On December 23, 1997, about 0903 eastern standard time, a Beech 1900D, N140ZV, owned by Mesa Airlines, Inc., and doing business as USAirways Express flight 5286, was substantially damaged when its propellers struck a snow bank while taxing on the ramp at the Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut. The two flight crewmembers and three passengers were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that originated at Flushing, New York, about 0831. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 121. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the flight crew, the flight from New York to Windsor Locks was uneventful. After landing, the airplane was taxied to the ramp area by the pilot-in-command (PIC). The PIC stated that while taxiing on the ramp to their gate, the visibility was reduced due to blowing snow. The second-in-command (SIC) stated that while taxiing, he observed a snow bank as it passed under the nose of the airplane. Before the SIC could inform the PIC of the snow bank, he heard a "slapping" noise on the side of the airplane. The crew then shut down both engines.
According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, examination of the airplane revealed two propeller blades had separated from the right engine's propeller hub, and had struck the right side of the airplane's fuselage. A tear was observed in the right side of the fuselage skin, and the cabin window in the vicinity of seats 1F and 2F was pushed into the fuselage cabin. Additional damage included a cracked fuselage frame member and the right engine nacelle had shifted.
The FAA Inspector stated that the 28 inch high snow bank that the airplane taxied into, was on the ramp taxiway perpendicular to the airplane's direction of movement. The snow bank was a result of airport snow plowing operations.
Airport Terminal Information Service (ATIS) information Echo started broadcasting at 0804, December 23, 1997, and continued until it was changed to information Foxtrot at 0854. A transcript of the information provided by Bradley ATCT read as follows:
ATIS Echo: "bradley international airport information echo, one three zero two zulu, special, wind three six zero at one one, wind variable between three two zero and zero two zero, visibility two, light snow, mist, ceiling six hundred broken, one thousand broken, one thousand six hundred overcast, temperature minus one, dew point minus two, altimeter two niner niner five, runway six in use, arrivals expect an ils approach, notices to airmen, runway one five, three three closed, runway one, one niner closed, braking action advisories in effect, runway six broomed and plowed, covered with up to one quarter inch loose snow and packed snow, center eight zero feet sanded, taxiways and ramps covered with one half inch loose snow, use caution for snow removal equipment on airport, advise on initial contact you have information echo."
ATIS Foxtrot: "bradley international airport information foxtrot, one three five one zulu, wind three five zero at one one, visibility less than one quarter, heavy snow, freezing fog, ceiling three hundred broken, one thousand four hundred overcast, temperature minus two, dew point minus two, altimeter two niner niner six, runway six in use, arrivals expect an ils approach, notices to airmen, runway one five, three three closed, runway one, one niner closed, braking action advisories in effect, runway six broomed and plowed, covered with up to one quarter inch loose snow and packed snow, center eight zero feet sanded, taxiways and ramps covered with one half inch loose snow, use caution for snow removal equipment on airport, advise on initial contact you have information foxtrot."
A review of the transcripts of ATC communication, ATIS, and notams available to the flight crew, revealed that no information was provided to the flight crew regarding the snow bank on the taxiway. During the period of time when the accident occurred, an Airbus and a Boeing 727, became stuck in snow while taxiing at Bradley.