|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Locale Reference||airport : zzz.airport|
|Altitude||agl single value : 0|
|Operator||common carrier : air carrier|
|Make Model Name||MD-80 Super 80|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 121|
|Flight Phase||ground : taxi|
|Affiliation||company : air carrier|
|Function||flight crew : captain|
oversight : pic
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : less severe|
non adherence : published procedure
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : anomaly accepted|
|Problem Areas||Flight Crew Human Performance|
Chart Or Publication
During taxi out; the rudder unrestr light extinguished during the flight control check. The aircraft was taxied back to the gate where maintenance determined that the sensing system was out of calibration. Repairs were made and the aircraft departed the gate 1 hour later. I have reported this maintenance problem several times in the past. Now that there seems to be a heightened awareness of maintenance issues; perhaps this time the debrief will have some positive effect. The operating manuals do not address the need to check the operation of the rudder travel unrestr light (to ensure it remains illuminated) during the flight control check. Few capts (and no first officer's) I've talked to are aware that the light may extinguish during the test or what it means if that occurs. The rudder control check takes place during taxi out when the captain is not normally looking at the overhead annunciator panel. In bright sunlight; with sunglasses on; you have to shade the light with your hand to determine if it remains illuminated during rudder movement. If the light extinguishes during the rudder control check; it is either because mechanical targets are out of calibration or an electrical sensor has failed. Either way; the rudder control system is not functioning properly and the aircraft is not airworthy for flight. A check of the MD80 maintenance database 'may' show how many times this problem occurs -- although there is no specific code for this malfunction. What the data wouldn't show; however; is how many flts took place 'before' someone happened to notice a malfunction they weren't watching for. The MD80 is an old aircraft developing old aircraft type problems. Line pilots who have been on the aircraft for a long time are starting to see malfunctions we used to not see. The rudder-limiting control system on the MD80 is an electrical/mechanical device that is several decades old and has a 'rube goldberg' design quality about it. In the future; we will probably see this malfunction occur with increasing frequency. Additional information added in the appropriate places of the operating manuals would be instrumental in getting this flight control malfunction detected and fixed in a more timely manner than is probably taking place at this time.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: AN MD-80 ACR CAPT EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT THE TAXI OUT PROCEDURE TO CHECK THE RUDDER IS OFTEN INCORRECTLY PERFORMED; WITH CREWS ALLEGEDLY MISSING THE 'RUDDER TRAVEL UNRESTRICTED' LIGHT. HE RECOMMENDS EMPHASIZING THE PROCEDURE WITH MORE DETAIL.
Narrative: DURING TAXI OUT; THE RUDDER UNRESTR LIGHT EXTINGUISHED DURING THE FLT CTL CHK. THE ACFT WAS TAXIED BACK TO THE GATE WHERE MAINT DETERMINED THAT THE SENSING SYS WAS OUT OF CALIBRATION. REPAIRS WERE MADE AND THE ACFT DEPARTED THE GATE 1 HR LATER. I HAVE RPTED THIS MAINT PROB SEVERAL TIMES IN THE PAST. NOW THAT THERE SEEMS TO BE A HEIGHTENED AWARENESS OF MAINT ISSUES; PERHAPS THIS TIME THE DEBRIEF WILL HAVE SOME POSITIVE EFFECT. THE OPERATING MANUALS DO NOT ADDRESS THE NEED TO CHK THE OP OF THE RUDDER TRAVEL UNRESTR LIGHT (TO ENSURE IT REMAINS ILLUMINATED) DURING THE FLT CTL CHK. FEW CAPTS (AND NO FO'S) I'VE TALKED TO ARE AWARE THAT THE LIGHT MAY EXTINGUISH DURING THE TEST OR WHAT IT MEANS IF THAT OCCURS. THE RUDDER CTL CHK TAKES PLACE DURING TAXI OUT WHEN THE CAPT IS NOT NORMALLY LOOKING AT THE OVERHEAD ANNUNCIATOR PANEL. IN BRIGHT SUNLIGHT; WITH SUNGLASSES ON; YOU HAVE TO SHADE THE LIGHT WITH YOUR HAND TO DETERMINE IF IT REMAINS ILLUMINATED DURING RUDDER MOVEMENT. IF THE LIGHT EXTINGUISHES DURING THE RUDDER CTL CHK; IT IS EITHER BECAUSE MECHANICAL TARGETS ARE OUT OF CALIBRATION OR AN ELECTRICAL SENSOR HAS FAILED. EITHER WAY; THE RUDDER CTL SYS IS NOT FUNCTIONING PROPERLY AND THE ACFT IS NOT AIRWORTHY FOR FLT. A CHK OF THE MD80 MAINT DATABASE 'MAY' SHOW HOW MANY TIMES THIS PROB OCCURS -- ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO SPECIFIC CODE FOR THIS MALFUNCTION. WHAT THE DATA WOULDN'T SHOW; HOWEVER; IS HOW MANY FLTS TOOK PLACE 'BEFORE' SOMEONE HAPPENED TO NOTICE A MALFUNCTION THEY WEREN'T WATCHING FOR. THE MD80 IS AN OLD ACFT DEVELOPING OLD ACFT TYPE PROBS. LINE PLTS WHO HAVE BEEN ON THE ACFT FOR A LONG TIME ARE STARTING TO SEE MALFUNCTIONS WE USED TO NOT SEE. THE RUDDER-LIMITING CTL SYS ON THE MD80 IS AN ELECTRICAL/MECHANICAL DEVICE THAT IS SEVERAL DECADES OLD AND HAS A 'RUBE GOLDBERG' DESIGN QUALITY ABOUT IT. IN THE FUTURE; WE WILL PROBABLY SEE THIS MALFUNCTION OCCUR WITH INCREASING FREQ. ADDITIONAL INFO ADDED IN THE APPROPRIATE PLACES OF THE OPERATING MANUALS WOULD BE INSTRUMENTAL IN GETTING THIS FLT CTL MALFUNCTION DETECTED AND FIXED IN A MORE TIMELY MANNER THAN IS PROBABLY TAKING PLACE AT THIS TIME.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of May 2009 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.