.

Racial Preferences at United Airlines

Part 1:
UAL Accidents or Incidents Caused by
Underqualifed Quota Hires

UAL
Down: UAL Story Index
Index

Summary as of 8/1/03:

  • On June 28, 1998 an underqualified United quota hire damned near crashed a loaded Boeing 747-400 into San Bruno outside San Francisco airport.  During takeoff he mistook a failed engine for a blown tire on and took very inappropriate actions as a result.  There were 307 people aboard United Flight 863, and it cleared San Bruno by only 100 feet, according to the FAA.
  • Another underqualified United quota hire dumped hundreds of gallons of jet fuel into the air in order to "balance the fuel tanks" instead of directing fuel from the overloaded tank to the engines until the quantity was reduced.
  • Yet another underqualified United quota hire became so frightened of impending thunderstorms that she abandoned the cockpit, leaving a lone crew member to pilot the airplane.
  • Several underqualified United quota hires with limited English skills have had so much trouble communicating with the control tower that other crew members had to take over the communication.

 

Associated Press story as published in the
San Francisco Chronicle Saturday, March 20, 1999

(referring to incident #406180)

Headline:  Mishandled takeoff prompts new training for long-haul pilots

Author:  GLEN JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

1999 Associated Press
1999 San Francisco Chronicle

(03-20) 00:52 EST WASHINGTON (AP) -- A United Airlines jumbo jet that lost power in an engine during takeoff from San Francisco dipped low enough that its thunderous roar set off car alarms and sent airport neighbors scurrying for cover.

          The pilot of the Boeing 747 so badly mishandled the recovery last summer that the plane cleared the 1,576-foot-high San Bruno Mountain, a few miles to the north, by only 100 feet, government and airline officials said.

          ``Pull up! Pull up!'' shouted other pilots in the cockpit, as the electronic voice in the plane's ground-proximity device warned: ``Terrain! Terrain!''

          Now the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered new training for the airline's long-haul pilots. While all pilots must make at least three takeoffs and landings every 90 days, the crews that fly United's long trips must now make at least one set of them in a real plane, not the flight simulators routinely used.

          The problem is a simple one: Long trips entail a lot of flying but only one set of takeoffs and landings. Also, airlines send along two crews to guard against pilot fatigue, so pilots sitting at the controls for departure aren't the ones there for arrival.

          Because of that division of labor, the pilot flying United Flight 863 last summer had made only one takeoff and landing in a real plane during the previous year. When real trouble hit, government and airline investigators found, he reacted wrongly.

          Details on what happened on June 28 at San Francisco International Airport surfaced Friday in The Wall Street Journal. Because the pilots reported the incident through a voluntary self-disclosure program, neither the airline nor the government would comment extensively.

          The newspaper's account was gleaned through interviews and information gained via the Freedom of Information Act.

          The flight was to be flown in one of the most modern planes in the sky, the Boeing 747-400. It is distinctive because it has a lengthy upper deck and turned-up wing tips.

          The plane was destined for Sydney, Australia, with 307 people aboard. Up on the flight deck, there were two sets of pilots, one to relieve the other in flight. Both sets normally rest in bunks just off the flight deck.

          As Flight 863 lifted off the runway for its 14-hour, 25-minute journey, it was hit with one of the most practiced airplane emergencies, a failed engine. The plane's right inboard engine, one of four mounted on the wings, stalled. The co-pilot, who was flying the plane, correctly responded by shutting it down.

          What he did next created near-fatal problems.

          Because it was overpowered on the left, the plane started to turn to the right. The correct response would have been stepping on the left rudder pedal, which would straighten the nose. Instead the pilot aboard Flight 863 turned the control wheel to the left. That deployed panels on the plane's wing, reducing its lift.

          Suddenly the stick began to shake, an automatic warning indicating a loss of lift is imminent. ``Push down! Push down!'' the extra flight crew yelled, which would have implemented a tactic to gain speed.

          By then the plane was off course and headed for San Bruno Mountain. Now the ground-proximity device was belching its warning.

          Although the plane cleared the mountain, it startled nearby residents.

          ``I thought I was going to have to go under the couch,'' the Journal quoted one as saying.

          The captain soon took control and landed the plane safely back at the airport.

          In response to the near collision, United has filmed the scenario in a simulator and shown the videotape to its 9,500 pilots. It has also increased the frequency of refresher training for its 747-400 crews to twice a year, instead of once.

          In addition, the airline has formed a committee to study possible changes in how its long-haul aircraft should be manned.

          ``When we have a situation that's not routine, we try to use it to learn lessons,'' airline spokesman Andy Plews told The Associated Press.

          The FAA is satisfied with the changes and the real flight training it has ordered. It has no plans to change the rule that allows other airlines to complete the mandatory takeoff-and-landing practice in simulators.

          ``Each airline is different, and our experience is that with other airlines, which may not have as many long-haul flights, it may not be a problem for them,'' agency spokeswoman Alison Duquette said.

-30-

Last known link to original story:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/03/20/national0052EST0423.DTL


Report from FAA's ASRS reporting system
(ver batim, complete with funky formatting)

NASDAC BRIEF REPORT


GENERAL INFORMATION

Data Source: AVIATION SAFETY REPORTING SYSTEM
Report Number: 406810
Local Date(Yr/Mon): 199806
Local Day:
Local Quarter Time: 1801 To 2400
Facilty ID Nr Aircraft: SFO
State of Facility Nr Acft: CA
Magnetic Bearing (deg): 281
Facility Distance (nm): 1
Altitude AGL - LO(ft) 300
Altitude AGL - HI(ft) 500
Altitude MSL - LO(ft)
Altitude MSL - HI(ft)

 


Environmental/Location Information

Weather Conditions: IMC
Ceiling: 800
Light Condition: Night
Runway Vis - LO(ft):
Runway Vis - HI(ft):
Visual Range - LO (sm): 5
Visual Range - HI (sm): 5

SYNOPSIS

A B747-400 SUFFERS LOSS OF #3 ENG DURING TKOF FROM SFO. FLC SHUTS DOWN ENG, DUMPS FUEL, AND RETURN LAND AT DEP ARPT.


NARRATIVE

AFTER TKOF SFO RWY 28R, LOUD THUMPING NOISE ALONG WITH ACFT VIBRATION (FO FLYING). GEAR HAD JUST BEEN RETRACTED (APPROX 300 FT AGL). FIRST THOUGHT WAS TIRE FAILURE IN WHEEL WELL. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, #3 EGT BEGAN RAPID RISE ALONG WITH EGT WARNING. VIBRATION CONTINUED, FO STILL FLYING. I SHUT DOWN #3 (EGT APPROX 750 DEGS C). STOPPED EGT RISE AND VIBRATION. ASKED NON FLYING FO'S TO DO CHKLIST. RETURNED ATTN TO FLYING FO JUST AS STICK SHAKER COMMENCED. ALL 3 OTHER CREW MEMBERS TELLING HIM TO WATCH HIS SPD. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, WITH INTERMITTENT STICK SHAKER (SPD APPROX 160 KTS), RECEIVED GPWS WARNING, PULL UP, TERRAIN. TRACK HAD DRIFTED R OF PRESCRIBED COURSE FOR ENG OUT PROC. I TOOK OVER ACFT, PREVENTED STALL WHILE STILL ATTEMPTING TO CLB AND RETURN TO PRESCRIBED 295 DEG RADIAL OF VOR. TERRAIN WARNING INTERMITTENT (WE HAD ENTERED FOG AT DEP END OF RWY). BROKE OUT OF OVCST AT +/- 1000 FT MSL VFR CONDITIONS ON TOP. CLEANED UP ACFT, CLBED TO 5000 FT. RECEIVED DUMP VECTORS. DUMPED FUEL FOR APPROX 30 MINS. OPTED FOR OVERWT LNDG DUE TO FOG W OF ARPT. NORMAL 3 ENG APCH AND LNDG. GND EQUIP STANDING BY ADVISED EVERYTHING LOOKED NORMAL. TAXIED TO GATE. TKOF GROSS WT 860920 LBS. FUEL DUMPED TO 187000 LBS. FUEL 374000 LBS. BOEING 747-400. LNDG WT 670000 LBS. FO STATED HE FELT AS IF ACFT WAS NOT RESPONDING TO HIS INPUTS, WAS SURPRISED BY LACK OF PERFORMANCE AND DISTR BY STALL WARNING, ETC. PLEASE CALL FOR FURTHER INFO. MY ATTN SHOULD HAVE BEEN DIRECTED TO FO'S FLYING OF THE ACFT FIRST, THEN DEALING WITH ENG PROB. ALL THE VARIOUS ENG WARNINGS BROUGHT ME INTO THE COCKPIT INSTEAD OF HELPING FO FLY THE ACFT. SHOULD HAVE TAKEN OVER ACFT SOONER. SUPPLEMENTAL INFO FROM ACN 406808: SOON AFTER LIFTOFF AT ABOUT 300-500 FT, THE #3 ENG BEGAN COMPRESSOR STALLING AND THE EGT ROSE TO 750 DEGS C (THE LIMIT FOR TKOF IS 650 DEGS C). THE THROTTLE WAS RETARDED TO IDLE AND AN EMER WAS DECLARED WHILE FLYING THE ACR'S 3 ENG PROFILE WITH 20 DEGS FLAPS AND A GROSS WT OF 864000 LBS. ON DEP, STICK SHAKER, GPWS WERE ANNUNCIATED. AFTER FLAPS WERE RETRACTED AND THE ACFT ACCELERATED, VECTORS FOR FUEL DUMPING WERE REQUESTED. AFTER FUEL DUMPING, WE WERE VECTORED TO AN ILS FOR RWY 28R AND AN OVERWT LNDG WAS MADE WITH 30 DEGS FLAPS. NO KNOWN INJURIES OR DAMAGE TO THE ACFT. CALLBACK CONVERSATION WITH RPTR REVEALED THE FOLLOWING INFO: RPTR WAS ACTING AS RELIEF PLT AND WAS SITTING IN THE SEAT BTWN THE CAPT AND FO. HE HAD A GOOD VIEW OF EVERYTHING GOING ON. FLC EXPERIENCED LOSS OF ENG PWR ON #3 DURING INITIAL CLBOUT. THE LOUD THUMPING NOISE AND VIBRATION OCCURRED AT 300-500 FT AGL. HE NOTICED THE FLYING FO LOST 40 KIAS DURING THE INITIAL CLBOUT. THE OTHER RELIEF PLT AND HE BOTH SHOUTED OUT LOUD 'AIRSPD.' THIS CALLOUT GOT THE CAPT'S ATTN AND HE TURNED BACK TO SEE THE AIRSPD LOW. HE THEN TOOK CTL OF THE ACFT, HELD THE ACFT LEVEL UNTIL THE AIRSPD PICKED UP. THERE WAS NO LOSS OF ALT. THEN THE FLC TOOK ACTION TO DUMP FUEL. THE FLC DUMPED 30000 LBS OF FUEL AND RETURNED TO LAND OVERWT AT 690000 LBS AT SFO. IT WAS NOT KNOWN EXACTLY WHAT CAUSED THE ENG TO FAIL. SUPPLEMENTAL INFO FROM ACN 406322: I NOTED THE ACFT WAS HANDLING VERY SLUGGISH AND VERY SLOW TO CLB. INSTINCTIVELY, I PULLED THE NOSE UP JUST A BIT MORE TO CLB AWAY FROM THE GND. PERHAPS BY DOING THIS, AIRSPD WAS ALLOWED TO DECAY AND THUS THE STICK SHAKER SYS WAS ACTIVATED.


Aircraft Information


Findings For Aircraft Sequence 1


General Info

Acft Make/Model Desc: B747-400
Crew Count: 4 Or More
Passenger Count:
Aircraft Involved: Unique Event
Flight Conduct Rule: Part 121
Flight Purpose: Passenger


Operation Type

Carrier Operation: Air Carrier
GA Operation:
Other Operation:


Phase of Flight

Climbout: Initial
Climbout Other:
Cruise:
Other Cruise:
Descent:
Other Descent:
Ground:
Other Ground:
Landing
Other Landing:
Other Flight Phase: Emergency


Airspace Info

Class A:
Class B: SFO
Class C:
Class D:
Class E:
Class G:
Special Use:
Temp Use:

Findings

Anomaly Descriptors

Acft Equip Anomaly: Critical
ASP Anomaly:
Alt Dev Anomaly:
Cabin Event Anomaly:
Conflict Anomaly:
Excursion Anomaly:
Ground Encounter Anomaly:
Incursion Anomaly:
In-Flight Anomaly:
Maintenance Anomaly:
Non-Adherence Anomaly:
Non-Adherence Other Anomaly:
Other Anomaly:
Other Spatial Dev. Anomaly:


Anomaly Consequences

Consequence Desc:
Other Consequence Desc: Aircraft Damaged
Misc. Consequence Desc:


Anomaly Detected By

Controller A:
Controller B:
Crew A: Unspecified
Crew B:


Anomaly Resolution

Aircraft:
Controller:
Crew: Declared Emergency
Other Action:
No Action: Anomaly Accepted
Event Type: Unique Event

Reporter Information


Findings For Reporter Sequence 1


Reporter Function

Controller:
Flight Attendant:
Flight Crew: Captain
Instructor:
Maintenance:
Observer:
Other Personell:
Oversight: PIC
Reporter Activity: Monitoring

Findings For Reporter Sequence 2


Reporter Function

Controller:
Flight Attendant:
Flight Crew: First Officer
Instructor:
Maintenance:
Observer:
Other Personell:
Oversight:
Reporter Activity: Monitoring

Findings For Reporter Sequence 3


Reporter Function

Controller:
Flight Attendant:
Flight Crew: First Officer
Instructor:
Maintenance:
Observer:
Other Personell:
Oversight:
Reporter Activity: Pilot Flying

Findings For Reporter Sequence 4


Reporter Function

Controller:
Flight Attendant:
Flight Crew: First Officer
Instructor:
Maintenance:
Observer:
Other Personell:
Oversight:
Reporter Activity: Monitoring

END REPORT


Comments and Details from Readers
(by email, fax and telephone)
(edited to protect the authors' anonymity)

[From Reader "A", 2003]

          UAL has been the worst airline in in the past many years to hire young, inexperienced minorities over very experienced pilots.

          In 1999, a UAL 747 departed SFO, lost an engine on takeoff and came within 300' of hitting a hill in the Bay area.  This was a minority co-pilot flying the aircraft and the individual assumed they had blown tires on takeoff, rather than realizing that an engine failed on takeoff (much more critical than tires blowing out), and the result was improper technique in recovering from an engine failure which almost killed an estimated 3000 people in the Bay area.

          Rather than using the rudder in the aircraft to compensate for the yawing motion of the failed engine, the co-pilot used the aileron which after a certain number of degrees turn, causes spoilers to rise on the wing and therefore critically degrading the aircraft's performance and ability to climb ... this is something that is learned very early on in any experienced pilots aviation career (NTSB.GOV.....this site explains everything I just mentioned) UAL was very good at covering up the incident.

          As a final thought, I sure wish the public was more informed on the qualifications of many UAL pilots. It is not fair to the public that UAL has hired and placed these incompetent and inexperienced individuals in such a responsible position for the lives of so many.


[From Reader "A", 2003]

          The UAL 747 incident (NTSB.GOV lists this incident from I believe in 98') was being flown by a very low time quota hired individual [race / ethnicity unknown at this time], and inexperienced co-pilot. This individual believed that tires were being blown out on take off rather than being able to recognize that an engine had failed.

          Upon realizing the engine failure, the individual used the aileron to compensate for the yawing motion of the failed engine which is the proper procedure in a smaller twin engine propeller aircraft, however, can be fatal in a large jet aircraft, since spoilers are activated on the wing which increase drag and cripples an aircraft's ability to climb. Therefore, this aircraft came within 100' of crashing into terrain.

[Note: Many of the pilots this writer works with are former UAL pilots.]  Many of these [former UAL pilots] ... have stated that the issue of inexperience in minority pilots at UAL is unacceptable. The above incident in SFO was confirmed to me by a UAL 747 Captain that currently flies here with us, that this was a quota hired individual flying the 747 that nearly crashed in SFO.

          I can think of another situation whereby I sat in the cockpit of UAL B-727 and a minority pilot was trying to pick up a clearance on the radio to Chicago (while on the ground). This is something that any pilot should be able to do in their sleep. This particular individual had to have the captain help him in what to say and how to pick the clearance up. I was amazed. It was terrible to watch this individual embarrass the remainder of the crew like this. Another time I was riding in the back of a UAL Airbus. I tuned into channel 5 to listen to the on board communications which is provided between the aircraft and air traffic control. Once again, another minority co-pilot was doing the best he could do on the radio with his broken English. It was truly unacceptable.

          ... [T] he story that a minority pilot who thought he was transferring fuel from one tank to the other when in actuality he was dumping the fuel overboard on a 747 going across the Atlantic ... I have heard them second hand from UAL pilots.

[Another United Pilot verified this incident in a telephone conversation with me:

"A new female captain was flying left seat in a 737 with a check captain in the right seat. He noticed the wing tanks were imbalanced, and told her to balance them. She accomplished this task much faster than standard protocol would allow, and he asked her how she did that. "I dumped the fuel [into the atmosphere] from the fuller tank"!]


[Also from Reader "A", 2003]

          That is the incident [FAA report # 406810].  Based on this report, the co-pilot basically stalled the airplane. A few knots slower and he would have crashed the plane.

          Here's the funny thing......a friend of mine who flies the 777 at UAL told me that this co-pilot from the above incident was suing UAL at the time due to the harassment that he received from the other pilots regarding this situation.


[Anonymous Telephone Conversation with a United Pilot, 2003]: 

          A new female captain was flying left seat with a check pilot in the right seat. They had to detour around thunderstorms on approach. She became so upset at the turbulence and lightning that she left the cockpit, telling her check captain "Thunderstorms really upset me." She left the captain alone in the cockpit and assisted the flight attendants in taking care of the passengers.


[From Reader "B", 1998]  

          I am a Captain with American Airlines, and have been employed since 1985. AA has recently been set upon by the EEOC for supposedly "not having enough minorities and women" in its pilot ranks.

          The great majority of pilots have noticed a marked increase in women and minorities hired in the last 6 months, which has prompted mumblings about American "hiring only women and minorities."

          ... I recently flew with a co-pilot who also doubled as a training officer at our flight academy in Dallas/Ft. Worth.  He told me that ... a great deal, if not the great majority, of instructors are incensed by the "trash" which is coming through the door as a result.

          This is as much as I know about the situation, but similar tactics have been implemented in the past at United Airlines which have caused considerable problems in regards to the cohesiveness and quality of work life at that carrier. The reality is that we are simply hiring to satisfy an number, and obviously will not get the best product--which in my professional opinion is not only fool-hardy, but down right dangerous.

          ... [Y]ou should definitely research this EEOC abuse at not only American, but all other carriers. I guarantee, this policy of placing semi-qualified or even unqualified individuals into the cockpits of our nation's carriers is insane.

-- Reader "B"


[From Reader "B", 1998]

          However, AA is not as bad as United Airlines. They were decimated a few years ago when they took up the Multi-cultural banner. The hired people who should have never been allowed in a cockpit. They have really had their troubles ever since. It appears we are on the same course. I'll let you know of any information I gather on them.

-- Reader "B".


END:   (1) UAL Accidents or Incidents Caused by Quota Hires

UAL Quota Index           UAL Quota Index           UAL Quota Index:
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Introduction
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Accidents
Incidents
(2)
Reduced Training
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Racial Quota Policies
(4)
Minority Causes
(5)
NAACP involvement
(6)
Supplier Diversity
(7)
Diversity Panel
(8)
Minority Lawsuits

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