The Bolts - 737 NAP at Charlottetown

Bob Bogash         

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The Bolts

Nordair Boeing 737 CF-NAP at Charlottetown, PEI

On Friday, Apr 7, 1972, Nordair Boeing 737 CF-NAP was landing at night (0215 hrs local) in Charlottetown, PEI (CYYG). It was a positioning flight from Montreal with only 7 people on board, all employees; the weather was poor with heavy snow.  The runway condition was also poor.  Bob Jones was the Captain.



Nordair Boeing 737 CF-NAP on a happier day in Florida

The airplane touched down on Rwy 21 which was 7000 ft long. My Canada Air Pilot charts for the period show only RNG (Range) and NDB approaches.  Post accident investigation revealed the approach was a beacon approach with limits of 400 ft ceiling and 1 mile visibility.



The last reported weather at 0200 local was ceiling 600 ft sky obscured, visibility 3/4 mile in light snow.
Wind 100 degrees at 10 kts.  Snow all quadrants.

The weather at 0246 hrs was reported as ceiling Zero sky obscured visibility 1/8 mile in heavy snow.
Wind 070 degrees at 13 kts.  Runway snow covered.


Our first depressing look at NAP from DC-4 IQM turning off the end of Rwy 21
You can see how far off the end she traveled

The airplane had a high sink rate and a large right wing down attitude, damaging the bottom of the Nbr. 2 (Right) engine, its cowling, the right wing tip, outboard slat and outboard flaps. The subsequent maneuvers were unknown, but eventually the airplane stabilized on the runway; but it overran the far end, running about 1000 ft down a snow-covered hillside, stopping just short of the airport boundary fence. Just beyond the fence was an embankment and steep drop-off.





I was the Boeing Field Rep in Montreal, assigned to Nordair, and had been for the past 3 1/2 years. Actually, I had been transferred to Honolulu and was supposed to depart Montreal for my new assignment on January 1st, 1972. But my replacement, Myron Vogt, got hung up departing his last assignment in Dublin, so my Montreal assignment was extended four more months. Just in time for some "major action." Myron finally arrived on Friday, April 14th, or all this "excitement" could have been on his watch.





  

Actually, my "extra" four months proved to be jam packed with this so-called "excitement." Just a few days before, on April 2, NAP (the accident airplane) had been run into by a truck in Nassau, Bahamas (MYNN) and was damaged badly enough to require it to ferry back to Montreal unpressurized. And airplane CF-NAH had incurred major damage to its main cargo door, needing extensive repairs. Simultaneously, the movers had come and all our household goods had been loaded and taken away, leaving us (me, my wife Dot, and our cat Pablo) living without anything except what we were going to hand carry by car to California, and Hawaii. Having given up our apartment, we had to find new temporary digs right quick, and without normal household items.  Fun!  I've dug out some old diaries and am truly astounded at the number of major life events occurring simultaneously.

  Roger Morawski

After notification of the accident, we organized a recovery and repair expedition. Unlike some of my previous Arctic adventures. we had good land line communication with Charlottetown and so had a good idea what to expect on arrival. We decided we needed a new engine, new cowlings, a slat, outbd flap, with expectations for fill-in-TBD's for after our arrival and inspection. Also a towbar. We loaded all the gear, a repair crew including Roger Morawski (VP Maintenance and Engineering) and myself, onto DC-4 CF-IQM (a truly great airplane - still in service in 2010-20 with Buffalo Airways in Northern Canada) and departed for Charlottetown. (I spent innumerable hours on IQM - I Love IQM, I Love IQM - repeat after me.... I love IQM.)


DC-4  CF-IQM  My faithful steed for 4 years rescuing 737s - damned Jets!


The weather in Montreal and eastern Canada was poor, with cold and snow. April in Canada was definitely not Spring! In Montreal, they used to say there were three months of bad weather, and all the rest was Winter. Of course, I was engaged with numerous contacts with Boeing with regard to both the accident details and the repair requirements. Our plan was for an interim repair, followed by a possible Boeing AOG (Airplane On Ground) repair team to perform a permanent repair in Montreal.

  
Damaged slat - and flap

On arrival in YYG, we proceeded to the airplane to examine the damage and start formulating an initial Plan for recovery back to the airport ramp. I removed the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) and FDR (Flight Data Recorder) from the tail to prevent over-writing the accident information when electrical power was re-applied, and placed them in the trunk of my rental car. We decided to carry out our initial plan and attempt only temporary repairs in YYG, sufficient for a ferry back to Montreal (YUL). I coordinated for a Boeing AOG damage survey team and AOG repair team to arrive in Montreal the following week, along with a preliminary required parts list.

  

Roger Morawski arranged for lodging in the nearby well-known Kirkwood Hotel, but that was hardly needed as we worked almost round the clock. The weather was terrible and it was bitterly cold - especially for that time of year. My diary shows I worked three 21 hour days, and despite wearing my Arctic boots, badly froze my feet. I mean they were turning black and I had great difficulty walking. Being dumb is one of my core competencies. Thank God - that was the last time - I could hardly wait to get to Honolulu!!!



Bob (Jones) even managed to nail the wing tip light lens - no mean feat!

We pulled the airplane back up the hillside using a big bulldozer. The 737 is one tough bird.

Here's Roger Morawski leading the tow back up to the ramp.

Roger later went to work for Air Canada, and I gave a speech at his retirement party, presenting him a framed copy of this picture. We remained friends for life; he visited several times out here after his retirement. He died in July 2017 at 88 from Alzheimers.

After removing the damaged parts and engine, we loaded them back on IQM (the DC-4) which departed back for Montreal. The Plan was for the repair crew to return to Montreal on board 737 NAP for the Ferry Flight.

As we proceeded with the repair, I began making recommendations to Roger. Sometimes we arm-wrestled quite a bit over my recommendations and his reluctance to accomplish everything I wanted done. Not just on this repair either. We knew each other well enough that our disagreements could get quite "vocal".


The 737 engine is secured to the airplane by three cone bolts that attach to the engine mounts - two in front and one in the rear. The mounts, in turn, are secured to the wing structure using additional bolts and fittings. The replacement engine came with new cone bolts already installed, and Nordair did a close inspection of the engine mount (yoke), but declined to open up the wing structure access panels to inspect the yoke/wing front spar attachment.

The engine had suffered a lot of damage and the bottom of the cowling had been badly crushed during the first touchdown impact. The CSD and Generator had separated from the engine gearbox.  That is quite remarkable if you visualize the geometry between the main landing gear (MLG), the engine and the wing tip on a 737-200.

I got more and more assertive regarding my recommendation that they inspect the engine mount/wing spar bolts, but to no avail. Well, it was their airplane. But, it was my life. By this time I was married, and not quite so cavalier about going down with the ship.

Finally, everything was packed up and everyone loaded onto the airplane for the return ferry to Montreal. All except me. I went into the Charlottetown terminal - the same one where my wife Dot had worked back in the late 1950s when she first went to work for MCA, which later became EPA.


My wife Dot (right) at the Charlottetown Ticket Counter -  about 1957-59.

With the airplane ready to depart, everything was at the ready -- except Bob Bogash. The Boeing Rep was missing. Roger went looking for me, and finally found me standing at the EPA ticket counter in the terminal.

"Bob, Bob, c'mon, we're all waiting for you to leave. What are you doing?"

"I'm buying a ticket on EPA, Roger"

"A ticket? For where?"

"For Montreal - you guys can leave without me, I'm flying back commercial."

Roger stood there flabbergasted. "What!  What!  Why is that?", he asked.

"Because I asked you guys to check the engine mount yoke/wing spar bolts and you refused, so I'm not going."

"Do you mean you feel that strongly that you won't fly on the airplane?"

"Yes, I feel that strongly."


He thought for a few minutes and finally said

"OK, OK, we'll look at your bolts, but it's a waste of time."

Roger went back out to the airplane and told the crew to unpack and get to work pulling panels to "look at Bob's bolts." Maybe what he really said was to "look at Bob's damn bolts."


Long story, short - they pulled the panels and found both engine mount yoke/wing front spar bolts double-sheared. That is, they had both broken and were in 3 pieces each. There was nothing holding the engine mount to the wing (except friction). If the airplane had taken off, the engine would have separated from the airframe and the airplane would have surely crashed.....

The date was April 9, 1972.

  

Nordair removed the failed attach bolts and presented them to me at a party given for my departure to Hawaii. Here they are.

They also found other bolts partially sheared.  Removing a partially sheared bolt is NOT easy!



In the Old Boeing - before the 737 MAX debacle - employees and engineers sometimes had what we called back then - Badge on the Table moments.  If you felt strongly enough about something - usually involving flight safety - then you were willing to fight for it, even if it meant your job was on the line.
  I've had a few of those over my career....  This was one.

Next, they also tried to con me into accepting temporary replacements - supposedly high strength bolts of the right size that they had secured from the Cat (Caterpillar) bulldozer dealer in town. I turned down that idea as well. Now they were no longer messing with my recommendations and we waited until the proper bolts arrived from Boeing. Also at my departure party, they presented me with a plaque containing the failed Boeing bolt, and the desired, but unused, Caterpillar bolts - it was entitled "The Cat's Meow."

Myron Vogt arrived on Friday, April 14, having missed all the excitement. Nordair threw us a Farewell Party at the Grand Motor Hotel on Friday April 28th. The next morning, Saturday, April 29th, we loaded all our stuff in my Dodge station wagon. Me, Dot, and Pablo, our cat, -- we all climbed in, and headed for the New York border on our way to Honolulu. It was snowing.




Post Script:

In Sept/October 2003, we drove our camper across Canada to visit Dot's home in the Magdalen Islands. On the way, we stopped to spend a few days with her brother Louis-Phillip in Quebec City. Louis took us over to the Quebec Airport (CYQB), where we found two of my old Nordair airplanes parked - CF-NAQ and CF-NAP. They were in Royal Air markings and were being parted out.  Since they had N-Numbers (U.S. Registrations), I could not identify them at the time.

  
CF-NAP (Left in right picture) and CF-NAQ at Quebec City - Sept 2003

But, later research showed who they really were, and furthermore, they had both subsequently returned to service. NAQ is, remarkably, still extant - currently in storage in Marana, Arizona. 737-200s with Main Deck Cargo Doors and gravel kits are still in demand - mostly in the Canadian North. I had made the first Revenue Flight in that airplane (May 14, 1970 - my wife's birthday!  SFO - MSP - YUL.).   My Logbook shows I flew with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Princess Anne and Prince Charles on board NAQ the week of July 5, 1970 on a tour of the High Arctic.  NAP went back into service with two more airlines before being scrapped in 2009. I had  spent a few memorably cold days with NAP in Charlottetown - 31 years before.  These aren't just airplanes, folks.

For some of us, at least, they are --- Memories........


ex-Nordair Boeing 737 CF-NAP - the subject of this story

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