Apr 30, 2007

When the Fire Goes Out...

What’s worse than an engine on fire? How about two engines with no fire at all - that is a dual flame-out, on a twin-engine airliner!

Pilots often talk about “losing an engine” and except for the odd case where engines have actually parted company with the rest of the airframe (was it something I said?), what we are really referring to is the loss of engine thrust.

When I worked as Second Officer on the Boeing 727 we passed considerable time in the flight simulator practicing the drill for Two Engines Failed. Lack of thrust wasn't the only challenge with this configuration. The limited hydraulic and electrical power available from the last-surviving engine caused several complications. Notably the flaps and landing gear required special procedures to extend them, and once extended, retracting them was not necessarily an option.

Soon after upgrading to First “O” on the DC-9, I found myself wondering what the procedure was in case of losing two engines. To my surprise as I flipped through all the back corners of the emergency procedures chapters I found nary a reference. If there’s no checklist for it, it can’t happen. Right? Uh huh.

A few other folks must have been wondering the same thing because soon the two-engine flame-out drill did show up. But I didn't wait for that. The next time I was at the simulator I set up several landing scenarios with both engines dead and developed my own procedures. The Airbus came 'factory-equipped' with an All Engines Out drill - more on that next time.

In the meanwhile, a few incidents of multiple engine-failures:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominicana_DC-9_air_disaster
http://www.airsafe.com/events/noengine.htm

5 comments:

Splendor said...

I guess quite a few people were looking for that drill... I got to know another company pilot who did the same thing. He then moved onto the 767.

S.

Anonymous said...

When an engine just quits for 'no apparent reason' I immediately wonder about fuel contamination. Not a comfortable thought. Much nicer when the engine makes some noises and gives hints that there's some mechanical reason for it's failure, and the other engine can be counted upon to keep running for a while.

moe said...

I'm sure you know about it, but just in case, here is the transcript from the CRJ200 that had a dual engine flame-out.

The pilots were "experimenting" taking it to its service ceiling of FL410. Needless to say, not a good idea...

http://www.ntsb.gov/events/2005/Pinnacle/exhibits/CVR_Factual.pdf

Noella said...

Very interesting blog; I keep checking back to read the archives. Keep up the good work.

Kind regards.

Engine Parts said...

Hey,
Sounds great that you know all about your stuff! Its intriguing when you speak to someone who knows what they speak about, as oppose to reciting it from someone else they learned from. I can see you are very experienced and with your credentials it is quite obvious that you will make it far in life, or have already made it far in life :)