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United SFO to HK flight turns back due to fuel issues

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United SFO to HK flight turns back due to fuel issues

Old 14th Oct 2015, 11:16
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Headlines and 'Popular' Press

Gawd! Not another one! We don't know the complete details, but the UAL B744 darn sure did not "Run out of Fuel!" While Anchorage was far closer, with NO known risk, it becomes a logistics issue; what airport can reasonably accommodate a B744's load of PAX - and service the airplane? SFO is just happens to be UAL's major B744 base and the city can absorb the pax far easier than Anchorage. (Duh?) Had this been a genuine emergency, requiring that he airplane land ASAP, I'd guess they had at least a dozen RWYs to select from between point of realization and SFO. Perhaps questionable at first glance, that crew had multiple (other) options available and chose the best one available and while always having a Plan-B in their pocket. One cold fill a page listing B744 suitable runways between their location and SFO, so they had ample options.
In addition, given the nature of today's UAL, they did not make their (SFO) choice in a vacuum; their own operations and dispatch staff, plus Mx and customer service had plenty of input. (Three++ hours warning of the need to accommodate a load of pax at SFO is better than visiting Vancouver with only a few minutes of warning, for example. Plenty of catering available, flying close to the coast or inland etc., the list is endless, but that crew always had multiple options. Perhaps an inconvenience for some pax, but it is difficult to fault the boys (and girls?) driving for anything. Good Job, UAL!
(Personally, I can and will fault UAL's on-board soft product until the cows come home. They are NOT competitive with other carriers and many of their cabin crew truly do not give a . UAL is also a careful and safe operator and folks in seats 0A, 0B plus augmentation are a darn sight better than many of the carriers who service this flight's intended destination. Don't know about you, but I'll accept cold/poor food and service in any class, before I'll risk my neck with a carrier staffed by those with little more than Learner's Permits. Trans-pond flights should be flown by the grownups.
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Old 14th Oct 2015, 16:42
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PNR (Point of No Return)

If you can stomach all the technical jargon, read ICAO Doc 9976 (http://www.ifalpa.org/store/doc9976.pdf) to understand what PNR is. PNR has been around since airplanes had wooden propellors.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 03:28
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Okay... so tell me when you saw a PNR on your last crossing to where ever you fly. Might see it in the SoPacific but not like anywhere else and certainly not on any ETOPS flights be it 2,3,or 4 engine
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 04:38
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By definition, ETOPS only applies to twin engine operations.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 05:26
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By definition, ETOPS only applies to twin engine operations.
You might want to update your pubs on this one.

Three and four engine ETOPS has been in effect in the U.S. since February 15, 2007.

At least Mr. Boeing thinks it has, for example, see:

Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Receives FAA Approval for 330-Minute ETOPS -- EVERETT, Wash., March 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

From the press release linked above:

Although ETOPS has been a requirement for twin-engine airplanes since the 1980s, the regulations have recently been applied to the design of passenger airplanes with more than two engines.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 06:19
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Loss of an motor on a 3 or more engined aircraft is typically more of an inconvenience rather than an emergency.

Go figure McBoeing's or the FAA's logic.

The viability of the 747 or the A380 in the passenger marketplace is yet to be determined.

Last edited by wanabee777; 15th Oct 2015 at 06:36.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 06:30
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I had flown my 74 longer than 330 minutes, bypassing several suitable airports, after engine No.2 had gone on vacation.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 06:36
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By definition, ETOPS only applies to twin engine operations.
You might want to update your pubs on this one.
Yes, it's now called EDTO: Extended Diversion Time Ops. And the rules apply to 3s and 4s.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 06:47
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Yes, it's now called EDTO: Extended Diversion Time Ops. And the rules apply to 3s and 4s.
OK. Now that makes a little more sense.

The things you miss out on when you retire...
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 06:51
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You gotta appreciate the mission oriented attitude of the British!

Especially the way they stood up to the FAA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britis...ays_Flight_268

Last edited by wanabee777; 15th Oct 2015 at 07:03.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 11:06
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RAT5 ; How I wish you guys were around 20 years ago. I once took the "prudent course of action" and all turned out well. Because it cost the cowboy outfit some money, I was hounded for 4 weeks and decided to throw in the towel. Another poster refers to big boys flying the Atlantic. Try being convinced that Reserves of 5% of the last hour (125kgs) is a good idea on the N Atlantic because it" IS an ERA operation and no-one else is doing it (!)," said the Chief Pilot ! Threw in the Cowboy hat and exchanged for a proper one ; filled up my brand new 767 with 75 tons and headed for the tropics. Deep joy........................Bring it on...............Here come the Rodeo outfit !
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 13:26
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Thanks guys you saved me from a lot of typing. 180 applies to all pax aircraft tris & quads beyond 180. It's been that way since 2007 as I recall and it's still referred to as ETOPS in the AC120-42B
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 13:59
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RAT5 ; How I wish you guys were around 20 years ago.

Hi Gordomac. I'm not sure what you meant by this, but I was. Just hanged up the headset. I can empathise with some CP's ideas of fuel loads. I did fly for one outfit Europe-Caibbean, and their philosophy was minimum fuel because the flight plans were accurate and 5% contingency was = 45 mins. Hm? Forecasts of jet streams based on 12 hour old met data. Jet streams of 120-150kts and only to be 20 degrees off angle and and your forecast G.S. plummeted by 60kts. Added to that you got 2000' below optimum all for 7 hours. The first airfield you might come to was your destination and an NPA non-radar environment. Minimum fuel my backside. The a/c needed to be where the return crew were otherwise the FTL's blew the whole trip out of the sky; and the next day and the next day and the next day.
Coming back to central Europe with tail winds and airfields scattered like confetti before destination is another matter. Max fuel in one direction, minimum in the other. No problem, weather allowing. B767 a really nice a/c for those trips, but when operated at max range it's the same as any other a/c. Distance/GS/Time/Fuel. Laws of physics no matter what the accountants want. Even with max fuel bound for Havana, an extra 45 mins over the FPL, I still had to drop into Nassau. Minimum fuel it would have been Bermuda. That was the bitch that you couldn't drop into USA if bound for Cuba. All those lovely big wide open airfields down the east coast and all off limits.
Like you said: if CP chews your backside for common sense it's time to find a new CP.

Last edited by RAT 5; 17th Oct 2015 at 14:31.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 14:29
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wanabee,

The BA incident was always political action by the FAA. The FAA Safety folk were deeply embarrassed by the political action.

That 747 was certified to go wherever the pilot was willing to take it on 3 engines.

All BA and CAA had to do, (other than using up some fuel as extra pax to USA for a couple of trips) was wait. Then, the politicians in the FAA moved on to something else.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 14:44
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That 747 was certified to go wherever the pilot was willing to take it on 3 engines.
Maybe if BA Flight Control would have just redispatched the flight to Manchester or Birmingham rather than the resultant declared emergency, the FAA wouldn't have gotten so hot and bothered about it.

But, like you said, politics took precedence.

The FAA's proposed $25K fine was just a mild slap on the wrist, regardless.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 15:20
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Just a clarification - as someone who has to deal with the ETOPS regulations - the 3 and 4 engine ETOPS rules (and the FAA still refers to it as ETOPS ) don't really apply to the engines. They really have to do with the ability of the rest of the aircraft systems to deal with an extended diversion (e.g. cargo fire suppression).
Also, the 3 and 4 engine ETOPS only applies to passenger aircraft - freighters are exempt.
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Old 15th Oct 2015, 17:05
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Yes, it's now called EDTO: Extended Diversion Time Ops. And the rules apply to 3s and 4s.
That's probably what they call it over in England, but as tdracer points out, it's still ETOPS with the FAA and at United Airlines.

Also, the 3 and 4 engine ETOPS only applies to passenger aircraft - freighters are exempt.
Freighters are exempt under a long standing concept of lower regulatory standards since a freighter crash would presumably cause 'no significant loss of life'. FAR Part 117 crew rest rules are another area where freighters are conspicuously exempt from U.S. regulations.
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Old 17th Oct 2015, 11:20
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Cripes, and when WE wrote the book on flying the "Big Twins" over the N Atlantic, making use of the N Atlantic Track System, it was called EROPS (I think). Or, maybe EROPS replaced ETOPS. Very confusing but the logic remains much the same. This thread is about a crew becoming uncomfortable about fuel state (for whatever reason) and made a "prudent decision" which resulted in a good outcome. Cool, balanced and accurate interpreters like "RAT5", "AIRBUBBA" and "DEPTRAI" would have been welcome judges 20 odd years ago. I think that is what "GORDOMAC" was suggesting. He did replace the CP who did not posses the same skill set and never looked back.
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Old 17th Oct 2015, 12:28
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Dispatched with the wrong fuel load?

Wouldn't be the first time it's happened.
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Old 17th Oct 2015, 14:28
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Who is the "WE" group you speak of?? I believe Boeing built the 767 and wrote the book which the authorities approved way before the WE was even aware of such a thing and it is still ETOPS. Get over your self
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