Focus Shifts To Fuel Contamination In BA 777 Accident | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Most Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date

Airborne-Monday

Airborne-Tuesday

Airborne-Wednesday Airborne-Thursday

Airborne-Friday

Airborne On YouTube

Holiday

Airborne-Unlimited-02.20.24

Airborne-Unlimited-02.14.24 Airborne-AffordableFlyers-02.15.24

Airborne-Unlimited-02.16.24

Mon, Feb 04, 2008

Focus Shifts To Fuel Contamination In BA 777 Accident

Low Temps May Have Resulted In Ice Formation

Investigators into the January 17 downing of a British Airways Boeing 777-236ER on approach to London's Heathrow Airport reportedly suspect fuel-system contamination to be the cause... in particular, the possibility ice formed in the fuel during the airliner's flight from Beijing, resulting in fuel flow blockage.

As ANN reported, the 777 landed short of runway 27L at Heathrow, after its two Rolls-Royce Trent 895 turbofans failed to spool up in time to arrest the airliner's descent. While 13 persons onboard the plane were injured in the hard landing,  there were no fatalities among the 152 persons onboard.

According to an update issued January 23 by the UK's Air Accident Investigation Board, the 777's autothrust system commanded an increase in thrust from both engines. Both engines initially responded.. but after about three seconds the thrust of the right engine reduced to just above flight-idle, with the left engine following about eight seconds later.

The Wall Street Journal reports other factors for the aberration remain under consideration... but FAA officials are increasingly pointing towards some form of fuel contamination as the cause of the accident -- specifically, "small-sized contamination building up in the engine fuel systems" or "ice in the fuel somehow limiting the fuel flow to the engines," according to a memo sent to high-level FAA regulators last week.

So far, investigators have found no evidence of malfunctions to the 777's computer systems, or the engines themselves... which should come as something of a relief to Boeing, and operators of the popular widebody airliner. Less comforting, though, is the prospect of similar problems cropping up during other long-distance flights -- especially on increasingly common polar routes, like the accident flight.

According to the FAA memo, the 777 encountered a "high humidity, cold environment, conducive to ice formation" on its flight to Heathrow. Onboard sensors recorded a fuel temperature at minus 34 degrees Celsius, or minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit -- leading some investigators to theorize ice particles formed in the fuel, and in turn impeded flow to the engines at the critical time. Investigators also reportedly found internal damage to at least one fuel pump on the 777, suggesting the pumps weren't receiving adequate fuel flows, according to an anonymous source close to the investigation.

The memo also revealed possible hints of problems to come -- saying the pilots received "a maintenance message indicating excessive water in the center tank" while taxiing for takeoff on two flights prior to the accident flight. In each case, however, the warnings disappeared before action was taken to address the problem. The 777's center tank would have fed both engines on descent and approach, according to experts cited by the WSJ.

Subsequent testing of fuel recovered onboard the accident aircraft, as well as from other planes that refueled in Beijing around the same time, showed the fuel met specifications.

A safety bulletin will be released by Boeing and UK aviation officials in the coming days, updating 777 operators on the investigation. Both US and British investigators say it's too soon to issue specific recommendations to address potential center tank icing, however.

FMI: www.aaib.dft.gov.uk/home/index.cfm, www.faa.gov, www.britishairways.com

Advertisement

More News

ANN's Daily Aero-Linx (02.17.24)

Aero Linx: American Astronautical Society (AAS) The American Astronautical Society leads and advances the discussion around space. Since 1954, AAS has been the premier network of c>[...]

Aero-News: Quote of the Day (02.17.24)

“Failing to adhere to the safety requirements for flying drones endangers people and property. All drone operators have a responsibility to ensure that they observe all appli>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Term (02.17.24): Total Estimated Elapsed Time [ICAO]

Total Estimated Elapsed Time [ICAO] For IFR flights, the estimated time required from takeoff to arrive over that designated point, defined by reference to navigation aids, from wh>[...]

Aero-News: Quote of the Day (02.18.24)

“NASA scientific instruments are on their way to the Moon – a giant leap for humanity as we prepare to return to the lunar surface for the first time in more than half >[...]

Airborne 02.16.24: SnF Constellation!, Drone Soccer, VTOL Challenge

Also: Mandatory CVR Upgrades?, Joby Air Taxi, Hartzell in India, Tuskegee NEXT Summer Program A rare appearance by the Lockheed VC-121A “MacArthur Bataan” is scheduled >[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2024 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC