View Full Version : EAAC's 747 operation with 3 engines

Gareth Blackstock
7th Nov 2004, 22:03
Just seen this on another site.

From what I gather G-BDXE was flying back from Reunion Island (East of Madagascar) when the incident happened. Reports from the passengers were of fire, though this did cause some confusion as the cabin crew thought there was a fire in the cabin.

There was and engine fire after takeoff (something to do with the exhaust part of the engine) and as you can imagine this caused some panic among the pax an cabin crew. The captain in question decided to fly the rest of the 10 hour journey back to Paris rather than divert back to the Airport at Reunion Island. Apparently this was due to contractual reasons and the fact European didn't want to loose the contract.

The engineer that was travelling back had to supervise with changing the engine the following day in Paris, he did this with little or no sleep having been to Reunion Island with the plane the day before.

There were some senior people at the hotel in Paris who didn't even bother to check up on the operating crew when they arrived back into Paris. Apparently the flight deck were met by the airport authorities upon arrival back into Paris and quizzed as to what happened. The Black box has been taken by the CAA to be investigated.

I for one am happy I am not with European, there is no way I'd compromise my safety.

Does anyone know if this is accurate or indeed what happened?


7th Nov 2004, 23:33
Fairly accurate.

Air Austral Boeing 777 ingests birds on take off and returns to La Reunion (2nd flight crew on board to shuttle another Air Austral 777 presently grounded in France back home)

Air Austral charters a European Boeing 747. On its first flight from Le Reunion, it ingests birds on take off (that same crew to shuttle the grounded 777 happens to be on board again)

Long flame could be be seen from the engines for several minutes. For over an hour passengers were sure plane was going to return. Severe communication difficulties (English speaking crew, French speaking passengers).

Upon nearing destination, a diversion to NCE is announced.. shortly before the crew decides to continue to CDG, obviously not adding to the comfort of the passengers.

All this was obviously poorly handled. I wouldn't like to be flying over darkest Africa in the middle of the night with an engine out and who knows what damage to the other three.

8th Nov 2004, 07:40
Sorry to disagree.

First "flames out the back of an engine" is unlikely to be an Engine "Fire". Anyone who knows the first principle of a Jet Engine will know this characteristic of a "surge" "stall" and typical of the damage cause by a birdstrike. The "damage" "stall" may require shutting down the engine to clear it, the engine may be available for relight, either in emergency, or just if desired (particularly if the EGT did not exceed the limit). Very unlikely to result in a "fire" warning...

Again, if you had clue what you are talking about, it is often SOP on a 4 engine aircraft to continue to destination on 3 engines. For instance I know BA recently did this with a major surge ex LAX shortly after TO - got back to LHR. Assuming the engine is secured satisfactorily, where to land will often be dependant on where maintenance is etc. and often "get home as far as possible" is used.

All this was obviously poorly handled Glad you are able to slag people off like this...

The Diversion yes/no to NCE would be for fuel. Again, if you knew what you were talking about, after an engine failure, the fuel consumption increases. Sounds a close run thing as to whether CDG could be reached, but weather, refining fuel calcs, SOPs, seems it could.

Seems handled fine to me, except maybe comms with the passengers. Given my p*ss poor French, not sure I could have got the message across either :)

Captain Airclues
8th Nov 2004, 08:23

All this was obviously poorly handled

It sounds to me as though they did an excellent job, and got the passenger to their desired destination. As NOD says, this sounds like an engine surge. The SOP on four engined aircraft is to continue unless it is unsafe to do so. The crew would have carried out extensive procedures to check the other engines and would have taken great care to calculate the fuel required, probably using an 'en-route alternate' such as Nice.
The EAAC crews are very experienced, being mainly ex BA, Virgin and Cathay, and they would have known that the tapes would be pulled and the CAA would check the paperwork. I think that it is a little unfair to say that this was poorly handled without knowing all of the facts.


8th Nov 2004, 10:38
Presuming for the moment NOD's assertion that the possible call at NCE was for fuel, does he then go on to assert that said aircraft would then depart with one engine inop, enroute to CDG...with passengers?
I surely hope not.

This sort of operation, if reported (more or less) correctly here, would certainly give pause to the suitability of the carrier to conduct operations in a satisfactory manner.

Doesn't say all that much for BA either, if they did the same ex-LAX.

8th Nov 2004, 10:57
Presuming for the moment NOD's assertion that the possible call at NCE was for fuel, does he then go on to assert that said aircraft would then depart with one engine inop, enroute to CDG...with passengers? Of course not...

However, the general point I was making is that for the 2 airlines I have worked for (VS, BA), a single engine failure, secured, with no further problem is not an "emergency". No need to land...

Of course, there now needs to be a plan, allowing for a possible second engine failure (a problem eastbound Transatlantic say) with associated fuel consumption and ceiling considerations. Depending on circs, this may be return to Departure A/F, call in at one en-route (and as you say, this means all PAX off and engine fixed or 3 engine ferry onwards), or continue to destination. A commerical bonus is if you can get say 75%+ of the way home, then the "spare" aircraft can be waiting at the intermediate stop to take the PAX onward, and even have brought out the 3 engine ferry crew...

It might have been different in your 707 days 411A, but seems SOP now for modern 4 jets (744, 340)...

LGW Vulture
8th Nov 2004, 11:01
......."It might have been different in your 707 days 411A, but seems SOP now for modern 4 jets (744, 340)......"

....Ouch! :cool:

8th Nov 2004, 11:06
Agree with you there, 411A.

Perf A requirements may well require that an a/c should be capable of continuing from V1 to destination with 1 engine inop; however, whether it would be desirable to do so is entirely another matter.

Not sure what the actual route from LAX to LHR would be, but the Great Circle is over Hudson Bay and Greenland. A lot of cold, inhospitable areas to cross with 1 engine out, in my view. A diversion to a suitable CONUS aerodrome for maintenance would seem rather more sensible than to carry on all the way across the GCFA and North Atlantic on 3?

And I'm not sure that I'd like any 'commercial advantage' to feature in the airmanship plans of anyone who makes that a consideration before electing to cross the pond on 3... Whether in a 747, 707, Comet or DC-7 for that matter.

Captain Airclues
8th Nov 2004, 11:15

The aircraft did not land at Nice. Obviously if it had done so the passengers would have got off, but at least they were in their desired country of destination. As far as I am aware it was a re-flightplanning excercise. When overhead Nice they had sufficient fuel with reserves to continue to Paris. We used to do this flying northbound from Africa in the 60's, and is perfectly legal so long as you have the required trip, alternate and reserves when overhead the en-route alternate. The procedure is covered on most MCC courses.


8th Nov 2004, 11:25
A similar incident (continuing to destination despite engine problems early into the flight) is alleged to have happened with a Corsair 747 flying from Orly to Reunion on Oct 29th. There was an engine fire warning upon arrival.

News article (with pics) in French:

I read on a French aviation site that, following the incident, the company's technical director has been fired. But surely (to a lay person) that seems to point at maintenance rather than the flight crew.

8th Nov 2004, 11:32

I know the LAX was initially planned to stop in JFK, but subsequently deemed unnecessary... Obviously the LAX-LHR leg will tend to be further south than Great Circle.

I don't know what you fly / flew. However, from my 4 Eng days, this was no problem with 3 continuing, so long as the obvious further failures were looked at. It is SOP, accepted by the authorities, and carried out more often than you might think. The BA example I gave is recent, but I know there are others...

What are your concerns? It is a 4 Eng aircraft, a single explainable failure, secured, after the point where 4 engs are required. We now have a 3 eng aircraft, which equates to a TriStar / DC10 / MD11, and still having a level of redundancy superior to a twin. In the event of a further failure, we are down to 2. The aircraft would still cruise, albeit at a lower level, use more fuel (allowed for), and can be landed fine via a regularly practiced profile.

I am all for not pushing airmanship boundaries, and I was initially surprised at this SOP. However, having then thought it through, you are still more failures away from a problem in a 3 engine 747, than a 2 engine 777!

Each case will need to be looked at for it's merits - both the cause of the failure, and as you say, the routing, weather etc. However, bearing in mind that 3 Engs is not an emergency, no justification can be made for landing overweight, and therefore, even with dumping (which rarely gets you to MLW), you are going to have to fly for some hours. Might as well be going somewhere...

ou Trek dronkie
8th Nov 2004, 11:32
The “re-planning” was in fact called a “re-dispatch”. You plan to a field and when you are near (or abeam) you “divert” to the real destination. It’s quite legit and works like a charm, so long as the weather at you “real” destination is OK.

Before anyone butts in, it’s also quite safe, but usually depends on not having burnt your contingency fuel and getting good levels.

On a related topic, is it not the FAA intention to introduce ETOPS for 3- and 4-engined aircraft ? I presume that in a case like this, the aircraft would need to land back at MRU ? Can anyone enlighten me please ?


8th Nov 2004, 11:37
however, whether it would be desirable to do so is entirely another matter Agreed... but for what reason would you divert? What is the hazard? What is to be gained?

would seem rather more sensible than to carry on all the way across the GCFA and North Atlantic on 3? I am not trying to pick an argument, but why "more sensible"?

As I did, please try to stand back and look at the situation. The aircraft is safely airborne on 3, all 3 are as serviceable as they were on departure. Emotionally "we have lost an engine". But practically we have loads of redundancy left, make contingency plans based on a further problem.. and decide on that basis (I am talking generically here, may or may not apply to the MRU case).


8th Nov 2004, 11:56
A TriStar was designed to operate on 3 engines, a 777 on 2. But a 747 was designed to operate on all 4 - and losing a substantial part of your normal level of redundancy is not the same thing as operating a fully serviceable a/c specifically designed to require fewer engines.

The in-flight re-plan for fuel reasons approaching NCE is an entirely different matter. Lots of en-route diversion alternates available and perfectly reasonable.

Having lost an engine in a 4-jet at Vr several years ago at MTOW, even with it safely secured and no further drama, there was no way I was going to press on to destination. Dumped to MLW, landed, then transferred to a spare a/c. Proceding to JFK would, to me, have seemed a much better option than crossing the the pond with your systems redundancy already used up.

I'd be intrigued to know why they then elected to carry on instead of landing at JFK - and whether 'commercial pressure' had any bearing on the matter.

Is it the same in other airlines?

8th Nov 2004, 12:01
I guess the pilot should had file a report (ASR?/MOR) to the national aviation authority, don't know if France or that of Reunion Island. By then every1 would have a better picture of whatz happened. However with the time lag in processing people may have less interest on this subject.

The monthly UK AAIB Bulletins are always something worth reading.

8th Nov 2004, 12:05

Rather than debate the merits of landing or continuing to destination in a four engine aircraft I think we should go back to the more serious issue of the bird strike events at Reunion island.... Based on my reading there is a serious problem at this airport.

I have no expereience operating in this part of the world, but as a bird strike researcher I would be most interested to receive more detailed information on these events:

In particular I am looking for all the details; bird species & number of birds struck, when, where, time of day, weather conditions, type of aircraft & engine and the damage. I would also be really interested in in any pictures.

If anyone has factual information and could post it or send it to me via PM I would appreciate it.

A320 Captain & Bird Strike Researcher.

8th Nov 2004, 12:41
A DC8 heading east, diverted to SNN last week with one engine out ? - a conservative skipper perhaps ?

8th Nov 2004, 12:43
A DC8 heading east, diverted to SNN last week with one engine out ? - a conservative skipper perhaps ? 2 points Hobie:
1. The DC8, as alluded to earlier, may not have had the redundancy that modern 4 jets have.
2. The Fuel consumption increase may be more significant in these older types.

Each type / situation will be different...


8th Nov 2004, 13:42
Having been at this business for a very long time, I can appreciate both sides of the question...to continue or divert.

NoD makes a very compelling argument for continuing, and I would normally agree, provided diversion options remain plentiful.
However, having said this, I would not, except under the the most unusual circumstances, continue a long overwater crossing, where the next available could well be rather far away.
To do so would be foolhardy, in my opinion and, quite frankly, suspect it would definately be frowned upon by the FAA.

It does seem odd that the UKCAA (and their predecessor, the ARB) would be so stringent about the handling/stall characteristics of large jet transports, yet allow these rather long flights with an engine inoperative.

I can well remember the FAA inspector when I received my first jet type rating (B707) looking me straight in the eye and saying...'remember, the 707 will fly quite nicely on three, but it does not mean that you should do so for an extended period.'

I quite frankly do not believe any differently thirty years later.

8th Nov 2004, 13:42
Surely every case is different and the crew in this case decided to continue. All went well, as it should have done, and the aircraft arrived at its planned destination, with passengers. This was the purpose of the flight. The crew obviously would not have pressed on if they considered it too risky, after all their licenses were at risk if their decisions were wrong. If it was safe to continue on three (arguments seem pretty reasonable) then what purpose would be served by diverting to somewhere with little or no facilities. And what of the passengers, 24-48 hour delay to get a replacement aircraft, without a doubt.
Looks to me like a perfectly logical decision, and probably one which has been made many times before. Personally I can think of several similar which never made PPRUNE and even a couple of similar cases involving twins, where the decision to press on was rather more suspect!
Work in aviation long enough and you see it all.

Phileas Fogg
8th Nov 2004, 14:08
(A DC8 heading east, diverted to SNN last week with one engine out ? - a conservative skipper perhaps ?)

Well he obviously didn't take-off out of SNN nor use it as a take-off alternate, it seems he couldn't make his destination having burnt excessive fuel crossing the pond.

A similar scenario, me thinks, to EAAC considering a drop into NCE!

Oshkosh George
8th Nov 2004, 14:26
I'm not aircrew,and just giving my view based on what I have read on this thread.

Nobody has actually said the engine was inoperative,it could well have continued to operate normally after the surge. Surely that would put a whole different perspective on the flight and decision making?

Are we all ASSUMING it was on three engines?

8th Nov 2004, 14:53
I spoke to two members of the crew of this flight. The problem was a surge and the engine was secured IAW the checklist. You can get a lot of flames etc from a surging engine.

Both the guys I spoke to are very experienced professionals each of them formerly employed by two of the safest airlines in the world. The other operating pilot was also formerly of one of these companies. The decision to continue was IAW their SOPs as well as the SOPs of their former employers. I know one of the guys (the handling pilot) very well and the way the incident was explained to me it appears that the crew's actions were appropriate. They couldn't be faulted for returning either.

It may come as a surprise to some of you that there are a lot of flights in 4 engine airplanes like the 747 and A340 that continue on 3 after a failed engine has been secured and the required conditions can be met. I can't comment on DC-8s or 707s, a bit too young!

These guys did a good job and I would fly with any of them anywhere, anytime.

8th Nov 2004, 15:52
NOD, I'm sure your right .....

I'm hoping someone might be able to tell us a little more about the reasons for the DC8 diversion - I was going to post the incident on the day but chickened out in the end (you know how one gets flamed for posting about shutdowns or even diversions)
:( ......

the flight in question was enroute to the U.K. and Cargo


Thunderball 2
8th Nov 2004, 21:45

This airline needs to seriously review it's proceedures,one more airline off my travel list.

I'm surprised that you and the good Mrs Spannerless are able to get anywhere at all by air. Not thinking so much of the length of your ever-growing list of airlines whose aircrew are apparently prepared to risk their own lives and those of their passengers for the sake of saving a few bob, more the length of the list of travel agents, tour operators, bucket shops and other travel intermediaries that - being a person of undoubted integrity - you will also naturally choose to boycott whenever they offer any kind of discounted fare.


8th Nov 2004, 22:41
Wow 411A,
Expert on DC 6, B707 and B747 ( and Cessna's ! dont forget the Cessna's !) what a career:O

9th Nov 2004, 07:50
Yes - and he obviously survived such a long career in aviation by more than just luck.......

"I can well remember the FAA inspector when I received my first jet type rating (B707) looking me straight in the eye and saying...'remember, the 707 will fly quite nicely on three, but it does not mean that you should do so for an extended period.'

I quite frankly do not believe any differently thirty years later."

I agree entirely. The idea of deliberately setting out on a pond crossing having earlier lost an engine is something with which I cannot agree. Bugger the company's shareholders, it is most assuredly NOT a sensible thing to do.

9th Nov 2004, 08:05
Perhaps 411 and Beagle are examples of slightly older pilots being safer pilots.

As a passenger I would be very concerned if on a flight from London to LA a 747 flght continued with 3 engines even though it was feasible.

As Beagle states so graphically the LHR LAX route spends significant time over hostile environment and as so often happens when one thing goes wrong it often has for company a couple of other problems.

Better safe than sorry.

9th Nov 2004, 09:30
Question from an F/A..

Were a second engine to be lost say 3 hours later, what would be the implications then? I just want to try and understand the context better - many thanks.

9th Nov 2004, 10:08
Only a passenger but would a boeing 747 with 2 engines gone be in a similar situation to a B777/A330 with half its engines gone? (i.e. 1 failed) except better able to cope with another engine fail than a B777/A330

fire wall
9th Nov 2004, 10:09
Tight slot and others,
I wasn't there so I do not know what analysis was done prior to the decision but, that said, the decision to continue in a 4 engined a/c after suffering the loss of a powerplant is predicated on:
1. Is it safe
2. Do we have the fuel to do such considering > fuel burn and alternate requirements
3. Does the wx at the destination meet certain requirements as set down by the company
4. Terrain clearance limitations enroute with 1 eng inop
5. At any point enroute there is a suitable alternate in the event of a second powerplant failure or a depressurisation and can we meet the 2 eng burn or depressurisation burn requirements.

Once this analysis is complete and all criteria met then a continuation is not only safe but good airmanship........we get paid to make decisions ..... remember? Given a properly handled situation neither the passengers or any of the cabin crew would be the slightest bit aware that only 3 are turning and burning (that is unless you have 20 odd feet of flame exiting the pipe....tends to get everyone's attention). In many cases it is a matter of cruising at a slightly lower level and a revised ETA by 5-10 minutes.

That said, on a long haul flight it is most unusual that requirement #2 as stated above can be met (assuming continuation to originally planned destination) until a number of hours into the flight.

Captain Airclues
9th Nov 2004, 11:06

I agree with fire wall on this. The decision to continue is not taken lightly. The enroute safety altitudes are checked relative to the two-engine driftdown altitudes and the fuel is calculated to alternate airfields along the route. Many airlines flying the 744 also have ACMS which allows the company engineers back at base to constantly monitor the engines via a datalink. Before the decision was made to continue, the engineers at base would do a thorough check of the other three engines.
The 747 with two engines failed still has four fully servicable hydraulic systems as well as pneumatics and electrics. A single engine failure on a 747 does not cause any great problems, unless of course the failure had affected any of the other systems, in which case the decision to continue would probably not be made.
I believe that BEagle might have been refering to the VC10 when he decided to return. I completely agree with him. I flew the VC10 for many years and I would not have continued after an engine failure as the system redundancy was not the same as the 747. Correct me if I'm wrong BEagle (it's 30 years ago since I last flew it) but didn't the fuel efficiency actually improve on three.


9th Nov 2004, 11:11
Thanks guys - just to emphasise, I'm not in any way attempting to comment on the situation, simply trying to understand better what happened.

9th Nov 2004, 11:52
Since I do not have all the facts I cannot comment on the judgement call.

I am however somewhat paranoid about bird strikes, and the potential damage to engines.
Several years ago, in an MD-83 (full) I encountered a flock of ducks in the middle of rotation (dark and rainy night). I had no idea ducks can takeoff vertically, like a helicopter!
To cut a long story short both engines surged badly, one came back up and ran, the other kept surging.
After a very tight circuit and landing, the port engine (which continued to run ) had evidence of several ducks in the inlet system, the stbd engine had all but 2 of the first stage blades either missing or less than 1/2 bade remaining.
The interesting thing is that once safely on the ground, and after only recently screaming at the banging and large orange fireballs, the passengers wanted to know why we had not continued to our destination, since it was only 15 minutes away.
Needless to say whenever I go out to eat, duck is my first choice, and I think I am getting there slowly.

9th Nov 2004, 11:52
I find it interesting that the people who actually fly or operate B747's say that you should carry out a risk assessment for the particular route and then decide.

Those who fly older aircraft say LAND.

So how do you feel about ETOPS?


9th Nov 2004, 12:53

After 3 hours from Antananarivo 747 will be just over Nairobi, so dump some fuel and land there on 2 engines :}
However if another engine lost after 5 hours then pax will explore the wild adventures of Khartoum... :yuk:

9th Nov 2004, 17:14
I am afaraid I am missing something with the comments about how dangerous this all is. ( Maybe there are no old bold pilots:O )

If it is in SOP all published and known to everyone including Regulatory Authorites how come no one except our resident expert:} decides it is unsafe.

There is certainly involved decision making to be made with many inputs, which as has been pointed out is what the driver is paid for.

I can see that of course the easy way out according to the experts is to dump fuel ( if of course the aircraft has fuel dump :confused: ) and land back immediately. Not to much decision making there !

Why are we confusing facts ?
Comparing the B707 with a B747 ( System and redundacy wise) is like comparing a family saloon and a racing car.
But if course if you only know B707 it must be difficult to grasp.:cool:

If you want to compare marginal operations take a good look at some twin engine ETOPS and throw in a few "what ifs" ;)

9th Nov 2004, 18:00

"Comparing the B707 with a B747 ( System and redundacy wise) is like comparing a family saloon and a racing car.
But if course if you only know B707 it must be difficult to grasp."

is that really true?

9th Nov 2004, 20:48
I think you will find that dumping down to MLW from full tanks or close to it, is quite a time consuming exercise.
Given the decision to dump, it is often worthwhile to use the time constructively if there is a better airport within the dump time radius.

To labour the point somewhat. These days an engine failure on a 4 engined aircraft is not considered to be an emergency so long as it is clearly an isolated failure, ie not contaminated fuel, or similar risks that imply another similar or related failure might be possible (oil filler caps incident on L-1011, debris ingestion from first failure, for instance).

Systems redundancy is unlikely to have been an issue here unless there were pre-existing MEL items.
It is mainly a question of power redundancy.
The man on the scene had the inputs on which he made a decision. The rest of us are merely speculating.

9th Nov 2004, 20:54
It indeed may seem so, hobie, but then again I find that those who have not actually flown the type(s) in question, base their opinions (?) on...well, guessing.

Take the 707 for example.
ALL primary controls are connected to the control column by the tried and true...control cables, bell cranks/rods, assisted aerodynamically by balance panels (servo tabs), and only the rudder has hydraulic power assist.

That leaves the requirement for only two hydraulic systems (utility and aux) more than enough for any failure mode.
In addition, electric back-up is provided for the trailing edge flaps...the leading edge devices being pneumatically powered.

Interconnect between the two hydraulic systems+electric hydraulic pumps+four engine driven generators, seven pneumatic air sources...well the list goes on and on.
The only item missing is an APU..and a few operators fitted even those.

Multiple (4) hydraulic systems+ADP's+electric pumps are required for the 747 because...it has NO direct physical connection between the primary control surfaces and the pilots control column

SO........like comparing apples and oranges.
Some younger folks really don't have a clue.

Why am I not then surprised at their uninformed comments?...from know-it-all backbenchers.

10th Nov 2004, 07:18
GotThe Shirt

I am sure you are correct in your assessment of the danger of flying minus one engine.

My point was as a passenger I would not feel happy if the plane had one enginne shut down and the decision had been made to continue to destination.

Might be safe with three but I would prefer the four engines to work and not to rely on the redundancy of systems in the 747

10th Nov 2004, 09:02
What an interesting thread.

Having been flying for over 30 years AND having taught Performance AND Flight Safety there are some interesting conundrums.

A captain is in charge of the aircraft, in charge of the diplomacy, commercial aspects and safety of THAT aircraft at THAT time.

Each TIME will be different.

411 - for once I must disagree with you. When we started, engines were not as reliable as they are now.

We KNOW how 'accurate' the Press are reporting incidents such as this.

A 'routine' Engine Shut down (with or without flames - classic signs of a surge - albeit frightening for the pax whose imaginations are fed by Discovery Channel and armchair 'experts'), does NOT sell newspapers - DRAMA does.

Personally, if the 'facts' are as reported I consider the decisions made by this crew as 'highly professional' and they are to be commended.

Having flown 'ultra' long range with in-flight recalculations of fuel, reserves and endurance, the 'Nice' diversion is completely understandable and NOT fuel for more DRAMA.

It is a real shame that crews that act within the interests of the Company, passengers and other aircraft in the vicinity so well are pilloried by people who don't know the facts (I confess I don't in this particular case), don't know the rationale behind large FOUR engined aircraft.

Why did Boeing fit it with 4 when it can fly safely and adequately with 3?

For just a circumstance such as this.

When teaching the 146 and RJ Performance for BAe, we used to detail THIS VERY ABILITY as one of the advantages for a FOUR engined aircraft over a two engined one (or three come to that although the facility exists) .

So, on balance, WELL DONE the crew, I would feel that I'd earned my money had I been on that flight deck and (given the above reports of the 'facts' to be true) I would be proud that the years of training resulted in being able to competently and safely handle an ABNORMAL situation, not an EMERGENCY.

10th Nov 2004, 09:20
So (as a passenger) you would rather fly around in circles for an hour or two and then spend a happy day or so waiting in a hotel room for a spare aircraft to be available? Or possibly skip that and go straight to the desk and demand a replacement aircraft immediately.

10th Nov 2004, 09:36
OK so we had an engine failure on takeoff.
Simplistically speaking, now we are just an L-1011, MD-11, or DC-10 , and still better off than a pristine B777, A330, B767 etc if we have another failure.
The odds against a second failure are what allows big twins to fly over the oceans. If you are willing to go transAtlantic or transPacific or other ETOPs in a twin, whats the problem with a triple?

Mike Fleckney
10th Nov 2004, 09:37
As one of the crew members "compromising safety" I strongly object to the tone of this posting from some people and thank you to those who thought about it and made a more considered posting. There was no engine fire, the engine surged and was shut down. The French authorities, CAA and AAIB are all satisfied at the way the flight was conducted. The Aircraft was carrying 140 tonnes of fuel which enabled the flight to reach Europe quite easily and when passing Rome the decision to continue to De Gaulle was made as the weather was CAVOK three runways were in use and the French ATC had been advised. They were very helpful and the Aircraft landed with above min reserve. Oh and by the way on the Flight Deck we had over 80 years of experience on 747s and in excess of 50,000 flying hours. At no time was there any commercial pressure in fact the company were not aware of any problem until we had made the decision to continue. Please check your facts before posting, some of these messages are verging on the libelous.

10th Nov 2004, 10:02
Mike Fleckney, thank you for your posting. Hopefully it will stop the uninformed remarks made here, mostly (apparently) by people who've never flown a B747, let alone appreciate it's abilities. It is deeply irrelevant what operators do with other current long range types, or what use to happen on a B707, DC8 or VC10.

10th Nov 2004, 16:24
No, I disagree. Informed opinion of earlier types, their characteristics and limitations, as compared with more modern a/c is indeed relevant and serves to broaden the debate.

I did not comment on the San Reunion flight apart from agreeing that the in-flight re-assessment of contingency fuel enabling you to reach destination is entirely normal.

However, even though the 747 may have far greater system redundancy than earlier types, deliberately to cross the Atlantic with 1 shut down is something about which I remain to be convinced. But I am keenly interested in hearing the various arguments for and against - without petty name calling please!

10th Nov 2004, 17:03
I have no experience of operating a 747 but I used to fly an a/c where we regularly shut down one or two of our four, depending on the mass, whilst cruising for hours at low level over the sea. If the a/c has the ability to fly on two as I presume the 747 has from previous comments, then what is the problem with continuing on three. Other types may not have that ability particularly at higher masses.

Many of us these days only have two to start with as we head out on sectors of more than 11 hours. They are nice big ones though!

10th Nov 2004, 18:42
Can i just point out that I am an X memeber of EAC cabin crew and i was on a flight during the summer on a Volare contract and we had a few problems with the aircraft in question. On a few occasions the engine we are talkin about would not start forcing us to return to stand a few times. Also had what I was told was an engine surge which resulted in flames about 10 ft long behind the engine.
i wouldnt be suprised if there is something more to this.

10th Nov 2004, 20:50
Harrier 46

No I would not go to the desk and demand a replacement aircraft immediately.

I would accept a delay on safetly grounds. I might not be happy but would neeed little convincing it was the right course of action.

I believe most of your customers would do the same whether or noit it is felt safe to proceed on 3 engines.

10th Nov 2004, 22:15
If you want to nitpick the decision to death, you should take into consideration a 3-engine landing at MLW with a second engine failure inside the marker and with a subsequent need to go-around.
I have no idea what the emergency facilities at the island in question are like, but many islands only have the bare ICAO minimums.
You could probably go on all night.
As I said before, the man on the spot had the info, and made the decision. Live with it.
Good on yer Mike.

12th Nov 2004, 10:32
I had a similar experience with EAAC in January last year, from LGW-CMB-SYD. We landed at Bandaranaike Sirport, Sri Lanka for refueling. We was not allowed off the a/c, due to recent attacks on the airport, and increased security. The captain said there was a problem with one of the refueling valves, which would not close, but he said we could fly to Sydney with this problem, which would then be sorted on the ground at Kingsford Smith!!

Very frightening flight!

The aircraft was falling to pieces, and had not had a refurb singe 1980 when BA was operating it (G-BDXF)

12th Nov 2004, 10:56
ETOPS - that's a joke, right? I mean, that's a joke post? Have you been reading this thread so far?

12th Nov 2004, 11:01
A330ETOPS where did you get the knowledge that the a/c hasn't had a refurb since 1980.

And even if it hasn't this goes only for the cabin and doesn't say anything about the technical side. It has to have mandatory maintenance checks performed on a regular basis. So don't go judging an aircraft on it's interior and the remark of an honest captain who maybe shouldn't have said anything.

12th Nov 2004, 11:06
Everyone seems to be comparing the 707 and the 744/777 it is not the case that the aircraft in question here was an EAAC B742 - Which as an engineer I can say certainly has a lot more in common with the 707 than anything else mentioned here except perhaps the DC8 and Comet!!!

12th Nov 2004, 12:06
Then you probably know the difference between the IFSD rate for 707 vs 747:D

13th Nov 2004, 12:26
LGW Vulture

Even though you've never met 411A...... very astute!

......."It might have been different in your 707 days 411A, but seems SOP now for modern 4 jets (744, 340)......"


Well said! The boyz at Air Atlanta totally agree with your assessment of 411A.

Cheers Mate!

surely not
13th Nov 2004, 20:59
A330ETOPS you are wildly wrong with the reason you were not allowed to disembark. It had nothing at all to do with terrorist activities; it had everything to do with ensuring the a/c left CMB quicjly and got into SYD in time to be ready for its departure from SYD before the night closure at SYD forced a night stop. It was a tight schedule to achieve this.

Unable to comment on the rights and wrongs of the incident in this thread, but all the EAAC flight deck that I know are high time and very experienced guys and gals who I don't believe would succumb to commercial pressures and put their lives in danger.

14th Nov 2004, 09:46
That's a damn good point.

With all the horse manure spoken about 'incidents' (I don't even think it's one of those) like this, you make a really good point.

Yes, there are 2/3 guys at the front of these aircraft. Quite often they are high time people who are intent on living to their retirement.

I want my pension fund to cry in their beer with what they've had to pay me. I (and I'm far from alone) have self-interest very high on my personal agenda.

I work on the premise that if I'm OK, so is everybody else. It's called Responsible Hedonism.

So why don't we give these guys a break and imagine (just imagine) that they were professionals, making professional judgements and getting the aircraft safely to where it needed to be.

Aircraft rarely back into the ground . . .

14th Nov 2004, 10:20
Seldom have I seen such ill informed comment – even on PPrune. The fact of the matter is that continuing on 3 engines on a 747 is SOP in many companies, having due regard to the individual circumstances on the particular occasion. Typically these may include sufficient fuel to get to or near the destination, suitable diversion airfields along the intended route in case of further failure, MORAs which do not prohibit overflight in case of a further failure and of course the commercial desirability of continuing.
I have been operating the 747 for over 20 years now in all it’s guises and have yet to hear of a company which insists that an immediate return be made in the case of a simple engine failure. We have charts to show the 2 hour radius of flying on 2 engines should they be necessary (versus 180+ mins. for a twin!) and will stay within this range. Also available are 2 engine net ceiling/drift down charts if there is high terrain en-route.
As has already been stated the level of redundancy on 3 engines far exceeds that of a twin for all systems, normal hydraulics are provided as is air supply, the only degradation is one generator less. If the statistically improbable happens and the aircraft ends up on 2 engines then there are still ample auxiliary services available and load shedding leaves plenty of spare capacity (automatic on the -400 and manual on the classic.) Lastly the intended route is of importance, flight over unpopulated and isolated areas of the world is obviously not encouraged but RUN-ORY cannot fall into this category, there are plenty of suitable diversion airfields en-route. Similarly continuing a flight away from base would be undesirable as it would then compound the problems of the return of aircraft and passengers.
Let me give an example of where this policy paid dividends to company and passengers alike. On a flight from Buenos Aires to Gatwick (EZE-LGW) at more-or-less MTOW, the aircraft suffered a fully contained failure at about 5,000’ on the climb out of EZE. The crew elected to continue whilst the options were explored as there were no other failures apparent. After some time it was decided that it was perfectly possible to continue to Lisbon with the fuel on board and stay within the required regulations. This was done and in the 10 or so hours between the failure and eventual landing it was possible to send a replacement aircraft plus 3 engine ferry crew to Lisbon thus ensuring that the passengers arrived only a few hours late and after the necessary checks had been completed the aircraft could be ferried to base for rectification. This was a win-win solution as against the alternative of dumping 100 tons or so of fuel, dispersing the passengers over different routes and waiting at least 24 hours for a ferry crew to arrive and then probably making a 3 sector ferry flight to the UK.
In this case the engine was a Rolls Royce as in the case of the EAAC aircraft and there are only a handful of stations with spares to hand, from memory HKG, SYD and JFK were the only ones outside the UK where a loan could be arranged, there would be precious few in the southern Indian Ocean area particularly for a RB211-D4.
Mike Fleckney, a former colleague of mine, has had the guts to post the facts of the case under his real name and acted in the same way as any of us with the extensive training we received would have done. I admire him for his reasoned and informative post and am dismayed to see that there are many arm chair critics, most if not all of whom have no experience of this particular aircraft type who try to second guess the situation and give the world at large the benefit of their non-experience.
I expect nonsense posts from the likes of 411A but am particularly upset by that of the likes of Beagle, who up till now I had thought of a reasoned and extensively experienced operator criticising somebody’s (correct) actions. The commercial considerations in the airline world cannot be ignored as in Aunty Betty’s airline where it matters not a hoot that you dump a load of fuel and inconvenience the fare payers (sic) and indeed have a spare jet to roar off into the great blue yonder when all is resolved. I hasten to add that I am not calling you names but questioning the wisdom of encouraging those who have little of knowledge to question the actions taken.

14th Nov 2004, 11:46
Do at least read what I wrote if you're going to be critical:

No, I disagree. Informed opinion of earlier types, their characteristics and limitations, as compared with more modern a/c is indeed relevant and serves to broaden the debate.

I did not comment on the San Reunion flight apart from agreeing that the in-flight re-assessment of contingency fuel enabling you to reach destination is entirely normal.

However, even though the 747 may have far greater system redundancy than earlier types, deliberately to cross the Atlantic with 1 shut down is something about which I remain to be convinced. But I am keenly interested in hearing the various arguments for and against - without petty name calling please!

So convince me why crossing the pond from West Coast US to UK having shut an engine down was preferable to diverting to JFK? And I'm interetsed to know whether that's what everyone does these days.

14th Nov 2004, 12:48
Flightwatch has summed it up perfectly, some posters here seem to think they are flying their own private aircraft! They are actually employed to transport 400+ passengers from A to B in a safe and expeditious manner. How many engines do some of you need to feel "safe"? Statistically of course the more you have the more failures you will get. Why not put 100 engines on each aircraft and spend most of your time in the crew lounge?
Professional pilots are paid to make decisions and aircraft manufacturers produce performance figures for a reason. And airlines are in business to fly people, not swell the profits of the hotel chains.

14th Nov 2004, 14:34
With the immaculate hindsight promulgated on this thread you'd think PpRune was only read by managers!

14th Nov 2004, 15:08
Well done, Mike! - Tables & charts everywhere I bet!
(We did the Opus Dei job)

Good points, Flightwatch.

<<would a boeing 747 with 2 engines gone be in a similar situation to a B777/A330 with half its engines gone? (i.e. 1 failed) except better able to cope with another engine fail than a B777/A330>>
Performance schedule A aircraft such as these must be able to suffer an engine failure at any time without requiring a forced landing. 4 eng aircraft must therefore be able to lose 25% of power on take-off and twins must be able to lose 50% of their power which is why twins with both running go like the proverbial off a navvy's lustrous leaning device :ok:
The loss of an engine on a twin at any time constitutes an emergency and (usually) requires a landing to be made at the nearest suitable airfield. (in simple terms for the pedants ;) )
Nevertheless, both aircraft would have full flight and go-around capability. Remember that on take-off you are starting with zero energy but on a go-around you are at, say, 50ft and 150 knots so you're pretty well placed.
Now, to answer your question: Following a second engine failure on, e.g. a B747, the aircraft will continue to fly but at a reduced level so safety altitudes have to be reviewed and could limit radius of operation. Unlike the loss of one, this is considered to be an emergency situation. Approach and go-around require careful handling and pre-briefing. The minimum control speed with two failed on one side will be in the region of 152 knots. After selecting gear down drag increases considerably and a successful go-around is not assured and, in any case, the first part of the go-around continues downhill acquiring speed and raising draggy flap before climbing away.
So no, a B747 with two out is not in the same condition as a B767 with one out.
I've never tried a simulated approach on one engine on the B747 however one I have tried: a simulated two engine approach with severe structural damage and reduced control authority is probably around the ballpark for an undamaged aircraft on one. Once the aircraft is configured for landing it is only going down and a go-around is not possible but it is controllable. Probably a good idea to radio ahead for a change of underwear though :D

p.s. If I've made any errors or omissions I'm sure they will be pointed out :O

14th Nov 2004, 19:32
Of course the unthinkable does sometimes happen.
I arrived in BGI one evening to see a PanAm Tri-Star surrounded by red flashing, etc, found out it was a 2-engined ferry BGI-JFK that had an engine failure shortly into the climb. Apparently declared mayday and asked for immediate return only to be given some rather obtuse vectors.
He then positively informed controller he was coming back by the shortest possible route.
He was still dumping fuel when they touched down.
(Single engine go-around is just possible in L-10 at moderate weights, but involves loss of approx. 500'/800' whilst sucking flaps and gear.)
And yes, they had done all the special inspections etc required before 2-eng ferry.
Sometimes s**t just happens, I guess.

ou Trek dronkie
14th Nov 2004, 20:45
Extremely interesting thread I reckon. Anyway, sorry to spoil it, but here’s my five bob’s worth. So many of these postings smack of “I fly a more modern aeroplane than you did, so I know more than you did (do)”. Hours are hours.

Mike Fleckney : My most sincere compliments and thanks for straightening out some strange views. I suspect quite a few posters don’t know much about decision making in two, three or four-engined aircraft. It was a no-brainer, I believe.

Tight circuit : Difficult to know what your point is. So you used to fly Nimrods ? Wow !

Flightwatch. A very sound and useful posting, mostly, but I do not quite see where the nonsense was in 411a’s posting. Maybe your evident dislike of him took over your sound judgement ? Perhaps you can enlighten us please ?

Basic point is this, Mike F and his crew did a top-cloass job and I guess a large number of posters have never been in a similar situation, nor will they ever be (I hope).


14th Nov 2004, 21:14
SOP's followed by a few accurate sums,
I don't see what this debate is about!

stormin norman
14th Nov 2004, 21:28
Having flown with Mike many times i found him to be an extremely professional captain and i can fully endorse his every word.
What i would like to know is how come he ended up flying for that lot ?

15th Nov 2004, 03:21
It's called a JOB Norm, you know, paying the mortgage and the ex -wives.

Anyway that's what pilots seem to do with their money. Isn't that why Cathay drivers were paid SO much 'cos they always seem to have an 'extra' wife along the way?

FEs seem to buy more beer and houses.

Take care all.

I must say that I was delighted to read some of the later posts esp Flightwatch.

Well said chaps, well done EAAC crew.

Edited for spelling . . . one day, one day

15th Nov 2004, 07:04
I'm only voice activated freight, but for what it's worth, if they have done the fuel sums, know what they are going to do if they lose another one, and the other three are OK I'd rather go home.

London Jets
15th Nov 2004, 22:00
Carry on European eh????

Still, at least there were no casualties. I can't recall any incidents like this when I was at EAAC but if the crew got the plane back in one piece alon gwith all the PAX and crew then maybe praise him for doing his job well.

I must say that I'd have preferred to have gone back to reunion to get it checked out, but then I no longer work for them so I don't know all the circumstances surrounding the flight or what actually happened on the flight.


19th Nov 2004, 10:25
Ironic isn't it. I just caught up with reading some threads, this one included, before setting out to go LHR HKG on CX250 last night (as slf)
Snoozing away NE of Moscow some 3 hours into the flight when the captain apologises for the flames that some people have seen, no2 is shut down, and we're turing back to LHR. 4hours later, coming back lower and slower, and we land at 2am!
Must say though, just in case any journos are reading, that the whole thing seemed extremely professionally handled, with absolutely no panic amongst the pax. Just some moans about being late for meetings!

19th Nov 2004, 11:33

Don't know for sure but your situation was possibly significantly different from the EAAC incident because of the geographical position.

The drift down height for three engines may have put the flight below the minimum safe altitude for continuing over the mountains of Afghanistan or the foothills of the Himalayas. Also, someone me me able to confirm, there may be a minimum allowable altitude for civil flights to cross Afghanistan (if the flights routes over Afghanistan, that is).

The return all the way to LHR (still a bl**dy long way on three engines according to some people who have posted above) would be because of the maintenence facilities available to Cathay.

Mr A Tis
19th Nov 2004, 12:13
Same happened to me a few years ago. CX B744 out of SYD for HKG. Lost an engine after 2 hours, dumped fuel & did a 180 back to SYD.Although inconvenient,seemed preferable than flogging on for another 7 hours on three over remote areas.

19th Nov 2004, 12:41
Am only SLF and flying restricted to light singles, but I could not help but be impressed with this thread, and the total professionalism in the way the incident was handled. Reading it has been totally revealing about the way you guys work and personally, it has made me feel even safer as a passenger knowing the caliber of those up the pointy end (and I dont mean first class)..

Thanks for a educational lunchtime.

19th Nov 2004, 13:40
Groundloop probably almost totally spot on with his post, although I don't think it would be Himalayas that would be the problem, would more likely be the Tibet plateau where MSA is over 20,000ft if I recall correctly? (This supposes they were routing on the newer northerly routing, and I'm only guessing...)

One can imagine SLF questioning why not to land straight away in say Moscow, Helsinki or close by, but I'd prefer my chances of getting to HKG quickly via return to LHR, and as this thread has demonstrated, no problems returning to LHR on 3....

14th Dec 2004, 08:14
I fly to Reunion Island every month, on 743 with CORSAIR. The flight time on return is about 11h on a 743. You can easly imagine that we are max fuel. Depending on the wind, we are usually using decision point procedures, and pretty often without an alternate on arrival. When Europeen had their engine problem after take off, they had 2 choices. 1/ Dump fuel and return to Reunion Island. 2/ Continue the flight, and try and get back to Paris.
The plane whas not full, and I believe that the crew toke extra fuel to fly back to the UK after CDG. The extra consumption would be about 12T with one engine out, so without extra fuel, impossible to get back. If they didn't land in Nice, they most likely had the minimum fuel to get to CDG ( minimum being 5T on a 747 classic, 30mn reserve ). ( The French authoritys are looking at that ). Having not been in the plane, it's difficult to give any jugement. My personnel view is that you have to consider flying for 3 hours over the Indian ocean, and then over the high moutains of Ethiopia ( 16000' MSA ), considering the loss of a second engine ( wich then becomes a Mayday ). I wouldn't have taken the same decision, but I don't think the crew did any mistake. I believe the COMMS with the pax were bad, in spite of a AIR AUSTRAL crew on board, and it's probably, and hopefully, the only thing we could disagree on with the CPT.

26th Feb 2005, 07:24
Well, well. Not so very many months after this thread opened another 3-engined Atlantic crossing has been reported.....


26th Feb 2005, 08:01
BEags, you can read a lot more about it here (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=164208).

26th Feb 2005, 08:02
normal routing out to HKG oftentakes you across the Khazakstan/Chinese border just south of Mongolia, passing close to Urumqui and then continuing in a loop around the Tibetan plateau until tracking south to HKG.
Safety heights on the route are high (around 19,000 ft I think) but a 744 out of LHR would have a 2 Eng stab height in excess of 20000ft.
Crew call on the day!

26th Feb 2005, 08:16
Oops - thanks, spekesoftly! I'd somehow missed that; having read just the first few posts I thought that it must have been just a benign diversion.

No doubt the wisdom of the crew and company's decisions will be discussed at length within their safety departments.

Interestingly, a 744 captain of my acquaintance in that particular company is of the opinion that, if they maintain their current fuel policies, someone is going to die if there's an unforseen go-around at Heathrow - even on 4 engines.....

Flip Flop Flyer
26th Feb 2005, 08:26
And then there was our old friend Kalitta Cargo, with their excellent reliability record, who had lost a donk (though not physically this time round) on a severly clapped out 747-100 coming into Bahrain. Problem could not be fixed on the wing, and an engine change in the sandpit would have been rather costly. What to do then? Oh yes, 3-engine take-off and ferry back stateside for repairs. Nice job, Connie!

Captain Airclues
26th Feb 2005, 10:54
Flip Flop Flyer

3-engine ferry flights are standard practice on most 4-engined aircraft and are carried out by all of the major airlines. I have done several both on the 'classic' and the 744. They are always carried out without passengers, and at a weight that would allow for the failure of a second engine on take-off.


26th Feb 2005, 23:42

Do you mean 'die', as in...a smokin' hole?

Or, just the Capt dies of fright?:\

27th Feb 2005, 06:47
As in a hole in the ground, 411A.

But not a smoking one as they're won't be any fuel to catch fire. My ba 744 colleague despairs at the pitifully low reserves they're encouraged to take in order to cater for 'statistical' diversion likelihoods.....

Whatever happened to fuel to go-around, proceed to alternate, hold for 30 min, IFR approach, go-around, visual circuit (closed pattern), land taxy and 'flame-out on the chocks' fuel - let alone 5% contingency on top?

"They'd never allow us to carry that much" was his comment...

Captain Airclues
27th Feb 2005, 08:53

I believe that BA always comply with the minimum fuel requirements laid down in JAR-OPS 1.255. Unless things have changed since I flew for them, the captain can carry whatever extra fuel he thinks is necessary.

"Whatever happened to fuel to go-around, proceed to alternate, hold for 30 min, IFR approach, go-around, visual circuit (closed pattern), land taxy and 'flame-out on the chocks' fuel - let alone 5% contingency on top?"

Once again, BA comply with JAR-OPS 1.297. If it was a requirement to carry enough fuel to get to an airfield where a 'visual circuit (closed pattern)' was possible, then the skies of Europe (and the US) would be very quiet on some winter days.

Perhaps your 'friend' has other issues?


27th Feb 2005, 09:20
Nope - last time we spoke he was very happy on the 744. But distinctly concerned about contemporary fuel reserve practices.