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Landing During Earthquake  
User currently offlineDAL763ER From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2008, 487 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 10201 times:
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I have always wondered, especially since I had my very first earthquake in RHO last Summer - what happens if an aircraft is on final, an earthquake strikes and the ILS goes berserk? Of course, if visibility is fine and the pilot's flying, nothing to worry about. But what if there's a CAT II/III ILS approach and they have to use the autoland?

Some will say "what are the chances?". Well, I don't know - but is there anything to prevent the ILS from being destroyed by an earthquake. I won't make reference to any magnitude because the strength of a seismological activity depends on the area it's happening so it would be irrelevant.


Where aviation is not the side show, it's the main show!!!
32 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBbinn333 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 10142 times:

I was on a plane to Hawaii, an AA 762 from DFW and we landed directly after an earthquake. There was not much to make of it, so pax on a CO flight we shaken up a bit though as they landed during it... I did not ask about their experiance.

-bbinn333  airplane 


User currently offlineQF744FAN From Australia, joined Jan 2007, 120 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 10140 times:

My guess would be that if anything did happen to the ILS equipment, the pilots would be pretty quick to see it reflected on their displays. Earthquakes only really last a couple of seconds, so it should be a simple task of just hitting the TOGA switches and coming back to try again.

Any compromising of the runway (or the equipment in autoland conditions) would just mean diversion to alternate.


User currently offlineDAL763ER From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2008, 487 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 10069 times:
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Quoting QF744FAN (Reply 2):
My guess would be that if anything did happen to the ILS equipment, the pilots would be pretty quick to see it reflected on their displays. Earthquakes only really last a couple of seconds, so it should be a simple task of just hitting the TOGA switches and coming back to try again.

Any compromising of the runway (or the equipment in autoland conditions) would just mean diversion to alternate.

Well, my earthquake lasted for 3 minutes!! As I said, what if there is a low visibility situation and something similar to TK @ EHAM happens - The throttles go into idle and etc. ?



Where aviation is not the side show, it's the main show!!!
User currently offlineJkudall From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 615 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 10066 times:

Interesting question...

From what I understand, Localizer and Glide Slope indications are constantly monitored and will automatically shut off if it starts to deviate from what it is intended to broadcast (i.e. the degrees/angle it is set to). The pilot on the approach would then get a flag indicating the ILS shouldn't be used/trusted for guidance and a missed approach would be executed. This may only apply to some ILS systems, I don't know this for sure.


Not only that, but I would assume a controller would broadcast on ATC (assuming it is a controlled field) there is an earthquake, thus warning pilots.



[Edited 2009-05-01 20:51:31]

User currently offlineQF744FAN From Australia, joined Jan 2007, 120 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 10033 times:



Quoting Jkudall (Reply 4):

From what I understand, Localizer and Glide Slope indications are constantly monitored and will automatically shut off if it starts to deviate from what it is intended to broadcast (i.e. the degrees/angle it is set to). The pilot on the approach would then get a flag indicating the ILS shouldn't be used/trusted for guidance and a missed approach would be executed.

I think you're spot on here

Quoting DAL763ER (Reply 3):
something similar to TK @ EHAM happens - The throttles go into idle and etc. ?

I would imagine that if a quake started after your throttles have retarded, and you've finished your flare and about to put her down.... You'll be fine. The landing may well be bumpy, but the runway isn't going to move it's own width in the time it takes to fly the last 20ft. The issues would be with cracks occuring in the runway, and possibly braking action if poor tyre contact is made. But at a monitored airport there would be contact between the pilot and tower, more runway used to slow down (or dodge cracks  Smile ) and the following aircraft told to go around.

Quoting DAL763ER (Reply 3):
As I said, what if there is a low visibility situation

Again... Sort of the other possible play out, if you haven't cut your power.... TOGA switches


User currently offlineF9Animal From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 4947 posts, RR: 28
Reply 6, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 9962 times:

We had a good shaker here in SEA in 2001. The tower blew out some windows, and IIRC, the tower told all aircraft to hold and or go around during the quake.


I Am A Different Animal!!
User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 25
Reply 7, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 9838 times:



Quoting F9Animal (Reply 6):
We had a good shaker here in SEA in 2001.

I totally remember that! The tower was busted as you said, SEA made a makeshaft tower on the other side of the airport out of a mobile home! I wonder if there were any pics shot of the temporary 'tower'..... but it was funny looking nonetheless...and creative, too!



A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21414 posts, RR: 60
Reply 8, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 9726 times:



Quoting DAL763ER (Reply 3):
As I said, what if there is a low visibility situation and something similar to TK @ EHAM happens - The throttles go into idle and etc. ?

What if this all happens just as the sun is exploding? In other words, it's not going to happen...



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineChrisjw From United States of America, joined Jan 2009, 123 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 9700 times:



Quoting AirframeAS (Reply 7):
I totally remember that! The tower was busted as you said, SEA made a makeshaft tower on the other side of the airport out of a mobile home! I wonder if there were any pics shot of the temporary 'tower'..... but it was funny looking nonetheless...and creative, too!

Thats really interesting, I didn't know that. I remember that quake. 5th Grade, Mr Fal's class.


User currently offlineThePalauan From Guam, joined Oct 2006, 264 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 9667 times:

Didn't the movie Earthquake have a 707 landing at LAX during the big one? I think as the plane touches down, the captain makes the decision a few seconds in that he's taking off and heading elsewhere.

What would be standard procedure in a situation like this? Ditch the current airport and head elsewhere or continue the landing phase and then await further instructions?



You can take the boy out of the island, but not the island out of the boy!
User currently offlineSANAV8R From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 215 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 9610 times:



Quoting QF744FAN (Reply 2):
Earthquakes only really last a couple of seconds

Some can last a few seconds, some can last several minutes. With aftershocks right after or lasting for days. Most of the ones that I can recall I've been in last no more a few seconds, ten at the most.

Quoting ThePalauan (Reply 10):
Didn't the movie Earthquake have a 707 landing at LAX during the big one? I think as the plane touches down, the captain makes the decision a few seconds in that he's taking off and heading elsewhere.

Yes, a Continental Airlines flight that was heading onwards to Hawaii (probably CO 3) starts to lands during a 9.9 magnitude Earthquake (eerily a little more than the very real 2004 Sumatra one). He then directs the plane towards San Francisco. They then get radio of the disaster and tell the passengers. In a subplot, there is a couple on board on there way to Hawaii for a convention, a young doctor and his wife. They decide to forgo Hawaii to volunteer for rescue help .

Right before they have a scene where people are outside of the Theme Building at LAX and holding onto railings and falling over as the (camera shakes) quake hits.


I'm sure that all major airports in known earthquake areas (LAX, SFO, MEX, NRT, ANC, well basically anywhere in the world that has seismic activity) have plans for earthquakes. I would assume they have people inspect the runways and tarmacs to ensure the safety of operations.


User currently offlineKimberlyrj From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2008, 385 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 9500 times:



Quoting SANAV8R (Reply 11):
I'm sure that all major airports in known earthquake areas (LAX, SFO, MEX, NRT, ANC, well basically anywhere in the world that has seismic activity) have plans for earthquakes. I would assume they have people inspect the runways and tarmacs to ensure the safety of operations

I’m sure the second an earth quake starts they would close the airport and get all aircraft to stop and remain where they are.

I don’t think it would matter what condition the ILS equipment would be in, as the aircraft would surely be told to go around and be put into a holding pattern while the damage is surveyed.

Kimberly RJ


User currently offlineDAL763ER From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2008, 487 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 9393 times:
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Quoting Kimberlyrj (Reply 12):
I’m sure the second an earth quake starts they would close the airport and get all aircraft to stop and remain where they are.

Of course you can tell everyone to stop and remain where they are - you're in Microsoft Flight Simulator, aren't you?

Seriously now, my question regarded the plane 30 seconds - 1 minute to touchdown. The others can undoubtedly go around and follow a safety procedure.



Where aviation is not the side show, it's the main show!!!
User currently offlineRFields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7345 posts, RR: 32
Reply 14, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 9184 times:



Quoting DAL763ER (Reply 13):
Seriously now, my question regarded the plane 30 seconds - 1 minute to touchdown. The others can undoubtedly go around and follow a safety procedure.

When a plane is on approach right up to touchdown, the flight crew is planning to execute a last second go around. Flight crews are trained their first priority on approach is a successful missed approach. Thirty seconds, one minute from touchdown - plenty of time to execute the MA.

A crew on an autoland approach is going to get warnings and go around if the ILS system gets knocked out of alignment or out of service.

For a plane already in flare, with throttles retarded, the crew will probably set it down. They won't really notice that something is happening unless it is an extremely severe earthquake.

I cannot remember an earthquake except Alaska Good Friday Quake in 1963 or 64 which actually damaged a runway enough to be a danger to landing aircraft.

I've talked to pilots who set down Navy fighters and patrol aircraft when quakes up to 5 were occuring in Japan. They did not notice the quake until the tower told them.

As far as loss of tower / communications. There are lost communications procedures in place. In very general terms if they are close enough to landing to see the runway and see the entire length of the runway is clear, they can land. If they cannot see the runway, go around.

But remember, the level of earthquake you are talking about - the crew will be able to see damage occuring, things are going to ...... Pilots generally are pretty smart people, if it looks dangerous, they are not going to land.

There may be a few second window where a plane could set down on a dangerous runway in a major catastrophic earthquake. That's just the way the world works. Nothing is perfect and completely failsafe. And in such an earthquake, one aircraft and it's passengers lost isn't going to be more than a footnote.


User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 9161 times:



Quoting Bbinn333 (Reply 1):
I was on a plane to Hawaii, an AA 762 from DFW and we landed directly after an earthquake

When did AA ever fly 762s on DFW-HNL? a sub?

Quoting ThePalauan (Reply 10):
Didn't the movie Earthquake have a 707 landing at LAX during the big one? I think as the plane touches down, the captain makes the decision a few seconds in that he's taking off and heading elsewhere.



Quoting SANAV8R (Reply 11):
Yes, a Continental Airlines flight that was heading onwards to Hawaii (probably CO 3) starts to lands during a 9.9 magnitude Earthquake (eerily a little more than the very real 2004 Sumatra one). He then directs the plane towards San Francisco. They then get radio of the disaster and tell the passengers. In a subplot, there is a couple on board on there way to Hawaii for a convention, a young doctor and his wife. They decide to forgo Hawaii to volunteer for rescue help .

I think in the movie it was clearly a TWA 707......the first thing I though of when I saw this thread was that scene


User currently offlineEADC8 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 140 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8454 times:



Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 15):
I think in the movie it was clearly a TWA 707......the first thing I though of when I saw this thread was that scene

Actually, I'm 99% positive that it was a TWA Convair 880. If you can find a clip of the movie, you can clearly see it is a Convair and not a 707. At least the approach shots are. Anyone else want to confirm?



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User currently offlineJbernie From Australia, joined Jan 2007, 880 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 7738 times:



Quoting ThePalauan (Reply 10):
What would be standard procedure in a situation like this? Ditch the current airport and head elsewhere or continue the landing phase and then await further instructions?

All depends on where you are and if it is possible to get anywhere else that is safe, and if the quake is large enough to cause runway damage then you might wonder if there is any benefit in trying to go elsewhere as other regional airports might also be affected.

The larger the quake the less you want to end up there as you might end up stuck for a period of time, along with general issues of having large groups of people stuck at an airport with potential for limited facilities and not being able to get them out.


User currently offlineDeltaflyertoo From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 1637 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 7149 times:

Okay a few myths about earthquakes on here.

FIRST, 90% only last a few seconds. MAJOR ones last up to a minute, 3? Thats pushing it, not in N. AMerica, Cental America or Japan, don't know where RHO is.

IF the quake is big enough that the ILS goes dowm, they will just abort the landing. End of story.

At end of day, MAJOR earthquakes in major civilized airport hubs (NRT, LAX, SFO, MEX, etc) are pretty rare, like maybe one every 50 -100 years. So with hundreds of thousands if not millions of flights in between that time period, again, the odds of one in a million being in that situation, I'm sure they'll just abort.

NOW, for the normal garden variety quakes these regions experience, 3, 4 and 5 magnitudes, again, they LAST seconds, and are only damaging RIGHT on the epicenter. As soon as you get 5 miles out, if you are driving you won't notice, if you are at a loud public place or party, you won't notice. Hollywood likes to make it look like no matter how small, there is LOUD roar, just not true. We had a 4.4 here in LA yesterday, I didn't hear a thing but just noticed my couch wiggling a little. I don't live to far from LAX so I imagine a 737 landing at 145+ knots during that 5 second shuffle would easily not know/feel a thing.


User currently offlineDingDong From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 661 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6497 times:

Quoting Deltaflyertoo (Reply 19):
IF the quake is big enough that the ILS goes dowm, they will just abort the landing. End of story.

Wanted to point out that kind of situation would likely fall under the captain's discretion on how to handle. For a normal situation with simple ILS failure, I'd probably agree with you there since it's likely other runways at the same airport or at the alternate wouldn't be affected. But this kind of situation (earthquake while on final) is quite abnormal and very much a judgement call.

If it's a decent VMC day, runway environment well in sight, you're at or below the DH/MDA... you could go ahead and land, barring the runway breaking up in half underneath you -- if deemed appropriate. If very close to DH, you consider all sorts of factors -- alternates, likelihood for the situation to improve if you go missed, do a 360 (orbit), retry or divert, amongst other things.

You'd also take into account the fact that you're not likely to have tower or ground services during such an event, so you'd be on your own there for traffic separation -- which implies you'd want reasonable visibility to do that safely on your own.

If it's an IMC day with low minima... that's where the crew definitely earns their pay.  It's still a judgement call, not an automatic no-go. For instance, you will have enough fuel to divert to the alternate plus holding time. But in a situation like this where it's a major earthquake, how do you know the alternate will be OK? And that you won't be holding in a long queue full of diverts bringing you to a fuel emergency? On final, you won't have the time to consult with company dispatch to get the big picture or sort out the situation.

I'd think that as long as it was at least a Cat I landing and you'd broken out to see the runway environment, one still has the option of completing the landing if deemed the safest overall option based on what's currently known, even during an earthquake. For a Cat III approach, loss of ILS, ouch, yeah, I'd probably want to try climbing back up if possible.

[Edited 2009-05-02 11:45:02]


DingDong, honey, please answer the doorbell!
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24061 posts, RR: 23
Reply 20, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6473 times:



Quoting AirframeAS (Reply 7):
Quoting F9Animal (Reply 6):
We had a good shaker here in SEA in 2001.

I totally remember that! The tower was busted as you said, SEA made a makeshaft tower on the other side of the airport out of a mobile home! I wonder if there were any pics shot of the temporary 'tower'..... but it was funny looking nonetheless...and creative, too!

Related news items re the 2001 SEA quake. First one includes excerpts from ATC communications at the time the quake hit. Second one has more description of the damage at both SEA and BFI.
http://community.seattletimes.nwsour...?date=20010303&slug=quakeseatac03m
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/seatac02.shtml


User currently offline4EVERVARIG From United States of America, joined Jan 2009, 66 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6384 times:

I remember once returning from MIA (a long time ago when UA flew 777s to MIA) in a UA 777 when there was a shaker in LAX early morning, right when the aircraft was making its final turns to align with 25L. Pilot was very cool about it, and informed the passengers we would fly to MARCH AIR BASE while LAX landing runways were being inspected. He informed that the shaker was estimated around 4.0 and centered in the Pacific Ocean. Once we were headed to MARCH AIR BASE, the flight was redirected to return to LAX. The pilot explained that LAX was safe for operations and that we were ok to land. We landed at LAX without incident.

User currently offlineEaa3 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 980 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6245 times:



Quoting SANAV8R (Reply 11):

Yes, a Continental Airlines flight that was heading onwards to Hawaii (probably CO 3) starts to lands during a 9.9 magnitude Earthquake (eerily a little more than the very real 2004 Sumatra one). He then directs the plane towards San Francisco. They then get radio of the disaster and tell the passengers. In a subplot, there is a couple on board on there way to Hawaii for a convention, a young doctor and his wife. They decide to forgo Hawaii to volunteer for rescue help .

I don´t think it was a 9.9 magnitude earthquake as the biggest earthquake in history was a 9.5 in Chile. There is no way that a large earthquake could happen in Hawaii because it is not on a tectonic fault line but rather in the middle of the pacific plate. The only reason for earthquakes in Hawaii would be because of lava movements and those don´t create large earthquakes. And the reason for volcanic activity in Hawaii is because there is a hot spot under it, a hot spot is a place where the crust is thinner than in other places so there is more magma flow from the mantle.


User currently offlineLGA777 From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1137 posts, RR: 20
Reply 23, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6193 times:

I was in a high rise hotel near SNA when the 1992 Landers quake hit about 500AM, quite an experience. About 1000 that morning we had driven to LAX and where sitting onboard an Air Canada 742 preparing for departure to YYZ. I was in a right side window seat just forward of the wing, when a MAJOR aftershock occured. The sight of the big Boeings right wing moving slighly up and down like in a moderate turburlance but with a fuel truck attached and fueling in progress scared the you know what out of me. The whole thing lasted less than 30 seconds and we ended up departing on time. The epicenter of the quake was northeast of LA in the Mohave desert and the captain pointed it out as we passed right over it about 20 mins after departure, there was a huge dust cloud on the ground. Here is a link to info about the quake.

http://www.seismo-watch.com/EQSERVICES/NotableEQ/Jun/0628.Landers.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landers,_California_earthquake

I realize this is slightly off topic but though my experiance was worth sharing. Ironically I had just finished attending the wonderful 1992 Airliners International Convention at SNA/LAXMHV.

Regards

LGA777


User currently offlineDingDong From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 661 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6175 times:



Quoting Eaa3 (Reply 23):
I don´t think it was a 9.9 magnitude earthquake as the biggest earthquake in history was a 9.5 in Chile.

I don't watch TV or movies so I didn't catch it at first, either. Smile (I'm probably in the tiny minority here who just simply doesn't have the interest. I stopped watching TV on any regular basis over 20 years ago.)

But he's actually referring to a fictional situation that happened in the movie. The hint was when he mentioned 'subplot' and 'camera shake'. Smile

So it's all good.



DingDong, honey, please answer the doorbell!
25 EXAAUADL : I think you might be right.
26 Post contains links Oa260 : 6.4 Earthquake Strikes Rhodes Tuesday July 15, 2008 A strong earthquake centered underwater near the Greek island of Rhodes sent residents and touris
27 DingDong : If it's any comfort, you'll also often see this (normal) wing flex on a normal departure when riding a large Boeing loaded to the gills with pax/carg
28 Eaa3 : That´s funny. Seems that I only read the first two sentences and the thing about a 9.9 magnitude earthquake caught my eye and I didn´t read it any
29 Post contains links SANAV8R : Probably right. It's been so many years since I've seen the movie, It's odd how I can remember the other scenes much more clearly yet not the airplan
30 ThirtyEcho : ...and an exploding gas main sends fire down the entire length of the runway just as a meteorite smashes the glideslope transmitter and pieces of it
31 FrmrCAPCADET : The Alaskan earthquake of 1964 lasted almost 5 minutes. The Cascadia great earthquakes off the Pacific Northwest Coast are similar to Sumatra and Ala
32 Eghansen : Several things can happen during an earthquake that would cause problems at an airport. One of the first things is that all the electricity goes out.
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