View Full Version : Anyone got a Towbar??

14th Feb 2005, 11:23
I am surprised that the following story from last Tuesday 8th February has not yet been seen in Prune or in the dreaded press.

Diversion due to engine problems!!!!!!!!!!!

Virgin Airlines Airbus 340-600 on route to London Heathrow, diverted to AMS due to Fuel Management Problems.

VIR201 04:51 05:29 A HKG PL G09 G09 G-VATL 346

Nothing known about departure. Passengers are in the clean area awaiting news. By the way, first aircraft type visit???

UPDATE Virgin Airlines:

Still at gate G09 at this moment (09:55 a.m.). Passengers(311) are stuck in waiting area G09 and are not allowed to go out. Drinks and food is served. Also people are smoking inside (and that's not allowed !!!). Aircraft looked very nice and very long, with some additional titles: 'Miss Kitty', 'Air Born October 2003' and 'Backing the Bid'. No news about repairs, but the nicest thing is: a rescue ship is coming in from LGW within an hour, so second Virgin today!!!!!

Arrival: VS811P 11:30 11:30 LGW PP G73 G-VXLG 744
Departure: VS201 12:30 12:30 LGW PC D06 G73 G-VXLG 744

EDIT: also problems with the push back bar for the A340-600, no good one available, that's why the A340 couldn't leave stand G09. We've got A340 Cathay Pacific here, isn't that the same one?

The extra Virgin B747 will arr on G73, G-buffer and the pax will transfer by bus from gate D06(busgate).

The 747 is also bringing a towbar so the Sick Bird can be moved to the G-buffer; problem is that the nosewheel of a A340-600 is wider than the normal 340's and no towbar is available at Schiphol. Note: normal 340's at SPL are -200/300 from Cathay, EgyptAir & until last November Kuwait.

Seems logical as the A340-600 is heavier and taller then the -200 & -300.

Here is a small story about the problem:-

The aircraft was on its way from HKG to LHR when Number 1 engine failed and could not be restarted; nothing to bad but crew then noticed that main tank was empty and they could not pump fuel into it from the other tanks. Then number 4 started to splutter so Captain decided to put it on the ground as soon as possible.

The Virgin 340-600 finally pushed at 2239 and took off from 24 at 2252

Acknowledgements for above to Scramble Message Board.

14th Feb 2005, 11:47
Just for the record:
The towing fitting on an A340-500/600 is a larger diameter than A340-200/300 or A330-200/300. The NLG tyres are the same size albeit a higher ply rating.
The reason for the incompatibility is to prevent an A345/6 towbar from being used on the A330/A340-200/300 aircraft. The axial and radial shear pins on the A345/6 are stronger to account for the heavier weights. If an A345/6 towbar was used on an A330/A340-200/300 the shear pins would not shear at a low enough load to prevent damage to the NLG.

I think the reason for the diversion will raise a few eyebrows when Airbus issue the OIT/FOT.

14th Feb 2005, 12:15
So any other diversions of A345 and 6's to places not normally served by them is going to cause problems when it comes to departure, if it needs to be towed or pushed?

14th Feb 2005, 12:36
Make one wonder what problems A380 diversions will cause in the future ???


14th Feb 2005, 12:49
Sounds like there is more of a story here, one engine gone, another starts to "splutter"?

surely not
14th Feb 2005, 14:12
Lack of a suitable towbar at a diversion airport wouldn't be restricted to A340-600's. If you diverted a 747-400 into an airport that didn't normally handle them then a similar problem could occur.

14th Feb 2005, 14:20
We had similar tow bar problem on a diversion in South America once upon a time. Think it was in Chile. DC10 stuck at the gate.
What to do....

Airport authority called the nearest army barracks and out come 100 soldiers to the airport. Rigged ropes around the wing gears and hauled away. Worked fine. The only manual push back I've heard of.

14th Feb 2005, 14:21
On our A330's we carry a towbar in the boot just in case!

14th Feb 2005, 15:20
Yeah it make sense to include one in the FSK. Avoids the embarassing situation Virgin are in.

14th Feb 2005, 15:50
I suppose an engine start and reverse thrust was out of the question ;)

Do I remember a Russian craft doing that at LHR some years ago and causing much consternation :ugh:

14th Feb 2005, 16:25
Had an LH A343 divert into MAN back in '95 and there was no towbar available for it as back then it was still a fairly new type that didn't operate into MAN, so the a/c had to be parked across 2 remote stands so it could self manouvre out again.

I would have though that the Airport's Ops department would know what equipment was avaliable from the various handling agents to avoid situations like the VS situation occuring.

Also AMS has TBL tugs, so I'm sure that one of those could have been used - we use them at LHR on the A346 just about everyday.

14th Feb 2005, 16:48
The NLG tyres are the same size albeit a higher ply rating.

No they are not. A340-500/600 uses a larger NLG tyre than A340-200/300.

14th Feb 2005, 21:08
Pssssssst ..... Could help you out here Guv. Number is
Whitehall 1212 - ask for Nosher.

Irish Steve
14th Feb 2005, 21:53
No towbar on station. Noooooo problem.

Happened a while back at an airport not too far from me, a DC8 of all things got diverted in due to inclement WX at it's original tech stop. It got parked a long way from anything else even remotely respectable, and then , once the WX had improved enough to allow it to continue, all was prepared to push it back and allow it to continue on it's smokey way. Weeeellllllll. Almost all. No bar on station. Lots of long complicated transatlantic mobile phone calls, frantic searches of the long grass of the airport in case one was hiding somewhere, but no, no bar.

Eventual solution. Wrap a number of cargo straps around one of the main gear legs, attach a suitable power push back tug behind the wing, take up the slack, and puuuulllllllll.

Broke just about every health and safety rule in the book, and a few more, as well as a whole clipboard full of airport byelaws but shure they got it back far enough that it could then start and self position off the stand by crossing a couple more, and away it eventually smoked into the distance.

Oh the joys of (one upon a time) being a rampie!!!

14th Feb 2005, 23:00
These VS -600's are very special jets indeed. Needed to borrow an extra main wheel for a double wheel change on a SAA -600 - only one carried in spares tin. Seems that VS wheels are a different hub and different rubber. Eventually ended up with a night stop.

15th Feb 2005, 07:32
Also AMS has TBL tugs, so I'm sure that one of those could have been used - we use them at LHR on the A346 just about everyday. unquote

Well we used our TBL tug to tow the a/c 10 meter further onto the gate however it was not allowed acoording the manufactor the 346 is simply to heavy...even KLM called the factory as they have even heavier TBL's but they would not garuantee that it would work...so the rescue B744 picking up the pax had to bring in a towbar

15th Feb 2005, 08:06
I think the more worrying thing is that the a/c ran out of fuel not whether it could push back from a stand, lucky it wasn't a hole in the ground!:sad:

15th Feb 2005, 09:56
Not sure what the real reason is/was for the tech stop in AMS. The story started by saying that the Virgin aircraft was having engine problems. To me that would require an extensive hangar visit before you would attempt to get it back to base. And it would make sense for Virgin to bring in another aircraft to get the people moving.

As for the toweless trucks go. The ones KLM uses for widebodies look strong enough to move an office building. They move the 747's around like they were toys, and I know this from extensive personal experience.

And as far as I know the 747 is still the heaviest baby on the block. So I could not think of one possible reason why they could not be used for the A340-600. If you were to divert to any airport in Europe I could not think of a better equiped place to do so than Schiphol. It can accomodate any sized aircraft, and the maintenance facilities there are top rate. A one stop shop.

15th Feb 2005, 10:06
I think we are missing the point, OEI due to ENG 1 fuel starvation with ENG 4 starting to cough, 28T FOB, no associated fuel system ECAM warning.
I can't wait to hear the explanations for that... How well would an A346 fly on two engines and no green HYD system (LDG freefall - no retraction possible for go-around etc)?

15th Feb 2005, 12:25

15th Feb 2005, 16:53
Pity some of the anoraks on here ar unable to think a bit more laterally with their speculation about the causes of the flights problem. Here's a starter for 10... think of fuel temperature problems on such a long flight!

Now I'll hand back to the spotters and enthusiasts to air their amusing ideas. :rolleyes:

15th Feb 2005, 17:07
Fuel Temp has absolutely nothing to do with the problem of tanks running dry. Fuel temp would not have been a problem at this late stage of the flight. OAT being fairly normal.

15th Feb 2005, 19:34
Here's a starter for 10... think of fuel temperature problems on such a long flight!
"E" .... can you expand on that thought?


15th Feb 2005, 20:15
Tanks were not dry, but nbr 1 main tank collector cell was, then nbr 4 main collector cell ran v low.

16th Feb 2005, 01:38
Pah, who needs a towbar.....



16th Feb 2005, 04:52
During a engineering dispute at Briitish Airways in Manchester during the 70's a BAC 1-11 500 was stuck at the gate without a pushback. At the time about 5 crews were deadheading to Berlin, our best layover. So the crews got off and manually pushed the 1-11 back off the stand so it could depart. Where there is a will there is a way!

16th Feb 2005, 08:21
Fuel Temp has absolutely nothing to do with the problem of tanks running dry It does if the fuel has any water in it (which it does) and the outer tank valves fail to open as they are frozen solid with water!!! There was fuel in the wing it was just in the wrong place so it couldn't feed the engines, what caused this will hopefully come out in due course. I'm told that the fuel temp at the time was -70, well below the -47 FP of jet A1!

16th Feb 2005, 09:05
I think you are confused with OAT and Fuel Temp.

16th Feb 2005, 09:05
OOI, the temperature last week over southern europe at FL400 was -71C which is below the 'norm'.

The Boeing 737 QRH calls for descent or speed increase to raise the fuel temperature, and either of these actions would probably have caused a shortfall in available fuel to complete the flight on a 737, possibly requiring a 'tech stop' en-route.

16th Feb 2005, 11:04
I think you are confused with OAT and Fuel Temp nope I was told when the boxes were pulled that the fuel temp had gone down to -70, could be wrong though.

Flight Detent
17th Feb 2005, 02:05
Well, somebody has to say it!

Bring back the professional Flight Engineer

Just another example of the pilots not watching what is going on, rather wait for the ECAMS message (when it's to late to do anything proactive!).

As in most of these incidents, something can much more easily done when the problem is noticed when it first shows - not when the engines start to 'splutter'.

When will the 'establishment' ever realize the value of the FE, its always comes down to salary dollars. So, they save the pennies (the salary), and lose the dollars (the airplane) - or nearly do!

Just as a result of this one incident, the operator could have paid the salaries of a troop of FEs for a very long time - and how many incidents are in the past and are still to come?

So silly, really


17th Feb 2005, 18:07
Impossible for the fuel to be minus 70 as this would have been colder than the aircraft. Total Air Temperature would have been in the range -40 to - 46. At minus 47 or approaching -47 (fuel freeze point) the fuel shoud be transferred from the outer to inner tanks. For the fuel to be minus 70 the OAT would be around -90 degrees or lower. The operating limit of the A340-600 is minus 74.

Captain Rat
18th Feb 2005, 07:12
Believe the problem was not fuel temp related but to do with a FCMC software problem not allowing fuel to transfer. (and we all no how reliable the FCMC's are !!)

18th Feb 2005, 12:01
The aircraft (A340-600) is notorious for these faults and is important to understand the reasons why computers in general fail / seize. (No different from a home PC really)

The FCMC is a computer and when it sends a command to a system and the system does not comply for one reason or another then the computer will crash say FCMC 2. The FCMC is reset and after a few minutes will cycle back to the original command and will crash again if not complied with.

If FCMC 2 is off line then FCMC1 will take over and send the same command, if this is not complied then FCMC1 will fail.

Take the example of fuel transfer. When an inner tank reaches 4t the FCMC will signal a fwd txfr. If the txfr fails the computer will crash no matter how many resets, unless the txfr starts the computer FCMC2 say will always crash. If left off line then FCMC 1 will take over, this will signal a fwd txfr and if this fails to happen the computer will crash and then ECAM will signal a dbl FCMC failure with the associated drills.

It is of course not easy to figure out what the FCMC are doing and why they crash but with a little knowledge it can be worked out and preempted.

I do not know what happened in this incident or what actions were or were not taken.

With an inner tank at 4t the fuel should start a trim tank fwd txfr and at 2t an outer to inner txfr. If an FCMC fails at this time then a manual txfr will preempt any further failure and the FCMC will reset. This has happened to me a few times.

If the outers completely fail to txfr then there is only 8t of usable fuel left so an immediate diversion would have to be considered.

With a double FCMC failure all fuel warnings are lost; at least this is obvious as ECAM displays FCMC 1+2 Fault. All txfrs must be done manually.