Entries in NTSB (10)


NTSB Suggests Wingtip Cameras on Planes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The National Transportation Safety Board is suggesting that large aircraft be equipped with external cameras to give pilots a better view of a plane's wingtips as they travel along the taxiway -- and possibly cut down on ground crashes.

On planes such as the Boeing 747 and the giant Airbus A380, the safety board said, pilots can't see the wingtips from the cockpit unless they open the side window and stick out their heads.

Kevin Hiatt, a former commercial pilot and the chief operating officer of the Flight Safety Foundation, agreed that cameras might be a help.

"Physically, visually, you can't see those wingtips," he said. "If they [pilots] get into a tight situation, they might be able to use that reference of that camera in the cockpit to take a look at the wingtip."

In May, the wingtip of a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane hit the tail of an American Eagle flight as it taxied at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. No injuries were reported and the collision remains under investigation.

Outside cameras are standard on the Airbus A380 and A340-600 but are optional on the A330 models and A340-500. The cameras, however, primarily help the pilots see landing gears, not look at the wingtips.

Boeing told ABC News Thursday that it also has one plane with external cameras -- the 777-300 -- but not for wingtips.

While the safety board can make recommendations, it is up to the Federal Aviation Administration to decide whether to move forward on recommendations and require new safety equipment.

The NTSB said that the camera systems should be placed on new airplanes as well as those currently being flown.

Hiatt said that a sensor, like those in some cars, might work better. The sensor would set off a noise, like a beep, when the wingtip got too close to something.

"It would yet be one more thing that might bark at us to say 'Hey, watch out,' but in this particular case versus hitting something, I wouldn't mind that," he said.

Pilots that ABC News spoke with Thursday, however, said they did not like the camera suggestion.

Although they did not want to be quoted, they raised concerns about unintended consequences and distraction in the cockpit. Their biggest worry was that pilots would be tempted to keep an eye on the camera view, rather than scanning the tarmac in front of them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Feds Investigate Helicopter Crash That Killed 5 Near Lake Mead

Comstock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- A helicopter crash that killed five people on a sunset sightseeing tour just 30 miles outside the Las Vegas Strip was under federal investigation Thursday.

Details remained sketchy, though a National Transportation Safety Board official said the company that operated the helicopter involved in Wednesday’s crash "has a history.”

The Clark County coroner late Thursday still was not officially identifying the victims the crash, though The Las Vegas Review Journal reported a man said that the pilot was his son, Landon Nield, 31, who worked for Sundance Helicopters for several years and was married in June.

The National Transportation Safety Board Thursday morning launched a 12-person team to review the crash, Mark Rosekind, an NTSB member and its spokesman at the scene, told reporters. Though the team arrived around 10 a.m., the NTSB only had limited information on the exact details of the crash Thursday evening.  

“The site is very difficult to access,” Rosekind said. “It has taken four-by-fours and helicopters [to get there]. It’s going to be very difficult, and there will be very limited access to the site. It will make it harder."

“Very little factual information is known at this time,” Rosekind added, though he noted Sunshine Helicopters’ previous safety record.

“This operator has some history,” Rosekind said.

In 2003, the NTSB investigated another Sunshine Helicopters crash that killed the pilot and all six passengers while flying through Descent Canyon. In its report, the NTSB provided statements from previous passengers complaining about the pilot’s alleged unsafe maneuvers. The report claimed that Sunshine Helicopters never enforced a one-week suspension without pay to the pilot, allowing him to continue flying.

Rosekind said the investigators would stay at the crash scene for three to five days, and he expected the NTSB would issue a report in about 10 days.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Thursday praised the efforts of the rescue team and sent condolences to the victims’ families. He also promised diligence and partnership with the NTSB throughout the investigation to assure the safety of future helicopter tours throughout Nevada.

“My thoughts this morning are with the families of the five people who died in a terrible crash yesterday,” Reid said in a statement published on his website. "Hundreds of thousands of tourists enjoy these popular helicopter tours of Nevada each year, and I’m saddened that people lost their lives in this rare tragedy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NTSB to Investigate Helicopter Crash Near Vegas That Killed Five

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced early Thursday morning it has launched an investigation into a helicopter crash near Las Vegas Wednesday that killed all five people on board.

The chopper, operated by Sundance Helicopters, was on a sightseeing tour of Hoover Dam about 30 miles away from Las Vegas Strip, when it went down around 5 p.m. in the mountains surrounding Lake Mead.  Officials confirmed that all passengers were killed.

As National Parks Department spokesman Andrew Munoz explains, the scene of the crash is very remote, making it difficult for rescue and investigative teams to reach the site.

"The area itself is rugged...mountains and there's no easy access in by vehicle," Munoz says.

For its part, the NTSB will use a team of 12 members to look into the crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Feds Investigating Illinois Train Derailment

File photo. (Stockbyte/Thinkstock)(TISKILWA, Ill.) -- A team of federal investigators has been dispatched to Illinois following Friday morning’s freight train derailment that forced residents of the north-central town of Tiskilwa, about 115 miles west of Chicago, to evacuate and multiple tanker cars to explode.

“We had a derailment of an Iowa Interstate freight train,” Les Grant, a spokesman for Bureau County Emergency Services, told ABC News earlier Friday. “They were hauling approximately 20 to 25 alcohol cars. As a result of the derailment a few of those cars caught on fire.”

No injuries were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NTSB Aims to Ban Cellphone Use by Commercial Drivers

Medioimages/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- In the moments before his tractor-trailer veered across the median on Interstate 65 in Kentucky, the 45-year-old driver of the big rig was on the phone.

The truck slammed into an oncoming passenger van, killing both drivers and nine other people traveling in the van. Two children in the van, who were in child seats, survived the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the March 2010 accident was the worst highway crash to occur in Kentucky in a generation.  The NTSB Tuesday recommended a ban on the use of cellphones by all commercial drivers.

The proposal is the most comprehensive ban on hand-held and hands-free devices that the board has issued. The NTSB, which cannot require a ban, sent its recommendation to both the states and the federal government.  

If enacted, the ban would affect 3.7 million drivers, according to the NTSB. “Changing behavior can start right now, for drivers of big rigs, but also for the rest of us,” NTSB Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said. “When you are at the wheel, driving safely should be your only focus.

“I can tell you that commercial vehicle drivers are not going to embrace this,” Hersman added, “but we are not here to be popular.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the real challenge with all cellphone bans is enforcement. And the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) suggests that a ban put in place by companies, not the government, would be met with more success. Both groups say any ban on mobile devices will be more effective if drivers know their jobs are dependent on not using phones while they drive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three More Southwest Planes Found with Cracks

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Three additional Southwest Airlines planes, not including the one that made an emergency landing last week, were found to have cracks on them, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Southwest said earlier Sunday that two other planes were found to have subsurface cracks, similar to those that grounded a Boeing 737 Friday after the roof of the aircraft tore open in mid-flight.  The airline later confirmed that another plane was found with cracks.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled as Southwest continues inspecting the rest of its Boeing 737-300 fleet.  So far, 19 planes have been cleared to return to service after passing inspection.  The airline expects to complete its inspections by late Tuesday.

Since Friday's incident, the NTSB has been investigating the tear to determine what caused the ceiling to rip open.

Board member Robert Sumwalt said, "It was not known in the industry that this was an area on airplanes of this number of cycles that those lap joints should be inspected."

Sumwalt added that the section of the plane that developed a hole in mid-flight will be shipped to the NTSB material lab in Washington, D.C. for further inspection Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Air Traffic Controller Asleep on Duty at Reagan National, NTSB Says

US Geological Survey/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- An air traffic controller at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport fell asleep on duty early Wednesday morning, leaving the control tower silent and forcing pilots of two commercial planes to land on their own, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The controller, who had 20 years of experience, including 17 at Reagan National, was suspended earlier Thursday by the Federal Aviation Administration while its investigation proceeds.

The NTSB report, which does not name the controller, said he had been working his fourth consecutive overnight shift, which runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and that "human fatigue issues are one of the areas being investigated."

"I am determined to get to the bottom of this situation for the safety of the traveling public," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement announcing the controller's suspension.

Pilots of an American Airlines and United Airlines plane each said they had been in contact with regional air traffic controllers before being handed off to the Reagan National tower for approach and landing.

But as the planes radioed their requests to land in the nation's capital early Wednesday morning, all they heard was silence.

"American 1900, just so you're aware the tower is apparently not manned," a regional controller told the pilots of one plane, according to radio recordings obtained by ABC News.  "So you can expect to go in as an uncontrolled airport."

The pilot executed an airport flyover -- routine aviation procedure -- before landing on his own without help from the ground.

Fifteen minutes later, United flight 628 from Chicago also was unable to contact the Reagan tower.

"The aircraft went in just as an uncontrolled airport," one regional controller said on the recording.  "It's happened before though."

The United pilot also treated the airport as unmanned and landed safely.

Federal transportation officials are now conducting a comprehensive review air traffic controller staffing at airports across the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Investigation Launched after Unusual Landing at Jackson Hole Airport

Jackson Hole Airport. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Wednesday that it would investigate an incident involving American Airlines flight 2253 at Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming.

The inbound flight from Chicago O'Hare International Airport reportedly ran off the end of the runway while landing Wednesday morning local time.  No injuries were reported among the 181 passengers and crew aboard the jetliner.

The plane came to rest 350 feet past the runway overrun area in hard-packed snow.  It was apparently snowing at the time of the incident.  No damage to the aircraft has been reported.

The Federal Aviation Association, Boeing, the  Allied Pilots Association and American Airlines have all agreed to participate in the investigation into the botched landing.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Probe Begins to Determine Cause of Fire That Left Cruise Ship Adrift

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord(SAN DIEGO) -- Now that Carnival's cruise ship Splendor is docked, an investigation will begin to determine what caused the fire in the ship's engine room, leaving the vessel stranded and powerless off the Mexican coast.

On Friday, federal investigators and engineers from Carnival will be on the ship trying to figure out what caused the fire that left nearly 4,500 onboard stranded.  The investigation will be headed by Panama, the country where the ship is registered.  The National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard will assist with the probe, since the majority of passengers were U.S. citizens.

Meanwhile, crew members are getting their full pay and are staying at hotels, paid for by Carnival, while they wait to receive word on the future of the ship and how long it may be out of service.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


NTSB Investigating Near Mid-Air Crash Involving US Airways Flight

Image Courtesy - ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- The NTSB is investigating a near mid-air collision over Minneapolis involving a US Airways jetliner. Flight 1848 was carrying 90 passengers and five crewmembers from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Philadelphia on Sept. 16 when it came within an estimated 50 to 100 feet of a small cargo plane. There were no reports of damage or injuries as a result of the near-miss.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.

ABC News Radio