This September 2008 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Lockheed P2V-7. Injuries: 3 Fatal. Location: Reno, Nev. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The airplane was being used for a fire retardant drop mission. Before the takeoff the captain said he would make the takeoff. He issued a takeoff briefing concerning the runway to be used and his intentions should an emergency develop. But before the takeoff the captain instructed the co-pilot to make the takeoff. On the cockpit voice recorder, before the takeoff the co-pilot states “same briefing” and there was the sound of laughter on the tape. The co-pilot did not give an additional takeoff briefing and the captain did not ask the co-pilot to give one. During the initial climb, the captain said he detected a fire on the left side of the airplane. The co-pilot responded that he was holding full right aileron. At no point did either pilot call for the jettisoning of the retardant load as required by company operating procedures, or verbally enunciate the jet engine fire emergency checklist. Recorded data showed that the airplane’s airspeed then decayed below the minimum air control speed, which resulted in an increased roll rate to the left and impact with terrain.
The post-accident inspection revealed that the 11th stage compressor disc of the left jet engine failed in flight. This caused a catastrophic failure of the compressor section and the initiation of the engine fire. Metallurgical examination of the fracture identified several origin points at scratches in the surface finish of the disk. The scratches were too small to have been observed with the approved inspection procedures used by the company. A review of the FAA sanctioned Approved Aircraft Inspection Program revealed no shortcomings or anomalies in the performance or documentation of the program.
Probable cause: The failure of the flight crew to maintain airspeed above in-flight minimum control speed after losing power in the left engine during initial climb after takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the crew’s inadequate cockpit resource management procedures, the failure of the captain to assume command of the airplane during the emergency, the flight crew’s failure to carry out the jet engine fire emergency procedure, and the failure of the crew to jettison the retardant load.
For more information: NTSB.gov