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How Swiss repaired a Boeing 777 that had to divert to Iqaluit with engine failure

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How Swiss repaired a Boeing 777 that had to divert to Iqaluit with engine failure

Old 27th Apr 2017, 11:17
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How Swiss repaired a Boeing 777 that had to divert to Iqaluit with engine failure

Interesting read for the 777 guys.....from Aviation week.

This is what airlines do not want to happen: A large aircraft en route to a warm destination has an engine failure over a particularly remote region and has to divert to the nearest suitable airport, one that features a short runway, an outside temperature of -30F, hardly any ground infrastructure and no hotel rooms. But that is what happened to Swiss International Air Lines.

On Feb. 1, the airline was operating one of its nine-month-old Boeing 777-300ERs—registered as HB-JND—as Flight LX40 from Zurich to Los Angeles, with 217 passengers. About 6 hr. into the flight and over Northern Canada, Engine No. 1, a General Electric GE90-115B, automatically shut down after an oil system warning. Capt. Roberto Battaglioni discussed the options with the two first officers on board: Edmonton, Alberta, was 3.5 hr. ahead and Reykjavik, Iceland, 3 hr. behind them. Given that the cause of the shutdown was unknown and the No. 2 engine was built as part of the same batch, Battaglioni and maintenance personnel in Zurich decided to divert to Iqaluit, on Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.


The airport is a regular diversion point for many North Atlantic routes, but its limitations are obvious: There are few hotel rooms for stranded passengers and crew—precisely one was available on Feb. 1. At 2,600 m (8,538 ft.), its runway is relatively short, particularly for winter operations. The airport has one highloader for baggage and cargo and one movable staircase for passengers and crew. When LX40 landed, only half of the runway was cleared of snow and ice, so Battaglioni made sure maximum braking was applied. The aircraft needed only half of the runway to stop.

The landing set off an unprecedented recovery operation. Back home in Zurich, the Swiss Global Air Lines CEO and emergency director on duty, Andreas Thurnheer, convened a meeting of an emergency committee at Zurich Airport to start dealing with the case. For Swiss, LX40 provided a real-time test of the airline’s emergency procedures. Martin Knuchel, head of the emergency response organization, says execution of the plans was largely effective. But the diversion also showed that as sophisticated as the planning may have been, the effectiveness of a recovery operation depends on the improvisational skills of the go-teams—and sometimes pure luck.

Swiss was lucky in two ways. An ex-employee of predecessor Swissair operates a small repair shop at the airport and was a great help. Among other things, European cell phones do not work in Northern Canada, so he gave the maintenance crew his own phone to use for a week, enabling the technicians to communicate with Swiss’s home base.


Swiss International Air Lines’ HB-JND was grounded for a week on Baffin Island before it could be ferried back to Zurich. Credit: Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss was also lucky that the auxiliary power unit (APU) did not break: It was running for a week. “That was my biggest concern,” says lead engineer Eric Ruettimann, who coordinated repairs on site. “Without the APU, the aircraft would have frozen in a short period of time. That could have caused severe damage as pipes and water tanks may have cracked and computers could have been harmed.” But the Honeywell device kept operating, needing only an oil refill.

Evacuating passengers and crew from Iqaluit was Swiss’s first priority. As part of planning for unforeseen incidents for Star Alliance members such as Swiss, the nearest airline affiliate is expected to assist. Air Canada offered to send a Boeing 767 to fly passengers to Toronto. But it would have been too small. Swiss instead decided to send one of its Airbus A330-300s that was at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport and about to return to Zurich. The crew learned about the change of plans on its way to the airport. The original A330 flight to Zurich was canceled, and its passengers were rebooked on other flights. The A330 left Iqaluit with all of LX40’s passengers and crew 14 hr. after they had landed. Irene Langhart, the flight’s purser, says the passengers were remarkably calm during the extended ground stay on board and developed an esprit de corps triggered by the remoteness.

Early inspections made it clear an engine change was required before HB-JND could take off again. Swiss chartered an Antonov An-124 to transport a spare GE90-115B from Zurich. The Antonov stayed in Iqaluit for more than four days to fly the broken engine and all the ancillary equipment back to Zurich. It also stood by in case further equipment needed to be flown from the Toronto area if the APU failed.

Replacing an engine is normally not a particularly challenging task, but it is at -30F. GE technicians brought to Iqaluit erected a heated tent around the engine to enable the work. Engine changes are normally performed with all electricity cut off, but the APU had to remain operating to heat the aircraft. Ruettimann says it was particularly tricky to figure out what circuit breakers needed to be shut off to ensure all of the engine-related systems such as hydraulics stayed inoperative.

Teams of three Swiss and four GE technicians worked four days to complete the task. Battaglioni returned from Switzerland on a Swiss flight connecting in Montreal to ferry the 777 back to Zurich with a first officer. A day later, the aircraft operated its next scheduled flight.

Jens Flottau | Aviation Week & Space Technology
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Old 27th Apr 2017, 12:58
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..and this is relevant to the middle east forum....how?
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Old 27th Apr 2017, 12:59
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Very interesting read Turtle, thank you!
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Old 27th Apr 2017, 14:08
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Garrett TPE331 (As an APU here) will not let you down (most times )

halas
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Old 27th Apr 2017, 18:23
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.and this is relevant to the middle east forum....how?
I was thinking the same thing; Especially as EK don't have any 777's and never fly in this area.

Thanks for the share Turtle.
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Old 28th Apr 2017, 17:45
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Interesting read.
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Old 28th Apr 2017, 17:53
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great read.
to say this is irrelevant, one has to be a gobshite
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Old 2nd May 2017, 17:24
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Great post. How anyone can say this is not relevant to M.E 777 polar ops is baffling.
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Old 5th May 2017, 17:58
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not to mention that QR and the airline that cannot be mentioned have one or two B777's and remarkably - fly the same route...

Great post..
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Old 5th May 2017, 19:01
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Interesting post lifted almost verbatim from AW&ST... Should be merged with the thread discussing this when it happened IMHO.
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Old 8th May 2017, 09:15
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..and this is relevant to the middle east forum....how?
Polar ops.
Global benchmarks.

Etc etc
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