[FoRK] 4-1 uh-oh

Joe Barrera joe
Tue Jun 14 15:13:40 PDT 2005

I think there's a lesson here.


Airlink Crew Pushed Jet's Limits Prior To Crashing
NTSB Hears of High-Altitude Stunts

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 14, 2005; A13

The flight crew of a Northwest Airlink commuter jet that crashed last 
fall into a residential area near Jefferson City, Mo., took the plane on 
a joyride to 41,000 feet and joked about having pushed it to its limits 
just before its two engines blew out, a transcript of the cockpit voice 
recorder revealed yesterday.

The crew was flying the plane without passengers to its next day's 
departure site when it crashed on Oct. 14, 2004. The captain and the 
first officer died in the crash. No one on the ground was hurt.

The National Transportation Safety Board released the transcript and 
heard from witnesses yesterday as part of a three-day hearing on the 
crash. The board has not determined the cause of the crash.

The crew's hijinks began shortly after takeoff from Little Rock, Ark., 
according to the plane's data recorder. On the ascent, the crew 
performed an abrupt pitch-up maneuver, pulling 1.8 Gs and activating a 
system that protects against the engines stalling. The crew members then 
apparently switched seats and pulled up again, resulting in a load of 
2.3 Gs.

Later, Capt. Jesse Rhodes, 31, and co-pilot Richard Peter Cesarz, 23, 
decided to take the plane up to its maximum altitude of 41,000 feet, 
which they referred to as 4-1-0.

"There's my four one oh oh my man," said the co-pilot, according to the 
transcript. "yeah. . . . [sound of laughing] this is [unintelligible] 

"You'll get the, you'll do the next one to say four one oh," the captain 
said. "[Unintelligible] Yeah baby."

"[Sound of laughing] Four one oh [expletive] Four one oh."

Minutes later, the air traffic controller questioned why the regional 
jet was flying so high. "We don't, we don't have any passengers on board 
so we decided to have a little fun and come on up here," Rhodes said, 
according to the transcript.

Seconds later, laughter in the cockpit ceased as the crew quickly 
realized they had a problem. Both engines cut out at the plane's maximum 
altitude and the men made four desperate attempts to get them restarted. 
"We don't have any engines," one of them said, but it was unclear from 
the recording which one said it.

The crew declared an emergency to air traffic control and initially 
reported only one engine out as they tried to recover. With the plane 
gliding back to earth, the crew tried to find the nearest airport for a 
landing. The aircraft crashed two miles short of Jefferson City Memorial 
Airport in Missouri.

Pinnacle Airlines, which operated the aircraft as Northwest Airlink, the 
commuter service for Northwest Airlines, said its rules do not permit 
flight crew members to switch seats while in flight. "We are 
disappointed [the transcript] revealed that they chose to violate their 
training and the rules of basic airmanship," Pinnacle said in a written 
statement. "We are determined that these actions do not recur and have 
instituted meaningful and pragmatic safeguards as a result."

NTSB board member Deborah A.P. Hersman, who served as chairman of the 
hearing yesterday, asked Pinnacle whether it was aware of a so-called 
"4-1-0 club."

"I heard some pilots like to go there who had never been to 4-1-0 
before," said Terry Mefford, Pinnacle's chief airline pilot. "I hadn't 
heard about it until this accident."

Terry McVenes, executive air safety chairman of the Air Line Pilots 
Association, said the accident raised concerns about the training and 
experience of pilots at swiftly expanding regional airlines. "These 
high-growth regional carriers are often getting crews that don't have 
the depth of experience they'd typically have" at major airlines, 
McVenes said. He urged more thorough training and safety programs for 
such carriers.

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