Friday, November 17, 1995


NTSB & FAA Fail To Protect Future Passengers

PHILADELPHIA -- November 17, 1995 -- Today, the NTSB wraps up three days of investigative hearings regarding the cause of the Pittsburgh crash of USAir Flight 427 on September 8, 1994, which resulted in 132 fatalities. Yet, the NTSB and the FAA still refuse to look at the obvious cause of this crash (also the most likely cause of the 1991 United Flight 585 crash in Colorado Springs): the faulty design of the servo valve -- a key component of the Boeing 737s rudder control power unit.

According to internationally-known aviation attorney Arthur A. Wolk, "The NTSB is a `broken part' organization. If a part isn't broken, then it couldn't have caused the crash. However, a malfunctioning part can be just as fatal. The servo valve is known to jam -- for reasons that become `invisible' after the crash.
"What the NTSB fails to do," Wolk continues, "is combine the available evidence with known design limitations and come to reasonable conclusions about the cause. The NTSB and FAA know the servo valve is defectively designed, so it can cause rudder reversals and spontaneous (uncommanded) rudder movements. Hundreds of pilots have reported uncommanded rudder movements in Boeing 737s since the aircraft's original certification, but these complaints fall on deaf ears."

"The NTSB and FAA should demand modifications of the Boeing 737's servo valve simply to comply with the Federal Aviation Regulations, but -- more importantly -- they should demand modifications to save the lives of future passengers."

Friday, September 8, 1995


September 8, 1995 marked the one year anniversary of the crash of USAir Flight 427 in Pittsburgh, and the cause of the crash is still unknown. Yet, an estimated 60,000 - 70,000 people board approximately 2,000 Boeing 737s daily -- planes that have a proven defect, according to nationally known aviation attorney Arthur Alan Wolk, that makes them unsafe.

In 1991, Americans witnessed the fatal crash of United Flight 585 in Colorado Springs and three years later saw haunting similarities in USAir Flight 427 -- both crashes resulted after unexpected rolls. As recent as July 25, 1995, we heard about another incident, but that pilot was fortunate enough to have been able to override his 737's uncommanded roll.

But what the public doesn't know is that these have not been isolated incidents. Actually, there have been hundreds of unexpected rolls reported and documented in the discovery proceedings of 737 legal cases.
Nonetheless, our country's "best" minds in aviation (the FAA and the NTSB) still haven't figured out why 737s roll. Why haven't they identified the cause for the fatal crashes and even more important, why haven't they responded to what the British AAIB identified as the problem? Wolk says this is why: "The FAA is too cozy with the industry it's supposed to regulate. It would rather support Boeing, our country's largest exporter, than protect human lives by forcing Boeing to pay the tremendous amount of money required to fix a significant design flaw."

According to Wolk, the "significant flaw" is in the rudder-control unit. What causes the plane's death roll and dive is called a "rudder hardover" which means the rudder moves as far and as quickly as it can to one side. In a recent Newsweek article, Wolk is quoted as saying, "How Jim Hall (NTSB Chairman) can stand there and say, 'We're still baffled,' is beyond me. Everybody on the inside of the investigation knows -- not believes, knows -- it's the rudder." Wolk, himself, has purchased a Boeing 737 rudder-control unit, has gotten his hands on Boeing's computer data and has incorporated the information into his own computer system, and has done extensive research on the "servo valve," which Wolk believes to be the culprit in faulty rudder-control units.

Some will say the FAA addressed the rudder problem late in 1994, when it issued an airworthiness directive requiring airlines to replace the power control units of their 737s by March 1999. But Wolk says this was done just to pacify the public's fear, and no one in the FAA really knows if this will work. "If the FAA doesn't know what caused the crash, how can they fix the problem?" asks Wolk. "The FAA is telling the airlines to replace the 737 power control units with other faulty units -- the problem is not mechanical, it is one of design. And Boeing hasn't changed that and the FAA hasn't enforced a change."

You may be interested to know that Wolk refuses to be a passenger on 737s. In fact, he has scheduled connecting flights just to avoid boarding what he considers a very dangerous aircraft.

Wednesday, January 25, 1995


PHILADELPHIA -- January 25, 1995 -- "It's incomprehensible, says nationally-known aviation litigator, pilot and spokesperson for aviation safety, Arthur A. Wolk, "that the FAA today finally admitted the rudder played a likely role in the Pittsburgh USAIR crash, but does not know why. (The FAA previously certified the Boeing 737 and its rudder control system.) Anyone who has studied the Pittsburgh crash, and its striking similarity to the United 585 Colorado Springs crash, can point to the rudder as the most likely cause, and provide two simple interim solutions.

"What happened, on September 8th, was the airplane's power control unit (PCU) design flaw stuck again. When the yaw damper signaled the PCU to move the rudder, the unit activated the rudder to compensate, to a limit of 2 to 4 degrees. But that 2 to 4 degree limit doesn't work, because in both Pittsburgh and Colorado Springs, the unit overreacted and went into full deflection, causing the airplane to roll over."

Wolk says the FAA's recent suggestion for pilots to switch off the yaw damper when uncommanded rudder movement occur, is too late. "The rudder can move into full deflection within seconds and the pilot doesn't have a chance. If the rudder moves 18 degrees, the airplane rolls over and dives."

"Before more innocent passengers are killed, and before the PCU is redesigned, the FAA should mandate two mechanical adjustments. First, the authority of rudder movement must be limited to less than 18 degrees. Second, pilots must be given sufficient means to control the roll by training them to increase power to the "down" wing engine, reduce power to the "up" wing engine, and use the ailerons on the wing opposite to the direction of the roll.