Skip to comments.DHL/EAT Crew Lands A300 With No Hydraulics After Being Hit By Missile
Posted on 12/09/2003 12:19:34 PM PST by UNGN
No Flight Controls
In a situation reminiscent of the United Airlines DC-10 landing without hydraulics in Iowa in 1989, the crew of a DHL A300 hit by a missile relied solely on engine power without flight controls to land at Baghdad.
Pierre Ghyoot, secretary general of the Belgian Cockpit Assn. (BeCA), told Aviation Week & Space Technology that the pilots were able to guide the aircraft to a safe landing on Nov. 22 using only engine power settings. The aircraft lost all three hydraulic systems and all flight controls. Ghyoot said his organization is already planning to give the crew a safety award.
According to one aviation source familiar with the incident in Baghdad, the incredible feat of airmanship is explained partly by a safety seminar the DHL/European Air Transport (EAT) captain attended in Brussels earlier this year. In a stroke of luck, one of the speakers was retired Capt. Al Haynes. In 1989, Haynes commanded a United Airlines DC-10 in which all the hydraulics had been lost due to a center engine rotor burst in cruise. Using engine thrust alone, the United crew was able to crash-land the crippled aircraft at the Sioux City, Iowa, airport, and the majority of the passengers survived.
After the DC-10 accident, studies and flight tests by McDonnell Douglas and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center showed engine thrust can be a control in some cases and that practice before landing is extremely valuable (AW&ST June 24, 1991, p. 43). NASA research pilot C. Gordon Fullerton noted the primary job is to damp roller-coaster phugoid oscillations in pitch and find a stable attitude. Adding thrust with underslung engines like the A300 tends to pitch the nose up. "You have to devote maximum attention to the position of the nose and keep pitch rates low," Fullerton said. Turning the aircraft is done with differential thrust.
NASA experience with landing a simulated Boeing 720 using manual control of thrust was "very iffy," but the agency and McDonnell Douglas modified an MD-11 with software to control the engines, and flight test showed it could make airline-quality landings using thrust alone. But for manual control, Fullerton suggested finding as large a landing area as possible, such as the lakebed runways of Edwards AFB, Calif. However, that presumes aircraft condition is not deteriorating, and the DHL aircraft's wing was on fire.
The DHL/EAT crew headed the aircraft back to Baghdad International after it was hit at 8,000 ft. on climbout from the airport. Normal DHL procedure at Baghdad is to make a steep climb to avoid attack. Takeoff configuration is slats extended with zero flap, and that is maintained in a 160-170-kt. climb to 10,000 ft. Then the slats are retracted and the aircraft accelerates to a normal 300-kt. climb speed. The flight was still in this low-speed climb when it was hit.
When the missile exploded, the crew first thought an engine had suffered an uncontained failure, but all readings were normal, the aviation source said. Then the hydraulic pressures started dropping and a ground call told them the wing was trailing smoke. The captain could see that the wing was on fire.
Damage, presumably from the missile blast, is concentrated at the left trailing edge along the outboard flap, between the engine and the outboard aileron. The outer half of the outboard flap is missing, and the outboard flap track is dangling from the bottom of the wing. About 10 ft. of the rear spar is broken open or missing, and fire-damaged ribs are visible inside the outboard structural fuel tank.
All hydraulic pressure was lost about a minute after the hit, the source said. The low-speed aileron outboard of the damage is supplied by all three hydraulic systems, and there are five spoilers in front of the outboard flap, fed by the three systems.
Primary flight controls become inoperative on the A300B4 with total loss of hydraulic pressure, because there is no manual reversion. The stabilizer trim froze because it is powered only by a pair of hydraulic motors. The crew deployed the ram air turbine with hydraulic pump, but the leaks rendered it ineffective.
The crew had problems controlling the aircraft and at times didn't think they would make it, the source said. But the captain recalled the Haynes presentation and started using engine thrust for control, and was surprised to find it worked rather well.
The aircraft circled twice while the crew manually extended the landing gear. Ghyoot said the pilots lined the aircraft up for a flat, straight-in approach from 20 naut. mi. out and that the approach and landing speeds were 225 kt., though the source said touchdown was around 180 kt. "Having the trim set right when they were hit saved them," the source said. Ghyoot said he believes the aircraft had flaps retracted, but the brakes worked as they were powered by an isolated hydraulic accumulator.
The crew aimed for runway 33 Right, but at short final were thrown off course and decided to try to land on runway 33 Left but were not properly lined up at touchdown. A photo shows the aircraft touching down on the runway on the right wheel, banked a few degrees to the right, and in a slightly nose-up attitude. The aircraft ran off the left side of the runway and went through barbed wires, fences, and dirt before coming to a stop near the fire station. Full reverse was applied, causing a large dust cloud. Both engines were damaged by debris.
A Paris Match magazine freelance photographer was with the attackers and shot pictures of the missile launch and strike, which are in the Nov. 27 issue.
Ghyoot said the U.S. Defense Dept. is investigating the missile attack, and then the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority's accident investigation service will conduct the final phase on the civil aspects. A Belgian criminal investigation is underway.
DHL was carrying U.S. mail to troops in Baghdad but shut down this operation for about a week after the missile attack. The 1979 vintage A300B4-203F was operated by DHL/EAT with two Belgian pilots and a British flight engineer. DHL offficials said the aircraft will eventually be repaired.
In the past 25 years there have been 35 shoulder-fired missile attacks on civil aircraft, 24 resulting in crashes with 500 fatalities, according to AOC, the electronic warfare and information operations association, in Alexandria, Va. The U.S. Homeland Security Dept. is about to pick contractors to develop prototype missile-self defense systems for use on commercial aircraft (AW&ST Dec. 1, p. 46).
Oops. What kind of French dough-head designs a zero-fault tolerant control system?
IIRC, after the Iowa landing, engines-only landings of that sort became a standard training scenario for American airline pilots. I'm wondering if the DHL guys had had some training, too -- the article isn't quite clear on it.
The sign of a serious hero. Capt. Al Haynes' actions are saving lives long after the actual heroic event.
The same kind of Frenchman that designs a Tail not to withstand pilot rudder inputs.
The same kind of Frenchman that stands there filming when Missiles are being launched against a Commercial Airliner.
Is there any other kind of Frenchman?
F the French.
Rumor has it that it is the subject of books written by Airbus pilots, and they constantly discuss these things amongst themselves: how to perform specific tricks to outsmart the other 4 computer systems that will be "voting" against them.
Have they set a date for this guy's execution yet?
Probably true. However, no amount of computer voting will control an aircraft that requires hyrdaulic fluid, and has none.
May the frogs never be forgiven for that abhominable design.
I believe the report I read at the time said that it was not Haynes but an instructor who had been in first class who came up to the cockpit and flew with the throttles while sitting on the floor between the seats.
I've never heard that one before. All the reports I saw credited Haynes "learning" how to fly the crippled DC-10.
Contrary to the realistically motivated consensus at that time that this flight should have ended in disaster, Captain Al Haynes, with the help of United Captain and DC-10 Flight Instructor Dennis Fitch, quickly improvised a way to keep control of the aircraft by maneuvering the throttles of the remaining wing engines.
You are correct. Learn something new everyday. :)
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