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Boeing 707 - 3 Engines Lost - 116 Passengers Saved

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Boeing 707 - 3 Engines Lost - 116 Passengers Saved

Old 31st Jan 2024, 05:26
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Boeing 707 - 3 Engines Lost - 116 Passengers Saved

A few people have asked about this incident that occurred in 1980 that could have easily resulted in the loss of a Boeing 707 and 116 passengers and crew….if not for the airmanship and skill of the pilot up front…Captain Garry Cooper.

On this particular day, Garry set off from Amman, Jordan, for a routine 3-day sector in a Boeing 707, along with his First Officer (FO) and Flight Engineer (FE).

The plan was….

Day 1: PM departure Amman – Kuwait – Ras Al-Khaimah, UAE – Varna, Bulgaria, AM arrival.

Day 2: Crew rest

Day 3: PM departure Varna – Gatwick, London – Geneva, Switzerland – Amman, AM arrival.

The B707 was owned by a conglomerate but was contracted to Alia to fly their routes. Alia was later renamed to Royal Jordanian Airlines. The flight number on this day was RJ613.

I’ve added some images at the end to visualise some of the events.

On start-up in Amman, engine #3 triggered a spurious fire warning indication. This was fixed and the flight departed a short time later.

On approach into Kuwait, about 11:00pm local time, the #3 fire warning indication triggered again. This was of course treated as a real warning indication and #3 engine was secured and a 3-engine approach was commenced.

It was about 30*C on arrival into Kuwait, with a significant inversion at about 1,500ft with temperatures increasing anywhere up to 50*C. There were gas flares above numerous oil wells in the area. With the smoke/pollution trapped under the inversion, visibility was poor and the Kuwait runway could not be sighted. On a 3-engine missed approach, climbing directly into the hot inversion layer would have killed any performance, so the aircraft was accelerated to climb speed at 1,000ft and zoomed up through that performance-sapping layer.

The aircraft was diverted to Dhahran in Saudi Arabia on 3 engines, just over 200nm to the southeast.

After an uneventful landing, the engineers at Dhahran again repaired the faulty #3 engine fire indication system. Preparations were put in place to continue the short sector to Ras Al-Khaimah in the UAE, about 300nm to the east.

Takeoff from Dhahran well after midnight was on runway 34 right, with a planned right turn, taking the route just north of Bahrain enroute to Ras Al-Khaimah. This is where the fun begins!

Just after takeoff, Garry called for the gear and flaps up. Climb thrust was set, when the #4 engine fire light illuminated. Garry confirmed it was engine #4, which was also confirmed by the FE. BUT, because the FE had already shut down engine #3 twice already today, muscle memory prevailed, and the FE inadvertently shut down engine #3 again! They were just entering the right turn at this time towards Bahrain. Nothing like a surprise double asymmetric situation!

Garry called for #3 to be restarted and for #4 to be secured. Garry then called for max power. The FE ‘firewalled’ all 4 thrust levers, and due to the engines still being in an asymmetric configuration, it caused the aircraft to yaw significantly, making it challenging for Garry to maintain control and balanced flight.

During this excursion from stable flight, the aircraft momentarily became significantly out of balance which caused notable disturbed airflow over the engine nacelles whilst at max power and relatively low speed. Engine #2 had a severe compressor stall, which created a significant ‘pop’ as the air blew forward out of the intake. These engines were fitted with ‘blow in doors’ on the outside of the engine nacelles. Their spring-loaded design allows them to open (under suction), allowing additional air to enter the engine when at high power and low speed. This significant pop caused some of these ‘blow IN doors’ to do the exact opposite - they blew OUT and off the engine. One blew off into #1 engine causing an immediate #1 engine fire light.

So a quick stocktake on the available engines: #1 and #4 had their fire warning lights activated. The FE had still not secured #4 which was still actually providing some thrust. #1 and #2 were rumbling providing little to no thrust (#1 ingested a metal door, most likely severely damaged, and #2 was still in a deep compressor stall). And that one good engine?....#3 had still not been restarted by the FE. So they’re down to 1 of 4 engines providing thrust (#4), and that one had a fire light!

Garry made a direct track for runway 12 left at Bahrain. He called Bahrain on 121.5 GUARD, letting them know his intentions to land on 12L in a few minutes and for them to clear the runway. ATC did not comprehend the magnitude of the situation and cleared him to enter a holding pattern. Not an option! The aircraft remained flapless and a direct descent was made for the threshold.

Now at only 1,500ft, there simply wasn’t time to think things through and formulate a nice plan. The only plan was to ‘get on the ground ASAP’! With a severe lack of available thrust, the aircraft was committed to land - there was no go-around option.

In the flapless configuration, Garry touched down fast, with only emergency brakes and no nosewheel steering. All tyres were blown trying to bring the 707 to a stop.

The flight crew described this ordeal as a terrifying experience!

The sequence of unanticipated compounding emergencies was akin to QF32. The sequence of events and human factor injects would have seemed too far-fetched in a normal emergency simulator training session….but here they were.

When the dust had settled, the aircraft was on the ground in one piece. But most importantly, 116 passengers and crew had been saved due to Garry’s raw flying skills.

Garry was no stranger to dealing with time-critical flying emergencies. 14 years prior in 1966, he piloted his Mirage III fighter jet to a safe landing on a disused WW2 airstrip after losing the engine. Just after takeoff from RAAF Base Williamtown in his single-engine Mirage, a large eagle hawk was ingested down the engine intake causing the engine to compressor stall. He zoomed to gain height and attempted an unsuccessful relight procedure. The Mirage glide performance was akin to a brick.

Garry’s airmanship endorsement by the Air Force’s senior leadership read similar to his Bahrain incident. It read, “Flight Lieutenant Cooper displayed a very high degree of professionalism throughout a difficult and dangerous situation and the manner in which he followed correct drills and procedures for the forced landing was exemplary. That he could assess and take advantage of so critical a situation in the time available and then bring the heavily loaded aircraft to a stop in such a short distance reflects credit on himself, his training and the RAAF’.

After Garry saved the B707 aircraft and passengers in Bahrain, Alia saw this as a wonderful job interview! The King of Jordan, King Hussein bin Talal, gave his personal thanks to Garry for saving the 116 passengers and crew. At the same time, Alia offered him a job!

You can read more about Garry’s flying history on this Wikipedia site:

Garry Cooper (pilot) - Wikipedia


Planned 3-day sector.

B707 from Alia, noting Garry's B707 was contracted to Alia with a different company colour scheme.





TruBlu351 is offline  
Old 31st Jan 2024, 06:30
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Interesting read - You mention the RJ163 B707 was owned by a conglomerate but was contracted to Alia to fly their routes.
Alia Royal Jordanian Airlines was later renamed to Royal Jordanian Airlines.

Alia did, from 1975 until 1980 have a 'Charter' division called Jordanian World Airways, which was a subsidiary of Alia flying passenger and cargo flights.
They had 2 ex Pan Am 707C's painted in Alia colours, but had JWA titles.
JY-AEE and JY-AED named The City of Al-Karameh.

I wonder if RJ163 was JY-AED >?

In August 1975 JY-AEE was chartered by Alia to Royal Air Maroc, and was destroyed when it crashed near Agadir, Morocco.
All 188 passengers and crew were killed.
The aircraft, operated by Alia Royal Jordanian Airlines' charter subsidiary Jordanian World Airways, carried out the charter flight from Paris-Le Bourget Airport (LBG), France to Agadir on behalf of Royal Air Maroc.
Alia also lost a 707C JY-ADO in 1973 at Kano when it crashed on landing at Kano.
The Boeing 707 had been chartered by Nigeria Airways to fly Hajj Pilgrims back from Jeddah to Lagos.
Bad weather at Lagos forced the crew to divert to Kano.
176 passengers and crew were killed.
rog747 is offline  
Old 31st Jan 2024, 09:34
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Not just the 116 souls in this incident have reason to thank Capt/Flt Lt Cooper. I would urge you to follow the Wiki link in post #1; quite remarkable.
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Old 31st Jan 2024, 23:57
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Well... A lil bit different from the famous 707 Lulsgate Cowboys story and Khan's daddy & son 😁
Tanx for the lovely story TruBlu!

Last edited by JanetFlight; 1st Feb 2024 at 03:27.
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Old 1st Feb 2024, 03:13
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Many thanks for the enlightenment TruBlu
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Old 4th Feb 2024, 15:18
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Originally Posted by rog747
Interesting read - You mention the RJ163 B707 was owned by a conglomerate but was contracted to Alia to fly their routes.
Alia Royal Jordanian Airlines was later renamed to Royal Jordanian Airlines.

Alia did, from 1975 until 1980 have a 'Charter' division called Jordanian World Airways, which was a subsidiary of Alia flying passenger and cargo flights.
They had 2 ex Pan Am 707C's painted in Alia colours, but had JWA titles.
JY-AEE and JY-AED named The City of Al-Karameh.

I wonder if RJ163 was JY-AED >?

In August 1975 JY-AEE was chartered by Alia to Royal Air Maroc, and was destroyed when it crashed near Agadir, Morocco.
All 188 passengers and crew were killed.
The aircraft, operated by Alia Royal Jordanian Airlines' charter subsidiary Jordanian World Airways, carried out the charter flight from Paris-Le Bourget Airport (LBG), France to Agadir on behalf of Royal Air Maroc.
Alia also lost a 707C JY-ADO in 1973 at Kano when it crashed on landing at Kano.
The Boeing 707 had been chartered by Nigeria Airways to fly Hajj Pilgrims back from Jeddah to Lagos.
Bad weather at Lagos forced the crew to divert to Kano.
176 passengers and crew were killed.
Hi rog747, thanks for the info. I'll see if I can track down which aircraft rego was involved in this incident. I don't believe it had an Alia or Jordanian World paint scheme.
TruBlu351 is offline  
Old 4th Feb 2024, 15:21
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Originally Posted by JanetFlight
Well... A lil bit different from the famous 707 Lulsgate Cowboys story and Khan's daddy & son 😁
Tanx for the lovely story TruBlu!
Hi JanetFlight...hah, hadn't heard of those Cowboy's before! Just looked them up. Talk about 'look the other way' on the aircraft serviceability! What could possibly go wrong?!!
TruBlu351 is offline  
Old 12th Feb 2024, 16:06
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what a guy! Respect,
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