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GA Aircraft ditching - Irish Sea - 16th Dec

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GA Aircraft ditching - Irish Sea - 16th Dec

Old 17th Dec 2009, 19:29
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Dramatic rescue of Fylde air crash pilot - Blackpool Today
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Old 17th Dec 2009, 20:16
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Good work

Shame about the reporting....

Emergency services from across the Fylde were placed on full alert as fears grew the plane - suffering engine problems - would crash on land.
still, at least they are consistent. Maybe things are improving though... no mention of nearly crashing into hospitals or convents.

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Old 18th Dec 2009, 01:25
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Captain S, it may be scurrilous but can you recollect the last time any MEP had a double engine failure that, at very least, didn't have some form of pilot contribution?
And I thought I had a crap memory.....

Airbus A320 double engine failure, landed in the Hudson not very long ago

Boeing 777 double engine failure, landed just short of the runway at LHR, also not so very long ago....
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 07:12
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You do have a crap memory. I don't recollect either the A320 or 777 being MEP (Multi Engine Piston).
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 08:25
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And now you're being silly. It doesn't matter a damn whether it's piston or jet or turboprop or elastic band.

There are all sorts of possibilities for double engine failure that are no fault of the pilot.

What's more, I have limited faith in most MEP's ability (and in the case of some MEP's no faith at all) to remain aloft even with a single failure. Does anyone here know the single-engine stabilising altitude for a Twincom? I don't, but I know that in a BN2 it's sea level.

I also have no faith whatsoever in the abilities of the press to get the details right. To 99.9% of journos, a multi-engine aircraft going down after engine failure HAS to be all engines failing.

My point is that there is no evidence whatsoever (yet?) of pilot error in this case, that there are several possibilities that would have this result without any pilot error at all, and that for someone here TWICE to accuse the pilot in this case is uncalled for as well as being a possible libel.
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 08:47
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Last time I mentioned that I recently had a single engine failure (actually disintegration) in an MEP at MTOW and that the result was completely uneventful resulting in a perfectly calm landing at maintenance base I was banned for a week.

There is presumably a conspiracy among PPRuNe mods to deny that MEPs can fly on one engine.

See you in a week guys
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 09:17
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I know that in a BN2 it's sea level.
How can it be used for public transport? With zero SE ceiling one may as well use a PC12 whose SE ceiling is also sea level...
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 09:44
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Granada Regional News | Granada Reports - ITV Local
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 10:04
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Irish Sea Ditching

Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for all that you have been saying. Whether good or bad at least it is getting people thinking.

I did indeed ditch in the Irish sea. I was about 38 miles from IOM when my right prop had a runaway, it was overspeeding in excess of 2800 rpm and I could not stabilise it. The MP was low as well so I did not have much to play with. I felt it was uncontrollable and shut it down.

The PA30 can fly perfectly well on one engine so I decended to 4000 ft to get out of the cloud layers and diverted to Blackpool. About 6 minutes into my divertion my left engine lost power. My MP was down to 17 inches. I did all the checks changed fuel tanks, cross feed, electrics, boost pumps etc. No go.

D & D wanted me to try for Blackpool 18 miles away but I would not have reached there. I was near the oil rigs so elected to land in the vicinity. I spotted the support ship and ditched near it. I got out and had to hold onto the life raft. There were no steps on the liferaft and no way to pull myself in.

The oil rig helicopter was hovering nearby to spot me whilst the support vessel rescue craft picked me up. Once on the ship I was checked out and the RAF Seaking from RAF Valley winched me up and took me to Blackpool. I was checked out at the Hospital there and ok to fly home on Manx2.com's aircraft. All the emergency services and the police were fantastic and couldn't have been more helpful.

Lots of things were in my favour. In my training as a commercial pilot it was instilled 'fly the aircraft'. Sort out the problem and then make a decision and stick to it. This is what I did. My husband insisted on me flying in an immersion suit. Thanks to him, it helped. The weather was benign but cold. The sea had slight swell. If the wind had been greater than the 15 or so knots the waves would have been bigger and it might have been different. The ship was there and were alerted so I was only in the water for about 5 minutes.

Was there anything I would have done differently , no I don't think so. I did everything I could think of the get my engines back but once I had made the decision I followed it through. Even having 2 engines doesn't always guarantee getting there but someone was looking over my shoulder on Wednesday and I am here to have Christmas with my family.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and good cheer.
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 10:29
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Twin Comanche ceiling is 7000 feet on 1 engine at max weight.
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 12:36
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Thanks for the update ManxLadyBird - all I can say is is a heartfelt Well Done. You showed that in adverstity you had the training, the method, the equipment, devised a plan and stuck to it.
I hope you doubly enjoy you Christmas this year and I for one hope Im never in a similar position but if I am I hope I can be as calm and as well planned as you were!
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 12:39
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MLB,

Thank you very much for telling us your story.

The one about not being able to get into the life raft is an important one, and something we can all learn from. Having attempted to get into a life raft in a warm swimming pool, I realised that it would be impossible without steps. I was surprised to learn that our own liferaft didn't have steps, but at least learnt that it had a rope at the base of the inside wall to help pull yourself in. Had I not looked that up, I would have never known, and just assumed it had steps.

It's one that any of us carrying a life raft can learn from. Thank you for putting it into the public domain

Can you tell us anything about the moment of impact? I've wondered whether I would hit my head off the panel so had that I'd be dased (or off the yoke)..afterall no airbags! Or is the deceleration less of a 'car crash' type? There isn't much information out there about such incidents, and I'm sure we can all learn some potentially life saving information from you.

Thanks so very much for telling us what you have already.

dp
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 13:44
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Irish Sea Ditching

If you remember back to your very first landing you did as a student pilot, not even a solo, but your first. You thought you were going far too fast and ooooh 'eck its gonna hurt, but you flared and the wheels touch down and all was calm.... well the first part is true and the second part isn't.

I was lucky because I had my undercarriage folded away so I had a relatively smooth underside. But you feel you are coming in far too fast, but you cannot slow down, certainly in a comanche as if you go much below 80 knots she will fall out of the sky, so you come in fast, the lower to the water you get you tend to lose a bit of elevator authority or so it felt, you feel like you want to stretch the glide but that won't work either.

At the last couple of feet you haul on the elevator and touch down tail hard so it takes all the force of the landing and bleeds the speed off. It makes a hell of a bang, and if I knew what hitting a brick wall was like I would say it was like hitting a brick wall. It was hard.

The main fuselage then belly flops on the water. You should already have opened the door and latched it open on the way down so when the frame distorts your door is already open. On the way down you have opened the door, you should then tighten your straps and put your feet on the floor. If they are on the pedals they could slip past and get trapped. What are you going to do with the pedals anyway? I also held onto the controls as a way of bracing myself.

I think because of hitting the tail hard and my bracing I prevented myself taking the full force of the ditching and therefore prevented whiplash. I had also made sure my props were feathered so the water did not catch them and help water loop me.

All my safety equipment was in easy grab reach. I told the D&D people exactly where I was ( but they knew that) and what I was going to do and they worked the rescue round me. They wanted me to glide 18 miles but I knew I had about 10 miles glide so I had to make the plan and execute it.

The other thing to remember is that your time frames all go to pot. What you think is 5 minutes could be 30 seconds or 10 minutes. I do know however that I ditched at 1223, like a good pilot I looked at my watch on landing!!
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 13:48
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Thanks for the info MLB.

As others have asked what are we liable to expect on impact?

Did you feel you were in control throughout the situation?

How quickly did the aircraft sink.

Sorry to ask so many questions but I'd like to know what to expect if it ever happens to me.

I've done loads of trips CI to Cardiff and back over the years and I have to admit I've always felt it was a case of dying if the engine quit.
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 13:55
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MLB, thanks very much for that.

There is, indeed, a technique for getting into a liferaft if not equipped with steps. It's not easy at all.

Good thinking on choice of ditching area and, in insisting upon an immersion suit your husband quite possibly saved your life. Best Christmas present he could have given you (or you to him).

Congratulations on a job well handled, and enjoy Christmas!

Phil - time an aircraft will remain afloat depends on too many factors so one example will not give you a representative sample. For example:-
  • Full or empty tanks?
  • Hig wing or low wing?
  • Gear extended, retracted or fixed?
  • Windows damaged in impact?
  • What type of doors?
  • High or low-speed impact?
  • etc.
If I've learned one thing in aviation over many years, it's that NO incident is ALWAYS going to be fatal - there is always hope. All you have to do is your best.

To quote Bob Newhart:-
"If we should have to ditch, how long will the plane remain afloat? Is that your question ma'am? Gee, that's awful hard to say. Some of them go down like a rock. Others, for some reason or other stay up for - ohhhh - two or three minutes."

I've known two pilots who have ditched, both in high-wing 8/10-seaters. Both floated for about 5 minutes. One was pilot only, the other was a full load. In the second case, all survived the ditching, but one died of hypothermia in the ambulance on the way to hospital. Both of those were in the Caribbean.
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 14:14
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Thumbs up Sinking Feeling

I was 32 miles away, towards Lancaster, when vectored to the scene to provide top-cover. MLB was still enjoying the peace and quiet of her new glider at the time, descending through 3000', as we raced towards the scene at about 190kts. About five miles out, we could see the support vessels motoring towards eachother at speed. At 3 miles, I spotted the helicopter and, we think, a flash of orange life raft! At no point did we see AN. It had sunk without trace within a few minutes. No debris, and no fuel (which was, having confirmed MLB's safety, our new primary duty to ascertain).

It was a joy to behold the speed that everyone in the gas field reacted (or rather, by the time we were overhead - HAD reacted), and the co-ordination between aerial assets, Warton (who were relaying D&D), the field, and the local coastguard station.

My heartfelt congratulations to Kate.


CGD406
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 14:22
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MLB,

You appear to have had what we all assume is virtually impossible, which is two simultaneous engine failures without a common cause. All the examples mentioned above have had a common cause (fuel starvation, fuel icing, bird ingress etc.)

A friend (well known about these parts, though now no longer flying) had a double engine failure on a Baron. But that was caused by having chrome cylinders on one side and not the other and during rebuild the wrong rings were put on the wrong side - resulting in all 12 ring/cylinder interfaces being wrong and therefore both engines failing. That is explicable and understandable.

I am a cynical soul and consider the chances of the two failures being completely unconnected too low to consider seriously. I therefore want to hunt for the common cause. It does seem that both sides may be CSU related (overspeed (ie too fine) on one, underspeed (ie too coarse) on the other) so that sets me wondering whether you have had any work on the CSUs or props recently? Or indeed engine work?

The reason I ask is that many of us predicate our whole twin flying lives (I have been flying MEPs for 30 years) on the premise that unrelated failures don't happen. I fly to seriously remote places, where I would almost certainly die if the aircraft came down, and I only do it because I assume that one or other will keep working. I am also very conservative about fuel planning and IPA.

So I really want to know if this really was that seemingly impossible separate cause incident, or if you can think of anything.

Thank you,
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 14:55
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It would be nice to see an apology to MLB from JAR FCL on this thread.
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 14:57
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Originally Posted by Captain Stable
<snip>
There is, indeed, a technique for getting into a liferaft if not equipped with steps. It's not easy at all.
<snip>
And I wonder if it's harder for a woman than a man, given women tend to be smaller and relatively weaker in the shoulders? I did a lot of dinghy racing in the past, which of course means I did a lot of climbing into dinghies from the water and even with a dinghy with only 4" or so of freeboard it was hard, even when I was slim and very fit.

But I suspect the liferaft would at least be much easier to spot from the air than a person in the water, and if that is the case hanging onto it is a probably good thing so long as sea conditions allow.

I'm almost certain the immersion saved MLB's life - the sea is very cold at present and survival time is measure in a handful of minutes at best. MLB's hubby is to be commended for insisting on it. Hope she never needs to use it in earnest again!

There is so much utter bks on Pprune, but once in a while an utter gem comes along and the post from MLB is one of them.
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 15:12
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MLB,

As the proud owner of twin GMAIK which used to live at Manx, congratulations and indeed what good advice from your husband!

We hope to hear al the details of the ditching itself, if you can being yourself to reliving these and sharing them


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