ARFF (Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting)

NTSB Released Probably Cause Report From A320 Engine Cowling Incident

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 08:22

Airplane Bound For Aruba Returned To Miami Airport

The NTSB has released a probable cause report stemming from an incident in which an A320 in route from Miami to Aruba lost a portion of an engine cowling shortly after takeoff. 

According to the NTSB, on September 19, 2016, at approximately 0824 EDT, an Aruba Airlines Airbus A320-200, flight AG-820, from Miami International Airport (KMIA), Miami, FL (USA), to Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA), Oranjestad, Aruba (Aruba), powered by two International Aero Engines (IAE) V2527 turbofan engines experienced a separation of the outboard fan cowl from the right-hand engine during takeoff. The flight crew was unaware of any anomalies until a passenger alerted the cabin crew of what he saw and the cabin crew relayed the message to the flight crew.

The flight crew leveled off at FL220 to assess the damage to the airplane. The crew was not sure if the panel had detached completely or was not visible from inside the airplane. All systems appeared normal in the cockpit but as a precaution the crew elected to return to Miami. The flight had an uneventful landing on runway 09 at KMIA about 40 minutes after departure. The incident flight was 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 129 Foreign Passenger Air Carrier from Miami to Aruba. There were no injuries. The aircraft sustained damage to the engine, engine pylon, right main landing gear, right main landing gear door and right fuselage.

The night prior to the incident the airplane was in maintenance where mechanics were completing a routine weekly check. Part of the weekly check was to open the fan cowl doors to inspect the IDG. Following the maintenance check, the cowl doors were closed and latched. Because the gate area where the maintenance was being performed was dark, the mechanic who completed the work used a flashlight to verify the latches were flush and made sure he heard a click.

A second mechanic who was assisting, also verified that the latches were flush but did not use a flashlight; he stated in a post-incident interview that he could see they were flush. The task was then signed off in the logbook as complete but did not specify that the cowls had been opened and closed. The morning of the incident, about 0430, the supervisor in charge of maintenance for Aruba Airlines performed a walkaround (although not required) using a flashlight and did not notice anything unusual about the cowl.

According to the Aruba Airlines A318/A319/A320/A321 Flight Crew Operating Manual, section “Procedures – Normal – Standard Operating Procedures – Exterior Walkaround,” the fan cowl doors were to be checked that they were “closed/latched.” The first officer conducted an exterior walkaround prior to departure and did not notice any abnormalities. He stated that to check the cowl he bent down and checked that it was flush and latched.

The examination of the No. 2 Engine Fan Cowl Components showed no evidence of preexisting damage on the latches/cowls prior to the event. Further, there was no evidence of latch design failures due to the previous nights routine maintenance work. Manufactures and Regulatory Agencies have released Service Bulletins/Regulatory Actions to prevent further loss of Fan Cowl Doors. At the time of the incident, Aruba Airlines had not incorporated (due to time in service) any of the modifications proposed by the Manufacturer/Regulatory Agencies.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of this incident to be the incorrect latching of the #2 Engine Fan Cowl following a routine maintenance check that resulted in separation of the cowl during takeoff.

(Image from NTSB incident docket)


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US state bans PFAS foam

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 08:20

Published:  04 April, 2018

Washington becomes first state in the US to ban fire-fighting foams containing PFASs.

Last month the Washington State House of Representatives voted 72-26 to ban the sale of fire-fighting foam containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); this week the law was signed into law by state governor Jay Inslee (pictured).

PFAS-based class B firefighting foams have been used since the 1970s for vapour suppression, fire fighting, and fire-fighting training at airports, refineries, bulk storage terminals and other facilities handling large volumes of flammable liquid petroleum or natural gas. PFAS chemicals are used because of their ability to produce a fast spreading foam.

According the US Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body.

The latest measure seeks to reduce the release of the highly persistent substances into the environment from fire-fighting activities.

The legislation bans the sale of the foams from 1 July 2020 unless its use is required by federal law or the foam will be used by an oil refinery, oil terminal, or chemical plant for fire fighting.

The legislation bans the use of the foam in fire training exercises as of 1 July this year.

Manufacturers of PFAS-containing fire-fighting foam are required to recall their product and reimburse retailers or other purchasers once the ban is in effect.

In addition, suppliers of firefighting clothing-containing PFAS are required to notify their customers of the fact by 1 July 2018, or face civil penalties.

PFAS are a class of man-made chemicals that are not found naturally in the environment. Molecules in all PFAS chemicals contain carbon and fluorine atoms and some also include oxygen, hydrogen, sulphur or nitrogen atoms. PFAS chemical molecules are differentiated from each other by chain length, or the number of carbon atoms, in the molecule.

The Department of Ecology states that the toxicity of PFAS compounds varies. Studies in animals show that exposure to some PFAS can affect liver function, reproductive hormones, development of offspring, and mortality. However, PFAS toxicity in humans is less understood and exposure may be linked to high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 08:19

41 Years ago today: On 4 April 1977 a Southern Airways Douglas DC-9-31 crashed near New Hope following a rain-induced double engine failure; killing 63 out of 85 occupants and 9 people on the ground.

Date: Monday 4 April 1977 Time: 16:19 Type: McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31 Operator: Southern Airways Registration: N1335U C/n / msn: 47393/608 First flight: 1971 Total airframe hrs: 15405 Engines:Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7A Crew: Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 4 Passengers: Fatalities: 61 / Occupants: 81 Total: Fatalities: 63 / Occupants: 85 Ground casualties: Fatalities: 9 Airplane damage: Destroyed Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair) Location: New Hope, GA (   United States of America) Phase: En route (ENR) Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger Departure airport: Huntsville-Madison County Airport, AL (HSV/KHSV), United States of America Destination airport: Atlanta Municipal Airport, GA (ATL/KATL), United States of America Flightnumber: 242

Southern Airways Flight 242, a DC-9-31, operated as a scheduled passenger flight from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to Atlanta, Georgia, with an intermediate stop at Huntsville, Alabama. Flight 242 departed Muscle Shoals at 15:21 and landed at Huntsville about 15:44.
About 15:54, Flight 242 departed Huntsville on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan for the Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport; there were 81 passengers and 4 crewmembers aboard.
The flight’s route was direct to the Rome VOR and then a Rome runway 26 profile descent to Atlanta. Its estimated time en route was 25 min and its requested en route altitude was 17,000 ft.
At 15:56, the controller told Flight 242 that his radarscope was showing heavy precipitation and that the echos were about 5 nmi ahead of the flight.
At 15:57:36, the controller said, “…you’re in what appears to be about the heaviest part of it now, what are your flight conditions.” Flight 242 replied, “…we’re getting a little light turbulence and…I’d say moderate rain.” At 15:57:47, the controller acknowledged Flight 242’s report and told the flight to contact Memphis Center.
The Memphis Center controller advised the flight that a SIGMET was current for the area. He then told Flight 242 to contact Atlanta Center.
At 16:03:20, Flight 242 switched to another sector of Atlanta Center, established communications on the new frequency and reported being level at FL170. As the aircraft entered an area of rain, the flight crew began discussing the weather depicted on their radar. Based on information from the airborne radar, the captain initially decided that the storms just west of the Rome VOR were too severe to penetrate. Shortly after his initial assessment of the storm system, the captain decided to penetrate the storm area near the Rome VOR.
At 16:06:41 Atlanta Center cleared Flight 242 to descend to and maintain 14,000 ft. Shortly afterwards the aircraft entered an area of heavy hail or rain, which continued for at least one minute. The ingestion of intense rain and hail into the engines caused the rotational speed of both engines to decrease below the engine-driven electrical generator operating speeds, and resulted in normal electrical power interruption for 36 seconds. The flight crew likely advanced one or both thrust levers, restoring its generator to operation and provide normal electrical power.
After establishing contact with Atlanta Center again, the flight was told to maintain 15,000 ft. At 16:09:15, Flight 242 reported to Atlanta Center, “Okay…we just got our windshield busted and… we’ll try to get it back up to 15, we’re 14.” After reported that the left engine had flamed out, the flight was cleared to descend to 13,000 ft.
Meanwhile both engines’ high-pressure compressors began to stall severely due to ingestion of massive quantities of water. The severe compressor stalls produced an overpressure surge which deflected the compressor blades forward in the sixth stage of the low-pressure compressors; these blades clashed against the fifth-stage stator vanes and broke pieces from the blades and vanes.
Pieces of blades and stator vanes were then ingested into the high-pressure compressors and damaged them severely.
Continued high thrust settings following the severe damage to the high-pressure compressors probably caused severe overheating in the turbine sections of both engines, and the engines ceased to function. Shortly before normal electrical power was again, the flight crew radioed that both engines had failed. Atlanta Center told the crew to contact approach control for vectors to Dobbins Air Force Base. Power was then lost for 2 min 4 sec until the APU-driven generator restored electrical power.
After establishing contact with Atlanta Approach Control the flight was told they were 20 miles from Dobbins. As the flight was descending, the captain began to doubt their ability to reach Dobbins. Cartersville was closer at 15 miles, so the controller gave vectors for Cartersville. Unable to make it to Cartersville, the crew began looking for a clear field or highway for an emergency landing.
At 16:18:02, Flight 242’s last transmission to Approach Control was recorded: “… we’re putting it on the highway, we’re down to nothing.”
The aircraft’s outboard left wing section first contacted two trees near State Spur Highway 92 south-southwest of the community of New Hope. About 0.8 miles farther north-northeast, the left wing again contacted a tree alongside the highway within the community of New Hope. The left and right wings continued to strike trees and utility poles on both sides of the highway, and 570 ft after striking the first tree in New Hope, the aircraft’s left main gear contacted the highway to the left of the centerline. Almost simultaneously, the outer structure of the left wing struck an embankment, and the aircraft veered to the left and off the highway. The aircraft traveled another 1,260 ft before it came to rest. As it traveled, the aircraft struck road signs, utility poles, fences, trees, shrubs, gasoline pumps at a gas station-store, five automobiles, and a truck.
Of the 85 persons aboard Flight 242, 62 were killed, 21 were seriously injured, and 1 was slightly injured. Additionally, eight persons on the ground were killed. Within a month of the accident, one of the surviving passengers and one person on the ground both died of their injuries.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “Total and unique loss of thrust from both engines while the aircraft was penetrating an area of severe thunderstorms. The loss of thrust was caused by the ingestion of massive amounts of water and hail which, in combination with thrust lever movement, induced severe stalling in and major damage to the engine compressors.
Major contributing factors include the failure of the company’s dispatching system to provide the flight crew with up-to-date severe weather information pertaining to the aircraft’s intended route of flight, the captain’s reliance on airborne weather radar for penetration of thunderstorm areas, and limitations in the FAA’s ATC system which precluded the timely dissemination of real-time hazardous weather information to the flight crew.”

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Today is Tuesday the 3rd of April, 2018

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 07:04

Only one story for today, but a very tragic one. Two volunteer Firefighters from Indiana were killed in the collision of a Cessna 150 and a Cessna Citation in Marion, Indiana……

Be safe out there!


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Two men killed after two planes collide at Marion airport

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 06:59

By Katie Cox

GRANT COUNTY, Ind. — Two firefighters from Madison County were killed after two small planes crashed at an airport in Grant County Monday evening. 

The crash happened just after 5 p.m. at the Marion Municipal Airport off State Road 9 in Marion.

Grant County Coroner Chris Butche says a smaller plane clipped a larger plane that was landing. The smaller plane then crashed and caught fire, killing the pilot and a passenger.

Butche identified the victims as Kyle Hibst, 31, and David Wittkamper, 31. Both men are from Elwood and were members of the Pipe Creek Township Volunteer Fire Department.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a single-engine Cessna 150 collided with a Cessna 525 CitationJet. Preliminary investigation indicates that the Cessna 150 was attempting to take off at 5:09 p.m. when it struck the tail of the Citation, which had just landed.

“The airport in Marion does not have an air traffic control tower,” the FAA said in a statement. “Pilots using the field are expected to announce their intentions on a common radio frequency and to coordinate with one another while on the ground and in the traffic pattern.”

The Cessna 150 was carrying two people and the Citation had five passengers on board.

“FAA investigators are on their way to the scene, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified,” the FAA said in a statement to RTV6. “The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and all updates.”

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 06:57

22 Years ago today: On 3 April 1996 a USAF Boeing T-43A (B737) crashed on approach to Dubrovnik, killing all 35 occupants.

Date: Wednesday 3 April 1996 Time: 14:52 Type: Boeing T-43A (737) Operator: United States Air Force – USAF Registration: 73-1149 C/n / msn: 20696/347 First flight: 1974-03-27 (22 years ) Engines:Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A Crew: Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6 Passengers: Fatalities: 29 / Occupants: 29 Total: Fatalities: 35 / Occupants: 35 Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair Location: 16 km (10 mls) SE of Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) (   Croatia) Phase: Approach (APR) Nature: Military Departure airport: Tuzla International Airport (TZL/LQTZ), Bosnia and Herzegovina Destination airport: Dubrovnik Airport (DBV/LDDU), Croatia Flightnumber: 21

Flight IFOR21 took off from Tuzla for a flight to Dubrovnik. While making an NDB approach to RWY 12 the aircraft crashed into a hill at 2300 feet, 1,7nm left of the extended centerline and 1,8nm North of RWY 12 at a speed of 133 knots and a 118° right bank.
It appeared that the T-43 had strayed off course, because the aircraft flew a 110° bearing instead of 119°, after passing the KLP beacon (final approach fix). Weather at the time was visibility 8 km in light / moderate rain; 120°/12 knots wind; cloud base at 120 m broken and 600 m overcast; temp. 12°C.

Probable Cause:

CAUSE: (1) Command failure to comply with directives that required a review of all instrument approach procedures, not approved by the Defense Dept. (2) Preflight planning errors, combined with errors made during the flight made by the aircrew. (3) Improper design of the Dubrovnik NDB.

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Today is Monday the 2nd of April, 2018

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 08:03

We start the new week and new month with the following stories…

Be safe out there!


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2 die when plane crashes into building near Santa Paula

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 08:00

Jeremy Childs and Gretchen Wenner, Ventura

Two men were killed when a plane crashed into a storage building near Santa Paula on Saturday afternoon.

The crash was reported around 2:15 p.m. in the 17800 block of South Mountain Road, just south of Santa Paula. 

The two adult male occupants of the plane were declared dead at the scene, according to Steve Swindle, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. No other injuries were reported.

There was a brief fire after the crash, according to the California Highway Patrol. The fire was extinguished by 2:30 p.m., authorities said.

South Mountain Road was blocked in both directions near the crash site for authorities to conduct the investigation.

The identification number of the plane showed it was registered out of Palmdale, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The plane’s last certificate was issued on June 12, 2014, with an expiration date of June 30, 2020. It was made and declared airworthy in April 2003, according to the FAA.

The FAA listed it as an RV-6A, a fixed-wing, single-engine, experimental aircraft model that is sold in kit form by Van’s Aircraft Inc. The often home-built two-seat model was introduced by Van’s in 1986 and replaced by the RV-7/7A in 2001, according to the company.

In a statement, a representative from the FAA said the incident will be investigated by the agency along with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Sgt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office recounted details of the incident from a man who lives at the property where the plane crashed. Buschow said the man had been outside with a plant sprayer when he saw the plane coming in. He dropped the sprayer and ran for shelter as the plane crashed roughly 50 feet from where the sprayer was.

Santa Paula resident Brittany Botts was attending a baby shower at Flight 126 Cafe at the Santa Paula Airport when the crash occurred.

“We all looked and all of a sudden, there was a bunch of black smoke,” Botts said.

Lisa Darling-Daniel, who lives near the crash site and moved to the area four months ago, was eating lunch outside with her friend, Ventura resident Laura Taylor. They were watching the plane while eating their lunch and thought the pilot was performing a trick.

“It sort of spun around, the engine got loud, and then: kaboom,” Darling-Daniel said.

Taylor, whose father used to fly planes, suspected something was wrong.

“I just knew — as low as it was and the way that it flipped — that’s not a trick,” Taylor said.

Since September 2017, there have been at least three airplane emergencies near Santa Paula.

The last one occurred Feb. 4 when a pilot had to perform an emergency landing on Highway 126. A noninjury plane crash involving two occupants had occurred two days earlier on Feb. 2. In September, a plane made an emergency landing in the Santa Clara river bottom not far from Saturday’s crash site.

In addition to the Ventura County Fire Department, the California Highway Patrol, Santa Paula Police Department, Santa Paula Fire Department and Ventura County Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident.

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2 dead in small plane crash near St. Lucie Inlet

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 07:58

LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Two people died in a single engine airplane crash in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 20 nautical miles east of Port St. Lucie on Saturday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Miami Air Traffic Control Center notified USCG of a suspected downed aircraft at approximately 11:45 a.m.

According to the USCG, the pilot stated to the ARTCC he was changing course for weather avoidance and shortly after, they lost communication.

Coast Guard crews located a debris field about 20 miles east of the St.LucieInlet. The two sole occupants of the aircraft were deceased.

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Seven suffer minor injuries when skydiving plane suffers engine failure and makes emergency landing in backyard in upstate New York

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 07:56
  • Seven were hurt when a skydiving plane made an emergency landing Saturday 
  • The plane operated by Skydive the Ranch was meant to drop the divers from 700 feet when the engine malfunctioned
  • The pilot tried to return to Gardiner Airport but ‘couldn’t make it’
  • The 1987 craft was then landed in the backyard of a home in Gardiner, New York 

By Marlene Lenthang For and Associated Press

A skydiving plane carrying seven people made an emergency landing in the backyard of an upstate New York home after suffering an engine malfunction, injuring all on board.

The aircraft from Skydive the Ranch made the unexpected landing on Saturday afternoon, according to Fire Chief Matthew Goodnow.

The trip that was supposed to set up the skydivers for a jump at 700 feet, took a turn when the engine went haywire in Gardiner, New York, 80 miles north of the city.

The pilot initially tried to return to the local airport, but the fire chief said the craft ‘couldn’t make it’, leading to the backyard landing.

The divers sustained minor injuries in the last-minute landing of the Cessna Caravan C208B aircraft.

Although all seven people suffered injuries, six refused medical attention.

One went to Mid-Husdon Regional Hospital for evaluation, according to The Poughkeepsie Journal.

The aircraft was a 1987 single engine that seated 12 according to the Shawangunk Journal. The craft suffered minor damage.

The Fire Chief described the landing as likely ‘awful bumpy’.

‘It was in a field compared to a paved runway,’ he added.

The alarm was first raised to the Gardiner Fire Department around 4:30pm.

The company Skydive the Ranch had no comment on the incident as of Saturday afternoon. State police are investigating the incident.

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Delta flight loses engine after birdstrike, sparking emergency landing at JFK

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 07:55

A plane taking off from Kennedy Airport struck a bird and lost an engine in the skies above Queens early Saturday, sparking an emergency landing, authorities said.

The Denver-bound Delta flight took off from JFK just before 8 a.m. but made a quick loop back to the runway after a bird got sucked into its engine at about 500 feet altitude, according to the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association.

The impacted engine shut down and the pilot had to land the plane using limited power, officials said. None of the crew members or 126 passengers were hurt.

The Port Authority Police Department’s Aircraft Rescue Firefighter Unit was on hand to meet the arriving plane and inspect damage.

A Delta spokeswoman said that after landing, the plane was “taxied to the gate for maintenance evaluation.”

“Customers have been reaccommodated on an alternate aircraft,” the spokeswoman said.

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Small plane runs off runway in Pembroke Pines

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 07:52

By Amanda Batchelor

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – A small plane ran off a runway Friday in Pembroke Pines, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac said in an email.

Salac said the single-engine Piper PA-28 ran off the end of Runway 1R at North Perry Airport at 12:05 p.m.

She said the aircraft had departed the airport via another runway, the pilot declared an emergency and the plane returned to land.

Sky 10 was above the scene as a fire rescue truck was parked near the plane in a grassy area near the runway.

It’s unclear what led to the emergency or whether anyone was injured.

The plane is registered to Aero Lease and Trading LLC in Corona, California.

The FAA is investigating the incident.

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Plane Suffers Significant Damage After Emergency Landing

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 07:50

(BEDFORD) – On Friday, an incident took place at the Virgil I Grissom Municipal Airport that left the Beechcraft aircraft significantly damaged.

A door had come open while taking off and the pilot, David Ford of Bedford, circled around back to the airport to make an emergency landing, authorities said.

Authorities said the pilot was unsure if the landing gear to the plane was down when he landed and it was not. The plane took significant damage to the under carriage.

The Shawswick Fire Department was dispatched at 10:37 a.m. and arrived seven minutes after. The Bedford Fire Department arrived at the same time.

When Ford was determined to be uninjured, the Bedford Fire Department left the scene.

McIntyre Brothers Construction arrived at the scene with a crane to lift the plane on to its wheels and return the plane to the hangar.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be on scene today to conduct their investigation.

The Indiana State Police, Lawrence County Sherrif’s Department, Shawswick Fire Department and the Bedford Fire Department all assisted at the scene.

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 07:48

49 Years ago today: On 2 April 1969 a LOT Antonov 24 struck a mountain near Krakow, Poland; killing all 53 occupants.

Date: Wednesday 2 April 1969 Time: 16:08 Type: Antonov 24B Operator: LOT Polskie Linie Lotnicze Registration: SP-LTF C/n / msn: 67302406 First flight: 1966 Crew: Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5 Passengers: Fatalities: 48 / Occupants: 48 Total: Fatalities: 53 / Occupants: 53 Airplane damage: Destroyed Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair) Location: near Zawoja (   Poland) Crash site elevation: 1200 m (3937 feet) amsl Phase: En route (ENR) Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger Departure airport: Warszawa-Okecie Airport (WAW/EPWA), Poland Destination airport: Kraków-J. Paul II Balice International Airport (KRK/EPKK), Poland Flightnumber: 165

The Antonov struck Polica Mountain at an altitude of 1200 m (150 m below the summit) during a snowstorm.

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Today is Friday the 30th of March, 2018

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:17

Here are the stories to close out this week…

Have a great weekend and be safe out there!


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Passengers escape as hot air balloon crashes, catches fire in Cave Creek

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:15


Authorities say a hot air balloon carrying 13 people crashed and caught fire Wednesday morning in the desert outside Phoenix, igniting a small brush fire but causing no injuries. 

Phoenix fire Capt. Jake Van Hook says it started “only a small amount of fire,” which crews quickly extinguished.

A witness video shows flames and a large plume of black smoke in an area of dry brush as several people on a dirt path look on.

The crash occurred just before 8:30 a.m. in the area of  36th Street and Carefree Highway in Cave Creek, just north of the Phoenix metro area, according to Maricopa County Sheriff’s officials.

Preliminary reports from the National Transportation Safety Board say it appears the incident started when a tree branch punctured the balloon’s colorful outer covering, known as the “envelope.”

“That branch caught fire,” NTSB spokesman Chris O’Neil said.

O’Neil said all 13 people safely evacuated the balloon’s basket, which then caught fire. The group attempted to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers, but it consumed the basket.

The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are both investigating. It’s not yet clear if the pilot was trying to land when the puncture occurred.

“The sequence (of events) and the mechanics will become clearer as we go on,” O’Neil said. “It’s fortunate that no one was hurt.”

No injuries were reported to the 13 people on board and no other information was immediately available, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

A phone message from The Associated Press left with the company the operated the hot air balloon tour,  Hot Air Expeditions in Phoenix, was not immediately returned, but the company issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

According to that statement, the fire started after the balloon had landed and the passengers had left the basket.

The company said the pilot, who has more than 30 years of experience, was landing after a “standard, safe hot air balloon flight.”

“The landing, which was also a safe, calm, and routine landing, was facilitated as well,” the statement explained. “The balloon landed in a desert area, near a tree. … Once all passengers had exited the hot air balloon, it was observed that a branch of the nearby tree had caught fire, which was in turn touching the envelope of the hot air balloon, causing the hot air balloon envelope to catch fire, ultimately followed by the hot air balloon basket.”

Taking issue with the description of the incident as a crash, Hot Air Expeditions said its passengers were not “in harms way prior to, during, or after the incident, and were all in good spirits.”

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Pilot kisses tarmac after emergency landing at Pembroke Pines airport

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:12

A pilot kissed the tarmac after safely landing a small airplane with landing gear troubles Thursday at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines.

The nose gear of a Piper PA-28 collapsed as the aircraft landed around 9 a.m. on a runway, said the Federal Aviation Administration, which will investigate.

There were two men aboard.

The plane is operated by Wayman Aviation, a flight school at the airfield.

WSVN-Ch. 7 helicopter filmed the dramatic flight and tricky landing. According to the station, the helicopter followed the Piper for about an hour, letting the crew know when its gear was raised and lowered as it did touch and go maneuvers until it eventually landed safely.

Video of the Piper’s final approach to the runway showed the passenger holding his hands up in front of his face as the pilot steered to a safe stop. The men were able to toss their flight bags to the ground, get out of the disabled, single-engine plane and walk away from it.

The Piper’s pilot raised his baseball cap in an apparent salute to the chopper pilot before falling to his knees and brushing the runway with his lips.

Fire trucks could be seen racing to the plane, but it did not catch fire, according to Pembroke Pines police.

The plane is owned by Father & Daughter Aviation, LLC, in Sunny Isles Beach and leased to Wayman Aviation, according to Eddy Luy, vice president of the flight school.

He said the pilot is a master certified flight instructor who has been with the company for five or six years and was giving a lesson to a commercial pilot who is training to become an instructor.

“They were having trouble with the nose landing gear, which they reported to the tower,” Luy said. “They did a fantastic job, all the way into the landing. It was a nice, safe controlled emergency landing. Everyone is safe and unharmed.”

Luy declined to release the pilots’ names, citing company policy after incidents.

The helicopter helped the Piper and communicated with it by radio, Luy said.

“This is exactly what training is for, 90 percent is for emergency procedures, the ‘what ifs,’” Luy said. “On an airplane with retractable gear, three green lights tell you if the gears are down and locked. One of the lights didn’t go on. The helicopter told them the gear was down, and they figured out it was not locked.”

Luy said the emergency landing “appears to be a mechanical failure, but it’s still under investigation. The plane has been with us a long time, we know it thoroughly. You fly enough hours, eventually something is going to happen.”

He said the Piper “absolutely was recently serviced,” but he didn’t have that date at hand.

It was the second time in eight months this Piper has made an emergency landing.

In July, 2017, the aircraft was “substantially damaged” after the engine lost power and the pilot was forced to stop on a levee near Pembroke Pines in the Everglades, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report.

That emergency also happened during a Wayman Aviation flight lesson. The instructor and pilot-rated student walked away unscathed that day, too.

“It was an interesting phenomenon called carburetor icing, that usually happens when the dew point is high, the ambient air temperature drops, and it restricts air flow into the engine,” Luy said. “They put the airplane down, we recovered it and it was by and large in good shape.”

The right main landing gear collapsed and a right fuel tank was punctured, according to the NTSB’s report. Luy said there was also damage to the fuselage, which he said was repaired.

“It was not the same landing gear involved in today’s incident,” Luy said.

After last summer’s crash and repairs, Luy said, “We put it back in service. Our school is very well known for doing a high level of maintenance, good quality maintenance.”

The post Pilot kisses tarmac after emergency landing at Pembroke Pines airport appeared first on ARFFWG | ARFF Working Group.

Former fire chiefs: Ford Airport slow to react to PFAS foam

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:11

By: Ken Kolker, Target 8 investigator

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Former airport fire chiefs are questioning why the Gerald R. Ford International Airport didn’t act sooner to investigate the PFAS-tainted firefighting foam they say they used there.

Ford Airport CEO James Gill said he became aware of the potential for PFAS contamination a year ago as news of polluted Air Force bases started to spread.

“So we’ve been looking into it over the last year. We’re really trying to recreate that history we don’t have,” Gill said.

Among the questions, he said: How much they used, where they used it, and which way the water flows.

Three former Ford airport fire chiefs, all tracked down by Target 8, said they haven’t heard from airport officials. They were in charge of buying and using the foam.

The airport had yet to contact the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, which oversees such investigations.

Longtime airport board member Ted Vonk said he knew nothing about the PFAS potential.

“It’s brand new to me,” Vonk told Target 8. “It hasn’t come up to the board members yet, so it is new to me. But as of the other problems around the airport, we get a handle on it and we’re going to take care of it.” 


The former airport fire chiefs told Target 8 they used AFFF firefighting foam at the Ford for decades, starting in the late 1970s, mostly for training — all required by the FAA. They say thousands of gallons drained untreated into the ground. The training ended in about 2000, but PFAS, a likely carcinogen, can stick around for a long time in the environment and in the human body.

“When the airport has the knowledge that know it’s a hazard, it wasn’t at the time, now it’s a hazard and now you need to be proactive,” said Glen Lathers, airport fire chief from 1979 to 1989.

It’s the same PFAS-tainted foam, the former chiefs said, that contaminated Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda and other bases around the country.

“They need to identify the plume, if there is one, and they need to immediately need to advise the people downstream to stop drinking the water,” Lathers said.

“If it was my well, and I was downstream from it, I would be very, very concerned,” said Bryan Kimble, fire chief from 2004 to 2010. “I would want somebody to be responsible for it.”


Then there’s the mysterious foam discovered by Target 8 on Wednesday on a stream near the airport. The stream leads to the Thornapple River.

The bright, white foam piled up at the end of a culvert that carries the stream under Oak Tree Drive SE.  Bubbles clung to a log above the water.

Target 8 reported it to the DEQ. The DEQ said it plans to investigate whether it’s the same kind of PFAS foam found on a lake and stream near Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

“Certainly we’d be anxious to hear what the state has to say as well,” said Gill, the airport CEO.


Some airport neighbors said they had no idea about the potential for PFAS. They called for well testing.

“The only way to find out if that’s true or not is to actually test them,” said Raul Alvarez, who lives on Forest Valley Drive SE. “To me, it just makes sense. It’s just logical that that’s the step you take.”

Alvarez’s family is among more than 400 in the neighborhood wedged between the airport and the Thornapple River.

“It’s a family-friendly community, lots of kids,” he said. “There’s no sidewalks and no one has ever wanted them because it’s just friendly and people just enjoy it, so it would affect a lot of families and it would affect kids, and that’s probably one of the worst things we can do.”

Most are on well water.

“It’s unfortunate given what we’ve seen not only in Flint but closer to home here in Rockford,” he said. “I’d hate for that to happen to any other residents in the community.”

Scott Rissi, president of the Thornapple River Association, remembers seeing the black smoke from the practice fires at the airport years ago. He lives on the east side of the river, across from the airport.

“If I lived in that area (on the west bank of the Thornapple), I would have my well checked,” Rissi said. “I know that the water runs in that direction, the groundwater’s running in that direction, and if there’s problems there, expose them, bring light to them.”

The DEQ told Target 8 that it planned to work with the airport.

“We do not yet have any information regarding the use of PFAS containing firefighting foam at the Gerald R. Ford airport, but we are available to provide technical support to assist the airport to investigate any potential ground water contamination in the area,” DEQ spokesman Scott Dean said in a written statement.

Cascade Township Supervisor Rob Beahan said it was the first he’s heard of the possibility of PFAS contamination at the airport.

“We have reached out to the airport and to county and state officials to begin to gather information,” he said in a statement released to Target 8 on Wednesday.

The post Former fire chiefs: Ford Airport slow to react to PFAS foam appeared first on ARFFWG | ARFF Working Group.

Michigan fire marshal wants data on PFAS-laden firefighting foam

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:07

Updated Mar 28

By John Tunison

LANSING — The state fire marshal wants Michigan fire departments to report their use and disposal of a chemical-laden firefighting foam that has contaminated state groundwater.

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) announced the survey effort on Wednesday, March 28.

State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer wants to know how much Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is, or was, in use around the state and develop a strategy for its disposal, the state says.

The foam is known to contaminate groundwater with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS or PFCs. The chemistry, invented by 3M, is the chemical backbone for AFFF foam.

The state fire marshal has never tracked used of the foam before.

Exposure to PFAS has been linked in human studies to certain cancers, thyroid malfunction and other diseases.

“The feedback we receive from our fire departments will be critical as MPART continues to develop detailed protocols to address this critical issue,” said Sehlmeyer.

“I encourage everyone in the fire service community to participate in the survey and provide their best practices on the safe disposal of firefighting foam containing PFAS.”

Sehlmeyer plans to survey more than 1,000 fire departments across Michigan to see how much PFAS-laden foam is still being used and how fire departments are handling foam runoff. The foam was widely used at military bases and airports as a means to quash jet fuel fires.

Foam-related PFAS plumes have contaminated drinking water supplies near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base near Marquette and the Camp Grayling Michigan National Guard base.

There are 15 communities in Michigan with known PFAS plumes. At least eight of them are attributable to firefighting foam.

In Kent County, PFAS has already shown-up in hundreds of private wells and the municipal systems in Plainfield Township and Sparta.

Wolverine World Wide is being sued by hundreds of local residents and the state of Michigan over the contamination of Rockford and Belmont area groundwater, which families allege has diminished property values and damaged their health.

Wolverine used another PFAS-laden 3M product, Scotchgard, to waterproof shoes at the company’s former Rockford tannery.

The post Michigan fire marshal wants data on PFAS-laden firefighting foam appeared first on ARFFWG | ARFF Working Group.

SLC Airport fire training facility will close in June

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:06


SALT LAKE CITY — A training facility used by thousands of firefighters to prepare for an aviation disaster will close at the end of June.

The Salt Lake City International Airport confirmed on Thursday it intended to close its Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Training Center, located just west of the terminals. The facility has been open since 1997, providing a realistic experience for firefighters from across the country—and other places.

“Guys from Antarctica, that’s probably the furthest away we’ve seen,” said Ron Buckmiller, an aircraft rescue firefighter with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

The ARFF training center has a replica aircraft where firefighters can train for anything from a small cigarette fire in a lavatory to a full-on disaster.

“It’s trying to create a realistic scenario to help these firefighters get better,” said Buckmiller.

When the aircraft is lit up for training, it startles passengers and locals alike, who call 911 and local news stations to report a plane crash.

“We do get occasional calls or emails asking if there’s a plane on fire,” said airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer. “We always assure our passengers, ‘No, it’s not. It’s training.'”

The facility’s closure in June is because of budget reasons, Volmer said. It would cost millions to upgrade and keep up.

“It would be about $2 million and that would only get us through three to five years, and then we’d have to make another substantial investment in the facility,” said Volmer. “As much as we hated to do it, we had to close the facility.”

Salt Lake City International Airport said it is not connected to a multi-billion dollar project underway to build a new terminal and concourses, slated to open in 2020. No firefighters will lose their jobs, but Salt Lake City firefighters will have to now travel out-of-state for their annual training.

Volmer said it was possible a few years from now that the Salt Lake City International Airport could budget for a new ARFF facility.

SLC Airport fire training facility will close in June

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