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Air Transat crew not to blame in A330 emergency landing in the Azores

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Air Transat crew not to blame in A330 emergency landing in the Azores

Old 6th Feb 2002, 20:24
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Hey Hotdog!!

I guess we have to embrance techonology that's all I'm saying. If the airplanes are certified for a two cockpit crew operation, what will the FE be doing there.

I never had the chance to fly an airplane with a FE but I fly with people that had, and the stories go both ways.

I have heard from some that the FE is the heart and soul of the operation of the aircraft, and others say that it's dispensible and in some cases it's terrible.

I guess you are entitled to your opinion, and so am I.

Take care.
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 00:09
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Captain104, sorry to have touched a nerve of yours. The crew did a fantastic job of salvaging a desperate situation. I do not know the systems of the 330, or any airbus, but ......something did happen. . .If your A.T. friends are so kind as to not mention what they know, then maybe they do not know at all. I for one cannot and will not devulge what has been explained to me by an Air Transat person. It maybe be a lie or wrong, but the result is the same. They lost MANY tons (I was told 15!) of fuel in about 15 minutes. Funny how a "fuel imbalance" warning and "transfer" will correct this situation? Airbus, the engine manufacturer and MOT are all involved with what happened. Thank god they were given a southern track for the crossing. That's what saved them!. .The rest of us can learn from this and become a little more humble!!

Oh I forgot to mention one thing to defend the crew, they were not the the ones that created the initial problem. <img src="frown.gif" border="0">

[ 06 February 2002: Message edited by: alapt ]

[ 06 February 2002: Message edited by: alapt ]</p>
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 00:13
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kimoki, from various reports it seems that your doubts about this A330 lacking the FOB ECAM alert are correct. The first sign of trouble seems to have been an ECAM message concerning the oil. Several minutes later the crew received an ECAM fuel imbalance alert when the left-right difference reached 3000kg.

I think, Hugo_pipi, that the chronology may dispell your suspicions about "lazy ass" pilots.

The timeline of the incident, put together from various sources, went something as follows, with the caveat that only the software aspects interest me. I am merely repeating what I have read in trade publications and I don't claim that anything is absolutely accurate. Indeed, any needed corrections are welcome.

0010Z Air Transat Flight 236 departed Toronto.. .0457Z Last check of total fuel before ECAM alert. Fuel normal.

Working backwards from when all fuel was exhausted off-the-cuff calculations have suggested that the leak did not arise more than a few minutes after this time.

0516Z Warning of low oil temperature/high oil pressure in right engine.

This seems to have been the first indication that there was any problem with flight 236. The crew contacted Air Transat maintenance in Montreal. At this point there was no suspicion on ground or onboard of a fuel problem. With hindsight it has been suggested that cold, leaking fuel was the cause of the ECAM warning. I don't see how anyone would have guessed that inflight.. . . .0536Z ECAM Fuel imbalance @ FL390

At this point the crossfeed valve was manually opened, according to reports. I recall reading that the crew was advised to do this - maybe from the QRH, but I seem to recall reading one report that the ECAM display suggested crossfeeding. The QRH does state that the crossflow valve should remain/be closed if a fuel leak is supected. It appears that at this point a leak was not suspected.

0541Z Diversion to Azores

At this time the pilots had not yet determined that the imbalance was due to a fuel leak. OK, so five minutes had passed and so would another seven minutes but the F/O says that they were busy going through the QRH checklists. Based on the investigator's remarks I infer that he is supporting the pilots here.

0548Z Crew determines a fuel leak and declares an emergency.

I guess that after this point questions will arise about not closing the shutoff and crossfeed valves. However, during the flight the crew were not able to determine the source of the leak. Although the transducer for the engine fuel flow guage is downstream of where the leak was, it apparently did not indicate any problem. So how do you determine on which side of the transducer the leak occured? The QRH fuel leak checklist branches into two cases 1) engine leak, or 2) non-engine leak or leak not located. Case 2 calls for descending to under FL200 (to permit gravity-feed without vapor lock) and possibly shutting down an engine. That has to be a scary scenario for a twin over the Atlantic, no?

0613Z Loss of right engine.. .0626Z Loss of left engine @ FL345, about 137km from Lajes Field.. .0646Z Safe landing, under the circumstances.

If published reports are correct, then most of the blame is going to fall on the maintenance supervisor. Air Transat lacked the proper hydraulic line for the replacement RR engine they leased. RR's inspection concluded that the incorrect hydraulic pipe cracked the fuel line. It was reported fairly soon after the incident that the mechanic responsible for the installation advised against putting the plane into service and tape-recorded his supervisor overruling him.

The software problems that seem to be exposed are typical - anticipated events are handled well but other matters are not addressed at all. The software controlling the fuel system does some pretty clever things. It maintains longitudinal balance, shifting the CG around during different phases of the flight. It also attempts to maintain lateral balance despite inevitable discrepancies in burn rate. But from all the data that is available onboard, it should be trivial to determine FOB anomalies. kimoki indicates that the software has been "upgraded" to do this. I cannot think of a reason why the software did not do so in the first place. The fuel burned can be routinely calculated by integrating the measurements of the fuel flow meters. It is then simple to check this result against the total fuel decrease in the tanks as measured by the fuel tank totalizer. . . . .Here is a longer extract from the Frederico Serra interview:

"What we're discussing very carefully is whether the information provided by the computer to the crew is the best information to deal with the problem, and we have some serious doubts with that. There is something wrong with this system. There is something that was not given to crew on time. The crew cannot manage ... the situation because there's no information saying there is a leak. They didn't know what was going on. The computer didn't provide to them the best information. It was too late that the pilots noticed that the fuel was missing and they didn't realize why or where was the cause of the missing fuel."

The reporter conducting the interview asked AI to comment on Mr. Serra's remarks. AI declined, not surprisingly - they are being sued. An unnamed Transport Canada source called Mr. Serra's remarks "musings." Nevertheless, the final report will be interesting.
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 01:38
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Sorry Brian Blank but I cannot agree with your reasoning.If aircraft were able to be designed and built the way you suggest then there would be no requirement for the two highly paid professionals up the front.. .The fact remains that the two pros could not accept that they had a fuel leak even after the ecam warned them that they had reached a 3ton imbalance in a very short period.The oil press/ temp was not an ECAM but an interpretation by the flt deck,ie it was different to the other engine.
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 02:08
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Hello alapt,. .you did not touch a nerve, no problem. And to make it very clear: I have no friends at Air Transat, I also have no more information about this incident than anyone here. No secret channels, nothing.. . . .My sign for confusion should simply indicate, that you obviously know something, we don't know.. .After reading your last post again and again, I still have no brilliant idea how to translate your hints into something I could understand?!

Did someone hit a switch to dump 15to fuel . .overbord? Impossible. So, better I retire and wait what's coming up. <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 07:22
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"0516Z Warning of low oil temperature/high oil pressure in right engine"

- And they didn't shut it down then because....?
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 07:33
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Strange how eager we all are to pin our colleauges to the wall any chance we get.... .Think I`ll wait for the report, but must have been some fancy stickwork in pitch dark.

As for No Hydraulics = No fun. Think someone told me that day 2 of the training. If u still dont believe it, try setting your trim before engine start.( yeah I know u smartasses will try when they are closing the cargo doors) <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">

And Tan: Where do we go for the beer.

[ 07 February 2002: Message edited by: ColdnFoggy ]</p>
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 11:51
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humm
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 12:18
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Well Coldnfoggy I have to aggree at 100% with you.. .We were not there to judge, it's funny to see hightly paid proffessional pilot like some claim, who don't even know the A/C system, trowing at them stone. What to do? They are some lucky one who saw the light...

Dotmi, over the atlantic your fuel check come every 45 min so your point to xcheck to fuel does'nt work on that incident.

So please guys lets wait for the investigation. It's done, not by speculation, not by the if it had been me syndrome, it's maid by professional how HAVE the fact and who know after month of interview, investigation and study's to name only few. What really happen.

Merci bonsoir
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 12:41
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When being taught to fly, one is instructed to "scan" the instruments...

Don't you guys in the heavy machinery do the same? This is a serious question.

Hats off to the pilots for landing the thing, but perhaps they were a little slow in detecting the problem.

Auto-Rotation, the only way to glide...
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 17:45
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SupremeSpod, I dont do longhaul, but even on shorthaul I must admit my "scanning" is a bit off late at night trying to stay awake.. .But what is there really to scan. . .If the leak is before the flowmeter your only chance is to catch that the FOB is decreasing faster than it should be.( Its dark green digital numbers on black bakcground, about 3mm high). . .I seriously doubt many of us would catch it. Hats off to those who do.

I must admit the procedure for Fuel leak can be a bit confusing, am I the only one?? <img src="eek.gif" border="0"> <img src="eek.gif" border="0">
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 18:42
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0516Z Warning of low oil temperature/high oil pressure in right engine

This is a big clue thats something isn't right. As an FE this would have put me on high alert and fuel would be top of the list.

They did a good job on the dead stick but I have an nagging doubt about whether they should have needed to.
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 19:03
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There is actually a "class action" against this incident. Details may be found at:

<a href="http://www.flight236.com/documents/StatementofClaim_OCT3101.pdf" target="_blank">http://www.flight236.com/documents/StatementofClaim_OCT3101.pdf</A>
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 20:51
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70 Millions CAN $ dammages per pax ?. .Expensive trial...
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Old 7th Feb 2002, 22:59
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Coldnfoggy:. ."I must admit the procedure for Fuel leak can be a bit confusing, am I the only one??"

The leak procedure calls for an assumption/determination if the leak is engine (downstream from shut off valves) or elsewhere in the fuel system.. .If it is engine the shutdown procedure will/should prevent fuel reaching the leak site.. .If the leak is upstream from shutoff valves then you want to turn off the fuel pumps to avoid pumping fuel under pressure to the leak site.. .In order to operate under gravity feed (IE pumps off) you must descend to an altitude where you can avoid aeration of the fuel.
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Old 8th Feb 2002, 00:10
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Thanks innuendo. . .Once you determine that it is a Fuel Leak you`re dealing with, things get easier. But to get there You have to disregard a few ECAM actions that could get you in to the ultimate problem.. .Fuel Press Low, Fuel Imbalance i.e. .Both says to open x-feed, and none refers to Fuel Leak procedure. Of course we DO pull out the QRH and start thinking........... .(Maybe we will see a software change soon with a caution concerning Fuel-"things".)
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Old 8th Feb 2002, 00:40
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ColdnFoggy, the "first" thing the fuel imbalance QRH procedure states is 'Do Not apply this procedure if a fuel leak is suspected. Refer to FUEL LEAK procedure'. In ours it is in an outlined box at the very start of the procedure.
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Old 8th Feb 2002, 14:41
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Innuendo: Good to hear we have the same book <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> . .I know this is "nitpickin" but what the heck, im bored today. As i am new on the type please feel free to correct me where i might be wrong.

We were told to do ECAM actions all the way through, then consult QRH and FCOM (time permitting). .If by any chance you get a fuel leak before the pressure switch(that doesnt flame the eng out, if possible) I guess the first you would see are Fuel Press Low lights. It calls for opening x-feed amongst other. There is NO QRH proc for Fuel Press Low. The next thing you see on ECAM is Fuel Imbalance. And from there.....

I know we are probably well awake before this, but my point is: ECAM may have a few shortcomings. I know you cant have "LEAK" detectors, as someone pointed out, but maybe a little caution on ECAM might be proper. Just so Airbus dont get sued everytime we run out of fuel

And YES i DO like the Airplane.
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Old 8th Feb 2002, 15:00
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If the third man was there it becomes easy, sort it out eng and call me back, that means at least one guy up front is flying and using the FE's knowledge to diagnose problems. Lets see now. Tank to engine feed, line up the fuel flows and monitor, the rate that the fuel was going out should have been easy but then we are a dying breed.
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Old 8th Feb 2002, 15:38
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Fergieneer: I DO miss you guys up here, but the chances of you getting back up is slimmer than pilots getting obsolete. <img src="eek.gif" border="0">

How do you like this one:

Took off one foggy morning and couldnt get the gear up.(remained down and lokced) Both FE and copilot swore the pins were out, and was confirmed when we found them. We pulled breakers, recycled, and even tried manually moving the valve. Nothing... .On this lukcy day we had 2 FE`s. So he comes half-asleep up and ask what the problem is. Turns out he saw the bird in the hangar the day before ON JACKS. So he explaines how they strangle the Hydraulic star-valve when recycling the gear on ground. He casually adds: They just turned it the wrong way when they were done, thus lockwiring it closed iso. open. . .So he dutifully climbed down into the Hyd Serv. Center and opened the right valve...

The tech controller bought the beer, somewhat redheaded.

[ 08 February 2002: Message edited by: ColdnFoggy ]</p>
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