OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

fountainhall
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#1 OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby fountainhall » Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:54 am

Seriously. An Air Asia X A330 was 90 minutes out of Perth yesterday en route to Kuala Lumpur when there was a loud bang from the area of the left wing. Thereafter the plane started endlessly shaking and passengers felt they were in a "washing machine".

Inside, seat backs shook like jello blocks. A deafening thud-thud-thud-thud soundtracks every cellphone video from the aisles. Some passengers gritted their teeth. Others just folded their hands and endured.

Soon after the captain asked passengers to pray and said he himself would be praying!

“Our survival depends on your cooperating. Hopefully everything will turn out for the best.”

Turns out a blade had sheared off the left engine which then became loose. As the plane returned to Perth, airport authorities prepared for both a water and runway landing. The pilot was able to land safely on the runway to loud applause from everyone on board. There were no casualties - apart from the engine!

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast ... ysia-shook

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#2 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby windwalker » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:51 pm

I thought all airplanes can fly on one engine? Simple solution would have been to shut down the damaged engine assuming the pilot knew that was the cause.

Oh, fountainhall, was that OMG a pray plea to the Almighty in your subject line?

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#3 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby fountainhall » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:03 pm

windwalker wrote:Oh, fountainhall, was that OMG a pray plea to the Almighty in your subject line?

Of course! Isn't that what the pilot asked everyone to do??

But I totally agree avoid the one engine. Why didn't he shut it down? Air Asia X's response so far has been pretty lousy.

PS: after writing the above I have read that even if an engine is shut down, the force of the forward motion of the plane means the rotating blades continue to turn. There is no possibility of stopping them with the result that the shuddering effect of a broken blade will continue to be experienced.

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#4 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby a447 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:38 pm

I think he did, in fact, shut down the engine.

What I don't understand is why he didn't divert to a nearby airport 30 minutes away instead of flying over an hour to get back to Perth.

With so much vibration, there was a real chance that the engine could have detached from the wing with disastrous consequences.

Asking the passengers to pray is definitely a sackable offence. His job in an emergency is to settle and reassure the passengers, not scare them to death.

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#5 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby thewayhelooks » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:34 am

a447 wrote:What I don't understand is why he didn't divert to a nearby airport 30 minutes away instead of flying over an hour to get back to Perth.

Which airport would that be? And would it be able to handle an Airbus? Would it have the capability of dealing with an emergency (crash) landing?

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#6 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby a447 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:27 pm

He could have landed at Learmonth,a designated diversion airport. Qantas landed an a330 there in 2008.

But of course, from a business point of view that would have been very inconvenient. That seems to have been behind the captain's decision to fly all the way back to Perth.

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#7 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby fountainhall » Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:43 pm

a447 wrote:That seems to have been behind the captain's decision to fly all the way back to Perth.

It will be months before we have the answer to that. I hate to think that any captain puts his passengers deliberately in danger, but I suspect you may be correct. Airlines hate having to land at airports which they do not already serve. They will not have ground staff based there and worse, especially for the low cost carriers, no engineers. It's far from uncommon even for legacy carriers to fly an engineer on board to handle routine ground maintenance to save stationing one at the arrival airport. And though it would be a minor factor, there would be no immigration facilities either, I expect.

The captain of this flight will have realised the aircraft would need at least an engine change. The cost of effecting that in a small airport without A330 engineering facilities would be very substantially more than at Perth. I hope I am wrong.

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#8 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby a447 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 5:58 pm

Not to mention the pilot also ignored ETOPS regulations.

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#9 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby fountainhall » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:31 pm

In situations like this, I always look at the professional pilots rumour site http://www.prune.org.

Inevitably there are those posting there who agree that the aircraft should have landed at the nearest available airport, despite possible ground problems. These could have been significant, especially if the pilot assumed he might need to attempt a crash landing -

Why is YPLM [Learmonth] automatically considered by many as nearest suitable? It's isolated, limited RFF, limited hospital facilities, limited ATC, etc They weren't flying a Cessna. The AirAsia guys are thinking about all that and also considering Customs, hotels, maintenance and on it goes. Not to mention that the aeroplane is perfectly capable of flying on one engine. Many here are comfortable because they understand what it would be like at Learmonth (or somewhere similar in Oz) But it wouldn't have been that simple to these guys.


Although the rules mandate a landing at the nearest airport for pilots with major on board problems, there is sufficient leeway if he considers that be can return to the point of take-off and there are factors which make that the more ideal situation. That said, though, having decided against Learmonth, why did he twice ask the passengers to "pray"? That seems to indicate he thought the engine problem was far greater than merely vibration from a broken fan blade. And as another contributor to pprune.org points out -

For some engine failures, severe vibration may be experienced after the engine has been shut down, to the point where instruments are difficult to read. This vibration is caused by the unbalanced fan, windmilling at an engine speed close to an airframe’s natural resonance frequency, which amplifies the vibration. Changing airspeed and/or altitude will change the fan windmill speed and an airplane speed may be found where there will be much less vibration. There is no risk of airplane structural failure due to vibratory engine loads during this windmilling action.

Could this therefore be another case of an Air Asia pilot and his head office controllers simply not being aware that reduction of airspeed and/or altitude would have considerably reduced the vibrations? Did the pilot in fact attempt either or both manoeuvres after reporting the return to the air traffic controllers? Had he ever practised this in an A330 simulator?

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#10 Re: OMG! The Pilot asked his Passengers to Pray!

Postby a447 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:47 pm

fountainhall wrote:Could this therefore be another case of an Air Asia pilot and his head office controllers simply not being aware that reduction of airspeed and/or altitude would have considerably reduced the vibrations?

Well, I'm trying to think of a reason why they wouldn't be aware of that.

It's all a bit of a worry.


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