As the 46-year-old plane ascended at the start of the planned 24-minute journey on Friday, one of its engines shut down. The relatively routine failure became strained when Transair Flight 810 began to lose altitude as its flight crew attempted to return to land, according to a recording of air traffic radio calls posted by LiveATC.net.
“We are going to lose the other engine as well. It’s very hot, ”said a pilot on the radio. “We have low speed. It doesn’t look good. ”
A controller at Daniel K Inouye International Airport later told the crew that the airport fire department had been alerted.
“You must notify the Coast Guard,” replied the pilot.
Minutes later, the controller said, “Looks like they sank into the water.”
That triggered a dramatic rescue off the coast of Oahu, as two pilots who may have experienced a rare dual-engine failure struggled to survive.
The US Coast Guard located the 737 in a debris field around 2:30 a.m., approximately 50 minutes after the initial alert.
“We first saw a man waving, waving his hand from the tail of the plane,” said Lt. Gleb Borovok, a Coast Guard crewman on the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter that arrived on the scene, in an interview with Hawaii News Now. . “Then we saw another man floating on a loading platform.”
Rescuers initially focused on the pilot holding onto the packages, said Borovok and Lt. Alex Mead, who flew the helicopter. But then the tail of the plane began to sink, pushing the man who had been perched there into the water. The helicopter deployed a swimmer and brought the Transair pilot on board.
The Transair aviator in the packages was picked up by a Honolulu Fire Department rescue boat amid seas of up to five feet (1.52 meters) and winds of 17 miles per hour (27 kilometers per hour).
Both airmen were injured and were taken to Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. One of them, 58, was in intensive care in critical condition, according to Hawaii News Now. The other, 50, was in serious condition with a “head injury and multiple lacerations,” the news outlet said.
The ill-fated Boeing 737-200 began its commercial life in 1975 carrying passengers for Pacific Western Airlines, predating by decades the new Max passenger model that was grounded for 20 months after two fatal accidents. The emergency water landing off Hawaii marks the second time this year that an older 737 aircraft has been destroyed. In January, a Sriwijaya Air passenger flight crashed off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 62 people aboard the 737-500.
The US National Transportation Safety Board said it will send a team of 10 investigators to the crash site in Hawaii. Transair said it was working with federal authorities to investigate the cause, while its “most immediate concern is the care and recovery of our colleagues.”
Boeing said it was in contact with safety officials, as was Pratt & Whitney, a division of Raytheon Technologies Corp, which supplied the JT8D engines used by the 737-200.
Boeing fell 1.3% to $ 236.68 at the close in New York. Raytheon was up less than 1% to $ 86.70.
Are you capable of climbing?
Flight 810, branded Transair and operated by Rhoades Aviation Inc, took off for Kahului just after 1:30 a.m. local time and ascended to about 2,100 feet (640 meters), according to a runway posted by Flightradar24.com.
The aircraft turned right over the ocean and circled toward the airport, sinking into the water about 11 minutes later. The runway provided by FlightRadar24 does not show the normally smooth altitude and speeds of a typical flight, suggesting that the pilots may have been struggling to control the aircraft.
In the air traffic recording, the controller initially tells the aircraft to “hold 2000 if that’s the altitude you like” and asks for more details about your emergency.
One pilot replied that “all that is fine” and said he would provide the information in “a little bit”.
But the situation quickly deteriorated during the short time they were in the air. Apparently responding to an alert in the tower that the flight was too low, the controller asked, “Are you capable of climbing?”
“No, negative,” replied the pilot.
After initially warning the plane to return to Honolulu, telling them they were “cleared to land on any runway,” the controller told them that the Kalaeloa airport was closer.
“We’d like the nearest airport runway, please,” replied one of the pilots.
Apparently, two calls from air traffic control to the crew went unanswered.
Engine failures that result in the loss of a jet are extremely rare. The 737, like all twin-engine airplanes, is designed to fly on a single turbofan if the others malfunction, and maintenance schedules are designed to ensure that the same problem does not occur in both engines at the same time.
While it is unclear what happened to the Transair aircraft, if the aircraft were to lose both power plants, the possible causes could range from a maintenance error to fuel problems or an error in the way the pilots responded to the initial emergency. .
The reason why the second engine may have overheated was unclear. Flying with an engine shouldn’t put undue stress on the running power plant, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, the former chief of accident investigations for the FAA.
Because two-engine failures are so unlikely, researchers will want to look for some kind of common problem that could have played a role in each, Guzzetti said.
The jets are designed to be able to submerge in water and float for a period of time, in accordance with federal regulations. In 2009, a US Airways plane crashed into a flock of birds in New York and lost power to both engines – the plane in which pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed in the Hudson River.
Pratt has produced more than 14,000 of its JT8D engines since the turbine entered service on the Boeing 727 in 1964, according to the engine manufacturer’s website. About 2,400 are still in use.
Transair began operations in 1982 and says it provides the longest-lasting freight service in Hawaii. It specializes in inter-island transportation between Hawaii’s top destinations, according to its website.