View Full Version : Air Wales Emergency Landing Cardiff

VC10 Rib22
21st Jun 2004, 14:17
Earlier today I was on BMIBaby Flight WW9502, an ATR 42,operated by Air Wales, from Glasgow Prestwick to Cardiff-Wales. I realised something may not be right as I watched Cardiff's runway pass below me and presumed it was a standard go-around. Unfortunately we carried on west down the coast, which made me think we were being routed to Swansea, before eventually turning around east of Port Talbot.

At this point I was thinking that there must have been some problem with runway operations that had now been dealt with, and was looking forward to a swift landing. This being my first time in any air diversion, I found the sense of tension coming from my fellows passengers fairly palpable and found it mildly amusing (knowing how safe air travel actually is). This mild amusement came to an abrupt halt, however, when the captain announced on his P.A. that he was getting an unsafe undercarriage indication and that, despite recycling the system, some part of the undercarrriage remained, potentially, unlocked. He then informed us that we were going to carry out a low fly-past of the airport to allow ATC to carry out a visual; this resulted in the conclusion that there was indeed a problem with one of the legs.

So here it was....my first ever in-flight emergency. The air steward walked through the cabin and spoke to everyone about what was going to happen and what we were to do. He selected myself and another gentleman to sit on the inboard seats next to the emergency exits at the front, and asked us to guide our fellow passengers out of our respective exits, after the aircraft had come to a stop and the passengers at the exits had removed the doors and exited the aircraft, which we were both happy to do.

I spoke to those around me, trying to reassure them that we were not in imminent danger as it was more than likely a faulty indication and, if not, having watched many similar incidents on television and via the internet, that we would scrape along the runway to a stop, which would be uncomfortable but not life-threatening. Remembering that a baby was being held in its mother's arms, I requested that it be passed to its father across the aisle, believing that he would offer it greater protection from what could be an eventful landing, which she diligently did. Also, I enquired with the steward whether he should think about moving those passengers sitting in the propellors' axis for fear of blade penetration of the cabin, but he declined to do so, which was fine by me as he held the authority in the cabin, and a public debate on this was the last thing these very anxious passengers needed.

The Captain then informed us that we were soon to land and at the appropriate moment called out the 'brace' command. We floated along the runway for what felt to be a fairly long time, albeit the situation we were in could cause one's mind to distort the true time. Eventually I realised that the Captain had performed his best ever landing (good stuff, adrenaline) and that we were actually on the runway. Knowing that only half the job was done, I watched with excitement and a dash of fear as the speed decayed. I looked out both sides of the aircraft awaiting the first sign of a wing dropping, or to detect the aircraft sinking on to it's nose. Time passed, and then.......nothing! I realised we were now at taxiing speed and that, sure enough, all three legs were upright. The possibility of a collapse may still have been present, but at taxiing speed or less I didn't care. We were safe, and from the atmosphere in the cabin, everyone knew it. All of a sudden people found their tongues and, boy, could they use them. There wasn't a stranger among us, as we all spoke to whoever caught our eye, and made little jokes about our incident.

We then taxied to a place away from the terminal, escorted by the fire crew- nice to see them, even nicer not to need them. Getting into the terminal bus, I asked the driver if his wheels were okay and, on confirmation that they were, asked if he could take us to the nearest pub. The laughs told me I was not the only one who could have done with a tall Glenmorangie.

So there we have it- my first ever emergency. They are so few and far between that you never believe it can happen to you ( my National Lottery tickets comply with this theory, sadly). So, a big well done to the Captain and F.O. for a perfect landing, like-wise to Wayne the steward for carrying out the procedures so calmly (no training can fully equip you for the stresses endured during a real emergency), well done to all the passengers who remained calm at such a difficult time, and thank you to ATC, fire crew and everyone else who helped that I didn't mention.

ps Was there any risk of a propellor blade, or part of, entering the cabin? Can anyone give me info on their airline's policy with regard to the moving of pax away from the axis of the propellor blades in such a situation? Any previous examples of such an event occuring?

VC10 Rib22


21st Jun 2004, 14:43
Thanks VC10 (a type which sadly I never flew on) for sharing that with us. Nice to get a factual perspective from a pax and not the usual [email protected] via the media. I believe the areas immediately adjacent to the props are strengthened with extra panel(s).

21st Jun 2004, 15:06
Excellent post. Really nice to read that and very well written! I fly the ATR and hope I dont find myself in a similar situation any time soon! The sides of the aircraft are strengthened next to the props as are the windows if you look closely!

21st Jun 2004, 15:22
thanks for the report VC10 ..... take a ringside seat tonight and have a beer on us ......


21st Jun 2004, 16:38
Very well written article,had a similiar situation in the Gulf some years ago. Interesting handle but I cant remember why rib 22 was something the ARB would have drawn out of me in one of our little chats 35 years ago-please remind me.

A Very Civil Pilot
21st Jun 2004, 18:17
The fuselage panelling adjacent to the props is reinforced to prevent damage by ice coming off the propellors. I don't know if it is designed to protect against damage from the prop itself.

21st Jun 2004, 20:28
VC10, Youre more then welcome.

Glad you enjoyed the landing.:ok:

Hand Shandy
21st Jun 2004, 22:04
I spoke to the engineers involved in the post incident rectification , who informed me that the primary downlock proximity switch on the right mlg was showing unlocked , the secondary was ok , it was quickly established that the primary indication cable loom was broken . So luckily there was no `real` danger just an indication problem . I hope this will help as much as the whisky.

21st Jun 2004, 23:12
The aircraft you were on was proberbly G-TAWE. Not so long ago G-CDFF's F/O's instruments went on the blink leaving only the captains side to fly the aircraft. The landing gear indicator lights are on the F/O's side so the crew had no idea if the gear was down or not. A low pass over the airfield and we could see that it was down. The captain made a perfect landing not long afterwards and all but one of the passengers boarded the aircraft to Dublin later that afternoon.

21st Jun 2004, 23:15
The fuselage panelling adjacent to the props is reinforced to prevent damage by ice coming off the propellors. I don't know if it is designed to protect against damage from the prop itself.

Nope its not. Not only that but the size of the piece may be so large that even separation and redundancy of aircraft systems for flying may not provide protection. It's kind of like a big fan disk, you basically have to make sure they never fail on a flight that you are on. But I wouldn't worry about a worst case failure in a landing flop. Too much data saying ho-hum

22nd Jun 2004, 03:28
Lovely post VC-10!

22nd Jun 2004, 06:56
VC-10,don't let your head swell too much but that was a cracking post! Pleased it all ended OK.

23rd Jun 2004, 22:51
Thanks for the description!
My father was on that flight, small world!