NTSB Identification: NYC97WA091.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 09, 1997 in HAMILTON, Canada
Aircraft: British Aerospace BA-31, registration: N854JS
Injuries: 12 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On May 9, 1997, about 0630 eastern daylight time, a British Aerospace BA-31, N854JS, operated by Chautauqua Airlines, doing business as US Airways Express, was substantially damaged when both engines were started with engine air inlet plugs installed, at the Hamilton Airport, Ontario, Canada. The certificated airline transport pilot, copilot, and 10 passengers were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the passenger flight destined for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 121.

According to the first officer's (FO) written statement, he installed the engine air inlet plugs at the completion of flying, the evening of May 8, 1997. During the morning of May 9, 1997, the FO preflighted the airplane. He further stated:

"...I preflighted as per the POH Normal External Checklist. When checking left and right power plant intakes, intakes appeared clear, plugs were not in the position I had left them the night before. I assumed they had been removed by the ground crew...Each engine started normally. When engine speeds were pushed forwarded, we noticed abnormal EGT readings, thought the SRL was malfunctioning...The captain did a precautionary shutdown. After investigation FO found intake plugs were in both engines..."

In the captain's statement, he said that both engine starts were uneventful, and that the exhaust gas temperatures (EGT) of the left and right engines remained normal until the engine speeds were increased for takeoff. At that time the EGT readings on the engines fluctuated, and the captain shut down both engines. The FO exited the airplane, examined the engines, and observed the intake plugs in both engines. The captain was advised by his company operations to restart the engines and proceed to Pittsburgh. A subsequent attempt to start the right engine resulted in a "hot start."

The owner of a maintenance facility at the airport was requested by Chautauqua Airlines to examine the airplane's engines the morning of May 9, 1997. The owner sent a mechanic to perform a visual inspection of the engines, which revealed foreign object damage to the compressor sections of both engines. The owner of the maintenance facility notified the airline of the inspection results. According to the owner, the airline then changed both engines with mechanics employed by the airline.

The preflight of the airplane occurred before sunrise, and the weather at the airport was reported to be 300 foot sky obscured, with a visibility of 1/2 mile and fog.

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