Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Simple Human Mistake...

This is an update on the crash of an EC-135 police helicopter into a nightclub.

The investigation has revealed that at the time of the crash, the switches that control the pumps that transfer fuel from the main tanks to the engine supply tanks were off.

The orignal post regarding this event is available by clicking here

from the report...

"The fuel pump switches were examined at the accident site and it was found that the No 1
and No 2 prime pump switches (PRIME I and II- used during engine start) were set to the ON position and the fore
and aft transfer pump (XFER F and A) switches were set to the OFF position."

The main tanks had fuel in them, the supply tanks did not...

It looks as if this was a simple human mistake made due to what? 

Complacency? Distraction? Being rushed? Skipping a checklist? 

The  pilot was over 50 and had over 5000 hours flying. Like me.

Lord have mercy.

This exact event happened more than once in a BK. Omniflight lost an aircraft and had a crew seriously injured. The pilot had a flight early in the morning right after arriving for work. He inadvertantly left the instrument lights on, and couldn't see the low fuel and master caution segments illuminate. Both motors quit. The crew was injured, he was paralyzed. 

The really ironic fact of this matter is that there is a way to correct for this human error, (forgetting to turn on transfer pumps). I used to fly a Dauphin, a French made helicopter. The Dauphin has supply tanks too, and transfer pumps. If you somehow forget to turn on the pumps in a Dauphin, there are small valved openings at the bottom of the supply tanks that will let fuel from the main tanks in, to at least the level of the main tank. It's an fool-proof feature.

It's simple.

I wonder why the Germans didn't think of this? Or change the BK design after a couple of crashes. The French guys work with the German guys now. For "Airbus." Speak up boys!

Later - I am going to write another post, and in it I am going to make a case for crewmembers in single-pilot helos calling out challenge-and-response checklists, but not today. Today I am going to consider, "but for the grace of God, there go I." 

And think about all those dead people.

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