Top Stories 1. "Mayday!" Qantas jet dices with ditching off Perth Ben Sandilands writes:
As if a fake ground engineer and dodgy electrical repairs weren’t enough to rattle Qantas regulars, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has dropped an incident report which reminds the airline of the need to make sure its jets have enough fuel to reach Perth.
The report says that on 16 September last year the crew of a Qantas A330 approaching Perth from Singapore for a midnight landing made two missed approaches in fog and then called "Mayday", the international distress signal, as they made a risky autoland approach.
This is the first reference industry sources can find to a Mayday call in an incident report involving a Qantas jet, although some thought there had been one involving multiple engine troubles on a 747 that made a hasty return to Sydney Airport in the 1970s.
The successful third attempt at landing at Perth was made when the Airbus was very low on fuel following the previous two attempts, and the only other course of action would have been to attempt a ditching at sea.
While Qantas international pilots are trained in autoland procedures at some overseas airports, they are not approved for anything other than emergency use at Australian airports because none have ground based navigational aids that are certified as reliably generating signals of sufficient accuracy for such ultra low visibility landings.
The flight had departed from Singapore without enough fuel to make a last minute diversion from Perth to the nearest suitable big jet airport which was Learmonth, 1110 kilometres to the north.
As the uber low key language in the ATSB report makes clear, this was in accordance with long standing Qantas fuel policy in relation to Perth.
But while Perth flights have long been a ‘special case’ for jet airlines in general because of its remoteness from suitable bad weather alternatives, there is a key issue at stake.
Qantas captains are under constant pressure to carry not a litre more in fuel than company operating procedures deem appropriate for each flight.
This tight fuel policy impinges on the traditional authority of captains to rely on their experience and judgement in calculating fuel appropriate to the variable conditions under which a flight operates.
Qantas has now implemented an interim fuel management plan for Perth which in lay terms says more fuel will be loaded whenever there is more than a hint that fog may form over its runways within an interval of some hours of scheduled arrival.
Which is timely, as it yesterday announced a $50 million upgrade to the Perth terminal, which its jets now have more certainty of reaching than was the case one dark and suddenly foggy night last September.
"Qantas captains are under constant pressure to carry not a litre more in fuel than company operating procedures deem appropriate for each flight.
This tight fuel policy impinges on the traditional authority of captains to rely on their experience and judgement in calculating fuel appropriate to the variable conditions under which a flight operates."
Bullsh!t to both the above paragraphs !!!
The policy might require you to load the 'minimum operational requirement' but there is no restriction, implied or expressed, on taking whatever fuel you require for the sector. I certainly have no hesitation in adding extra fuel if I think I'm going to need it, and I've never had a phone call asking why.
"While Qantas international pilots are trained in autoland procedures at some overseas airports, they are not approved for anything other than emergency use at Australian airports because none have ground based navigational aids that are certified as reliably generating signals of sufficient accuracy for such ultra low visibility landings."
Oh FFS, this bs about a QF aircraft considering ditching off PH due to not being able to get in comes up every couple of years on PPRuNe.
The story that blueloo alludes to is a bit different. I think it was Ross McDonald who was on his final command check. I don't know if it was 767 or 747 but I suspect it may have been 747 by virtue of the fact that I think the skipper was Captain Hatton-Ward (his son used to go to my Church and his other son is in Saudi as an instructor on the Hawk last I knew). PH went unforecast crap weather. They diverted to YPLM (I think, it may have been somehwere else) prior to DPA. Divert airfield then went unforecast crap weather. They did a let down and missed out. They then let down on a radial over the water to get a cloud break and came back in about 600'. Ditching never entered into the discussion.
The so called incident at PH where the crew supposedly discussed ditching until magically saved by either ATC, paxing QF crew, paxing AN crew, paxing TAA crew, paxing Australian crew, paxing RAAF crew (insert desired company according to your own bias here) is an urban legend that has probably been distorted from the story above. I've asked about it a few times. Many in QF have heard of the story but no one has ever spoken to anyone else (management, past crew, pax, reporters, safety department or anyone else remotely involved in the company for the last 40 years) that was there or knows that the incident happened. It's crap. One of the more recent versions related on PPRuNe had it happening as late as 1992.
Sandilands, you're a clown. Your previous post on Avalon indicated clown-ish tendencises. This one confirms it!
TL, my understanding is that the actual ILS signal is largely the same set up, just that the back up systems is what makes or breaks you for a CAT II or CAT III runway. If I recall correctly, Aussie airports lack the necessary processes to ensure that the equipment and power switches across to the secondary source within a particular time frame.
Having flown into both LHR in CAT II conditions and autolanding into most autoland permitted runways in Australia at everything down to and including CAT I weather (8 1/2 years on the 767 will do that to you), I can state without a shred of doubt that the only times I've had issues with the ILS signals is when the critical areas were not protected.
Keg................... the diversion you speak of was many many years ago (20?) where on a final command check on a 747 into Perth, the aircraft diverted to Learmonth, made an NDB approach and missed out. The fellow under check decided to let down over the water and proceed back to the airfield visually which he did successfully. He was also successful in passing the check ride!
This event with the A330 and others like it have been discussed many times before, the problem for Perth being: 1. Unreliable forecasts. 2. Lack of low vis landing aids i.e. Cat III ILS with the required procedures. Compared to overseas, we are well behind in not having one CAT III system in Australia even though they have been available for thirty odd years. 3. Suitable diversion airfields being quite a distance away. Note that carrying an alternate is not always the answer as the above shows. I also don't think YPKG as a suitable planned alternate for large jet aircraft. 4. Casa fuel requirements are on the lean side when compared to other international regulators. 5. Fix items 1. & 2. and the problem will mostly go away.
BTW at times I take extra fuel and have never been questioned by the company, nor have I heard of anyone else being questioned.
I remember the fuel fly-spec charts that used to be published showing your personal fuel uplift (above MOR) versus all others, some thought it was pressure, I thought it was informative.
Besides I also remember Lucas (CP back then) clearly saying that he was more concerned about those at the bottem left of the chart (carrying little or nothing over MOR) rather than the top right (carrying heaps).
To me that demonstrated a very sensible approach.
Nowadays its just the fuel conservation group that puts out the occasional newsletter, thats hardly unreasonable pressure to put on an professional Captain and crew.
Just following on from Kegs post (first post was great but next time tell us how you really feel about it). Cat II/III is not only about the LLZ/GS beams having triple uninteruptable power supplies, triple transmitters, triple antenna etc, but also the lighting requirements are to a higher standard, ie approach lighting leading into the touchdown zone, runway and taxiway centreline lighting is closer together etc. Airservices Oz seem to be holding off on Cat III ILS istallations as they hope that development of Cat III capable augmented GPS approaches will save them a heap of money. They will still have to spend money on the lighting systems so they should be fitting that now. It would make it a lot safer in situations like the A330 in Perth.
Location: Boldly going where no split infinitive has gone before..
The point that is being missed here is that in Australia, airlines still operate without routinley carrying fuel to an alternate. Anywhere else in the world, the aircraft would have dispatched with enough fuel to go somewhere else if the destination went down for weather or any other reason.
Did a Cat 1 practice auto land at night/VMC(B767) into Per 21 about 5 mths ago.Wrote up as unsatisfactory,as had to disconnect on roll out about 90kts as the a/c veered to the side of the runway(Rollout annunciated).No known a/c defect and ATC said no a/c or traffic infrigments.
.....exactly why cat 2 and below have bigger protection margins...........still beats a ditching though.
There was also the recent incident where the A330 autolanded in Sydney due to fog, although in that incident ATC knew that the 34 end of the runway had good vis but the ATIS was indicating 800m. I think that a Cat III ILS is like the issue of manning the tower at AVV, it will enhance safety but someone else should pay for it.