Archie League Preview: Award Winner Mark Anderson
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
NATCA is excited to offer you a preview of what's to come at NATCA's Archie League Medal of Safety Awards, this coming Wednesday at 8 p.m. PDT during our 2011 Communicating for Safety!
|This year, for the first time in the history of the Archie League program, we are proud to announce to you a winner from Region X. We congratulate Mark Anderson, from NATCA's Aircraft Certification bargaining unit, on this great honor.
As part of Region X, the Aircraft Certification bargaining unit is composed of aircraft certification engineers, technical and administrative safety personnel, and flight test pilots. NATCA couldn’t be prouder to recognize this region alongside our fellow Air Traffic Control bargaining members this year, as it is equally qualified in showing a member’s dedication and professionalism among extreme circumstances.
Details on Mark's winning save are below:
NATCA member Mark Anderson has been a test pilot for 25 years, working for the FAA for 20. So, when asked several years ago if he’d be interested in helping out with the Boeing 787 certification program, this Aircraft Certification member of Region X, of course, said yes.
So far, Anderson has acted as a 787 guest test pilot for about five or six flights, but on Nov. 9, 2010 he came across his biggest test yet.
Things started going poorly at about at 1,000 feet above the ground as Anderson came up on the end stretch of his six and a half hour test flight. He was flying the airplane manually through the head-up display when the display suddenly went dark. Moments later, the auto-brake clicked, and the first call declaring smoke in the cabin followed. Then, with the call of fire at 500 feet, about 30 or so Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) warning, caution and advisory messages started rapidly displaying. All four engine-driven generators dropped off the line and attempts to start the auxiliary power unit failed. “At best,” Anderson recalled, “we thought we had partial electrical power, but maybe as little as an aircraft battery and the ram air turbine, which provides emergency back-up electrical power.”
Anytime you have a smoke or fire event in an airplane such as this, it is known across the industry that rule one is to get on the ground as quickly and safely as you can. And this is exactly what Anderson did. With smoke now building up in the cabin, the crew elected to land the airplane and do an emergency evacuation on the runway. Fortunately, the airplane was flying fine despite the situation on board; the wheels were down, the flaps out, and the throttles responsive as Anderson used visual references outside his window to descend the aircraft.
As the crew took part in a successful slide evacuation upon landing, Anderson took a moment to look in from where the flight deck door would have been, only to see 10 feet into the cabin due to the thick electrical smoke that lingered. After much assessment by the fire department, it was determined that the fire had gone out as soon as the engine-driven generators had tripped off the line in protection of this short-circuit condition, thus leaving merely the white, acrid-smelling smoke behind.
Looking back on this event, Anderson credited the day’s safe response to that of professional training. “It lessens the initial shock of a situation and provides a sense of familiarity so a pilot knows how to react,” he testified. “When a situation such as this does go poorly, training provides the experiential base to draw from to bring the situation to a safe conclusion.”
Anderson is one of 31 flight test pilots that are involved in the review of new engineering certification programs occurring daily around our nation. These certification reviews are essential to establishing a level of safety so that no one in the flying public is harmed. “This is not accomplished by taking risks or without the review of data; it is done by testing, analysis, technical debate, and clear adherence to all applicable safety regulations,” said NATCA AIR National Rep Tomaso DiPaolo.
“Today, aviation safety is the safest mode of travel because of the good work Mark and the other folks do in Aircraft Certification. Mark's professionalism and adherence to safety being our Number One priority resulted in an incredible real-time save of all those aboard an experimental Boeing 787 test flight. It has been my honor to know and have worked with Mark these past years.”
Don't forget to tune in to the Archie League banquet, where we will honor Mark and the additional 11 award winners, here at natca.org on the evening of March 23. Also available for live viewing: Communicating for Safety's conference panels, discussions and more throughout March 21-23!