Monday, March 09, 2009

Too many pilots chasing too few planes ....

P-3 spy was right back in SEP - lowering standards have consequences. From the 03MAR Navy Times by our bud Andrew Tilghman,
Two of the three pilots on board the P-3 Orion that narrowly avert­ed a fatal catastrophe last year when it plummeted nearly 6,000 in 25 seconds were not current with flight-time requirements, an internal Navy report shows.

In addition, when the aircraft began to shake violently and an engine malfunctioned, the crew fell into “scope lock” and did not strictly follow the Navy’s air training standards, according to the Judge Advocate General Man­ual investigation, obtained by Navy Times.

However, those issues did not result in any disciplinary action stemming from the July 22 inci­dent near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., according to the report.

The P-3 from Patrol Squadron 1 was conducting a training flight in which one of its four engines was shut down on purpose. But a second engine on the same port wing mal­functioned, rolling the aircraft vio­lently and sending it spiraling to­ward the ground at 290 knots. The plane was pulling more than 5 Gs before the aviators were able to restart the first engine to recover at less than 200 feet and land safely.
The plane was essentially de­stroyed — the fuel tank was ripped open, several panels were bent or buckled, and dozens of rivets ripped out as the starboard wing skin peeled away, the report says. It will not be returned to the fleet.

The incident came seven months after the Navy had already grounded 39 P-3s — almost one­quarter of the maritime patrol fleet at the time — because of fears that “structural fatigue” could cause wing sections to break off in flight.

According to the report, two pi­lots and an off-duty pilot along with three flight engineers and an observer were on board.

One of the pilots had 3.8 flight hours during the previous 30 days, far short of the 10 hours re­quired by Patrol and Reconnais­sance Group. A second pilot had 3.3 flight hours, the report says.
Something, methinks, we will hear about this in the end as well.

One more thing from the article caught me.
The flight instructor and patrol plane commander were sent be­fore a Field Naval Aviator Evalua­tion Board, the report says. A Navy spokesman declined to dis­ close the results of those boards.
Ummmmm .... two dudes just don't walk out to an aircraft and go fly. There were a lot of people who had to know how few hours those guys (or gals) had -- accountability? Isn't there a flight schedule or sump'n signed off?

AW1 - you know your way around P-3s and their ilk .... pilot hours must be about as much of a secret as how many girlfriends the high school quarterback has. With so many people hunting so few opportunities to get flight hours - people have to be watching who is getting what close.

As P-3 spy told me - there is nothing magic or new about pilot currency - there is only more fudge.

1 comment:

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