The News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

30 April 2013

Crash of a National Airlines 747-400 at Bagram Air Base

29 April 2013; National Airlines; 747-400; N949CA; Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan: The aircraft had just departed on a cargo flight to Dubai, UAE when the aircraft entered a stall and crashed near the end of the runway. At one point, the aircraft had rolled to the right in excess of 45 degrees. Although the crew was able to put the wings more or less level, the aircraft impacted the ground at a high vertical speed, and in a slightly nose down attitude. In a video taken of the crash, it appears that the landing gear were at least partially extended at the time of impact.

All seven crew members were killed. Cargo included several vehicles. Although the aircraft was flying in support of coalition forces in Afghanistan, there is not indication that the crash was caused by hostile action.

National Airlines is a US-based all cargo airline. The flight was operating support the coalition forces in Afghanistan, but there is no indication that the aircraft crashed due to hostile action.

According to, in addition to the accident aircraft, the airline had two other 747–400s, and a 757 aircraft in their inventory. That same site indicated that the aircraft was originally delivered to Air France in 1993, converted to a freighter in 2007, and entered service with National Airlines in 2011.

The747-400 entered service in 1989 and was in production until 2009. While some examples of this model, like the accident aircraft, were converted to freighters from a passenger configuration, other 747–400s were designed as cargo-only aircraft.

This is the fourth fatal crash involving 747–400. The first was an October 2000 crash accident involving Singapore Airlines passenger flight that crashed just after takeoff after striking construction equipment on the runway. The crash killed 79 of the 159 passengers and four of the 20 crew members on the aircraft.

The second fatal crash involved a UPS flight in September 2010 which Crashed shortly after takeoff from Dubai United Arab Emirates. Both crew members were killed. The third was in July 2011 event involving an Asiana airlines 747 – 400 that crashed shortly after catching fire during a flight from Seoul to Shanghai.

747 Plane Crashes

27 April 2013

787 Dreamliners return to service

More than three months after being grounded by the FAA and by other aviation authorities around the world due to a pair of battery fire incidents, the 787 is flying once again. While US and Japanese investigations into the causes of the fires continue, the FAA has allowed the 787 to return to service once airlines install a number of required changes to the electrical system. These changes would either reduce or eliminate the likelihood of a battery problem, or would reduce the impact of a problem if it were to occur in the future.

Battery system problems
On January 7th of this year, a JAL 787 that was parked at the gate at Boston's Logan Airport had a battery fire in the aft electronics equipment bay. The fire produced a significant amount of smoke, but only a minor amount of damage. At the time, the aircraft had only a maintenance crew on board. Later that month, on January 16th, an ANA 787 experienced a battery fire in the forward electrical equipment bay while in flight, leading to an unscheduled landing and evacuation of passengers and crew by emergency slides.

During the 787 certification process, Boeing estimated that the battery would have an event that would emit smoke roughly once every 10 million flight hours. The two January 2013 battery smoke events occurred after only about 52,000 flight hours for the worldwide 787 fleet, a frequency that was roughly 190 times the predicted rate.

Electrical system changes
Boeing and the battery manufacturer have made a number of FAA-required changes to the electrical system, primarily to the battery systems that uses lithium ion batteries to power aircraft electronics and other aircraft systems like the auxiliary power unit. The changes are meant to prevent similar battery failures, or to contain the effects should they occur in the future:

  • Redesigned lithium ion battery that features a lower operating temperature
  • Addition of a sealed, stainless steel battery enclosure to help contain smoke and heat from a fire
  • Replacement of the battery chargers.
  • Installation of a venting system that would allow any smoke of fumes from a fire to vent outside of the aircraft.
  • An FAA Airworthiness Directive about the required changes estimated that the costs to implement the changes for the six aircraft covered by the AD (United Airlines 787s) would be about $2.8 million.

Return to service
The first operator to return the aircraft to service was Ethiopian Airlines on April 27, 2013. Other carries with grounded 787s will return their aircraft over the next few months, with Air India and United Airlines likely returning their aircraft. Boeing is sending teams around the world to put those changes in place, and any newly delivered aircraft will incorporate these changes.

Battery fire investigations
Both the NTSB and the JTSB continue to investigate the cause of the battery fires in the US and Japan. On April 23-24, 2013, the NTSB held an investigative hearing involving the FAA, Boeing, and the battery manufacturers. While the NTSB concluded that the original battery certification tests were inadequate, there was no determination of the probable cause of the battery fire in Boston. It is likely that it may be several months before the NTSb or the JTSB reach a conclusion about the cause of the fire.

15 April 2013

Lion Air 737 lands in water short of runway

13 April 2013; Lion Air; 737-800; PK-LKS; flight 904; Bali, Indonesia: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Bandung, Indonesia to Bali, arriving during a rain storm. The aircraft landed in shallow water short of the runway during final approach. Although the aircraft had a break in the fuselage just behind the wings, none of the 101 passengers or seven crew members were killed.

Ditching vs. unplanned contact with water
The FAA would not consider this event a ditching because it did not involve a planned, controlled contact with water where the passengers and crew had time to prepare for the event[1]. Also, puts a further restriction on its ditching definition by defining a ditching event where the crew makes an intentional water landing where the water is deep enough that if the aircraft sinks, some or all of the occupants would have to evacuate the aircraft to avoid drowning [2]. lists only four ditching events involving airline flights using large jet transports, the most recent being the 2009 accident where a US Airways A320 landed on the Hudson River in New York.

Lion Air Safety History
The airline, which began operations in 2000, is based in Indonesia and is that nation's largest domestic air carrier. According to, it has a fleet of about 95 aircraft, including over 80 of the latest models of the 737, the 737-800 and 737-900.

This is not the first serious incident or accident for this airline. On 4 November 2004, a crew member and 24 passengers were killed in the crash of a Lion Air MD82 in Solo City, Indonesia. The airline has had several other non-fatal accidents:

  • 2 November 2010 - Lion Air 737-400 overran the runway on landing and the aircraft was substantially damaged, but none of the 169 passengers or six crew were injured.

  • 9 March 2009 - Lion Air MD90 with 166 passengers or six crew on board was substantially damaged after a hard landing where the crew was able to keep the aircraft only partially on the runway. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair.

  • 24 December 2006 - Lion Air 737-400 with 164 passengers or seven crew on board was substantially damaged, after a hard landing. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair.

  • 4 March 2006 - Lion Air MD90 with 138 passengers or six crew on board was involved in a landing incident that resulted in damage to the nose landing gear and the forward part of the fuselage.

  • 16 January 2002 - Lion Air 737-200 with 96 passengers and seven crew on board overran the runway after a rejected takeoff, hitting some trees several hundred meters beyond the end of the runway. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair.

737-800 Accident History
There were nine previous accidents involving a 737-800, including five crashes involving passenger fatalities. The first crash was a September 2006 midair collision involving a Gol Linhas Aéreas 737-800 in Brazil that killed all six crew members and 148 passengers, and the most recent was a July 2011 non-fatal landing accident involving a Caribbean Airlines airliner in Guyana that injured several passengers and crew members.

  1. 29 September 2006; Gol Linhas Aéreas 737-800; Flight 1907; near Peixoto de Azevedo, Brazil: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Manaus to Brasilia when it had a midair collision in the area of São Félix do Xingu with an Embraer ERJ135 Legacy 600 executive jet operated by ExcelAire. The ExcelAire Legacy 600 jet had been on a flight from São José dos Campos to Manaus. After the collision, which damaged the left wing, left stabilizer, and left elevator of the executive jet, the crew of the damaged ExcelAire aircraft was able to land at a nearby military airfield at Cachimbo, Brazil. The 737 subsequently experienced an inflight breakup and crashed about 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of the Peixoto de Azevedo municipality.

    The Legacy 600 was on the first leg of a delivery flight to the US The 737 aircraft was also relatively new, having come into service with the airline less than three weeks before the crash. All six crew members and 148 passengers on the 737 were killed. The two crew members and five passengers on the Legacy 600 were not injured.

  2. 5 May 2007; Kenya Airways 737-800; Flight 507; near Douala, Cameroon: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Douala, Cameroon to Nairobi, Kenya. The aircraft crashed into a swampy area near the airport less than one minute after takeoff. The aircraft departed just after midnight local time and the aircraft sent at least one communication to the control tower prior to the crash. All nine crew members and 105 passengers were killed.

  3. 20 August 2007; China Airlines 737-800; Flight 120; Naha, Japan: Shortly after landing at Naha on the island of Okinawa, the left engine caught fire and the crew initiated an emergency evacuation. Although the aircraft was destroyed by fire, all 157 passengers (including two toddlers) and eight crew members survived.

  4. 10 November 2008; Ryanair 737-800; Flight 4102; Rome, Italy: The aircraft, on a scheduled international flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Rome, Italy encountered a flock of birds during approach to Rome, sustaining damage to both engines, the wings, and the nose. The crew was able to land on the runway, but aircraft had a collapsed landing gear and serious damage to the rear of the fuselage. All six crew members, and 166 passengers survived.

  5. 25 February 2009; Turkish Airlines 737-800; Flight 1951; Amsterdam, Netherlands: The aircraft, on a scheduled international flight from Istanbul, Turkey, to Amsterdam, Netherlands crashed in a field about a mile (1.6 km) short of the runway. Four crew members, including both pilots, were killed, as were at five of the 128 passengers.

  6. 22 December 2009; American Airlines 737-800 (N977AN); Flight 331; Kingston, Jamaica: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Miami, FL to Kingston, Jamaica. The aircraft landed during a rainstorm, and was unable to stop on the runway. After departing the runway, the aircraft went beyond the airport fence, and crossed a road before coming to rest on a beach. The landing gear collapsed, both engines separated from the wings, and there were two major breaks in the fuselage, but all 148 passengers and six crew members survived. The landing was carried out with a slight tail wind.

  7. 25 January 2010; Ethiopian Airlines 737-800 (ET-ANB); Flight 409; near Beirut, LebanonThe aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Beirut, Lebanon to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff. There were 82 passengers and eight crew members on board, all of whom were killed in the crash.

  8. 22 May 2010; Air India Express; 737-800; flight 812; Mangalore, India: The aircraft (VT-AXV) was on a scheduled international flight from Dubai, UAE, to Mangalore, India, arriving just after 6 a.m. local time. The aircraft landed on one of the runways at Mangalore airport, but was unable to stop on the runway. There were six crew members and 160 passengers and on board, including four infants. All six crew members, and 152 of the 160 passengers were killed.

  9. 30 July 2011; Caribbean Airlines; 737-800; flight BW523; Georgetown, Guyana: The aircraft (9Y-PBM) was on a scheduled international flight from Port of Spain, Trinidad, arriving at about 1:25 a.m. local time at Georgetown, Guyana. The flight had originated at New York's JFK airport.

    After landing, the aircraft departed the runway and broke into two large sections. While there were several serious injuries among the 156 passengers and six crew members, no one was killed in this crash. Reportedly, the aircraft narrowly missed rolling into 200-foot deep ravine.

[1] Transport Water Impact and Ditching Performance; DOT/FAA/AR-95/54; Office of Aviation Research; March 1996
[2] Jet Airliner Ditching Events;