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Uncontained Engine Failure - Southwest 1380

A Southwest Boeing 737-700, registration N772SW performing flight WN-1380 from New York La Guardia,NY to Dallas Love,TX (USA) with 143 passengers and 5 crew, was climbing through FL320 out of New York when the left hand engine (CFM56) was damaged causing inlet and parts of the cowl to separate from the airframe, debris impacted the side of the fuselage shattering a passenger window causing the loss of cabin pressure. The crew donned their oxygen masks, reported they had an engine failure and engine fire and were to initiate an emergency descent, shut the engine down and diverted to Philadelphia,PA (USA). The crew requested a 20nm final, reported part of the aircraft was missing, they needed to slow down, they did have an engine fire indication, the crew requested medical services to meet the aircraft, they had injured passengers. ATC understood a passenger might have been sucked out of the aircraft but stopped that discussion "we'll work it out" once the aircraft was on the ground. ATC cleared the flight down to 3000 feet, airspeed on pilot's discretion and instructed the crew to report as soon as they wanted to turn base. While the aircraft was on short final tower advised emergency services there was a hole in the aircraft's side. The aircraft landed safely on runway 27L, vacated the runway and stopped on the adjacent taxiway. The crew advised emergency services their left hand side was damaged, they had injuries inside the cabin. Emergency services foamed the left hand engine, the passengers disembarked via stairs onto the taxiway and were taken to the terminal. One passenger was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. The NTSB later reported one passenger has died (presumably the one taken to the hospital).

Read more on the Aviation Herald


Aviation and Environment

Environmental causes have gained a strong following in recent years, as more proof emerges that we need to take greater care of the planet. This move towards being more eco-friendly applies not only to the automotive industry, but to aviation as well.

That’s where the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) comes into play. The CORSIA calls for international aviation to address and offset its emissions through the reduction of emissions elsewhere (outside of the international aviation sector), involving the concept of “emissions units”.

Read more about it on Uniting Aviation


Hybrid-Electric Future


Three major European manufacturing groups plan to take a significant step toward hybrid-electric propulsion for commercial aircraft, they announced Nov. 28.

Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens have partnered to create a new 2MW electric motor that they hope to fly by 2020.

The new partnership, announced at London’s Royal Aeronautical Society, will develop the E-Fan X program, to investigate some of the challenges of the new technology, including thermal effects and electric thrust management. The new motor will be the world’s most powerful flying generator.

The three organizations are seeking to increase the pace of hybrid-electric development by maturing the technologies, safety and reliability involved.

The new powerplant follows a series of smaller demonstrators in recent years and the partners hope to fly it on a BAe 146 testbed, replacing one of the aircraft’s Avco Lycoming ALF 502 turbofans. A second engine may be replaced with another of the new electric motors once tests have provided sufficient confidence to do so.

Read more about it on ATW Online


Engine failure


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Engine uncontained failure over the Atlantic - A380

How to rescue it?

The first task there, for investigators from France’s air safety body, BEA, is to arrange for the mangled remains of the engine to be removed from the plane. Teams from Air France and Airbus will carefully separate that from the underside of the wing.

They'll fly that engine, which is about 10 feet in diameter, back to its manufacturers, General Electric, in Cardiff, Wales. It needs to be preserved for forensic analysis, so shipping it, rather than keeping it on the plane as it flies back to France, makes sense.

“If the engine is out there in the air stream, unless you put something over the inlet, it’s going to rotate, and it’s going to do further damage,” says Chuck Horning, who was an airline maintenance tech for 18 years, and now teaches the science of it at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Then the team will mount a spare engine in its place on the right wing. Here's the weird thing, though: The airline probably won't use it to power the plane back to France. The stand-in is there for weight balance, and won’t actually work, according to Reuters. BEA says the exact plan is still being studied.

A remote engine swap, away from an airline's home maintenance base, isn’t an unusual procedure, and won’t take more than a couple of days. The new engine will arrive on a giant cart, but the trained crew sent to do the swap might have to rent equipment like cranes locally—Goose Bay might not have tools tall enough.

Read more about it on Wired



Engine fire and Compressor Stall

Read about this incident on the Aviation Herald




Engine inspection


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Engine blade out / Engine blade off


Blade off testing is a specific form of air safety testing required to certify safety performance of jet engines. The tests require engine manufacturers to carry out at least two tests of the engine, to make sure that the engine can survive a compressor or fan blade breaking off within the engine and a turbine blade breaking off within the engine, without fragments being thrown through the outside enclosure of the engine.

Read more about it here.

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How jet engines work


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Engines in Ice Crystal Clouds

Why are the B737 intakes flat?


British Airways B772 near Amsterdam on Jun 15th 2010, multiple technical problems, engine damage

By Simon Hradecky, created Tuesday, Jun 15th 2010 11:42Z, last updated Wednesday, Jun 16th 2010 07:02ZA British Airways Boeing 777-200, registration G-YMMP performing flight BA-16 from Singapore (Singapore) to London Heathrow,EN (UK), was enroute at FL380 overhead Germany just about entering Netherlands when the crew decided to divert to Amsterdam, a few minutes later the crew declared PAN reporting multiple technical problems increasing in number and severity, the crew being unable to pinpoint any specific issues. At the same time the crew reported being low on fuel having about 40 minutes endurance left. The crew requested a long final to be able to configure the airplane early. The airplane proceeded towards Amsterdam, where the aircraft landed safely on runway 27 about 25 minutes later.

After landing it was found, that the right hand engine (Trent 895) suffered substantial damage around the outlet area, both engines had however produced thrust until landing with some higher fuel burn. The engine damage is believed to have happened about 5 hours prior to landing.


Read some comments here


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Arrow Cargo DC10 at Manaus on Mar 26th 2009, dropped parts of engine on houses

By Simon Hradecky, created Thursday, Mar 26th 2009 14:55Z, last updated Tuesday, Mar 31st 2009 12:25Z


250kg/550lbs engine part and damaged car (Photo: PD/EPA/Arlesson Sicsu)
250kg/550lbs engine part and damaged car 
(Photo: PD/EPA/Arlesson Sicsu) 
An Arrow Cargo McDonnell Douglas DC-10 freighter, registration N526MD performing flight JW-431 from Manaus,AM (Brazil) to Bogota (Colombia) with 4 crew, was climbing out from Manaus, when the center engine (#2) produced a loud bang, described as an explosion by residents. The crew shut the engine down but decided to carry on to Bogota but then diverted to Medellin, where the airplane landed safely.

In the meantime fire engines and emergency services were racing to a neighbourhood of Manaus (rua Humaita, Terra Nova), where parts of the engine had damaged 12 houses and a number of cars. Parts found so far include nacelle and engine parts, the largest part weighing around 250kg/550lbs.

Manaus Authorities reported, that the control tower of Manaus was notified of the debris on the ground and radioed the crew of the DC-10. The operation of the aircraft was not impaired, so that the crew continued to Colombia.

Arrow Cargo confirmed, that the airplane dropped parts of the engine. The airline will compensate for all damages incurred by the accident. The crew continued the flight to Bogota on two engines with the third engine shut down.

The provider for all air traffic control services in Brazil, the Forca Aerea Brasileira (FAB) reported, that the crew was contacted by Manaus control tower after a loud bang was heard by the controller. The crew reported no abnormalities. After the debris was established on the ground, the area control center Cindacta 4 (Manaus) queried the crew again, this time the crew reported problems with one engine but decided to continue the flight. The serious incident will be investigated by CENIPA, Brazil's Center for Research and Prevention of Accidents, collection of evidence has started. So far the diffuser of the exhaust pipe, the rear part of the exhaust pipe and several small internal components of the engine have been recovered on the ground.

Read more about it on Aviation Herald



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Dramatic emergency landing by Cathay Pacific A330 at Hong Kong

by B. N. Sullivan

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cathay Pacific AirwaysA Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 (registration B-HLL) made a dramatic high-speed emergency landing at Hong Kong International Airport on April 13, 2010 after both of its engines malfunctioned during approach. The aircraft, operating as Cathay Flight CX780 from Surabaya, Indonesia, touched down on Hong Kong's runway 07L at a speed of 230+ knots, and six tires deflated due to heat from the high energy braking that was required. All 309 passengers and 14 crew members evacuated the aircraft on the runway via emergency slides. A number of passengers suffered minor injuries in the evacuation.



Early media reports from the scene suggested that both of the aircraft's engines had failed or been shut down during approach -- one shut down while the aircraft was some distance from the airport, and the other during short final -- and that neither engine was functioning at the time the aircraft landed. Cathay Pacific claims this was not the case, stating that while the number one engine had indeed been shut down, the number two engine was functioning. The airline also confirmed that all four tires on the left main gear and two on the right had deflated.
Later it emerged that both of the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines had become frozen at 70% of N1 speed. Subsequently, one engine was shut down, while the other was left operating at that speed for the landing. Cathay Pacific gave this account of a press briefing by Dennis Hui, Manager of Maintenance Support at the airline’s Engineering Department, on April 14, 2010:
He said that after further investigation of the flight data from CX780 and having interviewed the crew, updated information had shown a clear picture of this aspect of the incident.


He said it had been determined that the number 2 (RH) engine was at idle power throughout the approach and landing at HKIA, and the Number 1(LH) engine was operating at 70 per cent of its maximum power, and frozen at that level.


Mr. Hui said: “This is a higher power setting than is required for a normal approach with a single operating engine. Consequently, this higher than normal power setting led to a higher than normal approach speed and incorrect flap configuration.


“The aircraft therefore touched down at approx 230 knots, as against a normal 135 knots at this aircraft’s operating weight.


“However, the aircraft touched down on the correct position on the runway, but due to its high speed had to brake hard and use reverse thrust from the operating engine to bring the aircraft to a halt.


“The high speed and high energy braking led to very hot brakes, tyre deflation and the report from the FSD outside the aircraft that it had observed flames and smoke on the landing gear,” he added.


Mr. Hui said details of what happened and what caused the engine malfunction are now the subject of CAD [Civil Aviation Department] investigations. Cathay Pacific was co-operating closely with the investigation, along with Airbus and Rolls Royce, the engine supplier.

At the same press briefing, Quince Chong, Cathay's Director Corporate Affairs, praised the crew of Flight CX780, saying, “The pilots and the 11 cabin crew all demonstrated professionalism of a highest order in handling a most testing situation. It was due to their training, professionalism, their judgment, and ability to perform multi-tasks under a highly intense situation that the injuries had been kept to a minimum.”


Ms. Chong mentioned that the evacuation had been accomplished in two minutes.

UPDATE Apr. 15, 2010: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Cathay Pacific has stopped refueling its planes in Surabaya "as a precaution," suggesting that fuel quality is being looked at as a possible cause of the dual engine malfunction. For the time being, Cathay flights will instead make a refueling stop at Jakarta.


The Wall Street Journal also reported that Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Department has taken fuel samples from the Airbus A330 for tests, and also has retrieved the aircraft's flight data recorders for analysis.


And another one



Uncommanded dual engine rollback - The Crash of BA038

Peter Burkill was captain of British Airways Flight 38, a Boeing 777 with 152 aboard, when it suffered an uncommanded dual engine rollback and crashed short of the runway at Heathrow on January 17, 2008. This is what he experienced, in his words.

Listen to him being interviewed on AVweb.


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Engine failure after take-off (listen)

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Engine failure during flaps retraction

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Engine fire in flight


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CFM's Leap to the Next Generation

GE/Snecma JV targets 16% fuel efficiency gain in the LEAP-X.

By Aaron Karp

Air Transport World, November 2009, p.41    

BOEING AND AIRBUS APPEAR far away from launching a successor to the 737 and A320 families but engine manufacturers already are well into development of advanced-technology powerplants that could make the next generation of workhorse narrowbodies much more efficient and environmentally friendly than their predecessors.

CFM International spent the summer testing its first LEAP-X engine core at a GE Aviation testbed in Evendale, Ohio, (see photo, left) while also conducting crosswind tests in nearby Peebles on a MASCOT test engine comprising composite fan blades that would be a critical component of the LEAP-X. The GE/Snecma joint venture says a baseline LEAP-X can be ready for certification in 2016 for a possible EIS in 2018, providing a 16% fuel-efficiency gain compared to a CFM56-7B powering today's 737NGs. And if Boeing and Airbus, as seems increasingly likely, push introduction of a narrowbody successor into the 2020s, CFM is simultaneously conducting research on an open rotor design that it says could bring as much as a 26% fuel-efficiency improvement.

Boeing and Airbus executives have said that airlines are looking for a 20% or greater fuel burn improvement on a next-generation narrowbody, indicating that engine manufacturers would have to prove that threshold has been crossed before a new aircraft program is launched. Airbus COO-Customers John Leahy said at this year's Paris Air Show that an A320 successor should not be expected before 2020 at the earliest. "We need a quantum leap in technology and it's not available," he said.

Read more


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Engine replacement after bird ingestion

Here you can see the replacement engine and the other engine with damaged blades after a seagull impact during takeoff. After emptying part of the fuel, the plane landed safely with one engine.



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INTERVIEW W/QANTAS 32 CAPTAIN   QF32 an Airbus A380 outbound from Singapore, ran into serious problems when a turbine on its Rolls-royce trent 900 engine suffered an uncontained failure We caught up with one of the five pilots onboard, who describes how the crew professionally dealt with the incident, the sequence of events, and how the most dangerous period was after they had landed.  

Captain David Evans, Qantas Airways at Royal Aeronautical Society 6 December 2010. Captain David Evans is a Senior Check Captain at Qantas with some 32 years of experience and 17,000hrs of flight time. At the time of the incident he was in one of the observers’ seat, and thus had a ring-side view of the drama as it unfolded. The other flight deck crew were Richard de Crespigny (Pilot in Command, 15,000hrs), Harry Wubben (Route Check Captain, 20,000hrs) Matt Hicks (First Officer, 11,000hrs and Mark Johnson (Second Officer 8,000hrs). With the Cabin Service Manager (Michael Von Reth) this team boasted some 140 years of experience and over 71,000 flight hrs – a significant factor in the successful outcome of the incident.We put a few questions to Captain Evans on his amazing story. (all incident pics courtesy D Evans). 

You can also read it here (with pictures and a more comfortable organization)


ASChan: Can you tell me about your background? How long have you been at Qantas?DE: I joined Qantas in 1984 – nearly 27 years I’ve been flying. I’ve flown the Boeing 767, 747 Classic and 747-400, Airbus A330 and now the Airbus A380 for the past two years.ASChan: What does the conversion training to A380 consist of?DE: In my position I was a check pilot on the 747-400 and part of the requirements were to have some Airbus experience for Australian CASA (Civil Aviation and Safety Authority). As the A380 was a new type, and we were a launch customer, they required us to have some Airbus experience. My training involved an Airbus A330 endorsement and fly that aircraft type (as it turned out for two years) mainly because the A380 was a little bit late from Airbus, and then the type conversion from 330 to 380 which was a lot easier than the 747 to A330 conversion.ASChan: In terms of the QF32 flight itself – which seat were you on in that flight? What was your responsibility? DE: My job on the flight was supervising check captain. We had a captain who was undergoing training to become a check captain who was doing a route check on the operating captain. So we had a normal crew of three, first officer, second officer and a captain who was undergoing training to become a check captain, under my supervision – so I was the supervising check captain.ASChan: Can you give us the background to the flight, weather, time of day? 
DE: Qantas 32 was the continuation of a flight from UK to Australia via Singapore. It arrived in the morning of Singapore, touching down around 7am. There was a crew change and basically a refuel stop. We took over to operate the service to Sydney, Australia. We departed Singapore about 9.30 in the morning on a clear, sunny tropical Singapore day. The events soon after departure, very soon after departure, required us to return to Singapore.
ASChan: Can you take us through the sequence of events as they happened?DE: We departed normally, the aeroplane was relatively light and consequently used a relatively low thrust setting for departure. Taking off to the south-west out of Singapore requires a left turn, tracking out towards the Indonesian island of Batam. As we were climbing and accelerating – basically completing our acceleration stage to clean configuration, passing through around about 7,000ft, the No2 engine, without any warning, exploded.ASChan: What were you and the crew’s first awareness of the problem? How did you notice it from the masses of messages you must have had?   One of a series of Cockpit pics during the emergency by Harry Wubben, Route Check Captain using an iPhone (via D Evans). DE: The first thing, of course, was the noise that alerted us to something had gone wrong. In my position in the second observers seat, so I didn’t have a good view of the instrumentation at that stage. Standing up and looking over the first officers shoulder, it was quite obvious we had a major problem with our No2 engine. Very soon after departure we had a number of ECAM (electronic centralised aircraft monitor) messages. The first one was ‘Engine 2 turbine overheat’. That requires the thrust lever to be reduced back to idle with a time condition, which is round about 30 seconds and wait for the turbine temperature to settle. During that 30-second period the message reconfigured to an ‘engine fire’ momentarily and then went back to the ‘turbine overheat’ message. The time condition re-set itself to another 30 seconds. The first officer had the presence of mind to start a stopwatch and it was obvious that that 30 second period had passed, so we (as in the operating crew) proceeded to shut the engine down as per the ECAM requirements.ASChan: When you have this many crew on the flightdeck, what is the division of responsibilities in tackling the problem? Who does what?DE: The Airbus system is you have a pilot flying and a pilot, non-flying. The Captain was the pilot flying, Richard de Crespigny, and the initial response is ECAM actions. As the pilot flying calls those responses, he assumes responsibility for flying the aircraft and the radio. The First Officer then proceeds to action the checklists. And our role, my role as an observer on the flightdeck at that point was literally supernumerary – we were watching the actions.ASChan: How controllable was the aircraft after the incident? Do you think if it happened further into the flight, away from a diversion field the rest of the systems may have packed up?   The view out of the wing following the explosion. The nearest hole was the path taken by the turbine disc, which is still missing. DE: I don’t think so. The engine explosion, if it happened later in the flight, probably wouldn’t have made a lot of difference. We had a number of checklists to deal with and 43 ECAM messages in the first 60 seconds after the explosion and probably another ten after that. So it was nearly a two-hour process to go through those items and action each one (or not action them) depending on what the circumstances were. Our role in the backseat was to deal with some serious issues as we were doing each item. We were part of the CRM (Crew Resource Management) process, to either suggest to go ahead with the procedure or not. Certainly in the case of some of the fuel messages we elected not to open cross-feed valves and try and transfer fuel in a wing that had obvious damage.ASChan: What happened next? You’re dealing with the messages one by one – take us through recovery and getting back to the airport.   The A380 glass cockpit – note the top centre panel showing only Engine No 3 is operating normally – the Number 2 having suffered the uncontained failure, while 1 and 4 are operating in ‘degraded mode’. DE: I think the timeframe was nearly two hours which went by in the blink of an eye really. Certainly with the obvious damage to the aircraft the first thing we needed to establish was some calming PAs to the passengers, which actually was my role and I made the first PA. Then also co-ordinate our cabin crew and basically keep the passengers informed as best we could as we went through the process. We made it quite clear it was going to take some time and we would keep them informed as best we could. The process – the first things we dealt with were the engine overheat, as I mentioned, and the shutdown of the engine. In the shutdown process the ECAM has an option of ‘damaged’ or not and of course we chose ‘damaged’ which then leads you through discharging some fire bottles and shutting the engine down with the fire shut-off switch. We did that but unfortunately we got no confirmation of any fire bottles being discharged. Subsequently that was more wiring damage that didn’t give us the indication. As it turns out, we did have one discharged bottle and one that didn’t which was comforting.The Engine 2 was shut down. Part of the damage caused Engines 1 & 4 to go into a ‘degraded’ mode. The engines were still operating and Engine 3 was the only engine that was operating normally. Basically, dealing with all those things took some time, then the next series of messages were hydraulic problems. We had indications that the green hydraulic system was losing all its fluid. The Airbus A380 carries two and, unlike most conventional aeroplanes, most flying surfaces aren’t powered by hydraulics, they have their own electric-hydraulic actuators. There is a green and yellow system and they spilt their duties between things like brakes, undercarriage retraction/extension. With the green system out we had to deploy the nose gear and body gear using the gravity extension system. With the loss of the green system we dealt with that and curiously we had the hydraulic pumps of Engine 4 indicating failed as well. Engine 3, the trusty engine, was the only engine that was producing hydraulics for the aircraft for the yellow system.ASChan: When this was happening, what was going through your head in terms of ‘this seems more serious than an engine shutdown’?DE: It was getting very confusing with the avalanche of messages we were getting. So the only course of action we have is the discipline of following the ECAM and dealing with each one as we came through with them. The engine shutdown was completed, the hydraulic systems were dealt with and then the next systems we were looking at were the loss of various flight controls. This was due to the degradation and the loss of some electrical buses, bus 1 and 2 had failed. Basically, just going through the ECAM actions, acknowledging them and working through the systems display to see what was working and was not.   "It was getting very confusing with the avalanche of messages" Captain David Evans The next thing we were dealing with was the fuel. We had some obvious leaks, some severe, out of the Engine 2 feedtank. We dispatched the second officer back to the cabin to have a look and there was a fairly significant fuel trail behind the aircraft – or fluid trail because at that stage we couldn’t determine whether it was hydraulic fluid or fuel. We were getting messages about imbalance, losing fuel out of one side and not the other. And those messages were some of the ECAM messages that we didn’t follow. We were very concerned the damage to the galleries, the forward and aft transfer galleries, whether they were intact, whether we should be transferring fuel. We elected not to.We ended up with quite a significant imbalance between the two – nearly ten tonnes of fuel. That took time to absorb and discuss whether we should or shouldn’t. Subsequent to the hydraulic system we lost some braking, the wing brakes went into what they call the emergency system – ‘accumulator only’- this gives about three or four applications before the accumulator runs out of brake energy. Also the anti-skid on the wing gear. Now with the antiskid being unserviceable on the wing gear its very important to have the aeroplane nose gear down that limits the braking on the wing gear to 1,000psi. If you have lift and not all the weight on the wing gear you run the risk of locking the brakes up and bursting tyres.Then we come to the electrical system. Bus 1 and 2 we’d lost. We looked to start the APU but it wouldn’t take up any of the load. It just managed to burn fuel – that was all. Engine 1 drive had disconnected. Again there was a procedure to follow. We had pneumatic leaks. We had major air leaks, pneumatic leaks, in the left wing, Engine 2 bleed leak and outer wing leaks. The leak isolation system had taken over to seal up the holes for us – which was a good thing.   The crew saw the full damage to the R-R Trent 900 once on the ground. We lost one of the landing gear computers and once we’d extended the undercarriage using the alternate system we had no indication it was down until we’d gone to the system page to make confirmation of that. Happily it indicated that the remaining system told us the wing gear had extended correctly. And then the autothrust – with two engines in degraded mode (including Engine 3) we’d lost the autothrust and all the thrust control was done manually. Various vent, air conditioning and cooling systems had also failed. With Engine 1 and 4 being in degraded mode it was discussed whether or not to really use those actively and the decision was made to leave them in a particular power setting and control the aircraft’s speed with Engine 3 only – the one engine that was in a normal mode.And once we had established all that then we had to work out whether we could actually stop on the runway that was available to us. We didn’t have the ability to dump fuel, the fuel dumping system had failed and we were about 50 tonnes over our maximum landing weight. In the Airbus and the A380 we don’t carry performance and landing charts, we have a performance application. Putting in the ten items affecting landing performance on the initial pass, the computation failed. It gave a message saying it was unable to calculate that many failures. So we then looked at them in more detail and rejected ones that we considered minor and things that were affecting landing performance on wet runways. It was a beautiful day in Singapore thankfully and not wet so it obviously wasn’t going to affect our landing performance. After we’d eliminated about three or four items the computer happily made a calculation and it gave us a touchdown speed of about 165kt and showed us about  130m of surplus runway (it’s a 4,000m runway) so basically said we could stop on the runway. We had also lost the use of our leading-edge slats which consequently with the overweight condition made our approach speed quite fast – 35kt more than normal.The other thing we were concerned with was because we had lost the ability to transfer fuel we were concerned whether the aircraft’s centre of gravity (CoG) was going outside limits. So we ran some weight and balance applications to determine where our CoG would be and also whether or not we could keep lateral balance. Thankfully it remained within the flight envelope.   QF32 on the ground at Singapore. With no power to taxi, it took nearly an hour for airstairs to reach the aircraft. Then we elected to commence the approach. With the loss of various flight controls we decided to do control checks as each flap setting was taken. Richard, who was flying at this stage, elected to take first stage of flap and run through some manoeuvres to make sure the aircraft was controllable at each stage down to configuration 3 (or flap 3). The aeroplane seemed to handle quite well, very sluggish because of the loss of flight controls. Then we elected to extend the undercarriage on the gravity system and then do another series of flight control checks, to make sure it was flyable (which it was) and advise the air traffic control we were ready to make an approach. So we commenced our approach about 20 miles out, at about 4,000ft, giving us a nice, long, stable approach. Thankfully the weather was fine, wind was quite calm and we made the approach successfully.ASChan: And there was no discussion to go around and try to burn more fuel off to get the weight down? DE: Under the circumstances we were keen to get the aircraft on the ground. We’d spent nearly two hours in the air at that stage anyway and the longer we stayed in the air, the bigger the fuel imbalance was getting. We knew we could stop on the runway so there was no point in staying airborne any longer than we needed to be.ASChan: So you landed – the next thing according to reports was one of the engines kept running?DE: I think the biggest concern for us was when we had stopped on the runway. We’d organised the fire services to meet us at the end of the runway, which they did. We shut down in the normal way. As I mentioned earlier we had the APU running but sadly it wouldn’t take up any electrical load – so the aircraft went into ‘essential power’ or battery power, which gives you the use of only one VHF radio. That was dedicated to the fire commander, the fellow in charge on the ground. He advised us we still had an engine running. So they were very reluctant to come near the aircraft with the engine running. He also advised us we had some high-pressure fuel leaks coming out of the left-hand wing and as we had used maximum braking effort to stop the wing gear temperatures had gone over 900degs C, so raw fuel pouring on hot brakes. So our concerns were obviously fires and we ‘encouraged’ the fire service to come closer, which they did. We made all effort to try and shut down the No1 Engine but unfortunately it continued to run.From then on, it became an exercise in preserving the passengers as best we could. We had the aircraft with no air conditioning and its about midday now in Singapore – so its getting very hot in the cabin. We’ve lost our satellite phone so the trusty mobile phones came out and called the company in Sydney to relay back to the company in Singapore, to dispatch some stairs and buses to the aircraft. We were 4,000m down the end of the runway and steps don’t go very fast so it was nearly an hour before we got the first set of stairs to the aircraft and another hour by the time the last passenger  departed the aircraft. So it was nearly two hours on the ground with major fuel leaks and engines running.   View of the main gear after landing. Note the fire retardant foam. Brake temperatures reached 900deg C. I think most probably the most serious part of the whole exercise, when you think back at it, was the time on the runway after we’d stopped. Because we were very concerned and conscious of evacuating the aircraft using slides. We had 433 passengers onboard, we had elderly, we had wheelchair passengers, so the moment you start evacuating, you are going to start injuring people. So a lot of discussion was had on the flight deck about where was the safest place for the passengers? We’ve got a situation where there is fuel, hot brakes and an engine that we can’t shut down. And really the safest place was onboard the aircraft until such time as things changed. So we had the cabin crew with an alert phase the whole time through ready to evacuate, open doors, inflate slides at any moment. As time went by, that danger abated and, thankfully, we were lucky enough to get everybody off very calmly and very methodically through one set of stairs.ASChan: Was that a difficult decision to take to keep everyone onboard the aircraft?DE: Well of course, you’ve managed to get this thing back on the runway in one piece but you don’t really want to hurt anybody. It’s not a difficult decision, its a process you have to go through to see where is the safest place for passengers. It was a unanimous decision it was onboard the aircraft – until things changed if they had changed. We had the cabin crew primed and ready to go if things deteriorated.ASChan: Following the incident, what lessons have you learnt from this, what lessons has Qantas learnt from this? Is there anything you think you would have done differently or the crew should have done differently?DE: Its one of those things that because we had five of us on the flight deck – of course there are lessons to be learned but I think on the day we did absolutely everything. In hindsight I don’t think any of us would have done anything differently. Questions were asked ‘why did we spend so long in the air’? But we had to spend that time in the air to determine the state of the aircraft and it took that long to do that. I think we made the right decision to keep everyone on the aircraft. We had the contingency to evacuate the aeroplane at any moment if things deteriorated. We had fire services in attendance. Certainly we had an engine we couldn’t shut down and that engine continued to run for another five hours before the fire services drowned it with fire retardant.Lessons learnt – Qantas had a very sound system in place – because we’d spent nearly two hours in the air, the crisis centre in Sydney had been convened. All things were going very well from a company point of view. I think the initial reports coming through, even before we had landed, was the aircraft had crashed. The company was aware of that – because we’d lost our No2 electrical bus we’d lost the satellite phone, so we couldn’t communicate airborne directly with the company. They were getting telemetry from the aircraft that it was still flying.ASChan: You had five crew on the flight deck. Do you think a standard crew of two would have been able to cope?   First Officer Matt Hicks and Senior Check Captain David Evans underneath the wing of VH-OQA after landing. DE: That’s a very interesting question. Really we’ll never know the answer to that. In reality I would hope to believe that a normal crew complement would have dealt with it, cope with it in exactly the same way as we had. We just had the luxury of two other individuals to confirm the decisions that were being made by the operating pilots.ASChan: So a standard crew would have done the same thing, but perhaps taken a little longer?DE: May have done, may have done. But I think the end result would have been exactly the same.ASChan: Going forward are there any recommendations for Qantas to modify its training, or Airbus to modify its training to perhaps generate these kind of ECAM messages in the sim?   The A380 centre console – note the alerts on the centre MFD. It took the crew two hours to work through these before landing. DE: Its interesting you ask that question. We tried to recreate it in the sim and we can’t! I think it was just such an extraordinary day. Yes there are always lessons to be learnt, but training has been confirmed that we are training well. I’m sure Airbus will look back at its systems and there will probably be changes because, in our case, we had, as an example, messages that would say ‘aircraft CoG out of limits’ and was asking us to move fuel from horizontal stabiliser forward to bring it within limits and the next message would say the ‘THS transfer not available’. So one message contradicting another – that sort of thing, I’m sure would go back and be looked at. But at the end of the day common sense and airmanship takes over. We didn’t blindly follow the ECAMs. We looked at each one individually, analysed it, and either rejected it or actioned it as we thought we should. From a training point of view it doesn’t matter what aeroplane you are flying airmanship has to take over. In fact, Airbus has some golden rules which we all adhered to on the day – aviate, navigate and communicate – in that order.ASChan: Interesting you mention airmanship. As a training/check captain are you personally worried about the next generation of pilots who may be fixated with the glass cockpits?   Senior Check Captain David Evans and Route Check Captain Harry Wubben. DE: Absolutely.  Nothing will replace experience. In a legacy airline like Qantas where we have the luxury, if you like, of very experienced pilots (the most junior pilot to the most senior all have extensive backgrounds in aviation – whether it be military or general aviation). That can’t be replaced.ASChan: What’s your opinion of the A380’s survivability compared to other types you have flown? 
DE: Well I think the Airbus A380 – it’s a testament to the aircraft that we managed to get the aeroplane successfully on to the ground. The fly-by-wire system, albeit with the damage we were in an alternate law, it still was very flyable. Now comparing that to other types I have flown I am sure that
Boeing types would have been equally flyable, but they would have been a lot more difficult, I’m sure.ASChan: Finally how does this incident rate in terms of other emergencies you have faced in your career? DE: It’s pretty well up there! I’ve had other incidents in the past. My background is not military its general aviation- I’ve had engine failures in light twins – and aircraft that don’t perform very well. But this is probably the most spectacular by far!ASChan: Thank you very much for your time.


  A relived QF32 crew the following morning in Singapore. (From L to R First Officer Matt Hicks, Check Captain Harry Wubben, PIC Captain Richard de Crespigny, Senior Check Captain David Evans, Second Officer Mark Johnson.) As Captain Evans notes this crew had the ‘luxury’ of five experienced pilots to draw on when the incident occurred. But there are other salient points – the ‘avalanche’ of messages from the A380’s systems (some contradicting each other) meant that the crew drew on their full resources to decide which were important and which could be disregarded. Another key point was in ‘tricking’ the performance calculator to come up with an acceptable landing speed – again a demonstration of superb airmanship so vital in these incidents.Another facet is the robust construction of the A380 – despite multiple failures in engines, hydraulics and electrics the aircraft degraded gracefully and was still flyable.Finally Captain Evans draws attention to the training and professionalism of the 24 cabin crew, who kept anxious and increasingly hot passengers calm and under control, not only in the air but also on the ground while they waited for the stairs to arrive.This incident then, while extremely unusual, goes to show the value of training, experience and the most professional type of CRM (Crew Resource Management) practised by Qantas.

from the Royal Aeronautical Society - You can also read it here



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Some Pictures


Engine loss

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After an engine explosion


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Rejecting Take off

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Engine damaged

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Engine fire on landing

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Engine fire damage


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