Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

That Time a Commercial Aircraft Ran Out of Fuel Mid-Flight...
todayifoundout ^ | May 27, 2014 | Melissa

Posted on 05/29/2014 8:32:05 AM PDT by virgil283

"On July 23, 1983, in the small town of Gimli, Manitoba, Captain Robert Pearson and Co-Pilot Maurice Quintal expertly glided a 100-ton Boeing 767 carrying 69 people to a safe landing without engines, air brakes or flaps, and minimal control of the aircraft......"

.....;

(Excerpt) Read more at todayifoundout.com ...


TOPICS: History; Travel
KEYWORDS: aerospace; aircanada; aviation; canada; commercialaircraft; gimliglider
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-56 next last
"The flight plan for Canada 143 that day began with a short jaunt from Montreal, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario. Right from the beginning, the crew realized the plane had a faulty fuel control: “A computer known as the Fuel Quantity Information System Process manages the entire fuel loading process. . .The problem was that the original ground crew, and the flight crew (twice!), had forgotten that the new airliner used the metric system (as Canada was in the process of switching to the metric system, so the new planes purchased by Air Canada were being calibrated in metric units); as a result, they had all erroneously used the figure 1.77 lbs/liter for their specific gravity factor in the calculations, but what they should have used was 0.8 kg/liter.

Bottom line, this meant that the plane was filled with only about half of the fuel it needed to make the trip. .....Just minutes later, another pressure gauge “lit up,” and they lost their left engine. Two minutes after that: “The EICAS issued a sharp bong – indicating the complete and total loss of both engines. . . . ‘It’s a sound that Bob and I had never heard before.’ . . . . Starved of fuel, both . . . engines had flamed out. Pearson’s response, recorded on the cockpit voice recorder, was ‘Oh +++++"......

After a quick perusal of the manuals, which had no procedures for a loss of both engines, the pilots quickly realized their only hope was to somehow glide the plane to a safe landing. Luckily for the passengers aboard, while he’d never tried gliding a Boeing 767, Pearson was an extremely experienced glider pilot....At this point, the plane was losing altitude at a rate of approximately 2,000 feet/minute, but at least the pilots could still control it.....

Upon approaching the runway at the old Gimli base, Pearson and Quintal realized they were too high. They then performed a common maneuver in small aircraft called a forward slip, which is to bank into the wind, then apply opposite rudder to keep the plane flying straight, rather than turning; this results in the plane descending more rapidly without increasing airspeed. While commonly done in personal aircraft, this is a very rare maneuver for commercial craft.

Although somewhat risky, this was the pilots’ only option since the flaps and dive-brakes required power from the now-inoperable engines. While all pilots are well familiar with this maneuver (in fact it’s generally required before you can go on your first solo flight in personal aircraft), Pearson had a wealth of experience performing the forward slip maneuver, thanks to not only frequently piloting gliders, but also years of experience towing them: “After releasing the glider, I would have this long tow line hanging under the plane, and I had to be careful not to snag it on the farmer’s fence as I approached the runway. So I would stay high until I cleared the fence, and then did a steep slip to make the runway.”......Nevertheless, they managed to glide in safely and as the plane touched down:

Another problem was that, unknown to the pilots, the abandoned runway had been converted to a recreational center, including auto and go-cart racing“. Spectators, racers, and kids on bicycles fled the runway. The gigantic Boeing was about to become a 132 ton, silver bulldozer. One member of the . . . Club reportedly was walking down the dragstrip, five gallon can full of hi-octane fuel in hand, when he looked up and saw the 767 headed right for him.”

Pearson laid heavily on the wheel brakes directly after touching down and: “Two tires blew out. The nose gear . . . collapsed . . . the nose . . . slammed against the tarmac, bounced [and threw a] three hundred foot shower of sparks. The right engine nacelle struck the ground . . . .

The 767 came to a stop . . . less than a hundred feet from spectators, barbecues and campers…”

more at site. [h/t American Digest]

1 posted on 05/29/2014 8:32:05 AM PDT by virgil283
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: virgil283

Just Damn.

It’s a true fact that all planes land. Not exactly how you want them to land, but still...


2 posted on 05/29/2014 8:35:58 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283
Gliding in a 767 with no power to a former runway?

That's comparable to Sully's Hudson river landing.

3 posted on 05/29/2014 8:38:02 AM PDT by AU72
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283
FYI...complete Smithsonian Channel episode here
4 posted on 05/29/2014 8:38:16 AM PDT by ken5050 ("One useless man is a shame, two are a law firm, three or more are a Congress".. John Adams)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

Thanks for reminding of that amazing story and pilot.


5 posted on 05/29/2014 8:38:38 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Texas is not where you were born, but a Free State of Heart, Mind & Attitude!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

The story of the Gimli Glider. I read that recently that very aircraft had been retired from passenger service.


6 posted on 05/29/2014 8:39:14 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Haven't you lost enough freedoms? Support an end to the WOD now.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Responsibility2nd

Take offs are optional. Landings are not. :<} I remember reading this story several years ago. Sometimes skill and luck go hand in hand. Just get the racers off the air strip. STAT!


7 posted on 05/29/2014 8:41:49 AM PDT by rktman (Ethnicity: Nascarian. Race: Daytonafivehundrian)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

5% Carry 100% of Free Republic Expense


Click The Pic To Donate

Support FR

8 posted on 05/29/2014 8:42:27 AM PDT by DJ MacWoW (The Fed Gov is not one ring to rule them all)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Responsibility2nd

We have never left one up there.


9 posted on 05/29/2014 8:44:23 AM PDT by mortal19440
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

Gimli, son of Gloin?


10 posted on 05/29/2014 8:48:32 AM PDT by eCSMaster ("It is not the color of his skin, ... it is the blackness that fills his soul")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


11 posted on 05/29/2014 8:48:46 AM PDT by Rio (Proud resident of the State of Jefferson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

I’m still surprised that thing can be profitable carrying 69 passengers


12 posted on 05/29/2014 8:49:55 AM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Blood of Tyrants

Ever try to google the tail number?


13 posted on 05/29/2014 8:51:08 AM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

767s were flying in 1983?


14 posted on 05/29/2014 8:51:21 AM PDT by armydawg505
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeronL

No, why?


15 posted on 05/29/2014 8:51:39 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Haven't you lost enough freedoms? Support an end to the WOD now.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: ken5050

Thanks Ken, I haven’t seen this program.


16 posted on 05/29/2014 8:52:22 AM PDT by virgil283 (That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: mortal19440

Except MAF 370.

So far - there is still no proof that it ever landed.


17 posted on 05/29/2014 8:53:58 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

btt


18 posted on 05/29/2014 8:54:44 AM PDT by KSCITYBOY
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

...and the Obama Administration’s investigation is likely to be completed by January 31, 2017.


19 posted on 05/29/2014 8:54:59 AM PDT by Night Hides Not (For every Ted Cruz we send to DC, I can endure 2-3 "unviable" candidates that beat incumbents.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeronL

It is not the passengers that keep an airliner in business. It is the cargo.


20 posted on 05/29/2014 8:55:39 AM PDT by US_MilitaryRules (Did you just get off the short bus or what?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Blood of Tyrants

It usually returns all sorts of information about that particular plane, the owner and service details.


21 posted on 05/29/2014 8:55:48 AM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: virgil283
Luckily for the passengers...

...there were only 69 on-board the 767-233.

22 posted on 05/29/2014 8:58:38 AM PDT by RckyRaCoCo (Shall Not Be Infringed)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Responsibility2nd

“Two minutes after that: “The EICAS issued a sharp bong – indicating the complete and total loss of both engines. . . . ‘It’s a sound that Bob and I had never heard before.’ . . . . Starved of fuel, both . . . engines had flamed out.”

I wonder if it sounds like the cloister bell on the TARDIS?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY8I3_IGmbQ


23 posted on 05/29/2014 8:58:52 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: armydawg505
767s were flying in 1983?

First flight in 1981, first commercial flight in 1982.

24 posted on 05/29/2014 9:03:53 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Republican amnesty supporters don't care whether their own homes are called mansions or haciendas.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

469 knots

I miss those days.


25 posted on 05/29/2014 9:03:59 AM PDT by First_Salute (May God save our democratic-republican government, from a government by judiciary.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: armydawg505
767s were flying in 1983? . according to the video they were new. This plane had 150 hours.
26 posted on 05/29/2014 9:10:08 AM PDT by virgil283 (That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: virgil283
That forward slip I learned from an old air force pilot. I used this many times and the only thing that was critical was making sure that even though the stall indicator sometimes sounded you were using the tech flying by the seat of your pants. There is a special feel using this tech. Once in a while I used this to cut the landing roll out so short that I usually could make the first turn out because the rate of descend was high and wheels touching would be at a much slower speed. A word of advice, pilots do not try this unless you get a qualified pilot to show how. Cross controlling will even help lining up a runway in windy conditions.
27 posted on 05/29/2014 9:14:28 AM PDT by Logical me
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283
Even more amazing is the BA 747 that lost all FOUR engines because it ingested volcanic ash..full episode here
28 posted on 05/29/2014 9:31:40 AM PDT by ken5050 ("One useless man is a shame, two are a law firm, three or more are a Congress".. John Adams)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Logical me

I used to do slips in sailplanes all the time. It gets you on the deck fast.


29 posted on 05/29/2014 9:32:54 AM PDT by jumpingcholla34
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

I remember a TV movie about this very flight. I think Richard Jordan was one of the pilots.


30 posted on 05/29/2014 9:38:59 AM PDT by Organic Panic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Logical me
"That forward slip I learned from an old air force pilot.....youtube has videos of this maneuver. Its interesting to see a plane moving forward but at an strange angle.
31 posted on 05/29/2014 9:46:33 AM PDT by virgil283 (That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: virgil283; EveningStar; Clive; exg; Alberta's Child; albertabound; AntiKev; backhoe; ...
To all- please ping me to Canadian topics.

Canada Ping!

32 posted on 05/29/2014 10:11:09 AM PDT by Squawk 8888 (I'd give up chocolate but I'm no quitter)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Logical me

Forward slip is standard for the private pilot training here- won’t even get to solo if you can’t do it.


33 posted on 05/29/2014 10:14:27 AM PDT by Squawk 8888 (I'd give up chocolate but I'm no quitter)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: virgil283; Logical me

Forward slips are a standard technique for correcting high approaches but normally are not necessary for commercial aircraft because they’re equipped with spoilers and it’s usually better to just execute a missed approach.


34 posted on 05/29/2014 10:17:45 AM PDT by Squawk 8888 (I'd give up chocolate but I'm no quitter)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Nailbiter

ping


35 posted on 05/29/2014 10:40:27 AM PDT by IncPen (When you start talking about what we 'should' have, you've made the case for the Second Amendment)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: virgil283; 04-Bravo; 1FASTGLOCK45; 1stFreedom; 2ndDivisionVet; 2sheds; 60Gunner; 6AL-4V; ...
Aviation and Aerospace ping

Click here to view: Highlights in the History of Aviation and Aerospace - The Past, The Present, and The Future

Please ping me to aviation and aerospace articles. Thank you.

If you want added to or removed from this ping list, please contact EveningStar or Paleo Conservative.

36 posted on 05/29/2014 10:55:51 AM PDT by EveningStar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

My father-in-law was a pilot and once ran out of gas in his Piper. He managed to land in a farmer’s field without incident. The farmer helped him get gas for his plane and my father-in-law offered to give him a plane ride for his trouble. The farmer politely declined saying he wouldn’t feel safe flying with any pilot who ran out of gas.


37 posted on 05/29/2014 10:59:30 AM PDT by The Great RJ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: EveningStar

Be sure not to forget about Air Transat Flight 236 (yep, another Canuckian airliner!). And at the controls was another Bob (aka Robert).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Transat_Flight_236

Air Transat Flight 236 was an Air Transat flight bound for Lisbon, Portugal from Toronto, Canada that lost all power while flying over the Atlantic Ocean on August 24, 2001. The Airbus A330-243 suffered a complete power loss due to a fuel leak caused by improper maintenance. Captain Robert Piché, 48, an experienced glider pilot, and First Officer Dirk de Jager, 28, flew the plane to a successful emergency landing in the Azores, saving all 306 people (293 passengers and 13 crew) on board.[1]

Most of the passengers on the flight were Canadians visiting Europe and Portuguese expatriates returning to visit family in Portugal.[2]

At 06:13 UTC, while still 135 miles (217 km) from Lajes,[5] engine #2 flamed out because of fuel starvation. Captain Piché then initiated a descent to 33,000 feet (10,000 m), which was the proper single-engine altitude for the weight of the plane at that time. Ten minutes later, the crew sent a Mayday to Santa Maria Oceanic air traffic control.

Three minutes later, at 06:26 UTC and approximately 65 nautical miles (120 km) from Lajes Air Base, engine #1 also flamed out.

Military air traffic controllers guided the aircraft to the airport with their radar system. The descent rate of the plane was about 2,000 feet (600 metres) per minute. They calculated they had about 15 to 20 minutes left before they would be forced to ditch in the ocean. The air base was sighted a few minutes later. Captain Piché had to execute one 360 degree turn, and then a series of “S” turns, to dissipate excess altitude.

At 06:45 UTC, the plane touched down hard, approximately 1,030 feet (310 m) past the threshold of Runway 33, at a speed of approximately 200 knots (370 km/h), bounced once and then touched down again, approximately 2,800 feet (850 m) from the threshold. Maximum emergency braking was applied and retained, and the plane came to a stop 7,600 feet (2,300 m) from the threshold of that 10,000 feet (3,000 m) runway. Since they had lost the anti-skid and brake modulation systems, the eight main wheels locked up; its tires abraded and fully deflated within 450 feet (140 m).[3] Fourteen passengers and two crew members suffered minor injuries, while two passengers suffered serious injuries during the evacuation of the aircraft. The plane suffered structural damage to the main landing gear and the lower fuselage.

Documentary.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_JD2NjUXjo


38 posted on 05/29/2014 11:07:21 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

And then there was the Air Transat (IIRC) guys out of Canada who had to land in the Azores after their plane ran out of fuel.

I’m very glad that the pilots in these cases were able to dead stick their planes in to a safe landing, but neither case should have happened. 1.7 lbs/liter? Were they actually using that number at some point? Bad idea to mix two different sets of measurements like that.


39 posted on 05/29/2014 11:15:22 AM PDT by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like tractor.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283
What I am absolutely not getting is how a 767 making a short flight from Montreal to Ottawa, an air distance roughly similar to New York to Baltimore, could run out of fuel and end up gliding to a safe landing in Gimli, an air distance roughly similar to Miami.

That a lot of time in the air without an engine and a lot of stress !

40 posted on 05/29/2014 11:55:45 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283
There was another plane that ran out of fuel in Africa after some moron hijacked it and didn't believe the pilots when they told him it didn't have enough fuel to make it to Libya.

It crash landed in the ocean off of a resort, and many people in the resort rushed out in boats to pull passengers out of the water.

The majority lived, if I recall correctly.

41 posted on 05/29/2014 12:00:04 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Vigilanteman

That was the first leg of the trip. The plane ran out of fuel on the second leg, from Ottawa to Edmonton, which is some 2,800 km (1,740 miles).


42 posted on 05/29/2014 12:36:38 PM PDT by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like tractor.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: AU72
Gliding in a 767 with no power to a former runway? That's comparable to Scully's Hudson river landing.

Actually what Scully did relative to flying was not that difficult. The landing of the 767 in Gimle Canada was a more difficult flying feat. Scully had miles of water to land on. The Gimle Glider (a 767 with out power) had just a few thousand feet to land on.

Scully's brilliance was his decision making. If he tried to go back to La Guardia or make it to Tetterboro he had one chance to land and if he did not make it to the runway an airliner full of fuel and passengers would come down in a heavily populated area. He had little time to make the decision. He made the right decision as did the pilot of the Gimle Glider.

I salute both exceptional pilots.

43 posted on 05/29/2014 12:41:38 PM PDT by cpdiii (Deckhand, Roughneck, Mud Man, Geologist, Pilot, Pharmacist THE CONSTITUTION IS WORTH DYING FOR!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: rktman
Take offs are optional. Landings are not.

Kinda like the Coast Guard's

"You have to go out, You don't have to come back"

44 posted on 05/29/2014 12:49:25 PM PDT by AU72
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: AU72

Or, submarines going down but not coming up. Yewww! What an awful way to go. Hell, I sometimes thought we were a sub in the North Atlantic in 50’ seas on a destroyer escort.


45 posted on 05/29/2014 12:53:06 PM PDT by rktman (Ethnicity: Nascarian. Race: Daytonafivehundrian)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: rktman
I sometimes thought we were a sub in the North Atlantic in 50’ seas on a destroyer escort.

Yeah I remember those seas on one fisheries patrol in January. On the mid-watch the Captain was being kept awake by a loose monkey's fist banging on the hull of his stateroom. As BMOW it was my task to secure it in a wet pitching deck.

46 posted on 05/29/2014 12:58:15 PM PDT by AU72
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: armydawg505
767s were flying in 1983?

Yes, but the A300 was the first wide body twin engine, a market that now dominates large commercial airliners.

47 posted on 05/29/2014 1:04:23 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: -YYZ-
Makes more sense now. But I thought checking the fuel level was on the routine list of things to go through before take off.

At least it was when my uncles and father flew in World War II.

48 posted on 05/29/2014 1:07:31 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: virgil283
The problem was that the original ground crew, and the flight crew (twice!), had forgotten that the new airliner used the metric system (as Canada was in the process of switching to the metric system, so the new planes purchased by Air Canada were being calibrated in metric units); as a result, they had all erroneously used the figure 1.77 lbs/liter for their specific gravity factor in the calculations, but what they should have used was 0.8 kg/liter.

When are going to switch to binary? The benefit of the metric system is that it allows bureaucrats to count on their fingers.

49 posted on 05/29/2014 1:07:36 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: virgil283

I remember when this happened. It was shocking that no one was injured or had a heart attack! I know that there are probably MANY that saw God’s hand in that landing that day!


50 posted on 05/29/2014 1:26:42 PM PDT by Shery (in APO Land)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-56 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson