Topic Author
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 6:46 am

Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Fri Sep 24, 1999 3:27 pm

Hi there. I had a problem when flying in a 737-700 and would like to know if anybody else has any information about this plane. A copy of the fax (w/ further information) that I sent to VARIG follows:

São Paulo, September 20, 1999.

VARIG - Via Fax

Re: Boeing 737-700 Right engine stops in mid-flight

Dear Sirs,

On August 29th, I left Congonhas Airport (CGH) on Nordeste (a company belonging to the VARIG group) Flight JH-342, on a Boeing 737-500, on my way to Salvador. Not very long after take-off, the captain said that there was an alarm going off in the cockpit and that we would return to Congonhas to have the problem checked out. He was fairly convincing, explaining that "our" cars also have lights on dashboards that go on inadvertently. He also said that we were returning just as a precaution and in a short while we would be in the air again. However, as soon as we touched down and began to taxi, we were informed that we would be put on another plane. In spite of the fact that the problems that I encounter flying are proportional to the number of flights I take, I follow a personal philosophy that says that everything that starts out wrong, ends up wrong, so, if I can quit, I do. So, I decided to pass on the flight, return home, and delay the trip.

Due to the failure of that plane, I ended up boarding in VARIG Flight RG-326 (GRU-SSA) on September 11th and, consequently, becoming one of the passengers of VARIG Flight RG-930, from Salvador (SSA) to São Paulo (GRU) on September 14th, when I faced a unique situation, not to mention considerable danger. Actually, I have flown an average of 50,000 miles a year during the last six to seven years and this was the first time that I have encountered such a problem.

After approximately 30-40 minutes of flight, a loud and dry sound echoed throughout the entire plane and the right engine simply stopped working. I don’t need to say that in such a situation, which I never had encountered before, I was overcome with fear. Assigned to Seat 3A, editing a document in my notebook, my first reaction was to turn it off, place it securely in the seat pocket, stop by row 6, where my companion was seated, and discretely invite her to follow me as far back in the plane as possible, where I found two empty seats - a place where some air accident survivors have sat, according to the statistics.

Properly seated in the last row on the left side and pretty scared, I asked the flight attendants if they knew what happened and the answer was that they knew as much as the passengers. I asked them if they had experienced a similar situation and they said no. Minutes passed by, how many I don’t know, but I imagine 10-15 until the captain, in a quick speech, stated that we had a problem in the right turbine and that we were returning to Salvador.

Thirty minutes of fear passed until our arrival at Luis Eduardo Magalhães Airport, thinking about the chances of the same thing happening with the other working engine, remembering a phrase that a teacher of mine used to say: " the pilot that has two, actually, has one, the pilot that has one, has nothing".

It was a time during which I tried to remain calm, literally "with my heart in my throat". Whenever I saw the flight attendants seated in the galley, I tried to talk with them to distract myself. By the way, these flight attendants deserve much more than the "Non-Stop Dedication" cards that VARIG sent me. Their calmness, the attention they gave everyone that called them, the briefings on the emergency doors.... everything was perfect! During the last announcement, something was included stating that everyone must remain calm since they were prepared for an emergency situation. They carried out their real role - safety agents, far beyond my demanding expectations. I give them my sincere thanks. If I could give to them, through this letter, "Non-Stop Dedication" cards, I would appreciate that you do this for me since these attendants did their jobs so well.

The shock was so great that I even preferred to let some time pass before composing this fax. Besides this, in order that I could supply/request more precise information, I wanted to learn more about the possibility of electronic equipment interfering with the function of the engine since my companion’s "neighbor" (exactly to the side of the right engine) and I were using notebooks. Also, I remembered the suspicion that a cellular telephone was responsible for the reverse of one of the engines of a Lauda Air 767 in mid-flight causing the death of 223 people (http://www.rvs.uni-bielefeld.de/-ladkin/Incidents/LaudaAir/LaudaRPT.html). In the meantime, during my research, I discovered that in the last year, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) recommended that American airlines that have Boeing 737-700s do a maintenance check, with the objective of fixing a part that shows wear, resulting in the failure of the right engine since two planes of this same model had the same problem in Russia and Norway during the past year (http://aafo.com/news/737/gbox.htm). The documents I’ve found also showed that FAA Officials were worried about the fact that the parts sprayed by the "problematic engine" could get through the fuselage and injure the passengers seated near it. As if this wasn’t enough last year another American 737-700 had a different type of problem causing the engine to catch on fire between Tampa, Florida, and Birmingham, Alabama (http://www.seattletimes.com/news/nation-world/html98/altengi_070898.html).

Therefore, in virtue of the fact of this being a safety question, and there being too many coincidences with what happened with the first two cases of a sudden failure of the right engine during flight, I request that VARIG reply to this fax explaining what happened with its Boeing 737-700 (Flight 930 - Salvador/Buenos Aires [GRU-EZE]) on September 14, 1999.

I would like to further suggest that this company follow the example of United Airlines, regarding delays at Chicago O’Hare, and at least send a letter apologizing to those who were present on this flight and who are part of its frequent flyer program, i.e., its faithful clients.

I am sure that I can count on your prompt reply that will surpass bureaucratic barriers that surround a company of VARIG’s size. I thank you in advance for your response.


RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Fri Sep 24, 1999 3:55 pm

Your situation reminded me of this NTSB report that I had read a while back.

I still don't believe there is any cause to fear flying. Airliners are designed and loaded to fly on one engine. I can see what you mean by having no backup after one loss, however. It certainly would be disconcerting, so I don't blame you for being upset with Varig. Let us know how they respond.
Posts: 1060
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 1:52 am

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Fri Sep 24, 1999 11:07 pm

I think both of you are guys I would rather not fly with. I have over 2,000 hours in single engine aircraft (what did Riz say, a pilot with one has none). My father who flew 63 combat missions in Korea in F86F's with the "early" GE J47 never had a problem and he was in a very hostile situation. He too has gone on to log over 5,000 hours of single engine time since. The CFM56-7 is leagues more reliable than the engine on our airplane and yet in 40 years we've had no problems. I can't remember the last time I heard of an airliner with 2 engines having both quit other than fuel exhaustion, and that affects 3 & 4 engined aircraft also. Riz, I'm sure you're a good guy, but once again, let's not fly together. Irrational fear serves no purpose in the air. That's a place for cool thinking.
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Fri Sep 24, 1999 11:43 pm

Gonna have to agree with Navion--I think some of your fears are a tad irrational.

From my perspective, everything on your 2 flights was handled as it should of been. Understanding that no matter how good the MX is, aircraft are machines, and machines do operate less than perfectly at times. When they do, the response by the crew (and all those behind the scenes folks) mitigate any danger.

On your first flight, the crew had an engine indication of some type (EGT, oil temp/pressure) indicating something abnormal and they followed proper procedure by shutting it down (rather than let it run and perhaps fail *really* catastropically). Here in the USA, any twin-engine that shuts down an engine must land at the nearest suitable airport in point of time, and there's almost always a suitable airport within 30-40 minutes, even those to which the airline may not regularly serve. Yes, one is less than two, but the point you miss is that you'd never have even departed if one had failed, and the crew is merely playing the hand they were dealt.

On you second flight, it appears something similar happened. It sounds like it could have been an accessory drive unit of some type and the engine winding down versus the whole engine just stopping suddenly and completely. Had it stopped so suddenly, the torque would have sheared it right off the engine mounts, which is what it's designed to do BTW.

Bottom-line is that there are 2 kinds of emergencies in airline life: The procedural ones (as above) and the very rare genuine 0h-my-gawds (like Valujet afire racing to return to MIAmi). Trouble is, many folks (understandably) and media folks (to sell the sizzle and not the steak) can distinguish between the two. Thus, any variation from a *completely 100% normal on-time flight* is all too often spun into more of an event than it actually is.

Best of luck on your next flight...
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Fri Sep 24, 1999 11:46 pm

..make that *can't* distinguish versus *can*

(56K brain and 300 bps finger mode)
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
Posts: 2506
Joined: Sat Sep 04, 1999 3:15 am

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Sat Sep 25, 1999 1:02 am

While I give credit to people to remain calm, cool and collected in events such as an engine shutting down in flight, we all have to remember that not everyone can do that. My mother is, at best, a white-knuckle flyer, and at worst, suffers panic attacks when getting on a plane. If she were ever on a plane which had an engine failure, I am certain wild horses couldn't drag her back onto another. To be on two separate aircraft which experience problems and/or failures would rattle anyone's nerves, I should think. One can talk till one is blue in the face about how twin-engined aircraft can fly on one engine, or three-engined aircraft can fly on two or one, but I would think it is small consolation when one is 35,000 feet up in the air. I myself am in no way, shape or form a nervous flyer, but let's show some understanding for those who are. Especially after what Riz experienced.

RE: Engine Stops & Navion

Sat Sep 25, 1999 1:48 am

Navion wrote: "I think both of you are guys I would rather not fly with."

I think you were including me in this statement, so let me respond. If you don't want to fly with me, that's your prerogative. Riz is new in this forum and expressed some natural concerns and I wanted to be reassuring yet sympathetic. If the only flying experience someone has is with the airlines, all he's going to come to expect is highly reliable service. I can understand why an in-flight shutdown would be "disconcerting" to a passenger. Planes shut down engines more than people realize, yet we don't hear about it because they inevitably land safely.

As for me, I was on an A320 that had an engine failure (flames and all,) followed by the subsequent failure of the brakes and I wasn't drooling with panic. As a company employee, I was ready to get on the same aircraft for the ferry flight back to base. I fly a single-engine Bonanza at least twice a week, and I have no problem with it. If you don't want to fly with me, that's fine, I'm perfectly happy up there by myself.
Posts: 1060
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 1:52 am

RE: 24291 & Riz

Sat Sep 25, 1999 3:55 am

O.K. 24291. You're right. I shouldn't have included you. I was just kind of bothered that this was posted, not because I don't understand white knuckle fliers, but instead because of what I perceived to be an in depth discussion of someone whose fears seem greater to me than necessary. Riz clearly is superstitious is some form as evidenced by his post. I would hate to be on a plane which has lost an engine and have everyone try to move to the back of the plane causing a possible out of c.g. condition and creating panic. He also was clearly wrong with regard to single engine operations as you know firsthand. Quite frankly, it just pissed me off and I still hope I'm never on a plane with a load of people who feel like he (Riz) does. It's not personal, just unsafe. As for you, I stand corrected and apologize.
Posts: 609
Joined: Wed May 26, 1999 10:07 am

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Sat Sep 25, 1999 4:37 am


Let me say something; I am a person who does not fly off the handle when it is not necessary. I am an incredibly calm flyer and enjoy flying. I was once on a Champion Air charter flight (727-200) when the APU exploded on landing. I did not know what happened, all I know is that the other 199 passengers on the A/C stood up and attempted to rush forward to egress the aircraft. I'm sorry but I didn't know what happened, no one was able to tell us what happened as the PA system was inop. I normally request the Emergency exit row for the legroom, it's a good thing I wasn't sitting there because the A/C was on the ground and was moving at about 30 MPH; had I been there I might just have tossed the hatch! When 199 people around you are screaming fire and rushing to the front of an aircraft in the dark, it's scarry, trust me; been there, done that, got the t-shirt!


Thank You Navion

Sat Sep 25, 1999 5:10 am

Navion, I'm glad you responded, and I'd like to say I completely understand your position. In fact, I agree with you.

Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 1999 2:42 am

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Sun Sep 26, 1999 4:49 am

Riz mentioned that No. 2 engine failure has happened before in the 737-700. Has this issue been addressed? Have there been fleetwide inspections? Aloha Airlines will be starting service from Hawaii to Oakland next year using the -700. Yes, these aircraft are brand new, and I don't doubt the 737's ability to fly with one engine, but we all know there are no alternate airports over all that water.
Posts: 2276
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 1999 1:42 pm

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Sun Sep 26, 1999 1:21 pm

To Navion--

You must understand that there will always be white-knuckle flyers. You've got to understand that people (as a whole) are ignorant and panicky.

We must be compassionate to those who are scared of engine outs and minor things of that nature. You must remember that when we step onto an airliner, we entrust our lives to the (hopefully) skilled flight crew.

Even though I am an aspiring airline pilot and have 130 hours in a single engine Piper Warrior, I still fear an engine loss. I have gone over that procedure a hundred times.

I know that on a routine 737 flight where I was enjoying a cup of coffee and some overcooked/stale/bad tasting airline food and the engine suddenly quit, my first thoughts would be for my loved ones. I would also do the smartest thing, and move to the closest seat to the exit or back (remember that most planes have an emergency egress in the tail). Once I regained my composure, I would grab the nearest FA and inform them that I am a pilot and see if I could assist in any way.

I remember when I was on a UPS charter 727 from NAS to BOS and we had fly into a rather hefty storm because ATC did not issue us vectors in a timely fashion (I know this because I made the FA specifically ask the crew, and I watched as I was in row 3 just outside the flight deck). Anyhow, the woman sitting next to me was a little nervous. I placed my hand on top of hers and I said to her, "Ma'am, I'm a pilot. I have trained for turbulence like this. I have seen how airline pilot's train and even before they become airline pilots they have to spend years training. Don't worry, you're flying with a highly skilled crew. To them this is just a roller coaster. Think of it as an expensive roller coaster. The plane can take it, the crew can take it, so just buckle up and enjoy the ride. Remember that turbulance is just pot holes in the sky" You know what, she looked up to me and said, "Thanks. You know that makes me feel a lot better."

I know that if I was a Captain on an airliner and we lost an engine and got the plane stabilized, I would make a PA announcement, then go out in to the cabin and meet personally with the pax and explain to them personally what was the matter and reassure them. I don't know why more Captains don't do this.

Also, not all the people on the aircraft would pile in the rear because there simply isn't enough seats. In addition to what you said about knocking out the CG... have you ever flown or studied an airliner? The CG is designed with the purpose of knocked in extremes, so throwing an airliner out of CG is extremely difficult to do.

Please, I urge you to take these people into consideration. Don't ostrasize them, educate them, make them feel safer about flying. Think about how you would react if you weren't flying that aircaft.

- Neil Harrison

User avatar
Posts: 311
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 1999 8:23 pm

RE: Navion

Sun Sep 26, 1999 3:57 pm

While not want to comment on the original Post it is always interesting to read such an answer which appears to me highly ignorant as well as arrogant. There should have been several right ways in telling Riz the facts but none of them was chosen. Comparing a 737 to a single-engine aircraft and even a fighterplane is highly interesting. Also, to broaden your horizon, there have been even two cases of 747s loosing power on all 4 engines mid-flight. It is time to accept that not everyone is equal to 'Mr Cool'. Regards.

P.S. Pilot1133 did a good post here.
Posts: 2276
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 1999 1:42 pm

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Mon Sep 27, 1999 3:10 am

Thank you F-WWKH. I thought that I was being a little too caustic in it.

I just wanted to make the point that we must be compassionate to those that fear something abnormal. I think the Flight Attendents on Riz's flight did an excellent job of calming him. That's what they're there for (among other things).

Remember that being an airline pilot is much more than just flying the aircraft. It's also public relations.

- Neil Harrison
Posts: 1060
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 1:52 am


Mon Sep 27, 1999 5:43 am

I am arrogant and ignorant? Wow. For a person who doesn't know me and professes to be more compassionate, you are certainly judgmental. I think the single engine comparisons utilizing private aircraft and vintage jet aircraft of decades ago technology and less reliability was dead on. What part of it did you dispute? Please spell it out why those comparisons aren't germaine to the topic. Also, why do you need to fight Riz's fights for him(her)? And FYI, those 747's losing all engines makes a point I have made repeatedly in this forum regarding reliability and 2 engines v. 4 engines debate. What is your point in bringing up that issue in your post? I'm not sure what you mean because I think I probably agree with you. Please respond. Thank you.
Posts: 2276
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 1999 1:42 pm


Mon Sep 27, 1999 8:12 am

First of all let's review what you just posted:

"I think the single engine comparisons utilizing private aircraft and vintage jet aircraft of decades ago technology and less reliability was dead on. "

How does that compare to a B737? I'll admit some of the comparisons weren't great. First of all the B737 isn't vintage nor is it single engine. If you want to go "vintage" about the B737, Southwest operates some of the oldest 737s out there. Yet, they've never had a crash or killed anyone in their 20+ year history.

It's people like you who I'd never get on airplane with. You're one of the people who thinks the timid are a problem and instead of working with them, you ostrasize and make fun of them.

Did you read Riz's letter? It was a letter of commendation to VARIG. Yet, you rip him apart. I, for one, want to shake his hand. If you are a pilot and/or Captain for an major airline, I want to know right now because I'll never fly that one again. You are very ignorant about how an airliner flys and you have turned this into a character attack, for which it was never meant to be. If you had read my previous posts, I was only explaining what I perceived to be Riz's point of view.

I am happy to engage in debate with you about how an airline pilot should look/act and the basic psychology of a crowd.

Stop wasting my time,

Neil Harrison
Posts: 2276
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 1999 1:42 pm

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Mon Sep 27, 1999 8:24 am

Oh.. just one other example I want to point out:

" Irrational fear serves no purpose in the air. That's a place for cool thinking."

Since when does a passenger have to be clear thinker in the air? The only thing that they have to be clear minded about is, "how am I going to get out of this aircraft?" They're not the ones flying the aircraft and thus don't have to make life and death decisions.

From Riz's posts, it doesn't seem to me like he was ready to pop an emergency exit in mid air. It also doesn't seem he was actively engaging in any dangerous activity. What's so dangerous about moving to another seat? If it makes him feel safer, by all means let him.

Also what's the problem with him grabbing a Flight Attendent? I, for one, would feel a lot more confortable getting personalized attention from the crew (granted they may not be able to do this for me). I want to know that someone's there for me.

- Neil Harrison
Posts: 1060
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 1:52 am

Pilot 1113

Mon Sep 27, 1999 8:39 am

You want me to stop wasting your time. The purpose of my statements in my post, WHICH YOU DID NOT GET AT ALL, were designed to do just that by being brief. So now I will fill in the gaps so you don't take license to make up stuff of your own which is false, negative and misleading. I have said specifically that Riz's comments on single engine reliability are misleading and totally untrue. He states that "when you have one (engine), you have none". That is absolute Bu*****t. I was using examples of general aviation aricraft and even a Korean War vintage fighter which have shown great reliability and they are leagues less reliable than the current CFM56-3, -5, and -7. That is what I was saying. I said NOTHING ABOUT 737'S BEING VINTAGE AIRCRAFT. THAT IS A FACT OF YOUR OWN MAKING AND IMAGINATION. THIS POST HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH 737'S OR ANY OTHER AIRCRAFT. IT HAS TO DO WITH ENGINE RELIABILITY AND WHAT I PERCEIVE TO BE ONE PERSONS ERRONEOUS, MISLEADING, AND SUPERSTITIOUS STATEMENTS THAT I DON'T AGREE WITH. Further, whether he wrote a letter of commendation to the airline or not, the fact remains I wouldn't want a planeload of people shifting positions as it could make a survivable situation catastrophic. Surely if you fly, you understand what I'm talking about. I have no animosity toward Riz and in fact feel great compassion for people who are scared about anything. This isn't about him personally, it's about the public's perception of aviation and standing up for perceived inaccuracies when they come up. Riz said "everything that starts out wrong, ends up wrong." That is the superstition I was referring to. I don't want to read stuff like that on a forum where we all should know better than that. Neil, I do know a lot about aircraft, airlines, aerospace etc. and your heated remarks to me are not well founded. I'm not sure why you are so upset and hot under the collar but if you would like to talk about it more, my e-mail is hlba@gate.net.
Posts: 1060
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 1:52 am

RE: Boeing 737-700 Engine Stops In Mid-Flight

Mon Sep 27, 1999 8:48 am

I forgot to tell you my name is Harvey Brown. You put your name up so I thought it fair to do likewise. I look forward to hearing from you.

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos