Turkish Airlines Flight 1951
The aircraft just after the crash, near the airport
|Date||25 February 2009|
|Summary||Stalled while landing at 400ft due to faulty Radio altimeter and pilot error|
|Site||North of the Polderbaan runway (18R/36L), near Amsterdam Airport Schiphol |
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737-8F2|
|Flight origin||Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey|
|Destination||Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Injuries||86 (including 5 serious)|
Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 (also known as the Poldercrash or the Schiphol Polderbaan incident) was a passenger flight that crashed during landing at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, on 25 February 2009, resulting in the death of nine passengers and crew, including all three pilots.
The aircraft, a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800, crashed into a field approximately 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) north of the Polderbaan runway, (18R), prior to crossing the A9 motorway inbound, at 09:26 UTC (10:26 CET), having flown from Istanbul, Turkey. The aircraft broke into three pieces on impact. The wreckage did not catch fire.
The crash was caused primarily by the aircraft's automated reaction, which was triggered by a faulty radio altimeter. This caused the autothrottle to decrease the engine power to idle during approach. The crew noticed this too late to take appropriate action to increase the thrust and recover the aircraft before it stalled and crashed. Boeing has since issued a bulletin to remind pilots of all 737 series and BBJ aircraft of the importance of monitoring airspeed and altitude, advising against the use of autopilot or autothrottle while landing in cases of radio altimeter discrepancies.
A New York Times investigation published in January 2020 in the aftermath of the Boeing 737 MAX groundings claimed that the Dutch Safety Board "either excluded or played down criticisms of the manufacturer in its final report after pushback from a team of Americans that included Boeing and federal safety officials...who said that certain pilot errors had not been 'properly emphasized'."
The aircraft operating Flight 1951 was a 7-year-old Next Generation Boeing 737-800 series model 8F2 with registration TC-JGE, named "Tekirdağ". Model 8F2 denotes the configuration of the 737-800 built for use by Turkish Airlines. It had 51 aircraft of this model in service at the time of the crash. The aircraft made its first flight on January 24, 2002, and was delivered to Turkish Airlines on March 27, 2002.
There were 128 passengers and 7 crew members on board (135 people, in total). The airliner was under the command of Instructor Captain Hasan Tahsin Arısan, aged 54. A former Turkish Air Force fleet commander, Captain Arısan had been working for Turkish Airlines since 1996 and was one of the most experienced pilots at the airline. He had over 5,000 hours of flight time on the F-4E Phantom II. Olgay Özgür was the safety pilot of the flight, a graduate of a flight school in Ankara, who flew the MD-80 for World Focus Airlines before joining Turkish Airlines and passing the 737 type rating in 2006; he was sitting in the cockpit's center jump seat. Murat Sezer, co-pilot under line training, was flying as co-pilot. The cabin crew consisted of Figen Eren, Perihan Özden, Ulvi Murat Eskin, and Yasemin Vural.
The flight was cleared for an approach on runway 18R (also known as the Polderbaan runway) but came down short of the runway threshold, sliding through the wet clay of a plowed field.
The aircraft suffered significant damage. Although the fuselage broke into three pieces, it did not catch fire. Both engines separated and came to rest 100 metres (300 ft) from the fuselage.
While several survivors and witnesses indicated that it took rescuers 20 to 30 minutes to arrive at the site after the crash, others have stated that the rescuers arrived quickly at the scene. About 60 ambulances arrived along with at least three LifeLiner helicopters (air ambulances, Eurocopter EC135), and a fleet of fire engines. An unconfirmed report by De Telegraaf states that the firefighters were at first given the wrong location for the crash site, delaying their arrival. Lanes of the A4 and A9 motorways were closed to all traffic to allow emergency services to quickly reach the site of the crash.
The bodies of the three cockpit crew members were the last to be removed from the plane, at around 20:00 that evening, because the cockpit had to be examined before it could be cut open to get to these crew members. Also, some of the survivors say that at least one of the pilots was alive after the crash. The relatives of the passengers on the flight were sent to Amsterdam by Turkish Airlines shortly afterward.
All flights in and out of Schiphol Airport were suspended, according to an airport spokeswoman. Several planes were diverted to Rotterdam The Hague Airport as well as to Brussels Airport. At about 11:15 UTC (12:15 CET), it was reported that the Kaagbaan runway (06/24) had been re-opened to air traffic, followed by the Buitenveldertbaan runway (09/27).
The investigation was led by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB, Dutch: Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid or OVV), and assisted by an expert team from Turkish Airlines and a representative team of the American NTSB, accompanied by advisors from Boeing and the FAA, Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation (SHGM), the operator, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, and the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA). The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were recovered quickly after the crash, after which they were transported to Paris to read out the data. The Dutch public prosecution initially asked the DSB to hand over the black boxes, but the DSB refused to do so. It stated that there was no indication of homicide, manslaughter, hijacking or terrorism, which would warrant an investigation by the prosecution.
While on final approach for landing, the aircraft was about 2,000 ft (610 m) above ground, when the left-hand (captain's) radio altimeter suddenly changed from 1,950 feet (590 m) to read −8 feet (−2.4 m) height, although the right-hand (co-pilot's) radio altimeter functioned correctly. The voice recording showed that the crew was given an audible warning signal ("TOO LOW!, GEAR!") that indicated that the aircraft's landing gear should be down, as the aircraft was, according to the radio altimeter, flying too low. Later, the safety board's preliminary report modified this analysis, indicating that the flight data recorder history of the captain's radio altimeter showed 8191 feet (the maximum possible recorded) until the aircraft descended through 1950, then suddenly showed negative 8 feet.
The throttles were pulled back to idle thrust to slow the aircraft to descend and acquire the glideslope, but the autothrottle unexpectedly reverted to "retard" mode, which is designed to automatically decrease thrust shortly before touching down on the runway at 27 feet (8.2 m) above runway height. At 144 kt, the pilots manually increased thrust to sustain that speed, but the autothrottle immediately returned the thrust lever to idle power because the first officer did not hold the throttle lever in position. The throttles remained at idle for about 100 seconds while the aircraft slowed to 83 knots (154 km/h), 40 knots (74 km/h) below reference speed as the aircraft descended below the required height to stay on the glideslope. The stick-shaker activated at about 150 metres (490 ft) above the ground, indicating an imminent stall, the autothrottle advanced, and the captain attempted to apply full power. The engines responded, but there was not enough altitude or forward airspeed to recover, and the aircraft hit the ground tail-first at 95 knots (176 km/h).
The data from the flight recorder also showed that the same altimeter problem had happened twice during the previous eight landings but that on both occasions the crew had taken the correct action by disengaging the autothrottle and manually increasing the thrust. Investigations are under way to determine why more action had not been taken after the altimeter problem was detected. In response to the preliminary conclusions, Boeing issued a bulletin, Multi-Operator Message (MOM) 09-0063-01B, to remind pilots of all 737 series and Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) aircraft of the importance of monitoring airspeed and altitude (the "primary flight instruments"), advising against the use of autopilot or autothrottle while landing in cases of radio altimeter discrepancies. Following the release of the preliminary report, Dutch and international press concluded that pilot inattention caused the accident, though several Turkish news publications still emphasized other possible causes.
It was reported that the first officer survived the accident, but that rescuers were unable to reach him via the cockpit door, owing to security measures introduced in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The rescuers eventually cut their way into the cockpit through the roof, by which time the first officer had died.
The final report was released on 6 May 2010. The Dutch Safety Board stated that the approach was not stabilized; hence, the crew ought to have initiated a go-around. The autopilot followed the glide slope while the autothrottle reduced thrust to idle, owing to a faulty radio altimeter showing an incorrect height. This caused the airspeed to drop and the pitch attitude to increase; all this went unnoticed by the crew until the stick shaker activated. Prior to this, air traffic control caused the crew to intercept the glide slope from above; this obscured the erroneous autothrottle mode and increased the crew's workload. The subsequent approach to stall recovery procedure was not executed properly, causing the aircraft to stall and crash. Turkish Airlines disputed the crash inquiry findings on stall recovery.
There were nine fatalities and a total of 117 injuries, 11 of them serious.(p29,178–180) Five of the deceased victims were Turkish citizens, including the pilot, the co-pilot, a trainee pilot and one member of the cabin crew. Four were Americans, of whom three have been identified as Boeing employees stationed in Ankara and working on an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) program for the Turkish military.
The plane carried 53 passengers from the Netherlands, 51 from Turkey, seven from the United States, three from the United Kingdom, one each from Germany, Bulgaria, and Italy, and one from either Thailand or Taiwan.
Following media speculation, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office in Haarlem confirmed in April 2009 to Agence France-Presse that instructions were given following the crash to remove four Boeing laptops from the wreckage, and that the laptops were handed over to the US embassy in The Hague. According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the Boeing employees onboard were in possession of confidential military information.
Turkish media outlets such as Hürriyet, Anadolu Agency, Radikal, and Sözcü, among others, have also reported that the Boeing employees onboard were in possession of confidential military information, and that the rescue response was delayed (as indicated by survivors and witnesses) because American officials had specifically requested from Dutch authorities that no one was to approach the wreckage until after the confidential information was retrieved.
The then CEO of Turkish Airlines Temel Kotil had also stated that a Turkish Airlines employee stationed at Schiphol Airport had arrived at the crash site with their apron-access airport identification but was prevented from reaching the wreckage, and was handcuffed and detained by Dutch authorities after resisting.
While the De Telegraaf article and some Turkish sources allege that FBI or CIA agents were on-site for recovery, this was refuted by the prosecutor's office.
Both jet engines separated, coming to rest 100 metres (330 ft) from the fuselage
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A common malfunction with Boeing radio altimeters, compounded by several errors by pilots, led to last year's fatal crash by a Turkish Airlines plane as it dropped short of the runway at Amsterdam's airport, according to investigators' final report released Thursday.
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According to recorded conversation involving the plane's captain, first officer and an apprentice pilot in the cockpit, the faulty altimeter was noticed but wasn't considered a problem.
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Alleen wanneer er sprake is van „moord, doodslag, gijzeling of terrorisme” is de onderzoeksraad, volgens Van Vollenhoven, verplicht om dat te melden bij het OM. Dat is vooralsnog niet het geval en het OM krijgt de gevraagde gegevens niet, zo maakte Van Vollenhoven duidelijk in het tv-programma Nova
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|Wikinews has related news: Airplane crashes at Schiphol Airport; 9 killed|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Turkish Airlines Flight 1951.|
|Photos of TC-JGE at airliners.net|
|Photos of TC-JGE from AirDisaster.com|
- Dutch Safety Board
- Turkish Airlines
- Skybrary: Human Factors / Loss of Control
- Google Earth flight path
- Google Maps flight path (openATC)
- Flight tracker
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- The record of last radio call between ATC and the crew. (site in Turkish)
- Radartrack crashed airplane
- Associated Press: on YouTube (video)
- BBC World News: on YouTube (video)
- "Nine dead, 84 injured in Turkish Airlines plane crash in Amsterdam". Hurriyet Daily News Online. 25 February 2009.