Issue Number 252
June 2000
A Monthly Safety Bulletin from The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System
P.O. Box 189, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0189

Experimental Aircraft Notes

On July 26th the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will launch the "Air Venture Oshkosh 2000," the nation’s largest fly-in event held each year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The EAA Oshkosh fly-in typically attracts about 2,800 participating aircraft, including homebuilts, antiques, classics, warbirds, ultralights, and rotorcraft. Over 500 forums are conducted by aviation leaders, NASA researchers, FAA personnel, aircraft designers, and a host of others. There are also exhibits galore, daily air shows, and many other attractions that make this a unique aviation event.

As a tribute to Oshkosh 2000, CALLBACK presents excerpts from several ASRS incident reports involving experimental aircraft. We lead off with an incident that reminds us of a clever caption used years ago by CALLBACK’s founding Editor, Rex Hardy.

When is a Door Not a Door

Gear-Up 'GotchasA number of gear-up landings reported to ASRS by pilots of experimental aircraft involve a mechanical or electrical problem, coupled with the pilot’s failure to use a before-landing checklist:

The pilot of an experimental turbojet trainer describes how a demo flight with a prospective buyer (the Pilot Flying in the incident below) became a real drag:

A contributing factor was that the Pilot Flying was very unfamiliar with this airplane. Further contributing is that this aircraft has no aural/visual landing gear warning system linked to throttle or flaps. Human performance considerations: Poor perception by the PIC of the PF’s ability. Poor judgment of the PIC in not terminating an ‘unusual’ approach.

CALLBACK Says 'So Long for the Summer

Dear Readers: This fiscal year ASRS experienced a 6.5% budget reduction by its primary funding source, the Federal Aviation Administration, which in turn underwent broad budget cuts across the agency. This funding shortfall has required ASRS to reduce its output of products and services to the aviation community. In recent months the ASRS Program has sharply reduced database search services, suspended its topical research program, cut back on outreach activities, and reduced publication activities.

Unfortunately, one of the products affected is CALLBACK. For the first time in its 21-year history, CALLBACK will not publish July and August issues. Readers will receive their next issue of CALLBACK (#253) in September 2000.

We hope the ASRS funding picture will be brighter next fall, at the beginning of a new budget year. Until then: stay safe, and stand by for our next squawk. — The Editor

Cockpit Irregularites

An article in the April 2000 CALLBACK (#250) on the effects of passenger misconduct on flight crews has attracted much aviation community interest. As a sequel, here’s an incident recently reported to ASRS that involved a passenger who used an airline’s "secret knock" to gain entrance to the cockpit during flight.

The Secret Knock

  • While in extensive holding for ATC delays, I notified the passengers that we might have to divert [to airports short of destination]. A few minutes later, the First Officer and I heard the "secret knock" on the cockpit door, so we unlocked the door. We turned around to face the door and were surprised to see a young female passenger standing at the doorway she had just opened. The female passenger then said to us: "You can’t do this to us." The First Officer and I told her to shut the door and go back to her seat. She repeated: "You can't do this to us." The First Officer and I repeated our command to go back to her seat, which she then complied with. When we arrived at destination, our customer service reps called the local police, who met the aircraft and the female passenger on the jetway for questioning. Corrective Actions:

  1. The FAA should publish and display, in public view at all major airports, the consequences and penalties for interference with the flight crew members. This will educate and remind the flying public that interfering with crew members will not be tolerated.

  2. Airlines that use "the secret knock" on the cockpit door for entrance into the cockpit should think of other ways to make it tougher for unauthorized individuals to access the cockpit. Ideas might include: issue cockpit door keys only to authorized personnel...

An ASRS callback to the Captain who reported this incident revealed that the passenger had been seated in First Class. When questioned later by authorities, she said in her defense that there was no sign on the cockpit door that prohibited entry. The reporter affirmed this was correct. Apparently the passenger may have observed a Flight Attendant's entry procedure to the cockpit before deciding to try it out.

By the Wiggle, By Not "By the Book"Seasoned pilots may develop their own repertoire of handling techniques to deal with aging aircraft. Not all of these techniques may be safe, especially if they lead less experienced crew to ignore Standard Operating Procedures. An incident involving a Captain "on the roll" in a DC-9 illustrates:

One-Size-Fits-All Maintenance Problem

In the past year several incidents have been reported to ASRS in which Boeing 737-100 and -200 wheel bearings were incorrectly installed on the series -300 aircraft. Now here’s a Captain’s report that describes the installation of a B-757 wheel bearing on a B-737-300 wheel — with potentially catastrophic results:

The B-737-300 wheel apparently will accept B-737-100, 200, and B-757 bearings and look like a correct installation. The underlying problem is that part numbers are on the bearing race are normally covered with grease. Unless maintenance technicians take time to verify the B-737 part numbers, the wrong bearing may be installed on the wheel.

ASRS Recently Issued Alerts On...
A B737-300 rudder jamming incident
A potentially hazardous noise abatement procedure
Jet blast hazard at a major East Coast airport
Swearingen SX300 tire assembly failure during landing
Multiple runway incursion incidents at a Midwest airport
April 2000 Report Intake
 Air Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots
 General Aviation Pilots