Its been one of those days. Two planes have had major issues, one resulting in death and the other, a safe landing.
A Navy F/A-18 Hornet took off with an instructor and student on board and then seemingly lost power, the occupants ejected and the F/A-18 Hornet crashed into a nearby apartment building, causing a large fire and killing at least 7 people.
The reports state that fuel was found on nearby houses and cars, which suggests that the fuel was dumped to prevent a large explosion and fire when the plane crashed. I am not too sure if Navy planes are allowed to dump fuel over the land, but I do know that commercial planes are not allowed. A case involving a swissair flight which had faulty wiring onboard that caused a fire to break out on board, behind the panelling was told to fly out to sea before dumping the fuel. That was the last that was heard from the plane. Before they could dump the fuel, the fire burned through critical wiring and the plane plummeted into the sea. However, that being said, the airforce and navy use a newer form of jet fuel which is designed to prevent fires on impact.
It has been suggested that the reason for the fuel dump was likely a malfunction, but I have my doubts. Look at the rear of the plane in the crash photo above. It seems as if it lot power or had one turbofan exhaust open more than the other. If this happened in flight, it would result in more power on one side than the other, causing the plane to turn. Below is a photo of the plane moments before it crashed.
On a Ryanair flight from Milan to East Midlands, just twenty minutes or so after taking off, passengers reported a loud “bang” followed by cold rushing air at their feet from front to back. The pilot immediately executed a rapid decent, following the correct protocol. This is one terrifying experience for passengers as it seems that you are going to crash. The manoeuvre is designed to reduce risk of hypoxia, which is caused by the lack of oxygen at high altitudes and can cause death. The plane will get down to an altitude where the pilots can safely breath so that they can take off their cumbersome oxygen masks and begin to troubleshoot the issue at hand so that they can figure out what it was and determine if a safe landing is possible. For example, has the loud bang caused any damage to engines or the landing gear.
My guess: Part of the plane towards the rear broke, causing it to either tear or shear off entirely. This would cause a rapid decompression that passengers would think was cold air rushing from the front of the plane when in reality, it would be the air in the plane rushing out of the rear at high speed, giving the impression of cold air going from the front of the plane to the back. With the difference in air pressure, you would not get air rushing into the plane, it would be rushing out.
What puzzles me is that the passengers claim that the pilot called “mayday mayday” over the passenger announcement system, which is very odd. Maybe they had left it on and were calling “mayday” over the radio.
What does “mayday” mean?
It is a quick one word method of saying “shit’s happened, dunno what, seems pretty fucking bad, check the radar to see where we are and vector us the fuck in to the nearest god damned runway that can handle our plane and has sufficient resources. Tell all the other planes to move out of the way and give us landing priority immediately.”. One pilot would be assigned to fly while the other handled the radar and other special functions if needed.
In my opinion, the pilot has done an excellent job. The plane suffered rapid decompression, but the pilot followed procedure and landed without any loss of life.
The passengers will now be bitching and moaning about how horrible it was. I always hate it when they do. Yea yea yea so what, it was horrible, but you are alive.
My hat goes off to the crew of the plane, especially the pilot and co-pilot, you did an awesome job.
On march 19th 2012, a report suggested that the Boeing 737 was prone to cracks in its skin. I assume this was due to metal fatigue as the plane skin stretches and compresses during flight, as all plane skins do. This report was the result of Southwest Airlines Flight 812 which suffered identical issues. It was climbing to a cruising altitude when part of the skin tore off, causing a loud bang and rapid decompression.