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FAA & CAA disagree over B747 continued 3 engine flight

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FAA & CAA disagree over B747 continued 3 engine flight

Old 1st May 2005, 09:38
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FAA and CAA conflicting views

From today's Sunday Times:

BA accused over flights with one engine down

DIPESH GADHER, TRANSPORT CORRESPONDENT

BRITISH AIRWAYS has allowed jumbo jets to complete long-haul flights on at least seven occasions despite pilots having to shut down an engine.

On each occasion the flight had to be completed on three engines rather than four because of technical problems.

Safety concerns have been raised because the pilots of the Boeing 747s decided to continue with their journeys rather than divert to a nearby airport.

In one recent case this led to an aircraft making an emergency landing at Manchester because pilots feared it was running low on fuel after crossing the Atlantic with one engine down.

America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has accused British Airways (BA) of “careless and reckless” behaviour although the airline says passenger safety has never been compromised.

The phenomenon is not confined to BA. Since the start of last year 18 British-registered aircraft — including Airbus A340s, BAe146s and jumbos — have been forced to shut down one of four engines in the air, according to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) records. Several then continued their journeys.

The FAA is investigating one BA flight, carrying 351 passengers, that suffered an engine surge immediately after taking off from Los Angeles airport in February.

The faulty engine was shut down, but after taking advice from BA technicians in London, the captain continued with the 11-hour flight to Heathrow rather than returning to Los Angeles or diverting to another American airport.

Forced to fly at a lower altitude than the flight crew wanted, the plane used up more fuel than expected because of less favourable tailwinds.

By the time the aircraft reached Ireland the captain felt that attempting a landing at Heathrow would be too risky and asked for a diversion to Manchester.

Howard Ramsdale, 47, a passenger on the flight, said: “I was absolutely astounded that we didn’t return to LA. There wasn’t a single person that I spoke to on that plane who wanted to carry on. “As far as I’m concerned my life was put at risk. It was a very stressful flight and I’m not really sure that I’d get on an aircraft again, let alone a BA one.” Ramsdale, a science teacher from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, has written to the airline, demanding compensation for the trauma he suffered.

BA has backed the actions of the pilot and points out that the 747 is certified to fly on three engines.

Given the circumstances, the CAA also believes that flying with one engine down is “a safe option”, more so if the plane is well into its journey.

This view, however, does not appear to be shared by the FAA, which could fine BA if it concludes that the airline violated American regulations.

Originally posted on the 747 diversion thread, but that appears to have been given the PPRuNe 'sinking' treatment as it didn't reappear at the top of Rumours and News. Those who wish to read more can search under '744 Diversion to MAN' to find the full thread.
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Old 1st May 2005, 10:32
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The FAA has no option other than to question the decision as their rules require a diversion to the nearest "suitable". On occasions this is not so strictly followed as the FAA believe.

Our rules do not as they take into account the performance of modern aircraft.

Once again, now that I am reduced to the status of walking freight, I have every support for the BA captain and ops who took that entirely legal and sound decision.
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Old 1st May 2005, 10:42
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Howard Ramsdale, 47, a passenger on the flight, said: “I was absolutely astounded that we didn’t return to LA. There wasn’t a single person that I spoke to on that plane who wanted to carry on. “As far as I’m concerned my life was put at risk. It was a very stressful flight and I’m not really sure that I’d get on an aircraft again, let alone a BA one.” Ramsdale, a science teacher from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, has written to the airline, demanding compensation for the trauma he suffered.
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Old 1st May 2005, 12:29
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Well I know that we have been through all this before (in about 50 pages in the other thread)

but just to stick to this latest topic, The FAA has every right to question the pilots decision according to the regs, however this certainly not proma facia evidence of a bad decision by the pilot.

There is some allowance for allowing the pilot to make decisions like this due to only a minor degrade (subjective as it is based on the previous threads pages of posts) to overall flight risk.

Such overall risk includes consideration of Air-turn-backs, contaminated runways, air traffic, fuel dumps, overweight landings, diversions to unfamiliar (to the crew) airports etc.

In the long run, the FAA questions will likely go beyond this one incident, although it does give them a key to the CAA door. It will likely revolve arround not just this one flight (which was minisule in increased risk) but to the greater fleet risk increase if every crew would perform the same action as an SOP without the threat of being questioned about their specific judgement by a regulator.
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Old 1st May 2005, 12:36
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When it comes to the discussions between the CAA and FAA I'm intrigued by the ironic possibilities to which this matter gives rise.

Would one not wish to be a "fly on the wall" for the various chats and exchanges between the CAA and FAA as they take hours and days to dissect and argue out a decision that normally has to be taken in minutes?

I mean to say, if YOU are up to your ears "in the merde" you are normally told that the regulations and requirements are clear, are you not?

Of course, what you are really being told is that the interpretation being shoved down your throat is the current "conventional wisdom" as to how the regulations should be interpreted. Individual pilots facing "the system" have an uphill battle to explain why what they decided seemed quite reasonable at the time. The system tends to win these arguments.

But what happens when two equally opinionated authorities - here the CAA and FAA - disagree? I, for one, would pay for an observer's seat as they thrash out their points of view. In fact it is the argument, not the published outcome that will be interesting - perhaps a better source of education and enlightenment than your average accident report?

BTW, iomspaseo, I don't think continuing on 3 will ever be "SOP". It is an option, and it should be an option.
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Old 1st May 2005, 12:38
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Whot me Stupid!

Another engine fails. "Capt of the ship" takes a new meaning.
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Old 1st May 2005, 13:02
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Why dont we all just accept that this has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with politics.

The regulator of one country which now builds mainly twins (777, 787) wanting to make it difficult for the quads (340 series and 380) built by another group of countries. If you make quads obay the same rules as twins after an engine failure then some of the economic advantages of them disappears. And in the same breath if you can allow twins to do unlimited ETOPS then you take away another advantage of quads.
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Old 1st May 2005, 14:44
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La to London on 3

I am from the continent that makes quads, living in the country that makes twins, and flying a tri motor.

There is no way I will continue on with one shut down. I have read enough accident reports to know that you need three events to crash an airplane. Having one engine go out is the first event. Running low on fuel is number two. The call to land should have been made long before you get to Manchester.

Lets do our profession a favor and take the most conservative approach. We would look a lot better in the public eyes if we don't gamble with their lives.
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Old 1st May 2005, 15:05
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But what happens when two equally opinionated authorities - here the CAA and FAA - disagree? I, for one, would pay for an observer's seat as they thrash out their points of view. In fact it is the argument, not the published outcome that will be interesting - perhaps a better source of education and enlightenment than your average accident report?

BTW, iomspaseo, I don't think continuing on 3 will ever be "SOP". It is an option, and it should be an option.
Sorry for the misunderstanding about my use of SOP in my post. All I meant was that the option was to be an allowed?? procedure.

As to the fly-on-the-wall approach, BTDT.

Mostly it is an exchange of views and data supporting such views. If the arguments become subjective than they take a break while collecting industry wide views and data.

Harmonization of views is what is needed without a winners or losers in an argument.
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Old 1st May 2005, 18:42
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...and at the end of the article...shock horror the EAAC flight from Reunion Island arriving on 3 engines with a mere 30 minutes of fuel left. 30 Minutes!!! Crikey is that all? I would have thought they'd have at least 2 or 3 days worth. The irony of the so called article is that it must have been totally cribbed/researched from Pprune. I am not one for bashing journo's as clearly they server a purpose but what utter tosh.
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Old 1st May 2005, 19:32
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I'm very curious. What is COMPANY policy within Northwest, United and any other US 4-engined operators with regards to a shut down? Please COMPANY policy not personal belief.
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Old 1st May 2005, 19:51
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Guess I must be cynical being FAA and CAA licenced but FAA holding up the standards- Give me break

Who pushed the 90 minute rule out and out? and for whose benefit.

180 minutes with 50% of your powerplants AND in some cases system inop. Give me 75% remaining every time.

I can guarantee you that if ever you want to push the maintenace envelope out then go to the FAA every time.
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Old 1st May 2005, 23:46
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This has been exercised to the Nth degree on PPRuNe. All the arguments are known but none of us have the knowledge that the Captain and crew had, nor have the technical reports that showed what really happened.

At the risk of starting the whole thing again, I reckon the FAA have had some American carriers whispering in their ear. I would take BA on any day of the year under (just about!) any circumstances. But there is political mileage to be made out of this. If that means more people being delayed for no purpose, then so be it.

I sit to be corrected.
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Old 2nd May 2005, 00:53
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<<The FAA is investigating one BA flight, carrying 351 passengers, that suffered an engine surge immediately after taking off from Los Angeles airport in February. >>

As well they might, considering the destination was LHR.

Altho 'legal' under British civil aviation regulations, it was, as someone mentioned some time ago...absolutely, positively
stupid.

Bypassing suitable enroute diversion airports is NEVER a good idea, when flight safety is considered.
And, strangly enough, that is the exact point.
BA threw flight safety straight out the window, in preference to commercial considerations.

Sadly, BA should know better.
Even more sadly....they don't.

PS:
Let's look at this from a different perspective.
ABC Airlines flies to LHR on a regular basis from southern Africa non-stop, and arrives with an engine shut down (4 engine type)....from time to time, ala BA.
I would expect the CAA would be all over 'em like flies on cr@p for this idea, yet BA seems to get away with it on a (more or less) regular basis.

Double standard city...

Last edited by 411A; 2nd May 2005 at 01:45.
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Old 2nd May 2005, 03:10
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Would someone please do the aviation community a favour and shoot David Learmount
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Old 2nd May 2005, 03:42
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Arrow

The point about how many modern airliners are designed to operate with only two engines (at ETOPS standards for RATs, APUs etc), and how far they can be (up to three hours, single-engine!) from a suitable alternate, is interesting. But if the 747 suffers a problem with another engine, then it might not be a pleasant day for the flightcrew. How high can they cruise near maximum weight on two engines in August during a diversion over desert mountains? How about from over Greenland?

I just read somewhere that BA, or a European airline must pay quite a chunk of money (i.e. $100,000 ?), if a flight returns to its departure airport. It looked like this is in addition to extra operating costs.
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Old 2nd May 2005, 05:44
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For the umpteenth time Ignition, BA would NOT have to pay compensation for returning to LAX. The rules only apply to cancellations and overbooking.
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Old 2nd May 2005, 06:14
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744

This is a very contentious issue so I will keep my posting short. I work for a company that also flies quads and I have been discussing this incident with my colleagues. To a man (and woman) they have ALL said: dump fuel, land and let the company sort it out. I am NOT saying the BA Captain made a bad decision but my completely unofficial straw poll would suggest a more cautious approach - no pun intended!

oops!!

this was meant to be in response to the "FAA and CAA conflicting views" started by BEagle.

Sorry...
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Old 2nd May 2005, 06:46
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411A

yet BA seems to get away with it on a (more or less) regular basis
Would that be because they are operating in compliance with UK law?

Having consulted to BA and therefore seen the company's culture and attitude to safety at first hand, I take considerable exception to your comments that the airline put commercial considerations before safety.

You should at least edit your post to state "In my professional opinion", rather that state it as an apparent fact.
 
Old 2nd May 2005, 07:02
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did the shut down affect readungs?

Question to 744 pilots:

Did the fact that an engine was shut down have anything to do with the status display of fuel transfer?

I mean after shut down did somone say "I am not sure that all the fuel in the tank(s) dedicated to the engine that shut down has been transferred for consumption by the other engines".

And subsequently did someone dip the tanks and say "You know what, it all transferred tickety-boo but you had no indication of the exact status after xx:xx hrs".

And then did yet a third person say "You were quite right to nip into Manchester in that case".

Four versus two, FAA vs CAA, everybody against BA. Makes a change (not). If putting more and more engines on an aircraft makes less and less sense then the only option is...[fill in blank space].

Makes a change from everybody having a pop at me and my outfit!
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