Plane & Pilot
Thursday, January 1, 2004

Take A Good Look

Step back during the preflight and make sure the controls are in line

By 7:49:15, the airplane’s pitch had increased to 18.3 degrees ANU and the control column position was at 16.2 degrees forward of vertical.

FDR data indicated that the aircraft entered a left turn that steepened to about 35 degrees within about 10 seconds, almost immediately after it lifted off.

About 7:49:19, the CVR recorded the first officer stating, “We’re going back—CG’s way [sic] out of limits.”

Two seconds later, the CVR recorded a sound similar to decreasing engine rpm, followed by a sound similar to the airplane’s stall warning stick-shaker.

About 7:49:36, the CVR recorded the captain advising Sacramento TRACON that the flight had an emergency. About 7:49:40, the CVR recorded the first officer stating, “You steer. I’m pushing,” while Sacramento TRACON asked the pilots to repeat their radio message.

At 7:49:46, the CVR recorded a sound similar to increased engine rpm, followed almost immediately by the ground proximity warning system’s (GPWS) “whoop, whoop, pull up” audible alert and the first officer’s call for “Power.” According to FDR data, at this time the airplane was descending through 679 feet MSL in a steepening left bank of about 11 degrees. The recorded control column position was about 14 degrees forward of vertical and the elevator surface deflection was about 10 degrees TEU. FDR data showed that the airplane continued to descend until about 7:49:50, when it reached about 601 feet MSL and began to climb again.

About 7:49:52, as the airplane climbed through 625 feet MSL, the GPWS audible alert ceased and the captain stated, “All right, all right—all right.”

About 7:49:54, as the airplane climbed through 673 feet MSL, the first officer stated, “Push” and the flight engineer stated, “Okay, so, we’re going back up.”

As the airplane’s altitude was increasing, its left bank also increased, reaching about 45 degrees between 7:49:55 and 7:49:56, then began to decrease.

About 7:49:57, the CVR recorded the flight engineer stating, “There you go,” then the captain stating, “Roll out,” followed by an unidentified crewmember saying, “Roll out” and the sound of a strained exhale.

About 7:50:10, as the airplane was rolling out of its left bank on a heading of about 022 degrees, the CVR recorded the sound of another strained exhale.

About 7:50:11, the flight engineer asked, “Anything I can do, guys?” and the captain stated, “Roll out to the right.”

About 7:50:12, the CVR recorded the first officer stating, “Okay, push.” For the next four seconds, the airplane continued to fly on a north-northeasterly heading, approximately parallel to the departure runway at an altitude of about 1,000 feet MSL. About 7:50:16, the CVR recorded a crewmember stating, “Push forward.”


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