...And Re-Learning Weight And Balance

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The NTSB also said the weight averages used by air carriers to calculate weight and balance are inadequate. The airlines need to collect current and specific data that takes into account seasonal and regional differences to develop better estimates. Further, systems should be created for collecting actual weight data for each flight instead of relying on estimates. Pilots of small aircraft already know how to get accurate weights, of course -- you ask passengers to step onto a scale. But people don't always like to do that, so airlines don't like to ask them. "There is a passenger dignity issue involved," said David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association. One solution, he said, might be to discreetly weigh the passengers and their carry-ons together. If the FAA had collected data to determine average passenger and baggage weights, the NTSB said, it would have known that the averages in use by Air Midwest were inadequate. Even though Air Midwest revised its weight-and-balance program in the wake of the accident, it is still unacceptable, the NTSB said, because it may result in an inaccurate calculation of an airplane's center of gravity position. Also, if the FAA had issued better weight-and-balance guidance, the airplane's center of gravity would not have been so far aft, the board said. "It is imperative that the recommendations we've issued today be implemented so that tragedies like this not be repeated," Engleman-Conners said. An FAA committee has been working since June to collect weight data in various seasons and regions, and is expected to make recommendations next month.