77west

747 Diversion Tale

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New York. Avsim. 26 Feb 2017...

So we set off from JFK in our British Airways 747-436.

The usual ground delays, and we have fog as well. Thick fog. Like, cant see the wing tip fog. OK, we can deal with this. We even have a para-visual display.

We fuel up, with an additional 10,000kg for ground delays, ATC delays and weather. This is gonna be a long night...

Pushback commenced, I don't know how the ground crew even knows where to push us, the fog is that thick. We fire up 1 and 4. And wait. Taxi clearance delayed, again.

Then, we get taxi clearance, and a request to expedite, at that. Talk about "that escalated quickly" Begin taxi, and fire up 2 and 3. We head for 22R. It is thick out there. Taxi is slow going...

We get to the runway. Life is good. Or, not. Takeoff delay up to 5-10 minutes for traffic and weather. We do a belated PA trying to explain the situation. I can feel the glare of 336 passengers behind me.

Finally, "position and hold". Second best three words, behind "cleared for takeoff". Now lined up on 22R, checks performed and four RB211 ready to light the fires, we wait, naturally, for a few more minutes. Aviation is all about the waiting...

Cleared for takeoff. Finally. Lets go. The sound of the four RB211 spooling up cuts through the thick fog, and we are off. I can feel the power of these things, the energy being converted from chemical to thermal to mechanical to kinetic.

We lift off and begin our long flight to Heathrow. And then we hit the turbulence. Not severe, but enough that I better leave the seat belt sign on, lest I spill Mr. Fotheringill-Mountbattens tea, down in seat 1A, should they to give it to him.

We are vectored to the Hartford VOR and then onwards. Our initial altitude is a paltry FL270, but we soon step climb to FL310.

And just as we are settling in to enjoy a dreamy atlantic crossing, somewhere over Maine, we get an oil pressure alert on number three. Well, this is not what we need right now.

We follow the checklists and advise ATC. We decide to shut down number three. (It appeared like it was about to wreck itself, so seemed prudent) Unlike a previous company flight from LAX, we will not be continuing on to Heathrow on 3 engines. Looks like we are spending the night in Boston...

We now need to dump fuel. Around 30 tons worth. I better cancel my Greenpeace subscription... Our helpfull Boston Center ATC vectors us out over the Atlantic and allows us to begin the fuel jettison procedure. They ask us to give them 5 min notice to fuel dump completion. Helpfully, the 747 displays the time to fuel dump completion, making life easier. No need to break out the calculator here.

We end our fuel jettison on our way in to Boston, and begin a vectored approach to RW22L. The only problem is, that there is heavy mist/fog in Boston as well. But wait, the 747 can do a CAT3 on 3 engines! We will be fine.

We set up, and plan on a flaps 30 landing with autobrakes 4. We had not intended on a full autoland, but the weather had other ideas. We only made visual contact at around 100ft, and the aircraft proceeded to make a perfect landing and rollout at Boston.

We then proceeded to the terminal, whilst the company hurriedly arranged flights for our passengers on other services, and arranged for engineering to have a look at the sick number 3 engine.

Mr. Fotheringill-Mountbatten, down in seat 1A, informed us he would be laying a formal complaint. They really don't know the levels we go to for their safety. And the capabilities of the Boeing 747.

But the British Airways motto is "To Fly To Serve" and that is what we will continue to do...

And the 747 will continue to be the Queen of the Skies

 

 

 

 

I suppose chapter 2 could be us flying a 5th pod with the damaged engine back to LHR. But, I struggle to write stories so we will see.

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Quote

Mr. Fotheringill-Mountbatten, down in seat 1A, informed us he would be laying a formal complaint.

Nonsense. Mr Foteringill-Mountbatten is an experienced traveller and knows that aircraft are not immune to the laws of physics. I think the cabin crew must have confused him with his new, uppity, personal valet ;)

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11 hours ago, Qavion2 said:

Nonsense. Mr Foteringill-Mountbatten is an experienced traveller and knows that aircraft are not immune to the laws of physics. I think the cabin crew must have confused him with his new, uppity, personal valet ;)

LOL had a good laugh at that!

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On 2/26/2017 at 2:35 AM, 77west said:

New York. Avsim. 26 Feb 2017...

Finally, "position and hold".

Position and hold and 2017 in the same sentence....interesting....although personally, I prefer position and hold myself rather than the other thing.

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21 hours ago, sgreen91 said:

Good post Wes.  Personally I would have continued on the destination and see how it would play out, according to a similar issue on a real world flight.

http://avherald.com/h?article=4a53bdae&opt=0

 

But its simulation so anything can be done, plus I'm not even close to an expert or real world pilot.

Usually I would have, but had not planned to complete the full flight flight that day anyhow due to time constraints. I did save at several points so may re-visit it or just do a random failure.

 

The decision would be up to the captain, with consultation to maintenance / head office. The LH incident you quoted seemed to end without any major issues, but the BA flight I referenced actually ended up diverting due to low fuel, and caused a kerfuffle with the US FAA. Just Google British Airways 747 LAX 3 engine...

 

6 hours ago, Captain Kevin said:

Position and hold and 2017 in the same sentence....interesting....although personally, I prefer position and hold myself rather than the other thing.

It may have been more like "behind the departing A320 line up and wait, behind" but I could not recall exactly (and it fitted the story better :cool:)

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1 hour ago, 77west said:

The decision would be up to the captain, with consultation to maintenance / head office. The LH incident you quoted seemed to end without any major issues, but the BA flight I referenced actually ended up diverting due to low fuel, and caused a kerfuffle with the US FAA. Just Google British Airways 747 LAX 3 engine...

Think one of the main differences being in the case of Lufthansa, they had already flown a good portion of the flight when it happened, whereas with British Airways, it happened shortly after take-off.

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1 minute ago, Captain Kevin said:

Think one of the main differences being in the case of Lufthansa, they had already flown a good portion of the flight when it happened, whereas with British Airways, it happened shortly after take-off.

Yeah, it is a tricky one. Personally, if I had an engine failure just before beginning a long oceanic crossing, with diversion airports like Boston nearby, I would rather land. Yes, if we happened to lose another engine we would not crash, but would possibly be forced to descend on the busy NAT tracks with no guidance from ATC etc... BUT then that could be said for every twinjet flight across the pond as well.

I think the BA flight thought they would do the USA crossing, and when nearer NYC re-assess. At that point it looked OK for the atlantic crossing, but by Ireland, not so much.

If I faced the same situation over, say, the South Pacific, with questionable diversion airports both from an aviation and a passenger comfort standpoint, I would elect to continue onwards. Same could be said for Northern Russia / Arctic crossings, and, of course, Southern Arctic crossings.

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I read up on the BA flight out LAX.  Seems to even have it's own wiki article.  As Kevin said that EO incident occured at 300 ft and common sense would tell you they would return to land.  But looking further into it I think economics played a hand in continuing on due customer reimbursements for flight delays implemented by the EU only 3 days earlier.  Further compounding that would be the fuel cost having to dump the required fuel to make a max landing weight landing.  Though a BA rep said that was not discussed while circling and deciding whether to continue (I doubt that).  They did have to land early due to insufficent fuel which probably would not have occured had they not circled over Santa Monica Bay or winds had not become unfavorable, which nobody can predict.

One valid point though that I read in various opinions is that the QRH does not recommend to land at nearest airport as part of the procedure.  I checked the QRH for oil pressure and oil filter and niether recommends landing.  In the end its up to the Captian in consultation with company engineers to decide whether to continue.  I may actually try your flight with one EO but continue on and see.

I do understand you did not plan a full flight, nor had the time for the flight, so I'm not arguing with you,  just its an interesting discussion on whether the flight should continue or not.  777 would be landing at the nearest suitable airport but a 747 still has 3 left to continue on.

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This sort of situation really does show the value of the cockpit crew's decision making process. It is all so variable; and really depends on the crew, the airline, and above all, the route and current weather / situation.

The previous BA incident, I fully would have agreed to continue to at least the New York area, by NYC I mean within an hours flight or so, as that is BA's major East Coast hub, There are plenty of airports between LAX and JFK if things got worse, and they were burning off fuel in the meantime, then re-assess, which it appears they did, and sadly got caught a bit short on the Atlantic run.

As to the QRH, it might not tell you to land at the nearest airport, but I made a decision somewhere between Main and New Brunswick. Thats pretty close to Boston, and help. If this fault had shown up and hour or two later, we would have been well out over the Labrador sea, probably on our NAT track, and I would have elected to continue on to LHR, as the risks involved in returning at this point would outweigh the benefits.

I welcome constructive arguments on this sort of situation as this is the sort of thing the commercial pilots get paid the big money for, not just raw flying skills but the decision making process and crew resource management. All of your comments are quite interesting and fully valid! :cool:

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If I remember right, didn't British Airways have the issue of not being able to use the fuel in tank 2 for some reason?

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13 hours ago, Captain Kevin said:

If I remember right, didn't British Airways have the issue of not being able to use the fuel in tank 2 for some reason?

It turned out that was due to a misunderstanding of the flight crew on how the fuel system works. They thought it was unavail, but actually was.

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Okay, that's what I thought. So basically, they could have still made it just fine if they'd actually used the fuel in that tank.

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If I'm not confusing this incident with another, didn't the flight crew consult with Engineering prior to making a decision to continue? The flight crew probably crunched the fuel numbers, but it was probably Engineering who advised them to continue if they could (perhaps basing their decision on spares, manpower, potential further damage to the engine (big call), etc... ). If the oil filter does go into bypass mode, you might get lumps of metal circulating around the engine causing extra, irrepairable damage.

Engines ain't cheap :laugh:

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