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THE "REAL" STORY OF BOEING STRATO CRASH 3-28-02

Remember the ditching of the vintage B-307 in May? Here's "the rest of the story."
"D'oh!"

NTSB Summary

The Accident occurred Thursday, March 28, 2002 at Seattle, WA

Aircraft: Boeing S-307, registration: N19903

Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

On March 28,2002, approximately 1305 Pacific standard time, a Boeing S-307 Stratoliner, N19903, registered to the National Air & Space Museum, operated by The Boeing Company, as a 14 CFR Part 91 maintenance and proficiency flight, ditched in the waters of Elliott Bay, Seattle, Washington, following a loss of engine power. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was subtantially damaged. The two airline transport pilots and two flight engineers were not injured.

The flight departed from Everett, Washington, and was destined for Seattle, Washington. During an interview, the flight crew reported that the purpose of the flight was for maintenance/systems checks and crew proficiency. The flight departed from Boeing Field (BFI), Seattle, approximately 1230 en route to Everett, Paine Field (PAE). The Captain reported that he made a full stop landing at PAE without incident.

The aircraft was taxied back to the runway and the takeoff was initiated. Shortly after lift-off, the number three engine experienced a momentary surge, then normalized. Due to this anomaly, the flight crew decided to discontinue the flight activities and return to BFI.

In preparation for landing at BFI, the landing gear was lowered, however, the left main gear did not fully extend. The approach was aborted to orbit the area to try and remedy the situation.

The Captain reported that the flight engineer at the radio station, left his station to try and manually hand-crank the left gear down. After a few minutes, the flight crew reported a green (fully extended) light for the left main. The flight then headed back to BFI when a low fuel pressure light was noted for the number three engine followed by a loss of power.

The flight crew feathered the engine when low fuel pressure was noted to the remaining three engines which all subsequently began to lose power. The Captain reported that he did not believe that the aircraft could make it safely to BFI and opted to ditch the aircraft in Elliott Bay near the shoreline.

The aircraft impacted the water in a slightly right wing low, level attitude and remained upright. The aircraft remained afloat and all four flight crew members safely exited the aircraft and were rescue within minutes of the accident.

==================================

"Now, the REST of the story...

"According to [deleted], who himself just finished talking to his "mole" at Boeing... Someone in the maintenance department, who was in on the Boeing interview of the pilots afterwards... The story is that these highly trained Boeing test pilots decided they'd take this airplane out for a flight, to do some circuits. They were paying for it themselves, out of their own pockets, so elected to only put *300 gallons* of gas in it when they were on the ground at Boeing Field. They were hoping to avoid Galvin Flying's extra $0.04/gallon by putting more in when they got to Paine Field (where gas was cheaper) to do circuits.

"Somewhere enroute to Paine Field, the fuel situation was driven from their mind, probably because they were having so much fun flying.....so they did circuits at Paine until the #3 engine coughed, then died. They feathered the prop, and decided they should probably land to investigate.

"They selected gear down, to find that the gear leg under the #3 engine wouldn't lower, because the hydraulic pump needed to do that was powered by the #3 engine (now feathered). So they lowered the gear manually, but decided (get this) to fly *back to Boeing Field* to park the plane, rather than land at Paine Field.

"Shortly after making that bright decision, the other engines started failing. No engines were running by the time it ditched, and three of the four props weren't feathered.

"The kicker here: The Stratoliner's maintenance base is apparently *at Paine Field*. Any maintenance to be done would require that it be brought back to Paine Field anyway (or a bunch of equipment moved to Boeing Field). When asked why they wanted to bring it back to Boeing Field, the response was

> > READY?

> > 'Well, our cars were at Boeing Field'.

"Someone should have asked where their *boats* were.

"A detail that may be useful, if you're keeping track in your head: According to [source], these engines, at 30" manifold and 2000 rpm, would burn about 50 gal/hr each in cruise, and would average more like 70-80 gal/hr each if you were doing circuits. Some things that weren't reported in the article below: When they peeled back the interior linings, they found that "it's all twisted at the bulkhead where the spar attaches to the fuselage." I didn't think to ask whether that meant the spar is twisted, the bulkhead is twisted,or what. [Source] said that both main gear legs were both ripped off by the ditching, and were found floating next to the aircraft... I thought I saw one hanging from the engine in the photos sent, but I could be wrong.

"The official explanation to date is that the engines failed due to "air in the fuel lines". I guess that's one way of putting it. My take is that the dipsticks were in the cockpit, and not in the fuel tanks."
 

THE "REAL" STORY OF BOEING STRATO CRASH 3-28-02






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