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Air Transat's unscheduled stopover in Azores

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Air Transat's unscheduled stopover in Azores

Old 31st Aug 2001, 22:07
  #81 (permalink)  
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News Release

For release August 30, 2001


OTTAWA — Transport Minister David Collenette today announced measures to address the emerging maintenance and flight operation issues surrounding the emergency landing of the Air Transat Airbus A330 in the Azores. These measures are in advance of the final report of the Portuguese investigating authority.

Transport Canada has requested and Air Transat has agreed to immediately implement special training sessions on extended range
operations for all Air Transat flight crew to review with them the proper procedures for the conduct of these flights. This will include fuel management procedures and the necessity to divert to the closest alternative airport at the first signs of an engine-related emergency.

Following discussion with Transport Canada, Air Transat has created a new senior director of safety position, reporting directly to the
president and CEO, who will work closely with Transport Canada to implement a safety management system program.

In addition, Air Transat has voluntarily taken additional precautionary safety measures to prevent a reoccurrence of an
incident of this type. Air Transat:

has initiated a comprehensive review of the safety of their maintenance and operations program, and will report on the implementation of the review's recommendations to Transport Canada;

has provided to Transport Canada a corrective action plan that will improve the performance of maintenance activity and includes the
hiring of additional maintenance and quality assurance personnel; and

will institute human factors training for all technical personnel, review their quality procedures and introduce a system for analyzing maintenance errors.

The above action does not preclude any potential separate regulatory action that Transport Canada may take following the conclusion of Transport Canada's special audit of Air Transat's maintenance and
flight operations.

"Transport Canada takes occurrences of this nature very seriously, and will take whatever action is required to protect the traveling
public," said Mr. Collenette. "We remain committed to maintaining Canada's already high level of aviation safety."

Transport Canada officials remain in ongoing communication with the Transportation Safety Board and the Portuguese authority, as well as the aircraft manufacturer (Airbus Industries), the engine manufacturer (Rolls Royce) and the responsible civil aviation
authority for the Airbus aircraft (France).

The investigation by the Portuguese authority into the remaining components of the fuel system and the overall conduct of the flight
is continuing. Transport Canada continues to monitor this investigation closely and will take prompt and appropriate corrective
action should further safety deficiencies become known.
Old 31st Aug 2001, 23:21
  #82 (permalink)  
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Yep, in the "save 300 lives and the media will vilify you" category:

Apparently Capt. Piche spent 2 years in a US prison for a 1983 drug trafficking conviction. He was arrested with between 50 and 100 Kgs of marijuana in his plane.

Pehaps the legalize marijuana people should pick up on this for a new ad campaign:

"See, smoking pot really does save lives"
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 00:02
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Rockhound, please don't become so obsessed with what time the crew declared an emergency. It is totally irrelevant. They did the drills and diverted to the nearest available airport. What do you think would have been improved by declaring an emergency earlier? There was nothing Air Traffic or anyone on the ground could have done. As previously said "aviate, navigate, communicate".
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 00:08
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Red face

Heavens to Mercurtroy!

Here it is we all find all ourselves having to agree with the Guvnor...the good Capt was indeed a "Bush" pilot who honed his skills evading enemy radars and landing on short blacked out fields.

18 years ago would of put him in his early 30's, surely old enough to know the difference between right and wrong.

The ones I blame for all this is Air Transat. They should never of allowed the media day to happen. ALPA sure wouldn't!

At least the company is sticking behind them...

On Friday, Air Transat stood behind the 49-year-old pilot following revelations he had served 21 months in a U.S. prison from 1983 to 1985 after being convicted of smuggling more than 100 pounds (45 kg) of marijuana in a light airplane he flew to Georgia.

"All I can say is that whatever happened in the pilot's past is part of his past. It's his personal life and when he was hired here, he had had his pardon,'' Seychelle Harding, a spokeswoman for Air Transat, told Reuters.

"As a company, we totally back him up and he stays a good employee. It doesn't take away that he is a good pilot,'' she added.

[ 01 September 2001: Message edited by: JR/FO ]
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 01:04
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Hey Roberto Baggio!
read the paper again! it wasn't a Cessna but a Piper Aztec, and it wasn't one of many trips, it was one trip!

what does it matter anyway?
it's totally irrelevant to what he was able to accomplish!

get a life!
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 02:45
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Who cares what Piche did before, how is the fact that he smuggled drugs and got caught have anything to do with anything?? Some of you guys get so far off the topic sometimes, this guy did a great job regardless of the circumstances.
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 03:13
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Just to add another dimension before the pilots are cruicified.

I once had a total booster pump failure on one side, and too keep both engines running had to crossfeed. Suddenly i had only half the fuel on board that i needed, yes there is a suction proceedure but not at high alt.

So take the case of a severed fuel line , if they could isolate that leak, ie let it leak into space and run the engine on the fuel from the good tanks on one side wouldnt you?

It would take a brave person to shut down an engine that need not be shutdown, what it does cause is a different problem, so if that happened they would fly for a while and both engines would fail nearly at the same time...... then again someone might have spilt their tea..... then again.....

Point is it could be anything, everyone likes to judge, lets wait and see, it will all come out eventually, meanwhile...

Everyone survived.
Old 1st Sep 2001, 07:37
  #88 (permalink)  
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Mr Benn,
You misunderstand me. It was not the actual time the crew declared an emergency that worried me, it was the short time lag between an emergency being decalred and the aircraft running out of fuel. The original press report had them declaring an emergency when they had only 10 minutes fuel left. That report was subsequently proved to be incorrect. We now know that the crew declared an emergency 38 minutes before the tanks ran dry (second engine stopped). That's a little better but, as I've said before, I, as a passenger, don't find even this "lead time", over open ocean, at all reassuring. I'd like to see better forward planning.
According to the story in today's Globe and Mail newspaper by Paul Koring, who does know something about, and obviously takes an interest in, aeronautical matters, the crew noticed a fuel imbalance at 0536 hrs local; at 0541, concerned about the fuel situation, they changed course for the Azores; at 0548, the crew decided there was a fuel leak and declared an emergency; at 0613, the No 2 engine failed and up to this point they had not lost altitude (still at FL 390). "Sources close to the investigation have said there are strong indications that the jet's cross-feed pipes pumped large amounts of fuel from the left-wing tanks to the right-side engine, where most of it dumped overboard, to correct the 'imbalance'".
With reference to Capt Piche's pot-running days long ago in Georgia, I'm wondering if that's where he accumulated experience in making quiet (unpowered?)landings. I guess that's one type of bush flying.
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 08:43
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A pro like Piche smuggling dope years ago..

You guys really gotta get a life

After the crap he and his right hand man went through to bring that bird down in one piece? Maybe years ago he had the occasional puff being Canadian and all. BUT I HIGHLY DOUBT IT! no pun intended.
Old 1st Sep 2001, 08:48
  #90 (permalink)  
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A great job of a deadstick landing coupled with a lot of luck. They were prepared for a ditching. All I can say is; reinstate the flight engineer, not the American style second officer panel operator but a British style professional with intimate sytems knowledge.
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 09:07
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Say there HotDog, do you infer that there are no American style professional Flight Engineers with intimate systems knowledge?
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 09:35
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In still air, in the A330. 3 times your height + 5 miles and you'd be going around. Fox, This is not a provocative reply to your post, but just to highlight to the thread that the A330 is one hell of a glider !
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 12:54
  #93 (permalink)  
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Dammit Hotdog you stole my thunder.

I would add that the Swissair crew over Halifax could have used a good PFE too....
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 19:53
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BTW, at Air Transat, we have dedicated professionnal F/E on all our L-1011s
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 20:56
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Rockhound, I just want to lay this one to rest. What do you feel would have been achieved if they had declared an emergency at the start of the fuel problem, perhaps when they had 20 or 30 minutes or more fuel remaining? They would have had to make that call before doing the drills. What would they, or the passengers, or anyone, have gained by them declaring an emergency at an earlier stage? They already had the diversion lined up, they were getting there as expeditiously as they could and all the emergency services were on hand.
What or who would have benefited from an earlier call?
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Old 1st Sep 2001, 21:10
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Air Transat is telling the public very little of what it knows.

Today's Toronto Star reported that the fuel line is 2.5 inches in diameter and that it can not be misrouted.

It's too bad that we don't see:

1. The RR Trent safety bulletin on routing of the hydraulc and fuel lines, maybe even diagrams of correct and incorrect routing. And is this routing effected during an engine change, maintenance or assembly? Given that the engine was in storage in a common pool, there is a possibility that the service bulletin applied to engine maintenance rather than installation.
2. Where the engine fuel shutoff is placed relative to the rupture.
3. The contents of the checklists that were followed.

From what I have been able to pick up in the public domain, the leak was very heavy and likely above the fuel shutoff. It seems that checklists assume that the leak is below the fuel shutoff and that the crossfeeds can be reopened once the engine is secured. Likely, shutting off the crossfeeds would have gotten them to Lajes with one operating engine, but the volume of the leak left the crew too little time to catch on to the full extent of their problem before running out.
I speculate that the fuel pumps are designed to maintain pressure in the line so that in a heavy leak situation they happily turn up the volume until the tank goes dry.
It would be nice to have the FMC monitor engine burn vs. tank volume. That would give you a gross leakage rate. In order to pinpoint the leak, you need flow transducers in each fuel line.
With Air Transat, you suddenly have two very busy pilots in the cockpit running procedures and executng a diversion with next to no time and insufficient cockpit information to quantify or pinpoint a massive leak.
It's going to take some reengineering before a crew will be able to identify in time which valve to shut when in the case of a massive fuel leak.
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Old 2nd Sep 2001, 01:22
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Mr Benn,
You still don't understand what I was getting at. Maybe I'm not making myself clear, sorry about that. I'll try one more time and then we should probably drop the subject. I equate an emergency or distress call with a realization on the part of a pilot that an extremely serious, life-threatening situation has arisen. In this instance, it took the crew 12 minutes (from 0536 hrs, when they detected a fuel imbalance, to 0548, when they decided a major fuel leak was occurring). A mere 25 mins later one engine died as a result of fuel starvation. Clearly, by this time, they were still unable, for one reason or another, to resolve their fuel management problem. They made their emergency call as soon as they realized the gravity of the situation, which is, to my mind, as it should be. However, things went to hell in a handbasket very quickly after that, too quickly for my liking. I just wish they had had a longer lead-up to the discovery of a massive fuel leak, say from instruments or a checklist. Please note, I am not blaming or accusing the crew of anything. Also, I freely admit that a lag time of 38 minutes, between discovery of a fuel leak and completely running out of fuel, is a lot better than 10 minutes - but I still feel uneasy. I hope I've expressed my concerns better this time. As you know, I'm not an airman, just an interested observer, so am open to correction at all times and appreciate any interest that a professional aviator shows in my contributions to this forum.
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Old 2nd Sep 2001, 01:59
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Although not familiar with the A330, I have some knowledge of several Boeing aircaft and some Airbus and others. It is common for there to be two shut off valves in the engine fuel feed system. One is usually located on the wing spar and one on the engine fuel contol unit or governor these control respectively the fuel leaving the tank under booster pump (or gravity) pressure only and the fuel leaving the fuel control unit on the engine after being further raised in pressure by the high pressure fuel pump and about to be delivered to the fuel flow meters and spray nozzles (injectors).

On older aircraft these were commonly referred to the LP and HP cocks/valves. On modern aircraft both of these valves will usually be closed whenever an engine is shutdown either using normal or emergency procedures (Fuel Control/Engine Start Switch or Fire Handle/Switch) i.e. a single switch/handle action only.

The engine fuel feed lines which have given trouble historically on RR engines are located on the engine usually linking the output of the HP pump and the Fuel Flow unit/governor (even though these items look like one combined unit sometimes) so the pipes in question are effectively between the LP and HP valves. So with a leak on that line, closing the HP valve alone (if that could be done) would not have any effect on the leak (unless leak is downstream of HP valve) but as the LP valve will be closed every time the HP valve is closed this SHOULD isolate the leak and so SHOULD permit opening of the cross feed valve(s) to safely access remaining fuel. I say again hat I don't know the A330 but would be surprised if it is not similar in design to that above.

Although I am sure no-one needs convincing now of the rate that the fuel must have been pumped overboard , I wonder if anyone remebers a news item in the UK a year or two ago of a Contintental (I think) DC10 taxiing at Manchester for take off with fuel absolutely hoovering out of a leak on number two engine. It was like a fire truck putting on a display and the crew were not even aware of it until informed by ATC. I have the item on video still and confess to being absolutely gobsmacked at the image. No much how we have discussed it over the years prior to that I could never imagine how dramatic it would look.

Damn it I've just thought of another possibilty. If the engine were to be shutdown in repsonse to a drill by either method and the LP valve FAILED (through an electrical fault say)to close but the HP one did then the engine would shutdown but the leak would not be isolated.
My brain's hurting now.
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Old 2nd Sep 2001, 03:56
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Anyone considered how they might have dealt with the pressurisation problem?
No engines=no pressurisation.
Quite a dilemma...rapid descent not being an option!
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Old 2nd Sep 2001, 04:51
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Transat struggles to rebuild confidence. By PAUL KORING AND INGRID PERITZ
From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Air Transat struggled Friday to keep its
tattered reputation aloft, offering special
commissions to travel agents to woo wary
passengers after last week's near disaster in
which one of its A330s ran out of fuel during a transatlantic flight.
Some passengers already booked on Air Transat flights tried to change airlines, and the company acknowledged Friday that reservations were down 5 per cent from the same period last year. The parent company's stock price, battered all week on unusually high volumes, has lost 11 per cent of its value since the incident. Air Transat spokesman Michel Lemay confirmed Friday that the company was offering travel agents a 20-per-cent commission, several times higher
than usual, to place passengers on its flights. Not all travelers were impressed. "People kind of cringe when you say Air Transat," Yvette Leano, manager of the Flight Centre in downtown Toronto, said. She said there had been a "lot of concern from people who are already booked," including some who
wanted to change airlines.

Reports Friday in Quebec that Captain Robert Piché, 49, the veteran pilot who landed the stricken aircraft at a military air base in the Azores, was convicted of drug trafficking two decades ago produced an angry backlash
of support for him.
The Globe and Mail has confirmed that Capt. Piché was convicted of trafficking in marijuana in 1983 after landing a Piper Aztec at a small airport in Georgia with more than 200 kilograms of the drug. He served a prison
term.However, he has received a full pardon and is a fully certified and properly qualified pilot. "He has a valid licence to operate large commercial aircraft," Transport Canada spokesman Peter Coyles said Friday.

Investigators have found strong indications that Flight 236 from Toronto to Lisbon, carrying 291 passengers and a crew of 13, ran out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean after mistakes by Air Transat mechanics and the pilots. Although the Portuguese-led investigation isn't complete, Transport Canada has ordered Air Transat pilots to take remedial training in fuel management and emergency procedures for long flights over water, and directed the Montreal-based airline to overhaul its maintenance procedures. Sources close to the investigation have said that a fuel line was connected improperly after the engine on the Airbus A330 was changed by Air Transat mechanics and that it chafed against other pipes. The pipe cracked, causing a leak during the flight to Lisbon. Although serious, the leak affected only the right-wing fuel tanks. Investigators are examining whether the pilots pumped fuel from the undamaged left-wing tanks to the leaking right engine, eventually causing both engines to quit.
The first of the remedial sessions on fuel management will begin on Tuesday,the airline said.

According to a contemporary account of his 1983 drug arrest in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, a Georgia state trooper spotted Mr. Piché's twin-engine Piper Aztec, with its lights off, circling a tiny county airport at night. As the trooper approached, Mr. Piché tried to take off again. The trooper rammed the plane with his car. Friday, in his home province of Quebec, many rallied behind the pilot, saying the incident happened 18 years ago and doesn't tarnish last week's dramatic dead-stick landing. Mr. Lemay said the company's switchboard was flooded with callers supporting Capt. Piché. Callers to radio talk shows were nearly unanimous in saying that Capt. Piché had paid his debt by going to jail. He received a pardon and remains a hero in their eyes, they said. In Mr. Piché's hometown, Mont-Joli, the city council is going ahead with plans to honour the pilot for bravery. "He was a hero despite himself," said Roger Boudreau, director of communications for the town of 7,000, downriver from Quebec City."This guy was rehabilitated; he became a respectable man. . . . What he did was extraordinary. Without Mr. Piché's sang-froid, the plane would have crashed into the ocean. For millions of Quebeckers, he's a hero," he said.
The Quebec government had also announced plans to pay homage to Capt.Piché, and Friday, Premier Bernard Landry suggested that the pilot's criminal past was behind him. He said countries have pardon laws, "and if they exist,it's so that we respect them."

In the midst of the controversy, Air Transat was still struggling to get past the near disaster. With two of its fleet of 24 aircraft out of service — the A330 is still stuck in the Azores and another is marooned in Europe with hailstone damage — the airline has lost nearly 10 per cent of its capacity and many of its flights have been delayed. Air Transat is a charter airline, and most bookings cannot be changed,without buying new, often more expensive tickets.

In Montreal, several travel agents said some customers have responded with black humor to Air Transat's troubles. Others were more concerned about the aircraft type than the airline. "It's not the company that scares people; it's the Airbus A330," Montreal
travel agent Patrick Giguère said.

Shares of Transat A. T. Inc., Air Transat's parent company, lost another 51 cents Friday, closing at $9:39, compared to $10.95 on the day before Flight 236 ran out of fuel. Nevertheless they remain well off their 12-month low of $7.95.
With a report from Kamyar Razavi
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