View Full Version : "Land at the nearest suitable airport"

21st Sep 2010, 07:06
When I used to fly Boeings, this phrase (or one very similar to it) followed every check in the QRH where an engine had been shut down or similar. There was even a definition of exactly what it meant.

Last Saturday evenings Ryanair flight from Beziers to Bristol had a birdstrike between V1 and VR (according to a conversation between the pilots overheard by SLF - "There wasn't enough room to stop") accompanied by severe vibration. What did our heroes do? Land back at BZR (10 knots down the runway, CAVOK)? No, they diverted to Girona, some 200km (and a mountain range) away where maintenance facilities were [presumably] available. Three fan blades severely damaged.

Obviously as ever in these cases I am not in possession of all the facts, but I would like to be, before I consider my next RYR flight!!

Quality Time
21st Sep 2010, 07:22
Was the engine shut down? If not it seems like a perfectly reasonable decision to me.

You appear to have pre- judged them in any event in spite of admitting that you don't know much about it.

A likely checklist would be the high engine vibration checklist which does not lead you to land at the nearest suitable airport if the vibration can be kept within parameters.

21st Sep 2010, 07:47
You really should get your facts before making posts like that,

On the Safety side
1. Don't forget how fast a 737 is, by the time the guys had the checks done and talked to atc they would have most of the distance to GRO covered rather than sitting in a hold over BZR.
2. The rwy in GRO is a good 1000ft longer than in BZR, a very important factor on one engine.
3. Most Ryr pilots will know GRO airport being one of the bigger bases, meaning less workload on the pilots.
4. Being a base the emergency services in GRO will be more familiar with Ryr aircraft.

On a commercial side
1.There will be engineering cover in GRO
2.At this time of year they will prob have a spare aircraft/crew.
3.The ground staff will be better able to manage the situation.

Contrary to popular belief there are reasons the pilots fly the plane and not the cabin crew :}

Capn Bloggs
21st Sep 2010, 07:56
On a commercial side
1.There will be engineering cover in GRO
2.At this time of year they will prob have a spare aircraft/crew.
3.The ground staff will be better able to manage the situation.

Commercial pressure if I ever read it...

21st Sep 2010, 08:06
I Agree with Wayupthere

Two engines on there and if there both still turning, gain some distance from terra firma and work the problem, if your heading towards friendly ground at the same time then bonus! for me immediate landing is engine fire or other fire and aircraft(pax) in dire stress, a bit of birdie feathers on one lump of metal ill happy work the problem first before going nuts into the nearest airfield

mountain range would make me think a little more about GRO though but without all the facts cant say thats a bad decision, maybe more than enough altitude to risk flying over it single engine.

3 Point
21st Sep 2010, 08:40
Hey Zero, don't change the context of the thread, of course immediate landing is an appropriate response for a fire but that's not what we're discussing.

I've had several birds in several engines over the years and I can't predict the extent of damage from the cockpit; nor can you. I agree that working the problem before "going nuts into the nearest ..." is sensible but I would generally prefer to remain in close proximity to a usable runway while doing so. An engine with a bird down it can behave normally for a while then go downhill fast!
I agree with wayupthere's safety factors but his commercial factors can be no more than minor bonuses if the safety decision points the same way.

In any case sounds like the outcome was a safe landing so well done the guys!

Happy landings!

21st Sep 2010, 08:59
The statement that GRO is 1000' longer than BZR and therefore a better choice in considering a SE landing is not a significant consideration. The LDR at F15 is not so much longer than F30. With that logic he should have gone to TLS with xx,xxx thousand feet available. If the engine was dead he should have landed back at BZR, if it was just 'injured' going to GRO was quite an acceptable course of action.

When you run an airline targeting minimum costs in all areas it goes without saying that using airports 'out in the sticks' that are poorly connected and have little/no facilities will result in more diversions for technical and weather reasons. Ryanair is happy to take that commercial risk as it does not arise so often........ unfortunately if it is your flight that is diverted then this is no consolation whatsoever.

Whatever the circumstances, with Ryanair the convenience of the customers will not be on the list of considerations. Culture in any organisation is bred from the top down. With the attitude of Mr O'Dreary it can only be a matter of time before we see a Ryanair tail sticking out of a smoking hole.

21st Sep 2010, 09:11
In the emergency briefing i usually specify return alternate. One is not very confortable to land with one engine inop on a 2000m long runway. It can be done but why make it chalenging. MPL is 2600m long at 30 NM and PGF is at 40 NM (2500 m long).

Reference distance for 60000KG (24K) is 955 m ; oei Vref 15; dry runway

Nobody is saying anything about the weather, the aircraft weight, runway condition and also about the outcome of the birdstrike => Engine failure or high engine vibration.

It's easy to stay in front of the computer and speculate.

brother rice
21st Sep 2010, 10:14
There are some serious geeky PPL guys who must wear 4 stripes when they show up to there flying club to get in there C150.

The crew did the right thing for the situation.

The rest of you go back to the airport fence with your note pads and airband radio.

Lord Spandex Masher
21st Sep 2010, 11:03
Finbarr, does the Boeing checklist also include a phrase "Land Immediately"?

21st Sep 2010, 12:04
Once again a thread about second guessing a "what if" pilot decision.

What condition the engine is found after landing has no bearing on a decison while in the air.

The crew is provided with engine symptoms in the air, SOPs and room for weighing alternatives (judgemental).

The decision to land and when and where should consider the crew work load, (opportunity for errors) versus the performamnce degardation of the aircraft.

Having had an engine annomaly with vibration that is controllable by retarding the throttle still provides redundancy in systems as well as a potential thrust redundancy in an emergency.

Landing at unfamilar airports (charts, protocols etc.) vs a more comfortable alternate simply is part of the flexibility in judgement in-the-air (not hind sight on-the-ground)

21st Sep 2010, 12:05
We had a similar situation climbing out of Lincoln [KLNK] to Omaha [KOMA]. Bird strike; some engine vibration; did NOT shut engine down; continued to Omaha [10-15 minutes maybe ?]. No big deal. Had the vibration been such that we shut the engine down, we probably would've gone back to Lincoln, but the time involved would be pretty close between that and continuing on to Omaha. We only had ONE fan blade damaged. What amazed me was that Maintainence merely filed the oposite blade down the same as the damaged one and ferried the aircraft to KSFO for an engine change !

Edit: BTW.....aircraft was a B-737-200.

A and C
21st Sep 2010, 12:11
A few years back XL airways had an engine failure just north of Alexandria, I seem to remember a lot of flack on these forums for not landing in Egypt.

The fact of the matter was that by the time the QRH items had been done Larnaca was the best place to go.

I suspect that this situation was much the same except that the anti Ryanair faction is much bigger and rushing to jump on the band wagon.

blind pew
21st Sep 2010, 12:44
seems a good decision to me unlike one carrier a few years ago that decided that a suitable airfield was EGCC after having an engine go bang at LAX!

21st Sep 2010, 12:49
FWIW: flying the 200nm to the longer rwy burned off a bit more fuel, lower landing weight ... lomapaseo's response was almost exactly what I was thinking after I read the OP.

Wayupthere, thanks for the well rounded illustration of factors in decision making for an engine malfunction.

21st Sep 2010, 12:52
Typical FR pilots wanting to go way further into France and over the mountains into Gerona rather than going across the Med, they obviously ignored the easiest way as the Med is really hard to see from Beziers.:ugh::ugh:

OP could you provide us with the ATC track they followed in getting there as no doubt that will back up your "theory".

The Ancient Geek
21st Sep 2010, 12:55
seems a good decision to me unlike one carrier a few years ago that decided that a suitable airfield was EGCC after having an engine go bang at LAX!

ISTR that was a BA 744, so perfectly happy to continue on 3 engines.
It started an argument between the UK CAA who agreed with the pilot and the FAA/NTSB who threw a hissy fit despite the Boeing SOPs
clearly supporting the decision to continue on 3.

But my memory could be wrong........

21st Sep 2010, 13:45
f there was ever any doubt of PPRuNe being a full of amateur arm chair pilots....I suggest we let the piston twin novices continue with the thread but any professional will know that confronted with the same situation the choice is a no brainer.

Funny, but nobody has considered the stupidity behind turning around and landing a loaded up (over landing weight) aircraft on a runway that is covered in the debris from that recently damaged engine.

There aren't too many things more stupid that trying to land a jet on a bunch of N1 fan blade parts scattered all over a runway. That would sure help with braking efficiency...not!

they merely used common sense and chose a better and more suitable alternate. More appropriately, they decided to go TO their TAKEOFF ALTERNATE. For all the rookies, yes, we professionals actually "plan" Take-Off Alternates.

These boys did a good job. Compromised aircraft is on the ground without incident. They handled the problem very professionally.

If your family had been on that flight, you'd be singing heroic praises, so leave these guys alone.

21st Sep 2010, 14:38
bzr - gro (http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=bzr-gro&DU=nm&SU=mph)

Typical FR pilots wanting to go way further into France and over the mountains into Gerona rather than going across the Med, they obviously ignored the easiest way as the Med is really hard to see from Beziers

racedo, suggest you check your geography before making such comments! The great circle distance from bzr to gro is 89 nm, hardly a long cross country even on one engine although we don't even know whether an engine was shut down!

The arrivals from the east and south into Gerona would avoid any "mountains"!

21st Sep 2010, 14:44
racedo, suggest you check your geography before making such comments! The great circle distance from bzr to gro is 89 nm, hardly a long cross country even on one engine although we don't even know whether an engine was shut down!

The arrivals from the east and south into Gerona would avoid any "mountains"!

You missed the complete sarcasm in my post that somehow the Pilots would have needed to go across the Pyrenees and that they would have missed seeing the Med from Bezier ;)

Avherald has a similar comment to OP's that was slapped down.

21st Sep 2010, 14:55
racedo - sorry LOL - hook, line and sinker!

Brookfield Abused
21st Sep 2010, 15:17
No doubt a very nice CRM discussion to be made out of this.

Ok so we have two Rated, Current and Typed Pilots who can read and understand ICAO 4 english.

We have Operations who may have played a 0 role in their decision or applied immense pressure - do they comm. thru ACARS directly with the crew?!

We have CM1 who may have had a hot babe waiting for him after duty!
Thinking "Crap if I don't avoid a big financial mess - O'Dreamy will say I'm gone!"

We have CM2 who is maybe one of those "I pay by the hour types" and little input.
CM2 had CM1's Wife secretly waiting for him after Duty?
CM2 made all the decisions.

So now thinking back to my Boeing NG days.

Was the engine still running after this strike/s?
Damage blade/s DOES NOT MEAN A DAMAGED Engine as per NNC or QRH's.
You could look through a PAX window to see if in inner engine side had been penetrated otherwise your source of info is from your digital displayed data.
Did it SURGE or STALL or have a HIGH VIB or EGT?
If it did, then at what power of N1 setting could the surge or stall or high VIB be avoided by retarding the Thrust Lever?
Then the question - when do you YOU consider an engine as DAMAGED or SINGLE ENGINE?
I would say if it cannot produce max thrust its damaged - so a Flight Idle running engine is for me still SE when I need performance! Yes Smartie-pants I know you still have an IDG and EDP (hyd.).

My opinion is that CFM's do not flame out, surge or stall unless they are damaged in some way. Let us face - these engines will run over 50,000 hrs. will fluid and oils sufficient.

What did the SOP say about this?
What will the Feds say?
Did Ops in DUB start sending some sort of ACARS messages to continue (if they can)?

Was it a classic sim. generate crunching grinding halt 92 to 0% N1 in millliseconds? So no argument there - SEVERE DAMAGE!
A shut down engine means what? 60% loss of performance in certain areas (obviously no in DLD)?

So even IF this engine was at Flight Idle OR Shutdown, making the decision to fly away from that Dep. Airport COULD be another slice in the swiss cheese model.
What If the Dest. airport shuts down for any insanely remote reason (WX, Bomb scare, FF services in use, etc.) and you cannot make it - then what? Fly back - divert some more?
Here comes Smarie-pants SLF again "But what if the Dep. A/P shutsdown for ALL landing traffic just as you are performing your Approach!". Valid point, but then I know I'll have to divert or HOLD until it re-opens. Bla. Bla.

Back to this example. What if Enroute the non-damaged engine starts to shows signs it too was damaged by the flying culprits. Surges, stalls, etc...

So when you're half way between T/O point and Div. A/P, it may just be a no win situation!

So when you have the facts we can start the CRM discussion properly.

I would say as far as flight safety goes - if the Dep. A/P was CAVOK, xwc and DLD within limits I would not even think about going anywhere but into the Hold and land from where I started.
If O'Dreamy and the Pax what to get on my Ass - let them, because history is full of those Crews who rolled the dice and got burned.

Lastly we should find out what this extra flight time on this damaged engine cost AFTER THE FACT? A windmilling or even a Flight Idle running engine can still look to be functioning normally but every minute of operation drives the repairs into the Millions of extra $. So in this case the Crew saved the Co. Euro 50K in hotels, buses, etc. but drove up the repair bill up 20 fold... so then commercially a very bad decision?

21st Sep 2010, 15:31
Did Ops in DUB start sending some sort of ACARS messages to continue (if they can)?

Nothing fancy like that in Ryr aircraft!

21st Sep 2010, 15:35
Did Ops in DUB start sending some sort of ACARS messages to continue (if they can)?

I can assure they don't - ACARS - we wish!!

Good grief, never seen such a fuss over nothing - you know these a/c will fly on one engine - you also need time to prepare, brief the cabin, even burn a bit of the weight off prior to landing. Sounds like good decison making to me - Captains are paid to make such decisions and it says "Nearest" (which means in terms of time not distance) "Suitable" airport - GRO seems a lot more suitable to me than BZR.

21st Sep 2010, 15:37
For me, land at nearest suitable means, if there is a strip, and there is no flight safety risk in landing there, you land there, disregarding operational or maintenance aspects.

Engine failures or other similar technical problems needing a landing are way to seldom to be optimized economically.

Safety first, at all times.

Well put, studi.:)
A very well reasoned reply, considering this was a two engine airplane.
3 or 4 engines, different story altogether.

blind pew
21st Sep 2010, 15:57
Read the CAA report re the LAX engine failure.

Air Accidents Investigation: Boeing 747-436, G-BNLG (http://www.aaib.gov.uk/publications/bulletins/june_2006/boeing_747_436__g_bnlg.cfm)
The full report is even better!
They didn't know the extent of the damage so the spare FO went to look at the engine in the dark and then asked passengers what they had seen.:rolleyes:

The fuel mismanagement ended up with a Mayday going into EGCC.:\

And that wouldn't be the only G reg kite that had fuel problems!

From the Times - the FAA withdrew the fine if they changed their procedures.:ok:

And for many of our Brit friends - what they did is illegal in many parts of the world as one of their ex pilots did a similar trick working for the frogs and was arrested!

Engine goes bang - land at first suitable airfield, the rest is arrogant stupidity.

21st Sep 2010, 16:16
blind pew, the case under discussion bears little resemblance if any to the BA LAX engine "failure" which has been debated endlessly in previous threads.

If you accept that in that case they shouldn't have continued (which I dont and btw I don't work for BA) then you could argue that they didn't land at the "nearest suitable" airport.

In this case we don't even know whether an engine was shutdown but clearly a landing at GRO rather than BZR (especially on one engine) would be far more suitable.

MODs I suggest you lock this thread before it descends into farce which it almost has.

Just wondering
21st Sep 2010, 16:55
.......... have now managed to get into double digits with engine failures, for various reasons, in various flight phases, on jet powered aircraft - some leaving me on one engine.......... unless you're on fire or with serious vibration I wouldn't necessarily call it an emergency.

......... my view, FWIW, is don't rush, order a cup or tea/coffee, get as much info on your failure as possible, take advice but be very careful of advice from the ground - soak up the big picture and do what makes you comfortable and yes, consider the commercial implications when all other things are equal. Whilst doing all of the above as well as checklists etc you might as well use the time and miles going towards a better airfield as going around in circles above the departure point. Save the hair on fire dirty dive back in for being on fire....... and even then perhaps not.

Sounds like the Ryanair guys did a professional job.

Lord Spandex Masher
21st Sep 2010, 17:17
It all depends on how the company, your company, defines "nearest suitable airport".

On one type in my company it can be the case that the nearest suitable airport is the destination. It can also be the case that it is the departure airport, or anywhere else inbetween. And, of course, commercial options are taken into this consideration.

The ECL for this particular type also includes the phrase "Land Immediately" (Or words to that effect). This implies that you should...well...land immediately. Commercial considerations go to the back burner and all that really matters is that you can get on the runway and stop.

On the other type there is only the phrase "Land at Nearest Suitable Airport". This means land immediately.

The company has gone to great lengths to make sure people transferring between the two types are aware of this difference.

So to summarise, land at nearest suitable airport can mean either:
- Land immediately or,
- Land at the nearest suitable airport, the nearest suitable airport may not be the nearest suitable airport.

Can anyone tell us what the Ryanair/Boeing ECL says for engine vibration? Land immediately or land at the nearest suitable airport.

21st Sep 2010, 17:51
Engine High Vibration Checklist does not tell you to land in any case. The final note in case you cannot keep the vibrations below 4 units reads:

If the VIB indication does not decrease when the thrust lever is retarded, check other engine indications. If other engine indications are normal, no further action is needed.

Not even a pointer to the Engine Failure or Shutdown list, although it would be a normal consideration during FORDEC or DODAR, whatever you use.

Neptunus Rex
21st Sep 2010, 17:53
"Some days, you should stay in bed."

I submit that a lot of the posters on this thread should stay in bed most days. They should not be (and probably are not) involved in flying multi-engined jets.

To cavil about landing at a more suitable airport a mere 89 miles away beggars belief.

Well done to the crew concerned. All in a days work.

21st Sep 2010, 19:05
damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Nearest suitable...I was based at DCA for a long time. (washington national/regan national). You takeoff...blow an engine and if you are getting vectors for return, with a downwind to the west, you are closer to KIAD (dulles airport). so, which is the nearest suitable>?

Almost every briefing was: if we lose one on takeoff, we'll get vectors to dulles. the only time we didn't do that was : if we lose one on takeoff and dulles is below minimums we'll get vectors to Andrews Air Force Base (where air force one lives0>

You have to do what you think is the best course of action at the time. But if you are going somewhere cuz they have better company mx, you might find your ticket gone for awhile.

good luck

and as long as an engine is producing some thrust...keep it running if you can safely do so.

21st Sep 2010, 19:09
Well as a retired 2 & 4 engine plane jockey - 18,000 hours - I haven't noticed a post that says a twin engined airplane will if it loses it's 2nd engine become a glider. I agree with the decision of the BA LAX flt continuing to MAN but a a twin? Land at the nearest suitable airfield. No time to go to court to argue the issue. Common sense really. Depends why the 1st engine failed as to what is the 'Nearest suitable airport'. No time for elf & safety here. COMMON SENSE combined with airmanship. Simples.:ok:

21st Sep 2010, 19:14
:ugh::}The most basic of flt training Folks...Simulate an engine failure on T/O (in a C-150 or PA-28) and 9 out of 10 students look for and find a distant field that looks good...only problem it's too far away...

Excerise over now, and the end result is my students always came to realize that the answer to the ??? "Where can you land" is ALWAYS on whatever is below you...not some distant field...if not suitable then work outward from there, but be prepared to sacrifice the A/C to save yourself...

BTW, don't know about other Ops Manuals, but most airlines I've worked at have a bit in them that say the Capt should consider landing overweight vs. holding and dumping fuel...

In other words, get the thing on the ground, not embark on a cross-country oddessy with and unknown problem...

CONF iture
21st Sep 2010, 19:16
So nice to fly a single engine, at least you don't have to ask and answer this kind of question ...

21st Sep 2010, 20:03
Ryanair procedures and briefs include a fair amount of Bla Bla Bla, add to that a CC N.I.T.S brief ,and you have already covered most of the 89nm to Girona.
Beziers-Girona is over in the blink of an eye in this situation, barely enough time to complete QRH items,get the charts out, & complete all the other aforementioned items.

As for terrain, the arrival is to the East of the really high ground if landing straight in on on RW 20, if any doubts, you just head towards Begur & make the approach from there.
Sound decision :D :ok:

21st Sep 2010, 20:08
On the other type there is only the phrase "Land at Nearest Suitable Airport". This means land immediately. So why doesn't it say Land Immediately?

Mind you, it's all suggestive in my opinion. Capt to interpret based on current situation.

Lord Spandex Masher
21st Sep 2010, 20:40
So why doesn't it say Land Immediately?

To avoid people landing at an unsuitable airport.

21st Sep 2010, 21:06
The C500 VP-BGE crash of 30/03/2008 is a case in point. The crew experienced vibration, inadverently shut down the engines and failed to make it back. If it stays in the air, keep it there, sort out the problem and then decide on the best course of action. It seems to me that is precisely what the Ryanair crew did and did it well.

21st Sep 2010, 22:53
The task, and thus difference between descriptions is essentially one of risk assessment.
If the current situation involves a higher level of risk than normal, e.g. engine fire, then some additional risk can be accepted for an immediate landing.
However, this judgement should not disregard higher risks in the attempt to land, e.g. you could accept a reduced landing distance safety margin (short runway), but perhaps not exceed the recommended crosswind. In the first instance the pilot retains control of the landing situation whereas in the second s/he probably does not. Caution, we all think that we are better than we actually are – particularly when stressed by a serious emergency.

For situations involving minimal additional risk for continued flight, e.g. single engine flight after engine shutdown / surge, then no additional risk need be considered in planning to land at a nearby airport. Also, within a small margin, not necessarily the closest airport could be chosen. The choice must be justifiable after the fact (what if) and thus might exclude an ‘economic’ choice; although such a choice coupled with fuel burn / weight reduction could be acceptable. Again beware of human bias – wish think; justifying something to yourself is often easy, but it is not the same as having to explain the decision to an accident investigator.

24th Sep 2010, 10:27
Look, as much as I detest RYR, let's wait for all the facts before jumping to conclusions. There is a difference between an engine severe damage, and engine limit/surge/stall situation.

Also, the main difference here is probably what we don't know -HOW and WHY did the crew divert to Girona. If it was 'let's go to Girona because they've got maintenance facilities' then they probably got it wrong. If however, they spent genuine time generating options and then deciding on the best course of action, then well done.

Unthinkingly diverting back to the airfield you came from is frowned upon these days, unless your arse is on fire. Generate OPTIONS - ask open questions of the co-pilot - 'where do you think the nearest suitable airport is'? 'Give me 3 options for what we do now?' Then have an open discussion about the merits of each of the 3 airfields. Perhaps you've discussed some of this in the pre-departure brief already? As someone said,

Was the aircraft overweight for landing?
What is the priority, how much time do you have? - land asap or manage the emergency, generate options, brief the crew?
Was there debris on the runway?
You've just had multiple bird strikes, do you want to go back for some more bird strikes on one engine?
What's the weather like? Is it a difficult non precision approach at night on one engine?
Is there a big runway with an ILS that you can reach in the time you need to brief a return? Are you more familiar with that airport?

Then DECIDE and do it.

24th Sep 2010, 16:34
In my estimation the Ryanair crew did a thoroughly professional job.
Most of the speculation about what they did, or could, or should not have done circles around the definition of 'suitable'.
How about the situation on my B777, flying a planned ETOPS sector ex- Far East over the Middle East and Europe. I have 3 hours ETOPS operational approval and flight plan, but have an engine shutdown over ( say) Istanbul enroute to UK. Technically, if I was using Kuwait and Frankfurt as my ETOPS pair, with nothing between, I could then continue to Frankfurt. However, the checklist would say land at the nearest suitable airport. The action I might take is all about minimising risk. The Ryanair crew minimised the risk by not landing back at departure point, in my opinion. I would be obliged to land at Istanbul for the same reason or risk approbation in court for not doing so, should the outcome be 'less than optimum'
Putting the aircraft down in a hurry on any merely 'adequate' airstrip would be a poor decision, both operationally and commercially. Only cabin smoke or uncontained fire could justify doing that.

robert f jones
24th Sep 2010, 16:45
Nothing wrong with your memory Mr Geek, it was a BA 74 which experienced a problem on departure from LAX, I believe an engine surge, so it was shut down. After talking to Ops continued Eastbound, reviewed the situation and continued, due to fuel planning, to Manchester.

As you say, UK CAA, BA and Boeing all agreed it was acceptable and I entirely concur. In the extremely unlikely event of a further engine problem they had the fallback of re-starting the surged engine.

Pilots get excited about engine out flight but remember the Americans went to the moon and back on only one engine and that was with 1960 technology.

24th Sep 2010, 16:57
PLEASE leave the BA 744 out of this - it is irrelevant to the thread.

When I used to fly Boeings, this phrase (or one very similar to it) followed every check in the QRH where an engine had been shut down or similar. There was even a definition of exactly what it meant. - and there still is. The words there could EXACTLY fit what the RY crew did. It might be useful for some posters here to take the time to see what Boeing say about their aeroplane and "Land at the nearest suitable airport".

24th Sep 2010, 17:10
The nearest suitable airport is the nearest suitable in the captain`s opinion..taking into consideratioin time, weather, facilities etc.
Where is the problem? And a captain`s judgement is made and defended by that captain. :oh:

D O Guerrero
24th Sep 2010, 18:40
Didn't the Saturn V have 11 engines?

Pitch Up Authority
24th Sep 2010, 19:51
Nearest suitable: what does it mean?

Suitable is obvious = adequate and wx
Nearest: Is this time related or distance related?

For twins the time factor has a bigger bearing on the available options than distance.

Anyway you need to get ready for a new approach and so does you cabin.

And all this may make more than one airport a nearest suitable.

Now returning to a field with a lot of bird activity may ....

It was not a time critical decision and so by the time they got to Gerona everybody was ready. Flight crew, cabin crew, ATC, RFF etc ....

A lot can be set also about rushing into an approach. Cool down first and then ....

24th Sep 2010, 19:52
In the early days of EROPS, ETOPS we flew 767s from Manilla to Sydney. If there was an engine failure the rules said divert to a dodgy suitable airfield in New Guinea; only an NDB and no up to date weathers. Another half an hour, Darwin with all the kit. Used to brief the troops that we would keep going to Darwin. Noone disagreed.

Pitch Up Authority
24th Sep 2010, 20:01
Availability of wx reports are part of ETOPS alternate qualification and so is ATC

25th Sep 2010, 12:05
Despite all the talk about company policy, there can surely be no pilot who will take any steps that will put his/her own life in jeopardy when it comes to the crunch.

Sky Kid
25th Sep 2010, 18:01
Several have mentioned over weight for landing, but is it possible that they needed time to dump fuel down to max landing weight? And while they were dumping fuel maybe they figured the longer runway was the better choice.

25th Sep 2010, 18:05
I love the guess work that goes on here!

The engine was not shut down and operated with no vibration at low thrust settings so I am told - not guessing here!

As previously mentionned on this thread, the completion of the checklist for high vibration that results in no vibration does obviously not require a shut down or any kind of "immediate" landing.

The first post actually made me laugh when I read it!

Job well done if you ask me.

AN2 Driver
26th Sep 2010, 00:14
I'd say a diversion to Gerona out of Beziers makes perfect sense. 90 miles, over water, even an alternate in between if you need it (Perpignan) and another big one to the South (BCN) should Gerona close before they get there. If you have time and are not comitted to a immediate set down on the nearest piece of concrete, it makes perfect sense to go to a place nearby with all the facilities you might want and need.

I'd even reckon that until all checks are done, they'd be in the Gerona area as fast if not faster then setting up for a reland at Beziers. Apart, the landscape down there has more runways than you'll ever need with Montpellier and Garons to the East, Perpignan and Gerona to the Southwest and even Istres or Marseille. All of them longer and better equipped than Beziers and with several with maintenance facilities.

Frankly, I'd rather fly with a crew who will use the time given to them to come up with a sensible solution rather than one which will dump you back on the ground at the closest piece of concrete even though it might not be the one offering the best options.

26th Sep 2010, 01:01
I just hope some of you people get the same benefit of the doubt at your own trial..

however AN2 driver, convenience facilities are not part of the equation,had the scenario turned out different, and the aircraft lost, the likes of you would be screaming "why didnt they put it on the ground asap", am I right???

26th Sep 2010, 06:36
Fuel Dump? On a 737? Go back to your virtual airline, please.

Nearest suitable airport is more than weather and runway. You have to have facilities as well. We had a crew divert years ago due to an unexpected airport closure and the place they diverted to, while it had 10000 foot runways, did not have an airstair that would reach the main cabin door of the 757.

I had to divert a few years ago because of a yellow hyd failure on a 320. I was eastbound between DEN and MCI at 2 am with a 100 kt tailwind. I was closer to DEN in distance by the time we finished the checklist but diverted to MCI. Why? The headwind going back to DEN would have cost us more time than continuing east to Kansas City. I would have had better support at DEN but not enough to compensate for the additional risk factor of flying extra time on a partial hydraulic system. There are a lot of factors you consider when diverting and very few of us have the information that the Captain of that flight had. I believe he and his F/O did the right thing because in the end no one was hurt and the airplane lived to fly another day.

26th Sep 2010, 19:23
Back in 2001 an American airlines 767 diverted into Stornoway (An island off Scotland) for a medical emergency.


I would not go into Stornoway with an engine failure let alone a medical emergency although I'm not saying the AA crew were wrong. Just different opinions between professional pilots.

Similarly if Kangerlussuaq airport (Formerly known as Sondrestrom) had a strong westerly wind and I had an engine out I would rather find a more suitable airport even if it was slightly further away.

The nearest strip of concrete you can land on is not necessarily the nearest suitable. If you are on fire then yes it is. If you are at 30,000 feet and have an engine failure an airport 90 miles ahead of you is just as suitable as one right below you.

The nearest suitable airport is a deliberately vague term to allow the pilot to decide on the day what is suitable in relation to the condition he is in. Medical emergency, bomb threat, engine fire, engine failure all have slightly different considerations.

27th Sep 2010, 15:51

You obviously started this thread with the intent of throwing a lot of sh*t in the direction of the FR crew who made a perfectly sensible decision to take their problem to Girona. Countless professionals have subsequently made it abundantly clear on this thread that this was a good decision.

Have you changed your mind? Would it have made any difference if the crew and the aircraft had been operated by BA?

I rather suspect that it would have.

Would you like to give us your respected opinion (since you used to be qualified on B757s) as to how the crew of the US Air 757 could have done better when they had to divert 1160 nms with smoke in the cockpit? What would you have done?

Sh*t stirring is easy but decision making is a trifle more difficult.

Callsign Kilo
27th Sep 2010, 18:42

"when I flew Boeings" and "Plan to land at the nearest suitable airport"*

I suggest that when you "flew" Boeings then you either paid no attention to "those in the know" or completely misunderstood what Boeing meant by the statement. CAVOK and 10kts down the runway with the relative proximity of the aircraft to said runway doesn't define BZR as being the "nearest suitable airport." Clearly it becomes an option, however if you aren't burning and the aeroplane isn't disintegrating in to pieces, then what part of the QRH dictates that you make a quick about turn and land*asap? Boeing make the effort to only define that a descent, landing and evacuation should be conducted at the earliest possible opportunity when smoke persists or a fire that cannot positively confirmed occurs. They go further to state that an immediate landing should occur when a situation involving smoke, fire or fumes becomes uncontrollable. At this point they are putting themselves out on a limb and pretty much say, put this thing down anywhere within reason.

The whole "Plan to land at the nearest suitable airport" statement is empowering the flight deck to do the job that they are trained and paid to do. Consider your options and evaluate them. The old airmanship adage; something that pilots hopefully develop from their first few hours of training should kick in?? Engine vibration doesn't mean that you are going to fall from the sky. The QRH for High Engine Vibration assumes that the engine is generating thrust and that other engine perametres are normal. If not then it becomes another matter. However the end result (engine limit, overheat, fire, severe damage, eventual shutdown) will pretty much conclude with the landing at "the nearest suitable airport" theory. Boeing and the operators of their aircraft are quite content with the fact that their twin jets will quite happily fly on one donk if need be. So much so that a non ETOPS approved aircraft can be within a shade of 400nm from a take off alternate when single engine. Within Europe the vast majority of alternates will be much closer, however at no point does any one or any thing point towards you returning to your departure point. Of course, it may be the best option; however I severely doubt BZR could really be considered that under this particular scenario.

This crew had bags of time to analyse everything. It seems they did exactly that. With plenty of fuel in the tank, getting above the MSA and still (I presume) have two functioning engines means a hell of a lot. Even if you were down to one, the other two factors mean a sh1t side more and are more valuable. No one trains you to rush and have a one track mind (ie land where you departed from) and you sure as hell won't win any gold stars of achievement for doing so. I can pretty much assure you that "your heroes" were first and foremost considering safety when they made their plans, considered the threats and put their efforts into practice. If they were able to consider commercial options after doing this then what's so flipping outrageous about that? We are after all Commercial Airline Pilots! Even Ryanair jocks - as hard as that may be for some hysterical posters to actually believe!

Well done guys, have yourself a beer. You earned it in my opinion. * *

4th Oct 2010, 09:42
I am no FR fan.



4th Oct 2010, 10:45
The ability to ask questions freely is the sign of an open culture.

Thats completely different to slagging off, or using destructive criticism, which I condemn and do not condone in any shape or form.

Please don't shout.

Human Factor
4th Oct 2010, 11:13
I'm no fan of Ryanair, the contrary in fact. However, it would appear that a sensible decision was made by the crew by diverting to a suitable airport.

As someone has pointed out, "suitable" can mean a lot of things. If I have the option, I will always go to an airport with which I am familiar ahead of one I have never visited. It removes a layer of risk.

The other extreme can be summed up in the Airbus QRH drill for Smoke/Fumes/Avionics Smoke. There is a line which says "If at anytime the situation becomes UNMANAGEABLE (not shouting, just copying verbatim): IMMEDIATE LANDING .... CONSIDER.

That is a worst case which means if there is a suitable strip of concrete, that's where you go. If not, find a field.... :eek:

Super VC-10
4th Oct 2010, 11:22
If not, find a field.... :eek:

Like these guys did?

Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise Flight 514 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alrosa_Mirny_Air_Enterprise_Flight_514)

4th Oct 2010, 13:00
If not, find a field.... :eek:

Like these guys did?

Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise Flight 514 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alrosa_Mirny_Air_Enterprise_Flight_514)

From the linked page:

After evacuating the aircraft and whilst awaiting rescue, some of the passengers searched for mushrooms, a popular pastime in Russia.

Over here they would busy themselves trying to get hold of their lawyers instead. :E

4th Oct 2010, 13:07
" After evacuating the aircraft and whilst awaiting rescue, some of the passengers searched for mushrooms, a popular pastime in Russia."

"Over here they would busy themselves trying to get hold of their lawyers instead. "

Hmmm...mushrooms vs. lawyers....mushrooms=keep them in the dark and feed them BS. Lawyers.......WHAT, exactly, is the difference?? :p

4th Oct 2010, 13:11
WHAT, exactly, is the difference??

You don't have to mortgage the house to pay the mushroom. :(

4th Oct 2010, 14:06
I actually wonder if the person who started this thread actually stopped to ask the opinion of the passengers involved?

Had he been in charge, they would have been back in Beziers within minutes with no spare aircraft in sight and a very long wait for a replacement.

Not only did the crew take them to Gerona, an airfield with much better facilities in every sense, FR keep 5 or 6 aircraft based there so the chances of getting home to Bristol were therefore much higher.

All this emotive talk about "200 kms through the mountains" is just so much garbage. Gerona airfield either meets Performance A standards or it doesn't. If it doesn't then no one would ever land there in a public transport aircraft!

4th Oct 2010, 16:07
I have probably dealt with more engine failures than you have had hot dinners.

Who said they flew to Gerona on one engine?

It is my understanding that they did not.

Engine fire or severe damage; then go straight back into Beziers - no question; but that was simply not the case here.

4th Oct 2010, 18:57
Nearest suitable, is what it says : suitable it does not say available or ASAP.

The airport that ticks most of the boxes that is. That day on the crew decision it was Gerona.

If you run a loft scenario in the north east corner of france, with different crew pairing ( Belgium, swiss, german and french) You will see that depending from their country of origin, the suitable airport is different ( everything else being equal), and guess what ? they get home !! even if it takes a bit longer, their confidence level is high enough in order to balance the decision in favour of the home country.

I do not know that case at all, but if the crew was going regularly there, this would explain the decision to go southbound, when initial destination was more like north...

4th Oct 2010, 19:03
I concur, nearest suitable airfield is the airfield that the commander decides is the nearest suitable...............end of!

5th Oct 2010, 05:47
"The Pilot in Command may determine, based on the nature of the situation and an examination of the relevant factors, that the safest course of action is to divert to a more distant airport than the nearest airport."

-Boeing FCTM, Non-Normal Operations, B737NG, "Landing At The Nearest Suitable Airport", Page 8.3

End of Arguement....

(FCTM = Flight Crew Training Manual for you flight simmers, plane spotters and trainee wannabes out there)

White Knight
5th Oct 2010, 08:32
I have probably dealt with more engine failures than you have had hot dinners.

Mmmmm.... I think you must be doing something wrong:eek: In over 20 years of flying I've had one engine fail on take-off and one IFS (and they were both ruddy piston engines too:ok:)
As for hot dinners - well, I haven't got several thousand fingers and toes to count on:p

5th Oct 2010, 08:41
But that's exactly the point young man. Aeroplanes and engines are so much more reliable nowadays so your chances of having to shut an engine down for real are consequently much reduced.

I suppose that this is why it is considered such a big deal nowadays.

Man Flex
5th Oct 2010, 08:47
A useful thread outlining the decision process that one should go through when an in-flight emergency occurs.

The question of "nearest suitable airport" I think, all things considered, is a matter of time.

If you have two airports with equal weather and facilities then the one that is closer is probably the most suitable. However if your at 30,000' and that airfield is 60nms away then inevitably one would have to hold or take extended vectors.

The airport that is further away may turn out to be more "suitable" after all.

Flying any longer than is necessary with an engine that is shut-down or damaged is in my opinion irresponsible.

White Knight
5th Oct 2010, 10:15
young man

What a jolly charming thing to say:ok:

I don't think an engine shut-down is a such big deal as some point out, as you say, unless you're in the middle of an ETOPS sector with monsoon Seychelles and monsoon Male as your alternates - but still, got to have some fun sometime heh?
And I flew a lot of old aeroplanes with old engines too just so ya know:ok::ok:

RJ Kanary
5th Oct 2010, 11:58
For D O Guerrero............

With three stages, it had MANY. The Saturn V unofficial nickname was "Cluster's Last Stand".All those engines were needed just to get the payload into a parking orbit.

But the vast majority of the trip was conducted with only ONE engine present.That single engine was in the Service Module.After the TLI, that's all there was to get them there and back.

( The lone exception to that of course was the use of the LEM descent engine on Apollo 13.)

From WikiPedia.........

" After one and a half orbits, the S-IVB (http://www.pprune.org/wiki/S-IVB) third-stage engine pushed the spacecraft onto its trajectory toward the Moon with the Trans Lunar Injection (http://www.pprune.org/wiki/Trans_Lunar_Injection) burn at 16:22:13 UTC. About 30 minutes later the command/service module (http://www.pprune.org/wiki/Apollo_Command/Service_Module) pair separated from this last remaining Saturn V stage and docked with the lunar module (http://www.pprune.org/wiki/Lunar_module) still nestled in the Lunar Module Adaptor (http://www.pprune.org/wiki/Apollo_spacecraft#Spacecraft_Lunar_Module_Adapter_.28SLA.29) . After the lunar module was extracted, the combined spacecraft headed for the Moon, while the third stage booster flew on a trajectory past the moon and into solar orbit (http://www.pprune.org/wiki/Heliocentric_orbit).[7] (http://www.pprune.org/#cite_note-6) "


6th Oct 2010, 07:02
re: I actually wonder if the person who started this thread actually stopped to ask the opinion of the passengers involved?

I was on this flight. In retrospect, we were fairly pleased with the decision taken, though while it was happening, we had no idea of the seriousness of the situation. All the passengers and flight attendants went very quiet and there was no movement around. The noise and vibration from the starboard engine was very loud, almost from engine start up, and it was clear that plane could not climb properly. Some passengers noted from the sunset that we had turned round and were heading for Spain. The availability of another aircraft at Girona (being prepared for the flight next morning) was a bonus for us.

If I have any complaint, it might be that we would have liked a little more information. We all knew something was wrong. But the crew obviously were busy; they made the right decision and landed safely. We thank them for that.

More information is at:
Incident: Ryanair at Beziers on Sep 18th 2010, bird strike (http://avherald.com/h?article=4312c76e&opt=0)


6th Oct 2010, 15:10
White Knight:

"Mmmmmm....I think you must be doing something wrong".

I have been thinking about that comment and thinking about how life is now compared to what it was then.

One huge change nowadays is that we don't actually go around shutting engines down in the real aeroplane (except on air tests) but instead do all that sort of stuff in the simulator. Even on type-rating base training, the offending engine is normally reduced to flight idle and a touch drill completed.

I spent 18 years flying for Mrs Windsor and about 16 years of that was spent on 4 engined turboprops. We did training in the real aircraft on a monthly basis and engines were shut down completely - not brought back to flight idle.

For a fair few years, I was a training captain and would go flying around by day and by night with 2 or 3 F/Os each of whom had to complete an EFATO, 3 Eng G/A and 3 Eng Landing.

I personally did not have any problems with this set up but there were a lot of training accidents in the RAF caused by actually shutting engines down. Sometimes more aircraft were lost during training flights than were lost in normal operations. The Canberra springs to mind.

If my memory serves me right, the big change came around the end of the 1970s and simulated engine failures (coming back to idle) became the flavour of the month.

So, I probably HAVE shut down more engines than some of our brethern have had hot dinners but the vast majority of them (but not all) were of the pre-planned variety!

Teddy Robinson
8th Oct 2010, 04:12
The correct decision was made in my view, no fire, engine still operable, good judgement used in choice of alternate.
Was this was a birdstike though ? from the cockpit those symptoms would fit the incident certainly, but then we have accounts of unusual noises from startup, and the company declining to comment.

I am not a great fan of conspiracy theories, however, birdstrikes often leave bird remains, a runway inspection would follow an incident such as this.

8th Oct 2010, 18:17
89 nm? Even at 210kt that equates to just 25nm - more like 22 minutes at 250kt.

That, to me, sounds like a nice time frame in which to finish off QRH drills, go through the decision making and planning processes, brief ATC, Cabin Crew, Ops, do your performance calculations and approach briefing, complete the Descent checklist and fly the approach.

The nearest airport is not always the most suitable and dumping it back on the runway at BZR would not have been a whole lot quicker (if the preparations had been completed fully).

It sounds like a perfectly reasonable course of action to me (based upon what little information we have available here).