Three dead in Georgia commuter crash
  August 21, 1995

plane nose

CARROLLTON, Ga. (CNN) -- Survivors reported that take- off began well enough, but the smooth ride ended abruptly minutes later when a commuter plane crashed into a Georgia hayfield Monday.

Two people died at the scene and a third died later in a Chattanooga, Tenn., hospital. Twenty-six were in the crash of an Atlanta Southeast Airlines plane near Georgia's border with Alabama. Flight 7529 was en route from Atlanta, Georgia to Gulfport, Mississippi when it went down. (298k aiff sound file)

The plane was apparently attempting to land at West Georgia Regional Airport after the pilot reported engine trouble, the FAA said.

The plane broke up into four sections, with the passenger compartment in cinders. It crashed into a field 50 yards away from the home of Paul Butler, who told CNN he was reading at the time and heard two booms, but said the last thing he expected to find was a plane crash.

He said he went outside and saw fires and people running-- some of them in flames.

Scott Eason, who was near the field where the plane crashed, said a flight attendant told him that "we lost an engine." Eason said he and a friend arrived on the scene to see passengers milling around. Injuries ranged from minor cuts to "several people who were badly burned." (315k aiff sound file)

Eason said the middle of the plane was destroyed and both the front and the tail were on fire when fire crews from Carollton arrived.

Two people, including the pilot, died on the scene. A third victim, 69-year-old Lucille Burton, died at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. She had suffered burns over 100 percent of her body in the crash. Two other crash victims are listed in extremely critical condition in the Erlanger burn unit.

Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton said it had received 15 of the injured. Another 11 were carried to nearby Bowdon Area Hospital where nine of those were considered in stable condition.

ASA flight 7529 was carrying 26 passengers and a crew of three., said Christy Williams of the FAA. The plane was a twin-engine Brazilian-made Embraer 120 aircraft with one empty seat.

ASA has had two other fatal plane crashes in its history, both involving the Embraer 120 model--including an April 5, 1991 crash in Brunswick, Ga., that left 23 dead, including ex-Sen. John Tower, shortly after he was forced to withdraw as President Bush's choice to be defense secretary.

In that crash, a propeller malfunction caused the crew to lose control of the aircraft, FAA records show.

The Embraer 120 also has been involved in two other fatal accidents -- a Sept. 11, 1991 crash of a Continental Express in Eagle Lake, Texas, that killed 14, and an April 9, 1990 crash in Gadsden, Ala.. in which two of the nine passengers on the ASA flight were killed.

FAA records showed the plane involved in Monday's crash had no history of accidents or violations.

The craft took off from Atlanta at 12:28 p.m. for an hour and 35 minute flight to Gulfport. Controllers said they lost radar contact at 12:45 p.m. shortly after the pilot reported engine trouble. The wreckage was located at 1:10 p.m.

An investigation team from the National Transportation Safety Board is on its way to the site.

ASA is a private company that provides a connector service for Delta Airlines customers

  A Survivors Tale
Posted on Tuesday, November 02 @ 08:42:04  

God, Please Let Me Die Quickly!

All passengers for Flight #7529 to Gulfport should now board the aircraft.” I had arrived early at the Atlanta airport, so the announcement was a welcomed sign that my routine business trip would soon be underway. I found my seat and settled in for a peaceful reading of the sports page. After takeoff, the pleasant gentleman next to me dozed off. We were on our way to Gulfport, Mississippi.

But the peaceful part of that day -- Aug. 21, 1995 -- ended 15 minutes later with a loud explosion -- blam! The commuter plane veered to the left and dipped sharply. Seconds later, the captain leveled out the fall, but I noticed passengers looking out the left side of the aircraft. Then I looked: The housing was ripped from the engine and fluid was pouring from it onto the wing. It was clear we had not stopped falling.

I gripped the seat back and glanced over to take one last peek out the window next to me. All I could see, as we plummeted through the thick clouds, were the treetops coming ever closer. Just moments before, I had been thinking of my two beautiful twin girls and two handsome sons, I had remembered every precise detail of their smiling faces. I was so proud of them. Now I realized I may not ever see them or my wife on this earth again.

The sense of loss I was already feeling nearly overwhelmed me. How could my kids grow up without me? Would my wife, Beverly, be strong enough to raise four precocious children on her own? Would my young family always remember how much I loved them?

The flight attendant’s calm voice snatched my attention. She seemed a little too calm, and it worried me. One final announcement to the 26 terrified people on board: “Everyone just hang with us, this is liable to get a little rough.” I turned my eyes straight ahead, determined not to look out the window again. Time for one last prayer: “I’m ready to come home, Lord. Please let me die quickly, without much pain.”

An instant later, I felt the plane’s left wing touch the ground and snap off. A woman screamed from the front of the cabin. The second time the plane touched, it landed with a jolt. For a moment the only sound I heard was the tearing of metal, the impact and the drag wrenching the plane as we slid along the ground.

The aircraft rolled to an abrupt stop, with the left side facing up and my window flush against the hard ground. People, seats and luggage from the left side suddenly fell with force on top of me and everyone else who had been seated on the right side of the plane. I would later learn the excruciating pain I was feeling was from two broken ribs and a separated shoulder.

I looked up and spotted a large hole in the fuselage. I could see a fire raging at the mouth of the jagged opening.

My first instinct was to escape quickly, but I couldn’t. The crash position we had been instructed to assume required that I place my hands on top of the seat in front of me. The weight of the people and debris pinned my arms there and prevented me from releasing my seat belt, trapping me in the burning plane.

I was alive, but I was furious with God. “How could You do this to me? How could You allow me to survive the crash, only to die in the fire? I’m supposed to be dead now!” My thoughts raced as I frantically tried to free myself. It was the only moment of my entire life that I had experienced this kind of intense fear. The church-kid-turned-adult who had never really known hunger, pain or loneliness was about to learn what it meant to trust God.

Somehow, in the 10-second eternity it required for me to reach and release my seat belt, the people on top of me had scrambled free. Disoriented, I stood to my feet and moved forward, walking on what had been overhead baggage compartments. There was no screaming, no pushing or shoving; just a monstrous sense of urgency as we all filed toward the opening.

Then I heard the voice of a man overhead crying out, “I can’t get out of my seat belt, somebody help me!” Another determined and forceful voice behind me said: “Will somebody please help that man! For God’s sake, somebody help him!” In my daze, I had not even noticed the man still imprisoned in his seat, suspended from what had become the ceiling of the airplane. I reached up and hastily flipped open the latch on his taut seat belt, causing him to fall straight down. When I turned again toward the opening, I saw three or four people between me and the outside -- all standing motionless. Then I saw why. The massive crack in the fuselage had become immersed in fire and smoke, and we couldn’t see past the furious flames.

“God, there must be another way out!” wailed the thoughts inside my foggy head. I spun around to the rear of the broken plane and saw that everyone behind me was facing forward. I knew if another life-saving exit was accessible, people would be using it.

As I turned back to the opening, we all shouted in unison: “You have to do it! You have to go through the fire! Go, go, go!”

Knowing we had no other option, everyone began to leap through the fire, until it was my turn. I leapt through the fire too, but I don’t remember it. All I remember is hitting the ground outside the plane and somersaulting to my feet.

I stood up and looked around to see grass on fire for 50 to 100 feet in every direction. I was surrounded by seven or eight people running or laying on the ground, all of them on fire. Every person and every thing that I could see at that moment was fully engulfed in flames -- except me.

At the time, I didn’t realize the plane’s nearly full load of fuel had spilled all over the ground right at the place where we escaped. When the passengers jumped into the fuel and the fire, their clothes ignited like torches.

Not knowing what else to do, I yelled at two people to roll on the ground. This didn’t help even slightly so I pulled off their flaming clothes. One man’s socks were consumed with the bright red blaze even after his pants were removed. I used my bare hand to put out the fire.

“Get away from the plane! Get as far away from the plane as you can!” called out the flight attendant, still in control. She was cradling her arm and had suffered other injuries, but she still felt a sense of duty to warn the stunned passengers of an imminent explosion.

Feeling helpless to battle this fiery adversary, I decided to heed the flight attendant’s advice. I grabbed hold of my right arm to carry it with me. By this time, my shoulder separation had caused it to feel like little more than dead weight. I turned and walked away, tears in my eyes, as I listened to the desperate cries for help as they faded behind me.

The plane crashed near Bowdon, Georgia -- only 75 miles from my house. My family and friends were able to visit me in the hospital within hours.

I still think about what could have been. Rarely does an hour go by that my thoughts do not turn to the crash. I frequently relive the moments after the plane began to break apart, feeling the same terror coursing through my body as I did on that August afternoon. I believe that my experience was similar to the apostle Paul’s when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:9: “Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”

Why did God allow me to have this experience? I had always considered myself to be self-sufficient, never depending on others for things I could do myself. My career has been fairly successful, and my needs have always been met. And I had become complacent about the need for God’s power in my life. I certainly knew He was there, and I prayed and sought God as often as most anyone I knew. But before the accident, I had no idea what it meant to truly trust in God.

Now I realize how often my family is far away from my protection. I can’t always be with my sons as they encounter bullies and drug dealers in school and on the street. It’s impossible for me to be with my precious daughters every minute as they grow up and face the dangers of life. The plane crash helped me see that God is always with them, and I can trust Him to take care of things out of my control. I’m ashamed to say that -- before the crash -- my children had never seen their father on his knees before the Lord, praying for guidance and mercy.

Few people have witnessed God’s awesome mercy as I have. There is no doubt in my mind that I should have died a painful death in a fiery plane crash. I could not control, or prepare for, the events that happened that day. In my weakness, I could do nothing. But God stretched out His hand to me, covering me in the hour I needed Him most. I now trust Him completely with my family. He knows what is best -- and that is fine with me.
The Power of Emergency Training
By Susan C. Friedenberg

On June 19 to 20, NBAA held its 3rd Annual Flight Attendants Conference, which was attended by approximately 115 women and men from the United States and Europe. Attendees at that Conference learned that flight attendants who are trained properly for both emergency and first-aid situations have tremendous power and responsibility as third crewmembers for business aircraft.

I am quite certain that if a pilot were given the option to share his cockpit with a non-type rated pilot with no experience on that type aircraft, he would certainly decline. The same standards in choosing a flight attendant should apply. Any flight attendant who is not properly trained should not be on an airplane. The following story clearly demonstrates the value of emergency and first-aid training.

On August 21, 1995, Robin Fech, a flight attendant for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, reported for work. The three-person crew onboard Flight 7529, an Embraer 120, took off out of Atlanta, GA, for Gulfport, MS, with 26 passengers onboard.

As crewmembers, we flight attendants always have in the back of our minds the knowledge that anything could happen at any time. Flight attendants who have the proper emergency training are prepared for a variety of scenarios. For instance, if they are emergency-trained third crewmembers, they are well versed in a variety of taxi, takeoff, inflight, approach and landing scenarios. And if they are well-trained third crewmembers, they are at all times conscious of any irregular smells and sounds onboard the aircraft. During takeoff and landing, well-trained third crewmembers methodically make a mental review of coordinated procedures to follow in tandem with the cockpit crew in the event of an emergency situation.

On this particular day, the aircraft took off and climbed to 18,000 feet. Robin had commenced a beverage service and her forward galley was occupied with loose service items. Suddenly the aircraft shuddered and shook violently, followed by an explosion. Without hesitation, Robin immediately invoked her emergency training procedures. She secured herself as the aircraft dropped approximately 9,000 feet.

One of the right engine propeller blades snapped off and went into the engine cowling, which caused a fire and the engine to peel like an onion. Later they would find only 16 inches of the missing five-foot propeller blade remaining, attached to the hub on the plane.

Robin began stowing items in the galley and the cabin, briefing her passengers and managing their panic. For a long three minutes there was no communication or signals from the cockpit because they were literally fighting to gain control of the airplane. At approximately 11,500 feet the cockpit signaled and alerted Robin to the fact that they were attempting to make an emergency landing in Atlanta, GA.

As the plane rocked, rolled and continuously lost altitude, Robin repeatedly demonstrated the brace position, checked seat belts, repositioned able-bodied passengers, briefed passengers on the location and operation of all the exits, and managed passenger panic for six-and-a-half long minutes. She never stopped utilizing her time to brief and rebrief her passengers.

They never made it to the Atlanta airport, but instead crash-landed in an open field after shearing through tree tops in Carrolton, GA. Robin was knocked unconscious on impact and she awoke to the sounds of a roaring fire, breaking metal, and small explosions all around her. She found herself completely turned around in her jump seat and engulfed in dense black smoke.

With burns, cracked ribs and a broken collarbone and arm, Robin found herself trapped and unable to see into the cabin. She heard passengers screaming and moaning outside of what was left of the fuselage. Robin made her way out of the burning aircraft through smoke and fire and found some passengers still alive and in shock. She performed first aid and used parts of her own clothing on passengers who were on fire. She then directed her attention to the cockpit area. The captain died on impact but the first officer was still alive and trapped in the burning cockpit. His hands were severely burned and he was making a futile attempt to chip his way out of the cockpit with a crash ax. She personally directed his rescue with the help of a surviving passenger. She heroically saved the lives of 17 passengers and her second-in-command.

At the time of this crash, Robin had been a flight attendant for two-and-a-half years. She had attended one initial emergency and first aid training class and two recurrent training classes. The surviving passengers were grateful for her knowledge; passenger Bryon Gaskill asserted, “I can’t imagine anybody being more purposeful in doing her job.” And passenger U.S. Air Force Major Chuck LeMay recounted, “Because of her, folks inside the cabin remained calm. No one was screaming. . . We did not panic. Robin behaved like a drill sergeant.”

As a manager within a flight department you clearly have a choice. You can hire a third crewmember for full time or contract services either with or without emergency training. Try and envision the above scenario without a properly trained third crewmember; the life that might be saved could be your own.

NTSB Identification: DCA95MA054 .
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Public Inquiries
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, August 21, 1995 in CARROLLTON, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/1997
Aircraft: Embraer EMB-120RT, registration: N256AS
Injuries: 8 Fatal, 13 Serious, 8 Minor.

Atlantic Southeast Airline Flight 529 was climbing through 18,000', when a blade from the left propeller separated. This resulted in distortion of the left engine nacelle, excessive drag, loss of wing lift, & reduced directional control. The degraded performance resulted in a forced landing. While landing, the airplane passed through trees, impacted the ground, & was further damaged by post-impact fire. An exam of the left propeller revealed the blade had failed due to a fatigue crack that originated from multiple corrosion pits in the taper bore surface of the blade spar. The crack had propagated toward the outside of the blade & around both sides of the taper bore. Due to 2 previous blade failures (separations), a bore-scope inspection procedure had been developed by Hamilton Standard to inspect returned blades (that had rejectable ultrasonic indications) for evidence of cracks, pits & corrosion. The accident blade was one of 490 rejected blades that had been sent to Hamilton Standard for further evaluation & possible repair. Maintenance technicians, who inspected the blade, lacked proper NDI familiarization training & specific equipment to identify the corrosion that resulted in fatigue. (See: NTSB/AAR-96/06 for additional information.)

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

the in-flight fatigue fracture and separation of a propeller blade resulting in distortion of the left engine nacelle, causing excessive drag, loss of wing lift, and reduced directional control of the airplane. The fracture was caused by a fatigue crack from multiple corrosion pits that were not discovered by Hamilton Standard because of inadequate and ineffective corporate inspection and repair techniques, training, documentation, and communications. Contributing to the accident was Hamilton Standard's and FAA's failure to require recurrent on-wing ultrasonic inspections of the affected propellers. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the overcast cloud ceiling at the accident site.


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