Aruba A320 near Miami on Sep 19th 2016, dropped engine cowl

Last Update: January 26, 2018 / 13:55:21 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Sep 19, 2016

Classification
Incident

Flight number
AG-820

Destination
Aruba, Aruba

Aircraft Registration
P4-AAA

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

An Aruba Airlines Airbus A320-200, registration P4-AAA performing flight AG-820 from Miami,FL (USA) to Aruba (Aruba), departed Miami's runway 08R and was climbing out when the crew stopped the climb at FL220 after the outboard fan cowl had separated from the right hand engine (V2527). The crew advised ATC it appeared an outboard panel on the right hand engine had blown away, they weren't sure whether it had really detached, it wasn't visible from the inside of the aircraft. Everything was normal for now, as a precaution they decided to return to Miami. The aircraft landed safely on Miami's runway 09 about 40 minutes after departure. There were no injuries, the aircraft sustained damage to the engine, engine pylon, right main landing gear, right main landing gear door and right fuselage.

On Jan 25th 2018 the NTSB reported the flight crew remained unaware of the cowl separation with all indications remaining normal until a passenger alerted cabin crew, who in turn informed the flight crew. The flight crew levelled off at FL220 to assess the damage and decided to return to Miami.

The NTSB wrote:

The aircraft sustained damage to the engine, engine pylon, right main landing gear, right main landing gear door and right fuselage.

The night prior to the incident the airplane was in maintenance where mechanics were completing a routine weekly check. Part of the weekly check was to open the fan cowl doors to inspect the IDG. Following the maintenance check, the cowl doors were closed and latched. Because the gate area where the maintenance was being performed was dark, the mechanic who completed the work used a flashlight to verify the latches were flush and made sure he heard a click. A second mechanic who was assisting, also verified that the latches were flush but did not use a flashlight; he stated in a post-incident interview that he could see they were flush. The task was then signed off in the logbook as complete but did not specify that the cowls had been opened and closed. The morning of the incident, about 0430, the supervisor in charge of maintenance for Aruba Airlines performed a walkaround (although not required) using a flashlight and did not notice anything unusual about the cowl. According to the Aruba Airlines A318/A319/A320/A321 Flight Crew Operating Manual, section "Procedures – Normal – Standard Operating Procedures – Exterior Walkaround," the fan cowl doors were to be checked that they were "closed/latched." The first officer conducted an exterior walkaround prior to departure and did not notice any abnormalities. He stated that to check the cowl he bent down and checked that it was flush and latched.

The NTSB summarized laboratory findings on the cowl examination:

Examination of the inboard (left side) and outboard (right side) halves of the No. 2 engine fan cowl was conducted. The cowls were of a composite construction consisting of aluminum honeycomb core and carbon fiber composite skins adhesively bonded to the inner and outer faces of the core. The fan cowls were held together by four latch/catch mechanisms on the structure.

Visual inspection of the outboard No. 2 engine cowl half revealed fractures and delamination of the honeycomb core, outer skin and inner skin. The fracture and delamination patterns were used to reconstruct the cowl where possible and to determine its fracture sequence. The patterns were consistent with the initial fracture occurring in the bottom and aft portion of the cowl and were also consistent with the two aft latches not being properly latched.

Visual examination of the inboard No.2 engine cowl revealed cracks in the outer skin at the aft root end of a chine attached to the cowl approximately one-third of the way from the top. The latches and keepers were numbered 1 through 4 starting at the forward end of the cowl. The keepers were examined for indications of wear or deformation but no apparent indication of either were found. All the keepers exhibited some play when moved by hand. There were alignment pins on the left side of the cowl that mated with guide holes on the right side. All the pins were present and there were no apparent signs of damage.

On Jan 26th 2018 the NTSB released their final report and docket concluding the probable cause of the incident was:

the incorrect latching of the #2 Engine Fan Cowl following a routine maintenance check that resulted in separation of the cowl during takeoff.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Sep 19, 2016

Classification
Incident

Flight number
AG-820

Destination
Aruba, Aruba

Aircraft Registration
P4-AAA

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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