FAA proposes $777,000 civil penalty against Horizon Air

December 10, 2011

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is proposing a $777,000 civil penalty against Horizon Air Industries for allegedly operating 32 Bombardier DHC-8-400 Dash 8 turboprop aircraft on 49,870 flights when the aircraft were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

The FAA alleged Horizon installed new external lighting systems on the aircraft, but did not conduct required tests for radio frequency and electromagnetic interference before returning the aircraft to service. Horizon operated the aircraft between Oct. 19, 2009 and Mar. 17, 2010, before the FAA discovered the compliance problems during routine surveillance. Horizon immediately completed tests and inspections of all 32 aircraft before further flights.

Horizon Air has 30 days from receipt of the civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.


Transport Canada issues emergency AD on DHC-8-400 wing to fuselage attachment joints

July 25, 2011

Transport Canada issued an emergency airworthiness directive regarding wing to fuselage attachment joints on DHC-8-400 aircraft models.

Transport Canada reports that there have been three in-service reports of cracked barrel nuts found at the front spar locations of the wing to fuselage attachment joints. Additionally, three operators have reported finding a loose washer in the barrel nut assembly. Failure of the barrel nuts could compromise the structural integrity of the wing to fuselage attachments.
Preliminary investigation determined that these cracks are due to hydrogen embrittlement.
The AD mandates an initial and repetitive detailed inspection of the barrel nuts.  The AD applies to all DHC-8 aeroplane models 400, 401 and 402, serial numbers 4001 and subsequent that have accumulated 1900 or more total hours air time or 12 months or more in service since new

More information:

FAA proposes $350,000 civil penalty against Lynx Aviation

April 8, 2011

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $350,000 civil penalty against Lynx Aviation of Westminster, Colo., for allegedly operating a Bombardier DHC-8-400 twin turbo-prop aircraft when it was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

The FAA alleges that Lynx, a subsidiary of Republic Holdings, failed to complete and document required inspections after company mechanics replaced an engine hydraulic pump on April 17, 2010.  The company’s general maintenance manual mandates completion of a post-maintenance inspection and documentation of that inspection before the aircraft is returned to commercial service.

The FAA alleges that Lynx operated the aircraft on 177 revenue passenger flights between the date of the work and May 26, 2010, when an FAA air safety inspector discovered the alleged violations. The FAA alleges the airline had four opportunities to detect the missing inspection report and conduct and document the required inspection,  but failed to catch the problem through its own safety processes.

Lynx has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

Qantas grounds four DHC-8-400Q’s due to cracks in landing gear component

August 22, 2010

Qantas reported that five De Havilland Canada DHC-8-402Q Dash 8 aircraft operated by its regional airline QantasLink had been temporarily removed from service following an inspection by the airline of a main landing gear component.

During these inspections cracks were discovered in a major component of a landing gear fitting in five of its 21 DHC-8-Q400 aircraft, with the remaining 16 unaffected and to remain in service, according to the Australian Associated Press.

The inspections were probably carried out following two recent Airworthiness Directives:

  • CF-2010-22 Main Landing Gear Stabilizer Extension Spring (August 10, 2010)
  • CF-2010-23 Main Landing Gear – Failure to Extend (August 16, 2010)

AAIB: Flight director mode confusion cited in serious DHC-8 incident

March 12, 2010

FDR parameters of the approach of G-JECI (AAIB)

An investigation into a serious incident involving a DHC-8-400 on approach to Edinburgh Airport, UK revealed that Flight Director mode confusion led to a descent to within 800 ft of local terrain approximately 5 nm from the runway threshold.

On December 23, 2008 a de Havilland Canada DHC-8-402Q Dash 8, registered G-JECI, was being operated on a scheduled passenger service from Southampton to Edinburgh as BEE247S. As it commenced its final approach to runway 24 at Edinburgh the approach controller (APC) instructed the aircraft to turn onto a heading of 280° to intercept the ILS localiser, descend from 3,000 ft to 2,100 ft and maintain a speed of at least 160 kt until 4 nm from touchdown. During the descent the aircraft accelerated to approximately 200 kt with flap and landing gear up.

The aircraft did not level off as intended at 2,100 ft but continued to descend at a constant vertical speed such that it remained at all times below the ILS glideslope. At an altitude of approximately 1,800 ft, apparently without having noticed that the aircraft had descended below the cleared altitude before intercepting the ILS, the APC instructed the pilots to contact the aerodrome controller (ADC). At about this time Flap 5 was selected and the aircraft decelerated to approximately 180 kt.
The ground movement controller (GMC), who sat beside the ADC in the visual control room (VCR), saw the aircraft when it was approximately 5 nm from touchdown and noticed that it looked “substantially below the glidepath”. He mentioned this to the ADC. When shortly afterwards the co-pilot called, “tower jersey two four seven sierra is five and a half miles two four”, the ADC responded “jersey two four seven sierra roger and we’ve got you five miles out showing nine hundred feet is everything ok”.

The co-pilot replied “err affirm jersey two four seven sierra”. Not content with the response the ADC replied “jersey two four seven sierra how low are you planning on descending at the moment”. The co-pilot responded “err we’re gonna level now actually our glideslope capture obviously failed jersey two four seven sierra”. The controllers in the VCR saw the aircraft climb slightly and continue an apparently normal approach.

Attempting to regain the correct flight path manually, the commander initially experienced some difficulty disconnecting the autopilot and found that the aircraft tended to adopt a pitch attitude 8° below the horizon. When able to resume full control, at approximately 700 ft agl, he called for Flap 15 and landing gear down. The landing was completed without further incident.

A similar incident occurred on 8 May 2009 involving a DHC-8-400 on approach to Glasgow Airport.

Both incidents appear to have been initiated by Flight Guidance Control Panel (FGCP) selections which resulted in Flight Director modes other than those intended by the pilots. In the case of G-JECI, recorded data indicates that the altitude select mode was not armed after selection of a lower altitude. This problem would be alleviated if the altitude select mode was automatic upon selection of a new altitude and vertical mode, as is the case on several other aircraft types and as envisaged by the aircraft manufacturer in its discussions with operators.

The AAIB issued two safety recommendations:

Safety Recommendation 2009-005
It is recommended that Bombardier Aerospace enable automatic arming of the altitude select mode of the flight director fitted to Dash-8-400 series aircraft upon selection of a new altitude and vertical mode.

Safety Recommendation 2009-006
It is recommended that Flybe consider amending its standard operating procedures to require an altitude check whilst on final approach even when the pilots are in visual contact with the runway.

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