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The QANTAS A380 engine explosion - almost a disaster

Submitted by Locke » Sun 19-Feb-2012, 00:16

Subject Area: Safety

Keywords: QANTAS A380, engine explosion

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The incident was classified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) as:
Inflight engine failure - Qantas, Airbus A380, VH-OQA, overhead Batam Island, Indonesia, 4 November 2010

To be blunt it was an engine explosion that could have been fatal but for luck and the heroics of the flight crew.
As the story unfolds in various incident reports it reminds me of Sullenberger's 208 seconds over the Hudson. You may recall that he lost all engines to a flock of Canada Geese but recovered the situation with a perfect landing in the Hudson River as a stunned New York looked on. His book Highest Duty is a recommended read - I couldn't put it down when I hit Chapter 13. At least the QANTAS flight had, three functioning engines (sort of), 4 pilots with a cumulative 80,000 hrs flight experience and more time to think.

The ATSB report is at:
http://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2010/aair/ao-2010-089.aspx
Press reports are at:
http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/qantas-time-bomb-first-account-from-flight-crew-of-singapore-a380-superjumbo-incident/story-e6frfq80-1225969226477

Features include:

As the crew of Flight QF32 began to reconfigure the damaged A380 aircraft for landing in Singapore, they were bringing in the superjumbo without many of the systems they took for granted and with only one engine functioning normally.

Shrapnel from the No 2 engine tore through the wing, cutting wiring, hydraulic and fuel systems.

Only the No 3 engine had reverse thrust, no leading edge slats were available, there was limited aileron and spoiler control and anti-skid braking was restricted

They were unable to activate the fire extinguishers on the damaged engine and had difficulties balancing out the fuel.

As the aircraft descended, the autopilot disconnected and, after an attempt to reconnect, the pilot opted to fly the plane manually.

On landing, the deceleration initially appeared slow but the aircraft eventually stopped 150m short of the runway end.

In the first account by a member of the flight crew, senior Qantas check-captain David Evans reveals the most dangerous period during the three-hour drama was during the 50 minutes it took to offload the 469 passengers and crew,

We didn't have the ability to dump fuel, the fuel dumping system had failed and we were about 50 tonnes over our maximum landing weight.

"We had also lost the use of our leading-edge slats, which, consequently with the overweight condition made our approach speed quite fast - 35knots more than normal.

"We'd lost our satellite phone so the trusty mobile phones came out and we called the company in Sydney to relay back to the company in Singapore, to dispatch some stairs and buses to the aircraft.

"We were 4000m down the end of the runway and it was nearly an hour before we got the first set of stairs to the aircraft and another hour by the time the last passenger departed the aircraft. So it was nearly two hours on the ground with major fuel leaks and engines running.

Fuel was leaking from the left wing and the maximum braking used during the landing had seen brake temperatures soar to 900C. The aircraft was on battery power and the crew had use of just one VHF radio dedicated to the fire commander, who was reluctant to send his crew near the plane with an engine still running and fuel pouring on the hot brakes.

From the ATSB Report :
The flight crew recalled the following systems warnings on the ECAM after the failure of the No 2 engine:
• engines No 1 and 4 operating in a degraded mode
• GREEN6 hydraulic system – low system pressure and low fluid level
• YELLOW7 hydraulic system – engine No 4 pump errors
• failure of the alternating current (AC) electrical No 1 and 2 bus systems8
• flight controls operating in alternate law9
• wing slats inoperative
• flight controls – ailerons partial control only
• flight controls – reduced spoiler control
• landing gear control and indicator warnings
• multiple brake system messages
• engine anti-ice and air data sensor messages
• multiple fuel system messages, including a fuel jettison fault
• centre of gravity messages
• autothrust and autoland inoperative
• No 1 engine generator drive disconnected
• left wing pneumatic bleed leaks
• avionics system overheat.

As I said. Almost a disaster.


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