Plane lands short of runway.

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  • #1
Art
A Boeing 777 crashed yesterday at Heathrow apparently due to engine failure
Engines blamed for BA crash-landing
By Paul Majendie and Jeremy Lovell Reuters - Saturday, January 19 12:13 amLONDON (Reuters) - Investigators said on Friday that the engines of a British Airways Boeing 777 failed to respond to demands for more thrust shortly before it crash-landed at Heathrow Airport on Thursday.

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Thirteen people were injured when BA flight 83 from Beijing came down well short of the southern runway and the 136 passengers were evacuated down the aircraft's emergency chutes as fire crews doused the plane with foam.

Giving details of its initial investigation, the Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) said: "At approximately 600 ft and two miles from touch down, the Autothrottle demanded an increase in thrust from the two engines but the engines did not respond."

"Following further demands for increased thrust from the Autothrottle, and subsequently the flight crew moving the throttle levers, the engines similarly failed to respond."
http://uk.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUKHO86894720080119?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

In the event of catastrophic engine failure wouldn't it be normal for Boeing to issue instructions for safety checks or even ground other 777s until the cause was found?

Boeings lack of reaction and the fact there was no fire makes me wonder is it possible the plane just ran out of fuel??
 
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  • #2
Evo
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A Boeing 777 crashed yesterday at Heathrow apparently due to engine failure
In the event of catastrophic engine failure wouldn't it be normal for Boeing to issue instructions for safety checks or even ground other 777s until the cause was found?

Boeings lack of reaction and the fact there was no fire makes me wonder is it possible the plane just ran out of fuel??
We probably won't know for awhile.
 
  • #3
Argentum Vulpes
A Boeing 777 crashed yesterday at Heathrow apparently due to engine failure
In the event of catastrophic engine failure wouldn't it be normal for Boeing to issue instructions for safety checks or even ground other 777s until the cause was found?

Boeings lack of reaction and the fact there was no fire makes me wonder is it possible the plane just ran out of fuel??

It might also be a problem related to just RR engines and not anything with the other subsystems of the airframe. The trip 7 also uses P&W and GE engines. If it was found to be a problem with just the RR engines only the models using the RR engines would have to be grounded. However since it was only with one plane and no life was lost so far I believe it is up to the individual carriers to decide if they want to inspect/ground there 777s.
 
  • #4
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A Boeing 777 crashed yesterday at Heathrow apparently due to engine failure
In the event of catastrophic engine failure wouldn't it be normal for Boeing to issue instructions for safety checks or even ground other 777s until the cause was found?

Boeings lack of reaction and the fact there was no fire makes me wonder is it possible the plane just ran out of fuel??

No. The airplane was no where near out of fuel (All flights have at least an hour reserve). It could have been fuel starvation, or a software error. The engines were running, they just didnt spool up. Thats not lack of fuel. This wasnt "catastrophic engine failure". It was an engine failure.

I would bet on a software error (777 is all fly by wire).
 
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  • #5
Garth
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One report in our newspapers said they lost avionics as well.

Both engines and avionics?

It must have beeb a computer glitch, and yes Boeing ought to ground and check all the 777s until the cause is established.

Garth
 
  • #6
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No. The airplane was no where near out of fuel (All flights have at least an hour reserve). It could have been fuel starvation, or a software error. The engines were running, they just didnt spool up. Thats not lack of fuel. This wasnt "catastrophic engine failure". It was an engine failure.

I would bet on a software error (777 is all fly by wire).

I certainly hope that you are right. There is a tendency to have systems like that redundant. The F-16 for instance has 4 identical flight control computers, three of them operating directly, while the three signals are continuously compared. As soon as one signal is deviating, it is kicked out and the fourth system is included. What can go wrong?

Well, we lost an aircraft because the wiring of all the systems had the same routing and an electrical short cut damaged the wiring of all four systems.

So if two engines don't respond simulaneously, given the control system reduncancy the amount of probable causes is very limited and would not exclude fuel starvation for whatever reason.
 
  • #7
Garth
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One factor was that below 600 feet warning signals are suppressed to avoid distracting the pilots on landing.

As a consequence the pilots didn't know they had a problem until the co-pilot John Coward noticed they were losing speed.

Perhaps this is what they meant by "losing avionics".

I would have thought that when approaching a landing there were certain warning signals that you actually would want to hear, such as: "You've lost your engines!"

BTW, as a point of information, they had 10 tonnes of fuel left on landing.

Garth
 
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  • #8
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One factor was that below 600 feet warning signals are suppressed to avoid distracting the pilots on landing.

I would have thought that when approaching a landing there were certain warning signals that you actually would want to hear, such as: "You've lost your engines!"

At 600 feet and at least 150KTS, a warning signal is a pointless distraction. You are too low, and there is no time to do anything about it.

What would 'your engines wont spool up' do in that situation? Absolutely nothing.
 
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  • #9
wolram
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At 600 feet and at least 150KTS, a warning signal is a pointless distraction. You are too low, and there is no time to do anything about it.

What would 'your engines wont spool up' do in that situation? Absolutely nothing.

I guess the only alarm needed at that height is a stall warning or terrain warning.

How is the flying going Cyrus?
 
  • #10
Astronuc
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The Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the UK's Department for Transport is now investigating the incident. A team from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is also heading to London, accompanied by representatives from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration.
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/01/18/boeing.causes/

Boeing is apparently providing technical assistance, but they probably won't know much until they check the flight recorders - black box.

It could be a software or hardware/component failure, and they'll look at human factors as well.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7197506.stm
 
  • #11
Garth
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At 600 feet and at least 150KTS, a warning signal is a pointless distraction. You are too low, and there is no time to do anything about it.

What would 'your engines wont spool up' do in that situation? Absolutely nothing.

One thing that will be examined in the investigation will be whether the pilot could have reacted more quickly, which just might have bought more time to adjust the glide path.

A warning signal could well have been useful and not a pointless distraction.

As it was, the engines were throttled back for landing so the fact that they had failed was not noticed until the pilot saw the air speed was dropping. The controls began to vibrate which told him he was approaching a stall.

When he found he could not get any power from the engines he put the nose down to gain flying speed.

In doing so he lost valuable height which resulted in him landing short of the runway, fortuitously not too short. (I used to live about two miles down that glide path!)

Garth
 
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  • #12
Art
One factor was that below 600 feet warning signals are suppressed to avoid distracting the pilots on landing.

As a consequence the pilots didn't know they had a problem until the co-pilot John Coward noticed they were losing speed.

Perhaps this is what they meant by "losing avionics".

I would have thought that when approaching a landing there were certain warning signals that you actually would want to hear, such as: "You've lost your engines!"

BTW, as a point of information, they had 10 tonnes of fuel left on landing.

Garth
Watching the pilot being interviewed he said there was no power from the engines whatsoever when he landed. What could cause 2 engines to fail simultaneously other than a fuel problem?
 
  • #13
Astronuc
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Watching the pilot being interviewed he said there was no power from the engines whatsoever when he landed. What could cause 2 engines to fail simultaneously other than a fuel problem?
Loss of avionics such that the throttle didn't respond.

It almost seems like the cockpit controls (or the part that includes the throttle) were disabled! In that case, there is nothing the pilot can do. He might have been able to pull the nose up to gain lift at the expense of forward airspeed, or reduced flaps with an increase in pitch.

As far as the pilot goes, he doesn't have a lot of time to understand and act when the plane is at 180 m and 3200 m out. Presumably something would have indicated that the plane was below the glide plane.

At 150 kts ( 77 m/s) the pilot had 41 seconds to impact - not a lot of time to understand the problem and take effective corrective action.
 
  • #14
Garth
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Watching the pilot being interviewed he said there was no power from the engines whatsoever when he landed. What could cause 2 engines to fail simultaneously other than a fuel problem?
I agree with Astronuc; there were two independent fuel tanks and supply systems feeding the engines individually.

It would seem the height of bad luck to lose both simultaneously!

Garth
 
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  • #16
Astronuc
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I posted this additional information in the Air Crash thread in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering forum.

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20080117-0

http://www.aaib.dft.gov.uk/latest_news/accident__heathrow_17_january_2008___initial_report.cfm


Interestingly, there was a problem with the 777 in Australia.
http://www.airlinesafety.com/faq/777DataFailure.htm

On August 1, 2005, a Boeing 777-200, which had departed from Perth, received an EICAS (Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System) warning of low airspeed, as the plane was climbing through FL (flight level) 380. Simultaneously, the aircraft’s slip/skid indication moved full right, on the PFD (Primary Flight Display). The PFD speed tape also displayed contradictory information: that the plane was approaching both the high speed limit and the low speed (stall) limit. The aircraft, still connected to the autopilot, pitched up and climbed to approximately FL410 as the airspeed decreased from 270 kts to 158 kts. The stall warning devices also activated.
I wonder if this failure had any commonality with the BA038 problem.

Until the flight recorders are analyzed, it's too early to tell.
 
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  • #17
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There is the possibilitity of engine icing but that requires quite a set of adverse conditions to be met.
 
  • #18
chroot
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At 600 feet and at least 150KTS, a warning signal is a pointless distraction. You are too low, and there is no time to do anything about it.

This is absolutely false. Instrument landing system decision altitudes are generally no more than 200 feet above ground level. Pilots routinely fly approaches down to decision altitude in zero-visibility conditions and conduct missed approaches from that altitude. Even at 600 feet above ground, with visual contact, the pilots would have had plenty of time to change their minds.

- Warren
 
  • #19
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Warren, the engine was not spooling up at 600 feet. What could he have possibly changed his mind about? Was he going to do a go-around with no power?
 
  • #20
chroot
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It almost seems like the cockpit controls (or the part that includes the throttle) were disabled! In that case, there is nothing the pilot can do. He might have been able to pull the nose up to gain lift at the expense of forward airspeed, or reduced flaps with an increase in pitch.

If the aircraft already has its flaps fully extended, and is losing airspeed to the point that it may stall, retracting the flaps will result in an immediate stall. The point of the flaps is to allow slow flight (or add drag in situations where it is desired). Pulling the nose up would also result in an immediate stall.

As far as the pilot goes, he doesn't have a lot of time to understand and act when the plane is at 180 m and 3200 m out. Presumably something would have indicated that the plane was below the glide plane.

Again, 600 feet actually gives the pilot plenty of time to make decisions, if the aircraft is operating normally.

- Warren
 
  • #21
chroot
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Warren, the engine was not spooling up at 600 feet. What could he have possibly changed his mind about? Was he going to do a go-around with no power?

If you have enough airspeed, the appropriate thing to do is to retract the flaps a bit, reduce your drag and land fast. In this case, the pilot apparently was near stall anyway (though I don't know how on earth his first indication of a stall would be the controls getting mushy or vibrating -- a dozen other things indicate a stall before this), and retracting the flaps would have meant losing attitude control and crashing in a very bad way.

The pilot probably did everything right in this situation, though I don't know all the specifics. Planes are disposable, people are not -- he chose wisely.

- Warren
 
  • #22
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Absolutely. In an engine failure on takeoff or landing, you dont want to change course more than 60 degrees from the nose. So in his case, he really had no choice but to land straight. An airplane that big that low with no power would make my pants brown. Im sure the drag on that thing with no power will slow it down significantly. They usually dont idle until the threshold. Big airliners have 'shakers' on their controls that indicate the inception of stall to simulate the nautral shake in a cessna. I think he had the flight director on, which would normally maintain airspeed so it wouldnt be on his mind.

That plane is a total loss though :cry:
 
  • #23
Ivan Seeking
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Cyrus, I just wanted you to know that when I heard about a plane missing a runway, you came to mind immediately. :biggrin:
 
  • #24
Astronuc
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If the aircraft already has its flaps fully extended, and is losing airspeed to the point that it may stall, retracting the flaps will result in an immediate stall. The point of the flaps is to allow slow flight (or add drag in situations where it is desired). Pulling the nose up would also result in an immediate stall.
I'm aware that the point of flaps or greater pitch is to allow for slow flight (approaching landing speed).

I had in mind that the pilot would have to retract flaps a bit and put the nose down (if it was up) in order to gain speed to get to the runway (as was indicated a subsequent post). And then nose up or flaps down, whichever is quicker (and IIRC is the nose up is quicker) at the last second.

But as was subsequently indicated, the plane had insufficient velocity, and the pilot was attempting to increase thrust without success.

Again, 600 feet actually gives the pilot plenty of time to make decisions, if the aircraft is operating normally.
The pilot had about 41 seconds to understand the problem and act. That's not a lot of time.

And I think the point is that the plane was not functioning/operating normally.
 
  • #25
chroot
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I had in mind that the pilot would have to retract flaps a bit and put the nose down (if it was up) in order to gain speed to get to the runway (as was indicated a subsequent post).

Reducing drag by retracting flaps would be a wise decision if the aircraft had sufficient airspeed to prevent a stall, but apparently it did not. Flaps are critical in providing the lift necessary for slow flight. Putting the nose down would pretty much never be a wise decision, as that trades altitude for airspeed. The pilot didn't really want airspeed; he wanted altitude, but the engines could not deliver it.

Each aircraft has a flap/pitch combination that results in the largest glide ratio. If the pilot had had enough time and knew he was not going to get any more thrust, he would have set the aircraft up in that manner.

And then nose up or flaps down, whichever is quicker (and IIRC is the nose up is quicker) at the last second.

You don't need flaps to land, nor do you really need a flare. You can land fast with no flaps, and you can land flat and accept a much larger possibility of damaging the nose gear -- obviously an acceptable decision in this situation.

And I think the point is that the plane was not functioning/operating normally.

Right. Given that the pilot had no more thrust and was already near a stall, the only thing he could really do is put it down and hope.

- Warren
 

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