operator must ensure that the landing weight does not exceed the specified maximum landing weight, taking into account the altitude and the forecast ambient temperature at the estimated arrival time at the destination aerodrome and at all other diversion aerodromes.

The aircraft Flight Manual (extract in appendix 7) approved by the RLD, mentions a takeoff procedure for short runways that includes setting the flaps at 15°. This results, specifically, in a rotation speed of about 80 kt instead of the 90 kt in clean configuration and an acceleration-stop distance of around three hundred metres. On the accident aircraft, the flaps were found set at 0°.

1.7.3 Flight Control Locking Device

The aircraft is equipped with a flight control locking device for use on the ground installed so as to avoid the flight control surfaces flapping. The system is based on locking the left side control wheel. It consists of a nail-shaped latch pin topped with a rectangular light alloy metal plate that can bear the inscription “Controls Lock” on a red background. The latch pin is inserted into holes drilled into the shoulder to the right of the wheel housing on one side and into the wheel shaft on the other.

Note: the following photos, designed to illustrate the lock, are not of the accident aircraft. The crew took the latch pin away with them.

The wheel is thus maintained in a horizontal position, the ailerons remain in a more or less neutral position and the elevator is deflected down. No use of instruments or vital controls is affected by the presence of the locking device. The wheels on the accident aircraft were equipped with clips designed to hold the takeoff or landing charts. The presence of such a card tends to hide the metal plate. According to the crew's statements, no charts were in this position during the takeoff.

The list of actions and checks associated with preparation on PH-ABD (appendix 6) specifies:

- removing the locking device from the controls upon entering the cockpit,

- checking the freedom of movement of the flight control surfaces during the full or short pre-flight external check.

No other action or check is recommended in order to check freedom of movement of the flight controls from the cockpit before takeoff.

The Flight Manual itself recommends two extra checks on freedom of movement of the flight controls: before start-up and before takeoff.

1.7.4 Testimony

At around 90 kt, the PF could not rotate the aircraft. The crew initially thought the elevator trim was incorrectly set. When the PF noticed the presence of the flight control locking device, he tried in vain to remove it. At the same time, he reduced thrust and braked, without being able to stop the aircraft before the end of the runway.

The crew did not mention any particular rush associated with the preparation of the departure nor any malfunction in aircraft systems. The PF was apparently disturbed in carrying out actions and checks underway when the passengers arrived on board the aircraft.

1.7.5 Internal Analysis of the Event by the Operator

The PA 31-350's in Tulip Air's fleet are not all equipped with a flight control locking device system. For those aircraft that are not so equipped, the safety harnesses are used.

The FO performed the pre-flight actions and checks alone. The Captain took care of the passengers and informed them of the safety procedures. When he entered the cockpit, the pre-flight checks were complete. The FO was disturbed by a passenger during preparation of the cabin, perhaps at the time of the check on freedom of movement of the flight controls. Furthermore, he thought that the “flight control lock: remove” checklist item was not applicable as the safety harnesses were undone.

According to the Captain, the level of tension on board was a little higher than usual for several reasons:

Following the internal analysis of the event, the operator planned the following measures:

2 – ANALYSIS

The preparation of the flight, which seems to have taken place in an unrushed way, shows an incorrect assessment of the weight embarked. The use of weight allowances, even if they led to only a slight variation from the true values, seemed ill adapted to the situation. However, the main difference resulted from the omission of the total weight of the baggage, an omission that the investigation was not able to qualify as intentional or unintentional.

The result was a takeoff weight, which was very close to the maximum; maximum landing weight would have been exceeded. On the previous flight, even taking into account the absence of baggage, the weight limitations were also exceeded. These operating conditions could not have been unknown to the crew and should have led them to pay great attention to the balance, to fuel management and to performance.

It was not possible to determine precisely the balance parameters. Nevertheless the calculations made by the crew pushed the indices to the rear limit of the envelope. This all leads to the conclusion that this configuration was essentially identical to the weight conditions measured on weighing. This balance towards the rear would in any event have contributed to the aircraft lifting off.

Although the takeoff distance available was within the JAR-OPS performance requirements for class B aircraft, the margin was only fifty metres, which led the crew to consider that runway as “critical”. However, they did not use the 15° flap setting recommended by the Flight Manual for takeoffs on “short fields”.

The flight control locking device was not removed by the crew. This indicates that the list of actions and checks was not followed rigorously. Furthermore, the investigation showed that this list was incomplete in relation to the aircraft's Flight Manual. This anomaly probably went unnoticed by the oversight authorities. In any event, checking for freedom of movement of the flight controls is an integral part of the rules of the art before takeoff.

The PNF did not notice the failure to remove the flight control locking device. Basic notions such as callout procedures or guides and cross checks were not employed. This accident confirms that an unstructured crew, which has not been trained in CRM and which has no clear indications as to task sharing, does not perform adequately to carry out a public transport flight. What is more, flight conditions were normal and there was no emergency.

3 – conclusions

3.1 Findings

3.2 Probable Cause

The accident was caused by the crew's failure to perform pre-flight actions and checks relating to unblocking and free movement of the flight controls and flight control surfaces. This failure was able to develop to the point of being the cause of the accident as a result of the absence of precise CRM procedures.

4 – SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS

4.1 - The investigation showed that the Operations Manual was incomplete compared to the aircraft's Flight Manual. Consequently, the BEA recommends:

4.2 - The application of procedures intended for single pilot operation in a context with two pilots and the absence of resource management by the crew created the conditions for a basic safety step to be forgotten. Consequently, the BEA recommends:

APPENDIX 1 Picture of Site and Aircraft

APPENDIX 2 VAC map of Orléans Saint-Denis de l'Hôtel aerodrome

VAC map of Orléans Saint-Denis de l'Hôtel aerodrome

APPENDIX 3 Weight and balance estimate established by the crew

APPENDIX 4 Materials list

APPENDIX 5 Takeoff performance grill

APPENDIX 6 Airline's list of actions and checks

Airline's list of actions and checks

APPENDIX 7 Extract from the actions and checks as featured in the approved Flight Manual

Extract from the actions and checks as featured

in the approved Flight Manual

Extract from the actions and checks as featured

in the approved Flight Manual

Extract from the actions and checks as featured

in the approved Flight Manual

Extract from the actions and checks as featured

in the approved Flight Manual

Extract from the actions and checks as featured

in the approved Flight Manual


[1] Except where otherwise noted, the times shown in this report are expressed in Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). One hour should be added to obtain the legal time applicable in metropolitan France on the day of the accident.