Tag Archives: Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A

13 January 1982

Air Florida's Boeing 737-222 N62AF, photographed at JFK, 11 April 1981. © Howard Chaloner. Photograph used with permission.
Air Florida’s Boeing 737-222 N62AF, photographed at JFK, 11 April 1981. © Howard Chaloner. Photograph used with permission.

13 January 1982: At 3:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (20:59 UTC), Air Florida Flight 90, a Boeing 737-222, registration N62AF, s/n 19556, began its takeoff roll at Washington National Airport (DCA). The airliner, with a flight crew of two and three cabin attendants, carried 74 passengers en route Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with an intermediate stop at Tampa.

The departure was delayed 1 hour, 45 minutes when the airport closed due to a snowstorm. When the airport reopened, heavy snow was still falling.

Snow and ice had accumulated on the airliner’s wings and fuselage. The airplane had previously been de-iced but the flight crew elected not to repeat the procedure. Further, they did not activate the engine anti-ice system.

During the takeoff the engines were slow to accelerate and the airplane took much longer than normal to gain flight speed. Though it did become airborne, the 737 reached an altitude of just 352 feet (107 meters) when it stalled and struck the 14th Street Bridge, and then crashed into the Potomac River.

The airliner broke through the ice covering the river and sank. There were only five survivors.

Eagle 1, a Bell 206L-1 Long Ranger II of the U.S. Park Police, hovers over the Potomac River to rescue survivors. (Charles Pereira, U.S. Park Police)
Eagle 1, a Bell 206L-1 Long Ranger II of the U.S. Park Police, hovers over the Potomac River to rescue survivors. (Charles Pereira, U.S. Park Police)

In addition to those who died aboard the 737, four persons on the 14th Street Bridge were killed when the airliner struck their cars.

Many people who witnessed the crash tried to help the survivors by going in to the freezing water to reach them.

The U.S. Park Police responded with a 1979 Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II helicopter, Eagle 1, (N22PP, serial number 45287) flown by Officers Donald W. Usher and Melvin E. Windsor. The pilot, Don Usher, hovered low, sometimes with the skids of the helicopter in the water, while Gene Windsor tried to reach the survivors.

Officer M.E. Windsor stands on the skids of the Bell 206L-1 and holds on to a survivor of Flight 90, 13 January 1982. (UPI)
Officer M.E. Windsor stands on the right skid of the Bell 206L-1 and holds on to a survivor of Flight 90, 13 January 1982. (UPI)

A passenger in the water,  Arland D. Williams, Jr., twice caught lines that had been lowered from the helicopter, but in both cases, he passed them to others in the water:

Arland D. Williams, Jr. 1935–1982 (Image from Nick Falkner, WordPress)
Arland D. Williams, Jr., 1935–1982. (Image from Nick Falkner, WordPress)

“He was about 50 years old, one of half a dozen survivors clinging to twisted wreckage bobbing in the icy Potomac when the first helicopter arrived. To the copter’s two-man Park Police crew he seemed the most alert. Life vests were dropped, then a flotation ball. The man passed them to the others. On two occasions, the crew recalled last night, he handed away a lifeline from the hovering machine that could have dragged him to safety. The helicopter crew who rescued five people, the only persons who survived from the jetliner, lifted a woman to the riverbank, then dragged three more persons across the ice to safety. Then the lifeline saved a woman who was trying to swim away from the sinking wreckage and the helicopter pilot, Donald W. Usher, returned to the scene but the man was gone.”

— “A Hero – Passenger Aids Others, Then Dies.” The Washington Post, January 14, 1982.

“So the man in the water had his own natural powers. He could not make ice storms, or freeze the water until it froze the blood. But he could hand life over to a stranger, and that is a power of nature too. The man in the water pitted himself against an implacable, impersonal enemy; he fought it with charity; and he held it to a standoff. He was the best we can do.”

— Rosenblatt, R., “The Man in the Water,” Time Magazine, January 25, 1982

Probable Cause

          The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flightcrew’s failure to use engine anti-ice during ground operation and takeoff, there decision to takeoff with snow/ice on the airfoil surfaces of the aircraft, and the captain’s failure to reject the takeoff during the early stage when his attention was called to anomalous engine instrument readings. Contributing to the accident were the prolonged ground delay between deicing and the receipt of ATC takeoff clearance during which the airplane was exposed to continual precipitation, the known inherent pitchup characteristics of the B-737 aircraft when the leading edge is contaminated with even small amounts of snow or ice, and the limited experience of the flightcrew in jet transport winter operations.

NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT REPORT NTSB-AAR-82-8, 10 August 1982, Section 3.2 at Page 82

The National Transportation Safety Board also wrote, The Safety Board commends the heroic actions of the helicopter pilot and crewman who participated in the rescue effort.

The Boeing 737-200 series is a short-to-medium range narrow body twin-engine civil transport. It had a flight crew of two and could carry a maximum of 136 passengers.

The 737-200 is 100 feet, 2 inches (30.531 meters) long with a wingspan of 93 feet (28.346 meters) and overall height of 36 feet, 10 inches (11.227 meters). Its empty weight is 69,700 pounds (31,615 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight is 115,500 pounds (52,390 kilograms).

The airliner is powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A low-bypass axial-flow turbofan engines, each producing 14,500 pounds of thrust (64.499 kilonewtons) at Sea Level. JT8D-9A was a two-spool engine with a 2-stage fan section, 11-stage compressor (4 low- and 7 high-pressure stages), nine combustion chambers and a 4-stage turbine (1 high- and 3 low-pressure stages). The JT8D-9A was 42.5 inches (1.080 meters) in diameter, 123.5 inches (3.137 meters) long, and weighed 3,196 pounds (1,450 kilograms).

Maximum speed of the 737-200 is 0.82 Mach (544 miles per hour/780 kilometers per hour) and the service ceiling is 35,000 feet (10,700 meters).

The 737-200 first flew 8 August 1967. 1,095 –200s were built. The last one in service with an American airline, Aloha Airlines, was retired 21 March 2008.

U.S. PArk Police "Eagle 1", a bell 206L-1 LongRanger II, N22PP, hovers over the bank of the Potomac River, 13 January 1982.
U.S. Park Police helicopter “Eagle 1”, a Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II, N22PP, hovers over the bank of the Potomac River, 13 January 1982. (Unattributed)

The Bell Helicopter Company Model 206L-1 LongRanger II is a 7-place light helicopter developed from the earlier 5-place Model 206B JetRanger series. It is designed to be flown by a single pilot in the right front seat, and is certified for Visual Flight Rules.

The 206L-1 is 42 feet, 8 inches (13.005 meters) long, overall, and the two-bladed main rotor is semi-rigid and under-slung, a common feature of Bell’s main rotor design. It has a diameter of 37 feet (11.278 meters) and turns counter-clockwise (seen from above) at 395 r.p.m. (100% NR). (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right side.) The rotor blade has a chord of 1 foot, 1.0 inches (0.330 meter) and 11° negative twist. The blade tips are swept.

The two-bladed tail rotor assembly is also semi-rigid and is positioned on the left side of the tail boom in a pusher configuration. It turns clockwise, as seen from the helicopter’s left. (The advancing blade is below the axis of rotation.) The tail rotor diameter is 5 feet, 6.0 inches (1.676 meters).

The LongRanger II is powered by an Allison 250-C28B turboshaft engine. This engine produces 500 shaft horsepower but is de-rated to the limit of the main transmission, 435 horsepower at 104% N1 (52,980 r.pm.). The engine is mounted above the roof of the fuselage, to the rear of the main transmission. Output shafts lead forward to the transmission and aft to the tail rotor 90° gear box. The transmission and rotor mast are mounted angled slightly forward and to the left. This assists in the helicopter’s lift off to a hover, helps to offset its translating tendency, and keeps the passenger cabin in a near-level attitude during cruise flight.

A vertical fin is attached at the aft end of the tail boom. The fin is offset 4° to the right to unload the tail rotor in cruise flight. Fixed horizontal stabilizers with an inverted asymmetric airfoil are attached to the tail boom. In cruise flight, these provide a downward force that keeps the passenger cabin in a near-level attitude. Vertical fins are attached to the outboard ends of the horizontal stabilizers and above the tailboom centerline. The fins are slightly offset to the left and counteract the helicopter’s Dutch roll tendency.

The helicopter has an empty weight of approximately 2,160 pounds (979 kilograms), depending on installed equipment, and the maximum gross weight is 4,050 pounds (1,836 kilograms).

The LongRanger II has a maximum speed, VNE, of 150 miles per hour (241 kilometers per hour) up to 3,000 feet (914 meters). Its best rate of climb, VY, is at 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour) and best speed in autorotation (minimum rate of descent and maximum distance) is at 80 miles per hour (129 kilometers per hour), resulting in a glide ratio of about 4:1.

The Model 206L LongRanger first flew in 1974 and the 206L-1 LongRanger II variant entered production in 1978. It was replaced several years later by the 206L-3. The LongRanger remains in production as the Model 206L-4.

Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II serial number 45287 was issued an Airworthiness Certificate 17 August 1979. N22PP was transferred to the Department of the Interior, Northwest Region, at Boise, Idaho, in April 1998 and re-registered N613. At Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, 30 October 2000, N613 was substantially damaged when its tail rotor blades failed due to improper manufacturing techniques. (NTSB Report DEN01LA012) The helicopter was repaired and returned to service. Its engine had been upgraded to an Allison 250-C30P. The helicopter’s FAA registration was cancelled 10 October 2014.

Officer Melvin E. ("Gene") Windsor received the U.S. Coast Guard's Silver Lifesaving Medal, the Carnegie Hero Medal and the U.S. Department of the Interior Valor Award. (Vanessa Barnes Hillian/The Washington Post)
Officer Melvin E. (“Gene”) Windsor received the U.S. Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal, the Carnegie Hero Medal and the U.S. Department of the Interior Valor Award. (Vanessa Barnes Hillian/The Washington Post)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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28 April 1988

Aloha Airlines’ Boeing 737-297, N73711.
Captain Robert Schornstheimer in teh cocpit of an Aloha Airlines Boeing 737. (Honolulu Star Bulletin)
Captain Robert L. Schornstheimer in the cockpit of an Aloha Airlines Boeing 737. (Honolulu Star Bulletin)

28 April 1988: Aloha Airlines Flight 243, a Boeing 737-297 airliner, FAA registration N73711, named Queen Liliuokalani, was enroute from Hilo International Airport (IPO) to Honolulu International Airport (HNL) with a crew of 5 and 89 passengers.

The aircraft commander was Captain Robert L. Schornstheimer, an Airline Transport Pilot with 8,500 flight hours, of which 6,700 hours was in the Boeing 737. First Officer Madeline Lynn Tompkins  also held an Airline Transport certificate. She had flown 8,000 hours with 3,500 in the B-737. A Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controller was  on the flight deck as an observer.

First Officer Tompkins made the takeoff at 1:25 p.m. and climbed in visual conditions to Flight Level 240 (24,000 feet/7,315 meters), reaching that altitude at about 1:48 p.m.

First Officer Madeline Tompkins, Hawaiian Airlines, was th efirst officer aboard Aloha Flight 243. This photograph, taken in 2010, was at an Airl Line Pilots' Association (ALPA) award ceremony.
Captain Madeline Lynn Tompkins, Hawaiian Airlines, was the first officer aboard Aloha Flight 243. She was awarded the Air Line Pilots Association 2010 Pilot Assistance Award for her exceptional leadership in supporting airline pilots who experience serious psychological trauma. (ALPA)

As the airliner leveled at FL240, a portion of the fuselage tore loose and caused an explosive decompression of the aircraft. The flight deck door blew away and Captain Schornstheimer could see “blue sky where the first-class ceiling had been.” The captain took the controls, deployed the speed brakes and began an immediate descent at 280–290 knots (322–334 miles per hour/519–537 kilometers per hour), with a rate of descent as high as 4,100 feet per minute (20.83 meters per second). He turned toward the nearest airport, Kahalui Airport (OGG) on the island of Maui. First Officer Tompkins handled all communications as well as assisting the captain flying the airplane. Captain Schornstheimer described the flight controls as loose and sluggish.

Descending through 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) he began to slow the airliner, but below 170 knots (195.6 miles per hour/314.8 kilometers per hour), it became less controllable so he maintained that speed for the approach to the runway. At the normal point in the approach, the crew lowered the landing gear but the green light for the nose gear did not illuminate. The manual system was activated. The green light did not come on, but neither did the red light. Captain Schornstheimer felt that it was imperative to get the airliner on the ground, so there was no time to troubleshoot the landing gear.

At this time Flight 243 began to yaw and roll. The number one engine had failed.(Both engines were damaged from ingested debris.) An unsuccessful attempt was made to restart.

The Boeing 737 landed on Runaway 02 at Kahalui Airport at 13:58:45, just over ten minutes since the emergency began. The thrust reverser of the number two engine was used to slow the airplane and when it rolled to a stop, the emergency evacuation was begun.

Passengers and crew of Flight 243 begin to evacuate the damaged airliner at Kahalui Airport, Maui. (Unattributed)
Passengers and crew of Flight 243 begin to evacuate the damaged airliner at Kahalui Airport, Maui. (Unattributed)
Clarabelle "C.B." Lansing had been a flight attendant for 37 years.
Chief Flight Attendant Clarabelle Ho Lansing. “C.B.” had been a flight attendant with Aloha Airlines for 37 years.

When the fuselage decompressed, Chief Flight Attendant Clarabelle Ho Lansing had been standing in the aisle at Row 5. She was thrown out of the airplane and fell to the ocean, 24,000 feet (7,315 meters) below. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Cape Corwin coordinated a three-day search along with Coast Guard and Marine Corps helicopters, airplanes and other ships. Her body was never recovered.

Flight Attendant Jane Sato-Tomita sustained serious head injuries and was unconscious.  Flight Attendant Michelle Honda and many passengers were also injured by flying debris and the effects of decompression.

Boeing 737-297 N73711 was damaged beyond repair. It was scrapped in place. At the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated 35,496 hours (TTAF) with 89,680 cycles. The cause of the fuselage failure was fatigue cracking around rivets as a result of the vast number of pressurization/depressurization cycles it had experienced, as well as operation in a salty coastal environment. During the NTSB investigation, a passenger reported having seen a crack in the fuselage when boarding the flight, but did not say anything about it to the crew.

Captain Schornstheimer remained with Aloha Airlines until he retired in 2005. Mimi Tompkins also stayed with Aloha and rose to the rank of captain. When Aloha Airlines ceased operations in 2008 she went to Hawaiian Airlines.

Aloha Airlines' Boeing 737, N73711 at Maui. (Unattributed)
Queen Liliuokalani, Aloha Airlines’ Boeing 737-297 N73711, at Kahalui Airport (OGG), Maui, Hawaii. (Unattributed)

The Boeing 737-200 series was a short-to-medium range narrow body twin-engine civil transport. The -200 first flew 8 August 1967. It had a flight crew of two and could carry a maximum of 136 passengers.

The 737-200 is 100 feet, 2 inches (30.531 meters) long with a wingspan of 93 feet, 0 inches (28.346 meters) and overall height of 36 feet, 10 inches (11.227 meters). Its empty weight is 69,700 pounds (31,615 kilograms). Flight 243’s actual takeoff weight was 93,133 pounds (42,224 kilograms). (Its maximum certificated takeoff weight was 100,000 pounds (45,359 kilograms).

The airliner is powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A low-bypass axial-flow turbofan engines, each producing 14,500 pounds of thrust (64.499 kilonewtons) at Sea Level. JT8D-9A was a two-spool engine with a 2-stage fan section, 11-stage compressor (4 low- and 7 high-pressure stages), nine combustion chambers and a 4-stage turbine (1 high- and 3 low-pressure stages). The JT8D-9A was 42.5 inches (1.080 meters) in diameter, 123.5 inches (3.137 meters) long, and weighed 3,196 pounds (1,450 kilograms).

Maximum speed is 0.82 Mach (544 miles per hour/780 kilometers per hour) and the service ceiling is 35,000 feet (10,700 meters).

The 737-200 first flew 8 August 1967. 1,095 –200s were built. The last one in service with an American airline, Aloha Airlines, was retired 21 March 2008.

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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