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Discussion in 'Other Airlines | Europe' started by uggboy, Sep 26, 2014.
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Boeing 787 in trouble again after emergency Polish Airlines diversion
"False alarms about on-board fire are not uncommon on passenger aircraft"
What's their definition of "not uncommon"?
Have to say I had my first on AC924 last week (YUL-FLL). We did an emergency landing in Norfolk which was the closest airport. There was no fire, but the pilot said it was the first time he saw the light come on in 28 years. (An Airbus, and not a Dreamliner -- so only for the false alarm component comparison)
The quote "not uncommon" is certainly not true! However, newly introduced aircraft often do have teething problems and the long litany of B787 ones, at least in the industry press, seem to stem more often from maintenance and crew learning curves than to actual aircraft faults even though the alerts, false or not, force diversions, delays and so on. These specific problems, from all I read, are much more common now on all new aircraft than that were on older ones because the monitoring and alerting technologies are now so much more advanced.
Despite those problems B787 reliability is now nearly at industry norms, and above them at airlines which have had B787 operations for a long time. It seems that every airline initially has transition problems when moving to a new aircraft type, even a well established reliable one. recent cases in point are B777-300 introduction at AA, among others, and A321 introduction there also. Both of those are quite week established very relaible aircraft, and both have teething problems when being introduced into fleets not previously operating those aircraft.
I am definitely not an expert on this subject, but I do read the industry press every day, including MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) topics. Many years ago I personally participated in the introduction of two new airplane types, both of which had nasty teething problems. Both types later produced stellar reliability records. These were not airliners, though.
It is still puzzling to read "not uncommon", which is a huge distortion of fact. Were it true there would be many more true emergency landings. BTW, and "emergency" landing requires landing at the first available airport, appropriate or not. Engine failures generally are not true emergencies, but are "abnormal" operations, so airliners with an engine failure continue to an appropriate landing airport. In fact the extended range operations for twin engine aircraft (once called ETOPS) for B787 and A330, B767 etc, require ability to operate on a single engine for four hours or more without problems.
We all should be cautious when using the word "emergency" which has quite specific and dramatic application in aircraft operation. That said, medical emergencies and other factors can and do mandate crew declaration of "emergency" which provides absolute priority from air traffic control. That is quite different than an aircraft operational 'emergency' which implies risk of inability to continue flight. People often confuse these two definitions. Frankly, passengers don't need to know about them anyway.
In all my years of flying I have had only one landing that *might* be called an emergency landing (by virtue of the fact that they rolled the fire trucks), and that was when our UA 747 had trouble with one engine shortly after takeoff from SFO. We circled a bit over the Sierras and dumped fuel and then returned to the airport. I certainly didn't consider it an emergency landing as I didn't feel like I was in any danger.
As an oddity, the B747, all versions, was certified to take off with only three engines operating and was permitted to make any flight with one engine inoperative. There was an incident some years ago when a British Airways B747-400 LHR-LAX continued cross Atlantic and nearly to LAX, but headwinds forced them to divert, declaring a Low Fuel emergency. There was endless polemic about this one. Here is the link to Aviation Safety World reporting on this. It's article #1 in the link. I did not think I should attach it directly here. copyright rules for MilePoint IIRC.
Interesting story. Any idea if BA's appeal was successful?
IIRC, I did not look up the answer, the FAA eventually quietly folded their tent and went away. In fact there was no regulatory violation, and the operating manual at the time was permissive on that point. In fact, in another case a SQ 747 flew satisfactorily one one engine although no regulations permitted that one and it was a genuine emergency. BA and the US/EU regulators modified engine out procedures shortly thereafter IIRC. Still, these happened soem years ago and i did not look up the actual results. BA paid no fine, if I am correct.