Page:CAB Accident Report, Mohawk Airlines Flight 112.pdf/11

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The release message from the Utica dispatcher for Flight 112 was transmitted to the Rochester station at 1545, or one hour before departure. No attempt was made by the controlling dispatcher at Utica, after 1545, to reassess the worsening weather conditions and to convey this reappraisal of the situation to the captain before departure time. The Utica dispatcher should have made this reappraisal and should have checked with the captain to make sure he was fully aware of the severity and extent of the approaching weather.

At the time of the accident, a severe thunderstorm was in progress over the Rochester Airport. The thunderstorm moved over the field from the west-northwest accompanied by heavy rain, hail, wind gusts, and shifting winds as Flight 112 began its takeoff. After becoming airborne the aircraft entered heavy rain, severe turbulence, and strong down drafts. Shortly thereafter the aircraft encountered a wind shift of about 180 degrees from northwesterly (a headwind) to southeasterly (a tailwind). The northwesterly winds were approximately 20 knots with gusts in excess of 40 knots while the southeasterly winds were about 10-15 knots.

From an examination of the available evidence, the Board finds the Weather Bureau forecasts of weather conditions in the area, to have been accurate and the distribution proper and timely. The testimony revealed that the control tower, by Tel-Autograph, received a special weather observation from the Weather Bureau at 1645. This special report was not brought to the attention of the pilot. While we cannot be certain that the captain was supplied with any weather reports, the only element in the special weather observation which differed from the previous observation was the notation which indicated the beginning of a thunderstorm in Rochester at 1640. This thunderstorm must have been apparent to the captain when he commenced the takeoff.

Examining the Federal Aviation Agency's surveillance of Mohawk's operation, revealed that the air carrier inspectors applied a doctrice of "substantial compliance." The Board finds that the source and availability of weather information relied upon at Rochester, without formal agreement; the failure of the Rochester and Ithaca stations to prepare and maintain the required files, the failure of Customer Service Agents to meet the minimum requirements of the Mohawk Operations Manual and the Civil Air Regulations with regard to the preparation and distribution of weather and flight documents; to be specific examples of the failure of this doctrine to require the minimum standards of safety delineated in the Civil Air Regulations.

A dispatch release should be signed by the authorized aircraft dispatcher only when he believes the flight can be made with safety. There is a joint responsibility in signing the dispatch release. The captain must also review the documents, analyze their contents, and independently determine that the particular flight can be made in safety. There is strong evidence that this was not done. Allowing the copilot to occupy the left seat on takeoff was contrary to the Mohawk Operations Manual in that the captain had insufficient pilot flight time in this type aircraft to permit it. The first officer also had insufficient service, according to the company manual, to occupy the left seat. Further evidence of noncompliance with the Company's Operations Manual is manifested in the failure of the crew to accomplish the company prescribed pre-takeoff checklist.