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Air Transat Pilots get "Superior Airmanship Awards"

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Air Transat Pilots get "Superior Airmanship Awards"

Old 24th Aug 2002, 13:53
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Those who comment without knowing all the facts are idiots. Has anyone seen the final investigation report yet?
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Old 24th Aug 2002, 15:28
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Had the scenario presented as a thought provoker at the end of a sim last year. Got the failure as known - fuel leak in the engine. Easy to mess up but we spotted that you needed to shut one down to isolate the leak. Once we got there, the instructor put us at the same height and distance from a runway as Air Transat and let us go. After 5 minutes of chaos, things settled down, the thing glided well at min clean and descended at about 1500 fpm. Stayed a little high and got in OK. The pressure was there but no where near as much as in real life. They screwed up the diagnosis, that shouldn't have happened - But after saying that, once the inevitable happened they managed well enough to avoid hurting anyone.
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Old 24th Aug 2002, 15:30
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There is no design fault in the 330 , the problem was the crew not following proceedures.
They did a great job after the engines flamed out , but it was a shambles up to that point. I hope they have the decency to be embarrased about the award!!
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Old 24th Aug 2002, 16:13
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<<Those who comment without knowing all the facts are idiots. Has anyone seen the final investigation report yet?>>

Maybe ALPA should have heeded your words!
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Old 24th Aug 2002, 16:58
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The fact is the crew failed to identify the correct source of the fuel leak ( not a crime in itself, as every human has the ability to make a mistake), but they still proceeded to open the cross feed valve, thus losing all of the fuel from the good side.

This has nothing to do with Airbus ECAM logic, just airmanship.

The 330 will fly and conrollably with a very large, if not total fuel imablance. If the cross feed had remained shut the a/c could of happily flown to a suitable airfield (Azores or otherwise) and carried out a safe, controlled landing.

I think you will find that since the incident Airbus operators around the world will have spent training time teaching their Pilots the finer points of the fuel system. Most importantly instilling a discipline that you should not touch the cross feed until you are 100% sure of the source of your problem. Compared to this very little time will have been spent percfecting the dead stick landing which was in the case well demonstrated.
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Old 24th Aug 2002, 19:31
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Yeh, Well done Chaps. You deserve to be honoured.
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Old 25th Aug 2002, 06:14
  #27 (permalink)  
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I guess they are being awarded for the way they recovered the aircraft, definitively not for what made the recovery necessary.

I remember the general press described them a "Heroes"from the begining while the aviation media was far more reserved to say the least.

Morale of the story is that general press is deciding who's good and who's bad in the world. Nothing new.
I bet the crew will now write a book, and that Holywood will buy the rights. The captain will be played by Gerard Depardieu with that delicious French accent, to make the thing look Canadian , and the Tourist Board of the Azores will use the event to promote the islands and everyone will be happy everafter....
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Old 25th Aug 2002, 07:35
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Well, clearly we have Biggles and his mates responding to this post. I don't know about the rest of you, but I've made my fair share of screw-ups in aviation. I'm just thankful it hasn't got me in the news yet! So, I say again: well done guys. I couldn't have done it.
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Old 25th Aug 2002, 13:26
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ATC Watcher:

Captain Picher has already written a book about the incident, which will release later this year. Should be interesting to see how his version of the events differ from the report, if it ever comes out. Personally, I wish the Portugese authorities would get off their behinds and make their investigation public. After all, we can't learn from the mistakes of others, if we don't truly know what those mistakes are.

While I agree that it appears Capt. Picher screwed the pooch in his management of the fuel leak, let's not forget that he was put in that position by a maintenance supervisor who saw nothing wrong with putting an L1011 part on an A330, in spite of the fact that one of the engineers on the floor raised serious concerns about doing so. Unfortunately, I have personal past experience of flying airplanes maintained by engineers whose managers wouldn't let them do their job properly. It is not a comfortable feeling, and I left pretty quickly!


You say that you could not have handled the situation like this crew did, I think you sell yourself short. Good training and quick thinking can give anyone the tools to do so. I only hope you would use better airmanship in the assessment of the fuel leak, so you wouldn't have to put your gliding skills to the test.
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Old 25th Aug 2002, 17:24
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The name of the award given should of been "Horseshoe up the A** Award". The weather at the time was perfect, stop and imagine what the possible outcome could of been had there been a bad storm or 0/0 ground fog. They flew a beautiful aircraft in perfect weather to a perfect runway. Good Fortune/Good Luck etc.made all the difference in this case.
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Old 25th Aug 2002, 22:49
  #31 (permalink)  

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ladies and gentlemen
lets show a little generosity of spirit here, I don't know what the investigation will say about how the crew ended up joining the "double hush club", but the fact remains that having done so, they successfully delivered a very large transport aircraft onto a runway in the middle of a large ocean, with no "go-around" option.

Remember, nobody died and hind-sight is always 20/20. However you ended up in this situation, you guys did a hell of a job getting everyone down safely.
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Old 25th Aug 2002, 23:09
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I believe it may also indicate a certain merit of the airframe.
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Old 26th Aug 2002, 03:29
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What a bunch of armchair wizards

These guys made an error, OK.
Don't try and tell me you have never made one. That is why you are all so perfect in the sim I guess.
In these times of every incident being examined to the 'n'th degree you seem to have forgotten that people are not perfect, they make mistakes, in this case it appears to have been an easy one to make, these guys weren't fools regardless of what the critics here are shouting about.
Just remember they resolved a ghastly situation and regardless of ALL else they got down safely in the middle of nowhere, far from help and saved everyone on board! What do you people want?! These guys performed in a manner that would have had them getting ticker tape parades just a few years back!
Fair go! A little more humility and baying for blood from all you so called professional pilots please and even less rude and ill thought comments from those without any significant hours or Licences under their belt would be even better IMHO

Let he is without sin cast the first stone:o
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Old 26th Aug 2002, 03:35
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To put this in perspective, had the ac been bound for northern Europe, as opposed to Lisbon, there would doubtlessly have been a very different outcome. Not sure that there would have been too many rewards flowing then....As already stated: an award to Lajes for being there.

<<Those who comment without knowing all the facts are idiots. Has anyone seen the final investigation report yet?>>

Not personally, but Airbus has (if I'm not mistaken) added a fleet-wide amendment to the QRH cautioning on use of the cross-feed during fuel imbalance/leak procedures. Plus, 30 min fuel checks are now recomended in the FCOM (of my aged jet).

Fair play for the job done, especially given the pucker factor, but it should never have happened.
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Old 26th Aug 2002, 04:44
  #35 (permalink)  
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Never having been trained on, nor flown an Airbus 320 etc, I have very little knowledge of the plane, other than skimming through the manual and hearing from Airbus pilots that you don't just "interpolate", and switch something on or off unless it is in the "normal" or "abnormal" checklists. From what I've heard and read about these planes, there is so much complexity due to mysterious connections between various components, which was not the case in old technology. An action involving a valve or a pump can trigger unforeseen results, can it not?

Other than these pilots never having experienced this problem in their careers, and reading that the plane seems to have displayed an abnormal checklist on the lower ECAM screen, did the pilots perform the abnormal checklist correctly, except for leaving the crossfeed open to long? In other words, are many A-320/330/340 pilots told not to "second-guess" the checklist, if a choice is not suggested or required? Are the choices, and the various titles of similar problems very clear in a confusing situation (we have some in the old Douglas which look very similar)? Are many Airbus pilots trained not to use much guesswork in a confusing situation? I realize that pilots can exercize some judgement (as with a "slat assym." light on old technology), but what is the training mentality in A-330 simulators, whether at Transat or other Airbus operators?

Did all A-319/320/321/330/340 Program and Training managers around the world remind pilots of changes in the abnormal checklists?
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Old 26th Aug 2002, 13:05
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Unhappy Superior Airmen

I've been following this thread with some interest, especially since I have friends who work at Transat and because I worked there, albeit for a short period. I find myself very much in the camp of Brit Bus Driver, in that I am very willling to give these guys credit for solving a very demanding situation which might well have been beyond the capability of most mere mortals. However, there is no escaping the thought that a bit more system knowledge or checklist adherence would have made the situation a simple single engine failure, and not the double whisperjet that it was. From what I have read and heard, I don't think that anyone remotely informed on this incident would pretend that the situation wasn't created by the crew. In my opinion, if they created the situation then thank God they managed to land safely, but in no manner should they be lauded.

As an aside, the basis for them getting into the wrong checklist was the ECAM (I believe that is the acronym) advising them of a lateral imbalance. We have a very similar system on the MD-11. And I am sure that the imbalance is important when one considers longevity of an aircraft, fatigue stresses etc. However, in simulator training I have often given the problem of engine separation. A separation almost always (in the simulator anyways) creates a massive fuel leak in the associated wing tank, resulting in a lateral imbalance approaching 22 tonnes. (4 tonnes for the engine, and 18+ tonnes of fuel). The aircraft remains quite flyable in that configuration. Therefore, I am of the impression that whilst one cannot ignore a lateral imbalance, loss of control is not imminent and one should take a relatively pondered route prior to shunting the fuel around, thereby avoiding the unpleasantness that this crew produced.

In summary then, kudos to the crew for handling a rotten situation that they created. Superior Airmen??? Not in my book.

Last edited by Noctivaga; 27th Aug 2002 at 23:30.
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Old 26th Aug 2002, 19:24
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People.... I think a little more credit on our part should be given to the 2 pilots. Under the circumstances the 2 pilots performed to the best of their abilities and lives were saved.
Reading some of the posts makes me wonder whether the name should be changed from Professional pilots ... to something else.
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Old 26th Aug 2002, 21:26
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Yes, they got it safely on the ground, but lauding this achievement with an award from their peers is inappropriate, IMHO.

I spoke to a doctor friend of mine the other day, and he was quite surprised to see them receiving an award in front of the national media. He was quite sure that no surgeon would receive an award for saving a patient who had almost died because they botched a procedure, not matter how rare or complex that procedure might be. It was good luck more than good management that saved those lives that night. The same occurrence on a flight from YYZ - LGW would have almost certainly been much more traumatic.
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Old 27th Aug 2002, 00:10
  #39 (permalink)  
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Having skill is one thing, having a runway under you when you are over the Atlantic - being powered by gravity alone - is another. Give me a lucky pilot anytime.
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Old 27th Aug 2002, 02:16
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Interesting comments. For what it's worth, I think they should have been applauded for the superb piece of airmanship they pulled off once the aircraft became a glider, but I fail to see why all the brouhaha over a near disaster that appears to have been of their own making.
Does anyone remember the Gimli Glider? Here we have an aircraft, the only type in the fleet with metric fuel calibration, that was dispatched with inoperative fuel guages, something not recommended by the manufacturer. I seem to recall that no less a publication than Flight International wrote that at the very least, someone in managemant should have been hung out to dry for that little oversight. Instead, the company wanted to fire the Captain. Go figure.

Last edited by pigboat; 27th Aug 2002 at 02:45.
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