Post-derailment clean-up underway near DuPont City in Washington

admin   •   December 21, 2017   •   2275

Recorded data recovered from the rear locomotive showed the Amtrak train that derailed in Washington State was going 80 miles or 129 kilometers per hour on a curved stretch of track where the speed limit was only 30 miles per hour or 48 kilometers per hour only.

This was revealed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials on Monday night. The board said it was investigating whether other factors besides speed were involved.

Safety investigators hope the engineer of the train can explain why his locomotive was traveling more than twice the speed limit when the deadly derailment occurred.

“Distraction is one of our most wanted list priorities at the NTSB. It is a protocol for us to look at all of the cell phone records of all the crew members whenever there is an accident of this type. And of course, we hope when we interview the crew members they’ll be able to give us more information,” said NTSB spokesperson Bella Dinh-Zarr.

Three people aboard the train were killed in the Monday morning wreck near the town of DuPont. Another 100 people were taken to hospitals, 10 with serious injuries.

Some motorists on interstate 5 were among the injured, though nobody on the highway died.

“We don’t know whether at the moment infrastructure, meaning the rail-bed or the bridge, played any role in this accident. Let’s not jump to conclusions before we make decisions. We have got to get this right. We’ve got to make sure whatever happened here never happens again,” said Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.

Clean-up operations are ongoing on Tuesday. Although the railcars have been removed from the site of the accident, traffic on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 are still closed.

The derailment placed Amtrak, the country’s main passenger rail service, under renewed scrutiny following a series of fatal incidents. — Reuters





Kobe Bryant helicopter involved in ‘high energy impact’ crash, says NTSB

UNTV News   •   January 29, 2020

Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Investigators said on Tuesday (January 28) that the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant was involved in a “high energy impact crash” when it slammed into a hillside in foggy weather on Sunday, killing the basketball star and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter.

“We know that the helicopter was at 2300 ft (700 meters) when it lost communication with air traffic control. The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 ft (600 meters) a minute, so, we know that this was a high energy impact crash,” Jennifer Homendy, of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

As the helicopter crash probe entered its second full day in the foothills just outside Calabasas, about 40 miles (64 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the NTSB investigators combed through the wreckage and used drones as they sought uncover the cause of the accident.

“We were able to recover an iPad and a cell phone. We do not know if that’s the pilot’s iPad so we are going to take those personal electronic devices, we are going to send them back to our lab at headquarters for further analysis,” said Homendy.

“We also worked with drones today, to document the scene and then we duplicated part of the flight path. So, we flew part of the end part of the flight path with our drones using ADSB data,” she added.

Low clouds, fog and limited visibility over the region at the time of the crash have emerged as a prominent focus of the investigation. (Reuters)

(Production: Omar Younis)

Electrified rail pierced New York train in crash, official says

admin   •   February 5, 2015

A car sits crushed into the front of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro North Railroad commuter train near the town of Valhalla, New York, February 3, 2015.

(Reuters) – Hundreds of feet of electrified rail skewered the first two carriages of a New York commuter train in a collision with a car at a railroad crossing, a federal investigator said on Wednesday, describing the area’s worst rail crash in decades.

Investigators were focused on why the car was stopped at the crossing near the suburb of White Plains north of New York City before the Metro-North train crashed into it during Tuesday evening’s rush hour, pushing the vehicle about 1,000 feet down the line.

The rail broke into long pieces, penetrating the first train carriage as a fire broke out, apparently fueled by gasoline in the vehicle’s fuel tank, gutted the rail car’s interior, he said. At least one section of the electrified, or “third,” rail also entered the second carriage near its ceiling.
“This third rail is just basically piling up inside that first train car,” Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said at a news conference ahead of a week of gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses.

Sumwalt said the NTSB expected to release data from the recorder on the train on Thursday.

Five train passengers and the woman who was driving the Mercedes sport utility vehicle that was stuck on the tracks were killed. Investigators said they do not yet have an explanation for how the vehicle, which officials had earlier mistakenly identified as a Jeep, became stuck on the tracks.

Metro-North, run by the state-controlled Metropolitan Transportation Authority, had four high-profile accidents in 2013 that led to a safety assessment by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

In a March 2014 report to the U.S. Congress, the FRA criticized the nation’s second-largest railroad for a “poor safety culture” and “ineffective training”.

The NTSB released a report late last year that also identified common safety issues, but Sumwalt said Tuesday’s crash may be unrelated.

“I would be very cautious with trying to draw a nexus with what may have happened with Metro-North in the past and this accident,” he said.

The crash appeared to be the deadliest rail accident in the New York area since March 1982, when nine teenagers in a van were killed when a train crashed into them at a crossing in Mineola.

A Metro-North train derailed near the northern edge of New York City in December 2013, killing four people and injuring 70. In May 2013, two Metro-North passenger trains collided in Connecticut, injuring more than 70.

Some 650 passengers regularly take the 5:44 train, which carries commuters through some of country’s wealthiest suburbs.

Fifteen people were injured, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said. One passenger remained in critical condition and another passenger in “serious” condition on Wednesday afternoon at the local trauma hospital along with six other patients with less serious injuries, Westchester Medical Center officials said.

The Mercedes’ driver was identified as Ellen Brody, a 49-year-old jewelry-shop worker with three children, according to Paul Feiner, the Greenburgh town supervisor.

“She was not a risk-taker in terms of safety,” Feiner, who described himself as a family friend, said in a telephone interview.

One of the killed passengers was identified as Eric Vandercar, who worked at Mesirow Financial, according to a statement by his previous employer, Morgan Stanley. Another was Walter Liedtke, a curator of European paintings for New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum said.

Collisions at grade crossings in the United States have declined by more than 40 percent to 2,091 in 2013, from 3,502 at the turn of the century, according to data compiled by the Association of American Railroads and the FRA.


(Additional reporting by Bill Trott and Eric Beech in Washington, Nick Carey in Chicago, Dan Burns, Barbara Goldberg and Jed Horowitz in New York; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone, Will Dunham and Grant McCool)

Missing AirAsia plane young, basic, hard-working

admin   •   December 29, 2014

A flight test engineer holds an Airbus Group flag after the first flight of the Airbus A320neo (New Engine Option) in Colomiers near Toulouse, southwestern France, September 25, 2014.

(Reuters) – The AirAsia plane that went missing on Sunday is young by commercial aircraft standards. It has also worked hard and lacks real time engine diagnostics, in accordance with its role as a short-haul aircraft.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, an Airbus 320-200 with 162 people aboard, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. (1917 ET) after taking off from Surabaya airport in Indonesia bound for Singapore, officials said. The pilots had asked to change course to avoid bad weather.

The Airbus A320-200 was delivered to its operator in 2008. It had recorded 23,000 flight hours on 13,600 flights, manufacturer Airbus (AIR.PA) said in a statement.

Those figures make the plane between six and seven years old against an industry lifecycle standard of 25 years, operating on a work cycle averaging more than six flights a day since it began service.

The aircraft’s engines were made by French-American venture CFM International, co-owned by General Electric (GE.N) and Safran (SAF.PA).

AirAsia subscribes to ‎a GE maintenance service that may include real-time diagnostics or monitoring, according to the GE website.

Such systems are mainly used on long haul flights and can provide clues to airlines and investigators when things go wrong. A GE spokesman told Reuters: “This particular aircraft did not have the real-time remote engine diagnostics service”.

AirAsia said the aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on Nov. 16.

More than 6,000 A320-200s are in service. They are designed to be used intensively on short routes and compete with the Boeing 737.

Earlier in December, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ordered a change in procedure for all A320 jets after computers onboard a similar A321 aircraft thought it was about to stall and pushed the nose downwards — which is the standard way of preventing an upset — just as pilots were trying to level off after climbing to their intended cruise height.

The incident happened after certain sensors iced up in bad weather. It is thought to be the only one of its kind since the A320 entered service in 1988, but resulted in a special bulletin to operators from Airbus, which was later made compulsory by EASA.

In the worst scenario, pilots would not be able to stop the automatic reaction, which could result in loss of control of the airplane, EASA said.

So far there is no indication what may have caused the AirAsia jet to go missing. Statistically, most accidents get blamed on a combination of factors‎, and it is rare for accident reports to isolate one single cause.

Commercial web tracking data suggested Flight QZ8501 had been in level flight for some time when it disappeared from radar, rather than at the top of the climb when the reported anomaly — although rare — is most likely to take place.

An Airbus spokesman declined to comment on the EASA directive, saying it was too early to speculate ahead of any investigation.

France’s BEA crash investigation agency, which assists in the investigation of any air crash involving an Airbus aircraft because the company is France-based, said it was sending two officials to Jakarta accompanied by two experts from Airbus.

The U.S.-based National Transportation Safety Board said it was monitoring the search for the plane and stood ready to assist Indonesia if needed.

(Additional reporting by Siva Govindasamy in Jakarta; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)


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