International Ops 2017

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Tag: B757

Inside the cabin – before and after the wake turbulence encounter

The Challenger 604 vs Airbus 380 story has gone once around the world.

But is it even true? Some have asked. Let’s do a reality check.

After our initial story was published in last weeks International Operations Bulletin, which we first monitored thanks to the great work of the Aviation Herald, it was republished in various versions in The Times of London, Flying magazine, AIN Business Aviation News,  Deutsche Welle, and NBC. The picture on the Flight Service Bureau facebook page was viewed 1.1 million times.

First, the picture.

The incident happened. This has already been confirmed by the German BFU, who have responsibility for investigating accidents. The Canadian TSB have assigned an accredited representative to the investigation, and Bombardier have assigned a technical advisor.

So to the cause. The crew reported that 1-2 minutes before the loss of control, at about 0840 UTC, an Airbus A380-800 had passed overhead, slightly to the left. The Aviation Herald’s reporting is of the highest standard, and we trust their source.

Like the Aviation Herald, we also deal in facts. Joining the dots to form the bigger picture doesn’t require Colombo on the job.

  • The incident happened on January 7th, since which time the German BFU have been aware of the case.
  • The story has been out in the aviation community since February 7th, when it was posted that: “A CL604 enroute Male to Europe, upset by opposite direction, 1,000′ above, A380’s wake. Several rolls, large G excursions. Diverted into Muscat.”

 

Since the authority, manufacturer, and operator are all aware of the story, it is reasonable to deduce that were a material part of the widely reported incident not true, then that would have been stated rather quickly.

The ultimate confirmation will come from the Germany BFU, hopefully on this Interim Reports page.

 

The Boeing 757 parallel

On Sunday, we reported the similarity between this A380 story, and the 10 years it took to determine that the Boeing 757 had a wake 1.5 times stronger than other similar aircraft.

Our primary interest here at Flight Service Bureau is keeping the International Flight Operations community safe and informed. Consider this opening line from the New York Times on Dec 23rd, 1993:

Nearly a year after being alerted to the problem, the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered air-traffic controllers to warn aircraft flying behind Boeing 757 jets of the potential for dangerous wake turbulence.

In the last year, two crashes that together killed 13 people have been attributed to turbulence caused by Boeing 757's. In the more recent crash, on Dec. 15, five people were killed when their private jet went down in Orange County during a landing approach" 

Wake Turbulence Enroute

The entire topic of wake turbulence is not fully understood by any of us. There is much more to learn. Truly innovative studies were last done back in the 1970’s. Some experienced crews have even questioned whether enroute wake turbulence even exists.  Flight school drills into us as pilots, that wake lives around the airport. “Heavy, clean and slow” are the dangerous ones. But “slow” means about about 150 knots for aircraft like the 380. In the cruise, that goes up to about 250 knots IAS at the higher altitudes. If 150 knots is slow, then 250 knots isn’t really “fast”.

Before the crash of a Delta Tristar at DFW in 1985, we didn’t know much about windshear and microbursts.  Maybe we have to learn the same lesson with enroute wake.

In Flying magazine, Les Abend has a very readable example of enroute wake in this article.


 

And here are some other examples of enroute wake turbulence encounters:

  • Air Canada, FL370, 55 degree roll at FL370 – wake from Boeing 747
  • Virgin Australia, FL350, 45 degree bank – wake from A380
  • American Airlines, FL220, bang – wake from B777
  • Air France, FL360, 25 degree bank – wake from A380
  • United Airlines, FL240, severe turbulence – wake from MD11
  • British Airways, FL320, 30 degree roll – wake from A380
  • Antonov 124, FL320, 15 degree roll, altitude loss – wake from A380
  • Vueling, FL320, sudden 40 degree right bank – wake from A340
  • Japan Airlines, E170 – uncommanded increasing roll to left – wake from A340
  • Armavia, A320 – A/P disconnect, steep banks – wake from A380

Note to Members #24 – Wake Turbulence Enroute

While the industry awaits further guidance from the authorities, Flight Service Bureau has made public its Note to Members #24 (normally restricted to OpsGroup circulation). Revised 22MAR2017.

Key points from our Note:

  • We might be wrong! Like we said above, there is much still to learn about enroute wake. Read the note, but make up your own mind.
  • Consider the wind. The danger point is roughly 15-20nm after the crossing point, as this is when the wake will have drifted down 1000 feet. In stronger winds, the wake may have drifted well away from the centreline. A turn away may not be necessary.
  • SLOP where possible. It may not prevent all situations, especially crossing traffic, but if you’re 2nm right of track you’re a lot less likely to be directly underneath another aircraft.
  • Read the note for the full guidance, and tell us if you have any further thoughts.

 

 

A lesson in emergency handling, from Aer Lingus

In September last year, an Aer Lingus Boeing 757 (operated by Air Contractors), suffered a loss of the Left Hydraulic system on departure from JFK. The left hydraulic system is the main one, meaning that Flaps, normal gear extension, and Nosewheel steering all become unavailable. The failure is therefore serious, albeit one that would be a favourite for simulator practice.

There are some really interesting lessons to learn from this incident, not least of which is how we now get access to the information that emanates from it. No longer do we need the offical report; it’s all out there on Live ATC and YouTube.  It’s 12 minutes 40′ of highly worthwhile viewing, whatever your thoughts on how public this all is.

EIN emer

 

 

And so to the incident. Foremost, this is a lesson in professionalism and communication, from an outstanding crew. Listen carefully, and observe how:

  • A clear report is made as to the situation and what’s needed immediately.
  • Potential for a spillage of fluid on the runway – not their problem, right now – but passed on as the first consideration for others.
  • Early message to JFK, via Boston Centre, that ILS22L is the best runway for them, that they cannot vacate, and that the gear doors may look unusual.
  • Communication is clear, precise, and authoritative – making sure everyone has all the information they need.
  • Taking full command of the situation on the ground, during the fire incident. “Say again, and make sure nobody speaks apart from you“. Communications involving rescue vehicles on ATC frequencies are notoriously confusing and unclear, this crew handled the confusion with authority.

Some International Differences that can be seen here:

  • Pounds and Kilos – this 757’s indications are in Kilos; ATC don’t know the conversion either, and another US aircraft on the frequency steps in to help out. Since the Gimli Glider, this has always been an issue.
  • Mayday and Emergency – read more below, but the US likes the phrase “Declaring an emergency”


Some other interesting factors
:

  • A really awful callsign. Bad enough for a normal crossing and 6 hour flight; brutal in an emergency. The flight was EI110 – so the callsign should be Shamrock-one-one-zero (one-ten works fine). Problem: lots of other airlines have this number too, so to avoid callsign confusion, someone in an office somewhere decided to change it to Shamrock-One-One-Echo-Alpha.
  • Callsign confusion is in fact the result. Try saying it a few times in a row. The controller variously calls them “Shamrock 11E”, “Speedbird 11EA”, “Shamrock 11A”. The callsign alone made things difficult for ATC and the crew.
  • ATC did a pretty good job of keep comms to a minimum. In most incidents, ATC create stress and workload for the crew by asking non-essential questions the moment that an emergency is declared – which is the same time as the crew have a bunch of checklist work to do. When you get a Mayday or Emergency call on your frequency, hang tough with the questions for a minute or two, unless you need answers for immediate traffic separation.
  • ATC will always ask Souls on Board and Fuel on Board. Why? To know how many people to account for on the rescue, and how much Jet fuel is going to fuel a fire if there is one after landing. Get the souls on board accurate (not a bad idea to have this written at the top of the flight plan), but a rough estimate of fuel will do. If you’re using a decimal, you’re doing it wrong.

 

Emergency/Mayday/Pan:

  • In the US, normal practice is that you either declare an emergency, or you don’t – unlike many other countries where a choice between Mayday (serious) and Pan-Pan (cautionary) exists.
  • US ATC Handbook: “If the words “Mayday” or “Pan-Pan” are not used and you are in doubt that a situation constitutes an emergency or potential emergency, handle it as though it were an emergency. “
  • Sidenote: Many think that only the flight crew can declare an emergency. In fact, Flight Crew, Dispatch, Company Representatives, and ATC can all declare an emergency. An emergency can be declared without notifying the flight crew.
  • In this case, the crew were comfortable in their communication with ATC – and able to “not declare” but at the same time request emergency equipment on standby. As it turned out, this emergency equipment was critical because there was a small fire after landing. If you are uncertain whether ATC understands the nature of your situation – declare an emergency. You can always cancel it later on.
  • Fuel Reserves Approaching Minimum: Internationally, ’Fuel Emergency’ or ‘fuel priority’ are not recognised terms. Flight crews short of fuel must declare a PAN or MAYDAY to be sure of being given the appropriate priority.
  • In 2005, ATPAC recommended changing FAAO 7110.65 (the regs for controllers) to include “emergency” as a term that could be used in lieu of “mayday” and “pan-pan.” They then withdrew the recommendation because they decided that creating more differences from ICAO standards was a bad thing.

It’s easy to forget that in a real emergency, no matter how strong your training, you have to deal with stress and adrenaline that doesn’t appear in the simulator.

A hydraulic loss is considered ‘routine’ in the books, but many accidents in the past have come from compounding errors – those holes in the swiss cheese line up pretty easily once the first one is as big as a hydraulic leak.

The cool, clear, and decisive communications from this crew indicate that they have the Big Picture firmly under control. It’s a lesson for all of us.

 

757_Hydraulics_1

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