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Saturday, May 31, 2008

British airways all 4 engines stoped

All 4 engines stoped on a 747-400

The first sign of anything amiss occurred shortly after 13:40 GMT (20:40 Jakarta time) above the Indian Ocean, south of Java, when Senior First Officer Roger Greaves and Senior Engineer Officer Barry Townley-Freeman noticed an effect on the windscreen similar to St. Elmo's fire
, as if it were being hit by tracer bullets. The phenomenon persisted after Captain Eric Moody, who had left the cockpit to use the lavatory, returned. Despite seeing nothing on the weather, radar they switched on engine anti-ice and the passenger seat belt signs as a precaution.
In the passenger cabin, smoke started gathering in the air. At first it was assumed to be cigarette smoke (smoking was still permitted on flights back in 1982), but as it grew thicker, alarm spread. Those looking out windows also noticed that the engines were unusually bright, as if they each had a headlight in them, shining forward through the fan blades and producing a stroboscopic effect.
At approximately 13:42 GMT (20:42 Jakarta time), engine four surged and then flamed out. The first officer and flight engineer immediately performed the engine shutdown drill, shutting off fuel and arming fire extinguishers as the Captain added some rudder to counter the uneven thrust. The passengers also spotted long yellow glows coming out of the remaining engines. Less than a minute after the first engine failed, engine two surged and flamed out. Before the flight crew could begin the engine failure drills, engines one and three shut down almost simultaneously. The flight engineer exclaimed, "I don't believe it – all four engines have failed!"
The 747 had now become a glider. A 747 can glide 15 kilometres for every kilometre it loses in height. Captain Moody calculated that, from its flight level of about 11,280 metres (37,000 ft.), Flight 9 would be able to glide for 23 minutes and cover 261 kilometres (141 nm). At 13:44 GMT (20:44 Jakarta time), Moody told First Officer Greaves to declare an emergency to the local air traffic control authority, stating that all four engines had shut down, but Jakarta Area Control misunderstood the message, believing that only engine number four had shut down. It was only after a Garuda Indonesia flight relayed that the message got through. The loss of power was immediately obvious to the passengers, and they reacted to it in many different ways. Some became resigned, while others wrote notes to their loved ones, such as Charles Capewell's "Ma. In trouble. Plane going down. Will do best for boys. We love you. Sorry. Pa XXX" scrawled on the cover of his ticket wallet. Some passengers cried out that they were going to die, and still others attempted to calm down the more panicky ones.
On the flight deck the crew attempted to contact Jakarta for radar assistance, but could not be seen by Jakarta, despite their transponder being set to 7700, the international "general emergency" code. Due to the high Indonesian mountains, an altitude of at least 11,500 ft was required to cross the coast safely. Captain Moody decided that, if the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude by the time they reached 12,000 ft, he would turn back out to sea and attempt to ditch. The crew began the engine restart drills, despite being well above the recommended maximum engine inflight start envelope altitude of 28,000 ft, but they were unsuccessful.
Despite the lack of time, Captain Moody made an announcement that has been described as "a masterpiece of understatement
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.
At 13,500 ft, the flight crew attempted one last engine restart procedure before turning for the ocean and the risky prospect of a ditching. Although there were guidelines, no one had ever tried it in a 747 – nor have they since. Number four engine started, and at 13:56 GMT (20:56 Jakarta time), Captain Moody used its power to reduce the rate of descent. Shortly thereafter, engine three restarted, followed shortly by engines one and two. The crew were amazed at their change of fortune, and requested an increase in altitude to 15,000 feet to clear the high mountains. The engines were able to restart because one generator was still operating, thus allowing ignition of the engines.
As the aircraft approached its target altitude, the tracer effect on the windscreen returned. Captain Moody throttled back, but it was too late: number two engine surged again, and had to be shut down. The crew immediately descended to 12,000 ft.
At last Flight 9 approached Jakarta. Despite reports of good visibility, the crew found it difficult to see anything through the windscreen, and had to make the approach almost entirely on instruments, despite the glideslope of the ILS being inoperative. It was, in the words of Captain Moody, "a bit like negotiating one's way up a badger's arse".Although the runway lights could be made out through a small strip of the windscreen, the landing lights seemed to be inoperable. After landing, the flight crew then found it impossible to taxi, as glare from apron floodlights made the windscreen opaque, and City of Edinburgh had to wait for a tug to tow her in.

It was found that City of Edinburgh's problems had been caused by flying through a cloud of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Galunggung. Because the ash cloud was dry, it did not show up on the weather radar, which is designed to pick up the drops of moisture that form clouds. The cloud sandblasted the windscreen and landing light covers, as well as clogging the engines. Engines one, two and three were replaced at Jakarta, as well as the windscreen, and the fuel tanks were cleared of the ash that had entered them through the pressurisation ducts, contaminating the fuel and requiring that it be disposed of. After being ferried back to London, engine number four was replaced and major work was undertaken to return the aircraft to service, where some crews nicknamed it "the flying ashtray".[citation needed]G-BDXH also entered the Guinness Book of Records as the longest glide in a non-purpose-built aircraft, until it was replaced by the Air Transat Flight 236 incident.
Although the airspace around Mount Galunggung was closed temporarily after the accident, it was re-opened days later. It was only after a Singapore Airlines 747 was forced to shut down three of its engines while flying through the same area nineteen days later, that Indonesian authorities closed the airspace permanently and re-routed airways to avoid the area, and a watch was set up to monitor clouds of ash.[
The crew received various awards, including Her Majesty The Queen's Commendations for Valuable Service in the Air and medals from the British Air Line Pilots Association. Following the incident, the crew and passengers formed the Galunggung Gliding Club as a means to keep in contact.
One of the passengers, Betty Tootell, wrote a book about the incident, All Four Engines Have Failed. She managed to trace some 200 of the 247 passengers on the flight, and went on to marry a fellow survivor, James Ferguson, who had been seated in the row in front of her. She notes: "The 28th December 2006 marks the start of our 14th year of honeymoon, and on the 24th June 2007 many passengers and crew will no doubt gather to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our mid-air adventure.
Today, British Airways operates Flight 9 from London Heathrow to Bangkok, Thailand and Sydney. City of Edinburgh, later renamed City of Elgin, continued to fly for British Airways, before being sold to European Aviation Air Charter. The last known location of the plane (by this time partially dismantled) was at Bournemouth International Airport in early 2007.


aavrane said...

This 747 was eventually scrapped at Bournemouth in May 2008

Bob McKerrow said...

Intresting story Ablai.


Ablai said...

Thanks That is Cool