NTSB recommends new bounced-landing training

 - October 23, 2006, 6:19 AM

As a result of its investigation into the Executive Airlines ATR 72-212 landing accident in Puerto Rico on May 9, 2004, the NTSB is recommending new procedures for training for recovery from bounced landings. The Board said that the accident was caused by the captain’s failure to execute proper techniques to recover from a bounced landing and his subsequent failure to execute a go-around. The Board recommended that the FAA require all Part 121 and 135 airlines to incorporate bounced-landing recovery techniques in their flight manuals and to teach these techniques during initial and recurrent training.

The conclusions and synopsis of the report on the accident were released at a public meeting of the Board on September 7, but the final report is still being revised and the Board has not yet released the rationale for its conclusions.

Executive Airlines Flight 5401 was doing business as American Eagle during the flight to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Mayaguez. On landing, the ATR 72 skipped once, bounced hard twice and finally stopped 4,317 feet beyond the end of the runway, some 217 feet from the extended centerline of the runway.

The captain was seriously injured (his seat failed when it was subjected to vertical loads that exceeded those required for certification). The first officer, two flight attendants and 16 passengers sustained minor injuries. Six passengers were not injured. The aircraft was substantially damaged.

The Part 121 scheduled passenger flight was operating in VMC on an IFR flight plan. The Board found that the crew did not account for wind when calculating the minimum approach airspeed, and, as a result, they did not follow Executive Airlines’ approach airspeed procedures.

The Board found that the captain was fully certified, with no physical problems. However, the first officer, who held a current FAA medical certificate, did not mention that he had been receiving treatment for anxiety since July 2001 and that he used the prescription drug alprazolam when he applied for his certificate. There was no evidence available, however, the Board concluded, to determine whether his medical condition or prescription drug use contributed to the accident.

The ATR 72 was found to be properly certified, equipped, maintained and loaded. However, the investigation found a fault in the airplane’s flight data recorder (FDR). The left aileron surface position data recorded by the FDR was found to be invalid although the airplane had been modified with position sensors and associated hardware according to an STC.

The Safety Board also recommended the FAA require replacement of aileron position sensors installed under the STC (ST01310NY) within one year or at the next heavy maintenance check. The Board also called for a review of all FDR systems modified by an STC to ensure that the sensors provide reliable data and that they be replaced if they do not.