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View Full Version : A 320, what would be your course of action?


hetfield
16th May 2006, 07:15
You are cruising in FL 11.100m over Russia. Your destination is 200 NM out. By chance you notice the red aft cargo fire light on the overhead panel illuminated. No ECAM warning, just the light.

What's your course of action?

Dream Land
16th May 2006, 08:13
1. Request the Purser to the flight deck, have a crew member monitor conditions above the AFT cargo, floor temperature or smoke.

2. Monitor AFT cargo temp if available.

3. Check FCOM

4. Notify company and ATC of situation.

5. Unless smoke or heat present, continue to destination.:confused:

Dani
16th May 2006, 08:28
200 NM away? That's an easy one. Of course you do what Dream Land says. But 200 NM is near TOD. So descent with high speed.

A problematic situation is when you are in the middle of a flight, and there's no airport in the vicinity. Or even high terrain. Or water.

Dani

hetfield
16th May 2006, 08:37
200 NM away? That's an easy one. Of course you do what Dream Land says. But 200 NM is near TOD. So descent with high speed.

Dani

I missed to say, suitable alternate just below....

Dream Land
16th May 2006, 08:42
With a quick cabin check the decision to utilize the diversion field or press on could be made quickly.

cwatters
16th May 2006, 08:57
So a fire there would show up as smoke/heat in the cabin and that's a more reliable indication than the sensor? Press on even with an alternate below? Sounds brave to me but I'm only a lapsed glider pilot.

hetfield
16th May 2006, 10:28
1. Request the Purser to the flight deck, have a crew member monitor conditions above the AFT cargo, floor temperature or smoke.

2. Monitor AFT cargo temp if available.

3. Check FCOM

4. Notify company and ATC of situation.

5. Unless smoke or heat present, continue to destination.:confused:
Thx Dream Land and others,

that's exactly what we did (FCOM was no help).

In addition

6. Pull/reset CB of both SDCU to trigger the warning again (only red light appeared)

7. Discharged bottles!

8. High Speed to destination

9. Fire truck on stby

10. Kept cargo doors closed until passenger disembarked

11. Had a couple of beers in hotel:)

Dream Land
16th May 2006, 11:45
Good job, can you tell us what caused the warning.:ok:

hetfield
16th May 2006, 11:51
Good job, can you tell us what caused the warning.:ok:

No unfortuneatly not. Engineering replaced both SDCU, that's all I know.

jaja
16th May 2006, 12:03
On a very good CRM course a few years ago, I learned this frightning statistic :
On average, an uncontrollable fire, becomes none surviveble in 19 minutes !!!!
Gentlemen, think about that for a minute, 19 minutes !
Then you can forget about all your professional training and the sofisticated aircraft you fly.
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IN CASE OF AN UNCONTROLLABLE FIRE IS TIME = GET ON THE GROUND !
200nm is 35-40 minutes, including approach, so with an alternate below you, what were you thinking about ? or are a BA B747/3 engine capt ?
I am shocked

hetfield
16th May 2006, 12:47
On a very good CRM course a few years ago, I learned....

to

- collect all facts
- take any help (cabin staff, ATC, manuals, engineering etc.)
- not to believe/rely on a single instrument/light/chime

etc, etc.

jaja
16th May 2006, 13:06
"- collect all facts
- take any help (cabin staff, ATC, manuals, engineering etc.)
- not to believe/rely on a single instrument/light/chime"
I know hetfield, that is what we all do as captains, when making descisions that is not black/white.
There is only a BIG difference when dealing with a possible uncontrollable fire, compared to must other emergencies, and that is the lack of control you as a captain have when things have developed beyond your capability, and this development comes VERY fast. Therefore, if you have indication of a possible fire, you HAVE to act very quick, and consider it is for real.
It is quite another thing with e.g. a low oil press warning, where you have so many other indications to back up your descision, and the consequence of shutting an engine down, does not compare with an uncontrollable fire.
You did not have a fire on your flight, your had some faulthy indication. If the fire had been there in the aft cargo hold, do you think you would have been around today to teld us your story, after trying to fly another 200 nm ?
The statistics says no......

7373
16th May 2006, 13:50
6 of 1 & half a dozen of the other between the two sides of the case.

Sometimes due to commercial pressures, time taken to descend from cruise and brief for an unknown airport (who in Russia, may or may not in reality have the fire cover you'd expect :eek: etc) with potentially high MSAs, the prospect of continuing can look quite attractive.

At the end of the day, the decision remains with the crews. My concern would be whether the fault was not the SDCU but infact the ECAM! From 11 100m with a high speed descent at close on Vmo/Mmo to a field that you are familiar with and with 2 sets of approach plates (some companies only carry the one set for alternates) may be almost as quick as overhead div.

From a two crew perspective, it would be much easier to get back into the loop (and remain SA) at a familiar field from a NPF aspect after briefing the crew, pax, company etc.

hetfield
16th May 2006, 20:15
If the fire had been there in the aft cargo hold, do you think you would have been around today to teld us your story, after trying to fly another 200 nm ?
The statistics says no......

My answer: no.

tallsandwich
16th May 2006, 20:50
hetfield - please couldyou clarify:

1. Are you saying that you would, in this situation, need heat or smoke to be detected by a member of the cabin crew before you acted?
2. What was the distance (time) to nearest divert?

Thanks.

hetfield
16th May 2006, 21:04
hetfield - please couldyou clarify:

1. Are you saying that you would, in this situation, need heat or smoke to be detected by a member of the cabin crew before you acted?
2. What was the distance (time) to nearest divert?

Thanks.
1. Wait a minute, calm down. If the ECAM would have produced a clear warning the answer is: NO

2. Like I said, we were just overhead a "suitable" alternate. BUT neither me nor the First Officer had ever been there. Weather was at CAT 1 limits, icing conditions, questionable fire fighting category (how can I know in split of minutes?)

tallsandwich
16th May 2006, 21:59
Sorry - I missed your additional post "suitable alternate just below".

If your high level logic is to effectively wait for some kind of 'quorum' from the multiple aircraft monitoring systems before deciding that you have a "serious event" then as 7373 indicated, you leave yourself open to the risk that the ability of these (other) systems has itself been compromised by the fire.

Press-on may well be your chosen course of action, knowing that the incident is real, but you chose to press on becuase you did not consider it to be truly a valid alert (no ECAM confirmation).

If you have a single alert for the most serious event you could face in an aircraft, would you not agree that the course of action that is best is the one that gets you on the ground as quickly as possible. Other factors (firefighting ability of airport etc) are secondary?

P.S. I am not un-calm, and greatly respect your integrity in making the post in the first place.

hetfield
16th May 2006, 22:09
@tallsandwich

Are you familiar with the ECAM ?

tallsandwich
16th May 2006, 22:21
Sufficiently familiar with ECAM to go into details: No.
Do feel free to enlighten me, however whether it is a piece of junk or not does not change the CRM reasoning...

AnEviltwinEr
16th May 2006, 22:24
On a very good CRM course a few years ago, I learned this frightning statistic :
On average, an uncontrollable fire, becomes none surviveble in 19 minutes !!!!
Gentlemen, think about that for a minute, 19 minutes !
Then you can forget about all your professional training and the sofisticated aircraft you fly.
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IN CASE OF AN UNCONTROLLABLE FIRE IS TIME = GET ON THE GROUND !
200nm is 35-40 minutes, including approach, so with an alternate below you, what were you thinking about ? or are a BA B747/3 engine capt ?
I am shocked
But remember, if the fire would be uncontrollable, you would have more warnings, hints etc, that something awful is going on.

And besides, a fire doesnt become uncontrollable very fast in a plane, you know. it takes many minutes before a minor fire would get worse.

So if you have Fire warnings, lights, smoke, horns whining, i bet you wouldn't even consider to push straight to your destination. ;)

And, in case of a 19 minute-surrivetime, i think you would get the plane to the divertplace straight under you. Remembe, this would be a "Mayday", and regulations can be overseen in situations like that. :)

(Am i right? Im not a pilot, groundcrew, F/O, or anything. Just a guy that wants to be a Pilot. :))

nnc0
17th May 2006, 06:25
The SDCU also feeds the FWC which in turns triggers the ECAM. Without the ECAM warning or seeing that the isolation valves had closed it would not be unreasonable to consider it just being a spurious light.

hetfield
17th May 2006, 07:37
The SDCU also feeds the FWC which in turns triggers the ECAM. Without the ECAM warning or seeing that the isolation valves had closed it would not be unreasonable to consider it just being a spurious light.

thx nnc0

@tallsandwich

nnc0 gave you the answer.

Regards

tallsandwich
17th May 2006, 08:08
Hetfield, nnc0 tells me that you were not being unreasonable (that was never in question!).

Would you not consider that the links between these components could themselves have been compromised by the event and hence the ECAM warning may never get triggered such that you would only ever get the one alert do you consider this eventuality to be such a low probability?

I guess if we searched through a few crash reports where fire was a factor we would see that the feedback available to the crew would be seen to be incomplete or misguiding in some cases. I assume with the workload you did not either did not have time to consider such a scenario or you reject it for other reasons?

I think you never mentioned what your own personal estimate on the time to land at the divert was (although others suggested it could have taken just as long as your chosen course of action). The divert was not perfect, but it was viable nevertheless? I assume you considered it to take just as long as to press-on?

Not a witch hunt, just interested as to your reasoning given the constraints placed upon you.

Cheers.

pakeha-boy
17th May 2006, 15:24
cwatters..... glad to hear you are a glider pilot,me too,only I have 2 engines on my one...
Concerning the fire lights,the second post is right on and is the common sense app....
I have had several occassions where I have had to do an airstart (do gliders need these?)....the rear cargo door has been open as the boys are still loading bags....the airstart cart has been fired up and the smoke from this thing has "waffled" into the cargo hold,....note: on the aircraft we have,the cargo detection system is for smoke only not fire /heat

In the front office we get the cargo smoke lights.....we immediatly panic,start screaming and looking for the big red button.....disgharge the bottles,do the checklists,evacuate the aircraft,and then immediatly go to the Chief Pilots office and explain why we were such idiots!!!!

Bottom line...all situations need to be evaluated,use all your resources,and that includes those in the back.....

On the ground the decision is somewhat easier,in the air,obviously different,....under those conditons my QRH requires under to blow the bottles,even if you have doubts......better to have blown the bottles on a "suspected" smoke/fire as opposed to finding out you actually have one :{

GearDown&Locked
17th May 2006, 15:59
In the front office we get the cargo smoke lights.....we immediatly panic,start screaming and looking for the big red button.....disgharge the bottles,do the checklists,evacuate the aircraft,and then immediatly go to the Chief Pilots office and explain why we were such idiots!!!!


pakeha-boy, for some reason, I'm interested to know what your Chief Pilot said about that situation. Did he agree with your course of action? Did he made any recommendations for future situations? Were you sent to retrainning?
Just curious.

GD&L

pakeha-boy
17th May 2006, 16:11
come on mate!!! your not serious are you......my point was that on several occassions other :uhoh: pilots had discharged the bottles (on the ground) thinking that they had an actual cargo fire,until it was realised later on that it was smoke from the airstart carts causing the problem....a memo was put out stating that if this should occur again that this was the most likely reason for the indications(on the ground) and to maybe to some more checking as opposed to reacting like a wild-man.......these things seem to go in spurts,it seems these smoke detectors are very sensitive,and because they were a new addition to the fleet,we did not have a lot of experience with them......

by the way,my visits to the CP,s office are for real things,like sexual herarsement and stuff like that....PB

haughtney1
17th May 2006, 16:27
Just a question as an ignorant Boeing pilot (although..might be a 320 driver in a bit going by last nights rumor told at FL380) whats the indication after you blow the bottles in the hold? does the smoke light extinguish? or does it remain illuminated as the Halon (extinguishing agent etc) perculates around the cargo bay...:ok:

pakeha-boy
17th May 2006, 16:34
H1 maaaaaaaaaaaaate......from what Ive heard..(heheheheh), the discharge lights will stay on for sure(amber) and the "red" smoke light should go away if the smoke/fire is stopped(if not land at the most suitable airport)...just like the engine 1/2 fire lights.and APU...(if you go to the bus) let me know,I have some great CD,S you can have,tech stuff...PB

haughtney1
17th May 2006, 16:38
Cheers PB...I'll let you know if Im frogmarched onto Le bus.....I dunno If I wanna give up the mighty Boeing...having said that the 320/321/330 would be good to have on the ATPL:ok:

hetfield
17th May 2006, 19:27
@tallsandwich

To put it short.

Your decision would be the immediate divertion to next suitable airport, right?

Just by a questionable red light, without any other clues, right?

Assuming that you have a fire AND and at same time an ECAM failure, right?

Regards

cwatters
17th May 2006, 21:37
It took me awhile to find it but this thread reminded me of the Swissair fire. I know quite different but they couldn't see flames or feel heat either....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swissair_flight_111

hetfield
18th May 2006, 08:13
It took me awhile to find it but this thread reminded me of the Swissair fire. I know quite different but they couldn't see flames or feel heat either....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swissair_flight_111

Excuse me, what did you read?

The flight departed JFK at 8:18 PM (EDT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Daylight_Time)) with 215 passengers and 14 crew en route to Geneva (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva). At about 9:10 PM, cruising at 33,000 feet (about 10,060 m), the flight crew smelled smoke in the cockpit. Fifteen minutes later, the smoke was visible and a number of systems were failing.

That's a liitle different to a single obviously faulty red light, isn't it?

pakeha-boy
18th May 2006, 18:05
hetfield...mate......he,s got me buggered also,read the article the same way as you,and also the case studY we recieved in GS....I think the boy has "fallen off his bike"/....Its very apparent the crew were well aware of "a problem"....ditto on a faulty light...PB

tallsandwich
19th May 2006, 12:29
hetfield,

You started this thread asking what you thought others would do, if your intention was only to find people that agree with you then you made some success. You do not appear to want to go into any discussion that would lead in the in ther direction.

To answer your question, might I expect the malfunction of more than one system and compoent at one time, the answer is yes. How probable that event might be will only be known in the future.

You seem to be stuck in the middle of a decision, on the one hand you pressed on with your flight, and on the other hand you took actions as if there was a fire. If you took those actions then it seems you thought the event might be real - in which case, why do you now act as if you never believed there was a fire (see your emotional last post).

Either you act 100% on such an event, or you (indirectly) are choosing to ignore it. Had your time estimate to land at the divert been just as long as your 'press-on' time to land, then you have no case to answer, you got the plane on the ground as quick as you safely could.

Why are you reluctant to answer the question as to how long you estimate it would have taken to land at the divert? Why are you upset? Did you not expect to get any seraching questions when you made the post?

hetfield
19th May 2006, 12:40
@tallsandwich

Why don't you answer my post of 17th May 2006, 18:27?

Regards

tallsandwich
19th May 2006, 13:36
...becuase I asked my question first :}
What was your time estimate to land at the (assumed viable) divert?

hetfield
19th May 2006, 15:05
@tallsandwich

Listen, I'm a reckless pyromane.

Is it that what you want to hear?

tallsandwich
19th May 2006, 15:13
No, I didn't want you to say that, but maybe next time you will think about those 19 minutes.
Ciao, it's been fun.:oh:

Bearcat
20th May 2006, 11:55
if memory serves does the qrh say not to pull sdcu cbs in the air??

TyroPicard
21st May 2006, 10:53
Bearcat, your memory serves you much better than mine serves me...
my QRH says SDCU to be reset on ground only.
TP

javelin
21st May 2006, 17:14
Simple solution - Either close Flight Sim down and restart or Ctrl - Alt Del and restart, that should clear the problem and you can proceed to destination :E