View Full Version : AA 767 diverts to Stornoway!

26th Apr 2001, 18:31
Airline passengers had to be hoisted on to the runway at Stornoway Airport after their plane made an emergency landing there yesterday(25/4).

The American Airlines Boeing twin-engined 767 jet, on its way from Sweden to Chicago, landed after an 83-year-old passenger suffered a fatal heart attack.

It was the first time in years that a wide-bodied passenger jet had landed at the Western Isles airport. A loading hoist was used to disembark the 87 passengers because there were no suitable steps."

26th Apr 2001, 18:37
I remember Pan Am stuck an A310 in there a few years back

26th Apr 2001, 20:47
i guess the locals had a bit of a surprise too. what surprises me is that they do actually have a reasonable long runway, 2000 meters or so i think.
still, blooooooooody hellllll !

26th Apr 2001, 21:38
Took their morning papers in this morning, and it was the talk of the area. A real novelty, apparently the roads around the airport were jammed with people watching its departure to LHR. (To get fuel to then continue on to the states)
Its a shame that the old guy passed away.

[This message has been edited by CRX (edited 27 April 2001).]

27th Apr 2001, 09:21
Have not seen the details on this but:

The first post suggests the poor fellow had already departed. I doubt it since not much point in making an emergency landing then.

This incident highlights the problem with present ETOPS/LROPS planning. Assuming the patient was still alive but critical what is the point of landing at the nearest airfield when you cannot get the patient off the aircraft? Crews need far more information on potential diversion airports to make sound diversion decisions. Even if Stornaway had an airstair I would doubt if the community has the sort of advanced medical facilities needed for this type of emergency.

We need to wake up to the fool's paradise we are living in that implies the only item we need for a diversion airport is a long strip of concrete.

By the way, I flew one of the first two single jet aircraft into Stornaway (it was a two ship formation). Charming place but a bit cool.

27th Apr 2001, 13:49
Very true, just how much longer would it have taken to get to PIK or GLA. Not the
closest suitable airport in terms of runway length. BUT much more sutable for this sort
of pax emergency.

[This message has been edited by boxmover (edited 27 April 2001).]

27th Apr 2001, 14:54
Just want to point out that the Western Isles Hospital is in Stornoway with an A&E department which is more than capable of dealing with this type of emergency. If anything the passenger would get to hospital quicker by landing in Stornoway.

27th Apr 2001, 14:59
I was on a Pan Am 747 that diverted to PIK with a medical emergency, possible stroke as I recall. He said Reykjavik, PIK, and LHR were the choices, se we did a 180 and flew for about an hour before landing. They used a hoist to take the woman off. Refueled on the tarmac, and continued on to JFK.

Ben Becula
27th Apr 2001, 16:04
Have to agree with Disco Kid-the Western Isles hospital is suitably equipped to deal with that sort of emergency. Don't know how people (ie BOING and boxmover!) get the impression that the Western Isles are more 'backward' than anywhere else!

27th Apr 2001, 17:38

What was your source for this?

Has anyone seen any photos? How does the hoist work?

27th Apr 2001, 19:45
Apologies brabazon, I should have published source. It was on a news service site, but originally appeared in the Glasgow Daily Record. No photos that I can find yet.

27th Apr 2001, 19:46
I worked the flight enroute returning to LL and the pilot informed me that he could not thank the people and staff at EGPO(Tower and Firemen got a special mention) enough. He was very impressed how everyone rallied round.Well done HIAL and Stornoway.

27th Apr 2001, 22:25
Cīmon some of you.
Unless there was a doctor onboard who pronounced him dead while still in cruise, you should be happy and commend the captain for such a decision. (If rwy, wx and hospital are/seem suitable...)
He had enough fuel to fly back to a refueling airport anyway.

Luckily most of us donīt think about profits/costs in situations like this.

It could be you or me some day, while we still have a chance...

27th Apr 2001, 23:06
Only ever flown to Stornoway once..about 10 years ago as a pax in Loganair Shed...the only other aircraft in sight was an
Evans VP-1....other end of the spectrum from a 767 and I'd be genuinely interested to know how it got there! Some fantastic scenery, beautiful deserted beaches, friendly natives....but closed on Sundays!

27th Apr 2001, 23:12
Sympathies to the family and all that.

The point which was made but has been skimmed over is just how suitable are these supposed ETOPS/LROPS diversion airfields if a large airliner really does have to divert in there with something other than a non-technical problem such as this.

I understand Longyearbyen in Svalbard is a diversion airfield for the trans-polar route. I went there 15 years ago (by ship) and spent 2 months up there in the 'summer'. The weather was never very stable, always cold, and the facilities at that time were somewhat basic.

Imagine a 777 diverting in there with an engine out. Sod's law says that the weather will be right on minima (and it's not an approach for the faint hearted even in good weather) and blowing a gale. OAT will be -20 C plus windchill. The a/c makes it down OK, and then everybody bales out down the slides. Instant hypothermia/cold shock scenario. Then the need for hotels and undercover maintenance facility to repair the a/c etc. You can imagine the rest, and the situation might well be worse in Greenland..

In the race to get ever shorter transit times and save fuel etc, I fear we are potentially increasing the risk of turning a minor incident into a major one. I wonder how many punters would be happy to be told (irrespective of how many engines their plane has) that in the event of an emergency there is a good chance they will end up with frostbite and be stuck in the middle of nowhere until the plane can be repaired or a replacement flown out.

No disrespect intended to the residents of Svalbard or Greenland!

"Take-off is optional, Landing is mandatory"

28th Apr 2001, 02:43
Condolences to the family and relatives of the deceased pap on the AA.

Why does LHR keep being proferred as a diversion destination when MAN "Home of The UK Diversion" is a much better placed spot ?
Apart from possible crew changes why did the a/c route to LHR for fuel ?

Undoubtedly MAN now offers the best facilities for diversions with its central location, extensive hotel accomoodation and based emergency coaching service (provided by us!)

Heck our DMs will even check for WX with NATS - now where else do you find a coach company doing that ?

I agree that flights should divert to where there are facilities available and indeed we talk direct to a number of airline ops to ensure that we can provide transport for pax wherever they may wish to divert and that the a/c goes where these are available.

If your company doesn't know about us, they should do !

P.S. This is not an advert - hope the bizz development boys at MAPLC see this tho' !

28th Apr 2001, 12:26
Saw in a back issue of Flight that the JAR people are looking into the "suitability" of
diversion airfields plus the rate of non tech diversions. IF they can avoid to much "bureaucratic and political" infighting this should be an interesting study.

[This message has been edited by boxmover (edited 28 April 2001).]

28th Apr 2001, 14:04
Methinks those who have passed comment on ETOPS operations have never flown them and/or know very little about them. I doubt very much that stornaway was the ETOPS alternate but it probably was the nearest suitable Airport with adequate medical facilities.
Try explaining to the inquiry why you elected to fly for an extra ten minutes in a time critical medical emergency.
Local knowledge is all well and good but the crew in this case were not local. They had to rely on the information made available to them by their company, along with the assistance of local ATC.
ETOPS is a planning exercise it cannot and will not cover all eventualities.
It sounds to me that the crew and the local airport services did a sterling job in difficult circumstances and should be commended as such.
Hopefully now stornaway will invest in a suitable set of steps and company manuals will highlight the lack of ground equipment until it is improved.

28th Apr 2001, 16:48
I doubt that they will buy a set of big steeps for one diversion every third blue moon.

If the airlines wont to use this sort of big runway/small traffic airfield as a diversion
then they will need to subsidise the kit needed to provide a safe basic handling service.

29th Apr 2001, 21:16
The point I was trying to make in my earlier post is a general one. As SITMOFO says ETOPS is a planning exercise - it is the strategic part of the old "strategic versus tactical" operation. We have sufficient time to consider this strategic information during the planning phase. Then what happens? Something goes "bang" and we are suddenly tactical with inadequate information and no time. I, of course, intended no slight on The Outer Islands and their inhabitants in my post. (Although some of the touchier of our northern readers seemed to imagine it). However, consider that the general rule is that the smaller the population of a community the lesser its facilities are (politics and economics). The crew involved in the subject incident had no local knowledge. They unfortunately did not have information on the airstair situation and probably had no certain knowledge of available medical facilities. They did a great job handling the situation they were presented. However, would it not have been preferable that they could have tapped into some accurate, current data source to provide rapid guidance during this incident? There have been several embarressing incidents involving this lack of information about diversion airfields, including one where an aircraft diverted with a medical emergency to an airfield with bad weather and no suitable medical facilities. It took a couple of days for a rescue aircraft to fly in and get the ill pax to a suitable hospital.

All I am suggesting is that an "official" assessment be made of all airfields that are nominated, or are likely to be used as, diversion airfields. Information on their various facilities should be made available and updated - just as we presently do with nav. charts - and the facilities (such as airstairs and ground power) should be updated when necessary and feasible.

Long Haul
30th Apr 2001, 01:10
Very good idea. Last month while painfully listening to Air Canada behind us divert to Iqaluit (The capital of Nunavut) because of a sick passenger, I resolved to find out more about places like Iqaluit, Sykyvytar, Urumqi and Kangerlussuaq. To my pleasant surprise, the last mentioned airport has an excellent website http://www.greenland-guide.gl/kangerlussuaq/airport/default.htm
Haven't found out a thing about Khabarovsk, though.

30th Apr 2001, 01:27
should you divert into some of these places and do not burn, then you are the biggest hotel for miles around.
the a/c will eventually be taken out as scrap on low loaders, but maybe you won,t have to go to all those funerals...
fun stuff ETOPS

30th Apr 2001, 01:32
I had to make a similar choice last week en route LGW to Caribbean. Cab manager had advised that we had a sick passenger (terminally ill with cancer) whose condition was worsening. We were an hour past the Azores. A doctor on board recommended expeditious landing so we turned back. We asked Sta Maria which Azores airfield was better as far as medical facilities were concerned and they suggested Lajes was preferable to Sta Maria, so that's where we went.

30th Apr 2001, 02:01
I heard they left a trail of rubber from all the wheels on landing, and that once the problem was sorted they then had an additional problem of not being able to turn round, with no tug available and then used reverse thrust to the intersection, turned around, taxied back to the end and then did a 20 point turn using reversers again!!!!!!! Anybody got any clarification of this?

30th Apr 2001, 22:00
Brabazon regarding the hoist used in Stornoway I was one of the twin otter pilots based up in the fab Western Isles when the pan am airbus came in and the hoist we used then was a normal fork lift truck with a box attached to it for washing high up windows and it was probably the same they used for the 767.

p.s for the folks out there that think that the western Isles has very limited emergency equipment you really don,t know what your talking about. oh and they also have electricity !!!!

1st May 2001, 01:52
Let us put something straight for the overly sensative northern contingent on this site. Nobody is knocking the islands of Scotland or anybody else in thse posts.

The fact is, though, that if you are flying an aeroplane over a place that LOOKS as though there is b----r all down there you are not going to associate that place with sophisticated medical facilities or handling capabilities for a large aircraft. With local knowledge, pilots may know that there is a superb hospital with a five star hotel next door complete with tall blond scandinavian masseurs (hopefully female) but you cannot tell that from seven miles up.

This reinforces the point I am trying to make. If airlines want us to fly in situations which will require us to land at an airfield we do not normally use in an emergency situation then we should be provided with information to allow a sensible decision. By the way, I checked my company manual it says Stornaway has handling facilities for both 767 and 777 aircraft! I suppose the pax. handling facilities for the 777 are a ladder mounted on top of the fork-lift!

Calm down jocks. I bet you would be more upset if, because of the wonderful facilities in the islands you boast about, I started shipping in thousands of sightseers every week!

1. The happiest man in the World is a scotsman with a grievence.
2. Captain, my engines will take no more of this.

2nd May 2001, 00:36
Doesn't the 767/777 have it's own extendable stairs under the front door like the 737?

Never flown one so no idea.

I wouldn't have thought looking at the ground from 7 miles up was a very professional way to assess diversion capabilities in the first place, never mind if you can see bu***r all but sheep.

For all you know there could be a fully-equipped USAF base down there that you missed while trying to spot hospitals from FL370.

Talking to a knowledgable and helpful controller, even if he is sitting 150 miles away in Prestwick, would surely be your first priority.

You start off with an empty bag of experience and a full bag of luck. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.

2nd May 2001, 01:09
I used to work for Loganair and did many Air Ambulance flights.
It may interest some of you to know that the 'Highlands and Islands' have, by far and away, the best underused medical facilities on offer. Sadly the pax did not make it, but, given the alternatives, the crew definately gave it their best shot.
And, bye the way, this has absolutely stuff all to do with ETOPS/EROPS.

Ignition Override
2nd May 2001, 04:04
Someone else already brought the idea of asking ATC about which airports have medical help.

Does European ATC give this advice to enroute planes, knowing that that there is a medical emergency, and does a pilot have to specifically ask for the information? Can Air Traffic Control contact a given hospital, and does ATC have accurate info on how many sick/injured people could be treated?

What info does our US ATC have on whether a hospital is near a certain diversion airport, for example, Muddy Mountain, Wyoming, or Big Deer, West Virginia? By the way, I just read that our company suggests that any 747s to Asia avoid diverting to some Siberian airports under certain conditions. Luckily they don't operate two-engine trans-oceanic flights, at least not yet.

[This message has been edited by Ignition Override (edited 02 May 2001).]

2nd May 2001, 18:25
ATC (in Scotland) will have a direct line to the local police control centre, who will in turn be in touch with the local hospitals/paramedical services.

In most cases, a request for the level of medical facility available at a given airport could be answered within a few minutes (provided everyone is on the ball - of course - but I can't see any reason why they shouldn't be!).

Do not hesitate to ask ATC for this type of information in an emergency; it's why we're here.

Ignition Override
3rd May 2001, 07:38
That's good. Here in the US, in a (always busy when unexpected problems occur: one pilot flies solo and communicates while the other sorts out what info/checklist is needed) two-person cockpit, we would be very busy talking to ATC about the nearest runways with enough concrete to stop on, and might be committed to a given airport by the time we get enough info from the flight attendants to know if there is a nurse, or doctor etc on board (a typically under-paid paramedic might be best!), in order to provide a more accurate diagnosis.

We can also use the plane's "flite phones" to directly contact the famous Mayo Clinic.