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Last updated: 21 October 2019
Status:Preliminary - official
Date:Sunday 11 November 2018
Time:13:35
Type:Silhouette image of generic E190 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Embraer ERJ-190LR (ERJ-190-100 LR)
Operator:Air Astana
Registration: P4-KCJ
C/n / msn: 19000653
First flight: 2013
Engines: 2 General Electric CF34-10E5
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 6
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: unk
Location:NE of Lisbon (   Portugal)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Ferry/positioning
Departure airport:Alverca Air Base (AVR/LPAR), Portugal
Destination airport:Minsk-2 International Airport (MSQ/UMMS), Belarus
Flightnumber:KC1388
Narrative:
Air Astana flight 1388 diverted to Beja Airport, Portugal after suffering control issues after departure from Lisbon's Alverca Air Base, Portugal.
The aircraft had arrived at Lisbon on October 2, 2018, and underwent maintenance at the OGMA facilities, located at the Alverca Air Base. KC1388 was the first post-maintenance flight. The aircraft was to be ferried back to the operator base at Almaty, Kazakhstan, with a refueling stop-over at Minsk, Belarus. On board were a captain, two copilots, and three technicians. The aircraft took off at 13:31 hours.
Immediately after take-off, with adverse meteorological conditions, the crew felt that the aircraft was not responding adequately to the commands, developing oscillatory wing movements.
The crew, using all the aircraft control resources for its three axis, immediately tried to counter the movements, however without understanding the cause for the flight instability and without being able to engage the autopilot.
Realising that they were without effective control of the aircraft, only being able – with considerable effort – to minimize the oscillatory movements, with high structural loads involved during some recovery manoeuvres and using crossed commands.
The crew immediately declared emergency while trying to diagnose the cause for the abnormal roll of the aircraft, continuing to struggle to gain its control, having no malfunction indication from the aircraft systems, just the continuous alerts for abnormal flight attitudes.
The flight requested to return to Alverca. About 13:37 the flight requested to climb to FL100, again stating they had "flight control problems".
The situation did not improve, and the performed trajectories caused the aircraft and the persons on board to sustain intense G-forces, and causing the aircraft complete loss of control for some moments at multiple instances.
Considering the situation criticality, the crew requested several times for headings in order to be able to reach the sea for ditching, not being able, however, to keep the intended headings.
The crew then started a team work basis, discussing options with the third crewmember (co-pilot in the jump-seat) and trying to communicate with the technicians on board, to explore hypothesis and define an action plan. Despite no warnings for system failures, the crew decided to activate the flight controls direct mode elevators, rudder and spoilers), where the flight control module (FCM) is removed from the flight surfaces command chain, which are then controlled in a direct relationship with the pilots’ inputs on the yoke.
The situation improved considerably, however, without restoring normal operation and keeping the difficulties to control the aircraft roll-axis.
The crew realised that the ailerons were behaving erratically and therefore any command for the aircraft roll was kept to its minimum. Having gained some control of the situation, the crew flew East, searching for better weather conditions and started to follow the flight plan defined by the air traffic control for an emergency landing in a suitable airport, with good weather and physical conditions to deal with the sustaining aircraft control difficulties.
At this moment, when the pilots were able to keep altitude and heading, and had sufficient visual references, the aircraft was joined by a pair of F-16 fighters from the Portuguese Air Force that were scrambled from the Monte Real Air Base. They assisted in guiding to Beja Air Base, which had been selected in the meantime as the best emergency landing option.
After two non-stabilised approaches, the aircraft managed to land safely on runway 19L at the third approach. The intended runway was 19R, but due to drift, they finally managed to land on the left runway.
All on board were physically and emotionally shaken, one of the passengers sustaining a leg injury.

Update
On May 31, 2019, GPIAAF Portugal published in investigation update, reporting that a detailed examination of the aircraft flight controls showed an incorrect ailerons control cable system installation.
A modification carried out in accordance with an Embraer Service Bulletin (SB 190-57-0038) changed a cable routing support near rib 21 of the aircraft. This change made it harder to understand the maintenance instructions and spot reversed aileron cables.
During maintenance, the Engine-indicating and crew-alerting system (EICAS) displayed a caution message: "FLT CTRL NO DISPATCH". This meant that one of the components of the flight control system had failed. Troubleshooting activities by the maintenance service provider, supported by the aircraft manufacturer, lasted 11 days. However, the ailerons' cables reversal was not identified in this period.
Also, prior to departure, the ailerons incorrect operation caused by the control cables reversal, was not identified in the aircraft operational checks (flight controls check) by the operator crew.
The investigation is continuing.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: GPIAAF Portugal
Status: Investigation ongoing
Accident number: 08/ACCID/2018

Classification:
Wrong installation of parts
Forced landing on runway

Sources:
» Radio Traffic the last 18 minuters of the flight
» Unofficial ATC transcript
» GPIAAF investgation update 31 May 2018

METAR Weather report:
13:00 UTC / 13:00 local time:
LPAR 111500Z 04005KT 3500 -RADZ SCT005 SCT010 BKN015 13/12 Q1010

14:00 UTC / 14:00 local time:
LPBJ 111400Z 19017KT 9999 SCT030 BKN048 19/14 Q1011

14:00 UTC / 14:00 local time:
LPAR 111400Z 35005KT 2000 -RA SCT005 SCT010 BKN015 13/13 Q1010

15:00 UTC / 15:00 local time:
LPBJ 111500Z 20019KT 9999 SCT030 BKN048 19/14 Q1010

15:00 UTC / 15:00 local time:
LPAR 111300Z 04005KT 3000 RA FEW005 SCT010 BKN015 14/13 Q1010

15:20 UTC / 15:20 local time:
LPBJ 111520Z 20017KT 9999 SCT030 BKN048 19/13 Q1010


Photos

photo of Embraer-ERJ-190LR-P4-KCJ
abnormal aircraft attitude FDR example
photo of Embraer-ERJ-190LR-P4-KCJ
cable reversion zone, between wing ribs 19 and 23
photo of Embraer-ERJ-190LR-P4-KCJ
 

Video, social media

Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Alverca Air Base to Minsk-2 International Airport as the crow flies is 3221 km (2013 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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