CAL flight aborted over safety error

| 14/09/2016 | 71 Comments

(CNS): A Cayman Airways flight to Miami on Tuesday evening was aborted shortly after take-off when the pilots were unable to retract the landing gear because maintenance crews had failed to remove two ground lock safety pins. Officials from Cayman Airways said that while the aircraft was never in an “unsafe condition”, the breach of safety procedures was very serious and an investigation is underway. In a statement released to the press Wednesday afternoon, Cayman Airways CEO Fabian Whorms said a “thorough analysis of the event and surrounding circumstances” was underway “to determine what procedural adjustments and changes are necessary to prevent future recurrences”.

Cayman News Service

Aircraft ground lock pins in place

KX106 to Miami had taken off from Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) at around 6:00pm but returned shortly afterwards when the pilots realised there was a landing gear issue. Before returning, the flight crew conducted “the prescribed on-board safety checks to ensure that the landing gear was correctly extended for landing” before coming back, but emergency services were on stand-by as the plane landed normally.

The plane was taken out of service and the cause of the landing gear failing to retract was found to be the two ground lock safety pins, which are used to prevent landing gear from retracting during ground operations.

The airline said there are established procedures in place to ensure that these pins are removed before flight but in this instance the pins were not.

“Whilst the aircraft was never in an unsafe condition, as the main gears were definitely down and locked, the procedural deficiencies relating to the pins not being removed before flight are very serious,” Whorms stated as he announced the investigation.

Captain Steve Scott, Director of Safety at Cayman Airways, added that the airline has a “very robust safety” system designed to address any incidence and prevent recurrences whenever procedural issues arise.

“Although safety of flight was not impacted in this particular instance, there is much to be learned from occurrences like this one in order to preserve the safety of our operations. Our Safety Department will therefore be analysing all the contributing factors in order to ensure proper and effective risk mitigation,” Scott said.

After the aircraft was taken out of service, the passengers were taken on another plane and arrived 1 hour and 40 minutes later than scheduled, with the return leg, KX107, an hour and 20 minutes later. No other flights were affected and Cayman Airways resumed its normal scheduled operations, officials stated.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If I were on a plane that crash landed due to some oversight like this, and I was lucky enough to survive, I wouldn’t give a shit whether the pilot didn’t see it or the maintenance guys didn’t do it, or the last time the maintenance director was out on runway to oversee stuff bla bla bla. Bottom line is a major *()&*$ up happened and somebody better make sure that nothing like this ever happens again!!!!

  2. kid says:

    It is not the director of maintenance fault….it is also so pilot error. He should see the pin remove by the ground crew holding pin up after push back.

    • Basil Hamaty says:

      You must read and understand the article first before you make a foolish statement about pilot error. There was multiply oversight on both sides maintence and the first officer. It was thr main gear pins not the nose pin.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The director of maintenance should be held accountable, when was the last time he was seen on the ramp overseeing operations?

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Did you remember to pull out dem pins?”….”Eh, Pins? Didntya see aal dat reeen? Mi na gwann wet up fo dat!”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Airways has been having far too many safety issues lately. Yes, they may have not had a major incident as yet, but they have only been lucky. It is time that the CEO put every one on a ‘short leash’, especially maintenance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can we assume that this incident will be reflected in performance management or does being a Caymanian trump the safety of passengers every time? The question needs to be asked because performance management across government is a dismal failure due to the unwritten code that the jobs of Caymanians are sacrosanct.

      • Anonymous says:

        6.06am Where does it say that a Caymanian was responsible for pulling the pins? Or is it that you believe only Caymanians make mistakes.

    • Anonymous says:

      @2.58 Where is your proof? PLease publish your list backing up your claim. If no list is forthcoming I am free to assume that you are making up stuff.

      • Diogenes says:

        Well, as well as the two on ground incidents involving unsecured equipment hitting the Saab, and this one, they have had at least 4 other full blown in flight emergencies declared – the Twin Otter engine fire, the gear indicator warning on the inbound New York flight, and the two declared emergencies back in 2014 and 2013 when CAL refused to disclose what the problem was. Seem to recall there was an emergency with a crack in the windscreen as well, but cannot recall exactly when that was.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey….. so in all seriousness what if the plane had crashed while landed. Are we prepared to deal with a Mass-casualty incident….hmm probably not with 3 ambulances and a fire department that doesn’t provide any medical service. Oh not to mention the police who think they run Mass-casualty incidents. Our 3 main emergency services branches need to seriously sit down and create a plan, and actually get results. Because thinking about over 100 passengers and crew dying because of failure to create a competent MCI plan, will be an absolute disgrace and tragedy.

    *also maybe release a plan to the public

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, to be fair, the Emergency Services (Police, Fire, EMS) do train for this (apparently for over 20 years). It’s called Mass Casualty Management Training. It’s run by Hazard Management and also includes hospital staff and Red Cross first-aiders (because yes you’re right it’s a small island and during that type of incident all first-aiders would be useful) and civil aviation (most likely because a plane crash has been identified as one of the greatest risks). It’s a pretty good course, I did it a couple of years ago.

      https://www.caymancompass.com/2014/11/06/airport-to-hold-emergency-exercise/

      • Anonymous says:

        Seriously ? Two people thought this deserved a dislike or a troll ? What the hell did this guy say to dislike ??? That he took part in an emergency plan and it was well organized ? There really are some complete idiots that comment / read these pages.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, to be fair, they train maybe once a year for MCI situations and I guarantee there training is not up to date. Hospital staff and first-aiders as you put it, are not trained to set up an Incident Command System and execute it accordingly. Regular hospital staff and first-aiders have no idea how to triage, treat and transport people. In no way am I saying that there help would not be greatly appreciated, but this is an issue that needs to be addressed in grave detail if a plane were to crash and a MCI were to actually occur.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lots of experts on here….. Instead of finding fault or anything else, Give praise and thanks the Pilots did the right thing. It could have been worst . Great job all.

    • Michael says:

      uhhhh what else would they have done? flown to Miami with the gear hanging out?
      what they did was what every other pilot(s) would have done. Just to clarify

      • Anonymous says:

        but cayman airways ‘has the best pilots in the world’!…..according to caymanians………………………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Jotnar says:

      Great job apart from the twat who forgot to remove the pins.

  8. Anonymous says:

    You had one job……..

  9. Michael says:

    the nose gear pin ok ya…..so does the main gear retract and not the nose gear?
    I thought that pin was a shear pin in the advent that system A is turned on during push back? This would mean that during taxi the pin was hanging off the nose gear …surprised no one saw it….oh well I suppose these things happen

  10. Michael says:

    are those pins noticeable to the pilot on the walk around?

    • Anonymous says:

      They aren’t taken off the plane until it is pushed back so the pilot is already in the plane. The ground staff are supposed to show them to the pilot thought to verify.

      • Anonymous says:

        And if that is the case then why would the captain proceed with departing from the gate??? Sheer negligence or better yet incompetent to be in that capacity.
        People do make mistakes, I agree but hell if I want someone taking me out of this world before time. These type of jobs require highly skilled individuals with rested minds not tired and minds that are not foggy either!! One cannot expect to forget something and then in mid air try to correct it and if that doesn’t work turn around.Makes you wonder if there has been more serious situations that has occurred that John public doesn’t know about. In this case, thank God it was nothing more serious or we won’t be reading about turning around to come back to George Town but instead we would be reading about surveying a wreckage on the open seas. This is a hard cold fact whether some of us want to admit it or not!!!

    • Freddy says:

      Its not the pilot job to remove the pins but I guess its the guys who pushback the airplane

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cayman has more aviation experts per capita than any other place in the world judging from CNS comments.

    While this is poor on the part of the ground crew, these are removed just before push back so the pilot can’t check that they have been removed on the walk around. And while they are held up for the pilot to check before push back, at this time of day (dusk) it can be difficult to see from the cockpit to the ground.

    It’s not a real safety issue, the gear cannot be retracted with the pins in, so there was no chance that they could be stuck in the up position, but it is a careless waste of money (fuel, another cycle on the aircraft, time lost, etc.).

    It’s something very simple but somehow continues to happen every few days around the world, to both big airlines and small (a quick look at avherald.com will show you this).

    • Anonymous says:

      That is precisely the kind of attitude that we need to get rid of ‘it happens to other people so its not that bad’ mentality.

      The only pin left in for pushback is the nose gear pin which is shown to the Captain once pushback is complete and equipment disconnected. Main gear pins should not be installed.

    • Anonymous says:

      When I was flying the gear lock and steering lock pins along with the gust locks from the flying controls had to be carried in the aircraft so they could be checked off. OK it wasn’t a B737 but are you seriously saying the pins are left in until push back? I don’t think so. Anyway, as I understand it in the normal flight configuration you can’t accidentally retract the u/c on a B737 with weight on the legs so there doesn’t seem to be any need for pins to be installed during routine airline operations.

      Also please don’t try to quote sources like Aviation Herald or Aeroinside as an alibi for CAL’s screw up because it isn’t an everyday occurrence (quite the opposite in fact) and a few minutes on-line confirms that.

      • Anonymous says:

        12:18 In my experience main gear locking pins were never installed during routine flight operations and definitely not on the ramp. They were only fitted when the aircraft might be towed over a rough surface or jacked up for maintenance. In the latter case it was a health and safety requirement to prevent someone working on the u/c being crushed by an unintentional retraction. In fairness to CAL there don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules on this so airlines can specify whatever protocols they like but leaving pins with a big red flag on them in place during push back is just plain sloppy – there’s no excuse for it and trust me it is a very, very occurrence whatever 9:47 claims.

      • Anonymous says:

        there are different kinds of pins depending on aircraft and some are left in until pushback depending on the airline.

        the pushback engineer should hold the pins above their head once the plane has been pushed and released from the tug to show the captain they have been removed, but if they are holding red/orange batons as some do I can see how the captain may have thought the pins removed.

        I have never flown the 737 myself, but with my airline we do leave in the nose-down lock pin in to prevent gear collapse at push back by tug on all aircraft types (Boeing, embraer and Airbus).

        i dont believe anonymous @ 947am was making an alibi but merely stating that it was an embarrassing mistake that happens too frequently. it has happened at my airline within the last year.

        a quick check of avherald does show a Delta flight on the 12th of September with this problem, Turkish Airlines on August 22nd and United on July 24th, plus quite a few others after this. seems to happen once or twice a month (at least the reported cases).

      • Anonymous says:

        The B737 nose gear pin is installed along with a steering bypass pin to avoid the towbar being whipped around with the hydraulic system pressurized.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I feel much more comfortable flying on CAL than many other airlines I have flown in my lifetime! In general, the staff are very professional. Having said that, CAL cannot afford to become complacent in any way. Training and professionalism need to be shown each and every day on each and every flight. Hopefully this event will result in EVERY department at CAL reviewing their procedures, training and redundancies. Kudos to CAL for explaining to the media what happened in this instance.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Aren’t ground locks usually carried in the plane? If so shouldn’t this be part of the check of crew? Is there double check by ground crew? If so this shows an incredible amount of sloppiness (I mean there are big red streamers attached to them) and is truly scary.

  14. Anonymous says:

    all this from an airline that charges $400 for a 1 hour flight….
    cayman airways = 5 star price…3 star quality….

    aa has been by choice for years…..and i know many in the aviation authority who will not fly cayman airways….

    • Das Aviator says:

      Maybe you should think carefully about your choices… AA has buried many a paying passenger with their shiny jets and complacent pilots than CAL has ever done…

      • Anonymous says:

        AA was formed in 1926 and has nearly 1000 aircraft in it’s current fleet. They haven’t had a fatal accident since November 2001 and that was caused by the manufacturer (Airbus) not issuing an essential safety warning. Two weeks earlier I’d actually flown on the A300 involved in that crash but given the choice I’d still take AA any day.

        • Informed. says:

          June 1, 1999: American Airlines Flight 1420, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82, overran the runway while landing during a storm at Little Rock, Arkansas; the aircraft’s captain and 10 of the passengers were killed.

          Pilot error.

          November 12, 2001: American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 crashed in the Belle Harbor neighborhood of New York City shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport due to separation of the vertical stabilizer after the pilots overused the rudder while trying to counter wake turbulence from a 747 ahead of them. All 260 people aboard the jetliner and 5 people on the ground were killed. The pilots were well aware of the limitations on the rudder travel inputs.

          Pilot error.

          December 22, 2009: American Airlines Flight 331 overran the runway in heavy rain at Kingston, Jamaica during landing and came to rest on an access road just short of the Caribbean Sea, with its fuselage broken in three. More than 40 people were injured.

          Pilot error.

          Point is, we all make mistakes. Some have fatal consequences. Some do not. I would have much preferred to have been on the CAL flight with gear pins remaining in place than anyone of those AA flights.

        • Anonymous says:

          the accident was caused by an over eager pilot stomping on the rudder one way and then the other and snapping the tail off the aircraft. AA trained the pilots to use the rudder like this, and airbus didn’t tell them not to.

    • Anonymous says:

      A sizeable portion of the “$400” most likely goes to taxes that all airports collect. I would guess that CAL’s share is just above half of the $400.

      • Anonymous says:

        their fares are so high because they are overstaffed, overpaid and give free flights for life…….and because they are a government run loss making monoply……

  15. Anonymous says:

    FIRE, FIRE, FIRE, FIRE FIRE THEM! But Mr Whorms will not as the internal politics at CAL is ‘Good Old Boyz” club, as “The Lodge”. The pilots and the ground crew ALL screwed up. Just like with SAAB. No ‘Caymankind” sympathy is needed here Mr Whorms!

  16. arggghhhhh says:

    Here come the aviation experts….let it rain comments now. First we praise the airline and immediately we criticise, are you people ever happy with anything?

  17. Anonymous says:

    So, did the pilots inspect the plane before taking off? This is crazy.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Maintenance screw up yes, but what about the pilot, He is responsible for the safety of the plane and passengers, and should have seen the red flags hanging from the wheel wells. They are long and red for a reason. This is a complete failure of all involved not just the techs!!

    • Anonymous says:

      He would see them every time he walks to the plane, as they stay in place until after the pilot is settled in the cockpit.

  19. Anonymous says:

    You can sum Mr Whorms’ fancy rhetoric up in five simple words, “Someone screwed up big time!”

    This incident verges on unbelievable. The B737 walk around checks, which are the responsibility of one of the pilots not the ground crew, clearly specify checking the u/c locking pins are not in place.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Note the big red flag attached to the pin in the picture! No it isn’t a B737, but it is standard industry practice

  21. Anonymous says:

    This should have been spotted when one of the pilots did a pre-flight walk around. These pins have (or at least should have!) large red ‘Remove Before Flight’ tags to make their presence clearly visible.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It’s called “Check and Re-Check” – which is supposed to be strictly followed by all aircraft engineers. If one engineer makes a mistake, then the other senior engineer following closely behind…….. will spot the error and take the appropriate action to prevent an accident.

    Obviously, this was not done which is absolutely unacceptable. Luckily for Cayman Airways this was a case of a landing gear ‘not coming up’ instead of a landing gear ‘not coming down’

    I applaud Mr. Whorms for making this information available to the media which shows transparency in our national airline. After all, they could have simply said it was a “technical issue” as many airlines do, when they experience a similar problem and the public would have brushed it off as a faulty sensor or something of that nature.

    Although we predominantly have our North East Trade Winds, what concerns me most about departing aircraft at ORIA – is when our winds are coming from a Westerly direction. With all the rain water accumulating in those ponds at the west end of the runway, there are definitely birds around. Birds and aircrafts are not a good mix.

    Why doesn’t the Airport Authority with all the money they have, fill up those ponds to avoid birds hanging around there ? It’s not enough to have a device which gives off a loud bang to run the birds away or to have a security vehicle make an occasional check at the end of the runway, to ensure that the birds are not hanging around. It doesn’t take long for birds to fly in and out of an area, does it ?

    Lastly, for the safety of all aircraft and our flying public, nobody want’s to see an aircraft go down in Central George Town or along Seven Mile Beach, as a result of a bird strike from the west end of Owen Roberts International Airport.

    Go see the movie “Sully” !!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think it is the Airport Authority, if I recall the ponds are protected somehow but I could be wrong.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, you are wrong. The ponds are not protected. They are just veeeery deep. (As per the CAA’s annual ‘animal safety meeting’, advertised and open to the public.) And probably important for drainage of the airstrip until the whole area is reworked as part of their master plan.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have never heard of an Animal Sanctuary on or very near an airport runway unless you are operating in the Republic of Congo or some other remote part of the world.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Just a little pointer on the headlines one does not abort a flight, the flight landed back or the flight turned back. Babies get aborted not flights

    • Anonymous says:

      abort verb 2. bring to a premature end because of a problem or fault.
      “the pilot aborted his landing”

      noun informal technical
      1. an act of aborting a flight, space mission, or other enterprise.
      “there was an abort because of bad weather”

  24. Anonymous says:

    Aren’t the pilots supposed to do a walk around of their aircraft?

  25. Anonymous says:

    I can here a promotion

  26. Anonymous says:

    Fire their asses. There is no room for error when you are in charge of the safety of people’s lives. This is unacceptable and a “I am sorry” will work

  27. Anonymous says:

    Just another reason to fly AA.

  28. Diogenes says:

    And the pilot didn’t follow the usual system of seeing the ground crew holding the pins as they taxied? and the ground crew didn’t pull the pins as they do and each and every flight, day in, day out? Something really badly wrong. This is not dangerous in itself, but the failure to detect the error through basic checklists and procedures is. What next, they don’t bother checking that the cargo doors are locked, or that all the baggage on board is accounted for?

  29. Anonymous says:

    ‘The airline said there are established procedures in place to ensure that these pins are removed before flight but in this instance the pins were not.’

    comical….if it wasn’t so scary……
    just another day in the cayman wonderland……

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