FAA grounds future “Wings of Freedom” flights, cites lack of training, maintenance prior to fatal B-17 crash at Bradley

Reptile

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The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday announced a Massachusetts foundation can no longer book passengers for flights on historic World War II-era aircraft after investigators found several safety violations while investigating the crash last fall of a B-17 bomber at Bradley International Airport that killed seven people.

In a letter to the Collings Foundation, Robert C. Carty, the deputy executive director of the FAA’s Flight Standards Service, notified the foundation that the FAA is immediately rescinding the waiver that allowed them to charter flights on vintage aircraft as part of its “Wings of Freedom” tour.

 
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Well, if you don't do things right, the hammer comes down. Sucks, because I would love to fly in something like that, but if they aren't taking training seriously, airplanes don't suffer fools.
 

deerdad

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They say lack of training. As for flying he had plenty of time with the amount of hrs he had. I know by watching old WW2 films on flight training they cut power back until stall to get a feel as what would happen. Did it descend faster than he anticipated with just the 3 engines? It was reported that a light tower was struck on the way in. No matter what, it will be pilot error just because of how those were made to stay in the air even with a engine failure. (maintenance big issue) Im kind of surprised there isn't any video of the incident except for the aftermath. People always have their phones out.
 
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AFVet

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My father helped rebuild that plane, he was the machinist for the parts that had to be made. I've been in it when i was a kid but never in the air with it. I'm not even going to tell him about this cause he's too old now he probably knew some of those people. I don't need him having a heart attack or stroke with all this other crap going on right now. Paul.
 

Dennis in MA

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My father helped rebuild that plane, he was the machinist for the parts that had to be made. I've been in it when i was a kid but never in the air with it. I'm not even going to tell him about this cause he's too old now he probably knew some of those people. I don't need him having a heart attack or stroke with all this other crap going on right now. Paul.
First time I read through I thought you meant after the crash. LOL. Cool for your dad, tho.

This is no big surprise. You can't just decide to take paying passengers up and not expect to be 100% on your toes with maintenance and training. You hold people's lives in your hands and they PRESUME you are 100% safe.

Tough day.
 
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There is so much pork for BS in the Corona Vorus bill.

Why cant there be money to rebuild a B17, B25, B29, a Lancaster, 2 or 3 Mustangs, 2 or 3 Messerschmitt bf 109.

It would probably cost less than what is going g to some of these libraries and cultural centers that already get millions.
 

Blackmore

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This is probably the death knell for these planes touring. I bet the money paid for flying in them exceeded the gate receipts for just viewing them.
 

Reptile

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This is probably the death knell for these planes touring. I bet the money paid for flying in them exceeded the gate receipts for just viewing them.
I'm glad I got to see them up close and even from the inside at the Great New England Airshow the past 2 times it was held at Westover.

People were smaller in the 1940's.

I could barely move around when I went inside.
I felt claustrophobic trying to make my way about the inside of those planes.

I actually felt nauseous seeing how impossible it would be to crawl to the tail gunner turret.

Even in modern aircraft, the quarters are cramped.

Imagine trying to escape a downed aircraft - old or new - after crashing, being injured or upside down.

They train for that, though.
 

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Did the report cite the age of the pilot (75 - he was also the Director of Maintenance) and copilot (71) as issues?
 

drgrant

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Best move on Collings Foundation's part would be to work on getting a 135 certificate.
So they're not 135 now, they're using some dirty hack that exempts them? Weird. I'm going to guess that adds more BS but more consideration is given because of the baseline of BS that 135s have to deal with.

-Mike
 

NHKevin

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So they're not 135 now, they're using some dirty hack that exempts them? Weird. I'm going to guess that adds more BS but more consideration is given because of the baseline of BS that 135s have to deal with.

-Mike
Yup. Thing is, being in compliance with 135 would have prevented the crash. Further, given they had an exemption, they could have elected to comply with relevant parts of 135 without officially having that level of oversight.
 

amb

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So they're not 135 now, they're using some dirty hack that exempts them? Weird. I'm going to guess that adds more BS but more consideration is given because of the baseline of BS that 135s have to deal with.
I've been out of the business for a while but the FAA has historically allowed air tours to run under part 91 as long as flights are nonstop and local. The safety record (of part 91 sightseeing in general, not saying anything either way about Collings) was always kind of a shitshow but there are a whole bunch of operators (Hawaii, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls) who would scream whenever putting them under part 135 comes up. There is an absolute ton of BS to maintain a 135 cert but some of it does actually have a point.

A long time ago I worked in a hangar that hosted a B17 and several similar aircraft and have crawled everywhere in a B17 there is to crawl. That tail gunner spot, though, damn. I don't usually get claustrophobic but that's some kind of tight quarters, and I was on the ground not even getting shot at.
 

67ray

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"The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" by Randall Jarrell
From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
 

NHKevin

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I'm not sure if it is even possible for Collings to put their warbirds on a 135 - I'll bet most of their fleet is certified in the experimental category.
 

SevenPointSeven

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I’ve flown with Collings 5 times on 3 different planes (B17, B24, B25) Commemorative Air Force (B29) and Warbird Adventures (P40) once each. They will all tell you the same story. After fuel, oil, insurance, hangar, and maintenance costs, the planes don’t really make money in the air.

Not an expert on FAA regs and classifications but hope something allows them to continue. Seeing these planes on the ground is interesting. Riding in them gives you an entirely new appreciation and respect for anyone that served in their seats.
 

Woodstock

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Juan Browne has a series of reports on the 909 crash. This week he explained the reasons for the FAA action, and it looks like there was half-assed maintenance on the #3 and #4 engines, especially that morning, plus an inexperienced flight engineer. Interesting note that the Collings Foundation has already bought another B-17.
 

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They say lack of training. As for flying he had plenty of time with the amount of hrs he had. I know by watching old WW2 films on flight training they cut power back until stall to get a feel as what would happen. Did it descend faster than he anticipated with just the 3 engines? It was reported that a light tower was struck on the way in. No matter what, it will be pilot error just because of how those were made to stay in the air even with a engine failure. (maintenance big issue) Im kind of surprised there isn't any video of the incident except for the aftermath. People always have their phones out.
One of the pilots operating the World War II-era B-17 bomber that crashed earlier this month at Bradley International Airport turned off the two engines on the right side of the plane as he tried to make an emergency landing, but a preliminary report into the crash released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board doesn’t give any reasons why he would have done so.
Yeah, that's never good...

 

KBCraig

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Yup. Thing is, being in compliance with 135 would have prevented the crash.
I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that compliance never prevented any crashes. I have a hunch that many legal flights, no matter under what part or licensing, have crashed and people have died.
 
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