Monday, 25 February 2019

Atlas Air 767 crash.........................................crew named.

Photo  By Nathan Coats from Seattle
A full investigation is underway into why a Boeing 767 aircraft of cargo carrier Atlas Air, operating an Amazon Prime delivery flight crashed in Texas on Saturday, February 23rd.

The Atlas Air Worldwide aeroplane was operating Flight No. 3591 from Miami to Houston, at around 1236 local time, radio and radar contact was lost with the aircraft. According to investigators, no distress call was received from the crew and the aircraft came down near the city of Anahuac Texas, into the north end of Trinity Bay. 

According to eyewitnesses, the aircraft appeared to nosedive from a height into the bay and officials have stated debris is scattered over a three-mile stretch.  Initial reports say the 767 was descending normally for its approach to Houston, then at 6300 feet, it went into an incredibly rapid descent. There were three people onboard the aircraft at the time of the crash and two bodies have been retrieved from the water at the crash site. Divers are currently searching the site for the flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

It is understood that a video of the final moments, filmed by an eyewitness, of the flight has been handed to investigators from US NTSB, which show the aircraft in a nose down attitude, showing no signs of recovery being made. 

The president of the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224, union confirmed that the three on the aircraft were union members, "Our union stands together as a family and in support of our members' families. Our focus is on our friends and colleagues who were on that plane, and we are doing everything we can to support their families." said Daniel C. Wells.

The makers of the crash 767, Boeing also issued a statement on the crash, "Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the crew on board Atlas Air Flight 3591, a 767 cargo aeroplane that crashed near Anahuac, Texas, on February 23. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the crew and stand ready to support the Atlas Air team. Boeing has launched a team to provide technical assistance to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board as the agency conducts its investigation."

Whilst operators, Atlas Air said "Everyone within the company is deeply saddened by this event. Our main priority at this time is caring for those affected and we will ensure we do all we can to support them now and in the days and weeks to come." The airline was focusing on supporting the families of those onboard the aircraft and had sent a special team to assist with the investigation.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected,” said Bill Flynn, Atlas Air Chief Executive Officer. “This is a sad time for all of us. Our team continues to work closely with the NTSB, the FAA and local authorities on the ground in Houston. We would like to commend the efforts of all of the first responders. We sincerely appreciate their efforts and support in the investigation.”

The aircraft was nearly 27 years old and had flown with LAN airlines for 19 years, prior to that it had flown with China Southern Airlines. The aircraft had only been converted to a freighter aircraft in 2017 after being purchased by Atlas Air.  According to sources, the twinjet had operated some 23,000 flights during its lifetime, with around 90,000 flight hours. 

Whilst there has been no official confirmation of the identities on the stricken flight, they have been named locally as first officer, Conrad Jules Aska, flight aircrafts commander, captain Ricky Blakely. The third person on the aircraft was Sean Archuleta, a pilot for Mesa Airlines who was returning home from work on the aircraft's jumpseat, a practice common in the US aviation industry. It is understood the 36-year-old leaves behind a 6-month-old son and was on the cusp of embarking on a new career with United.

"This is a sad day for the entire Mesa Family as we mourn the loss of Captain Sean Archuleta," Jonathan Ornstein, chairman and chief executive officer of Mesa Airlines said after the news broke. "Our thoughts are with Sean's family, the families of the two Atlas Air pilots, and the whole Atlas Air organisation. This is a loss for all of aviation."