View Full Version : Air Transat Pilots get "Superior Airmanship Awards"

23rd Aug 2002, 20:13
Hero pilots awarded for daring landing

From cbc.ca (http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2002/08/23/pilotaward020823)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two Canadian pilots who managed to land a passenger jet after it ran out of fuel have been honoured for what they were able to do.

The U.S.-based Air Line Pilots Association presented Superior Airmanship Awards to captain Robert Piché and first officer Dirk De Jager at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Thursday night.

Last August, Piché was piloting an Air Transat flight from Toronto to Lisbon. About two-thirds of the way there, the right engine of the Airbus A-330 stopped because of a fuel leak.

Two minutes later, the other engine also died. Piché managed to ride the wind for 18 minutes and glide the plane to safety, landing on a tiny island runway in the Azores.

The force of the touch-down blew out eight of the plane's 12 tires. But despite the flat tires and lack of electrical power, the pilots managed to stop on the runway.

The pilots are credited with saving the lives of 300 people on board.

23rd Aug 2002, 20:22
Good on them! I couldn't have done it!

23rd Aug 2002, 21:58
About time they receive some positive recognition for that remarkable glide.

Captain Stable
23rd Aug 2002, 22:01
Hear, hear.

Semaphore Sam
23rd Aug 2002, 22:15
Possibly they could have made better choices, earlier in their adventure. But, faced with their later situation, I just wish I would have done as well. Beautifully done! What a recovery!

23rd Aug 2002, 23:07
Perhaps the Azores should get an award as well, for being there.

Plastic Bug
24th Aug 2002, 05:16
You guys are easy!

last time I looked, there are 10 tires on the bus, not 12.

If they had followed the checklist, things wouldn't have gotten so quiet.

Sure, they unscrewed the pooch by surviving the, um, incident, but it doesn't change the cause of the whole thing.

They did a great job recovering, but the recovery was made necessary by a failure to follow a set procedure.

I agree with Rolling Thunder, the Azores should get an award for being there.


24th Aug 2002, 05:59
>>...landing on a tiny island runway in the Azores. <<

Not to minimize the accomplishments of Canadians, but 10,800 feet at Lajes would not be a tiny island runway to many of us. Perhaps the CBC was thinking of the Gimli Glider.

Glad the captain was able to get a job in the Great White North after he got out of prison in the U.S.

Anyway, they all have the coveted title of survivor...

Tonic Please
24th Aug 2002, 08:35
You said they should have followed the checklist....but a poster said that it was due to a fuel LEAK not a fuel MISCALCULATION or RUNOUT of fuel. :rolleyes:

At least they did not run out of fuel like the Qatar flight to London which diverted to MUC (munich) vecause it RANOUT of fuel due to a MISCALCULATION somewhere!

Anyhow, good job to those involved.

Smooth skies

24th Aug 2002, 09:03
They did a remarkable job in saving the day having got themselves in the mess in the first place. I think I would be a bit red faced going to recieve an award for sorting out my own mess! As an instructor once said to me:
'An above average pilot is one who uses his above average knowledge and experience to keep him away from a situation where he might have to use his above average skill.'

24th Aug 2002, 10:00
I was always under the impression that the mark of a good pilot was "one who used superior judgement to avoid having to demonstrate superior ability".

It is my guess that neither guy will take any pride from recieving this award and both wish that they not put themselves in the position to qualify for it.

They cocked up no matter which way you try and look at it. Wannabes should stop being romantic and realise what is entailed in being a PROFESSIONAL PILOT.

Tonic Please
24th Aug 2002, 10:28
I am an Wannabe, and think I am the reason you mentioned about being romantic. I am aware what a professional pilot entails...and that is to have as many successful landings as takeoffs. So please, enough of the bulshy comments.

I am still not clear how they cocked up. They landed, no-one died, or was significantly injured, and the cause of the right engine failure was a fuel leak. Who can blame crew for that? And second, the other engine, #1, is said to have stopped also, but still, the plane had to land and where the "cock- up" as it has been called here, has originated from I would very much like to know!

Smooth skies

24th Aug 2002, 10:35
The cock-up as far as I understood it was a design-flaw on the aircraft itself, wasn't it??

24th Aug 2002, 11:04
the outcome was finally good, however, they adapted fast to the increasing task level.

As far as i know, the fuel leak was first, (not uncommon...) then a imbalance built up, triggering the Imbalance-ECAM Caution. Here the point CROSSFEED VALVE - OPEN is somewhat tricky. If you do it with a leak, you'll run out of the fuel in the otherwise tight tanks too....It's the eternal point of artificial intelligence...

However, finally as the A330 turned into a glider, things went well.

Might be they got the Azores due to the "LAND RECOVERY" Button built in Airbusses...

24th Aug 2002, 11:50
The Schuttle astronauts do it all the time.:p

Tonic Please
24th Aug 2002, 12:15
The SCHUTTLE pilots do not...but the SHUTTLE pilots do :D

Smooth skies

24th Aug 2002, 12:43
Yep. only a trade union could give an award for this one. Tonic, stick to Biggles.

24th Aug 2002, 12:52
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Anyone who has flown or is flying a A330 will tell you, that upon receiving an ECAM cautionary messsage regarding a fuel imbalance, it is clearly instructed during training to consult ones QRH. In which, the prcedure quite clearly states, if an imbalance has occured AND A FUEL LEAK HAS BEEN CONFIRMED as NOT BEING PRESENT to go ahead and open the cross feed.

Airbus has made it very clear that an imbalance situation can be managed with a Fuel leak. Cautious use of the cross feed would keep the imbalance in check. As for handing out awards, well they did get it down, however to put the lives of over 200 passengers, is not good airmanship.

Bottom line is, and the incident report will show this, they did not follow correct procedure and did not adhere to the written words of the QRH. NOT GOOD AIRMANSHIP in my opinion.

24th Aug 2002, 12:55
you forgot two words... "at risk"

24th Aug 2002, 13:05
Thanks Rolling,

Your quite right, "AT RISK", makes it even worse. Cheers

24th Aug 2002, 13:53
Those who comment without knowing all the facts are idiots. :rolleyes: Has anyone seen the final investigation report yet?

24th Aug 2002, 15:28
Had the scenario presented as a thought provoker at the end of a sim last year. Got the failure as known - fuel leak in the engine. Easy to mess up but we spotted that you needed to shut one down to isolate the leak. Once we got there, the instructor put us at the same height and distance from a runway as Air Transat and let us go. After 5 minutes of chaos, things settled down, the thing glided well at min clean and descended at about 1500 fpm. Stayed a little high and got in OK. The pressure was there but no where near as much as in real life. They screwed up the diagnosis, that shouldn't have happened - But after saying that, once the inevitable happened they managed well enough to avoid hurting anyone.

24th Aug 2002, 15:30
There is no design fault in the 330 , the problem was the crew not following proceedures.
They did a great job after the engines flamed out , but it was a shambles up to that point. I hope they have the decency to be embarrased about the award!!

Right Way Up
24th Aug 2002, 16:13
<<Those who comment without knowing all the facts are idiots. Has anyone seen the final investigation report yet?>>

Maybe ALPA should have heeded your words!

24th Aug 2002, 16:58
The fact is the crew failed to identify the correct source of the fuel leak ( not a crime in itself, as every human has the ability to make a mistake), but they still proceeded to open the cross feed valve, thus losing all of the fuel from the good side.

This has nothing to do with Airbus ECAM logic, just airmanship.

The 330 will fly and conrollably with a very large, if not total fuel imablance. If the cross feed had remained shut the a/c could of happily flown to a suitable airfield (Azores or otherwise) and carried out a safe, controlled landing.

I think you will find that since the incident Airbus operators around the world will have spent training time teaching their Pilots the finer points of the fuel system. Most importantly instilling a discipline that you should not touch the cross feed until you are 100% sure of the source of your problem. Compared to this very little time will have been spent percfecting the dead stick landing which was in the case well demonstrated.

24th Aug 2002, 19:31
Yeh, Well done Chaps. You deserve to be honoured.

ATC Watcher
25th Aug 2002, 06:14
I guess they are being awarded for the way they recovered the aircraft, definitively not for what made the recovery necessary.

I remember the general press described them a "Heroes"from the begining while the aviation media was far more reserved to say the least.

Morale of the story is that general press is deciding who's good and who's bad in the world. Nothing new.
I bet the crew will now write a book, and that Holywood will buy the rights. The captain will be played by Gerard Depardieu with that delicious French accent, to make the thing look Canadian , and the Tourist Board of the Azores will use the event to promote the islands and everyone will be happy everafter....

25th Aug 2002, 07:35
Well, clearly we have Biggles and his mates responding to this post. I don't know about the rest of you, but I've made my fair share of screw-ups in aviation. I'm just thankful it hasn't got me in the news yet! So, I say again: well done guys. I couldn't have done it.

Scud Runner
25th Aug 2002, 13:26
ATC Watcher:

Captain Picher has already written a book about the incident, which will release later this year. Should be interesting to see how his version of the events differ from the report, if it ever comes out. :confused: Personally, I wish the Portugese authorities would get off their behinds and make their investigation public. After all, we can't learn from the mistakes of others, if we don't truly know what those mistakes are.

While I agree that it appears Capt. Picher screwed the pooch in his management of the fuel leak, let's not forget that he was put in that position by a maintenance supervisor who saw nothing wrong with putting an L1011 part on an A330, in spite of the fact that one of the engineers on the floor raised serious concerns about doing so. Unfortunately, I have personal past experience of flying airplanes maintained by engineers whose managers wouldn't let them do their job properly. It is not a comfortable feeling, and I left pretty quickly!


You say that you could not have handled the situation like this crew did, I think you sell yourself short. Good training and quick thinking can give anyone the tools to do so. I only hope you would use better airmanship in the assessment of the fuel leak, so you wouldn't have to put your gliding skills to the test.

25th Aug 2002, 17:24
The name of the award given should of been "Horseshoe up the A** Award". The weather at the time was perfect, stop and imagine what the possible outcome could of been had there been a bad storm or 0/0 ground fog. They flew a beautiful aircraft in perfect weather to a perfect runway. Good Fortune/Good Luck etc.made all the difference in this case.

keepin it in trim
25th Aug 2002, 22:49
ladies and gentlemen
lets show a little generosity of spirit here, I don't know what the investigation will say about how the crew ended up joining the "double hush club", but the fact remains that having done so, they successfully delivered a very large transport aircraft onto a runway in the middle of a large ocean, with no "go-around" option.

Remember, nobody died and hind-sight is always 20/20. However you ended up in this situation, you guys did a hell of a job getting everyone down safely.

25th Aug 2002, 23:09
I believe it may also indicate a certain merit of the airframe.

26th Aug 2002, 03:29
These guys made an error, OK.
Don't try and tell me you have never made one. That is why you are all so perfect in the sim I guess.
In these times of every incident being examined to the 'n'th degree you seem to have forgotten that people are not perfect, they make mistakes, in this case it appears to have been an easy one to make, these guys weren't fools regardless of what the critics here are shouting about.
Just remember they resolved a ghastly situation and regardless of ALL else they got down safely in the middle of nowhere, far from help and saved everyone on board! What do you people want?! These guys performed in a manner that would have had them getting ticker tape parades just a few years back!
Fair go! A little more humility and baying for blood from all you so called professional pilots please and even less rude and ill thought comments from those without any significant hours or Licences under their belt would be even better IMHO

Let he is without sin cast the first stone:o

brit bus driver
26th Aug 2002, 03:35
To put this in perspective, had the ac been bound for northern Europe, as opposed to Lisbon, there would doubtlessly have been a very different outcome. Not sure that there would have been too many rewards flowing then....As already stated: an award to Lajes for being there.

<<Those who comment without knowing all the facts are idiots. Has anyone seen the final investigation report yet?>>

Not personally, but Airbus has (if I'm not mistaken) added a fleet-wide amendment to the QRH cautioning on use of the cross-feed during fuel imbalance/leak procedures. Plus, 30 min fuel checks are now recomended in the FCOM (of my aged jet).

Fair play for the job done, especially given the pucker factor, but it should never have happened.

Ignition Override
26th Aug 2002, 04:44
Never having been trained on, nor flown an Airbus 320 etc, I have very little knowledge of the plane, other than skimming through the manual and hearing from Airbus pilots that you don't just "interpolate", and switch something on or off unless it is in the "normal" or "abnormal" checklists. From what I've heard and read about these planes, there is so much complexity due to mysterious connections between various components, which was not the case in old technology. An action involving a valve or a pump can trigger unforeseen results, can it not?

Other than these pilots never having experienced this problem in their careers, and reading that the plane seems to have displayed an abnormal checklist on the lower ECAM screen, did the pilots perform the abnormal checklist correctly, except for leaving the crossfeed open to long? In other words, are many A-320/330/340 pilots told not to "second-guess" the checklist, if a choice is not suggested or required? Are the choices, and the various titles of similar problems very clear in a confusing situation (we have some in the old Douglas which look very similar)? Are many Airbus pilots trained not to use much guesswork in a confusing situation? I realize that pilots can exercize some judgement (as with a "slat assym." light on old technology), but what is the training mentality in A-330 simulators, whether at Transat or other Airbus operators?

Did all A-319/320/321/330/340 Program and Training managers around the world remind pilots of changes in the abnormal checklists?

26th Aug 2002, 13:05
I've been following this thread with some interest, especially since I have friends who work at Transat and because I worked there, albeit for a short period. I find myself very much in the camp of Brit Bus Driver, in that I am very willling to give these guys credit for solving a very demanding situation which might well have been beyond the capability of most mere mortals. However, there is no escaping the thought that a bit more system knowledge or checklist adherence would have made the situation a simple single engine failure, and not the double whisperjet that it was. From what I have read and heard, I don't think that anyone remotely informed on this incident would pretend that the situation wasn't created by the crew. In my opinion, if they created the situation then thank God they managed to land safely, but in no manner should they be lauded.

As an aside, the basis for them getting into the wrong checklist was the ECAM (I believe that is the acronym) advising them of a lateral imbalance. We have a very similar system on the MD-11. And I am sure that the imbalance is important when one considers longevity of an aircraft, fatigue stresses etc. However, in simulator training I have often given the problem of engine separation. A separation almost always (in the simulator anyways) creates a massive fuel leak in the associated wing tank, resulting in a lateral imbalance approaching 22 tonnes. (4 tonnes for the engine, and 18+ tonnes of fuel). The aircraft remains quite flyable in that configuration. Therefore, I am of the impression that whilst one cannot ignore a lateral imbalance, loss of control is not imminent and one should take a relatively pondered route prior to shunting the fuel around, thereby avoiding the unpleasantness that this crew produced.

In summary then, kudos to the crew for handling a rotten situation that they created. Superior Airmen??? Not in my book.

26th Aug 2002, 19:24
People.... I think a little more credit on our part should be given to the 2 pilots. Under the circumstances the 2 pilots performed to the best of their abilities and lives were saved.
Reading some of the posts makes me wonder whether the name should be changed from Professional pilots ... to something else.

Scud Runner
26th Aug 2002, 21:26

Yes, they got it safely on the ground, but lauding this achievement with an award from their peers is inappropriate, IMHO.

I spoke to a doctor friend of mine the other day, and he was quite surprised to see them receiving an award in front of the national media. He was quite sure that no surgeon would receive an award for saving a patient who had almost died because they botched a procedure, not matter how rare or complex that procedure might be. It was good luck more than good management that saved those lives that night. The same occurrence on a flight from YYZ - LGW would have almost certainly been much more traumatic.

Loose rivets
27th Aug 2002, 00:10
Having skill is one thing, having a runway under you when you are over the Atlantic - being powered by gravity alone - is another. Give me a lucky pilot anytime.

27th Aug 2002, 02:16
Interesting comments. For what it's worth, I think they should have been applauded for the superb piece of airmanship they pulled off once the aircraft became a glider, but I fail to see why all the brouhaha over a near disaster that appears to have been of their own making.
Does anyone remember the Gimli Glider? Here we have an aircraft, the only type in the fleet with metric fuel calibration, that was dispatched with inoperative fuel guages, something not recommended by the manufacturer. I seem to recall that no less a publication than Flight International wrote that at the very least, someone in managemant should have been hung out to dry for that little oversight. Instead, the company wanted to fire the Captain. Go figure.:rolleyes:

27th Aug 2002, 02:31
The strip at Gimli was being used as a dragstrip, If I remember correctly. Suddenly a view in the rear view mirror became earth shattering.

Kind of like the Dc-9's used to do in winter with the snowmobilers at Ancienne Lorette (?) with the landing lights and selective throttle applications.

27th Aug 2002, 07:08
It is the captains responsibility to ensure that his aircraft is fit to fly pigboat, nothing to do with management. What Flight International think is of little significance to most of us.

27th Aug 2002, 07:30

Rather an arrogant reply wouldn't you say? Were you not a wannabe and a Biggles once?

Haul By Cable
27th Aug 2002, 09:02
Here's a bit more info on the subject of "stagger's" post (sorry, I didn't check the forum before I posted this :o)...

MONTREAL (Reuters) - A Canadian pilot who astounded the aviation world by gliding his stricken jetliner, with 304 people on board, to a safe landing on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, has been given a special flying award.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the union representing some 66,000 pilots from Canada and the United States, gave its Superior Airmanship award to Air Transat pilot Robert Piche and his first officer Dirk De Jager at its annual banquet in Washington on Thursday.

"The spirit of airmanship that is involved here is the amazing feat of taking of airplane that lost both its engines at 35,000 feet and piloting it... 70 miles and making a precision pinpoint landing on a tiny speckled island," the association's spokesman, John Mazor, told Reuters.

Piche, a married father of three, became a national hero in Canada and made headlines around the world on August 24, 2001, when he brought a Lisbon-bound Airbus 330 to a safe, "dead-stick" landing on the Azores after a fuel leak left the jetliner's engines dead over the Atlantic.

Diverting to a military airstrip, Piche and De Jager brought the heavy aircraft through a harrowing 18-minute gliding descent and wrestled it to a grinding halt on the tarmac, blowing eight of its 12 tires.

Less than a dozen of the 291 passengers were treated for minor injuries, most inflicted as they evacuated the plane.

"The good news is that because of the superior airmanship of the crew they all landed safely," Mazor said.

But not all has been good news.

Portuguese authorities are scheduled to produce a final report on their inquiry into the incident before the end of the year. A preliminary report found a fuel line on the right engine had failed, possibly after rubbing or banging against another pipe.

Air Transat was fined C$250,000 (105,000 pounds) by Canadian transport authorities for the faulty installation of a hydraulic pump in the right engine. The airline disputes any link between the hydraulic pump problem and the fuel leak.

Passengers aboard Flight 236 have launched a class action lawsuit against Air Transat.

Piche, who has said he was just doing his job bringing the airplane down safely, has been on personal leave from the charter airline since March. He plans to get back in the cockpit in coming weeks.

"I became more aware of the changes in my life after this incident," he said in an interview with a local newspaper.

"I needed (the break) to fully live through all this," he said.

The award marks a reversal of fortune for 50 year-old Piche. The former bush pilot spent nearly two years in a U.S. jail in the 1980s after he was busted with 53 bags of marijuana after landing a small Piper Aztec on a Georgia airstrip.

Kalium Chloride
27th Aug 2002, 21:26
Maybe we can nominate the CAL A340 crew for their "superb airmanship" in getting the aircraft airborne after taking off on the taxiway at Anchorage :rolleyes:

Pigboat, Scud Runner, Noctivaga...hear, hear.

27th Aug 2002, 23:28
Kalium, yes that thought about the CAL A340 crew had been running through my mind as well. But if the CAL crew should be honoured for the superior feat of wrestling their aircraft into the air in significantly less distance than the wimps at Toulouse believe possible, there should also be an award for superior design to Airbus. The flight control system refused to allow the rotation at less than Vr, thereby giving them those few extra knots when they hit the snow berm at the end of runway Kilo. And I'll wager that no Toulouse number-cruncher had anticipated that benefit.
Every time I go to Anchorage, the mental image is of one of those old WW2 movies and the aircraft staggering off the end of the carrier deck, dipping so perilously low over the water..... what SUPERIOR airmanship it would have taken to do that with a relatively heavy A340!!! In the spirit of this year's choice; obviously next year's honorees have to be the CAL crew.

28th Aug 2002, 00:06
"The flight control system refused to allow the rotation at less than Vr" , thereby giving them those few extra knots when they hit the snow berm at the end of runway Kilo.

Don't believe the flight control system "refuses" to allow rotation below V1.

Sorry, pls correct typo, V1 should read Vr.

28th Aug 2002, 03:40
Sure we are not talking Darwin Awards here!!

If so the CAL guys win but perhaps Piche deserves an honourable mention.

Like others have said a good recovery made possible by skill, spiced with more than a modicum of luck.

Is Capt Piche strapping on another 330 or going back to his Piper Aztec with the royalties from his version of 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines'??

28th Aug 2002, 04:34
Seriph, I do not deny that it's the Captain's responsibility to ensure that his aircraft is fit to fly. The Gimli glider was dispatched with the fuel quantity guages inoperative. Do you think he should have refused to accept the aircraft even though it had been signed off as airworthy?

At the time, this aircraft was the only type in the company fleet that had the fuel quantity guages calibrated in metric. That may be neither here nor there - the guages were inop anyway - but at the same time this country had not yet completed the changeover from Imperial to metric measurement. The possibility therefore existed for the aircraft to be refuelled in gallons, liters, pounds or kilos. It is my understanding that the fuel boarded in YOW was in pounds, instead of kilograms. That was the first error, but with no fuel guages the error wasn't caught. The tanks were then dripsticked, and the results were read in pounds instead of kilos. That blew the second and last chance to catch the error.

The point Flight International was trying to make in its article, was that as long as the possibility of an error or confusion in measurement existed, the aircraft should not have been dispatched with the fuel guages inoperative. If the first line of defence against running out of fuel is operative fuel guages, then company management chose to deliberately ignore that line. When the last two chances to catch the error were missed, the results became inevitable.
In both this case and the Transat one, after being handed lemons, the crews did a helluva good job making lemonade.

28th Aug 2002, 04:40
I truly hope that some of you never have to put your SUPERIOR skills to the test...

28th Aug 2002, 07:58
It is really quite amazing how much the ancient Greeks knew about command and control. In their still-topical theater, the critical principle underlying tragedy is often the reluctance of proud commanders to accept the reality of their own inherent imperfection. Hence:

Hubris......exaggerated pride or confidence often resulting in (divine) retribution.

You lot who so roundly condemn these fellows - for less than perfect execution - are candidates for the hubris prize. Hark the muse!

And give'em a break. A bit of charity would not hurt. It is not as if they will go out and do it again if you fail to discourage them.

They had a bad airplane. One could tell that when the port fan stopped on its own initiative. So they tried to work the problem. Most important, they providently changed course toward Lajes some 13 precious minutes before things went really quiet. And then they held themselves (and the cabin) together and focussed and stayed fairly sharp all the way down to a 'good' landing. In doing so, they taught us something and pretty well guaranteed that instruction in fuel crossover mgmt will be top-rate henceforth.

As for Seriph...one can pity the poor sods in his thrall.

28th Aug 2002, 12:53
I think you will find that the Gimli Glider was not dispatched with fuel guages that were not working. The two fuel quantity indicating systems are supposed to be completely independent of each other. However a soldering problem in one of the indicating systems somehow was affecting the other making both useless unless the CB was pulled for the faulty system which had been done on previous flights. A mechanic in YUL not believing that one system could affect the other pushed that breaker in and then went to the electrical bay to have a look. He couldn't figure out the problem and when he went back to the cockpit, it was busy with flight crew and perhaps others and he never did get around to pushing that CB back in.
The captain found both fuel guages unserviceable. The MEL said he could NOT fly(Is this common sense?). He called on the radio to say he couldn't go. Company said he could go believing he still had a serviceable fuel indicator. Obviously a miscommunication on exactly the nature of the problem that the captain was dealing with. The captain did go against what the MEL said after doing the famous dripsticking in YUL and YOW.
Has anybody ever found on their preflight of a signed out aircraft that something is unserviceable(such as a tumbled gyro) and realized that they must get it fixed before they leave?

28th Aug 2002, 19:42
Ultimately the captain is responsible, regardless of what ops, management or engineers say it is up to him to ensure the safety of the aircraft and those on board he cannot shift that responsibility. The buck stops with him or her that is why we are paid the big bucks. Arcniz, stick to what you know, the most precious comodity in professional aircrew is the understanding that they are responsible and you don't seek scapegoats ( or awards) if you screw up. Charity is not relevant, this situation should not have occured, they were extremely lucky to get out of it.

29th Aug 2002, 04:15
It has been reported that AirBus has amended their checklist procedures for Fuel Imbalance -- this may be screwup # 1, especially if the checklist procedures failed to account for a fuel line breakage where it happened.

Screwup # 2 was lack of ECAM logic to monitor fuel burn against remaining quantity -- or remaining vs. required fuel. It looks to me that the computers are doing 95% of the job. No problem about the missing 5% -- provided you know just what that missing piece is so that you know to stay on top of it.

Screwup # 3 was installling incorrect parts resulting in complete fuel line breakage.

If the mandated procedures at the time were followed, the crew went down the garden path.

If there was a deviation from the checklist procedures, then they screwed up.

I prefer to leave the question open until the report comes out.

30th Aug 2002, 07:30
quote Seriph:
Ultimately the captain is responsible, regardless of what ops, management or engineers say it is up to him to ensure the safety of the aircraft and those on board he cannot shift that responsibility. The buck stops with him or her that is why we are paid the big bucks. Arcniz, stick to what you know, the most precious comodity in professional aircrew is the understanding that they are responsible and you don't seek scapegoats ( or awards) if you screw up. Charity is not relevant, this situation should not have occured, they were extremely lucky to get out of it.

Seriph - I totally agree with your recent post regarding the responsibility attending command - with one small exception.

Not only that, I sincerely apologize for pulling your tail. Your recent post suggests you are a serious and dedicated person with a strong sense of mission. My reasoning previously was that you probably do not encounter much vocal opposition in your position of obvious authority, so it might be productive to provide some. I have the luxury of immunity from your very aggressive style of control, but not from your well-argued logic.

Clearly, it is not my place to undermine your methods. I was wrong in that regard and now I am genuinely sorry for that.

I would suggest, however, that a less Cromwellian style on your part might have a more positive net effect - perhaps enough to convert your 'good' efforts into 'great' ones.

Circumstances limit my the extent of my comment now, but I would mention a few other minor items in context:

a) In 40 years as PIC I have seen most of the devils out there, eye to eye, and have thought considerably about what the responsibility of command means. No, it's not the same as your sandbox, but most of the consequences are.

b) There's no actual harm in charity.... much difference exists between 'then' and 'now'. I believe the guys who did this thing are likely to suffer more as 'heros' than as nobodys; they likely did not have much of a choice.

c) The whole aviation industry is in a shadow now - from circumstances outside our control. This was a dramatic incident that caught much public attention and clearly needed some positive resolution. I doubt the pilots volunteered themselves. One could see them as victims of the process, rather than profiteers.

d) My own portfolio in this is to make aviation work better. This provides some standing to intrude into your space, but obviously that can be done best with mutual respect, candor, and fairness.

e) The 'systems' approach to this incident - based on some very preliminary information - says that the pilots had limited training in regard to the issues critical to this incident, had poor inflight information and had little useful guidance from the aircraft systems they were trying to manage.

And the aircraft had a basic mechanical flaw due to poor maintenance which largely predestined it to fail.

Notwithstanding that, they delivered it to a runway and all passengers reached their destination of choice. (including the ones who swore to never fly again)

The underlying causes for this incident seem fixable. Some of it already in the works. We all try to ratchet the process forward toward perfection. A hundred years from now this will seem very basic, indeed.

f) Life is clearly not fair. There are some heros who have done little more than stop a bullet, and some who have achieved incredible feats of unselfish courage. These pilots put out when it really mattered, and they made lemonade from some really bad lemons. I understand why you do not agree, but once again I say, 'give them a break'.

30th Aug 2002, 18:48
Re GIMLI, I clearly remember those pilots also were given awards for something ?brilliant flying? or something similar. History repeats itself.

I also heard, cannot remember where at this distance, that the whole incident/accident derived from the Canadian government political requirement for metrication (Vive La Quebec Francaise). The bowser driver was the only person who had not been sent on a metrication course, perhaps he should have been #1 for the course.

Yet another mightily complicated accident I guess.

31st Aug 2002, 03:19
The company wanted to fire the guy, but public opinion changed their minds. From an above post, it would appear that the simple expedient of a ty-wrap around the offending CB so that it couldn't be reset may have prevented the whole incident.

31st Aug 2002, 18:05
Yes Arcniz as your profile suggests you are indeed an amateur. The problem with these forums is that every wanabee thinks he knows what he is talking anout

31st Aug 2002, 19:00
How True!

1st Sep 2002, 08:38
The name of the awards might be contentious, the recipients probably full aware of the irony. In reading the thread however I am moved to say how very re-assuring it has been to know that I share the sky with the undoubted persuit of perfection in an aviator such as Seriph, and the generosity of spirit of such as Arcniz. To each his own and may each be given that which he deserves.

1st Sep 2002, 09:36
Interesting how Seriph awards Arcniz with the title of amateur, from his profile details, Arcniz shows more qualifications than does Seriph on his profile details!

1st Sep 2002, 09:47
About as comprehensive as yours Lofty. The problems of the world at large are of course encapsulated on these pages, no one is ever to blame, no one is required to look at their performance and accept responsibility, there is always some professor, crm expert, management expert or flt sim wizard who will find excuses. An award for this incident could only come from an organisation that will always look to blame someone other than the 'workers'. We eventually reach the absurdities of today, the latest I note is the award of a substantial sum to a deaf person who considered himself discriminated agains when he failed to secure a position as a telephone operator! One used to clutch one's head in disbelief, what is scary now is that nothing shocks us anymore. The inmates are truly running the asylum.

2nd Sep 2002, 15:22
Having driven buses for 3.5 years (330 for 10 months) I was always taught to add fuel burnt (on the cruise page on Lower ECAM) to fuel on board, and to do this at regular intervals. As well as regular fuel checks against the plog. is this not good airmanship?

On another note, once in the position they found themselves they did an excellent job. I certainly crashed the first time I had my double engine failure in the sim.

4th Sep 2002, 21:35
I will quote a management speak phrase ( courtesy of Franklin Covey) -

"It is almost impossible to talk (or act) yourself out of a situation you have behaved yourself into"

How many times have we all been there and survived!!!!!!

;) ;)

Congrats to the TS crew

7th Sep 2002, 16:15
It is wholly inappropriate that these guys should get an award following this incident. Yes they did well to deadstick it into Lajes. BUT they made monumental balls up in the first place.

The cause of the leak is irrelevant that fact was that they had one. What ever type of a/c you are flying, be it a PA28, 747 or A330 you must ask yourself WHY HAVE I GOT A FUEL IMBALANCE?

Yes the ECAM may have been misleading, but no pilot should blindly follow checks without thinking about what they were doing, especially on an Airbus.

The crew were very lucky that they had good weather, a nearby airfield and the skill to deadstick it. They came very close to killing all on board.

Before the romanticists say it, yes I have made mistakes but never one on this scale. If I did I would expect to be sacked, sued and perhaps prosecuted for endangering lives NOT RECEIVE AN AWARD!!!

7th Sep 2002, 23:23
fmgc: Well said and may I state one should know their QRH.

Scud Runner
8th Sep 2002, 20:17
In fact, we get paid to know our QRH. Not knowing it (and not using it!) can be deadly.

Tonic Please
8th Sep 2002, 20:21
I was waiting for this thread to have postings which were more "realistic" than "un-realistic" :rolleyes:

Smooth skies