Qantas Flight 32 – Part Four
(This five-part series begins with Part One HERE.)
Abbreviations: Captain (PIC-pilot in charge), First Officer (FO), Second Officer (SO), Check Captain (CC), Supervising Check Captain (SCC), Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM)
Consistent with the fully computerized nature of the A-380, determining the required runway length for a given aircraft is accomplished using a software program known as the Landing Distance Performance Application or LDPA. Various factors are entered, including weight, weather, configuration and systems performance as well as the runway surface. On that day, the LDPA would not generate a landing distance based on the initial information entered into the program. With the knowledge that the runway surface was dry, that parameter was selected and the LDPA indicated a landing could occur with 328 feet remaining on a runway 13,123 long; not much room to spare.
The blown No. 2 engine and the accompanying damage to the wing had resulted in a litany of landing related problems:
-Reverse thrust was only available from the No. 3 engine
-No leading edge slats were available
-There was limited aileron and spoiler control
-Anti-skid braking was restricted to the body landing gear only
-There was limited nosewheel steering
-The nose was likely to pitch up on touchdown
-Maximum braking could not be applied until the nosewheel was on the runway.
With reverse thrust only on the in-board engines and one of those out-of-service, coming to a timely stop would be a challenge.
The approach began from 20 miles out and the crew constantly monitored controllability as the flaps were extended while the final approach speed of 166 knots was maintained. The landing gear was successfully lowered using the emergency extension procedure.
The crew determined that accurate speed control was paramount to avoid either a stall or an over-run. The PIC carefully used the engines to develop the required thrust. The autopilot continuously disconnected when the airspeed dropped 1-knot below approach speed and at 1,000 feet the PIC made the decision to fly the aircraft manually. Because of the extremely small landing margin the landing would be no-flare.
The aircraft touched down with nosewheel contact in about 6 seconds. The PIC initiated full braking and reverse thrust on the No.3 engine. Deceleration was reported as slow but as the aircraft descended through 60 knots the crew was confident of remaining on the runway. Full stop was achieved with 480 feet to spare, or about twice the length of the aircraft.
But, the fun, as it were, was not over. When the engines were shutdown the aircraft unexpectedly lost power leaving just one working radio. In addition, the left body landing gear brakes were registering 1500 degrees Fahrenheit and there was a fuel leak on that side of the aircraft.
The fire department foamed the affected area and requested that the crew shutdown the No. 1 engine. They replied that they had but they were informed by the fire commander that it continued to run. Despite repeated attempts to stop the engine, including discharging the fire extinguisher system, it would not shut down. Eventually the fire department drowned it out with foam and water.
Remarkably, the aircraft was successfully evacuated with no reported injuries.
The Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) reported that, "the No. 2 engine had sustained an uncontained failure of the Intermediate Pressure (IP) turbine disc. Sections of the liberated disc penetrated the left wing and the left wing-to-fuselage fairing, resulting in structural and systems damage to the aircraft."
Tomorrow: Conclusion – Parallels for Fire Crews is posted HERE.
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