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6 February 1996 - Birgenair 301

Birgenair Flight ALW 301, a B757-225 with registration TC-GEN, departed Puerto Plata for a charter flight to Frankfurt via Gander and Berlin at 23.42h LT.

At 80kts on take-off the captain found out that his ASI wasn't working properly. The co-pilot's indicator seemed to work fine. While climbing through 4700ft the captain's ASI read 350kts (real speed was about 220kts); this resulted in an autopilot/autothrottle reaction to increase the pitch-up attitude and a power reduction in order to lower the airspeed. At that time the crew got 'Rudder ratio' and 'Mach airspeed' advisory warnings. Both pilots got confused when the co-pilot stated that his ASI read 200kts decreasing while getting an excessive speed-warning, followed by a stick shaker warning. This led the pilots to believe that both ASIs were unreliable. Finally realizing that they were losing speed and altitude they disconnected the autopilot (which, fed by the captain's faulty ASI, had reduced the speed close to the stall speed) and applied full thrust. At 23.47:17h an aural GPWS warning sounded. Eight seconds later the aircraft struck the ocean.

All 13 crew members and 176 passengers died.

The incorrect ASI readings were possibly caused by an obstructed pitot tube, which had left uncovered for 3-4 days prior to this flight.


Transcript of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)


Time Source Content
0341:40 (42:02) HOT-2 have a nice flight
0342:08 (42:30) CAM ((sound of increasing engine noise))
0342:09 (42:31) HOT-1 EPR select
0342:10 (42:32) HOT-2 EPR
0342:16 (42:38) HOT-2 power's set
0342:18 (42:40) HOT-1 okay checked
0342:23 (42:45) HOT-2 eighty knots
0342:24 (42:46) HOT-1 checked
0342:26 (42:48) HOT-1 my airspeed indicator's not working
0342:28 (42:50) HOT-2 yes
0342:29 (42:51) HOT-2 yours is not working
0342:30 (42:52) HOT-2 one twenty
0342:32 (42:54) HOT-1 is yours working?
0342:32 (42:54) HOT-2 yes sir
0342:33 (42:55) HOT-1 you tell me
0342:35 (42:57) HOT-2 Vee one
0342:36 (42:58) HOT-2 rotate
0342:43 (43:05) HOT-1 Positive climb gear up
0342:43 (43:05) HOT-2 positive climb
0342:44 (43:06) CAM ((sound of landing gear handle being moved))
0342:46 (43:08) HOT-2 gear is up
0342:50 (43:12) HOT-2 LNAV
0342:51 (43:13) HOT-1 yes please
0342:52 (43:14) HOT-2 LNAV
0342:59 (43:21) HOT-1 yes
0343:00 (43:22) HOT-2 It began to operate
0343:02 (43:24) HOT-1 is it possible to turn off the wipers
0343:03 (43:25) HOT-2 okay wipers off
0343:05 (43:27) CAM ((sound of windshield wipers stops))
0343:08 (43:30) HOT-1 climb thrust
0343:09 (43:31) HOT-2 climb thrust
0343:10 (43:32) HOT-1 VNAV
0343:11 (43:33) HOT-2 VNAV
0343:16 (43:38) HOT-2 okay flap speed
0343:17 (43:39) HOT-1 flaps five
0343:24 (43:46) HOT-1 flaps one
0343:25 (43:47) HOT-2 flaps to one
0343:30 (43:52) HOT-1 gear handle off
0343:32 (43:54) HOT-2 gear handle's off
0343:33 (43:55) HOT-1 flaps up
0343:34 (43:56) HOT-2 flaps up
0343:36 (43:58) HOT-1 after takeoff checklist
0343:38 (44:00) HOT-2 after takeoff checklist landing gear up and off, flaps are up checked up, altimeters later, after takeoff completed
0343:47 (44:09) HOT-1 okay
0344:07 (44:29) HOT-1 center autopilot on please
0344:08 (44:30) HOT-2 center autopilot is on command
0344:10 (44:32) HOT-1 thank you
0344:12 (44:34) HOT-1 one zero one three
0344:13 (44:35) HOT-2 one zero one three
0344:25 (44:47) HOT-1 rudder ratio, mach airspeed trim
0344:27 (44:49) HOT-2 yes trim
0344:28 (44:50) HOT-1 there is something wrong there are some problems
0344:43 (45:05) HOT-2 direct Pokeg
0344:44 (45:06) HOT-1 okay there is something crazy do you see it
0344:46 (45:08) HOT-2 there is something crazy there at this moment two hundred only is mine and decreasing sir
0344:52 (45:14) HOT-1 both of them are wrong. what can we do?
0344:54 (45:16) HOT-1 let's check their circuit breakers
0344:55 (45:17) HOT-2 yes
0344:57 (45:19) HOT-1 alternate is correct
0344:59 (45:21) HOT-2 the alternate one is correct
0345:04 (45:26) HOT-1 as aircraft was not flying and on ground something happening is usual
0345:07 (45:29) HOT-1 such as elevator asymmetry and other things
0345:11 (45:33) HOT-1 we don't believe them
0345:23 (45:45) CAM-3 shall I reset its circuit breaker
0345:24 (45:46) HOT-1 yes reset it
0345:25 (45:47) CAM-3 to understand the reason
0345:27 (45:49) HOT-1 yeah
0345:28 (45:50) CAM ((sound of aircraft overspeed warning))
0345:30 (45:52) HOT-1 okay it's no matter
0345:39 (46:01) HOT-1 pull the airspeed we will see
0345:39 (46:01) CAM ((overspeed warning stops))
0345:40 (46:02) HOT-2 now it is three hundred and fifty yes
0345:47 (46:09) HOT-1 let's take that like this
0345:50 (46:12) CAM ((sound of four warning alert tones))
0345:52 (46:14) CAM ((sound of stick shaker starts and continues to end of recording))
0345:56 (46:18) CAM ((sound of four warning alert tones))
0345:56 (46:18) HOT-1 ****
0345:57 (46:19) HOT-2 ****
0345:59 (46:21) HOT-2 sir
0346:00 (46:22) CAM-3 *ADI
0346:05 (46:27) HOT-1 ****
0346:07 (46:29) HOT-2 nose down
0346:19 (46:41) HOT-2 ****
0346:22 (46:44) CAM-3 now *
0346:23 (46:45) HOT-2 thrust
0346:25 (46:47) HOT-1 disconnect the auto-pilot, is autopilot disconnected?
0346:25 (46:47) HOT-2 already disconnected, disconnected sir
0346:31 (46:53) CAM-3 *ADI*
0346:38 (47:00) CAM-3 *
0346:39 (47:01) HOT-1 not climb? what am I to do?
0346:43 (47:05) HOT-2 you may level off, altitude okay, I am selecting the altitude hold sir
0346:47 (47:09) HOT-1 select select
0346:48 (47:10) HOT-2 altitude hold
0346:51 (47:13) HOT-2 okay, five thousand feet
0346:52 (47:14) HOT-1 thrust levers, thrust thrust thrust thrust
0346:54 (47:16) HOT-2 retard
0346:54 (47:16) HOT-1 thrust, don't pull back, don't pull back, don't pullback, don't pull back
0346:56 (47:18) HOT-2 okay open open
0346:57 (47:19) HOT-1 don't pull back, please don't pull back
0346:59 (47:21) HOT-2 open sir, open
0347:01 (47:23) HOT-2 ****
0347:02 (47:24) CAM-3 sir pull up
0347:03 (47:25) HOT-1 what's happening
0347:05 (47:27) HOT-2 oh what's happening
0347:06 (47:28) CAM-3 *
0347:09 (47:31) GPWS ((sink rate whoop whoop pull up warning starts and continues until the end))
0347:13 (47:35) HOT-2 let's do like this
0347:14 (47:36) CAM-3 *
0347:17 (47:39) ((end of recording))

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