Monday, July 7, 2008

“AIR CANADA 254! Do you see traffic at 1 o’clock…"

…about 4 1/2 miles???”

“Yeh, 621 has ah, crashed–“

So there it was. The pilot of an inbound Air Canada Vickers Viscount, Flight 254, who was next in the (landing) slot, right behind the ill-fated Flight 621 “Stretch” 8 (DC-8-63) confirmed that 621 had indeed crashed.

And it was in this chatter between the YYZ Tower, Departures, AC 621, and AC 254 that it all unraveled for Flight 621. And while all blame for the eventual outcome for the accident seems to fall on the First and Second Officers…that IS NOT my opinion.

If you read the almost 200 page report (half a page, of which, is pictured above), and you have attention to detail, the truth indeed rises above all the “chatter” surrounding the accident.

The truth is in the talkback.

Both then, and 33 years later when I discovered it. Additionally, a little legwork as the police say…and well…

Wait for the book, when I lay it all out, in true irrefutable fashion ~

I will give one clue, however.

Captain Peter Hamilton, a former decorated WW II RCAF Halifax bomber pilot and hero, who was shot down and captured by the Nazis, and even spent time as an POW for his country, for the duration of the war, certainly, certainly, had the deck loaded against him on that day.

Mr. Hamilton who has my deepest and heartfelt respect, tried desperately, and in vain, to save his “ship” on that horrific day and that is what makes it so much a tragedy, and not just an accident.

I am cut to the heart, and enraged, every time I evision that highly skilled, and experienced aircrew, all of them, frantically trying, trying, to turn it all around…and they could have!

They could have!

That is the bitter and tragic truth!

Yes, even after losing an engine, and even though the starboard wing was on fire. They could have. They had both the experience, and skill. These were Air Canada jetliner pilots for gosh sakes! Not just Cessna 172 weekend warrior wannabees!!

Except for one thing…critical information was denied them at the fateful (turn-it-all-around) moment, when had they most assuredly needed it.

And that made all the difference, folks……between safely landing and crashing.

When the compromised Air Canada DC-8 finally plunged earthward, the SO Rowland apologized one last time to his captain, Peter Hamilton for his error with prematurely deploying the spoilers. But Peter was already gone. It was determined that he suffered a massive heart attack just after entering the descent.

And while there is more…that too will have to wait for the book.

RIP Flight 621.

1 comment:

tomsey said...

This is a very sad and haunting tragedy. I've always been impressed with how cool Peter Hamilton stayed as all hell broke loose and how he seemed to accept the FO's apology and tried to keep things calm and stayed polite all the way to the end. Also, you can tell the FO was genuinely sorry for his serious mistake. I also feel that they should have been given better feedback with regards to the condition of the plane. Especially with their being obvious debris on the runway. And the lever perhaps should have had better safeguards against spoiler deployment in flight.

One thing I don't understand is why captain Hamilton would ever agree to arming the spoilers on the flare which was the FO's preference. The captain seemed to be very safety minded as evidenced by his own preference to arm (and deploy) them on the ground. He also went to superiors complaining that arming them on approach as they were supposed to do could be dangerous. But arming them on the flare? This is the most dangerous thing you could do. If they deployed accidentally or prematurely on the flare, because they are so close to the ground they will have little ability to stop smashing into it. If it happened on approach they have a lot more space to recover. Very odd. Also strange that he would agree to arming them on the flare while he was the pilot which they never did. So the FO was used to arming and deploying because he normally did it on the ground. And so then he does that, and they smash into the runway.

So, based on this, imo, most of the accident is the fault of the pilots. They allowed to happen a dangerous action which if they had followed the rules would never had happened. I also thought the pilot was a little quick to judge that they were as he thought "alright". Perhaps one of the crew should have gone into the cabin immediately and looked at the wings to make sure. They got careless with the rules that they created and a lot of people died. It's a shame because they did seem like good people.