Monday, August 25, 2014

Lest We Forget..."Airworthy" Means No Warning Lights...No Hidden Faults....If It's Broken Write It up.


The pilot called the operator's mechanic on duty that night, who arrived at the aircraft with some tools but no maintenance manuals or spare parts. The mechanic checked for oil leaks, did not find any evidence of an oil leak, and did not smell any burnt oil. the mechanic turned on the battery switch, starting the electrical power but leaving the engines turned off. The transmission oil-pressure warning light illuminated, but this was appropriate because, with the engines off, no oil pressure was generated. The mechanic then disconnected the oil-pressure switch, and the warning light turned off, which indicated the light was connected to the oil-pressure switch and was not being illuminated by a short circuit. The mechanic knew that when only the gearbox oil-pressure warning light illuminated, the problem was usually a faulty oil-pressure switch, which would be replaced. The mechanic did not have the tools and parts to change the switch with him. He rotated the main rotor and did not feel any unusual vibrations or hear any unusual sounds. The mechanic and the pilot decided that because the gearbox was newly overhauled and had minimal use, the problem was a faulty oil-pressure switch. They decided that the pilot would run the engines for a few minutes on the ground and then hover just off the ground. If no other warning lights illuminated, and if the pilot felt comfortable flying the helicopter, he would fly the helicopter back to the hospital for further maintenance. The pilot asked the mechanic to leave the oil-pressure warning light disconnected so he would not be distracted from observing the oil-temperature warning light if it came on. The pilot ran the helicopter on the ground, hovered for a few minutes, and then flew away. About one minute into the flight, the main rotor gearbox suffered a catastrophic failure. The helicopter crashed, and the piot was killed. Accident investigators testified that the crash was caused by the lack of cooling lubrication on the gears of the main rotor gearbox. 

Read more about this crash by clicking here...

One pressure we are subject to is the urge to refrain from writing up a discrepancy with our aircraft, and continue flight operations knowing something is wrong; perhaps because we fear that a backup is not available, we will lose flight volume, and perhaps lose our job. Or maybe we just want to get home. Sometimes peers or supervisors will even attempt to prevent us from documenting discrepancies.

Step back and look at the big picture... You can get another job. You can't get another life.

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