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ManuCH
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AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:08 am

An Air France flight from Paris to Beirut had to be diverted because of security issues in Lebanon. Apparently there were riots on the road connecting the airport to downtown Beirut. It did a fuel stop in Damascus, Syria, then continued to Larnaca, Cyprus.

Quote:

The Airbus A330 plane first landed at Damascus airport to refuel and then went on to Larnaca in Cyprus. It will return to Paris Thursday afternoon, the airline said.


Source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/news/2012...-jet-to-beirut-diverted-to-cyprus/

I find it a bit ironic that, of all places, it did the fuel stop in DAM before continuing to LCA.

I'm sure AF did their homework, but how safe can DAM be considered nowadays? Are scheduled flights going in and out of Damascus regularly at the moment?

[Edited 2012-08-16 01:08:46]

[Edited 2012-08-16 04:08:44]
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:57 am

The difference is distance between BEY-DAM and BEY-LCA is only roughly 60 mi ( 66 mi to DAM vs. 129 mi to LCA).
Indeed a bit strange that the a/c first flew to DAM first and not directly to LCA.
OTOH it is not known where exactly the a/c was flying holding patterns off BEY, so DAM might have been even closer.
Any flightradar24-coverage ? (Can't look into it at work).

When I was on a stopover at BEY (the airport) a year and a half ago also riots erupted somewhere downtown (but not near the airport) and people in the know were happy that they were onboard our flight to LCA that night.
Still I would not hesitate to visit the city.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:07 pm

Quoting ManuCH (Thread starter):
I find it a bit ironic that, of all places, it did the fuel stop in DAM before continuing to LCA.

All the more ironic since the protests (not riots, but in Lebanon, one can quickly lead to another) were over the situation in Syria...
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:51 pm

Quoting ManuCH (Thread starter):
I find it a bit ironic that, of all places, it did the fuel stop in DAM before continuing to LCA.

Yeah it is a bit ronic. Security issue in Lebanon...Oh, let's go to Syria where there's a civil war   

Surprised that DAM is still operating anyway.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:59 pm

You would be surprised but having been to BEY a good few times myself and spending time there with the locals the security situation can change in under an hour . Once Hezbollah walked into the Airport and took over the Terminal and the army and security could do nothing about it .

Gulf States are pulling their citizens out of Lebanon at the moment and the country is braced for the spill over from Syria . Ironically DAM was and probably is still well protected by the current regime so still safer than BEY if civil unrest it going on . For those unaware of the location of BEY its surrounded by neighborhoods that can best be described as housing some very dangerous people .

Such a shame really . It holds the whole country back , Lebanon always seems to be a battle ground for everything including their neighbours disputes.
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:22 pm

How much of a fuel crisis did they have to choose Damascus over Larnaca? I wonder if it was a fuel crisis or poor planning on where to divert. With the political conflict in Syria, I don’t believe there is any service between the EU and Syria. Fortunately politics didn’t stop AF from getting fuel there.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:26 pm

I find it very hard to believe that the only option was DAM, instead of diverting to LCA, AMM or TLV.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:26 am

Perhaps it was a language issue? The Syrians often speak excellent French, much better than all but a select handful of Cypriots. I'm just half joking, but it does make you wonder...
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:29 am

On the evening news they said that passengers were asked for money but that in the end it wasn't needed.

About the diversion they said they flew to AMM but the fuel situation made them change to DAM
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:20 am

It's strange that the plane was diverted in the first place.

Protestors had blocked the road leading to the airport and not the runways of the airport so it could have landed and waited. Unless they had worries about the delays of the outbound flight.
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:29 am

Quoting francoflier (Reply 3):
This whole affair is either completely laughable or pathetic, possibly both..
.

Viewed from a totally uninformed point of view, it could look that way

Quoting francoflier (Reply 3):
Deciding to Gallically ignore the irony of diverting a plane from an airport subject to 'minor' disturbances to one dead in the middle of a country in the midst of a full blown civil war, one with which diplomatic tensions are stretching sympathies thin, they further add insult by not even bothering to check whether appropriate ground servicing would be available when they get there?



Have you ever been in a situation of forced diversion ? The answer must be "'no", otherwise you wouldn't be commenting in this way.

You certtainly do not have the first gen on the local situation :
1/- The aircraft was fueled normally, with AMM / LCA as alternate.
2/- Hold over BEY ,waiting for the riots to fade off or to move somewhere else.
3/- As disturbance goes on, decision is taken to divert
4/- Negociations with Israeli authorities who refuse the transit over their airspace ( as they do quite often for flights not scheduled for said transit (to Amman ), and the transit necessitates a southeren route, basically over the sea from Tel Aviv before turning east to TLV - AMM.
5/- Fuel situation getting worse ; No response from TLV : decision to divert to DAM.
Why ?
- The country may be in the middle of a civil war, butt the airport area certainly wasn't dangerous at all, controlled as it is by the army.
- The ICAO different conventions, of which Syria is a signatory state stiupulate a total cooperation with the aircraft commander, should he/she require any sort of assistance (in this case, the Syrian authorities were a bit more respectful of the convention than the Israeli were )
- Larnaca was, as the main diversion for the Middle East destinations, saturated.




Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 12):
The plane should have enough fuel to hold for a while near the destination ie BEY then enough fuel to divert to a nearby airport Larnaca is the nearest one to come in mind. To fly to DAM you need a special authorization then you need to fly North near Latakkia , East to near Iraqi border, South to the Jordanian border then North again to DAM, how the AF pilot could do all that and not fly direct to Larnaca is beyond me.


NO ! To go to DAM from France, it's Latakieh, the airway and direct DAM. From BEY, you could fly direct.

Now, the passengers paying for the fuel ! That is a situation that comes every now and then : Comes to mind the evacuation of foreign nationals from Iran in 1979 The Iranians decided not to recognise the fuel credit cards we were cxarrying. Quite regularly, some African states decide on asking for cash, situation that is generally solved by the local station manager... but not always... BTW, we do not carry "normal" credit cards, but blanket payment cards for the major fueling companies.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:19 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 10):
Quoting francoflier (Reply 3):

Are these quotes and the others in Pihero's reply coming from a different thread about the same flight ?

Quoting Pihero (Reply 10):
- Larnaca was, as the main diversion for the Middle East destinations, saturated.

Good point.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:20 am

Quoting ht (Reply 11):
Are these quotes and the others in Pihero's reply coming from a different thread about the same flight ?

Yes, they are coming from this thread, now locked and redirected here:

Air France Passengers Asked For Cash To Fuel Plane (by frenchpilot Aug 16 2012 in Civil Aviation)
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:07 pm

From the other locked thread, DocLightning:
"One tank of fuel for an aircraft, $25,000
Landing fees for an airport, $2,500
Landing in the middle of a civil war, Priceless.

There are some things money can't buy
For every thing else, there's MasterCard. "

   Reading through, I realize there wasn't much choice, but still... And then it was 'cash on the barrel' for the fuel.

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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:41 pm

Quoting Pihero (Reply 10):
NO ! To go to DAM from France, it's Latakieh, the airway and direct DAM. From BEY, you could fly direct.

Sorry but no you can not, due to the air defense system near the Israeli border, no plane is allowed to fly over Lebanon direct to DAM, have done it few times before. Civilian planes can either enter via the Jordanian airspace if arriving from the south, or near Latakia if arriving from the North or west.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:55 pm

Whats the basic procedure in the area when diverting ....

I find it odd

1. IDF said no to flying via Israeli airspace, why ... its a French plane , are FRANCE & Israel at odd?
2. DAM ? , hum lets land in a civil war.... who makes the final call on that?
3. How did the AF crew pay for fuel its got to be a few thousand euros.... ?
4. anyone have a visual picture of the route ? BEY-DAM?
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:54 pm

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 14):
Sorry but no you can not, due to the air defense system near the Israeli border, no plane is allowed to fly over Lebanon direct to DAM, have done it few times before. Civilian planes can either enter via the Jordanian airspace if arriving from the south, or near Latakia if arriving from the North or west.

Let's be more precise,, then.
For someone who diverts from BEY to DAM, the normal routing would be North KAD, CAK, East to Lateb and Lotax, and South to DAM : that's 112 Nm. I have been cleared direct Lateb / Lotax / Maloua and DAM for 92 Nm. The really direct BOD / Dakwe / DAM ( awy R 219 /G 202)h as been closed for some time. The distance is 70 Nm.
Please note that AMM ( Queern Alia ) is a further 116 Nm on the same routing.m

Quoting heysfo (Reply 15):
1. IDF said no to flying via Israeli airspace, why ... its a French plane , are FRANCE & Israel at odd?

Not necessarily. Everyone knows how much into security the Israeli are... and I daresay for a reason... That's all.

Quoting heysfo (Reply 15):
2. DAM ? , hum lets land in a civil war.... who makes the final call on that?

As usual, it's captain's final decision. With a lot of advising from OCC.

Quoting heysfo (Reply 15):
3. How did the AF crew pay for fuel its got to be a few thousand euros.... ?

They didn't. The AF regional manager did it.

Quoting heysfo (Reply 15):
4. anyone have a visual picture of the route ? BEY-DAM?

Try some Jepps old charts. Can't copy mine.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:03 pm

Quoting heysfo (Reply 15):
IDF said no to flying via Israeli airspace, why ... its a French plane , are FRANCE & Israel at odd

No France and Israel are not at odds but Lebanon and Israel are. Plane was carrying a lot of Lebanese a potential recipe for disaster. I am sure though and it happened once in the past that in case of serious emergency the plane would have landed in TLV.
I wonder when the decision was taken to fly thru AMM ( not enough fuel) then re-routed to DAM (really). Alternate airports could have been Adana and Paphos. What is more startling is to know how much fuel they were carrying to find themselves in such a dire situation. According to L'Orient le Jour newspaper the pilot envisaged to ditch the plane.....
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:26 pm

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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:44 pm

Quoting Pihero (Reply 16):
For someone who diverts from BEY to DAM, the normal routing would be North KAD, CAK, East to Lateb and Lotax, and South to DAM : that's 112 Nm. I have been cleared direct Lateb / Lotax / Maloua and DAM for 92 Nm. The really direct BOD / Dakwe / DAM ( awy R 219 /G 202)h as been closed for some time. The distance is 70 Nm.
Please note that AMM ( Queern Alia ) is a further 116 Nm on the same routing.m

Great, thanks. How far is Larnaca from BEY?
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:02 pm

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 19):

Great, thanks. How far is Larnaca from BEY?

It's 108 Nm
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:03 pm

Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
It's 108 Nm

Pihero i presume it will be a shorter flight to Larnaca, then, and i am sure it's not like you get an immediate response from DAM to divert there. There must have been a lot of wasted time between holding over BEY, for no real reason, then contacting TLV for a permission to divert there, refused, contacting Syrian FAA for approval to divert, his first choice should have been Larnaca.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sat Aug 18, 2012 12:06 am

Quoting ODAFZ (Reply 17):

That is outrageous. The plane should have landed in Beirut. These blockades of the airport road are not a new thing.
To ditch a 777 because th airport road is shut? Unbelievable. The protestors usually get moved on quite swiftly and th passengers would have been able to wait in the airport until it was safe to move on.

Landing in Tel Aviv would have been a logistical nightmare in terms of visa and entry requirements.

The lebanese government have voiced the need for a second operating airport in the country, Renee Mouwad near Tripoli being a preferred airport.

I have flown from Beirut to Damascus with JAT in 2001 and we went north towards Byblos and then east across the Bekaa valley. There is a towering mountain range that runs parallel to the coast and I assumed the flight path is to be able to gain altitude to cross this.

Glad everyone got to Beirut safely but I cannot help but feel that the matter was made worse when they diverted to a potentially more dangerous destination..
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sat Aug 18, 2012 7:49 am

Quoting ODAFZ (Reply 17):
According to L'Orient le Jour newspaper the pilot envisaged to ditch the plane.....

Can you really believe this a single second ?
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:43 am

Quoting ODAFZ (Reply 17):
According to L'Orient le Jour newspaper the pilot envisaged to ditch the plane.....

        

I always loved the Lebanase propensity to dramatize each and every situation ...
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sat Aug 18, 2012 12:16 pm

JUst discovered that Pihero is participating in this thread, good, we cannot get any closer to what was probably going on in an Air France cockpit and on the ground.

From what I understand the plane has landed in Damascus at 22h29 local time, i.e. one hour after it's ETA in Beirut. That may give an indication of how much time it may have spent circling in the air thinking about what to do.

In the end, I don't understand a couple of things and if Pihero or someone else could shed some light on it that'd be splendid:

1) What are the elements that have led the pilots to favour Amman over Larnaca in the first place? Is it credible that LCA was "saturated"? I'd believe the saturation element if other airports in the region were also closed and sending a lot of diverted planes to LCA, but I don't think that was the case. So if LCA was just dealing with its normal traffic plus the one diverted Air France flight, how can it be saturated? Or does normal traffic in LCA lead to saturation, which would then be known before, in which case the interesting question is why it was designated as an alternate?

2) When did they realize that they didn't have enough fuel to go to Amman? Was it when circling over Beirut? In which case the choice would have been one between "going to Larnaca and declaring an emergency, and they'd let us land even if it's a bit tight on the ground" and "trying to go to Amman, but if it doesn't work out we may end up having to land in the middle of a country in the midst of civil war". Or maybe there would have been another option, which would be to deviate to Paphos for instance, or some place on the Turkish South coast. Sure, they weren't designated alternates, but neither was Damascus, so the choice between going to an undesignated alternate in a safe country vs. one in the middle of a war zone should be obvious.

3) Or did they realize that they didn't have enough fuel only once they were already on their way to Amman? Which would imply that they got the bad news of air space closure only after having reached a point of no return to Amman. But then how could they engage on Amman in the first place? The choice would have been between "do we try Amman even though we may not get the routing for which we have enough fuel, which will then force us to land in Damascua" and "let's still head to Cyprus"

4) Once they had refuelled in Damascus, why didn't they continue to Amman as originally planned? Why then change minds and go to Larnaca?

5) How are alternates picked and planned for? As much as I know planes must have enough fuel to reach their alternate plus some time for holding and so on, so that low fuel situation should never have arisen, right? Unless they overstretched their holding time, which then left not enough fuel to go to Amman?

6) Do planes carry approach maps even of airports that are not designated alternates? I was on an Air France B777 a couple of weeks ago and was allowed to visit the cockpit during taxi and takeoff, and noticed that they didn't have tablets / electronic flight bags. So any map material would need to be carried physically as paper in folders. Would that restrict the number of maps that are carried?

I somehow have the feeling that we don't know all the elements to form ourselves an opinion about whether or not the choice of the "Amman as an alternate including the probability of having to land in Syria" was a poor choice.

That "the pilot considered ditching the plane into the sea" must be absolute B*S and a creation of somebody trying to make the story sound more interesting (extremely common in that part of the world). I think before ditching the plane into the sea they would have landed in Beirut. It also supports many people in Lebanon probably feeling miffed that their own country is suddenly perceived more dangerous than Syria, so they have to dramatize it all a bit.
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:10 pm

Quoting Mozart (Reply 25):
1) What are the elements that have led the pilots to favour Amman over Larnaca in the first place?

Company policy, mainly

Quoting Mozart (Reply 25):

2) When did they realize that they didn't have enough fuel to go to Amman?

Quite early, when transit was denied.

Quoting Mozart (Reply 25):

4) Once they had refuelled in Damascus, why didn't they continue to Amman as originally planned? Why then change minds and go to Larnaca?

At that time, they had to consider out of hours crew. The relief would have been easioer in Larnaca... Amman was just an alternate and setting up unscxhedfuled flights in that area is... difficult. For security considerations.

Quoting Mozart (Reply 25):

5) How are alternates picked and planned for? As much as I know planes must have enough fuel to reach their alternate plus some time for holding and so on, so that low fuel situation should never have arisen, right? Unless they overstretched their holding time, which then left not enough fuel to go to Amman?

That plane was never forced into a corner : they planned well ahead their alternatives ( there was no - repeat NO - mayday FR-style) .
What are the considerations for choosing an alternate ?
1- Infrastructure
2- Weather
3- Availability
4- Convenience (Hotels / Assistance ... etc... )
5- Political considerations
Finally, that aircraft was at all times in contact by satPhone with ther OCC and the regional representative who cloeared all tyhe necessary authorisations. These personnel have a very good grasp of the political / social / situation, in all the region's counbtries and can give very valuable advice .

Quoting Mozart (Reply 25):
I noticed that they didn't have tablets / electronic flight bags. So any map material would need to be carried physically as paper in folders. Would that restrict the number of maps that are carried?

There was once an "ATLAS" group of airlines which put their assets in common / Air France was in charge of the documentation and they still have a very nice chart and navigation design office.
Yes, we carry all the world documentation needed for each aircraft. you'd probably have noticed a huge locker-size leather bag behind the F/O's seat.THat's where all the docs / charts / approch and area plates... are stored.
All the airports in the area are in the Nav Database and can be extracted by the crew, with the relevant routings / STARS... etc... to be displayed on the ND.

[Edited 2012-08-18 08:15:26]

[Edited 2012-08-18 08:18:33]
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:31 pm

The diversion to Damas is becoming a huge affair in France. Here is a translation of a paper on the Liberation newspaper website:

'French minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, qualified of ' " huge stupidity " decision appraise by Air France to put off on Damascus a plane making itinerary Paris-Beirut, according to purposes brought back on Saturday by the daily the Parisian on his Internet site. Air France had put off a flight on Wednesday evening for Beirut, owing to disturbances on the road of the airport Rafik Hariri. The plane had landed in Damascus, while Syria is in the grip of a popular uprising become armed conflict, which made more than 21.000 deaths in 17 months according to ONG. After having filled up in Damascus, the plane had landed in the Cypriot airport of Larnaca, where the 174 passengers, among whom of the ambassador of France in Lebanon, of Patrice Paoli and of Lebanese personalities hostile to the regime of Bachar al-Assad, the company took care. « Imagine an instant when Syrian authorities search the plane and proved identity. It was a huge stupidity », underlined the minister, who judged the decision of Air France " incomprehensible and dangerous " .Asked by AFP, the ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out on Saturday to have asked Air France, of which a party of capital am detained by the French State, of 'further informations'.

Guess what 'Huge stupidity' in diplomatic word means in everyday language ...
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sat Aug 18, 2012 7:19 pm

The stupidity is in Fabius himself : Doesn't even know the first thing about the event when AF has communicated during the whole incident with his services,k which approved the whole event.
Secundo, as a foreign minister, he doesn't seem to know a lot about the treaties his country is a signatory of -and in many cases, one of the most prominent movers -.
That comment on the aircraft being searched by the Syrian authority is utter imbecile uninformation. The guy just doesn't have a clue : The Chicago conventioon prohibits it.
As for the "huge affair ", allow me to smile a bit : Libé has long forgotten it used to be one of the quality papers in France... It's now just another leftist rag surviving on servile servile reporting of this government ministers smallest utterance.

Quoting FlySSC (Reply 24):

I always loved the Lebanase propensity to dramatize each and every situation ...

It happens in our country, too, alas !
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:11 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 28):
That comment on the aircraft being searched by the Syrian authority is utter imbecile uninformation. The guy just doesn't have a clue : The Chicago conventioon prohibits it.

It is not beyond Syrian authorities to ignore any convention or treaty.
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:50 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 28):
The stupidity is in Fabius himself : Doesn't even know the first thing about the event when AF has communicated during the whole incident with his services,k which approved the whole event.
Secundo, as a foreign minister, he doesn't seem to know a lot about the treaties his country is a signatory of -and in many cases, one of the most prominent movers -.
That comment on the aircraft being searched by the Syrian authority is utter imbecile uninformation. The guy just doesn't have a clue : The Chicago conventioon prohibits it.
As for the "huge affair ", allow me to smile a bit : Libé has long forgotten it used to be one of the quality papers in France... It's now just another leftist rag surviving on servile servile reporting of this government ministers smallest utterance.

+1. If AF got wrong information about the situation in BEY, Fabius should first investigate in his ministry who gave the info.
 
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:13 am

Thanks a lot Pihero, informative as ever.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
Quoting Mozart (Reply 25):
1) What are the elements that have led the pilots to favour Amman over Larnaca in the first place?

Company policy, mainly
Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):

What are the considerations for choosing an alternate ?
1- Infrastructure
2- Weather
3- Availability
4- Convenience (Hotels / Assistance ... etc... )
5- Political considerations

Do I take from that that *everything else being equal* Amman is preferable to Larnaca because it is an Air France station?

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
Quoting Mozart (Reply 25):

2) When did they realize that they didn't have enough fuel to go to Amman?

Quite early, when transit was denied.

Interesting, that's the part where I don't know how the operations work. According to information by Air France the plane landed at 22h00 local time in Damascus, i.e. 30 minutes after ETA Beirut. Since Amman was a designated alternate, there would have been enough fuel to reach Amman. So why the landing in Damascus to fill up? Was there any portion of the trip where more fuel was used than planned?

Pihero, could you explain to the laymen among us how fuel calculations for this type of flight is done? It is something like fuel to reach destination, fuel to reach an/one of the alternate(s), plus some holding fuel at either destination or the alternate, correct?

Also, if as you say they realized early on that they didn't have enough fuel, that would be where, somewhere over the Mediterranean as they were going Northbound along the Lebanese/Syrian coast? Would there still have been enough fuel and a possibility to still change plans and go to Larnaca or another airport, e.g. in Turkey?

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
Finally, that aircraft was at all times in contact by satPhone with ther OCC and the regional representative who cloeared all tyhe necessary authorisations. These personnel have a very good grasp of the political / social / situation, in all the region's counbtries and can give very valuable advice .

Could you shed some light on how decisions are taken in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Crisis Center? I understand that the final decision lies with the Captain of the plane, but prior to that, how does it work? Does the Foreign Ministry *inform* Air France that there is something going on on the ground, do they advise* Air France not to land in Beirut, or do they *tell/order* Air France not to land in Beirut? Then, what is the role of the OCC? After information from the Foreign Ministry, do they *adivse* the Captain not to land in Beirut, or do they *tell/order* him not to land there?

Quoting Pihero (Reply 28):
The stupidity is in Fabius himself : Doesn't even know the first thing about the event when AF has communicated during the whole incident with his services,k which approved the whole event.

Fully agree with you. His ministry seems to have done a very poor job in assessing the situation on the ground.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 28):
That comment on the aircraft being searched by the Syrian authority is utter imbecile uninformation. The guy just doesn't have a clue : The Chicago conventioon prohibits it.

That's the one bit where I come to a different conclusion. You are obviously correct on the fact that the Chicago convention prohibts the authorities from boarding. But I think that over the past 18 months the Syrian authorities have given enough evidence that they don't care about international law, human rights, the United Nations, UN envoys, etc. Why worry about something as "trivial" as a convention prohibiting them from boarding a plane?
 
OD720
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:42 am

Still, I don't understant why it didn't land at BEY, as all other ailines did that night except AF!
 
Pihero
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:43 am

Quoting Mozart (Reply 31):
Do I take from that that *everything else being equal* Amman is preferable to Larnaca because it is an Air France station?

Correct.
Add to that the very particular situation of this region : four countries in a state of mild-to-strong antagonism : Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan... plus the semi-belligerence between Turkey andf Syria and Cyprus... a transit in that area requires to be in permanent contact witrh three ATCs. Plus the fact that there is an official ADIZ ( the Israeli one) and semi official others...Any given situation can - and did, in my experience, change very rapidly.
That's the reason leaving the passengers at the airport at the mercy of every armed soldier / militia / partisan, especially an ambassador and people opposed to the de-facto occupants of the country... was not an option.

Quoting Mozart (Reply 31):
According to information by Air France the plane landed at 22h00 local time in Damascus, i.e. 30 minutes after ETA Beirut

Incorrect : they landed some 65 minutes after reaching beirut.

Quoting Mozart (Reply 31):
Since Amman was a designated alternate, there would have been enough fuel to reach Amman. So why the landing in Damascus to fill up? Was there any portion of the trip where more fuel was used than planned?
Quoting Mozart (Reply 31):
Since Amman was a designated alternate, there would have been enough fuel to reach Amman. So why the landing in Damascus to fill up? Was there any portion of the trip where more fuel was used than planned?

One of the main nightmares of any aircraft commander is to enter a spiralling chain of events he/she cannot control. The best solution is then to be very / aggresively pro-active and - as our US friends say - stop the buck here and now.
That means decide soonest to land instead of being pushed about by just about everybody in the sector and become more and more "illegal" for the ATCs as time passes.
It is a general opinion that the near East is the worst place for having a fuel situation. And we carry generally more fuel than needed.

Quoting Mozart (Reply 31):
Pihero, could you explain to the laymen among us how fuel calculations for this type of flight is done?

The planned minimum fuel for the sector would be the sum of :
-Taxi fuel
-Estimated burn off : includes climb / cruise / descent / approach procedure
-Diversion fuel : from the missed approach at destination airport / climb / cruise / descent / approach and land at the elected diversion airport.
-Trip reserve fuel : 5% of burn-off (other calculation methods are approved by trhe French DGCA)
-Final reserve fuel : worth 30 minutes of holding ; it should be more than the quantity required for15 mins of holding plus a go-around / approach / landing ; (this latest quantity is the minimum legal one should show afterr landing, whether at destination or at alternate) .
For the Middle East, we carry more than that.

Quoting Mozart (Reply 31):
Also, if as you say they realized early on that they didn't have enough fuel, that would be where, somewhere over the Mediterranean as they were going Northbound along the Lebanese/Syrian coast? Would there still have been enough fuel and a possibility to still change plans and go to Larnaca or another airport, e.g. in Turkey?

When transit to Amman was denied, they were then inside the Syrian airspace. At Lotax, they were 37 Nm to DAM, but due to the routing regs in the area, they were 210 Nm to LCA, with an uncertain clearance by both Syria and Turkey.
Another point is that they never were anywhere near a low fuel situation... but the case could have happened quickly were they stuck in this un-official mud pond.

Quoting Mozart (Reply 31):
Could you shed some light on how decisions are taken in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Crisis Center?

There's cooperation alright and the ministry services advise on the most recent intelligence. Can't say more.

Quoting Mozart (Reply 31):
That's the one bit where I come to a different conclusion.

The boarding would have amounted to an act of international terrorism... I don't think the Syrians would have risked it, with the Western powers looking for an excuse to intervene ... and would Russia and China object ?... I'm not so sure.

[Edited 2012-08-20 03:50:50]

[Edited 2012-08-20 04:00:08]
Contrail designer
 
mozart
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RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:14 pm

Thanks Pihero.

I had the info about the landing at 22h local time in Damascus from the corporate AF website. When you say "65 minutes after reaching Beirut", does that mean that the 22h arrival Damascus is still correct (because "reaaching Beirut" is obviously not the same thing as ETA), or do you mean "65 minutes after ETA of the scheduled flight into Beirut"? I just did that top of my head calculation of 30 minutes by thinking "they had enough fuel to reach their destination by 21h30 local time, they landed in Damascus at 22h, so that means that they have used 30 minutes more fuel that would have been necessary to reach Beirut". That would be equal to the final reserve fuel. Thus, there still should have been all the diversion fuel plus whatever extra fuel was taken along left. Or what am I missing?

I fully appreciate that the landing in Damascus was not an emergency landing but was a precaution in order not to be in an emergency sitution when reaching Amman (because even if my above back-of-the-envelope calculation is correct, that is what could have happened in case of further delays/detours). I also now understand that changing plans from AMM to LCA as an alternate was no longer an option.

So, at the moment of deciding between LCA and AMM as an alternate was this a choice between three options?

1: Go to Larnaca, which has the disadvantage of not being an AF station
2. Go to Amman, if we get a direct routing we make it without problems
3. Go to Amman, if we do not get the direct routing we'll have to stop in Damascus to refuel

Maybe even the risk of having to land in Damascus (option 3) outweighed the disadvantages of option 1 (LCA not an AF station), which is why it was chosen.
 
SN-MD11
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Dec 27, 1999 2:48 am

RE: AF Flight To Beirut Diverted To Damascus

Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:31 pm

I have just read an article on this famous flight in a magazine (l'Express).

Apparently, after take-off from CDG, the crew discovered a malfunction with the windscreen heating system. AF's OCC decided to let flight go ahead, but the item needed to be repaired in BEY in order to avoid an AOG in BEY.

In that view when the BEY demonstrations erupted, AF decided to divert to AMM instead (an AF station, to have the windscreen repaired) but we all know all the troubles the Syrian made to modify the flight plan to have a shortcut straight to AMM. And the crew then faced a fuel shortage issue that obliged them to divert to Damascus.

The rest of the article describes the atmosphere inside the cabin, mustn't have been an easy flight I must say.

All in all a lucky escape I think.

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