Okay, Who Lost This?

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MIflyer

1st Lieutenant
6,548
12,972
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
Fess up now, boys. SIX TO SEVEN POUNDS! OUCH!

The FAA has joined the hunt for the airline and airplane that dropped a substantial piece of hardware on the granite sidewalk in front of the Maine State Legislature in Augusta, narrowly missing a Capitol Police employee. The 6- to 7-pound machined hunk of steel, which may be a sleeve or bushing of some sort, hit the rock courtyard a few feet from the guard about 12:30 p.m. last Friday. So far, it doesn't appear anyone has formally identified the hunk of metal (anyone out there willing to take a stab?) nor are there any reports of any landing issues with aircraft that were in the area at the time.

Aircraft_part_cd0s67-696x392.jpeg
 
Fess up now, boys. SIX TO SEVEN POUNDS! OUCH!

The FAA has joined the hunt for the airline and airplane that dropped a substantial piece of hardware on the granite sidewalk in front of the Maine State Legislature in Augusta, narrowly missing a Capitol Police employee. The 6- to 7-pound machined hunk of steel, which may be a sleeve or bushing of some sort, hit the rock courtyard a few feet from the guard about 12:30 p.m. last Friday. So far, it doesn't appear anyone has formally identified the hunk of metal (anyone out there willing to take a stab?) nor are there any reports of any landing issues with aircraft that were in the area at the time.

View attachment 683452
Please take more photos at different views and some rough dimensions but I can say any aircraft part would be marked. Those markings may have been damaged.
Another thing is that a 6 lb object would have reached a good speed and would have spalled the granite.
I am thinking someone threw this.
Finally a check of flightradar24 against time of event should be helpful.

My only suggestion is it's a roller from a material handling conveyor.
I see a rolled edge on top.
 
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I agree with RichardSuhkoi about it maybe being a roller for a material/cargo handling device. It could have come loose without anyone noticing when the conveyer(?) was stowed aboard. But I do not know how it got out of the aircraft.

Were there any C-130 flights in the area at the time? Many times the personnel aboard tend to have one or another of the doors open when nearing the airfields during the last bit before entering the approach pattern (I do not know if this is the correct terminology for the flight segment?), unfortunately with the crew tossing out things like cigarettes and such. Hopefully the roller was not tossed out deliberately and only fell out via one of the opened doors.
 
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Hi Thomas

All cargo on commercial flights, including C-130s, is restrained with a minimum of a 9G restraint though nowadays probably 99% of aircraft have 16G restraint. That even applies to the later cargo conversions of the venerable DC-3. Grandfathering laws keep unmodified DC-3 and C-46 and similar aircraft at 9G unless they have a Supplemental Type Certificate which usually requites a 16G restraint system to pass muster.

16G means if the ULD weighs one tonne the container is locked to the floor with locks that will not fail if you shock load them to 16 tonnes, Likewise the floor structure will not fail with that shock load. The crew and passengers will die at a far lower load factor but the cargo will hot injure them any more than the initial crash.

Military standards are not that different.

This is usually done by loading the smaller items into a ULD and that ULD is restrained inside the aircraft by floor track fittings rated at 16G for the maximum weight that the particular ULD can carry. Otherwise floor tiedowns and Brownline or equivalent restraint straps or nets. Larger items go on pallets and are strapped or netted down.

As an aside to give you an idea of the suction of a modern jet engine - this is what happens to a lightly loaded ULD (3 tonnes) when when a baggage cart driver drives too close to a running jet engine.

1661251000670.png


A six pound item left loose in a light aircraft luggage locker is unlikely to have enough energy to smash the door open even during severe maneuvering or turbulence although there are occasional accidents caused by light aircraft private pilots dumping a heavy item on the floor of the cabin or luggage locker and stupidly thinking that it does not need any restraint. I have had to clean up the result of a CESSNA C310 with a 600lb drill head that was chocked but not restrained when the aircraft landed with the nose gear retracted. Not pretty and that was probably only a 2G deceleration.

This is why I strongly suspect that item was deliberately dropped out a window. Most single engine Cessna and other high wing aircraft windows are more than large enough to drop such an item out. Less so with most Pipers as the item will bounce off the lower wing and possibly cause damage to the wing but there are still many aircraft out there with big windows and high wings. Some also have camera and other hatches in the floor which expands the possible suspects. Many helicopters are approved to operate with doors removed which expands the list of potential culprits.

Given the probable target I am forced to remember the old truism that the only person to ever go into parliament with honest intentions was Guy Fawkes and we all know what happened to him.
 
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First, I would doubt that any aircraft part like that would weigh 6 to 7 pounds.
As an aside to give you an idea of the suction of a modern jet engine - this is what happens to a lightly loaded ULD (3 tonnes) when when a baggage cart driver drives too close to a running jet engine.

A guy I worked with said that he had an amusing chat with his cousin, an airline pilot. The cousin had walked into the pilot's lounge at Tulsa Airport and saw a pilot he knew sitting there, looking very dejected. "What's wrong?" he asked. The other pilot replied, "They had to cancel my flight. I started up number 1 and all was Okay, I started up number two and all was Okay. I started up number three and all was Okay. Then I started up number four and they had parked the food service truck too close and the engine sucked up 167 chicken salad sandwiches."
 
I was actually thinking of a specialized conveyor system that can be deployed by the carrying aircraft. I have seen such systems in use before from military C-130s which is why I thought of it. I am wondering if a conveyor system roller (or maybe a built-in floor roller?) failed under load and the crew did not notice or perhaps did not realize they had not collected all the parts.

The item in question is very similar in form to the end 'spuds' in many rollers. Depending on the T/D ratio and internal diameter, a heavy duty 'spud' weighing 6-7 lbs could have an outside diameter as little as 4"-5"? They are usually inserted/press fit into the roller ends and often have tapered outer diameters like the item in question. From the outside they look like the black end piece in the image below:

conveyor roller end copy.jpg


Or I could be totally wrong. :)
 
the "magic carpet" rollers used in aircraft weigh only a few ounces/grams each and are roughly 50mm/2" long by 25mm/1" diameter. The ones in the doorways are of the ballmat variety. The balls themselves are usually 25mm and the housings alloy. If you carpeted the floor with rollers weighing 6lb/3kg each your payload would be reduced by many tonnes.

1661374376194.png
1661374494967.png
 
Back in the 80's a piece of metal came through the roof of a house in Great Britain. It was the handle for a C-141 door. No one reported one missing, but the USAF Safety Magazine showed a picture of it and suggested that C-141 units go take a look at their airplanes and let them know who they should mail it to.

Also in the 1980's a gear door fell off a T-38 in Texas. The message went out that if anyone found it the Air Force would like it back since it probably was still usable. They got a call from some cowboys who said they had found it. Investigation revealed that it was indeed a gear door but was not from a T-38; in fact it was about half the size of a T-38 wing. They figured it was most likely from a B-36.

After the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia the debris was collected and housed in a section of the Vehicle Assembly Building on Kennedy Space Center. I was up there examining the debris one day and noted the collection included a portion of a cowling from a radial engined aircraft. Needless to say, they had already figured out it was not from the Columbia. I looked around at the Sun and Fun Fly In that year but was not able to find a similar cowling on any aircraft I saw there.

One day a few years ago I was out walking the dog and had to cross the street to avoid another dog on a walk. I saw a curiously shaped piece of metal on the ground, picked it up, and quickly recognized it to be an aircraft propeller spinner of the "skullcap" variety. I took it over to the airport and a friend and I were able to find the Cessna 150 it had fallen from and return it to the owner; needless to say they had never expected to see it again.
 
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Hey MiTasol,

Thanks for the info on the aircraft cargo handling systems.

This is a picture of the (a?) current version of the system I was thinking of. It is part of the 463L Pallet Cargo System, and - as the name implies - is designed for handling the 463L type of pallet.

If you are not familiar with this type of pallet, they are 88" x 108" x 2.25" and weigh about 290 lbs bare, but they can be considered to weigh upto ~100 lbs more depending on the netting/strapping/hold-downs/etc. The 463L pallet has a weight capacity of 10,000 lbs. I am not familiar with the specs for the civil types of container systems, but I believe the 463L pallet is also considered a standard ULD in the civil system?

There are also air transportable MHE segments, that are deployed from the aircraft to aid in handling the pallets on the ground and getting them to the aircraft. Some of the MHE segments are on trailers or are powered for movement, and some are 'erected' from quick assembly modules. I assume they are similar in nature to the civil ULD container systems, and their ground handling systems that I have seen at the airport.

The in-floor rollers in the picture below are a smaller Ø than the ones I remember seeing in some of the MHE systems from the late-1970s or early-1980s, but the idea is the same.

463L pallet & roller rail arrangement.jpg
 
Hi Tom

Those look like the same tracks used in civil aircraft except the rollers look a little larger tho that may be camera angle. The channels are about the thickness of the heels on the shoes which suggests that it is a camera angle issue. The civil roller diameter is about 30mm from memory - have not worked on/near them since about 1990. Each track section is about 6ft long and would probably weigh under six to seven pounds (3 to 3 1/2 kg) - the weight of the single roller with no bearings the OP wrote about.

And yes the exact same pallets are used on civil aircraft. They are one of many sizes. I have created frames to fit to those 88x108 pallets back in the 80s to ship two Pitts and one Laser aerobatic aircraft (on just two pallets) to and from the world aerobatic championships plus we unloaded and reloaded a bunch of foreign aircraft for the Aus aerobatic championships in 86 and 88.
Coincidentally I just scanned two of the photos today so here they are - did not photograph the pallets/containers. The wing in the background is off the DC-2.

1661421161576.png

We were informed by one of the Aus competitors, after she left, that the woman who was pilot of this aircraft was from a town a few km from Chernobyl and she had a son about the same age as my son who was six then. On the weekends she spent a lot of time with him and somewhere I have a photo of her getting him to help screw on the wing fillets to her aircraft. The Aus champs were taking place at the same time as the Chernobyl disaster. Her name was Kalida or something like that. While the official interpreter and the probably KGB guy were around none of the other Russian team could speak English. In the very rare occasions that both were absent for a few minutes they spoke good English. One very bossy "mechanic" did not even know where to put the oil in the aircraft. One of the others yelled at him when he was about to pour it in the fuel tank so we concluded, right or wrong, he was KGB.

1661421373047.png

Victor Smolin's Sukhoi. The high pressure air bottle was used for starting the aircraft - pneumatic, not electric, starters.
 
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First, I would doubt that any aircraft part like that would weigh 6 to 7 pounds.


A guy I worked with said that he had an amusing chat with his cousin, an airline pilot. The cousin had walked into the pilot's lounge at Tulsa Airport and saw a pilot he knew sitting there, looking very dejected. "What's wrong?" he asked. The other pilot replied, "They had to cancel my flight. I started up number 1 and all was Okay, I started up number two and all was Okay. I started up number three and all was Okay. Then I started up number four and they had parked the food service truck too close and the engine sucked up 167 chicken salad sandwiches."
Sounds like he didn't bother to look out the window to see if anything, or anyONE, was near the engine before start-up. ;)
 
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Sounds like he didn't bother to look out the window to see if anything, or anyONE, was hear the engine before start-up.
I could easily see how a food serve truck could be parked near the No 4 engine of a 707 or DC-8 and the pilot be unable to see it.
 
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I don't fly commercial, but my checklist included being sure the prop area was clear of obstructions (people, vehicles, etc.) - surely the pilot and co-pilot have that on their startup list?

On large aircraft the crew do not have a snowballs chance in hell of seeing their engines so ensuring the area is clear is the duty of the person on the headset standing next to the nose gear. Unless some #$%^& accountant has removed him as an unnecessary cost that is the person who should have told the crew if the vehicle was parked before the start sequence was initiated.

Unfortunately it is possible that some idiot driver ignored the safety zone and did a shortcut to save time - seen that far too often.
 

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