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Air Transat's unscheduled stopover in Azores

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Air Transat's unscheduled stopover in Azores

Old 28th Aug 2001, 07:25
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Post Air Transat's unscheduled stopover in Azores

For some reason that escapes me, the earlier thread on TS 236 gliding into Lajes Field - the flying story of the summer - has been terminated with extreme prejudice by the Chief Pilot.
In that thread, I asked a legitimate question - didn't I? How come the pilot didn't declare an emergency until he had just 10 minutes fuel left? No one addressed this. Won't any of you Professional Pilots even speculate on this question?
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 09:58
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I`d like to read the original thread.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 10:09
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Rockhound. You asked your question but who are expecting an answer from? All you can possibly get from this forum at this stage of the investigation is speculation. I suggest that even experienced A-330 pilots would be making guesses. Perhaps waiting for some established facts would serve us all much better.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 11:23
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Further to the above, CBC News says that the crew will be giving a press conference Tuesday in Montreal.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 11:47
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Nihon. look down the page a bit! It is still there for you to read. As has been explained many times, threads are normally closed when they reach 100 posts - this is not censorship, but site management.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 13:21
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I don't know if it was mentioned on the previous thread, but I'd be interested to know what Transat's fuel check procedure is at each waypoint, ie, was 'Fuel Used' checked against initial fuel as well as FOB.

(By the way, Moderator, a note that the forum had been shut down because of 100 posts would have been nice on the other thread, although I know you are busy)
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 15:05
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Crewrest,
Exactly! That's what I'm getting at. I doubt if any of the reporters at today's press conference will have the presence of mind to ask that question, so we'll probably have to wait until the final report from the Portuguese authorities is released. In the meantime, how about some informed speculation as to how such a critical situation wrt fuel could have arisen?
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 16:24
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Air Transat say that they have established categorically that there was no fueling mixup or error at YYZ; and that it was an inflight problem.
 
Old 28th Aug 2001, 16:45
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Definition of Innuendo - an Italian suppository.

No offence meant, I just couldn't resist it.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 17:33
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Rockhound


I will not speculate on what took place on the flight in question, but will give you some background on standard practice.
All transatlantic flights report their position on a regular basis on the crossing, and usually included in the position report is "fuel remaining", so that fuel is constantly monitored and reported throughout the whole flight.
Fuel is monitored both by the crew, and on modern aircraft, by the FMS as well.
As part of the checking process, the accumulated burn is compared with tank fuel indication and the flight plan burn, which should show up either excess burn or leaks depending on where the discrepancy lies.
Furthermore prior to departure, if the flight plan is loaded into the FMS and the fuel on board is not adequate, the FMS will alert immediately.
I am aware of one incident several years ago in my own airline, where a fuel line cracked and started a massive leak shortly after the aircraft had passed the Azores westbound. The crew picked it up when the tank indication was way down on the totaliser fuel burn.
They shut down the appropriate engine and returned to SMA, luckily they were only 1 hours flying away and were not that short of fuel.

edited for a surfeit of "ands"

[ 28 August 2001: Message edited by: SunSeaSandfly ]
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 18:12
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There is also the fact that the A330's ECAM fuel page will pulse 'advisory' when the fuel exceedes a certain imbalance.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 18:15
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Why are we all just another Number now? (even Guvnor!)
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 18:30
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There is some info with pictures on http://www.airdisaster.com/news/0801/25/news.shtml

Also some articles on http://www.globeandmail.ca/ ,search their site for "a330"

crewrest (and others) - please try to stick to the main topic here - start a new topic if you have another question....
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 19:04
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Whatever caused the leak, it was massive. This means you don`t pick it up on routine checks - it suddenly hits you - and needs action.

The action includes:

Flying the aircraft,

Troubleshooting the problem, which may well require extra- checklist brainwork(and the presumably Swissair checklist above is not neccessarily typical for the carrier affected)

Communicating with the cabin,

Preparing for emergency landing on land or water,

Navigating to the most suitable site and calculating a descent with non-standard parameters (no engines)and -

Rockhound`s biggest priority - making a distress call.

Now Rockhound - you have quickly changed your tune from faulty tanking to disbelief how quickly an airliner can lose fuel, to the shrill query, why a distress call only came late in the flight. So this post is mainly for you.

Listen more and criticise less maybe.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 19:51
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The checklist presented so nicely by F/O Junior is an Airbus checklist.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 22:43
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Sounds like a fuel manifold rupture to me. Doesn't matter how many engines you have if the design is such that a rupture at a critical point starves all engines. Perhaps we'll see a rapid return to the drawing board...
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 22:43
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A question for 330 pilots.

I know nothing about the 330 but could that fuel leak actually have been a software glitch that transferred fuel into another tank and made in unusable ? I cannot recall reading about fuel venting from a tank, which would normally be visiable?

Strange things have happened in the past with the fuel indicating on the 340.

I would be interested to know if all the fuel tanks were dripped in the Azores to check they really were empty.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 23:05
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Hi, just noticed this report on the USAF website. Some interesting hi-res pictures can be found at:
http://www.af.mil/news/n20010827_1186.shtml

or if this has moved, simply go to http://www.af.mil


Lajes Field runway supports emergency landing

08/27/01 - LAJES FIELD, Azores, Portugal (AFPN) -- A civilian Airbus
A330 landed without power here Aug. 24 after the pilot declared an
in-flight emergency for diminished fuel levels and engine problems.

The unlit aircraft, which had about 290 passengers on board, approached
the runway at high speeds, officials said, but that the pilot was able
to safely land the plane.

The plane, part of the Air Transat fleet operating from Canada, departed
from Toronto and was en route to Lisbon, Portugal, when the pilot
diverted the aircraft here after experiencing the fuel and engine
problems over the Atlantic Ocean.

The command post on base alerted emergency responders that the aircraft
had only two minutes of fuel left, but was five minutes away from the
airfield, officials said.

"He came in, and he was high, and we didn't know if he was going to go
by," said Staff Sgt. Tony Yuresko, aerospace ground equipment
apprentice. "He hit the pavement and bounced along until coming to a
stop with about 2,500 feet of runway remaining."

As the base safety officer, Maj. Lyle Decker, was arriving on scene from
his home, he said he saw the plane approach the runway and then lost
sight of it because of the hilly terrain. Emergency response people told
Decker the plane's wheels hit the ground and then the entire landing
gear burst into flames, he said.

"It was obvious the plane didn't have any power, because it was
completely dark, and it seemed like the pilot glided in and then slammed
on the brakes," he said.

Shortly after landing, the fire enveloping the wheels and landing gear
was extinguished, and the passengers and crew left the aircraft using
inflatable chutes.

"Everyone exited the plane quickly and safely," Decker said.

Most of the passengers were taken to the civilian airport terminal, but
nine were transported to a local medical clinic for minor injuries and
symptoms related to shock, officials said.

Once the plane was safely evacuated, officials started working to
determine the amount of aircraft damage. The decision was made to close
the runway for 48 hours to make repairs to the runway's pavement and to
acquire equipment to move the crippled plane.

"The company who owns the plane is flying equipment in from Canada to
lift the plane and help us remove it from the runway," said Lt. Col. Tim
Green, 65th Operational Support Squadron commander. "We believe
structural damage occurred that will not permit us to just change the
tires and tow the plane."

People were called in to fix the damage to the pavement of the runway,
Green said, so, when the plane is moved the runway will be operational
without further delay.

The incident is being investigated by Portuguese civil aviation
authorities. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)
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Old 29th Aug 2001, 00:35
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Some info from the Air Transat press conference is now on http://www.globeandmail.ca/
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Old 29th Aug 2001, 00:38
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From www.cbc.ca

There was no time to think, says Air Transat pilot

WebPosted Tue Aug 28 16:29:45 2001

MIRABEL, QUE. - Calling it "quite a difficult time," pilot Robert Pliché calmly spoke about gliding a jumbo jet with no working engines to a safe landing in the Azores.

Pliché was piloting Air Transat flight 236 from Toronto to Lisbon last Friday when a fuel leak forced the jet carrying 304 passengers and crew to land in the Azores.

He says he, first officer Dirk DeJager, and flight director Meleni Tesic worked as an effective team to keep the passengers safe, and had no time to panic.

"Even though you're trained, ready, you're always surprised," he noted.

Events unfolded

He said they were about 300 miles northeast of Terceira, their fallback airport, when they noticed a severe loss of fuel.

Pliché said it all happened very quickly, because they left Toronto with enough fuel.

The right engine stopped, and they began the required procedure. Then 10 minutes later, the second engine failed.

The flight was at 33,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, at night, with no engines.

"It's not what pilots like to dream about," joked Pliché.

He said that using only basic instruments and "great support" from traffic control in Santa Maria and Terceira, they glided the plane to the ground.

The cabin crew were first told to prepare passengers for a water landing. When they realized they could make the airport in Terceira, passengers were told to brace for a rough touchdown on land.

All passengers were evacuated from the plane within 90 seconds.

No panic among crew

Tesic said there was no panic among flight crew or passengers, answering some passengers charges of hysterical behaviour from the crew.

"It was an extremely silent cabin - not a pin drop to be heard," she said. "We were so focused, doing a silent review in our head."

She said the passengers had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that they may have interpreted the loud instructions from the flight crew as panic.

As for the cause of the incident, no one would speculate as authorities in Portugal head up the investigation, with Canadians assistance.

Among the possible causes of engine failure are believed to be insufficient fuel, a faulty fuel pump, a malfunction by the system designed to dump fuel in an emergency, and a cracked fuel tank.

The crew members had returned from Lisbon Tuesday, and are scheduled for some much-needed vacation time.
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