Tuninter flight TUI1153 took place on August 6th, 2005, at 13.39 UTC (15.39 local time) and involved an ATR 72-202 aircraft, registration marks TS-LBB, operating the flight TUI 1153 from Bari to Djerba (Tunisia). The aircraft had ditched into the sea off the coast of Capo Gallo (Palermo) following the failure of both engines. The aircraft had taken off from Bari at 12.32 UTC with 39 people on board (4 crew members and 35 passengers, among which 1 airline engineer). While cruising, approximately 50 minutes after takeoff, at flight level 230 (FL 230, 23.000 feet), the right engine shut down (no. 2) and after approximately 100 seconds also the left engine shut down (no. 1). The flight crew decided to divert to the airport at Palermo, Punta Raisi, to make a precautionary landing. The crew referred to having tried to restart both engines, but without success. After gliding for approximately 16 minutes, the aircraft ditched approximately 23 nautical miles northeast from Palermo’s airport, Punta Raisi, within Italian territorial waters. On impact with the surface of the sea, the aircraft broke into three pieces; 14 passengers, the airline engineer and a member of the crew (senior flight attendant) reported fatal injuries. The other occupants suffered serious to minor injuries.
on the basis of simulator tests the aircraft would have been able to reach Palermo airport.
The accident under examination, as most aviation accidents, has been determined by a series of events linked one another, which caused the final ditching. The ditching was primarly due to the both engines flame out because of fuel exhaustion. The incorrect replacement of the fuel quantity indicator (FQI) was one of the contributing factors which led irremediably to the accident.
The accident’s cause is therefore traceable firstly to the incorrect procedure used for replacing the FQI, by means of the operator’s maintenance personnel. This shall be considered the disruptive element, which caused the final ditching of the aircraft due to the lack of fuel that caused the shutdown of both engines.
As said before the accident was determined by a series of events (contributing factors) linked one another. Hereafter are listed some considered of major importance.
– Errors committed by ground mechanics when searching for and correctly identifying the fuel indicator.
– Errors committed by the flight crew: non-respect of various operational procedures.
– Inadequate checks by the competent office of the operator that flight crew were respecting operational procedures.
– Inaccuracy of the information entered in the aircraft management and spares information system and the absence of an effective control of the system itself.
– Inadequate training for aircraft management and spares information system use and absence of a responsible person appointed for managing the system itself.
– Maintenance and organization standards of the operator unsatisfactory for an adequate aircraft management.
– Lack of an adequate quality assurance system;
– Inadequate surveillance of the operator by the competent Tunisian authority.
– Installation characteristics of fuel quantity indicators (FQI) for ATR 42 and ATR 72 which made it possible to install an ATR 42 type FQI in an ATR 72, and viceversa.