Atlas Air Flight 46 Drops Wing Cover On Approach To MIA <


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Atlas Air Flight 46 Drops Wing Cover On Approach To MIA

By Daniel Baxter

February 6, 2010 – While on a one mile final approach descent to Miami International Airport, an Atlas Air Flight 46, a Boeing 747, had a structural separation of a flap actuator fairing cover that fell onto the parking lot at the International Mall of Americas in Miami, Florida on Friday midday. Flight 46 was a cargo flight out of Santiago, Chile. 

A “fairing” is a structure whose primary function is to produce a smooth outline and reduce drag. These structures are generally light-weight shapes and covers for gaps and spaces between parts of an aircraft to reduce form drag and interference drag, and to improve appearance. Due to the size and shape of the fiberglass fairing cover it appears that it was one of flaps hydraulics covers. 


On large aircraft the motor that moves the flaps is located on the outside of the wing. Because of the need to have a smooth airflow over the wing (aerodynamics), these fairing covers are mounted over the hydraulic motors to reduce drag and give a clean appearance to the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported the Boeing 747 jet had no problems landing. No one was injured.

Atlas Air is an American cargo airline based in Purchase, New York, United States. It operates scheduled freight flights on an ACMI contract basis for some of the world's leading airlines, flying to 101 cities in 46 countries. Its crew bases include: Miami International Airport, New York John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Anchorage International Airport and London Stansted Airport. It does not appear Atlas Air has any maintenance issues with its aircraft, although they do have five other incidents on record.

On April 19, 1997, Miami, Florida, Atlas Air Boeing 747-2R7F, N639FE, registered to Wilmington Trust Company Trustee, operated by Atlas Air Inc., as a 14 CFR Part 121 scheduled domestic/international cargo flight, experienced an in-flight failure of the right inboard trailing edge wing skin panel in cruise flight. The pilot-in-command diverted back to his departure airport and landed without further incident.  

The pilot in command had stated he was level at flight level 290 when a pronounced airframe vibration started. At the same time the No. 2 engine thrust reverser armed light illuminated. No other lights illuminated. The abnormal procedures check was initiated, the No. 2 throttle was moved to the idle position, and airspeed was reduced to 290 knots. As the airspeed decreased the buffet/vibration decreased. The vibration stopped after airspeed reached 270 knots. A landing was accomplished with the No. 2 engine in the idle position. Examination of the airplane after landing revealed the right inboard trailing edge wing skin panel had delaminated and was missing. 


Examination of the airplane by Atlas Air maintenance personnel after the incident revealed the right hand wing fixed trailing edge panel had failed. About 1/3 of the panel had departed the airplane colliding with the right hand inboard fore flap and the inboard mid flap. The total time on the airframe is 63,503 hours with 14,697 cycles. The airplane has been operated by Atlas Air for 21 hours and 5 cycles.

On April 2, 2000, Guayaquil, Ecuador, Atlas Air Boeing 747-200 freighter experienced an uncontained failure of the No. 1 engine after takeoff from Guayaquil, Ecuador. The flightcrew observed fire emanating from the No. 1 engine, and fire bottles were discharged. The airplane returned to Guayaquil without further incident.  

On December 12, 2004, an Atlas cargo Boeing 747 descended well below approach path at about 6nm from Runway 05 at Stansted International Airport, London, United Kingdom. There were no injuries to the three crewmembers or damage to the airplane or other structures.  

January 24, 2005 in Dusseldorf, Germany Atlas Air Boeing 747-200F, N808M, operating on a wetlease for Emirates Air flight EK9995 from Dubais to Dusseldorf, overran the end of runway 23L after landing. The runway was snow covered. There were no injuries to the three crewmembers, and the aircraft received minor damage. 

On July 16, 2006, Amsterdam, Netherlands , Atlas Air Boeing 747-200F, N516MC, had minor damage when the left main body gear tires burst during takeoff from runway 36L at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (EHAM). The airplane returned to the airport and landed on runway 06. The damaged flap system caused a flap asymmetry and roll movement. The fuselage was damaged by the wheel and tire fragments. The 3 crew members were not injured.

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