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August 23, 2015

Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Air Show in England

Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Air Show in England

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The crashed aircraft, pictured in 2013 during a display.
Image: Alan Wilson.

Police warn more bodies may remain to be found after yesterday’s crash of a vintage jet killed at least seven people. The Hawker Hunter crashed into a busy road during the Shoreham Air Show in England.

The plane failed to pull out of a large loop at around 1:20p.m. It hit the nearby A27 road, erupting into a fireball and leaving cars burned out and heavily damaged. The scene in West Sussex is near the town of Shoreham.

Pilot Andy Hill is presently alive but critically injured in hospital. He has previously flown with British Airways and the Royal Air Force. Two of the dead are Worthing United FC football players, Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, who were on their way to a match.

Also killed was Matt Jones, 24, who worked as a personal trainer. He came from Littlehampton and was giving a friend a lift. A vintage Daimler wedding limousine on its way to collect a bride was also caught up in the crash, but its owner Chariot Chauffeurs say they are unclear on if the driver was a fatality.

Sussex Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch are investigating. Police Superintendent Jane Derrick said last night “”At this time we are continuing to search[…] It is possible that tonight and tomorrow we are going to find more bodies at the scene.” She said it is believed all casualties except the pilot were road users. At least fourteen were injured.

A Hawker Hunter displaying at last year’s show.
Image: John5199.

The pilot did not eject. Hill was experienced, with years of display flying under his belt and a military career that included flying Harrier jump-jets. David Wildridge, another pilot who took part yesterday, said Hill is “well-known and well-loved”, “very professional”, and that his Harrier experience made him “the best of the best.”

The 1950s jet was decommissioned from military service in 1996 and sold at auction. In 2012 English entrepreneur Graham Peacock bought it for around £65,000. It is a regular at airshows.

Tina Tilley, head of the local chamber of commerce, was at the show ans said “From where we were we could see the jet came down very low and looked like it was going to scoop up – but it didn’t. There were flames and we knew it was right on the A27. Everyone was horrified and there were people crying.” Motorist Dom Lawson, whose car was narrowly missed, said “It was like something out of Die Hard.” The road closure left thousands trapped at the scene as they could not remove their cars.

In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron sent “his heartfelt condolences to the families of the people who were so tragically killed… [his] thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.” The airshow is cancelled today.

Earlier this year a pilot was killed when his plane crashed during an aerial display a CarFest in England. In 2007 a Shoreham Air Show display recreating the Battle of Britain ended with a pilot dead following a crash.



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Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Airshow in England

Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Airshow in England

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The crashed aircraft, pictured in 2013 during a display.
Image: Alan Wilson.

Police warn more bodies may remain to be found after yesterday’s crash of a vintage jet killed at least seven people. The Hawker Hunter crashed into a busy road during the Shoreham Airshow in England.

The plane failed to pull out of a large loop at around 1:20p.m. It hit the nearby A27 road, erupting into a fireball and leaving cars burned out and heavily damaged. The scene in West Sussex is near the town of Shoreham.

Pilot Andy Hill is presently alive but critically injured in hospital. He has previously flown with British Airways and the Royal Air Force. Two of the dead are Worthing United FC football players, Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, who were on their way to a match.

Also killed was Matt Jones, 24, who worked as a personal trainer. He came from Littlehampton and was giving a friend a lift. A vintage Daimler wedding limousine on its way to collect a bride was also caught up in the crash, but its owner Chariot Chauffeurs say they are unclear on if the driver was a fatality.

Sussex Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch are investigating. Police Superintendent Jane Derrick said last night, “At this time we are continuing to search[…] It is possible that tonight and tomorrow we are going to find more bodies at the scene.” She said it is believed all casualties except the pilot were road users. At least fourteen were injured.

A Hawker Hunter displaying at last year’s show.
Image: John5199.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry today said eleven people are “highly likely to have died in this tragedy”, based upon “our initial work at the site” and “inquiries following calls to the emergency services from worried families and friends”. He said officers currently remain at the “incredibly large” scene. There are plans to remove plane wreckage using a crane tomorrow.

The pilot, Hill, was experienced, with years of display flying under his belt and a military career that included flying Harrier jump-jets. David Wildridge, another pilot who took part yesterday, said Hill is “well-known and well-loved”, “very professional”, and that his Harrier experience made him “the best of the best.”

The 1950s jet was decommissioned from military service in 1996 and sold at auction. In 2012 English entrepreneur Graham Peacock bought it for around £65,000. It is a regular at airshows.

Tina Tilley, head of the local chamber of commerce, was at the show ans said “From where we were we could see the jet came down very low and looked like it was going to scoop up — but it didn’t. There were flames and we knew it was right on the A27. Everyone was horrified and there were people crying.” Motorist Dom Lawson, whose car was narrowly missed, said “It was like something out of Die Hard“. The road closure left thousands trapped at the scene as they could not remove their cars.

In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron sent “his heartfelt condolences to the families of the people who were so tragically killed […] [his] thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.” The airshow is cancelled today.

It is one of three deadly European airshow crash in four days. On Thursday two planes carrying parachutists collided and crashed in West Slovakia. At least seven were killed. They had been practising for an airshow due to be held this weekend. Today two small planes collided during an airshow in Dittingen, Switzerland. One of the pilots escaped but the other was killed.

Earlier this year a pilot was killed when his plane crashed during an aerial display at CarFest in England. In 2007 a Shoreham Airshow display recreating the Battle of Britain ended with a pilot dead following a crash.

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October 23, 2010

Four feared dead in Ireland helicopter crash

Four feared dead in Ireland helicopter crash

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

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Image: Marksie531.

A helicopter crash in the Mourne Mountains is believed to have killed four people in Northern Ireland.

Just before 4 pm local time (1500 UTC) the police received reports of a “plane in distress” from residents. The helicopter is believed to have crashed in an area called Leitrim Lodge located between Hilltown and Rostrevor. The Democratic Unionist representative for the region has said “the local community was shocked and now feared the worst.”

The local fire services, police and the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team are currently combing the area from the wreckage. The Air Accident Investigation Branch has been notified about the incident.



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September 5, 2010

Two dead after two light aircraft crash in Isle of Wight, England

Two dead after two light aircraft crash in Isle of Wight, England

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

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Bembridge Airport, where the Merlin Trophy, a race organised by the Royal Aero Club Racing and Rally Association, was being held on Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the event has been cancelled.

Two individuals have died as the result of a light aircraft collision on the Isle of Wight in England, United Kingdom. The collision occurred at approximately 1700 BST (1800 UTC) on Saturday between Ryde and Newport, while two aircraft were participating in an organised race. Both of the aircraft were carrying two occupants. The two fatalities were both travelling in the same four-seat touring propeller aircraft. The two occupants of the second, a two-seat sports propeller aircraft, survived the crash, although one was hospitalised after the plane safely landed at Bembridge Airport.

Hampshire Constabulary, who later arrived at the location of the accident, have released a statement reading: “Police are at the scene of a fatal light aircraft collision at Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight. Police received the call from a member of the public this evening at 5.08pm to report two light aircraft in collision over the island. One of these aircraft, containing two people, suffered damage and made its way safely to Bembridge airport. The other aircraft, also containing two people, came down in a remote wooded area in the Havenstreet area. Both occupants of this second aircraft have now been confirmed dead.” The wing of the second aircraft was sliced off in the collision, and a farmer found it in an inverted nose-up position in woodland known as Rowlands Wood. The body of the second aircraft will be left in the woods overnight, and police closed off a nearby road while they carry out their inquiries.

The two aircraft were reportedly participating in the Rolls Royce Merlin Trophy, a race organised by the Royal Aero Club Racing and Rally Association, which has been held on the island since 1981. “There was a mid-air collision just before the finish of the race,” confirmed Tim Wassell, the chairman of the association. “Two planes were in collision and both had two men on board. One was a four-seater touring aircraft which, it would appear from witness reports, appears to have broken up mid-air and come down in woodland at Rowlands Woods. The second plane, a sports aircraft, was badly damaged by the collision but limped back to Bembridge Airport. The two occupants from there are safe.” The race was first held in 1911, when it was founded by Jaques Schneider, the French Under-Secretary for Air, to encourage progress in civil aviation.

“There were 19 planes taking part in the today’s race, the Merlin Trophy, which is a precursor to the main Schneider Trophy that was due to take place tomorrow but is now due to be cancelled. Two planes were in collision and both had two men on board. A four-seater touring aircraft was thought to have lost a wing and come down in woodland. The second plane, a sports aircraft, was badly damaged but limped back to Bembridge Airport,” Wassell said, telling reporters that the two survivors in the first aircraft were extremely shocked, but had no serious injuries. They were were both taken to hospital as a precaution.

The victims of this incident are currently remaining unidentified. “I would also ask that anyone who has recovered parts of the aircraft, which may be spread over a wide area, take them to Newport police station”, Inspector Paul Saville requested. An investigation has been launched by the Air Accident Investigation Branch and the police into the cause of crash.



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February 12, 2010

Reports issued after jets collided twice in same spot at UK airport

Reports issued after jets collided twice in same spot at UK airport

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Friday, February 12, 2010

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The United Kingdom’s Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB) has issued two reports today into collisions between jetliners in the same spot at Manchester Airport. None of the 468 passengers caught in the incidents, which were in separate years, were injured.

The first report concerned an incident in 2007 in which a Pakistan International Airways Boeing 777 struck a Flybe Bombardier Q400. The 777 was trying to turn in behind the Q400 onto the taxiway when its wingtip struck the smaller aircraft’s rudder.

The 777’s pilot had been “cautioned about the presence” of Flybe’s plane, according to the AAIB. The pilot stated that he believed he had sufficient room to manoeuvre and that he expected a further warning were this not the case. The aircraft were later able to continue on their journeys.

The second report issued today involves the exact same location, this time scene of a collision in 2008. A Boeing 737 operated by now-defunct Spanish airline Futura was instructed to “give way”; this confused the flight crew of the Tenerife-bound plane and it moved forward, one wingtip striking the tail of a Lufthansa Airlines Airbus A320 destined for Frankfurt.

The Futura flight crew had believed they had an unobstructed path with plenty of space to clear the A320. The AAIB recommended that Manchester’s air traffic controllers stop using the phrase “give way” and instead state “hold position”. Procedures have already been changed at Manchester in light of the collisions.



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November 20, 2009

Victims of London jetliner crash sue Boeing

Victims of London jetliner crash sue Boeing

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Friday, November 20, 2009

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Firefighters work around the wreckage in the aftermath of the crash

Ten passengers on board a British Airways jet that crashed in London’s Heathrow Airport are suing the manufacturer of the aircraft. Documents filed before a court in Chicago, Illinois claim that Boeing were responsible for design flaws with the fuel system.

The Boeing 777 crash-landed early in 2008 after engine power was lost on final approach, coming down short of the runway. The aircraft was severely damaged. The United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch is still investigating, but interim reports have indicated that engine components became clogged with ice developing in the fuel.

The crew of the aircraft were praised for their handling of the emergency, avoiding the perimeter fence and nearby houses. None of the 136 passengers and 16 crew were killed but some of those suffered serious injuries, including broken bones and facial injuries. Some were left unable to fly and there were cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This picture from the investigation demonstrates the effects of ice buildup

The case, run by London firm Stewarts Law, is that Boeing are liable for the design of the engine component upon which the ice settled during the accident. “Our clients are not critical of BA and feel that the pilots performed heroically in guiding the aircraft down in exceptionally difficult circumstances,” said the partner in charge of the case, Stuart Dench. “However the two interim reports from the Air Accident Investigation Branch suggest design defects in the aircraft’s fuel system and in particular its limitations in the prevention of dangerous ice build-up. The passengers we represent are therefore prepared to take on Boeing in its home court in Chicago, which is undoubtedly the most appropriate jurisdiction for this case.”

Boeing may seek to have the case heard in London before the High Court. If successful, the claimants are estimated by the media to be able to claim US$1 million (£600,000).



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UK lawyer comments on court case against Boeing over London jet crash

UK lawyer comments on court case against Boeing over London jet crash

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Friday, November 20, 2009

The scene of the crash
Image: Marc-Antony Payne.

On Thursday, ten of those on board British Airways Flight 38 launched a case against Boeing over the accident before a court in Illinois. They are suing over an alleged flawed design that allowed an ice buildup to bring the 777 jet down at London’s Heathrow Airport. Scottish advocate Peter Macdonald spoke to Wikinews, commenting on the case and explaining the surrounding legislation. He has experience of litigating aviation accidents.

Although investigations are ongoing, the United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued interim reports indicating ice buildup on an engine component. As the jet passed over Siberia on its journey from Beijing, China it encountered significantly reduced temperatures. The AAIB has determined that the fuel was at a temperature below 0°C for an unusually long duration. This is believed to have caused water in the fuel — which met all relevant international standards — to have frozen into crystals.

A build-up of ice developed on a component called the fuel/oil heat exchanger. This restricted the flow of fuel to the engine, resulting in an “uncommanded engine rollback” — a loss of power — on approach for landing. Investigators initially struggled to produce enough ice under test conditions but later discovered that at high concentration, fuel can form ice at very low temperatures in enough quantity to seriously restrict fuel flow. This does not occur when fuel demand is lower, as the hot oil then becomes sufficient to entirely melt the ice. It was only when extra fuel was pumped in from the tanks for the landing that the crystals became a problem. The fuel/oil heat exchanger is a dual purpose part designed to simultaneously melt fuel ice and cool down engine oil by passing oil pipes through the fuel flow.

Cquote1.svg If I am correct that it is a product liability suit, then the fact that this is the first such accident matters not Cquote2.svg

—Scots lawyer Peter Macdonald

The crew of the aircraft were praised for their handling of the emergency, avoiding the airport’s perimeter fence and nearby houses to crash land short of the runway. None of the 136 passengers and 16 crew were killed but some of those suffered serious injuries, including broken bones and facial injuries. Some were left unable to fly and there were cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The crash was triggered by highly unusual circumstances; the first AAIB report noted that cold fuel behaving in this manner was an “apparently hitherto unknown phenomenon.” As part of the investigation, data of 141,000 flights of 777s equipped with the engine model involved — the Rolls-Royce Trent 800 — was reviewed without finding any relevant circumstance similar to the accident flight, although there was later a similar incident in the United States in which the aircraft continued safely after repowering one engine; the second did not lose power.

Given the circumstances surrounding the case, Wikinews asked Peter Macdonald if the plaintiffs intended to prove that Boeing knew or should have known the Rolls-Royce powerplant was dangerously defective by design. “I rather suspect that there may be product liability legislation in place in whichever US jurisdiction is being used,” Macdonald explained. “Such statutes normally do not require proof of fault, nor do they require proof of knowledge. All that you have to show is that there was a defect in the product which caused the losses concerned… If I am correct that it is a product liability suit, then the fact that this is the first such accident matters not.”

Cquote1.svg [Rolls-Royce] would be liable for a defect in terms of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 Cquote2.svg

—Peter Macdonald

Macdonald went on to discuss the international legislation and how it interacts to the plaintiffs and the three companies involved — Boeing, British Airways and Rolls-Royce. Only Boeing is currently named in an action over the case. “There are several reasons why the plaintiffs will wish to sue Boeing in the States,” he said. “Were the plaintiffs to seek redress in a court in the United Kingdom, it is unlikely that the relevant part of Boeing would be subject to jurisdiction here.” He also pointed out that “US damages are generally higher than English damages.”

“As to whether Boeing should settle, that all depends upon the basis of the action. If it is a fault [negligence] based action, they will be able to defend it. If fault is not needed, that is why they would want the action dismissed, forcing litigation in the UK.” In the UK, a product liability suit “would ordinarily be directed against the importers, i.e. British Airways… It would be a simple matter to sue BA here [the UK] for the physical injuries and their financial consequences,” said Macdonald. “That leaves RR [Rolls-Royce]. I assume that the engine was made in the UK. They would be liable for a defect in terms of the Consumer Protection Act 1987, Part I.” This piece of UK-wide legislation states that “where any damage is caused wholly or partly by a defect in a product [the manufacturer] shall be liable for the damage.” Damage includes injuries.

This picture from the investigation demonstrates the effects of ice buildup on the part in question

US courts decide international jurisdictional issues under the Jones Act, passed as a result of Bhopal litigation, “which makes it much more difficult for a foreigner to sue in the US if the accident did not happen there… My restricted understanding of that is that it is likely that it would be difficult to remove an action from a US court where the aircraft was made in the US.” He further pointed out that the court would require there to be an alternative court with jurisdiction over the issue. “It may well be that the relevant part of the Boeing group is not subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts… I have seen cases where it was made a condition of the grant of an order under the Jones Act that the defendants would submit to the jurisdiction of a court in Scotland and that they would not take a plea of time bar in the even that an action was raised within three months of the court order.”

He then addressed the international law with regards to what could be claimed for against air carriers such as BA. In a previous case against the same airline, Abnett v British Airways, the House of Lords ruled in 1997 “that the only remedy for an injured passenger on an international flight is to sue under the Warsaw Convention, Article 17, incorporated into our law by the Carriage by Air Act, 1961.” The Warsaw Convention governs liability for international commercial airlines. At the time, the House of Lords was the highest court of appeal in the UK, although it was recently replaced by the Supreme Court. The Abnett case referred to British Airways Flight 149, in which Iraq captured the aircraft and occupants when it landed in Kuwait hours after Iraq invaded in 1990. Peter Macdonald represented Abnett in this case.

The Convention “provides a remedy for “bodily injury”. Interestingly, the term only appeared in the final draft of the Warsaw Convention. There is no mention of the term in the minutes of the many sessions which lead up to the final draft. It was produced overnight and signed later that day.” This term creates difficulties in claiming for mental problems such as the fear of flying or PTSD, although Macdonald points out that “there is a large amount of medical literature which details physical and chemical changes in the brains of people who are suffering from PTSD.”

In King v Bristow Helicopters, heard before the House of Lords in 2002 “held that PTSD was not a “bodily injury”, but expressly left the door open for someone to try to prove that what is known as PTSD is the manifestation of physical changes in the brain which have been brought about by the trauma. Such a litigation is pending in Scotland.” Macdonald is acting in this case.

Actions against Boeing are not bound in this way, as the Warsaw Convention only applies to airlines, making the States an attractive place to sue due to the issues with demonstrating jurisdiction against the relevant part of the Boeing group in the UK. Another reason why the plaintiffs would prefer to sue in America is that in the UK “there would be liability [for BA], and that would be subject to a damages cap. An action in the US [against any defendant] would probably have the same cap, but is likely to award damages more generously in the event that the cap is not reached.”



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September 20, 2009

Two people killed in aircraft crash in Hampshire, England

Two people killed in aircraft crash in Hampshire, England

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Disasters and accidents

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A light aircraft crashed in the remote village of Tangley near Andover in the county of Hampshire in England on Sunday, killing two people on board.

A map of England with the county of Hampshire in red.

The plane crashed at roughly 1300 BST in a field in Tangley and subsequently caught fire. An air ambulance, a rapid response doctor, police officers and fire officers were scrambled to the scene shortly after the crash. Officials from the Air Accident Investigation Branch were also urgently called to the area. Initially, the emergency services were prevented from approaching the aircraft due the torrent of flames that was tearing through it. A probe to investigate the crash is now going to be carried out.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary stated: “A call was received at 12.40pm today after the plane was seen to come down. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are on scene working to put out the blaze and members of the South Central Ambulance Service are also at the sight. Two people who were on board have been confirmed deceased, although it is not yet known how many people were on the aircraft. We haven’t been able to get anywhere near to find out how many people are dead because of the fire. We have to be sure that the fuel has been isolated and it is safe.” The spokesperson also stated that any other passengers that were on the plane were most likely to be dead.

Neither the itinerary or the take-off point of the aircraft are currently known. It is also unknown exactly how many passengers were on the plane, although the police have stated that it may be a four-seater or a six-seater aircraft. A person speaking on behalf of the members of the South Central Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 12.36 this afternoon to Tangley to reports of a patient who had been injured following a light aircraft crash. However, we believe one patient passed away at the scene.”



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March 14, 2009

US, UK investigators seek 777 engine redesign to stop repeat of London jet crash

US, UK investigators seek 777 engine redesign to stop repeat of London jet crash

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

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Ice on the fuel/oil heat exchanger of a Trent 800 engine during testing as part of the investigation

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States have issued an ‘urgent safety recommendation’ in connection to their role alongside the United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch in investigating loss of power in Rolls-Royce engines on Boeing 777s, with the AAIB following suit. One of them resulted in British Airways Flight 38 crashing short of the runway at London’s Heathrow Airport last year. The NTSB and the AAIB want Rolls-Royce to redesign the engines.

Both events occurred on Boeing 777-200ER airplanes powered by Rolls-Royce RB211 Trent 800 Series engines. On January 17, 2008 British Airways Flight 38 experienced a dual engine rollback (reduction of engine power) on final approach to Heathrow and crashed, leaving one passenger seriously injured, eight passengers and four of the flight crew with minor injuries and the airplane written off.

The second event occurred on November 26, 2008, when a Delta Air Lines Boeing 777 experienced a single engine rollback during cruise flight over Montana, United States while en route from Shanghai to Atlanta. Normal operations resumed after the flight crew followed Boeing’s published procedure to recover engine performance and the airplane landed safely in Atlanta.

Boeing has already developed new procedures after the crash to prevent ice from building up within their 777 fuel systems after it became apparent that icing may have been a factor, and it was some of these that the Delta flight crew had followed. Boeing modified these further after the Delta incident. As part of the recent releases by the NTSB and AAIB it has become apparent that investigators from both bodies, which are collaborating, have found ice buildup in the fuel system caused both rollbacks.

In both cases a build-up of ice (from water normally present in all jet fuel) developed on a component called the fuel/oil heat exchanger. This restricted the flow of fuel to the engine, resulting in the uncommanded engine rollback. Investigators initially struggled to produce enough ice under test conditions but have now found that at high concentration, fuel can form ice at very low temperatures in enough quantity to seriously restrict fuel flow, according to a new interim report by the AAIB. This does not occur when fuel demand is lower, as the hot oil then becomes sufficient to entirely melt the ice. The British jet experienced very low temperatures over Siberia.

The wreckage of the British Airways jetliner

The vigorous tests are thought to be the first of their kind. They have also confirmed that while ice may have formed elsewhere in the airliner’s fuel system fuel was probably not restricted at any other location. Instead, it is thought ‘soft’ ice formed in the pipes and then broke off, travelling to the fuel/oil heat exchanger and restricting it.

The NTSB has now revealed that they have advised Rolls-Royce to redesign the fuel/oil heat exchanger, and Rolls-Royce have stated that they are indeed working on a replacement part that will be available within twelve months. The AAIB advised Boeing and Rolls-Royce to jointly review the problem across the fuel system, and both companies responded that they ‘accepted’ this recommendation and repeated that a replacement part was being developed.

Both the NTSB and the AAIB also sent letters to the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency requesting the installment of the modified component be mandatory. The NTSB suggested this should be either the next maintenance check or within six months. There are 220 Boeing 777-200s – the only type using the affected engine – with Trent 800 series engines.

The fuel/oil heat exchanger is a dual purpose part designed to simultaneously melt fuel ice and cool down engine oil.

The AAIB further noted that it is unclear weather other aircraft designs are at risk, and advised the FAA and EASA to look into increased use of de-icing additives and investigate both the accumulation and sudden movement of ice in aircraft fuel systems and the actual formation of ice in the fuel itself.



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December 18, 2008

US, UK investigators collaborating after US 777 incident similar to London crash

US, UK investigators collaborating after US 777 incident similar to London crash

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The scene of the British Airways 777 crash. Is the recent power loss on a 777 in the US linked?

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the United Kingdom are working together ‘closely’ after a Delta Air Lines Boeing 777 in the US suffered an engine power incident. The event has similarities to the crash of British Airways Flight 38 in January at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The AAIB and the NTSB are now collaborating to try and determine whether or not the two events are in fact linked. On November 26 a Delta 777-200ER cruising at 39,000 feet near Great Falls suffered a serious reduction in power on the right-hand (number 2) engine without input from either the flight crew or the aircraft’s control systems. The pilots lowered the jetliner to 31,000 feet in accordance with procedures in the flight manuals and regained full power in the engine.

From that point on, the engine behaved normally again. The flight, Flight 18 from Shanghai, continued to its destination of Atlanta.

Investigators have noticed similarities to the January crash of a British Airways jet in London. Flight 38, another 777, suffered this same uncommanded loss of engine thrust in both engines during final approach to Heathrow on January 17, and crashed short of the runway. There were no fatalities, although several passengers were injured. The aircraft was written off.

An interim report by the AAIB, which is leading the investigation into the crash of Flight 38, has suggested that an ice buildup during the trip from China in the fuel supply caused the accident. As a result, Boeing recommended pilots of such aircraft occasionally rev up their engines on lengthy flights to stop ice from building up.

Both airliners were equipped with twin Rolls-Royce Trent 895 engines. The NTSB appointed Senior Air Safety Investigator Bill English as the accredited representative of the US to the AAIB on the London crash. Now, he has also been put in charge of the NTSB investigation into the Delta midair incident. The two investigative bodies are now working with each other to try to identify whether there are common circumstances behind both events.

Among the parties to the investigation are Eaton-Argotech. The firm manufactures fuel systems for commercial airliners, amongst other users. Also participating are the US Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing, Delta, and the Air Line Pilots Association.



Sources

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