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US Airways Flight 1702
US Airways Flight 1702 (US1702/AWE1702) was a scheduled domestic passenger flight which was involved in an aircraft accident which occurred during take-off from Philadelphia International Airport on March 13, 2014. The Airbus A320-200 operated by US Airways had 154 people on board: 149 passengers and 5 crew members.
After a lengthy investigation the National Transportation Safety Board released its findings that pilot error contributed to the accident. The accident report stated the captain's conducting an abnormal takeoff and his decision to abort the takeoff after the aircraft had already become airborne caused the accident. As of late 2017 neither the captain nor first officer had been re-instated to flight status by the airline (now American Airlines following a merger).
The aircraft involved, registered N113UW (MSN 1141), was an Airbus A320-200 that first flew on November 22, 1999 and was delivered new to US Airways. The aircraft had accumulated 19,932 cycles as of the end of December 2013.
Before pushback from the gate, the first officer, who was the pilot monitoring, initialized the flight management system (FMS) and mistakenly entered the incorrect departure runway 27R instead of the assigned 27L. As the captain taxied the aircraft to runway 27L he noticed the incorrect input and asked the first officer to correct the error, which she did. However the first officer did not enter the FLEX temperature or the related V speeds for the newly entered runway. As a result, the FMS' ability to execute a FLEX power takeoff was invalidated, and V speeds did not appear on the primary flight displays (PFDs) or the multipurpose control display unit during the takeoff roll.
Once the aircraft was cleared for takeoff the captain set FLEX power and did not notice any abnormalities. Once the aircraft reached 56 knots indicated airspeed the flight crew received a single level-two caution chime and an electronic centralised aircraft monitor (ECAM) message indicating that the engines' thrust was not set correctly. The first officer called "engine thrust levers not set". The captain responded "they're set".
As the aircraft continued to accelerate, the first officer did not make a call out at 80 knots, as required. As the aircraft reached 86 knots the automated "RETARD" aural alert sounded. The captain later said he did not hear the alert. The aircraft rotated at 164 knots and suffered a tailstrike; the aircraft climbed to between 20–30 feet in altitude then the captain entered the aircraft in a nose down attitude, then immediately afterward achieved a 6.7 degree nose-high attitude. The aircraft descended until the nose gear and right main gear impacted the runway, causing the aircraft to bounce 15 feet back into the air before descending rapidly. The aircraft touched down heavily on its nose landing gear first which caused the front gear to collapse. The aircraft then slid down the runway and came to rest off to the left side. The crew then evacuated the cabin immediately as a small oil fire broke out in the left engine, which was quickly extinguished by fire crews.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) crews were on scene within hours. The aircraft remained at its resting place for 14 hours while the scene was photographed and investigators started the aircraft inspection. The aircraft was then towed to a hangar where it remained for most of the investigation. Early reports from the airline and media were that the nose landing gear collapsed, causing the aircraft to skid down the runway. However upon interviewing the flight crew and analyzing data from the flight recorders, the NTSB determined that the aircraft had rotated, climbed and descended until it hit the runway. In the final NTSB report it was stated, once the "RETARD" alert was heard, the aircraft was unable and unsafe to fly and the takeoff should have been aborted.
US Airways initially said that the accident was caused by a blown tire. The airline stood behind this claim until the FAA released a video showing the aircraft leaving the ground then impacting the runway nose first and the nose landing gear collapsing. In a statement following the release of the investigation findings US Airways said it would increase the training of its pilots on how to abort and what to do once airborne. As of 2017 the airline had not brought back the pilots involved in the incident.
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