Aviation News, Headlines & Alerts
Category: <span>LAX</span>

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LAX Conducts Plane Crash Drill to Test Emergency Response Time

Los Angeles International Airport conducted a full-scale plane crash simulation on April 13th.

The two-hour drill, which was conducted to test the emergency response time, used a Boeing 777 plane that crashed and caught fire in a debris field.

Around 500 emergency personnel, including firefighters, participated in the exercise, while 150 volunteers acted as crash victims.

Two Boeing Jets Clip at LAX


United Airlines Flight 1199 (Boeing 737-990/ER) had just landed from Newark with 175 aboard; Alaska Airlines flight 143 (Boeing 757-224) to Portland was departing with 182 aboard when they made contact.

The left hand winglet of the arriving 737 contacted the right hand horizontal stabilizer of the departing 757. Fortunately the Alaska jet was not on its take-off run, so the impact happened at a crawl (i.e. “taxiing at a low speed.”). Passengers said they felt a jolt. The planes were stuck together; and part of one plane had “snapped off.”

The impact occurred at 7:51, derailing travel plans of the passengers, and scheduling for the two damaged jets. Some passengers were put up at local hotels, but there were no reported injuries.

A passenger who shot a well-circulated picture that was released on twitter was besieged with reporter requests to post the image. Actor Peter Cambor who was aboard also tweeted that the jets were “stuck together.”

Canadair CRJ Belly Landing at LAX

A SkyWest/United Express Canadair CRJ made a belly landing at Los Angeles International Airport with the left main gear not fully extended. None of the 43 aboard reported injury. The video below shows sparks on landing, with the commentators realizing on air there were not 4 aboard but a full plane. The video has been cut so that you do not see the landing initially, but eventually they show the friction of the landing. News of the incident was released without the flight number, origin or destination.

The incident occurred at 8:23 a.m.

The CRJ is a regional commuter. Passengers were able to disembark normally, without slides, and were bussed to the terminal. Emergency services were standing by.

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Menzies Aviation Fined by Cal/OSHA Following Death of LAX Airport Worker

Following the death of a Los Angeles International Airport worker in February, Cal/OSHA has issued citations and imposed a fine of $77,250 on Menzies Aviation for allegedly violating 1 regulatory, 1 serious and 3 serious-accident related state safety codes.

On February 21, Cesar Valenzuela, a 51-year-old LAX worker employed by Menzies, was thrown out of a tow tractor while he was picking cargo without wearing a seatbelt. The investigations conducted by Cal/OSHA revealed that the safety policy of Menzies Aviation does not obligate the workers to wear safety belts while operating the tow tractors in and around the Los Angeles International Airport.

According to Christine Baker, the director of the Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal/OSHA, “This fatality could have been prevented with a well-thought-out and implemented safety plan, as is required for all worksites in California.”

LAX Shooting update, Shooter’s name released

In the shooting incident at LAX, one fatality has been reported and six others were injured.

The shooter, identified as 23 year old Paul Ciancia, was wearing fatigues and carrying anti government literature saying that “he wanted to kill TSA and pigs.”

Some victims were hospitalized at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. According to a tweet, “Three male patients were transported to Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center. One is in critical condition and two are in fair condition.”

Witnesses said the young gunman asked around looking for TSA agents. Witnesses heard up to 20 shots.

LAX: TSA Shooting

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent was shot at a Terminal 3 checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport.

Swat responded. Los Angeles Police Department put LAX on tactical alert. An evacuation of the airport followed. All planes with flights heading to the airport were held at their points of origin.

The incident began at 9:30 a.m. at Terminal 3 at LAX. A twitter from John Fostrom said that “a lax colleague walks closer to see what is going on and TSA person runs at him with look of terror. Colleague turns to me and says run!”

A gunman with a rifle fired shots in Terminal 3. A twenty-nine year old man was shot in the leg at 9:30 a.m. and someone else was also wounded.

The gunman was taken into custody alive.

LAX Terminal 1 improvements to the tune of $400 Million

Although Southwest has outstanding legal claims against Los Angeles World Airports, the following items are are on the table:

Southwest Airlines will

  • build a new checked baggage security system
  • improve passenger security checkpoints
  • refresh passenger waiting areas
  • refurbish the baggage claim area
  • construct new passenger boarding bridges
  • renovate the terminal lobby

Los Angeles World Airports will fund most of the renovations, along with—hopefully—federal grant money. Los Angeles World Airports may give the airline rent credits or by pay a lump sum.

If the lease is signed Southwest will drop legal claims against Los Angeles World Airports; if renovation proceeds, Southwest will pay about $9.5 million in rent the first year, and US Airways will move to Terminal 3.

The Board of Airport Commissioners has approved improvements in “dog-eared” Terminal one.

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Cerritos: Aeromexico Shattered Lives

In George’s Point of View

It is a strange, sad phenomenon how tragedies live on.

On August 31, 1986, a Piper and a Douglas DC-9-32 collided over Cerritos California. The Piper, carrying the pilot and two passengers was going from Torrence to Big Bear. They departed Torrence at 11:46. The DC-9 from Mexico City was approaching Los Angeles with 58 passengers and 6 crew aboard. At 11:52 am, the DC-9’s left horizontal stabilizer sheared through the Piper’s cockpit like a can-opener.

The Piper crashed in the Cerritos Elementary School playground; the DC-9 in a Cerritos neighborhood destroying five houses, damaging seven more and killing an additional 15 on the ground.

Descriptions of the collision still fill me with horror.

The accident predates some of the precautionary measures we have now. Now, the Piper would have a Mode C transponder, which would indicate that it was too high, breeching LAX Terminal Control area; LAX was not at that time equipped with automatic warning systems.

It has been twenty-five years since that accident happened. A memorial ceremony now is being held commemorating the tragedy in the Cerritos Sculpture Garden, and another in Loreto, Mexico. The tragedy is being remembered by at least 30 US families, 20 Mexican families, in at least one home in Colombia, and one in El Salvador. It is being remembered in the neighborhood the wreckage demolished, where families neither need nor want a plaque to remind them of their loss.

There is a reminder of this crash in every light plane, and every jet. In fact, everyone who flies now, everyone who has flown and not died in a crash owes a debt to the victims of this senseless tragedy, because this was the event that spurred the FAA to require “Mode C” transponders that could report three-dimensional positioning on light aircraft. This was the event that spurred the FAA to require TCAS on airliners.

I still live to breathe the smoggy air of Los Angeles. And as long as I still have the breath of life, I will remember the day when these 82 souls breathed their last.

Aviation tragedies shatters lives like broken glass, and there is no lawsuit, no settlement, no “all the kings horses, nor all the kings men” who can ever put families back together again.

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LAX Turbulence Injures Flight Attendant

What: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 en route from San Francisco to Los Angeles
Where: Los Angeles
When: Sep 29th 2010
Who: flight attendant
Why: On approach to LA, the Boeing encountered turbulence. A flight attendant sustained minor injuries.

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LAX Cautionary American Airlines Landing

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Thomas Posch

What: American Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-82 en route from Los Angeles to Dallas
Where: LAX
When: August 14 2010
Who: 146 passengers
Why: After take-off, flight indicators revealed an engine problem. The pilot landed safely at LAX about 3/4 of an hour after leaving.

A replacement jet was provided.

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LAX Wake Turbulence

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Francisco Muro

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Rudy Chiarello

What: American Eagle Embraer ERJ-140 en route from Lindbergh Field San Diego to Los Angeles
What: LAN Airlines Boeing 767-300 from from Lima Peru to Los Angeles, CA
Where: LAX
When: Jan 19th 2010
Why: At the time of the American Eagle’s arrival to LAX, both jets were flying at the same altitude. The danger was not collision. The danger was wake turbulence. Required separation behind the Boeing is 5 nautical miles.

George’s Point of View

Trailing behind an aircraft, wake turbulence is made up of multiple force drafts including wingtip vortices and jetwash. Jetwash is jet engine gas output which is turbulent but of short term but wingtip vortices can remain for up to three minutes.

Picture, if you will, invisible speed bumps made of wind that could knock your car off the road trailing the car in front of you. If this were a factor with cars, tailgating would be a completely different thing.

A cockpit voice recorder of the pilots responses will clearly indicate if the plane in the rear of the situation runs into the leading aircraft’s wake. What officials are questioning here are the actions and responses of LAX Air Traffic Control, which placed these two jets close enough to be endangered.

On January 19, maybe Air Traffic Control error put the Eagle jet less than three miles from the 767, but the pilot managed to stay out of the other jet’s wake. LAX denies this is a case of inexperience and maybe they are correct, because the worst case scenario crash did not happen. Maybe it would have happened if the jet following were flying at lower altitude.

What matters is that the flight landed safely and whether it was ATC or the pilot, someone did something right because both flights made it to the ground safely.

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LAX: United Airlines Hydraulics Leak

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Gerry Stegmeier

What: United Airlines Boeing 777-200 en route from Los Angeles ,CA to Narita
Where: Los Angeles
When: Oct 5th, 2009
Why: About twenty minutes after takeoff, the plane experienced a hydraulics leak. The flight crew decided to return to LAX, where it landed safely at 2:21 p.m.

Maintenance crews are inspecting the plane.

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Air Canada Turbulence at LAX

What: Air Canada Embraer ERJ-190 en route from Calgary to Los Angeles,CA
Where: Los Angeles
When: May 18th 2009
Who: 58 passengers and 5 crew, 4 minor injuries
Why: The flight experienced a few minutes of moderate in-flight turbulence but landed as scheduled. Several passengers were treated at the airport.

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Airbus: Emergency Landing LAX

What: Airbus 320 en route from LAX to Dulles
Where: LAX
When: Friday, May 15, 2009 2:42 p.m.
Why: The plane developed a hydraulic leak and returned to LAX for an emergency landing. No Injuries were reported.

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A Lesson about Icing

What: American Eagle Saab 340
Where: Santa Maria, CA
When: Jan 2nd 2006
Who: 2 flight crew members, 1 flight attendant, and 25 passengers
Why: aircraft lost 5000 feet during climbout due to icing

George’s Point of View

Hopefully this incident is another lesson to icing and taking chances.

NTAB Report Follows:

On January 2, 2006, at 1439 Pacific standard time, a Saab-Scania AB SF340B+, N390AE, operated by American Eagle Airlines, Inc., as flight 3008, encountered icing conditions during the en route climb over Santa Maria, California. The airplane was at 11,700 feet mean sea level (msl) when it departed controlled flight, and descended to an altitude of about 6,500 feet msl. The pilots recovered control of the airplane, and continued to their scheduled destination of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Los Angeles California, where they landed at 1540 without further incident. The 2 flight crew members, 1 flight attendant, and 25 passengers were uninjured, and the airplane did not sustain substantial damage. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121 scheduled domestic passenger flight that was operating on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The flight originated from San Luis County Regional Airport (SBP), San Luis Obispo, California, at 1414.

A review of the American Eagle Airlines, Inc., flight log disclosed that the accident flight was scheduled to be the flight crew’s fifth trip of the day, and their second trip in the accident airplane. The 1 hour 26 minute accident flight was scheduled to depart from Santa Barbara at 1408, and terminate in Los Angeles at 1513.

The flight crew members stated in post incident interviews that before the incident flight, they had encountered light rime icing and moderate turbulence on the inbound leg to San Luis Obispo as they were descending from 9,000 to 5,000 feet. The pilots stated that, while preparing for the return flight to Los Angeles, they reviewed the weather conditions for the intended route of flight. The operator’s dispatch package noted two AIRMET (airmen’s meteorological information) reports for icing in clouds and two PIREPs (pilot weather reports) for turbulence. The pilots discussed the conditions that they had encountered on the way in, as well as the conditions for the intended route of flight outbound. Because of the gusty wind conditions and the short runway at San Luis Obispo, the captain decided to perform the departure. He was going to turn control of the airplane over to the first officer after completing the climb checklist at the acceleration altitude.

In accordance with American Eagle’s minimum equipment list (MEL), the incident airplane was dispatched with the continuous mode of the boot deice system inoperable for the inbound flight and the return incident flight. The flight crew reported that they performed the manual test of the deicer boots as called for in the MEL, and observed the operation of the inboard and outboard wing boot segments. However, they could not see the stabilizer segments, and did not have qualified ground personnel available to observe the test as required by the MEL. The pilots reported that they did confirm illumination of the green boot inflation lights on the overhead panel when they pressed the manual buttons.

In accordance with company procedures that require flight crews to activate the deice system at the first sign of ice accretion and operate the deice boots continually, the crew stated that they were prepared to operate the deice boots in manual mode as needed during the flight. They departed in level 2 weather conditions (defined as 10 degree Celsius or colder with visible moisture) and with the engine anti-ice on.

The pilots stated that the weather radar was on, and they did not observe any activity on it. The captain had the autopilot engaged in the medium (M) climb mode. Shortly after taking the controls about 2,500 feet, the first officer changed the autopilot to vertical speed (VS) mode, which gave pitch attitude commands to maintain the vertical speed existing at the time of mode engagement.

As the airplane climbed through 11,000 feet, the captain noted light rime ice accumulating on the windshield wiper blades and about a 1/2-inch-wide area of ice on the left wing.

The captain reported that, as he began to reach up to activate the manual deice boot system, he felt a heavy vibration in the airframe. He said that the windscreen immediately turned white. Immediately thereafter, the airplane’s nose dropped, the left wing dropped, and the autopilot disconnected. He grabbed the yoke to take control of the airplane. He said that the clacker sounded (indicating an imminent stall), the stick shaker activated, and the ground proximity warning system emitted a “bank angle” aural warning.

The flight crew reported that the airplane vibrated again, but less violently than the first episode. The captain leveled the wings, and began pulling up on the control yoke. At this point, he instructed the first officer to manually operate the deice boots. The captain stated that he pushed the condition levers to the maximum position, and brought the power levers to idle. The airplane stabilized in roll, and he could hear chunks of ice shedding off and hitting the fuselage. He kept the airplane in a nose-down attitude, maintaining a 500 feet per minute rate of descent until the airplane was below the freezing level.



The operator reported that the 34-year-old captain held an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land. He held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He had a type rating in the SF340.

The captain held a first-class medical certificate issued on September 21, 2005. It had no limitations or waivers.

The captain had a total flight time of 6,764.08 hours, with 3,981.87 hours accumulated in Saab 340 airplanes, of which 2,519.46 hours was as the pilot-in-command (PIC). He had a total of 970 hours of instrument experience and between 1,700 and 1,900 hours of night flight. During the preceding 90 days, 30 days, and 24 hours, he reported that he had flown in both the capacity of PIC and second-in-command (SIC) approximately 172, 47, and 7 hours, respectively. He added that he had acquired numerous hours of aerobatic flight time in a Cessna 150 Aerobat airplane.

First Officer (FO)

The operator reported that the 32-year-old FO held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane instrument and multi-engine land ratings. He additionally held an SF340 Type Rating, with the limitations of SF340 SIC privileges only and circling approaches to be completed only in visual meteorological conditions (VMC). The FO was also a certified flight instructor (CFI) for instrument and multi-engine land airplane.

The FO’s second-class medical certificate was issued on May 25, 2005, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses.

The FO had a total flight time of 1,367.48 hours, with 132.48 hours accumulated in Saab 340 airplanes. He had a total of 94 hours of instrument experience and 185 hours of night flight. During the preceding 90 days, 30 days, and 24 hours, he reported that he had flown approximately 120, 71, and 5 hours, respectively.


The airplane was a Saab SF340B+, serial number 340B-390. The airplane had a total airframe time of 17,291 hours at the examination following the incident.


National Transportation Safety Board investigators reviewed the airplane’s maintenance records and logbooks. The day prior to the incident, a flight crew reported that during an en route deice boot check, the timer light illuminated. The deicer timer failure light was later deferred in accordance with the operator’s MEL. The deferral procedures required a placard to be placed adjacent to the deicer timer switch and the auto cycling switch to remain in the “off” position. Investigators did observe an MEL placard (sticker) next to the deice system controls in the cockpit.

Initial examinations revealed that the airplane’s deice systems were operational; the deicer timer failure light illuminated.

Aileron Interconnect

The airplane was equipped with an Aileron Spring Unit. This would allow the flight crew to initially maintain authority in the roll axis if one aileron seized, until the aileron disconnect handle in the cockpit was pulled by a pilot. In the event an aileron seized, the pilot would have to overpower a preloaded spring unit to manipulate an aileron. When the pilot reduced control input pressure, the unit would close allowing the ailerons to be normally coupled. The FO stated that he believed that he did not have his hands on the controls after the captain assumed authority. The roll disconnect handle was not pulled during this incident.


A Safety Board meteorologist prepared a factual report, which is part of the public docket. AIRMET Zulu Update 4 for icing (SFOZ WA 022045) was issued on January 2, 2006, at 1345, and valid until 2000. It noted occasional moderate rime/mixed icing in clouds and in precipitation between the freezing level and FL220. The freezing level in central California was 6,000 to 8,000 feet; the freezing level in southern California was 7,000 to 11,000 feet.

The specialist reviewed San Joaquin Valley, California (HNX) Level II Doppler weather radar Base Reflectivity Images. At 1437:38 at the location of the icing encounter, the HNX beam center was about 16,500 feet with a beam width of about 8,000 feet. The top of the beam was about 20,500 feet, and the bottom of the beam was about 12,500 feet.

At 1442:36 at the location of the icing encounter, the HNX beam center was about 7,500 feet with a beam width of about 8,000 feet. The top of the beam was about 11,500 feet, and the bottom of the beam was about 3,500 feet.

A GOES-10 infrared image at 1441 PST at the location of the icing incident recorded a radiative temperature of 244 degrees K (-29 degrees C). Using NAM12 upper air data, this temperature corresponded to a cloud top of about 21,000 feet.

The report contained experimental Current Icing Potential (CIP) plots that a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, provided. It noted that the CIP product (Supercooled Liquid Droplets (SLD) and Ice) combines sensor and numerical model data to provide a three-dimensional diagnosis of the icing environment. The current CIP output consists of a likelihood field ranging from 0 (no icing) to 100 (certain icing). While this is not yet calibrated as a true probability value, CIP has value in pointing out real differences in the likelihood of encountering icing at a given location.

The plots were: icing severity category composite, maximum SLD potential in the column, maximum potential in column for experiencing icing field, icing severity at 12,000 feet, potential for SLD ice at 12,000 feet, potential for experiencing ice at 12,000 feet, icing severity at 9,000 feet, potential for experiencing ice at 9,000 feet, potential for SLD ice at 9,000 feet, and current icing potential.


A Safety Board specialist examined the DFDR data, and the factual report is part of the public docket.

About 6 minutes after takeoff, the airplane was passing through 9,200 feet. The airspeed began to decline from 180 knots, and the pitch angle began to increase. Around 2 minutes later, at 1439:36, the pitch of the airplane was 14 degrees up and the roll was neutral. One second later, the altitude reached a maximum recorded value of 11,712 feet, and the airplane was in a 16-degree left roll. During the next second, the autopilot disconnected, and the airspeed registered 118 knots.

The rate of airspeed decay accelerated in the final 10 seconds before the autopilot disconnected. The airplane departed controlled flight at an airspeed of 130 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS), and before the stall warning activated. The DFDR data also revealed that about 26 seconds before the stall roll departure, while the airplane was at a speed of 144 KIAS, the airplane began to experience a slight rolling anomaly that was counter to the direction of the aileron input. Aileron input from the autopilot arrested this slight rolling motion.

The airplane rolled to 86 degrees left wing down, and then went through a series of roll and pitch movements. It reached 140 degrees of right roll, and a maximum pitch down angle of 48 degrees. It rolled to 75 degrees left wing down, and a pitch of 31 degrees nose down. It then rolled to 94 degrees right wing down, followed by a pitch angle to 40 degrees nose down. Starting at 1440, the altitude and outside air temperature parameters stopped recording valid data for a period of 15 seconds. At 1440:06, the airplane’s pitch angle began to increase. It passed through 0 degrees about 6 seconds later at an airspeed of 219 knots, and a recorded maximum vertical acceleration of 2.5 g’s. The pitch reached 23 degrees nose up at 1440:24; the minimum recorded airspeed value of 105 knots occurred 11 seconds later while the airplane was at an altitude of 7,840 feet. The parameters began to stabilize after this time.

The DFDR data disclosed that 14 seconds after the initial stall, both ailerons simultaneously traveled to the full up position for approximately 14 seconds.

DFDR Study

The DFDR specialist participated in a ground test to validate the control wheel and aileron position data recorded on the event flight and gather additional data related to a breakout scenario. The test did demonstrate that, under a normal scenario, the control wheel being manipulated would lead the control wheel not being manipulated. Also, it showed that moving the control wheel would drive the ailerons to their maximum range values, but moving the ailerons would not drive the control wheels to full range. Additionally, in manually manipulating the ailerons, the left one did not reach its full upwards range.


Performance Study

A Safety Board specialist conducted a vehicle performance study, which is a part of the public docket. It showed that the airplane’s aerodynamics degraded with time until the airplane stalled. This stall occurred at a lower angle of attack than would be expected for an uncontaminated airframe. The study concluded that the aerodynamic degradation and early stall was consistent with airframe icing.



American Eagle had a recurrent and requalification simulator training syllabus for captains and first officers. It included approach to stalls in the takeoff, clean, and landing configurations. It also included unusual attitudes recoveries from nose low and nose high positions. One section dealt with normal and abnormal emergency situations operations including anti-icing and deicing systems, stall warning, and stick pusher.

American Eagle’s advanced aircraft maneuvering program (AAMP) includes a review of phenomena that cause upset events and unusual attitude recovery procedures.

The Operations Group chairperson interviewed several American Eagle pilots. All the pilots interviewed, including the incident captain and first officer, stated that they never practiced encountering a stall in icing conditions as part of their simulator training. Additionally, the pilots could not recall ever having the opportunity to practice a complete stall in the simulator, as they were always instructed to recover at the first indication of an impending stall.

Minimum Airspeeds for Flight in Icing Conditions

American Eagle’s 340B+ Airplane Operating manual (AOM) calls for flight crews to compute a final clean airplane climb speed, or Vcln, and to add 15 knots to that value to determine the minimum speed (Vcln+15) in icing conditions. For the incident flight, Vcln was computed to be 126 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS), and the minimum speed in icing conditions was 141 KIAS.

Use of Autopilot in Icing Conditions

The limitations section of the American Eagle 340B+ AOM stipulates that the indicated airspeed (IAS) mode is the only authorized flight director/autopilot mode if an airplane is climbing when ice accretion is occurring, or with residual ice on the airframe. In IAS mode, the flight control computer gives pitch attitude commands to maintain the indicated airspeed existing at the time of mode engagement. In the vertical speed (VS) mode of the incident flight, the autopilot would sacrifice airspeed to maintain climb rate.


The Safety Board issued several recommendations as a result of the investigation.

Urgent recommendation A-06-48 asked the FAA to require all operators of Saab SF340 series airplanes to instruct pilots to maintain a minimum operating airspeed of 1.45xVs during icing encounters and before entering known or forecast icing conditions and to exit icing conditions as soon as performance degradations prevent the airplane from maintaining 1.45xVs.

Recommendation A-06-49 asked the FAA to require the installation of modified stall protection logic in Saab SF340 series airplanes certified for flight into known icing conditions.

Recommendation A-06-50 asked the FAA to require the installation of an icing detection system on Saab SF340 series airplanes.

Recommendation A-06-51 asked the FAA to require all operators of turbo propeller-driven airplanes to instruct pilots, except during intermittent periods of high workload, to disengage the autopilot and fly the airplane manually when operating in icing conditions.

The Safety Board also reiterated the following recommendations to the FAA.

Recommendation A-03-53 asked the FAA to convene a panel of airplane design, aviation operations, and aviation human factors specialists, including representatives from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to determine whether a requirement for the installation of low-airspeed alert systems in airplanes engaged in commercial operations under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 121 and 135 would be feasible, and submit a report of the panel’s findings.

Recommendation A-03-54 asked that if the panel requested in Safety Recommendation A-03-53 determines that a requirement for the installation of low-airspeed alert systems in airplanes engaged in commercial operations under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 and 135 is feasible, establish requirements for low-airspeed alert systems, based on the findings of the panel.

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American Airlines 757 Emergency Landing at LAX

What: American Airlines Flight 1236 on its way to Chicago from John Wayne Airport in California’s Orange County
Where: LAX
When: one engine died just minutes after takeoff at 3:21 p.m. Sunday.
Who: 149 passengers and a crew of six
Why: The flight was diverted to Los Angeles International Airport, where it landed safely around 3:31pm. There were no injuries.

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Air Pacific jetliner Emergency Landing at LAX

Click here for full size photo on Airliners.net
Contact Photographer Snorre – VAP

What: Air Pacific jetliner (Boeing 747 ) Flight 811 en route to Fiji
Where: Los Angeles International Airport
When: Friday feb 13
Who: 441 passengers and crew
Why: The crew reported a “fuel transfer problem.” and was forced to return to Los Angeles International Airport

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Embraer Emergency Landing in Palm Springs

What: Sky West Flight 6552 Embraer en route from Palm Springs International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport
Where: Palm Springs International Airport
When: 5:46 p.m
Who: 14 people on board
Why: After the crew detected smoke in the cockpit right after takeoff, the Sky West flight was able to land safely.

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Historical Airbus

Jet Blue Emergency Landing in LAX 2005.

Shortly after the landing gear handle was positioned to the up position in the initial climb, the flight crew noted an error message on the Electric Centralized Aircraft Monitoring (ECAM) system listing a fault (L/G SHOCK ABSORBER FAULT) message for the nose landing gear (NLG) shock absorber. The gear handle was then moved to the down position and the crew received an error message of a fault for the nose wheel steering (WHEEL N/W STRG FAULT). After determining that the nose landing gear was cocked 90 degrees, the crew landed at an alternate airport, and the NLG tires and both wheels were worn down into the axle. Post incident examination of the nose gear assembly found that two of the four anti-rotation lugs on the NLG upper support assembly fractured and separated due to induced fatigue from the stearing system’s programed pre-landing dynamic steering tests that repeatedly cycles pressure to the stearing cylinders. The failed lugs allowed the NLG to deviate from its 0-degree position in the landing gear bay upon gear retraction on takeoff. This resulted in the L/G SHOCK ABSORBER FAULT error message on the ECAM system. When the pilots extended the incident airplane’s landing gear, the nose gear achieved the down and locked position 1.5 seconds before the main gear and/or all of the landing gear doors closed. The nose wheel assembly was not centered at this time. The Brake Steering Control Unit (BSCU) detected this off center condition of the NLG and attempted to re-center the nose wheel; however, due to the sequencing of the nose and main landing gear and their respective doors, hydraulic pressure was shut off to the NLG steering valve. This lack of hydraulic power to the servo valve resulted in a lack of position feedback to the BSCU. After a 0.5-second monitoring time period, the BSCU detected this as a fault and deactivated the steering system so that the BSCU could not return the nose wheels to center. Failure of the nosewheels to center initiated a WHEEL N/W STRG FAULT caution message on the ECAM. There were no approved procedures that allowed the flight crew to attempt to reset the BSCU system, which would have re-enabled the hydraulic system and could have resulted in the system recentering the nose wheels.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this incident as follows:

The fatigue failure of two anti-rotation lugs due to repeated cyclic pre-landing tests, which allowed the nosewheels to deviate from the 0-degree position on landing gear retraction. A contributing factor was the design of the Brake Steering Control Unit (BSCU) system logic, which prevented the nosewheels from centering. Also contributing was the lack of a procedure to attempt to reset the BSCU system under these conditions.


On September 21, 2005, at 1818 Pacific daylight time, Jet Blue Airways flight 292, an Airbus A320, N536JB, landed at Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, with the nose wheels cocked 90 degrees. Jet Blue Airways, Inc., was operating the airplane as a scheduled domestic passenger flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121. The airline transport pilot licensed captain, first officer, 4 flight attendants, and 141 passengers were not injured. The flight departed Burbank, California, at 1531 as a non-stop to JFK Airport, New York, New York. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

The first officer (FO) was the pilot flying. He noted no problems during the initial departure, and observed a positive rate of climb. Information from the digital flight data recorder (DFDR) indicated that after liftoff the gear handle was positioned to the up position.

The flight crew noted an error message displayed on the Electric Centralized Aircraft Monitoring (ECAM) system. There was a fault (L/G SHOCK ABSORBER FAULT) message for a nose landing gear (NLG) shock absorber.

The DFDR data then indicated that the gear handle was positioned to the down position. The crew then received an error message of a fault for the nose wheel steering (WHEEL N/W STRG FAULT). There was no master warning so the FO continued flying the airplane while the captain troubleshot the ECAM system.

The FO flew the airplane over Palmdale, California, at 14,000 feet mean sea level (msl) while the captain consulted the flight crew operating manual (FCOM) and maintenance control. The FCOM noted that the nose gear “may be caught at 90 degrees.” The captain continued to evaluate the problem to ascertain the systems’ status. The flight crew continually updated the cabin crew and passengers.

The flight diverted to Long Beach, California. The captain decided to perform a flyby of the tower for verification on the gear status. The tower, Jet Blue ground personnel, and a local news helicopter advised him that the nose gear was canted 90 degrees to the left. The captain stated that after discussing the situation with company representatives, he decided to divert to LAX because it had optimum field conditions, runway length, and a better emergency/abnormal support services. The crew flew for several hours to burn fuel so that they could land at a lighter weight.

The captain took note of the fuel burn to ensure that the center of gravity stayed within limits. The captain also advised the cabin crew that in the event that the nose gear collapsed, evacuation from the aft doors was not available so everyone would deplane from the forward exits. The flight crew advised the cabin crew to take the emergency procedures up to the point of egress, at which time the captain would advise the method.

Prior to touchdown, the captain announced “brace” and the flight attendants also transmitted “brace” over the public address system.

The captain flew the airplane for the landing. He touched down at 120 knots, and applied normal braking at 90 knots. He held the nose gear off of the ground as long as possible. At 60 knots, the flight crew shut down the engines. They did not use ground spoilers, reverse thrust, or auto braking. During the landing, the forward cabin crew could smell burnt rubber. The cabin crew remained at their stations as previously defined by the captain. The air traffic control tower confirmed that there was no fire, and the captain announced this to the cabin crew. After this notification, the passengers deplaned normally using an air stair.

Upon touchdown, the NLG tires rapidly deflated and tore apart, and both wheels were worn into the axle. During landing, the airplane’s trajectory was not affected by the abnormal NLG configuration or subsequent tire destruction, and the airplane stayed on the runway centerline.

Maintenance personnel jacked the airplane up, and removed the damaged wheels. They installed a right nose wheel, and towed the airplane to a maintenance hangar.


No one on board the airplane sustained an injury.


Damage was limited to the NLG assembly.


There was no damage to any objects other than the airplane.


1.5.1 Captain

The operator reported that the captain held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane.

The captain held a first-class medical certificate issued on August 12, 2005. It had the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses.

The operator reported that the captain had a total flight time of 10,829 hours. He logged 160 hours in the last 90 days, and 39 in the last 30 days. He had en estimated 2,552 hours in this make and model.

1.5.2 First Officer

The operator reported that the FO held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane.

The FO held a second-class medical certificate issued on April 19, 2005. It had no limitations or waivers.

The operator reported that the FO had a total flight time of 5,732 hours. He logged 254 hours in the last 90 days, and 94 in the last 30 days. He had en estimated 1,284 hours in this make and model.


The airplane was an Airbus A320, serial number 1784. The operator reported that the airplane had a total airframe time of 14,227 flight hours and 5,098 landing cycles. It was on a continuous airworthiness inspection program. Maintenance records indicated that Jet Blue maintenance technicians replaced a proximity sensor on the nose wheel prior to the previous flight’s departure from New York earlier that day.


The landing gear (L/G) normal extension and retraction system is electrically controlled and hydraulically operated.

The electrical system has a landing gear control lever, two Landing Gear and Control Interface Units (LGCIU), a gear electro-hydraulic selector valve, a door electro-hydraulic selector valve, 32 proximity sensors and their related targets, and a set of indicator lights. The electrical control system has two subsystems; each is governed by a separate LGCIU. At any given time, one LGCIU is in CONTROL and the other is in MONITORING mode (while using the data from the respective proximity sensors).

The hydro-mechanical components include three gear actuating cylinders, three door actuating cylinders, three gear uplocks, three door uplocks, three door by-pass valves (ground opening function for the door), a NLG downlock release actuator, and two MLG lockstay actuating cylinders. For this airplane, the green hydraulic system provides hydraulic power to operate the landing gear.

Upon movement of the L/G control lever, the LGCIU sends a signal to the electro-hydraulic valve assembly. The proximity sensors send signals to the LGCIU, which ensures that the L/G operate in the correct sequence.

The NLG retracts forward into a bay in the fuselage, and centers fore and aft.

When the nose landing gear is in the retracted/uplocked position there is clearance around the wheels. Therefore, if the mechanical centering of the nose wheels fails, the wheels can rotate a certain amount (approximately 20 degrees) until they contact the roof of the NLG bay. Airbus tests have shown that, even with this amount of rotation, the gear will still achieve a free fall, so the gear will not jam in the bay. Following retraction on takeoff, if the nose wheels deviate from their mechanically centered position while in the landing gear bay, a L/G SHOCK ABSORBER FAULT caution light will illuminate.

There are a pair of proximity sensors and targets on the NLG that detect if the gear is extended (airplane in air) or if the gear is compressed (airplane on ground). The proximity sensors also indicate that the wheels are aligned fore and aft. If the wheels are not aligned, retraction is prevented. When the gear is fully extended (flight condition), the sensors detect the targets as near. When the NLG gear is compressed, the targets move away from the sensors (target far), setting the ground/compressed condition. However, a failure condition can exist that results in the NLG system sensing “ground/compressed” when the gear is extended and a mechanical failure allows the NLG wheel to rotate to a position greater than 6 degrees. Brake Steering Control Unit (BSCU)

The Airbus model A320 airplane has a NLG steering system that is electrically controlled by the BSCU and hydraulically actuated by the steering control module and two steering actuators. When commanded from the tillers and/or rudder pedals, the BSCU computes and electrically sends steering commands to a servo valve, contained within the steering control module, to hydraulically position the nose wheel assembly to the commanded position. The BSCU receives electrical NLG position feedback signals from sensors installed on the NLG and from a sensor that monitors the position of the steering control module servo valve. When both the nose and main landing gear are extended with their respective doors closed, the nose wheel steering control module is energized and applies hydraulic pressure to the steering servo valve. However, hydraulic pressure will not be available to the steering control module until all gear doors are commanded closed. The BSCU also controls the parking brake and applies braking to the main wheels during landing gear retraction. The A320 features two types of BSCU standards, the CONVENTIONAL and the Enhanced Manufacturing and Maintainability (EMM), which is also called the COMMON.

The airplane had EMM/COMMOM BSCU software standard L4.5 (P/N E21327003) installed, which, as does standard L4.1, features a pre-landing dynamic steering test, as does the CONVENTIONAL BSCU. However, the EMM/COMMON BSCU and the CONVENTIONAL BSCU pre-landing steering tests are significantly different. While both the COMMON and the CONVENTIONAL BSCU essentially work the same way, the COMMON BSCU results in significantly more physical movement of the gear while trying to rotate the gear (in the mechanically centered locked position) during the pre-land test.

Once the BSCU receives a signal indicating that the NLG is down and locked, it starts monitoring the angular position of the NLG. It begins a series of five steering tests. After a brake test has been completed and hydraulic system power is available to the steering servo valve (nose gear down and locked and all gear doors are commanded closed), the BSCU starts the steering test. After the first four test sequences are completed, the EMM/COMMON BSCU (Std L4-1 and L4-5 only) electrically commands the NLG wheel assembly to rotate 2.5 degrees left from center, back to center, 2.5 degrees right, then back to center. This cycle takes approximately 5.0 seconds to complete, and is continuously performed until touchdown of the main gear assembly. According to information provided by Airbus representatives, the NLG completes the left and right cycle an average of 57 times per flight. The CONVENTIONAL BSCU on the other hand applies a 10-degree rotation command for only 0.5 seconds, which achieves a pulse movement up to 1 degree.

After the landing gear is selected down, and 1 second after the NLG is down and locked, the BSCU determines the position of the NLG wheel assembly. If the BSCU detects that the NLG has deviated out of its mechanically centered 0-degree position, it will attempt to center the NLG. It electronically commands the servo valve to reposition the NLG wheel assembly to center. If the BSCU does not receive a position feedback response indicating that the servo valve moved as commanded, the BSCU will continue to monitor the servo valve position for 0.5 second. If there is still no response, the BSCU shuts off hydraulic pressure, and nosewheel steering is not available. The NLG cannot be moved without hydraulic pressure. Failure of the NLG to center initiates a WHEEL N/W STRG FAULT caution on the ECAM.


The nose landing gear assembly consists of a shock absorber in the barrel of the NLG leg structure, and its lower part consists of the wheel axle. It absorbs the landing shock and dampens oscillations when rolling. The upper part of the shock absorber is attached to the barrel of the landing gear leg. Wheel centering takes place at the end of the shock absorber extension phase by means of two centering cams on it.

On top of the NLG leg is an upper support assembly. A pair of anti-rotation lugs on top of a shock absorber inner cylinder mesh with slots on the upper support assembly. When engaged with the anti-rotation lugs, the upper support assembly lugs assist in connecting the NLG shock absorber to the NLG leg structure. They are intented to maintain the proper relationship between the shock absorber and the leg assembly in the longitudinal axis.


Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed; the winds were from 250 at 8 knots.


The airplane flew an approach into Los Angeles International.


The airplane was in contact with Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) Center, Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SCT), the Long Beach airport air traffic control tower (ATCT), and the Los Angeles ATCT.


The Airport/Facility Directory, Southwest U. S., indicated that Los Angeles International runway 25L was 11,096 feet long and 200 feet wide. The runway surface was concrete.


1.11.1 A Safety Board specialist examined the DFDR, and prepared a factual report. Pertinent parts of the report follow.

The landing gear handle was positioned to the up position within a few seconds of the main gear leaving the ground. About 6 seconds later, which was 25 seconds after the nose gear squat switch first indicated AIR, the switch indicated GROUND for about 11 seconds. It returned to AIR for 2 seconds, and then indicated GROUND for the remainder of the flight.


The airplane sustained minor damage when the tires deflated and tore apart. The nose wheels ground down into the axle.


There were no injuries.

1.14 FIRE

Flames from runway contact flared each time the airplane’s cocked nose wheel passed over a paint stripe on the runway centerline. The wheel assembly was scorched.


The cabin crew detected something out of the ordinary immediately after takeoff. They began to reference their manuals as they waited for information from the flight crew.

The captain communicated with the cabin crew and passengers. The cabin crew emptied the first three rows of seats, and moved baggage as far aft as possible. They placed able-bodied persons in the exit rows, and removed all baggage and paperwork from the seating area. They showed the able-bodied persons how to operate the doors, and gave additional instructions.

The lead flight attendant placed the in flight entertainment (IFE) master switch in the standby mode, which muted the audio sound and disabled the visual picture. She disabled the system entirely the last 50 minutes of the flight. The cabin crew provided blankets, pillows, water, and non-alcoholic beverages to the passengers.

The flight attendants spoke to the passengers individually prior to the landing to ensure that each one knew the emergency procedures that would take place and how to properly brace. The flight attendants checked and double-checked each other’s work to ensure that everything was completed and would go according to plan.

JetBlue’s policy did not allow use of personal electronic devices below 10,000 feet. However, they briefly allowed the passengers to call family members on cell phones while the airplane was at 6,000 feet. They instructed passengers to stow them and other personal belongings for the landing.

The cabin crew remained at their stations as previously defined by the captain, until he sent word that there was no fire. After this notification, the passengers deplaned normally through the L1 door to air-stairs brought to the airplane.


1.16.1 A post flight readout from the BSCU indicated 6.5 degrees for the NLG, which meant that the NLG was beyond 6.5 degrees from the centered position. It recorded two faults: at 1531, the L/G SHOCK ABSORBER FAULT, and at 1532, the WHEEL N/W STRG FAULT. Examination of the nose wheel assembly with a borescope revealed fractured and separated anti-rotation lugs.

1.16.2 NLG Upper Support Assembly Examination

A Safety Board metallurgist and a systems engineer supervised the examination of the NLG assembly at Messier Services, Sterling, Virginia. The examination of the NLG assembly revealed that two of the four anti-rotation lugs on the NLG upper support assembly had fractured and separated from the upper support assembly. The other two lugs contained cracks. A summary of the metallurgist’s findings follows. Materials Laboratory Report on Upper Support Assembly

The metallurgist arbitrarily labeled the fractured upper support assembly lugs one through four.

Bench binocular microscope examination of lug number one revealed that its fracture face contained ratchet marks (radial lines), typical of a fatigue crack. The fracture originated within the radius between the slot side of the lug and the lower surface of the upper support, near the inner diameter of the upper support. The fatigue crack propagated through more than 95 percent of the fracture face.

The fracture face of lug number two contained ratchet features (radial lines) typical of a fatigue crack. The fatigue crack propagated through more than 95 percent of the fracture face. For the most part, the last 5 percent of the fracture length showed ductile dimple features typical of overstress separation.

The contour of the crack at the base of lug number three was similar to the contour of the fracture path on lugs one and two. The fracture face contained crack arrests features typical of a fatigue crack.

The crack at the base of lug number four measured approximately 0.1 inch; the metallurgist did not excise it for examination.

1.16.3 Tests

The systems group chairman supervised examination and testing of the LGCIU’s landing gear control lever, and the BSCU. The following paragraphs detail the results. LGCIU (Landing Gear Control Interface Unit)

The internal BITE data from both LGCIUs was downloaded and analyzed; no faults were found. Functional and acceptance tests were conducted on each unit; the testing revealed no anomalies.

The landing gear control lever was also tested and found functional. NLG Wheel Steering tests

The purpose of the test was to find the root cause of the steering anomaly detected by the airplane’s BSCU. Data retrieved from the unit indicated that a WHEEL N/W STRG FAULT was displayed on the ECAM and failure code 671 was triggered and recorded by the BSCU internal memory (BITE). This fault code is triggered when the BSCU detects that the steering servo valve spool does not move. Testing was conducted to help understand why the servo valve spool did not move, preventing the BSCU from returning the nose wheels to the centered position.

The steering tests were performed on an Airbus test rig using the BSCU and hydraulic control unit 6GC from airplane N536JB. The testing verified that when hydraulic pressure was available to the unit, the BSCU automatically moved the nose wheel assembly from a position greater than 6.5 degrees to its mechanically centered position without triggering any fault code.

The testing also indicated that when hydraulic pressure was not available to the unit, the BSCU would not automatically move the nose wheel assembly from a position greater than 6.5 degrees to its mechanically centered position and fault code 671 would be triggered.

Testing also verified that when the BSCU was reset and hydraulic pressure was available, it was able to automatically move the nose wheel assembly from a position greater than 6.5 degrees to its mechanically centered position, and steering was recovered. Fault code 671 remained stored within the BSCU’s bite to assist maintenance troubleshooting.



Airbus issued Operations Engineering Bulletin (OEB) 175-1 (post Flight Warning Computer standard E3) and OEB 176 (Flight Warning Computer standard E2) in October 2005. This provided a procedure for the flight crew to reset the BSCU in flight. It discussed steps to take if the L/G SHOCK ABSORBER FAULT ECAM message was triggered at any time in flight and the WHEEL N/W STRG FAULT ECAM caution light illuminated after landing gear extension. Under those conditions, it noted that the flight crew could reset the BSCU when all landing gear doors indicated closed on the ECAM WHEEL page. Successful NLG centering and nosewheel steering recovery would be indicated if the WHEEL N/W STRG FAULT ECAM light was no longer illuminated. FAA AD 2005-24-06 and EASA AD 2006-0174 were subsequently issued to perform a NLG shock absorber charge pressure check and a repetitive borescope inspection of NLG upper support/cylinder lugs to mitigate the fatigue cracks that were induced by the BSCU Standard L4.5 (or earlier EMM standards). Furthermore, FAA AD 2007-18-19 was issued to supersede FAA AD 2005-24-06 and defines the related investigative/corrective actions referencing Airbus SB A320-32-1310. The SB A320-32-1310 introduces a modified and more robust upper support. The FAA AD 2007-18-09 also provides optional terminating action for repetitive inspections.


Airbus issued new software standards L4.8 (sb a320-32-1305) and L4.9B that cancelled OEBs 175 and 176. BSCU standard 4.8 reduced the number of pre-landing test cycles to eight per flight, which they felt reduced the likelihood of fatigue. Standard 4.9B has no effective pre-landing test cycles to induce fatigue. Airbus made a design change to the upper support assembly and provided specific inspection requirements at NLG overhaul. They consider those changes plus incorporation of Standard 4.9B to be terminating action for this issue.

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Another Emergency Landing at LAX

What: American Airlines Flight 1586 Boeing 737 en route from Los Angeles to Toronto at 11 a.m.
Where: LAX
When: Tuesday Aug 2 2008-12:51 p.m
Who: 130 passengers and five crew
Why: On takeoff, the pilot noticed a a blown tire and immediately requested to return. To burn off fuel, he had to circle the airport until his (safe) 12: 51 landing on the shredded tire.

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