Aviation In Canada

Friday, February 04, 2005

Challenger Crash

You may have heard of the CL-600 Challenger that crashed near Teterboro, NJ, yesterday. At the time I wrote this, the media had done it's normal stand-up job in aviation reporting and didn't give any real details that the aviation minded public really likes to hear. What's the cause? They may have dropped a hint in an incomplete statement in my local paper, saying that Million Air, the company who, according to the paper, "serviced the aircraft," didn't de-ice the aircraft. Was that an issue? Were conditions such that de-icing should have been performed? It seems a little strange to me that the aircraft apparently left wheel marks off the end of the runway before leaving the airport, crossing a six-lane highway, and penetrating a brick building before coming to rest. It appears from the pictures in the paper that the thrust reversers had been deployed, begging the question of when they were deployed. So many questions left answered by an article which should have been providing details. These reporters really do need a course on aviation so they know the right questions to ask...

Anyway, it lends more credibility to my opinion of the Challenger and derivatives in crash worthiness. Any airplane that can skid across a road, probably near flying speed, take out two cars in direct hits, and penetrate the brick wall of a warehouse and still have the majority of the fuselage intact enough allow all the occupants to escape (the pilot's broken leg the worst of the injuries to the crew and passengers) must be well built to take an impact.

The CRJ crash in Fredericton, NB in 1997 was another example. That one, due to pilot error, contacted the runway at a ~60° bank, left the runway and skidded over snow-covered terrain into a bordering forest about 3/4 mile away, hitting a large tree which ripped open part of the fuselage. All 44 people aboard survived, with only two sustaining serious injuries. The fuselage framing still remained intact, despite the large gash on the left side just behind the cockpit. The jokes about this one, with the snow, include not only the fact that the aircraft is built by Bombardier, a top snowmobile manufacturer in Canada, but also that the civil ident on the aircraft was C-FSKI. Go figure.