Category Archives: Aviation Safety / Air Crashes

What These Pictures Of Two Russian Yak-130 Jets That Crash Landed Almost Simultaneously in Russia Say About The Causes Of The Mishaps

Two Yak-130 Jets Have Crashed Simultaneously in Armavir and Borisoglebsk Last Month. And Here’s An Investigation On The Root Causes.

According to several reports, two Russian Air Force Yak-130 Trainer/Light Attack (LA) Aircraft (Tail number 43white/RF-44496 from Borisoglebsk airbase and 55red/RF-44583 from Armavir) crashed almost simultaneously in two different places on Wednesday June 21, 2017. Information about incident has not released by the RuAF (Russian Air Force).

The Yakovlev Yak-130 is a subsonic two-seat advanced trainer originally developed by Yakovlev and Aermacchi (now Leonardo).

Along with the advanced jet trainer role, the “Mitten” (Yak-130 NATO’s nickname), able to replicate the characteristics of Russian Gen. 4 and 4++  combat aircraft, is capable of fulfill Light Attack (LA) and Reconnaissance tasks and it can carry a payload of 3,000 kilograms, including guided and unguided weapons, external fuel tanks and electronic pods.

The LA version, dubbed YAK-131 and equipped with mechanical radar (Phazotron) or Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA), is planned to replace the Su-25 Frogfoot.The Russian Air Force has also developed a reconnaissance variant of the Mitten, dubbed  Yak-133.

The Yak-130 bear a significant resemblance with Italian M-346 “Master”, produced by Leonardo Company and already operated by the ItAF (Italian Air force), IAF (Israeli Air Force), RSAF (republic Singapore Air Force) and Polish Air Force. This Author has been one of the first pilots and IP (Instructor Pilot) on the Italian T-346 (ItAF designation of the baseline M-346).

At the moment, the RuAF has not given any official information about the dual accident and the possible causes are still under investigation. However, local sources reported the first crash occurred during a normal flying training and has involved the Yak-130 (55 red/RF-44583) that belong to the Armavir Flying School.

Soon after the first crash, a second Yak-130 (43 white/RF-44496) belonging to the Borisoglebsk Air Force Base was forced to land on the runway.

INVESTIGATION ON GEAR UP LANDING. (55 red/RF-44583 Armavir)

In my career as a combat pilot, I’ve had the opportunity to undertake many different training courses. One of those was the Flight Safety Office (FSO) which include the investigation section with a simulated crash to “solve.”

By means of the methodology and approach used to investigate real incidents I’ll  drive you in a very simple and basic investigation. We will analyze all the available details and see whether it is possible to determine the causes of these crashes.

55 red/RF-44583 from Armavir after the crash landing (via Ilya.A—Petya.A’s bro)

Close up view of the left air intake of the Yak-130 (via Ilya.A—Petya.A’s bro)

First of all, what we can do is a “picture analysis” and looking at the picture of 55 red/RF-44583 you can notice some of important details useful to understand the landing or crash dynamics:

  1. The aircraft landed on the belly without any other damage or structural breaks: this means the aircraft touched the ground with a correct and normal attitude used during a normal landing. Therefore, we can assume the pilot “planned” to land on the grass;
  2. The aircraft had the LEF (Leading Edge Flap) in down position: this means the pilot lowered the LEF with the intent to land like he was on the runway;
  3. The canopy seems to be open in a normal way (no damage or glass rupture): in other words the two pilots abandoned the aircraft “normally” soon after the jet stopped. This detail suggests the pilot purposely landed there and did a soft touch down with no other consequence;
  4. Looking at the air intake, you can see the internal section extremely clean without any FOD: this means the engine was not running and it didn’t suck anything. One possible reason is a flame out or the pilot decided to shut down the engine seconds before the touchdown to avoid any fire.

After a FIR (First Impression Report), the second step is to merge all the above consideration in order to elaborate a possible scenario. Based on the above points, the two pilots most probably attempted an emergency landing with one or both engines not operating.

Now let’s move to the possible causes that forced the Yak-130 to land out of the runway and let’s try to understand WHY the pilot did take the decision to land on grass field.

First consideration is that the emergency was TIME CRITICAL, otherwise they could have enough time to fly and steer toward a suitable airfield. Based on my experience the most important hint comes from the picture of the air intake: this picture seems to suggest engines or thrust problems that forced the pilot to perform a forced landing out of the runway. Let’s explore possible reasons:

  1. The aircraft was completely out of fuel. This situation seems quite unlikely, almost impossible, unless aircraft showed false fuel indications (a case of multiple emergencies, that is to say fuel transfer failure combined with false fuel indication) because pilots use to plan the fuel required for all training tasks: the fuel to recovery to the base with enough fuel in case they need or to practice some visual pattern; and the fuel to divert to the alternate in case of problem with the home base;
  2. The aircraft had a fuel transfer failure and the crew suddenly found to have less fuel available to return home or to the nearest suitable airfield;
  3. The aircraft had a double engine flame out (this option can be also caused by the point 1 and 2) and the pilots were forced to find a suitable “strip” to land.

Of course I don’t know the RuAF SOP (Standard Operations Procedures) and the YAK-130 emergency check list procedures for the above emergencies.

In case of double engine flame out, due to fuel or engines malfunction, most of the military aircraft procedures require the pilots to eject unless they can safely recover or land the aircraft. Landing on the grass without gear is not a safe recovery but in this case (I want to remember that we don’t know too many details about the reason of crash and we are conducting an investigation based on a picture) pilots took a very brave decision and the option to land without landing gear was in the end a smart decision to soften as much as possible the touchdown on an “unprepared field”. In this case pilots took a huge risk but they were extremely lucky to land without further problems (such as fire, structural damage, unintentional ejection seat activation and so on.)

Although we can’t rule out multiple failures, such as engine flame out and landing gear system failure, my instinct and experience suggest that the gear up landing was done on purpose.

INVESTIGATION ON NOSE GEAR UP LANDING (43 white/RF-44496 Borisoglebsk)

The 43white/RF-44496 from Borisoglebsk (via Ilya.A—Petya.A’s bro)

Looking at the picture, the aircraft seems to have landed normally with few damages. This assessment helps limiting the range of possible failures that may have caused the gear up landing, because we can assume the aircraft was operating efficiently.

Since the plane seems to have landed normally (making engine failure less likely unless this has happened in the vicinity of the airfield) we can focus on a possible landing gear system malfunction. Therefore, let’s have a look at some details:

  1. The aircraft has the LEF down and we already know why and what this may mean;
  2. Only the main landing gear is down: this may have been caused by nose landing gear malfunction, structural damage due to bird strike, nose landing gear not completely locked or hydraulics malfunction;
  3. The main gear doors seem to be in open position. Most of the military jets, when reporting landing gear malfunction or hydraulics system failure, have the option to use the emergency gear lowering system. When the pilot activates the Emergency lowering system this overrides the normal gear system using enough pressure to lower the gear but not enough to close the gear doors. On the other side I cannot be 100% sure about this because of the picture resolution; still, during incident investigations it is important to take how systems work into proper consideration.

At this point, merging all the above points we can assume that the aircraft had some problem with landing gear system or hydraulics system and the pilot decided to land without nose gear.

During a nose gear-up landing it is paramount for the pilot to comply with the following action list:

  • Be very precise on approach with speed and attitude;
  • Perform aerodynamic braking during landing roll;
  • Before the HT (Horizontal Tail) loses lift, the pilot needs to gradually reduce the back pressure on the stick to allow a soft touchdown between the ground and the airframe;
  • Re-apply again the back pressure on the stick as soon as the nose touches the ground to reduce the weight on the nose trying to minimize the damage.
  • Avoid to use the brakes;
  • Shut down the engine in order to avoid engine mechanical failure and reduce thrust and, consequently, the landing distance.

According to my experience most of the aircraft are allowed to land with a symmetric configuration like: NO GEAR, ONLY MAIN GEAR, ONLY NOSE GEAR.

Summing up, based on a few pictures we can conclude that:

  • the aircraft 55 red/RF-44583 from Armavir had some problem with fuel quantity/transfer or with both engine and the pilot was forced to land on the grass
  • the aircraft 43 white/RF-44496 from Borisoglebsk had some problems with landing gear system or hydraulics system.

 

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Popular U.S. Airshow Pilot Vlado Lenoch Killed in P-51 Crash with Passenger

Lifelong Aviator’s Fatal Accident is Third P-51 Crash This Month.

Talented and widely admired airshow pilot Vlado Lenoch and airport manager Bethany Root died in the crash of a P-51D Mustang at about 10:15 a.m. Sunday Jul. 16, 2017, in Atchison County, Kansas after departing the Amelia Earhart Airport at approximately 10:00 AM.

Vlado Lenoch was 64 and his passenger Bethany Root was 34 years old.

Lenoch was an experienced demonstration, instructor and commercial pilot who began flying in 1970 when he was 17 years old. He was type-rated on many aircraft and served as an instructor pilot for Boeing on the 747. His most recent role was as a corporate pilot flying the Cessna Citation. Lenoch was married with three children.

Bethany Root was noted for her love of aviation that extended well beyond her role as an airport manager at the Amelia Earhart Airport where Sunday’s flight originated.

A lifelong aviator, Lenoch was the consummate pilot, instructor and airshow performer.
(Photo: TheAviationist.com)

This is the third accident involving a P-51 Mustang in July following two accidents at the Flying Legends Airshow in Duxford, England.

One aircraft, the P-51B named “Berlin Express” with a Malcolm Hood canopy design adopted on early version P-51’s for enhanced visibility prior to the bubble-canopy P-51D, suffered a canopy failure during a high-speed pass. The canopy disintegrated and pilot Nick Grey recovered the aircraft without further incident. The aircraft had been flown by Lee Lauderback across the Atlantic prior to the accident. This P-51 was famous for chasing a German Bf-109G around the Eiffel Tower in Paris during WWII before shooting it down.

The second P-51 accident at Duxford was a P-51D named “Miss Velma” that made an emergency belly landing in a field near the airport after witnesses reported “A loud bang” coming from the aircraft on final approach to landing. The aircraft sustained substantial damage but the pilot was uninjured. Ironically, when the aircraft was being transported away from the scene on a trailer following the crash on a flatbed trailer its right wingtip struck the post of a road sign causing further damage.

Vlado Lenoch was a Heritage Flight Certified pilot who flew in formation with active USAF aircraft like this F-35 And F-22. (Photo: TheAviationist.com)

 

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Watch A MiG-29 Fulcrum Catch Fire On Take Off In Belarus

Impressive footage shows a Belarusian Air Force MiG-29’s failed take off and subsequent ejection.

The video below shows a Belarusian Air Force MiG-29BM Fulcrum that caught fire on take off from Bobruisk on Feb. 27, 2017.

Although the incident is under investigation and initially filed as an “engine fire”, the footage seems to show a collapse of the landing gear, an uncommanded retraction (or an untimely one – even though this option is not mentioned in reports emerged so far..) that caused the aircraft to fall on the runway sparking fire.

Regardless of the root cause of the fire, the pilot was able to successfully eject from the aircraft.

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U.S. Marine KC-130 Crashes in Leflore, Mississippi with 16 Fatalities

Aircraft May Have Been Carrying Explosives, Witnesses Reported Midair Explosion.

The U.S. Marines and news outlets have reported the crash of a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop aerial tanker and tactical transport aircraft on Monday Jul. 10, 2017. The crash occurred in a rural area of Mississippi over farmland. Witnesses reported a “loud explosion” before the aircraft hit the ground. There are 16 fatalities according to reports.

“The debris field spanned a five-mile radius.” according to a report on The Clarion Ledger, and that, “4,000 gallons of foam were used to combat the blaze.”

A Lockheed KC-130J Hercules tactical transport and tanker aircraft. The C-130 family has a good safety record across all branches of the U.S. military.
(Official Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Tanner M. Iskra)

According to a report from local news station WNBD, a Mississippi airport official was quoted as saying, “The plane was being tracked by air traffic controllers in Memphis [Tennessee] and suffered structural failure at 20,000 feet that caused it to plunge into the field.”

Although the photos from the accident scene show the wings, fuselage and elevators of the aircraft still partially attached in the burning wreckage, eyewitness reports and accounts of local first responders suggest the aircraft “may have exploded in mid-air”. Some Investigators on the scene have described to media outlets that “debris was found on both sides of the of the highway” leading them to believe an explosion may have happened prior to the crash.

A Mississippi State Police Officer indicated the “aircraft is loaded with ammunition”. This may have prevented emergency crews from approaching the aircraft since unexploded ordnance could be detonated in a fire.

“There’s a lot of ammo in the plane. That’s why we are keeping so far back. We just don’t know what it’ll do. It burns a bit then goes out, burns a little more then dies down,” A State Police officer told local media outlet WMC Action News 5.

As with all aircraft accidents, the official cause of the accident will be determined following a formal investigation and issuance of an accident report. Until that report is published reports about the cause of the accident are speculative.

The KC-130 accident is somehow unusual since the Hercules family of multi-role aircraft has had a better than average safety record in both U.S. and international service compared to other military aircraft.

Only two fatal accidents have occurred in C-130s across all U.S. services since July 2012 when an Air Force C-130H crashed during forest fire fighting operations in South Dakota. Since then, only one other reported fatal accident has happened with the crash of a C-130J in Afghanistan in 2015 when a total of 14 people including ground personnel were killed.

The aircraft appeared largely intact in photos despite reports of a midair explosion from some witnesses.
(Photo: WLBT News.)

 

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Watch An Argentine P-3 Orion Aircraft Perform A Low Pass Over Ushuaia “Argentine Malvinas International Airport”

Pretty cool low pass by a Lockheed P-3 Orion.

The following video shows the P-3B Orion “6-P-53”, belonging to the Escuadra Aeronaval N° 6 – Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Exploración of the Argentine Navy, as it performs a low pass over Ushuaia Malvinas Argentinas International Airport, located near the city of Ushuaia, on the island of Tierra del Fuego in the Tierra del Fuego Province of Argentina.

Interestingly, the airport, opened in 1995, was given a name that reflects Argentina’s claims of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas): Aeropuerto Internacional de Ushuaia Malvinas Argentinas that could be translated as “Ushuaia – Argentine Malvinas International Airport”.

Anyway, Argentinian pilots have a good tradition of low-level flying: they conducted ultra low altitude attacks on British warships during the Falklands War (Malvinas) and, more recently, we’ve commented daredevil flybys of Argentine Air Force IA-63 Pampa, Mirage 5P or C-130 Hercules.

Not as low as other passes we have seen, still a pretty interesting footage of a rather unusual flyby.

Although in the majority of the current scenarios combat planes can quietly operate at medium or high altitude with stand-off weapons, military pilots still train low-level high-speed flying to face enemy threats they could face during attack, special operations, reconnaissance, Search And Rescue, troops or humanitarian airdrop missions in troubled spots around the world.

H/T Emiliano Guerra for the heads up