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28 September 2008

Fatal Jet Crash Injures Blink-182 Drummer Travis Barker

Travis Barker, former drummer for the music group Blink-182, Adam Goldstein, more widely known as DJ AM, and two other passengers were in a Learjet 60 aircraft that was on a chartered flight from Columbia, South Carolina to Van Nuys airport in Los Angeles. The crash, which happened shortly before midnight, occurred during takeoff. According to information from the plane's cockpit voice recorder, the crew was attempting to abort the takeoff because of what they thought was a blown tire. The NTSB also reported that accident investigators reviewing the recording heard sounds consistent with a tire blowout.

The crew was unable to stop the aircraft before it departed the runway. The plane struck a series of antennas and lights, crashed through a fence, crossed a nearby highway, and came to rest on an embankment where it burst into flames.

The crash and subsequent fire killed both flight crew members and two of the four passengers. The two survivors, Barker and Goldstein, escaped the aircraft but suffered severe burns. Goldstein is also the former fiance of television personality Nicole Ritchie. Barker and Goldstein had performed at a concert earlier in Columbia, and the two passengers who did not survive were support staff for the artists.

The aircraft was operated by Global Exec Aviation of Long Beach, California. Less than an hour before the accident, the plane had arrived in South Carolina from Teterboro, New Jersey. The FAA and NTSB online incident and accident databases showed no other events involving this aircraft, or the aircraft operator.

The Learjet 60 first flew in 1991 and was certified in 1993. This was the second fatal Learjet 60 crash, with the first occurring in 2002 in Brazil. According to the NTSB, there were six other Learjet 60 accidents and serious incidents, including one during flight testing in 1992. The FAA lists 23 less serious incidents since 1996.

The NTSB has dispatched an 11-member team to investigate this crash. The investigation, including a determination of the probable cause of the accident, will likely take several months to complete.

Additional information about this event, including updates or findings from the NTSB investigation, will be available at

Accident Overview

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VideoiPod/MP4 | WMV | Google Video | YouTube

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23 September 2008

Two Veteran Airline Captains Discuss the Crash of a Spanair MD82

The previous podcast reviewed the initial findings from the Spanish accident investigation. The video version of the podcast also included portions of a security camera video that captured the final moments of the flight. This podcast features a discussion that was originally recorded on August 23rd, 2008, three days after the crash of the Spanair MD82, and featured Capt. Tom Bunn of the SOAR fear of flying organization, and Capt. Steve Fisher, a veteran airline pilot who has flown for a major US airline for over two decades.

Capt. Bunn has been a guest previously on the show, and in this episode he'll talk about some of the anxieties and concerns that have been expressed to him by some passengers.

In the days following the Spanair crash, I brought Capt. Bunn and Capt. Fisher together to provide insights into the mechanics of flying a large jet transport, especially the MD82, and to give the audience an idea of the kind of training and preparation pilots go through to prepare for emergencies during takeoff.

Early on in our conversation, the two captains discussed some of the issues that came up during the the first few days of the investigation, including a problem with a temperature sensor that caused the crew of the accident aircraft to return to the terminal after its first takeoff attempt.

You can use the following link for the podcast: Audio: MP3

Additional information about the Spanair accident, including links to a video showing the crash, and links to further updates from the investigation, will be available at

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19 September 2008

Preliminary Findings: Crash of Spanair MD82

According to a number of media reports, Spanish Authorities have completed a preliminary report about the August 20, 2008 crash of a Spanair MD82 in Madrid. Among their findings were that the flaps were not properly configured for takeoff and that there was no flap warnings or alarms presented to the crew.

The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff on a scheduled domestic flight from Madrid to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. The aircraft was briefly airborne, and crashed just to the right of the departure runway. The aircraft broke up and there was a severe post-crash fire. 154 of the 172 occupants were killed.

The accident occurred during the second takeoff attempt. The crew had returned to the gate after the first takeoff attempt due to problems that so far appear to be unrelated to the subsequent accident. During the second takeoff attempt, the crew reported reaching V1, or takeoff decision speed. The aircraft was airborne for about 15 seconds, reaching a maximum altitude of about 40 feet.

A video taken by the Spanish airport authority showed that after touching down, the aircraft slid for a considerable distance and appeared to be relatively intact before breaking up and exploding. Contrary to early reports on the day of the accident, the video did not show any sign of a fire or explosion while the aircraft was airborne.

Among the key early findings of the investigation was that the aircraft’s flaps were not properly deployed at takeoff. Also, there was no indication that the flap configuration alarm was activated. This sequence of events was similar to that of a 1987 MD82 crash in Detroit, Michigan.

After that accident, the manufacturer recommended that the flaps and associated warning systems be checked prior to each flight. Spanair procedures called for a check of the flaps and warning systems prior to the first flight of the day and after each change of flight crews during the day. There was no pre-takeoff check of the flap warning system prior to the accident flight.

For additional information on this crash, including links to related audio and video podcasts and updates on the investigation, visit

Preliminary Investigation Findings

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14 September 2008

Crash of Aeroflot-Nord 737-500
on 14 September 2008

The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Moscow to Perm, Russia. Contact with the aircraft was lost shortly before landing when the aircraft was about 3,600 feet, or about 1100 meters, above the ground.

The aircraft was completely destroyed in the crash, coming down outside of the city of Perm and near the tracks of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

All 82 passengers and six crew members were killed in the crash. There were seven children, including one infant, among the passengers.

About Aeroflot-Nord
This was the first fatal event for Aeroflot-Nord, which is one of the regional airlines of Aeroflot. The company that became Aeroflot-Nord was originally formed in 1963, and acquired by Aeroflot in 2004. Aeroflot-Nord currently flies a combination of 737s and Soviet designed airliners.

About the 737
This was the 66th fatal event involving the 737, and the third involving the 737-500 series. The first 737 aircraft began commercial operations in 1968, and the first of the 737-500 series began service in 1990.

The first fatal event for the 737 was in 1972. This latest crash was the 20th fatal 737 event since 2000, with three of the 20 involving a 737-500.

All of the fatal events involving the 737-500 have been in Europe or Asia. The last fatal 737 event in North America or the European Union was a crash in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1994.

For additional information on this crash, including links to related audio and video podcasts and details about other fatal events involving airlines of the former Soviet Union, visit

Initial Review of the Accident

You can also use the links below for the podcast:
Audio: MP3 Video: WMV | iPod/MP4 | YouTube | Google Video

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