Sunday, January 18, 2009

Aviation thoughts on Sunday afternoon

Carlos Dardano

Sully, meet Carlos Dardano.

Long before we had the Hero of the Hudson, there was another cap who pulled off a miracle landing in a situation similar to the US Airways splash landing earlier this week.

Dardano was piloting TACA Airlines flight 110, a Boeing 737, on May 24, 1988 when it encountered heavy thunderstorms and hail on descent into New Orleans. Both engines flamed out upon absorbing an intense amount of the wet weather.

A flame-out is a little different than the bird strike encountered by US Airways 1549 -- the engine "fire" is essentially snuffed out as opposed to a structural failure -- but ultimately the results were the same.

The engines stopped working.

TACA 110 got its engines re-started while descending through 4,000 feet, but they would not spool past idle. So they weren't of much use. As the 737 glided through 3,000 feet, Dardano declared an emergency. Air traffic control advised 110 there was an interstate directly ahead, but Dardano didn't think they could reach it.

In fact, with more echoes of the US Airways splash, Dardano replied with these intentions, according to the NTSB report on the crash:
"I don't believe we're going to make it there, sir. We're at 2,000 and we're losing altitude. The only thing I can do right now is make a 360 and I'll land over the water."
What actually happened?

Dardano dead-sticked the 737 not into the water, but somehow landed on a levee next to Lake Borgne. Emergency chutes deployed; all aboard were saved. It was a heck of a feat, one that is just as incredible if not moreso than the landing US Airways accomplished the other day.

Especially considering that he switched plans from water to levee with less than 1,000 feet to spare while guiding a 50-ton anvil.

A few days later, mechanics came out to the plane on the levee and put new engines on it; they actually took off from the levee and the plane is still in service.

Much like the frozen turkey test described in my previous post, engines are also tested for water endurance. They basically open up the nozzles on giant fire hoses and flood the engine. As a result of this incident, though, the FAA rewrote engine water-intake standards.

Would love to be a fly on the wall if Sully and Dardano ever met up for a few beers.


A couple of aviation-related questions that I have:
  • TACA flight 110 departed Belize City for New Orleans. Who runs a nonstop from Belize City to New Orleans, even 20 years ago?
  • In regard to the US Airways crash the other day, I have yet to read where and how high 1549 was when it hit the flock of geese that led to its swim. I'm really looking forward to the voice recorder release and NTSB initial report and getting more intel on the point of impact.
  • US Airways 1549 came to rest a few hundred feet north of the Lincoln Tunnel. What would have happened if the Airbus and/or its engines sunk and came to rest on top of the tunnel?
  • Granted, there's a few bajillion pounds of water on top of the tunnel already. Would a few tons of aluminum make a big difference? I have no idea. But I'd love to hear a structural engineer answer the question of whether the tunnel would be compromised.



At 10:34 AM, Blogger CAD88 said...

That's not Cap. Dardano's picture! Pleas be accurate when you give information about somebody that you don't even know!
More info about Cap.Dardano and pics are at:


Post a Comment

<< Home