Belavia Flight 1834
EW-101PJ, the aircraft involved in the accident at Prague Ruzyně Airport on August 2007
|Date||February 14, 2008|
|Summary||Wing contamination (ice) leading to loss of lift and stall after takeoff|
|Site||Zvartnots International Airport, Yerevan, Armenia|
|Aircraft type||Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-100ER|
Belavia Flight 1834 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Yerevan, Armenia, to Minsk, Belarus, operated by Belavia. On the morning of February 14, 2008, the Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet carrying 18 passengers and three crew crashed and burst into flames shortly after take off from Zvartnots International Airport near Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
The jet hit its left wing on the runway during takeoff, crashed to the ground, flipped over, and came to rest inverted near the runway. All passengers and crew managed to escape the aircraft before it erupted into flames, partly due to the timely response of the fire and rescue crews. There were no fatalities, but seven people were taken to hospital for treatment.
Aircraft and crew
The aircraft involved, EW-101PJ (MSN 7316), was a 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-100ER. It was a fairly new member of the fleet since it was leased by the airline and delivered in February 2007. The aircraft was built in 1999.
There were 10 Armenians, five Georgians, a Russian, a Ukrainian, and a Belarusian among the passengers. The Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) final report in Russian found that seven passengers received serious injuries while the remaining 11 passengers and three crew were unhurt. There were no fatalities.
The airplane had arrived at Yerevan two hours before scheduled departure and was preparing for departure as flight B2-1834 from Yerevan (Armenia) to Minsk (Belarus) with 18 passengers and three crew. Refueling was done in automatic mode 25 minutes after landing, and 2,200 liters (1,802 kg) of Jet-A-1 fuel were added to the tanks. Due to reported reducing visibility at the main alternate airport, the crew decided to add another 400 liters of fuel about 30 minutes later during flight preparations.
The first officer performed the preflight check of the aircraft about 15 minutes after landing (and before refueling) and found all aerodynamics surfaces clean and dry by visual inspection as well as by touching the surfaces with the palm of his hand. The report  mentioned that weather conditions that are susceptible to frost contamination require the pilot in command to perform the preflight walk-around.
The weather at the time was: winds from 110 degrees at 2 knots (4 km/h; 1 m/s), visibility 3500 meters (11500 feet) in light haze, clouds overcast at 790 m (2,600 ft) scattered at 3,000 m (9,800 ft), temperature -3 °C, dew point -4 °C and QNH 1019 hPa. The crew computed V speeds of V1 at 137 knots (254 km/h), VR at 139 knots (257 km/h) and V2 at 145 knots (269 km/h). After engine start the crew activated the anti-ice systems of the engines, but the wing anti-ice systems were not activated.
The airplane banked progressively left after liftoff until the left wing touched the ground with the airplane veering left of the runway, rolled right separating the right hand wing, crossed the runway rolling on its back and disintegrated coming to rest right of the runway. Leaking fuel triggered a ground fire, which was quickly brought under control by the airport fire fighters.
Gayane Davtyan, a spokeswoman for the General Department of Civil Aviation of Armenia said that the jet, operated by the Belarusian airline Belavia, hit its left wing on the runway during takeoff and erupted into flames.
Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport was temporarily closed after the crash, which took place at 04:15 local time. As of 10:30 local time, the airport was still closed while arrivals were being diverted to Gyumri's Shirak Airport. The first plane expected to land at Zvartnots was from Tehran at 11:30 local time.
Initial speculation pointed to icing on the wings which caused the left wing to stall upon lift-off. Icing conditions were reported at the airport during the crash, and the CRJs are very prone to wing contamination and icing since they do not have any leading edge devices.
The Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) performed a test employing a CRJ-900 registration D-ACKK to assess the accumulation and freeze of atmospheric moisture with large temperature differences between the ambient air and the remaining fuel in the tanks after landing. It was found that ice accumulated on the underside of the wing immediately after landing and grew 25 minutes after landing upon refueling. The upper side of the wing showed dew accumulation after refueling. The fuel temperature at the time of arrival was measured at -21 °C, and before departure at -12 °C with an ambient temperature of plus 8 °C.
At the time of the accident it could therefore be assumed that the temperature of the fuel in EW-101PJ never got above -12 °C with an ambient temperature of -3 °C.
- The asymmetric loss of aerodynamics properties of the wing during takeoff, which resulted in stalling the aircraft immediately after liftoff, the left wing contacting the runway and the subsequent destruction and fire.
- The reason for the loss of aerodynamics properties of the wing in the current weather conditions was frost contaminating the surfaces of the wings. The cause of the frost contamination was, most likely, the temperature difference of air and cold fuel in the tanks.
- Takeoff below the recommended safe speed for contaminated wings aggravated the situation.
- The current standard procedures to examine the aerodynamic surfaces before departure, along with the inefficiency, can not fully guarantee the preventions of similar accidents during takeoff in the future because of the high sensitivity of the wing, that does not permit even a slight contamination of the leading edge.
- Deicing of the wings as required by an Airworthiness Directive by Transport Canada (Canada's Civil Aviation Authority) in the actual weather conditions released after another similar accident most likely could have prevented the accident.
- Final report, section 1.2, page 12.
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- Tanner, Clinton E. (September 2007). "The effect of Wing Leading Edge Contamination on the Stall Characteristics of aircraft". SAE Aircraft and Engine Icing International Conference, Session: Airplane De / Anti-icing Operations - Part I. Seville, Spain: SAE. doi:10.4271/2007-01-3286.
- "CRJ-100LR (CL-600-2B19) 14.02.2008." (Archive) Interstate Aviation Committee (Russian)
- "Пресс-релиз Национальной авиакомпании «Белавиа»." Belavia. 14 February 2008. (Russian)
- Photos of the aircraft involved at Airliners.net
- Belavia Airlines Accident In Yerevan, 21 Injured
- Reports: No Fatalities in Armenian CRJ Takeoff Crash 2008-02-14
- Crash: Belavia CRJ100 at Yerevan on Feb 14th 2008, wing tip strike during takeoff
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