Issue Number 263
July 2001
A Monthly Safety Bulletin from The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System
P.O. Box 189, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0189

"Kick the Tires and Light the Fires" — Not

The colorful lingo of military aviation has found a permanent niche in the civil aviation vernacular, including that often-quoted favorite, "Kick the tires and light the fires!" This expression originally meant to bypass or severely limit the time required for physical inspection of an aircraft prior to flight. Currently, it means, "Let's get this aircraft pre-flighted and out of here!"

Regardless of which interpretation is applied, the result can spell trouble for pilots who follow the advice too literally.

  • I took another pilot to airport ABC to ferry an aircraft to my home field. Due to winds, I elected not to fly my taildragger and borrowed another tri-gear aircraft. The VFR flight to ABC was uneventful with my fellow pilot navigating. I had never been to ABC before, which is a very busy Class B area.

    Upon departure [from ABC] in high winds and turbulence throwing me around in the cockpit, I quickly became disoriented. [Not] having... my navigator did not help. I could not recognize landmarks... on my Terminal Area Chart. I estimated my position, staying low to clear the Class B [airspace]. Once I confirmed my position I realized I was probably in the 1500-foot ring and my altitude was 1900 feet MSL. I quickly dove to 1400 feet. I continued at 1400 feet until well clear of that portion of Class B.

    I failed to have a clear plan in mind when departing ABC for heading and altitude. Because I was in unfamiliar territory in a borrowed aircraft and turbulence was throwing me all over the sky, I was a bit overwhelmed. I am an experienced pilot and learned a great [lesson] from this experience. That is ? work up a plan with an alternate [plan] and stick to [them]. Don't just "kick the tires and light the fires"!

Pay Your Toll To the Towbar TrollAircraft Towbar

  • I arrived at the airport, pre-flighted the airplane in the hangar, attached a towbar to the nose wheel and pulled the airplane onto the ramp with my vehicle. Disconnected the towbar from my vehicle and pulled around the side of the plane to put my flight bag into the plane. Put the vehicle in the hangar, closed the hangar door. I called FSS to obtain my IFR clearance. I jumped into the airplane, taxied to the runway, and departed into 200 sky obscured and 1/2 mile visibility. After rotation I heard a thump. Concerned that my landing gear may have hit a small animal (fox, etc.) I did not retract the gear. I continued to my destination, which was VFR with its services. Approximately 20 minutes prior to arrival, I remembered the towbar and advised the Tower of my situation and requested CFR services as a precaution. The landing was uneventful, with a 1/4-inch dent the only damage to the airplane.

    Events leading to this occurrence were:
      • Early morning departure;
      • Using my vehicle to pull the airplane out (normally I tow by hand);
      • Attention devoted to departure into IMC conditions.
      Suggestions: Attaching a towbar requires that at the very least, action be corrected to... complete pre-flight.

A Note on ASRS Report Submission

ASRS has received several recent reports submitted by air carrier crew members that include a sentence like this:

"I am submitting this report on behalf on myself and the First Officer, with his permission."
[ASRS emphasis]

ASRS program users should be aware that only the individual whose name appears on the report identification strip (ID strip) is eligible for the FAA immunity provisions associated with ASRS participation. Two individuals cannot receive immunity from submission of the same ASRS report form. Only the person who submits the report is eligible for immunity, assuming that other important conditions such as timely receipt of the report and inadvertent nature of the incident are met.

There is another reason for each person involved in an incident to submit his or own report. Multiple reports of the same incident provide a richer, fuller picture of what happened, and are of special interest to many requesters of ASRS data.

FAA Advisory Circular 00-46D outlines all the ASRS program provisions, and is available from the IMMUNITY POLICY page on this site.

Notes from the Galley

Most air carriers have policies that prohibit cockpit crews from eating the same entree. These policies are a safeguard against an entire flight crew being incapacitated by food poisoning. An incident recently reported to the ASRS points to the need for care in serving cockpit beverages, as well.Drink glass

  • While parked at the gate waiting for departure time, my First Officer and myself asked for a glass of orange juice. The Chief Purser brought us each a glass of orange juice and after taking a sip, we discovered that both glasses of orange juice were mixed with champagne. I asked the Chief Purser where he got the glasses from and he said he took them from a tray in the cabin. We were both very disturbed by this, so I called the duty Flight Manager to inform him of this incident. We were told to pack our bags and leave the aircraft, we were no longer legal to fly... The flight was delayed over an hour and a half while another crew was found to fly the aircraft.

    I was very glad that this incident happened while parked at the gate rather than in flight, but I am very concerned that it happened at all. I feel that the cabin crew need to review their procedures for handling cockpit beverages (as well as food items) so that this problem does not happen again.

Attacks from the Back

ASRS has received several reports during the last year of a potential hazard to air carrier flight crews that are repositioning or ferrying aircraft. Because these flights do not carry passengers and the usual cabin crew complement, some pilots forget to secure the cabin. Here’s what can happen when this precaution is neglected:

I, the First Officer, failed to properly secure the aft galley as per our flight handbook. During preparation to start the flight, I did assure that the forward galley was secured. For some reason, I didn't think to check the aft galley. We don't [do] ferry flights very often so it is easy to overlook cabin security during a ferry flight. I am now sure I will always check cabin security on my future ferry flights.

An almost identical situation was experienced by a B737-400 crew on a recent repositioning flight.

It's easy to envision even worse damage occurring to cockpit instrumentation and occupants, including jamming of flight controls by loose cans and injury to pilots. Securing the cabin during preflight is the best defense against such incidents.

ETOPS Sign-offs

A maintenance incident reported to ASRS carries a reminder that sign-off requirements for ETOPS (Extended Range Operations) repairs are restrictive – a point that can easily be forgotten.

ASRS Recently Issued Alerts On...
Maule M-7 loss of pitch control emergency
Power line hazard to gliders at a Northeast airport
B767 GPWS false warnings during heavy precipitation

Recurring ARTS III computer problems at an ATC facility

ATC "pull alongside" clearance to air carriers on approach
May 2001 Report Intake
 Air Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots
 General Aviation Pilots