Skytrain Flight 252
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The aircraft involved seen preparing to taxi in Kamianets, 2013.
|Date||15 June 2014|
|Summary||Electrical and instrument failure due to in-flight fire, causing loss of control|
|Site||Pokrovsk Shramovo Int'l Airport|
|Aircraft type||UAK C858-300|
|Aircraft name||Galleon of St. Gabriel|
|Flight origin||Pokrovsk Shramovo Int'l Airport|
|Destination||Königsreh–Albert Polschnitz Airport|
On 15 June 2014, the C858-300 performing this flight, registration MB-25M, crashed in a forest 10 kilometres southwest of Pokrovsk Shramovo International Airport. The aircraft had 294 passengers and 15 crew onboard. The cause of the crash was found in the wiring of the in-flight entertainment system. Some minutes before take-off, just as the plane switched from its APU to engine power, an electric arc caused a fire. The fire quickly spread due to the use of flammable materials for isolation, but due to the lack of smoke detectors in the landing gear console restbed, the pilots failed to localize it on time. After an attempted left turn, the crew lost control over the machine as the latter entered an uncontrolled spiral and crashed in a forest 10 kilometres away from the airport in Pokrovsk.
Aircraft and crew
The aircraft, a 4-year old C858-300, serial number 72223, registration MB-25M, was manufactured in 2010, and Skytrain was its only operator to the day. It bore the title of Galleon of St. Gabriel, in honour of one of the patrons of Dulebia. The cabin was configured with 300 passenger seats. First and business class seats were equipped with in-seat in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems from QuanTech. The aircraft was powered by two high-bypass turbofan engines and had logged just over 9,590 hours before the crash.
The in-flight entertainment system was the first of its kind to be equipped on a Skytrain plane. It allowed the first and business class passengers to browse the web, select and watch their own movies and games, and gamble. The system was installed on the plane 5 months prior to the accident. It was one of the first to be installed on any Skytrain vehicle, and was still undergoing tests. Its wiring was supplied by LFS, and the isolation was produced on the Pokrovsk factory of the company.
The pilot-in-command was the 53-year-old Volodymyr Grelko. At the time of the accident, he had approximately 12,850 hours of total flying time, of which 8,900 hours in Skytrain and 2,500 on the C858. He was also an instructor pilot for the C717. Before his career with Skytrain, he worked in Eagle Air until the company was obtained by Skytrain in 2009. Later he transferred to the parent company as second pilot, and became an instructor and later captain in 2010-2012. Grelko also had a brief carrier in the Dulebian Air Force between 2001-2002, but only served as a ground technician. He was described as a friendly person with professional skills, who always worked with exactness and precision. On his 7-year account, he had no remarks and reprimands from his employers.
The first officer, 37-year-old Bogdan Malysh, had approximately 6,700 hours of total flying time, including 550 hours on the C858. He was an instructor on the C717 too. He joined Skytrain in 2008, after passing the airline's flight school. Apart from the two pilots, onboard Flight 252 there was also another Skytrain crew comprising of 2 pilots, the 45-year-old captain Anatoliy Antonov and 42-year-old first officer Serhiy Konoplyanko. They used the flight as transportation to Königsreh, from where they had a scheduled flight to Tanaus the same evening. The cabin crew comprised a maître de cabine (purser) and twelve flight attendants, operating in the three classes of the plane. All crew members on board Skytrain Flight 252 were qualified, certified, and trained in accordance with international regulations and had passed the Skytrain Steward school.
Excerpt from the communications protocol
CPT: Captain, F/O: First Officer, F/A: Flight Attendant
|09:52:11||F/O: Before Take-off Checklist completed.
CPT: Roger. Tower Shramovo, this is Galleon 252, requesting permission for take-off from Runway 21. Over.
|09:52:57||Galleon 252, you have permission to take-off from 21. Have a nice day. Over.|
|09:53:01||CPT: Galleon 252, taking-off from 21. Good day to you too.|
|09:53:59||CPT: (via intercom) Cabin crew, seat for take-off. You have control.
F/O: I have control.
|Sound of engines whistling higher.|
|09:55:32||F/O: Gear up.
|Left landing gear alarm sounds in the cockpit.|
|09:55:40||CPT: Left gear failure alarm. Probably failed to retract. I will try to deal with it, you keep control.
F/O: Roger that. Should we notify the tower?
CPT: If it repeats I will tell you to notify them.
|09:56:32||CPT: The ******* refuses to come up. Notify Shramovo!
F/O: Uh, Tower Shramovo, this is Galleon 252 currently climbing to Flight Level 12. We are experiencing problems with the left landing gear.
F/O: Galleon 252, roger. We will keep you updated on the situation.
|Galleon 252, roger that. Keep me informed about your condition.|
|09:58:35||F/O: The hell is wrong with this thing today?! Low pressure in hydraulics
CPT: Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan. Tower Shramovo, this is Galleon 252. We are experiencing problems with our hydraulic systems. We request immediate return to Shramovo now. Over.
CPT: Galleon 252, maintaing course 190 at FL 12 until further notice, over.
F/O: the whole system is unpressurized. There's zero ******* pressurization control!
|Galleon 252, maintain your course at Flight Level 12 and wait for further instructions.||Master caution alarm sounds recorded.|
|09:55:32||F/O: Gear up.
F/O: Electricity's off. No data from left wing. The ******* must have cut a pipe there.
CPT: Keep her steady. Maintain FL 12.
|Electricity in the cabin turns off. All alarms turn off.|
|10:00:02||F/A: There's a fire in the rear business cabin, spreading fast. The cabin is in smoke.
CPT: Good Lord. Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. Tower Shramovo, this is Galleon 252. We have a fire on board. I request immediate return to Shramovo now.
CPT: Galleon 252, course 190, maintaining Level 12. Over.
|Galleon 252, roger that. Please confirm your location||Shouting recorded on the tape when flight attendant enters the cabin.|
|10:00:36||CPT: The hell with it, isolate the left tank and shut down Engine 1.
F/O: Stopping fuel transmission from central tank to left wing, shutting Engine 1, roger.
|10:01:26||Loud crackle noise heard in the cockpit. Fire reaches central fuel tank and damages the hydraulical and mechanical control systems of the plane.|
|10:01:28||CPT: Galleon 252, roger that. I will try a left turn now.||Galleon 252, you have permission for a turn back to Shramovo, act at your convinience. The airspace is cleared and emergency was notified.|
|10:01:39||CPT: Lets get us home. Control taken, starting a left turn towards Course 10.
F/O: Control granted. God help us.
|10:02:01||F/O: Level it, level it! Stabilize! We are closing bank angle!
CPT: The thing's jammed! I have lost the ailerons!
CPT: For ***** sake, the speed brakes are gone! I have lost the speed brakes!
CPT: We have lost all hydraulics! The ******* is going down!
F/O: Push it, push it!
CPT: Turn on Engine 1! We will stabilize this son of a ***** one way or another!
|Sound of engine whistle increases.|
|10:02:39||Recorded pronounced buzzing noise followed by crack and what appears to be an explosion or decompression.|
|10:02:47||End of recording. The recording appears to end in flight.|
Search and rescue operation
There were 216 Dulebian (including the 15 crew as well as 2 pilots from another crew), 71 Mascyllian, 28 Krumlovian, 23 Cutho-Waldish, 12 Lavarian, 5 Hardhiaran, 3 Crethian and one Dulebian-Mascyllian passenger on board.
Olga Kirchenko, a famous Dulebian writer, as well as her husband, lawyer and businessman from Pokrovsk, and their two children died in the crash.
The MGB medical examiners positively identified most of the bodies within three days of the accident. Due to extreme impact forces, most bodies were not identifiable by sight. DNA profiling was used to identify approximately half of the passengers, and is one of the biggest DNA identification operations in the history of the MGB. The ministry contacted relatives of victims to request medical histories and dental records. They were also asked to provide blood samples for genetic matching in the DNA identification of the victims. About 53 bodies were identified by the medical examiners using dental records. Fingerprints and antemortem X-rays were used to identify around 30 bodies.