NTSB details 767 freighter’s fatal dive

[Ref 19-25Mar2019 Flight International]

Aircraft came down in swamp southeast of Houston Intercontinental

swamp: (an area of) very wet, soft land

The 767 (N1217A), operating as Atlas flight 3591 from Miami, was descending to land at Houston Intercontinental airport when it came down in Trinity Bay, about 35nm (65km) southeast of the hub. All three of the jet’s occupants – two pilots and one passenger – died in the accident.

The aircraft was manufactured in 1992 and had accumulated 91,063h across 23,316 cycles.

[Ref 26 March-1 April 2019 | Flight International]

The NTSB had initially stated that the aircraft had pitched down “in response to column input”, it subsequently revised this, saying the downward pitch was the result of “nose-down elevator deflection”

With investigators yet to establish conclusively whether there is a connection between control column movements and the aircraft’s excessive nose-down attitude, the possibility of a mechanical reason for the elevator deflection is yet to be ruled out.

The 767 has previously been the subject of airworthiness directives including measures to prevent corrosion of ballscrew components in the drive mechanism for the horizontal stabiliser, which could lead to loss of stabiliser control

Elevator power control actuators have also been a previous focus of 767 directives; a 2014 bulletin ordered checks to ensure aircraft were not operating with failed shear rivets in the actuator mechanism and to prevent jamming and a possible elevator hardover – which could result in a significant pitch upset.

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