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SAS ORD-ARN Out Of Fuel, Emergency Landing At HEL

Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:00 pm

Some two weeks ago the SAS flight from Chicago to Stockholm, Sweden was unable to land at ARN due to fog. The designated first alternate airport (I think Gothenburg) was too far (?!), and the flight was diverted to Helsinki, Finland. The aircraft (don't know the type) was at point very low on fuel, and could not have made it if there would have been an aborted landing. Helsinki airport was in full emergency status, and the a/c landed safely. This situation (not to be able to go around) is not acceptable, and there is an investigation going on.

I'm not blaming SAS here, but how is it possible that any flight can end up running out of fuel like that? What should they have done? Instead of trusting/gambling for regular landing at ARN, should they have had to refuel on route (in Iceland?)? Obviously there had been heavy headwinds, and excessive fuel burn.
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RE: SAS ORD-ARN Out Of Fuel, Emergency Landing At HEL

Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:21 pm

It was the SK946/02OCT from Chicago to Stockholm,
due fog at ARN the a/c A333, REG OY-KBN "Eystein Viking"
diverted to HEL.

SK946 had a tournaround of 1 hrs 22 mins for refueling at HEL
due weather at ARN was below aircraft operating minimi.
No info abt emergency risk.
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RE: SAS ORD-ARN Out Of Fuel, Emergency Landing At HEL

Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:47 pm

I think it is a bit too early to jump to any conclusions without getting all the facts. I certainly don´t think the crew gambled when they made a decision to continue to Stockholm and later divert to Helsinki. This flight will probably be subject to an investigation and you will be able to read more about it once all the facts are collected. Remaining fuel quantity will be checked in that report. Then we know for sure if they had fuel for any extension of the flight.

Since Gothenburg and Helsinki are both at about the same distances from Stockholm, I think there must have been more to the decision to change alternate than the distance. Perhaps the weather in Gothenburg...
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RE: SAS ORD-ARN Out Of Fuel, Emergency Landing At

Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:44 pm

Would that be the one that landed 03OCT at ARN? Landed 10:16 local and I almost missed the photo op.

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Photo © ARN Photography - Joakim Ewenson

The fog at Arlanda was very very bad that morning, and I heard several aircrafts report that they were landning in absolute minimums
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RE: SAS ORD-ARN Out Of Fuel, Emergency Landing At HEL

Wed Oct 15, 2003 10:43 pm

There are several airports closer to ARN than HEL and GOT that could handle a 333. Västerås, Örebro and Stockholm-Skavsta could have been options, but perhaps they were closed due to the same weather conditions?
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RE: SAS ORD-ARN Out Of Fuel, Emergency Landing At HEL

Wed Oct 15, 2003 11:39 pm

The topic is a bit inaccurate, as they didn't run out of fuel in the same context as the Hapag-Lloyd A310 at Vienna, the Gimli Glider, or the A330 that dead-sticked into the Azores, i.e. total fuel starvation. It's more a situation of (apparently) having insufficient fuel reserves. They flew A to B, diverted to and landed safely at C, but were "low" on fuel at C.

We dispatchers (standard disclaimer: US Part 121 Domestic/Flag ops) are intimiately involved in these kinds of situations, and the decision -when- to divert a flight is made jointly between PIC and dispatcher, and considers various legalities and operational variables such as weather and possible ATC delays at the possible alternates. Different countries have different regulations, and depending upon which one, it may be purely a PIC decision. This latter type of system has its own pitfalls, and 1990's Avianca 52 at near JFK is a good example of what can happen in the absence of functional operational control. In fact, NTSB cited that ahead of other contributing factors in their accident report.

Whatever the variables associated with this SAS incident, you can rest assured that it will be investigated, and recommendations (if any) made to prevent recurrences.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.