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Old 7th Mar 2005, 16:38   #1 (permalink)
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Plane's rudder partially fell off


Air Transat took some of its A-310 aircraft out of service on Sunday after an incident involving one of its planes en route from Cuba to Quebec.

On Saturday, an Air Transat Airbus 310 flying from Varadero, Cuba to Quebec City developed what the airline is calling a "mechanical problem" about 25 minutes into the flight.

A spokesperson for the airline said the plane's rudder "partially fell off."

On Sunday three Airbus planes in Toronto and two in Vancouver were suspended from flying until they are thoroughly inspected.

Air Transat has a total of 10 A-310 models.

The airline had to make alternate arrangements for affected passengers.

Air Transat : Status on Flight TS961 of March 6, 2005
Monday March 7, 12:28 am ET

MONTREAL, March 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Air Transat Flight TS 961 that left Varadero, Cuba, for Québec City, had to return to Varadero approximately 30 minutes after take-off, due to a mechanical failure. There were 261 passengers and 9 crewmembers on board the Airbus A310 aircraft, which landed normally in Varadero at 4:18 p.m. local time on Sunday. Deplaning occurred normally through the loading bridge.

Passengers were sent to hotels in Varadero. Passengers will arrive in Québec City in the early morning hours of Monday.

Preliminary observations indicate that a portion of the rudder detached from the aircraft, as the flight was progressing under normal conditions at its cruising altitude.

Air Transat operates 10 Airbus A310s. The Company immediately carried out a thorough visual examination of all its Airbus A310s. The inspection was completed in the following hours and no anomaly was detected. The inspection caused delays on certain flights but no Air Transat flights have been cancelled. The Company expects to be back to a normal schedule on Monday.

Following the incident, Air Transat immediately advised Airbus, Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Based on available information, an investigation will be conducted by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, with support and participation of Cuban authorities, Air Transat and Airbus.

The aircraft involved in Flight TS 961, an Airbus A310, was put into service in 1991. It had an A-Check inspection on March 1, 2005 and its next major C-Check inspection is scheduled for 2006.

Flight TS 961 left Varadero at 2:48 a.m. on Sunday, March 6.The problem occurred sometime about 3:15 a.m. and the aircraft landed normally at 4:18 a.m. in Varadero
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 19:08   #2 (permalink)
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Air Transat loses A310 rudder inflight

Was reading through A.net and came across a very interesting topic regarding an Air Transat A310 that lost most of the rudder
after take off from Varadero this past weekend. The photo shows the rudder almost completely gone. Sorry dont know how to post it on here. My question is, this is a significant incident. How come it hasnt been throughly dissected by the experts on PPRuNe?
This is much worse than the Concorde delamination problems.
Any comments greatly appreciated.
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 19:10   #3 (permalink)
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Do you have the link?

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Old 7th Mar 2005, 19:13   #4 (permalink)
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----------------------------------------Occurrence 4----------------------------------------

Occurrence No. : A05F0047 Occurrence Type: ACCIDENT
Class : CLASS 2 Reportable Type:
Date : 06-03-2005 Time : 07:15 UTC
Region of Responsibility : HEAD OFFICE

Aircraft Information:

Registration : C-GPAT Operator : AIR TRANSAT
Manufacturer : AIRBUS Operator Type: COMMERCIAL
Model : A310-300 CARs Info: 705 - AIRLINER
Injuries: Fatal : 0 Serious : 0 Minor : 0 None : 268 Unknown : 0

Occurrence Summary :

A05F0047: Air Transat 961, an Airbus A310-300, registration C-GPAT, serial # 597, departed Varadero, Cuba for Quebec (Quebec). While in the early enroute phase of the flight, aircraft control problems were encountered. The flight then returned to Varadero, and On arrival at Varadero, it was discovered that the aircraft rudder was missing. The TSB sent 2 investigators to Cuba, accompanied by a Transport Canada Technical Advisor. It appears that the occurrence commenced over international waters. In accordance with Annex 13, Canada, as the State of Registry, will be investigating. Cuba has offered assistance.
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 19:32   #5 (permalink)
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There is a picture posted of the Verticle stab at:

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Old 7th Mar 2005, 20:02   #6 (permalink)
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different angle (for what it's worth)

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Old 7th Mar 2005, 20:09   #7 (permalink)
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What's x-wind limit with this config?
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 20:25   #8 (permalink)
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the plane's rudder "partially fell off."
a portion of the rudder detached
might qualify as the understatement of the year ....
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 21:24   #9 (permalink)
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Looks like hinges are still there
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 21:32   #10 (permalink)
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"Understatement is definitely putting it mildly"
How about a freakin miracle. Reminds me of the
drawings of what happened to the JAL B747 that
had the fuselage bulkhead rupture and tear off the
rudder. We all know what happened with that.
How lucky was this aircraft to get back down to
terra firma with out becoming shark bait.
I read a report that said the aircraft came out of an
"A" check on Mar 1st. Usually that is just routine maintenance.
Is a rudder check usually part of an "A" check?
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 21:57   #11 (permalink)
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Well done to the pilots, but please can an A310 pilot or a design engineer state whether it would be expected that the aircraft be landed safely every time in this rudderless condition, or could this easily develop into a full loss of control situation?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 22:16   #12 (permalink)
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Florida divert?

Comments in the avcanada forum suggest that, if they had diverted to Florida (as might seem reasonable given their position when they turned around), there would have been Big Trouble due to contravention of Cuba embargo; even in an emergency situation, it's suggested that a landing in the USA would result in aircraft being seized and crew jailed.

I've never operated in the Caribbean so have no personal knowledge; would someone please tell me this is BS, and a flight originating in Cuba can make an emergency landing in the US without legal problems?!

IF not, surely ICAO could and would throw the book at the Americans...?

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Old 7th Mar 2005, 22:17   #13 (permalink)
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Its complete BS.

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Old 7th Mar 2005, 22:34   #14 (permalink)
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Sleeping Freight Dog: Reminds me of the drawings of what happened to the JAL B747 that had the fuselage bulkhead rupture and tear off the rudder. We all know what happened with that. How lucky was this aircraft to get back down to terra firma with out becoming shark bait.
Slight difference - the JAL 747 lost its entire fin, IIRC.
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 23:02   #15 (permalink)
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Boy, those Transat crews sure are building a great reputation for their superior stick and (ahem) rudder skills.
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Old 7th Mar 2005, 23:07   #16 (permalink)
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Well done to the pilots for putting this plane down safely.

Although I'm not a pilot or engineer, I would think losing the rudder completely should actually be less of a problem than having it stuck in "full left" or "full right" , provided the rest of the fin is big enough to provide longitudinal stability. Still looks like Airbus should have another carefull look at the tail of the A300/310 series, as this seems to be the weak spot on this aircraft
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Old 8th Mar 2005, 00:07   #17 (permalink)

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I suspect you would be comparing a 767 to the 310 for the same capacity, but since it was obviously just a kneejerk fanboy comment I'll just mention the sardine can/convertible 737 and leave it at that.

Ratherbeflying - well put

Amazing that some here want the A300/310 dead for tail issues when Concorde lost tail rudder parts with quite interesting frequency and yet other folk want them resurrected!
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Old 8th Mar 2005, 00:26   #18 (permalink)
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I would think that a flight from Cuba would be allowed to land in the US due to an emergency without much problem. I have flown charter flights from JFK to Havana and Guantanamo so it is possible. I'm not sure what hoops my company (JFK based) had to jump through for these flights but apparently it isn't too difficult.
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Old 8th Mar 2005, 01:20   #19 (permalink)
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There are daily charter flights between the US and Cuba... including American, United, Continental etc... so there is absolutely no reason Air Transat would not be allowed to land its Cuba flight in the US under normal circums let alone if they declared an emergency... fact is that Air Transat released the following this afternoon :

MONTREAL, March 7 - Air Transat wishes to point out that the decision to return to Varadero rather then land in Florida was made by the captain together with the Operational Control Center because the Company has access to maintenance staff at this airport. It is untrue that American authorities were opposed to allowing the plane to land on their territory.
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Old 8th Mar 2005, 06:04   #20 (permalink)
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I've always thought it a bit odd that the A310 has a single section rudder with 3 hydraulic actuators - what if top and bottom say 'left' and middle says 'right'?

Older a/c, such as the VC10, had multi-section rudders with each section driven independently from separate actuators and each had its own yaw damper.
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