Commercial Airliner Accident

The project was to analyze and determine the cause of an accident of a Boeing 737 commercial airliner that ran off the runway during the takeoff roll.  The aircraft was substantially damaged from impact with the terrain and a post-crash fire.  Some members of the flight crew and passengers received serious injuries while a number of other passengers suffered minor injuries.  Key elements of the investigation involved the stability and control behavior of the aircraft,  the pilot's actions, and the environmental conditions that existed at the time of the accident.  

In order to analyze the accident, an expertise in aircraft flight mechanics and aerodynamic and stability and control derivatives was essential.  The responses of the aircraft to both the winds and gusts and the pilot control inputs were determined from analyzing the performance and aerodynamic derivative data for the aircraft using the fundamental aircraft equations of motion.  Analysis of data from the aircraft flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was important in providing an accurate understanding of the takeoff event.      

The analysis determined an estimated magnitude of the crosswind that the aircraft experienced during the takeoff roll based on the pilot's inputs and the resulting response of the aircraft.  Determination of the likely environment the aircraft experienced and the pilot's actions to counter the conditions were critical to successful settlements of the various lawsuits.  

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