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Accident description
Last updated: 24 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 1 November 1998
Time:18:48
Type:Silhouette image of generic B732 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 737-2P6
Operator:AirTran Airways
Registration: EI-CJW
C/n / msn: 21355/493
First flight: 1977-06-10 (21 years 5 months)
Total airframe hrs:45856
Cycles:49360
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-17
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 100
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 105
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Atlanta-William B. Hartsfield International Airport, GA (ATL) (   United States of America)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Atlanta-William B. Hartsfield International Airport, GA (ATL/KATL), United States of America
Destination airport:Dallas-Love Field, TX (DAL/KDAL), United States of America
Flightnumber: 867
Narrative:
The first officer of AirTran Airways flight 890, which preceded AirTran flight 867 in the accident airplane, identified and reported a leak from the right engine during a postflight inspection at Atlanta. AirTran mechanics identified the source of the leak as a chafed hydraulic pressure line to the right thrust reverser. The AirTran maintenance controller in Orlando instructed the mechanic to cap the leaking line and deactivate the right thrust reverser in accordance with AirTran's Minimum Equipment List (MEL) procedures. However, instead of capping the hydraulic pressure line, the mechanics capped the right engine hydraulic pump case drain return line. The mechanics performed a leak check by starting the auxiliary power unit and turning on the electric hydraulic pumps to pressurize the airplane's hydraulic systems; no leaks were detected. Although the mechanics were not required by company procedures to test their repair by running the engines, this test would have alerted the mechanics that they had incorrectly capped the hydraulic pump case drain line, which would have overpressurized the hydraulic pump and caused the hydraulic pump case seal to rupture. However, because the mechanics did not perform this test, the overpressure and rupture occurred during the airplane's climb out, allowing depletion of system A hydraulic fluid. The crew notified air traffic control that the airplane would be returning to ATL and subsequently declared an emergency. The flight crew's initial approach to the airport was high and fast because of the workload associated with performing AirTran's procedures for the loss of hydraulic system A and the limited amount of time available to perform the procedures. Nevertheless, the crew was able to configure and stabilize the airplane for landing on runway 09L. However, depletion of system A hydraulic fluid disabled the nosewheel steering, inboard flight spoilers, ground spoilers, and left and right inboard brakes. The flight crew was able to land the airplane using the left thrust reverser (the right thrust reverser was fully functional but intentionally deactivated by the mechanics), outboard brakes (powered by hydraulic system B), and rudder. The flight crew used the left thrust reverser and rudder in an attempt to control the direction of the airplane down the runway, but use of the rudder pedals in this manner had depleted the system A accumulator pressure, which would have allowed three emergency brake applications. The use of the right outboard brake without the right inboard brake at a higher-than-normal speed (Vref for 15-degree flaps is faster than Vref for normal landing flaps) and with heavy gross weight (the airplane had consumed only 4,650 pounds of the 28,500 pounds of fuel on board at takeoff) used up the remaining friction material on the right outboard brake, causing it to fail. (The left outboard brake was still functional at this point.) The lack of brake friction material on the right outboard brake caused one of the right outboard brake pistons to overtravel and unport its o-ring, allowing system B hydraulic fluid to leak out; as a result, the left outboard brake also failed. Loss of the left and right inboard and outboard brakes, loss of nosewheel steering, and use of asymmetric thrust reverse caused the flight crew to lose control of the airplane, which departed the left side of the runway and came to rest in a ditch.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "(1) the capping of the incorrect hydraulic line by mechanics, which led to the failure of hydraulic system A; (2) the mechanics' lack of experience working with the Boeing 737 hydraulic system; and (3) the maintenance controller's failure to ascertain more information regarding the leaking hydraulic line before instructing the mechanics to cap the line and deactivate the right thrust reverser.
Contributing to the cause of the accident were (1) the asymmetric directional control resulting from the deactivation of the right thrust reverser; (2) the depletion of the left and right inboard brake accumulator pressure because of the flight crew's use of the rudder pedals with only the left thrust reverser to control the direction of the airplane down the runway; (3) the failure of the right outboard brake because the airplane was slowed without the use of the left and right inboard brakes and was traveling at a higher-than-normal speed and with heavy gross weight; (4) the failure of the right outboard brake after one of the right outboard pistons overtraveled and unported its o-ring, allowing system B hydraulic fluid to deplete and the left outboard brake to fail; and (5) the mechanics' improper use of the illustrated parts catalog for maintenance and troubleshooting and the maintenance controller's failure to use the appropriate documents for maintenance and troubleshooting."

Classification:

Runway excursion

Sources:
» NTSB


Photos

photo of Boeing 737-2P6 A4O-BC
A4O-BC went to leasing firm GECA, registration EI-CJW, which leased the 737 to AirTran in January 1995.
Add your photo of this accident or aircraft
 

Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Atlanta-William B. Hartsfield International Airport, GA to Dallas-Love Field, TX as the crow flies is 1151 km (719 miles).

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