Says Tear "Consistent" With Damage Caused By Foreign
Investigators with the National
Transportation Safety Board are looking closely at the possibility
baggage handlers at Syracuse Hancock International Airport
accidentally caused a 12-inch gash in the side of a DC-9 earlier
this month, that later forced the plane to make an emergency
landing in Buffalo, NY.
As ANN reported, the
Detroit-bound flight with 95 persons onboard landed safely at BUF
on May 18, due to the loss of cabin pressure and a smoke-filled
cockpit after the plane climbed through 19,000 feet. No one was
injured in the incident.
In its preliminary report issued this week, the NTSB does not
point a finger of blame... but its presentation of the facts of the
incident certainly hints at errors by the ground crew.
"The postflight inspection revealed a 12-inch by 5-inch fuselage
skin tear, approximately 6 feet forward of the forward cargo door,"
the report states. "Further inspection revealed that a crease in
the skin of the fuselage existed forward of the tear, consistent
with the skin being damaged by a foreign object."
The NTSB adds Northwest conducted its own investigation, and
arrived at that conclusion as well. "According to Northwest
Airlines personnel, the height of the damage on the airplane was
approximately the same height as the top of the cab of a baggage
cart tug used by contract personnel to load passenger luggage onto
the airplane," said the safety board.
If all of this sounds like it's happened before, it's because it has. Last
year, an Alaska Airlines MD-80 experienced a similar loss of cabin
pressure while climbing through 26,000 feet on a flight from
Seattle to Los Angeles.
Like the Northwest crew, those pilots secured their plane, and
made haste down to breathable altitudes. The plane then returned to
SeaTac, where investigators discovered a six-inch hole in the area
where the skin had been creased by a luggage cart driven by a
contract worker for Menzies Aviation.
According to the NTSB, the DC-9 in question -- built in 1969 --
had come out of its annual airworthiness inspection the
day before the incident. The plane had 83,091 hours on the