From the Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum website:
John L. Barry, current President & CEO of Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, was a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board that was created to examine the disaster. In his presentation “When the Right Stuff Goes Wrong”, he will speak first-hand about the accident and share lessons that can be learned from this mishap.
The accident was a major event that was essentially caused by technological, cultural, mechanical and organizational failures. Barry will explain the “nuts and bolts” of this disaster in a way that can be understood, reflected on, and applied to current business plans.
Retired Major General John L. Barry was in the Air Force for over 30 years as a combat veteran, fighter pilot/USAF “Top Gun” graduate and Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. He retired in 2004, having served his last tour on active duty as Board Member and Executive Director for the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation.
From 2006-2013, Barry served as superintendent of Aurora Public Schools, the sixth largest district in Colorado. In 2014, he was then named Chief Executive Officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Currently, Barry holds the position as President & CEO at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum.
Common carriers are required to exercise the highest degree of care in safety:
49 U.S. Code § 44701 - General requirements
(d)Considerations and Classification of Regulations and Standards.—When prescribing a regulation or standard under subsection (a) or (b) of this section or any of sections 44702–44716 of this title, the Administrator shall—
From Wikipedia: A common carrier is distinguished from a contract carrier (also called a public carrier in UK English), which is a carrier that transports goods for only a certain number of clients and that can refuse to transport goods for anyone else, and from a private carrier. A common carrier holds itself out to provide service to the general public without discrimination (to meet the needs of the regulator's quasi judicial role of impartiality toward the public's interest) for the "public convenience and necessity." A common carrier must further demonstrate to the regulator that it is "fit, willing, and able" to provide those services for which it is granted authority. Common carriers typically transport persons or goods according to defined and published routes, time schedules, and rate tables upon the approval of regulators. Public airlines, railroads, bus lines, taxicab companies, phone companies, internet service providers, cruise ships, motor carriers (i.e., canal operating companies, trucking companies), and other freight companies generally operate as common carriers. Under US law, an ocean freight forwarder cannot act as a common carrier.
Jim Badger became an Air Force officer after graduating from college, and attended navigator training. After earning his wings, he was assigned to (at the time) Military Air Transport Service (later to become MAC - Military Airlift Command) flying as navigator on the C-124. He flew missions in support of Europe and the expanding war in Vietnam. The C-124 flew low and slow, and was not well suited to supplying the needs of the war.
Jim transitioned into the new C-141, which flew much faster and further, and carried a much greater load. By the time Jim finished his time in the 141, he had accumulated over 5000 hours of flying time. Then the Air Force needed Weapon System Officers (WSOs).
Jim attended F-4 WSO training at George Air Force Base, California and was "top gun" in his class. He selected Ubon Royal Thai Air Base as his Vietnam assignment, and joined the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, the "wolfpack". In addition to flying combat missions, Jim ran the Frag Shop, which planned the hazardous missions over North Vietnam.
After Ubon, Jim was assigned to a missile unit in Missouri, and, after leaving the Air Force, attended law school and practice law, eventually rising to the position of magistrate.
This past week there was a dramatic, and tragic, event at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle, Washington. An airport worker stole an empty Horizon Air Q400 aircraft and flew it erratically for over an hour before crashing and killing himself. Rather than the NTSB, the FBI is taking the lead in the investigation into this event, which is rightly being called a crime.
Even for an experienced pilot, stealing an airliner is no small feat. If the airplane is parked at a gate, it must be pushed back with a tow vehicle and then disconnected from the tow vehicle, which must them be driven out of the way. In this case it was parked remotely, at the cargo ramp, and could be taxied forward once the engines were started. And the cargo ramp is located adjacent to the takeoff position on runway 19L, so once the engines were started there was little to prevent the aircraft from initiating a takeoff.
Gaining access to the Q400 aircraft itself is relatively easy, as the main entry door has integral stairs, and there is a YouTube video showing door operation:
There is very little information regarding how the individual was able to gain access to the aircraft, start the APU, start the engines, taxi and take off without interruption. The facts as they are now known are:
This is not something that can be accomplished on a whim. I believe the FBI's investigation will reveal that the individual had planned this for some time. He most likely had the Microsoft Flight Simulator X program and had been practicing how to start the engines, adjust the condition levers, take off, raise the landing gear, and fly.
There is an add-on program for Microsoft Flight Simulator X for the Q400, and the flight manual for the Q400 is readily available on the internet.
If this individual had simply wanted to steal the airplane and crash it, he likely would not have engaged in conversation with ATC. He was clearly a troubled individual, and it is really sad that an intervention was apparently not possible.
This is not the first such event. In 1969, Sergeant Paul Meyer, a C-130 aircraft mechanic stationed at Mildenhall Air Base in England, put on an officer's flight suit and stole a C-130, hoping to fly back to the United States. He had been under a lot of emotional pressure and desperately wanted to get back home to his wife of eight weeks. He was drunk when he stole the plane, which vanished after a few hours.
There will undoubtedly be a knee-jerk over-reaction in the industry, which will make it more difficult for legitimate crew members to initiate their flights, and which will likely lead to departure delays. Perhaps it would be more productive to educate the public on the signs of mental illness and how to help someone who seeks a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. This line is available for 24 hours, every day.
Cynthia and Mike Lisa met while midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Mike graduated a year ahead of Cynthia, and attended graduate school to receive his Master of Science Degree in Physics, then attended Navy pilot training at the same time as Cynthia.
Once they were married, they received joint-spouse assignments to Whidby Island Naval Air Station, each flying the EA-6B. During their careers, Mike attended Navy Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD, and Cynthia continued flying the EA-6B until her aircraft accident.
Her EA-6B suffered an engine failure, followed by smoke and fire in the cockpit. She ordered a crew ejection, and a long 1.2 seconds transpired before her sequenced ejection as the aircraft commander. Less than a second later, the jet impacted the ground. She got "one swing" of the parachute before landing near the crash site. Cynthia's ejection was featured in the Smithsonian Channel "Survival In The Skies" episode on ejection seats.
In the mean-time, Mike was deployed and not permitted to return to home for another five months.
There's much more information in the FAA Weight And Balance Handbook.
Dr MacAulay spent 20 years in the US Air Force where she commanded the 400 member joint 305th Operations Support Squadron, was a professionalism and leadership instructor, and served as the Director of Human Performance and Leadership for the 58th Special Operations Wing. In this capacity, she stood up a pilot program launching a human performance effort from the ground up, to create high-performing, mindful, and mission-focused warfighters & families.
Most recently, she serves as a Human Performance consultant for the US Air Force, Department of Justice, and corporate America - sharing her knowledge and lessons for building high-performing organizations and teams. She has a
Masters Degree in Kinesiology (focused in exercise physiology) and a PhD with
work in the field of strategic health & human performance. Dr MacAulay is a
certified wellness educator, yoga instructor, mindfulness researcher, and holds a
certificate in plant based nutrition. She is a mother of two, and a combat veteran
with over 3000 flying hours in the C-21, C-130, & KC-10 aircraft.
Attempting to crash an aircraft into a building was not an entirely new paradigm. Despite Secretary Rice stating, “I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile”, there had been numerous prior attempts to utilize aircraft in this manner. In addition, there had been a significant number of warnings suicide hijackings posed a serious threat. For example, a 1994 report for the Department of Defense predicted every aspect of the 911 attack.
In 1972, hijackers of Southern Airways Flight 49 threatened to crash the airliner into Oak Ridge National Laboratory if a $10 million ransom was not paid. The specific target was the nuclear reactor. The hijacked airliner began a dive toward Oak Ridge, and was only pulled out at the last minute when Southern Airways agreed to pay $2 million to the hijackers.
In 1974, S. Byck attempted to hijack a Delta Airlines DC-9 aircraft to crash it into the White House. During the hijacking, Byck killed a security guard and the copilot before committing suicide after being wounded by police. Also in 1974, Private R. Preston stole an Army helicopter and flew over the White House and hovered for six minutes over the lawn outside the West Wing, raising concerns about a suicide attack.
In 1994, four Algerian terrorists attempted to hijack Air France Flight 8969. The group, identified as Phalange of the Signers in Blood, killed one of the passengers, planted explosives on the plane, and planned to crash the aircraft into the Eiffel Tower. French police stormed the aircraft and stopped the hijacking.
Also in 1994, Flight Engineer A. Calloway boarded Federal Express Flight 705 as an additional jump seat crewmember, intending to overpower the crew and crash the DC-10 aircraft into the Federal Express corporate headquarters in Memphis. Calloway attacked the flight deck crew with a hammer, inflicting serious, permanent, disabling injuries to all three pilots. Additionally in 1994, F. Corder attempted to crash an aircraft into the White House.
The planned 1995 Bojinka attack targeted the Pentagon, an unidentified nuclear power plant, the Transamerica Building in San Francisco, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the World Trade Center, John Hancock Tower in Boston, U.S. Congress, and the White House. In 1996, hijackers attempted to crash Ethiopian Airlines flight 961 into a resort in the Comoros Islands, ditching into the Indian Ocean near the coast.
Another 1996 event occurred when M. Udugov, a Chechen leader, threatened to hijack a Russian airliner and crash it into the Kremlin.
In 1998 the Kaplancilar terrorist organization planned to crash an explosives-laden plane into the tomb of M. Ataturk, Turkey’s founder. The entire Turkish government had gathered at the mausoleum for a ceremony on the day scheduled for the attack. Police foiled the plot and arrested the conspirators shortly before execution of the plan.
In addition to actual aircraft suicide attacks, there were numerous predictions of these types of attacks. One prediction was in the March 2001 pilot episode of the Fox series The Lone Gunmen, featuring a hijacked Boeing 727 used as a missile to crash into the World Trade Center. In 1999, the British Secret Service MI6 provided the U.S. Embassy in London with a secret report on al Qaeda activities. The report indicated al Qaeda was planning to use commercial aircraft to attack the United States. The report stated the aircraft would be used in “unconventional ways”.
The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center prompted an exhaustive threat analysis for the World Trade Center. The study concluded an aerial attack by crashing an aircraft into the Center was a remote possibility requiring consideration. Reports indicated Iran was training pilots to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings: “Trained aircrews from among the terrorists would crash the airliner into a selected objective”.
A report on terrorist threats prepared for the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress specifically named bin Laden and al Qaeda: “Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House”. A 1999 keynote address at the National Defense University warned terrorists might attempt to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to attack buildings. In 2000, security consultant C. Schnabolk had remarked, the most serious threat to the World Trade Center was someone flying a plane into it.