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"Land at the nearest suitable airport"

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"Land at the nearest suitable airport"

Old 24th Sep 2010, 11:27
  #41 (permalink)  
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Look, as much as I detest RYR, let's wait for all the facts before jumping to conclusions. There is a difference between an engine severe damage, and engine limit/surge/stall situation.

Also, the main difference here is probably what we don't know -HOW and WHY did the crew divert to Girona. If it was 'let's go to Girona because they've got maintenance facilities' then they probably got it wrong. If however, they spent genuine time generating options and then deciding on the best course of action, then well done.

Unthinkingly diverting back to the airfield you came from is frowned upon these days, unless your arse is on fire. Generate OPTIONS - ask open questions of the co-pilot - 'where do you think the nearest suitable airport is'? 'Give me 3 options for what we do now?' Then have an open discussion about the merits of each of the 3 airfields. Perhaps you've discussed some of this in the pre-departure brief already? As someone said,

Was the aircraft overweight for landing?
What is the priority, how much time do you have? - land asap or manage the emergency, generate options, brief the crew?
Was there debris on the runway?
You've just had multiple bird strikes, do you want to go back for some more bird strikes on one engine?
What's the weather like? Is it a difficult non precision approach at night on one engine?
Is there a big runway with an ILS that you can reach in the time you need to brief a return? Are you more familiar with that airport?

Then DECIDE and do it.
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 17:34
  #42 (permalink)  
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In my estimation the Ryanair crew did a thoroughly professional job.
Most of the speculation about what they did, or could, or should not have done circles around the definition of 'suitable'.
How about the situation on my B777, flying a planned ETOPS sector ex- Far East over the Middle East and Europe. I have 3 hours ETOPS operational approval and flight plan, but have an engine shutdown over ( say) Istanbul enroute to UK. Technically, if I was using Kuwait and Frankfurt as my ETOPS pair, with nothing between, I could then continue to Frankfurt. However, the checklist would say land at the nearest suitable airport. The action I might take is all about minimising risk. The Ryanair crew minimised the risk by not landing back at departure point, in my opinion. I would be obliged to land at Istanbul for the same reason or risk approbation in court for not doing so, should the outcome be 'less than optimum'
Putting the aircraft down in a hurry on any merely 'adequate' airstrip would be a poor decision, both operationally and commercially. Only cabin smoke or uncontained fire could justify doing that.
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 17:45
  #43 (permalink)  
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The Ancient Geek

Nothing wrong with your memory Mr Geek, it was a BA 74 which experienced a problem on departure from LAX, I believe an engine surge, so it was shut down. After talking to Ops continued Eastbound, reviewed the situation and continued, due to fuel planning, to Manchester.

As you say, UK CAA, BA and Boeing all agreed it was acceptable and I entirely concur. In the extremely unlikely event of a further engine problem they had the fallback of re-starting the surged engine.

Pilots get excited about engine out flight but remember the Americans went to the moon and back on only one engine and that was with 1960 technology.
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 17:57
  #44 (permalink)  
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PLEASE leave the BA 744 out of this - it is irrelevant to the thread.

Originally Posted by Finbarr
When I used to fly Boeings, this phrase (or one very similar to it) followed every check in the QRH where an engine had been shut down or similar. There was even a definition of exactly what it meant.
- and there still is. The words there could EXACTLY fit what the RY crew did. It might be useful for some posters here to take the time to see what Boeing say about their aeroplane and "Land at the nearest suitable airport".
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 18:10
  #45 (permalink)  
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The nearest suitable airport is the nearest suitable in the captain`s opinion..taking into consideratioin time, weather, facilities etc.
Where is the problem? And a captain`s judgement is made and defended by that captain.
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 19:40
  #46 (permalink)  
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Didn't the Saturn V have 11 engines?
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 20:51
  #47 (permalink)  
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Do not forget the cabin crew: they need time to

Nearest suitable: what does it mean?

Suitable is obvious = adequate and wx
Nearest: Is this time related or distance related?

For twins the time factor has a bigger bearing on the available options than distance.

Anyway you need to get ready for a new approach and so does you cabin.

And all this may make more than one airport a nearest suitable.

Now returning to a field with a lot of bird activity may ....

It was not a time critical decision and so by the time they got to Gerona everybody was ready. Flight crew, cabin crew, ATC, RFF etc ....

A lot can be set also about rushing into an approach. Cool down first and then ....
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 20:52
  #48 (permalink)  
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In the early days of EROPS, ETOPS we flew 767s from Manilla to Sydney. If there was an engine failure the rules said divert to a dodgy suitable airfield in New Guinea; only an NDB and no up to date weathers. Another half an hour, Darwin with all the kit. Used to brief the troops that we would keep going to Darwin. Noone disagreed.
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Old 24th Sep 2010, 21:01
  #49 (permalink)  
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Availability of wx reports are part of ETOPS alternate qualification and so is ATC
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 13:05
  #50 (permalink)  
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Despite all the talk about company policy, there can surely be no pilot who will take any steps that will put his/her own life in jeopardy when it comes to the crunch.
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 19:01
  #51 (permalink)  
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Fuel Dumping???

Several have mentioned over weight for landing, but is it possible that they needed time to dump fuel down to max landing weight? And while they were dumping fuel maybe they figured the longer runway was the better choice.
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Old 25th Sep 2010, 19:05
  #52 (permalink)  
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Why is everyone guessing?

I love the guess work that goes on here!

The engine was not shut down and operated with no vibration at low thrust settings so I am told - not guessing here!

As previously mentionned on this thread, the completion of the checklist for high vibration that results in no vibration does obviously not require a shut down or any kind of "immediate" landing.

The first post actually made me laugh when I read it!

Job well done if you ask me.
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Old 26th Sep 2010, 01:14
  #53 (permalink)  
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I'd say a diversion to Gerona out of Beziers makes perfect sense. 90 miles, over water, even an alternate in between if you need it (Perpignan) and another big one to the South (BCN) should Gerona close before they get there. If you have time and are not comitted to a immediate set down on the nearest piece of concrete, it makes perfect sense to go to a place nearby with all the facilities you might want and need.

I'd even reckon that until all checks are done, they'd be in the Gerona area as fast if not faster then setting up for a reland at Beziers. Apart, the landscape down there has more runways than you'll ever need with Montpellier and Garons to the East, Perpignan and Gerona to the Southwest and even Istres or Marseille. All of them longer and better equipped than Beziers and with several with maintenance facilities.

Frankly, I'd rather fly with a crew who will use the time given to them to come up with a sensible solution rather than one which will dump you back on the ground at the closest piece of concrete even though it might not be the one offering the best options.
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Old 26th Sep 2010, 02:01
  #54 (permalink)  
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I just hope some of you people get the same benefit of the doubt at your own trial..

however AN2 driver, convenience facilities are not part of the equation,had the scenario turned out different, and the aircraft lost, the likes of you would be screaming "why didnt they put it on the ground asap", am I right???
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Old 26th Sep 2010, 07:36
  #55 (permalink)  
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Fuel Dump? On a 737? Go back to your virtual airline, please.

Nearest suitable airport is more than weather and runway. You have to have facilities as well. We had a crew divert years ago due to an unexpected airport closure and the place they diverted to, while it had 10000 foot runways, did not have an airstair that would reach the main cabin door of the 757.

I had to divert a few years ago because of a yellow hyd failure on a 320. I was eastbound between DEN and MCI at 2 am with a 100 kt tailwind. I was closer to DEN in distance by the time we finished the checklist but diverted to MCI. Why? The headwind going back to DEN would have cost us more time than continuing east to Kansas City. I would have had better support at DEN but not enough to compensate for the additional risk factor of flying extra time on a partial hydraulic system. There are a lot of factors you consider when diverting and very few of us have the information that the Captain of that flight had. I believe he and his F/O did the right thing because in the end no one was hurt and the airplane lived to fly another day.
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Old 26th Sep 2010, 20:23
  #56 (permalink)  
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Back in 2001 an American airlines 767 diverted into Stornoway (An island off Scotland) for a medical emergency.


I would not go into Stornoway with an engine failure let alone a medical emergency although I'm not saying the AA crew were wrong. Just different opinions between professional pilots.

Similarly if Kangerlussuaq airport (Formerly known as Sondrestrom) had a strong westerly wind and I had an engine out I would rather find a more suitable airport even if it was slightly further away.

The nearest strip of concrete you can land on is not necessarily the nearest suitable. If you are on fire then yes it is. If you are at 30,000 feet and have an engine failure an airport 90 miles ahead of you is just as suitable as one right below you.

The nearest suitable airport is a deliberately vague term to allow the pilot to decide on the day what is suitable in relation to the condition he is in. Medical emergency, bomb threat, engine fire, engine failure all have slightly different considerations.
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 16:51
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You obviously started this thread with the intent of throwing a lot of sh*t in the direction of the FR crew who made a perfectly sensible decision to take their problem to Girona. Countless professionals have subsequently made it abundantly clear on this thread that this was a good decision.

Have you changed your mind? Would it have made any difference if the crew and the aircraft had been operated by BA?

I rather suspect that it would have.

Would you like to give us your respected opinion (since you used to be qualified on B757s) as to how the crew of the US Air 757 could have done better when they had to divert 1160 nms with smoke in the cockpit? What would you have done?

Sh*t stirring is easy but decision making is a trifle more difficult.
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Old 27th Sep 2010, 19:42
  #58 (permalink)  
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"when I flew Boeings" and "Plan to land at the nearest suitable airport"*

I suggest that when you "flew" Boeings then you either paid no attention to "those in the know" or completely misunderstood what Boeing meant by the statement. CAVOK and 10kts down the runway with the relative proximity of the aircraft to said runway doesn't define BZR as being the "nearest suitable airport." Clearly it becomes an option, however if you aren't burning and the aeroplane isn't disintegrating in to pieces, then what part of the QRH dictates that you make a quick about turn and land*asap? Boeing make the effort to only define that a descent, landing and evacuation should be conducted at the earliest possible opportunity when smoke persists or a fire that cannot positively confirmed occurs. They go further to state that an immediate landing should occur when a situation involving smoke, fire or fumes becomes uncontrollable. At this point they are putting themselves out on a limb and pretty much say, put this thing down anywhere within reason.

The whole "Plan to land at the nearest suitable airport" statement is empowering the flight deck to do the job that they are trained and paid to do. Consider your options and evaluate them. The old airmanship adage; something that pilots hopefully develop from their first few hours of training should kick in?? Engine vibration doesn't mean that you are going to fall from the sky. The QRH for High Engine Vibration assumes that the engine is generating thrust and that other engine perametres are normal. If not then it becomes another matter. However the end result (engine limit, overheat, fire, severe damage, eventual shutdown) will pretty much conclude with the landing at "the nearest suitable airport" theory. Boeing and the operators of their aircraft are quite content with the fact that their twin jets will quite happily fly on one donk if need be. So much so that a non ETOPS approved aircraft can be within a shade of 400nm from a take off alternate when single engine. Within Europe the vast majority of alternates will be much closer, however at no point does any one or any thing point towards you returning to your departure point. Of course, it may be the best option; however I severely doubt BZR could really be considered that under this particular scenario.

This crew had bags of time to analyse everything. It seems they did exactly that. With plenty of fuel in the tank, getting above the MSA and still (I presume) have two functioning engines means a hell of a lot. Even if you were down to one, the other two factors mean a sh1t side more and are more valuable. No one trains you to rush and have a one track mind (ie land where you departed from) and you sure as hell won't win any gold stars of achievement for doing so. I can pretty much assure you that "your heroes" were first and foremost considering safety when they made their plans, considered the threats and put their efforts into practice. If they were able to consider commercial options after doing this then what's so flipping outrageous about that? We are after all Commercial Airline Pilots! Even Ryanair jocks - as hard as that may be for some hysterical posters to actually believe!

Well done guys, have yourself a beer. You earned it in my opinion. * *
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Old 4th Oct 2010, 10:42
  #59 (permalink)  
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I am no FR fan.


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Old 4th Oct 2010, 11:45
  #60 (permalink)  
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The ability to ask questions freely is the sign of an open culture.

Thats completely different to slagging off, or using destructive criticism, which I condemn and do not condone in any shape or form.

Please don't shout.
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