View Full Version : VS B744 gets stuck turning at the end of the runway in Antigua!!!

8th Dec 2007, 23:36
Just heard from a friend that lives in Antigua that a VS plane just ran off the runway....the airport is closed until further notice...its not on the news as yet....looking for updates....

9th Dec 2007, 00:42
I am now informed they over ran the runway on back tracking 07 and got stuck

9th Dec 2007, 00:53
A SWAG from the VS website, looks cancelled until tomorrow:

Flight number VS 034
Departure date 08 Dec 2007
Route Antigua (ANU) to London (LGW)
Scheduled departure time 08 Dec 18:30
Estimated departure time 09 Dec 18:30
Scheduled arrival time 09 Dec 06:30
Estimated arrival time 10 Dec 05:52

Dan Winterland
9th Dec 2007, 01:10
All too easy to do. Have done many backtracks in 747s on that runway. It was waiting to happen IMHO.

9th Dec 2007, 02:38
Yes so have I and it is worse in the Triple. It is time there were decent lights at the intersection and end turning areas.

9th Dec 2007, 02:45
Was always concerned on the A340-300, using the turning bays always had me on edge(no pun intended). Hewanorra St Lucia) was just as bad. The 346 is too long to do the turn.

9th Dec 2007, 05:05

I really don't think we can pass any comment on this until one of the experts has a go on Microsoft Flight Simulator and gives us the real take on what happened here.

9th Dec 2007, 06:36
Now that is funny!:}

9th Dec 2007, 10:17
Wasn't it in Antigua where a BA 777 sank into the soft tarmac after the back-track turn and also closed the airport?

9th Dec 2007, 10:50

9th Dec 2007, 12:25
It must be about six years ago that the parallel taxiway was half finished before the funds ran out.

Until the requirement for a 180 at the end is removed by the finishing of the taxiway there will always be the odd "error". As long as it is accepted by the appropriate management and not blamed on the crew there is no problem.

I remember one of our 777 training captains knocking a lamppost over at Grenada with his wingtip. Bit embarrassing but that's all.

Most of these Caribbean airfields were designed for Dakotas and apart from the runways being extended not a lot of the other facilities have been enlarged... enough said.

9th Dec 2007, 12:41
The title should be "Virgin DRIVES of the runway in Antigua".

When I see 'runs off' I'm thinking 60knots+
and not the 10kts at which this happened.

9th Dec 2007, 14:57
first news source i've seen http://www.crash-aerien.com/www/news/article1.php?id=7152&check=0

9th Dec 2007, 15:11
Havn't been to ANU in since 2005/2006 but if memory serves me correctly the line in the turn around button goes straight off the pavement or comes to close to the of the pavement before it commands a turn.

I seem to recall two airports like that in the Caribbean. My standard comment is "I wouldn't recommend following that line." :ooh:

9th Dec 2007, 15:16
We landed as the incident happened last night.EITHER the nose wheel steering failed and the plane slid off the runway in the right turn to line up 07 OR the turn was misjudged and the aircraft slid off.The runway was DAMP.The nose wheel and port main gear were in the grass and port wing about 25 feet from the airport perimeter fence.
There is very poor lighting and this incident has happened before apparently.I dont know how those 747s,340s,777s make that tight turn at night!!!

9th Dec 2007, 17:37
And it will happen again until:
The long haul carriers upon whom the island depend, collectively put the screws on the govt and show that it is the facilities and not the carriers at fault.

Someone dies.

10th Dec 2007, 15:06
I think the aircraft involved is G-VROY just to let you know

Self Loading Freight
10th Dec 2007, 15:14
From the comments on the report quoted above - "Images de l'avion dans l'herbe" (http://www.crash-aerien.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5651). The French word I'm thinking of is only two letters different to herbe :)

I know that nothing's ever 'just one of those things' in this business, but surely this comes close! Red faces, bit of disruption, lots more banter and paperwork, lessons learned. I hope nobody really ends up dans l'wotsit.



10th Dec 2007, 15:43
and the winner for the best "stupide and idiot men" in the world is for mister
geoffrey hill:D

so brillant ,intelligent comment regarding this incident.....:{

i never heard a stupid comment like this.....hope you re not a member of mod...i want to leave in peace....

10th Dec 2007, 15:58
I don't know why my comment of the idiot was removed, I'm sure it represents a number of posters.

Oh and I hope he got a warning from the mods.

Sir Richard
10th Dec 2007, 16:42
Looking at "Images.....l'herbe", perhaps the turn was started from the "wrong" side of the runway?
I was taught to turn from the "straight" side into the extended width.
From the "Google Earth" view, it should have been a left turn, but appears to have been a right turn.

Shanwick Shanwick
10th Dec 2007, 16:53
Standard procedure in ANU is to turn the "wrong way" around so as not to blow the 2CV's/Mondeo's off the road running alongside the runway a la Top Gear!

fast cruiser
10th Dec 2007, 18:39
shanwick shanwick.. beat me to it..
All the so called experts here clearly do not have a clue about the turning cirlcle at ANU and its pathetic how they pratt on about being "in the know" when they do not know...
When you have turned a B747-400 the non standard way around the turning circle at ANU then you have a right to comment but until then :mad::mad::mad:...(trying to not swear)

10th Dec 2007, 19:54
Seem to remember that with the DC-10s, the FE used to go back to D1L and open the door slightly and talk to the Captain via the handset there.... to make sure the nose wheels stayed on the tarmac but right to the edge........or is my memory playing tricks ???

Sir Richard
10th Dec 2007, 19:57
Sooo Sorry FC...my last visit to ANU in a 747 was 1987....I don't recall specific turning instructions from that long ago....:8 :bored:

My previous observation / comment was a general comment valid for most runways.

10th Dec 2007, 20:00
Just out of interest, Big Airways are just introducing a 'new' 180 degree turn for the 747's. Instead of keeping the beast rolling (slowly!) we now bring it to a halt, wack on max nosewheel steering & use just the 2 outboards to swing it round.
I'm not going to get involved in the pro's & cons (it's the sort of discussion you can only sensibly have after several beers :ok:) but I'd be interested to know how the other airlines teach it.

10th Dec 2007, 21:22
It will be interesting to see how long it takes to roll the first nose wheel tyre off the rim.

10th Dec 2007, 23:06
It will be interesting to see how long it takes to roll the first nose wheel tyre off the rim.

It is the approved BA procedure on the B777. The photographs I have seen of the manoeuvre, taken from outside the aircraft, were Boeing photographs.

The nosewheel is at maximium turn angle which is close to right-angles to the fuselage. We haven't rolled a tyre of the rim yet but we have only been doing it for twelve years or so.

cargo boy
11th Dec 2007, 01:14
Standard procedure in ANU is to turn the "wrong way" around so as not to blow the 2CV's/Mondeo's off the road running alongside the runway a la Top Gear!

Perhaps it's time to get the Antiguans to do what a lot of other "third world'ish" airport authorities do... get a couple of cops to close the road for a few minutes whilst the a/c makes its turn, the correct way round, ie. left hand as the turning circle is designed. That or get them to install some traffic lights.

The authorities in Antigua and all the other island states in the Caribbean can't be @rsed to invest in their airport infrastructure after all these years of trying to attract the holidaymakers. Yet the operators continue to put up with non-precision approaches and airport layouts that were never designed for the types of a/c that fly in to there.

The fact that the B744 HAS to turn the wrong way at the end of 07 in ANU is just one more example of us having to put up with unsatisfactory procedures which, in the long run, will end up costing the airlines more and more money with similar mishaps. Just one more example of ineffectual management shifting the onus on the crews to make do with rubbish procedures rather than trying to get the locals to invest in their infrastructure. :rolleyes: :ugh:

11th Dec 2007, 15:17
Cargo boy sounds like you are talking about LHR there

11th Dec 2007, 16:13
Cargo boy ,I believe you have no idea about the layout of TAPA Airport.Firstly traffic lights would make no difference to a heavy jet making the turn to line up,no cars would be blown away.
I see that non precision approaches seem to be a problem for you.Not every country can install an ILS because of the topography,so a VOR DME is needed to guide us in.If that is U/S we revert to a NDB approach.Here in Antigua it works very well.
777s, 340s, 747s, DC8s all are 3-4 times weekly and have never skidded off the runway.
I said before possibly nose wheel steering wasnt working or a mis- judged turn.

cargo boy
11th Dec 2007, 17:48
I believe you have no idea about the layout of TAPA Airport

Kiddie... you may be familiar with Antigua but don't presume you know what it is like taxiing a B744 there. Considering that I regularly fly the B744 into ANU, I am at least qualified to express my opinion on the standard of the infrastructure there. :rolleyes:

777s, 340s, 747s, DC8s all are 3-4 times weekly and have never skidded off the runway.

Maybe so, but it's only been thanks to the extreme skill of the pilots who have to negotiate the back to front turning circle. You have obviously never done it in anything bigger than a Spamcan but if you are ever fortunate enough to have to do it in a B744, when it is wet on the ground, you will realise how easily the a/c does not want to go where the nose wheel is telling it.

At least in this case, the only damage was 6 new tyres. Two nosewheel and four wing gear.

Now, where do you presume that NPA's are a problem for me? The only time I would need one was when unable to commit to a visual approach there. That aside, I am qualified to perform RNAV approaches, albeit only once the CAA give the airline approval.

My point, that you have so obviousy missed, was that for so many years the country has begged for the visitors to fly in to their island, in competition with all the other island states but have failed to re-invest some of the revenue from all that tourism back into the airport infrastructure. Luckily for them, the RNAV solution will save them a few more quid.

Now, about that stupid, unfinished parallel taxiway... don't get me started. :rolleyes:

12th Dec 2007, 14:55
Arent pilots meant to have extreme skills????????If no skills were required then we would all be flying B747 right?
If you were to say that the lighting was bad etc etc,then you may have a point but I dont see many other heavy jet pilots jumping on this thread bashing TAPA airport infrastructure. Yes caribbean islands rely on tourism as an industry, and sadly we cannot compete with your larger countries in terms of technology and foreign export ,so the tourism dollars have to be stretched for all of the islands infrastructure not just the parallel taxiway!
And since you are so familiar with TAPA then you should know that an ILS is not a plausible installation for the terrain,next time you are shooting your RNAV approach look to the right of you at 5-7 miles and let me know what you see.
I am quite happy flying my spamcam,a big plane doesnt make you a BIG man but maybe just gives you an even bigger ego.
Anyway you had better go back to pushing those buttons you seem quite good at it judging by the speed at which you typed your reply.

12th Dec 2007, 15:16
Ok then Camprax. Here's another heavy jet driver - me. The turning circle at Antigua is cr@p and the billboards and guidance on a clear night can be seen with difficulty. With any sort of contamination on the windows or lack of visibility it is a nightmare to attempt the turn.
Why do we have to turn the opposite way in the turning pan? I was led to believe it was for the road therefore traffic lights to stop the cars whilst the aircraft is turning the correct way would be benificial.
Comments about big egos and big aircraft are not beneficial to anyone or do I detect a little bit of jealousy?
Look at how Barbados' airport caters for big aircraft and look at how many tourists go there. The Antiguans need to spend some of their tourist dollars on the unfinished taxiway and not on 'white elephant' stadiums!

12th Dec 2007, 15:22

Rubbish, many, many places around the globe with terrain in close proximity to the localizer have ILS installed. Off the top of my head, CCS, BOG, Almaty, GVA...i could go on
The tone of your reply is very aggressive and hardly contributes to a sensible debate. The fact is this airport and many others in the region are ill-equipped to deal with large passenger jets; do you think they will spend some cash if it proves the A380 is too large for TAPA? Of course they will if it means more tourist /$.

oh and i fly BA 777 :mad:

galaxy flyer
12th Dec 2007, 17:30
Was in TAPA eons in the C-5, the turn was a tight one, seem to remember doing the turn "right way" around. Going into the the button then turning is a set-up!!

We needed 147 feet to accomplish a 180 on a dry runway. Two techniques-one for the old heads and for the newer guys. The old way was to stop, have loadie check for alignment out the troop door (a la DC-10), apply most but not all steering angle, caster aft gear, apply breakaway thrust on outboards, crank in remainder of steering to complete turn at 4-6 knots ground speed. New technique was to go in rolling at 4-6 knots, caster the gear and try to spin the steering angle. Most guys could not get the NWS to max angle before 45 degrees of turn done. It worked but seemed easier to screw up. I liked the first way, much easier.

12th Dec 2007, 18:27

The absolute minimum width for a 747-400 180deg turn is 46.6metres (153 ft).
[source: B747 Flight Ops Manual]

Our guidance is that on a runway of 60 metres width is that 'extreme caution' should be exercised.

As you can see, a large modern aircraft is very, very limited at places such as Antigua - even more so than you were.

It is a place to be very wary - even in the most benign conditions. In adverse conditions, it is even more challenging due to the light nosewheel loading on the 747, and apparently the 777 is even worse.

It is sad that some other people on this thread seem to equate it to being a slur on the island, and to cast aspersions on piloting ability and to suggest that because it doesn't have an ILS .......

The reality is that:
(1) ANU doesn't have the weather to require an ILS as a rule (even if the terrain doesn't preclude it)

(2) Any pilot in recency can fly a visual/NDB/VOR approach

(3) The completion of a parallel taxiway would greatly assist everyone (and stop events such as the BA 777 that closed the only runway for about 2 days some years ago -- didn't the tug have to be brought in by sea?) in the aviation and whole island community.

12th Dec 2007, 18:43
Non-Pilot speaking:

1) Come the day that a large a/c has slid off the side and blocked the whole runway.
2) Airport closed for a couple of days.
3) Coinciding with senior local politician needing to fly in or out and having to take a boat to neighbouring island.

THEN the parallel taxi way will be completed.
(I know, I'm too cynical for my socks)

12th Dec 2007, 19:29
SRjumbo,you make a sensible statement about lights ,turning circle,contaminated runway etc affecting the radius of the turn of a heavy jet,that is reasonable debate.I can also agree that a parallel taxiway would alleviate some of the issues.
Jealousy????Of what?????I am sure your girlfriend isnt as pretty as mine!!!I might be jealous about that!!!Not cause I am not flying a heavy jet....please.As cargoboy so aptly put it,I am quite a happy kiddie flying my spamcan!
3Greens can you confirm the lateral guidance that must be assured with an ILS?I myself am not sure about it,but TAPA has some terrain to the west of the field.
If this such a huge issue for heavy jets turning then why hasnt BA or VS Pilot Management made it known to the authorities in TAPA and threaten to pull service if their is such an issue about it?
Dont forget the nose and mains were in the grass and the latter at least 5-6 feet in the grass,so nose wheel failure I think is a strong possibilty.

12th Dec 2007, 20:15
Quote Farrell:


I really don't think we can pass any comment on this until one of the experts has a go on Microsoft Flight Simulator and gives us the real take on what happened here."

It's pretty much as feared. I was hard down on the rudder button, but I just couldn't keep a lid on it. It ran away from me and next thing I knew, the game reloaded and I was sat on the tarmac at Gatwick.



12th Dec 2007, 21:59
antigua taxi/parking is like celebrity come dancing........cut engines and towed onto parking bay...taxiway is very very tight for widebody aircraft..VS isn't the first and will not be the last to put maingear into the grass.

12th Dec 2007, 22:03
If there was any precipitation on the 'dumb-bell', then the nosewheel steering could have been ineffective, especially if a burst of power was used. I have been on a 747 that carried straight on with the nose wheel fully cocked, due to the slippery surface (water on paint).
As to those who seek to blame the airport/government or the VS crew, consider this :- 747's have been operating into and out of Antigua safely, since the 70's. Was anyone injured/killed as a result of this excursion?
I expect a little time in the simulator, practising turning, will be the only action required.

galaxy flyer
16th Dec 2007, 22:01
Top Bunk:

Thanks for the info, I always wondered about doing a 180 in the Whale. We routinely did 180s on NATO-standard 148 foot runways-including Yeovilton, Alconbury, etc in the C-5.

I wonder if having 2 nosewheels instead of our 4 had an effect.