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Air Transat's unscheduled stopover in Azores

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Air Transat's unscheduled stopover in Azores

Old 29th Aug 2001, 14:44
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Unhappy

Well they say wait for the facts and now we begin to have some

5:25am Full leak
5.48am Emergency Declared
6:46am plane landed

thats a whole lot longer than ten minutes

So rockhound stop posting uninformed garbage
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Old 29th Aug 2001, 15:57
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Where are the fuel flow tranducers that feed the FMS on the 330 , how many tranducers per engine ?. Would a leak on the fuel line not give a low fuel pressure warning ?.
 
Old 29th Aug 2001, 17:00
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User 123,
My posts were of necessity based on reports by the media and, being innately suspicious of press reporting on technical matters, I always emphasized this proviso. If some of this information was incorrect, then that's unfortunate. My basic concerns as to fuel management, however, remain.
If now reports of the preliminary findings of the Portuguese investigators can be believed, the TS 236 crew detected a fuel leak at 0525 local; 23 mins later, at 0548, they declared an emergency; just 25 mins after that, the first engine quit, apparently due to fuel starvation; only 13 mins later, the second (and last) engine stopped, presumably signifying all tanks were dry, and they were still 100 miles from the nearest landing field. Warnings 25 minutes or less in duration of major fuel crises are hardly reassuring.
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Old 29th Aug 2001, 20:58
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Since there is no smoke damage to the fuselage, I believe the fire that people saw was from the brakes and the tyres. It was promptly put out by the fire crew.
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Old 29th Aug 2001, 23:09
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About 18 months ago a British reg A330 suffered a fuel supply problem which led to both engines surging, resulting in a diversion to Faro, Portugal. The aircraft had been en route Canary Isles.
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Old 29th Aug 2001, 23:26
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Some interesting pix...

http://www.af.mil/photos/images/1186a.jpg

Definitely some 'fluid' here but I'd say it's most probably water

http://www.af.mil/photos/images/1186c.jpg

What's this, broken hydraulic line?

http://www.af.mil/photos/images/1186b.jpg

Note the tyre - looks like it's rubbed through, causing the burst.

=====
From today's Globe and Mail

Stricken jet leaked fuel after engine change

By PAUL KORING
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

A fuel line that failed on an engine that had been changed only days earlier caused an Air Transat Airbus A330 to lose huge amounts of fuel, forcing an emergency landing last week, say sources close to the investigation into the mishap.

That a crucial component could fail and the crew either did not or could not stem the resulting massive loss of fuel raises grave questions regarding maintenance, design and crew performance.

Air Transat changed the right-side engine in the week before the accident, sources close to the investigation say. Changing an engine
requires that the fuel line be disconnected and reconnected, and investigators want to determine whether that procedure was properly done. The aircraft had made only two or three round-trip flights after the engine swap. One source said the new engine had been on the A330 for less than 50 flying hours.

Changing airplane engines is a common and periodic maintenance procedure. Frederico Serra, the Portuguese lead investigator, confirmed Tuesday that "both engines failed as a result of fuel starvation" and that the "fuel line on the right-hand engine had failed."

Air Transat's Flight 236, with 291 passengers and a crew of 13 on an overnight journey from Toronto to Lisbon, managed to make an emergency "dead-stick" landing last Friday at a military air base in the Azores, the only land for more than 1,600 kilometres in any direction.Fortunately, dawn had broken and visibility was good.

The pilots are being hailed as heroes for managing to land what had become a huge glider at an unfamiliar airport, but investigators will also probe how long they had known about the fuel problem and what if anything they were able to do to isolate the leak.

Airbus confirmed Tuesday that the A330 design like all modern jetliners includes valves and redundant systems that allow pilots to isolate fuel leaks and stem further losses. "If there is a problem with fuel feed, there are valves to shut off flow," said Mary Anne Greczyn, a spokeswoman for Airbus North America. She confirmed that the A330 design allowed for leaks to be isolated whether they occurred in any of the four main wing tanks, the two trim tanks, the centre fuel-feed tank or at either of the engines. Yet Flight 236 lost at least one-third of the fuel that was loaded on in Toronto,enough to take it from Toronto to Lisbon with a reserve for flying to an alternate airport more than 1,600 kilometres beyond the Azores.

It remains unclear how long the pilots knew they had fuel problems. Co-pilot Dirk DeJager, 28, said Tuesday that the plane had more than enough fuel to complete the flight when he checked at 4:57 a.m. Less than half an hour later, at 5:25 a.m., the pilots reported a fuel problem to Portuguese air-traffic control. That was more than a hour before the second engine failed because of fuel starvation.

The crew initially at 5:25 requested a diversion to the Azores but didn'tdeclare an emergency. Twenty-three minutes later, with fuel still pouring from the right-hand engine, they declared an emergency. Then at 6:13 a.m. the right engine failed.

Thirteen minutes later, with the aircraft at 32,000 feet and about 100 nautical miles from Lajes airport, the crew told controllers that the second engine had also shut down. After gliding for 20 minutes, the pilots landed the aircraft heavily but safely at Lajes. "A fuel leak in an engine is a critical failure .. which should not take the aircraft down," Daniel Verreault, director of air investigations at Canada's Transportation Safety Board, said Tuesday in an interview. Although the investigation is being led by Portugal's accident investigation authority, representatives of Canadian agencies as well as Airbus and engine-maker Rolls-Royce are accredited to the team.

Mr. Verreault said the "failure should be isolated." It is a fundamental design principle of modern commercial aircraft that no single failure of a key component should render the aircraft unflyable. "A fuel leak, regardless of location, must be able to be stopped," he said.

If the fault is found to be in the design of the A330, the entire fleet could be grounded and require retrofitting. "If it is an issue of maintenance, it brings the issue closer to home," Mr.Verreault added.

Air Transat, which has only three A330s in its fleet of 23 aircraft, carries out its own heavy maintenance, including routine swapping of engines on the Airbus twin jets. So far, Canadian authorities haven't found anything to suggest that the problem affected other A330s or was the result of a design flaw, although the investigation has only just begun. "We have no reason to believe that there is any problem at this stage with the A330," Canadian Transport Minister David Collenette said Tuesday.

Transport Canada had a team of four investigators at Air Transat maintenance base at Mirabel, Que., Tuesday conducting an audit of the airline's procedures.

Earlier, Transport Canada suspended Air Transat's authority to operate A330s more than one hour's flying time from an airport on overwaterroutes.
[ 29 August 2001: Message edited by: The Guvnor ]

Edited to provide links to the pictures rather than embed them as they are too big

[ 30 August 2001: Message edited by: Capt PPRuNe ]
 
Old 29th Aug 2001, 23:42
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From Canoe Money:

Air Canada, Air Transat
Inspect Airbus A330 Planes

OTTAWA (Dow Jones) --Air Canada (Quote|Profile) and Air Transat have
inspected their Airbus A330 aircraft to ensure that they don't have the mechanical
conditions which may have contributed to the Air Transat emergency landing in
the Azores Islands on Agu. 24.

In a news release, Transport Canada said Air Canada and Air Transat are the
only operators in Canada with Airbus A330s with the same engine as the aircraft
involved in the emergency landing.

Air Canada operates eight and Air Transat three Airbus A330 aircraft, the
agency said.

Preliminary information received from the Portuguese authority indicates a
problem with the fuel system, in which both engines failed as a result of fuel
starvation, Transport Canada said.

Initial inspection of the engines has determined that there was a crack on a
pressure fuel line on the right engine, it noted.

Air Canada and Air Transat, owned by Transat A.T. Inc. (Quote|Profile), are air
carriers.
I thought that last line most insightful
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 01:03
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It is still a question of WIHH to the left side fuel if it was a failure on the RH side as they are NOT interconected, so the LH side should have had MORE than enough to get them to the Azores.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 01:45
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Nice pics, but download time almost infinity.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 01:54
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One thing for sure is this incident is going to lead to a radical review and overhaul of manufacturer's procedures for dealing with fuel leaks. The Boeing 757 QRH for example only speaks of an engine fuel leak and this because there have been MANY such leaks and MANY cock ups in trying to deal with the suspected leak. The actual procedure in the 757 QRH is a complete mess and written for lawyers CYA (cover yer @rse). Only after a page and one half of guff does it get to the nitty gritty and this involves shutting an engine down "conditions permitting". Assuming the leak does not show on the fuel flow meters, this is the ONLY way to determine if a leak is on the engine(downstream of spar valve) or in the tank itself. The trouble with this is that psycologically it will be very difficult to convince yourself to shutdown an operating engine with which there is APPARENTLY nothing wrong. Unfortunately there is a long history of crews opening the crossfeed valve in such circumstances and so exacerbating the problem. Please note I am not suggesting anything of the sort here but there have been several cases on Boeing aircraft where this has occurred and leading to, for example, landing with one wing tank empty and the other almost full.

The posting regarding the Britsish reg 330 with both engines surging due to fuel starvation sounds very interesting indeed and could cast a whole new light on things.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 02:41
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No mention from pax that there was smell of fuel in the cabin. With a fuel line separation in engine two I think this would have been quite evident. I also heard that the FDR and CVR have gone to France for Investigation. Is this normal? Should they not have gone to TSB or do they normally go to manufacturer?
 
Old 30th Aug 2001, 02:48
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An Airbus notice confirmed that there was a leak on the right engine (RR Trent 700) from a damaged fuel feed pipe downstream of the LP shutoff valve.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 04:07
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Hi guys, My hearts go to Transat maintenance director who recently joined his position (coming from a competitor!)

Good luck, buddy...
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 04:07
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"I also heard that the FDR and CVR have gone to France for Investigation. Is this normal? Should they not have gone to TSB or do they normally go to manufacturer?"

By going to France does not necessarily mean that they are going to the manufacturer. Under the ICAO Investigation protocol the French BEA is given party status and typically invites the technical experts from the manufacturer. Given that this is not a fatal accident and that the continued airworthiness of the aircraft is being question (rather than a pilot cockup) the quickest answer would come from the French authorities about the aircraft and its recommendations. Of course the TSB would also be working on the team in France as well. Look for the warnings from Airbus issued to all A330 operators as the direction that the investigation is taking, since such warnings will not necessarily wait for a final report years away.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 06:18
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The math intrigues me.

The a/c lost the second engine at 32,000ft about 100nm from Lajes. After gliding for 20 minutes the plane landed.

This gives a sink rate of less than 1100ft/min at about 300 knots.

I would have thought the optimum glide speed would be somewhere between 200-230 kts with a sink rate of between 2000-2500 ft min...in which case they should have ended up in the oggie.

All I can say is the numbers are wrong or Airbus makes good gliders.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 06:20
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How do you run BOTH wing tanks out of fuel with a leak in one engine nacelle and the crossfeed CLOSED? Based on all the aircraft I've flown (Boeing mainly), I don't see how that is possible. Can someone with Airbus knowledge answer that??

[ 30 August 2001: Message edited by: Roadtrip ]
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 06:40
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Traffic, the math isn't so wonky. The airspeeds in the checklist are IAS; at FL 320 an IAS of 200 knots would mean TAS of 340 at standard temp. Maintaining a constant IAS of 200 during the descent, the TAS would be 300 at FL250, 262 at FL200, and so on. Making 100 miles in 20 minutes is not much of a stretch- the tough part is not covering the distance, it's making the approach. Can't imagine what it must be like when most of the systems have gone bye-bye.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 10:38
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With reference to AirBoeing's post I have always thought the A330 Fuel Leak checklist to be a can of worms. It speaks of two scenarios - "Leak from Engine" or "Leak not from Engine or Leak not Located". It is very difficult to tell which applies and normally one will follow the second procedure initially which involves keeping the crossfeed CLOSED and turning all the fuel tank pumps off to allow gravity feeding at a lower altitude. There is a note however which says that if an engine flames out then one can assume that the leak is from an engine and apply that procedure which asks you to shut the engine down and turn all the fuel pumps back on. There is a note which says "The Xfeed valve can now be selected OPEN for rebalancing or to allow use of fuel from both wings".

The logic is that when the fuel pumps are turned off then air will be sucked into the engine through the leak if the leak is close to the engine and it will flame out. Shutting down the engine involves putting the Engine Master switch (Fuel switch) to off which closes the High and Low pressure fuel shutoff valves, therefore the leak should be isolated, allowing opening of the crossfeed. Of course if the leak is upstream of the Low pressure valve then all you are now doing is pumping the rest of your fuel overboard at high pressure.

This is all speculation of course and may have no bearing on this incident. And by the way, the 330 is a great glider with a huge wing and often the problem is getting it down.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 13:09
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Roadtrip asks how it's possible to empty both wing tanks with a leak in one engine nacelle and the crossfeed closed. This would seem to be a rather pertinent question and one of the possible answers has serious implications for ETOPS certification could their have been independent cracks? One in the fuel line to each engine?
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 13:43
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Traffic
If you speak to most large aeroplane pilots you will find most use a formula for the distance for descent of (height in 1,000s of ft X 3 + 5 miles +/- wind factor) the 5 miles being for slowing down, and IF you get it exactly right the thrust levers are at idle until established at 1500ft -ie basically engines off. the A330 generally does better than this this, but windmilling engines would probably slightly degrade the glide to give the same sort of figures.
THEREFORE :- 32 x 3= 96 + 5 =101 miles!! don't know what the wind was, but a pretty close call!

[ 30 August 2001: Message edited by: foxmoth ]
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