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More: South African Airways
More: Boeing 737-844
More: In Flight
More: South Africa, January 17, 2006
Remark Photographer
ZS-SJS (cn 32632/1205) On a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, this leading edge slat would not retract. All the attempts by the pilots to recycle the flaps did not work, so we had to fly to Cape Town at a slower speed and lower altitude. According to the co-pilot who has contacted me, this has never before happened on a 737-800 and Boeing is investigating the incident.
More: Emile Myburgh
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Photo added: February 22, 2006
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Visitor comments (48)   [Hide]Post your own comments by rating the photo above!
A visitor from Mauritius posted Thu November 8, 2012:
Nice photo. Flew on this bird on the 2nd October 2012. Took off from OR Tambo en route to Cape Town and felt the airframe shaking. PIC announced that there was a problem. Headed back to OR Tambo to find out that the actuator on the front nose door had fallen off! Maintenance is questionable of late.

A visitor from Australia posted Sat May 12, 2012:
Oooo..just imagine the roll trim needed to keep level..

A visitor from - posted Mon April 16, 2012:
This is what it means to be feeling out of place :)

A visitor from Germany posted Tue December 29, 2009:
Nice photo! (Well... Probably not nice, but very interesting!)

A visitor from United States posted Mon December 3, 2007:
Wouldn't want to be there. By the way hydraulic fluid in a 737 would be a purple tint cause they use SKYDROL, or phosphate ester based fluid, the red stuff would be 5606 fluid but not used here

A visitor from South Africa posted Sat August 18, 2007:
Great Photo !
Just over an hour ago I saw this exact Aircraft zs-sjs takeoff from Port Elizabeth (FAPE/PLZ) Airport !

A visitor from United States posted Wed July 11, 2007:
Now that's something I've never seen in a Leading-Edge Wing Slat at cruising altitude, let alone the only slat deployed really outward and cannot be retracted, would possibly rise the leading edge of the wing, and overstress it. And that would never do! Four Stars to the photographer!! Great capture!!

A visitor from Germany posted Fri June 15, 2007:
!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A visitor from United States posted Tue April 10, 2007:
Outstanding photo. Clarity and contrast are wonderful, depth of field is right on the money. Just to clarify, there are 8 slats on the 737 outboard wing, not 6 as a previous poster stated.

A visitor from United States posted Wed March 7, 2007:
Great shot. I'm sure this turned out to be a very helpful photo for the maintenance and engineering departments.

A visitor from United States posted Wed September 20, 2006:
Forget the slat...look at that winglet...those things are HUGE! Great shot Emile!

A visitor from United States posted Thu September 7, 2006:
This photo really caught my attention as I flew through A.NET. It reminds me of the flap sequence of the 727. As a child I would always look for those two slats on initial descent, as they would deploy first by themselves for just a moment or two just before all the others would extend. I wondered why that particular setup was never used before or since...

A visitor from Korea, Republic Of posted Thu August 3, 2006:
You never know what things like this are gonna do.

A visitor from Spain posted Sun July 16, 2006:
Best shot ever

A visitor from United States posted Sat July 15, 2006:
Good quality photo! Actually this not a big deal problem. It doesn't happen very often but pilots do train for just this type of failure. The airplane encounters a little bit more roll than normal, which is very easily handled by the trained pilot. The reason for the reduced speed is so that the high speed airloads don't cause the slat to depart from the airplane, which might cause much more serious damage. The airplane is completely flyable in this configuration and the pilots are well trained to deal with the situation. I would be surprised if the Captain didn't tell the passengers there's absolutely nothing to worry about. As for continuing to destination, again it is not that big an emergency requiring an immediate landing. Reduced altitude and airspeed does increase fuel burn though, which may require diverting to another airport. But obviously this flight had more than enough fuel to continue.

A visitor from Mexico posted Sat July 1, 2006:
That is actually Slat # 5 , (6 in total, 3 each wing)not a leading edge flap (LE FLAP) , there are only 4 leading edge flaps on the 737, 2 each wing, near the root of the wing (inner side of the engine).

that is most likely an actuator fail, or a slat position sensor/transmitter fail.

A visitor from United Kingdom posted Sun June 25, 2006:
Really interesting shot.

A visitor from United States posted Thu June 22, 2006:
Great

A visitor from Greece posted Fri June 16, 2006:
So lucky to be a beholder of such an incident!A bit unlucky to be on board though...

A visitor from United States posted Mon June 12, 2006:
Interesting opportunity. Good thing it was nothing serious affecting the safetly of flight.

A visitor from South Africa posted Wed May 31, 2006:
I regularly fly on SAA's 737-800!!

A visitor from South Africa posted Mon May 15, 2006:
An opportunity like this doesn't come around every day. Well spotted

A visitor from Australia posted Wed April 12, 2006:
Brilliant shot mate!! The bloke who said it happened symetrcally, if u look closely, the trim tab at the back of the aileron is up, indicating it may not have happened symetrically. u might be right though, maybe I'm seeing things. Haha.

A visitor from Netherlands posted Sat March 11, 2006:
Unique shot! Good thing that it happened symetrically (note neutral ailerons). Otherwise there would be no photo but an article in the newspapers. Curious why the crew continued. Normally this would be reason to divert or land ASAP. Fuel consumption goes up dramatically and performance down. I guess there was no alternate available closer than destination.

A visitor from South Africa posted Mon March 6, 2006:
Good pic - the reflections of the winglet really look like some spilled fluid - did you say that this happened half way through the flight - may explain the continuation to CT - would the lift over the wing and the force of the air not have pushed it back - must have been pushed out or jammed then ??

A visitor from United States posted Wed March 1, 2006:
See these slats all the time, but never stuck! Guess it is not too big of a deal or dangerous if the pilot decided to continue. Don;t know if I would be enjoying the flight though seeing that out the window. Is there any real danger?

A visitor from South Africa posted Mon February 27, 2006:
Fantastic training and ability to handle the situation,

A visitor from Greece posted Mon February 27, 2006:
In my opinion i think you are lucky!!!
Of course i understand that it was not the best thing to happen to someone, but i'd like be up there and take a picture of that!!! 5***** stars for you!!!!!

A visitor from South Africa posted Sun February 26, 2006:
"Wow. firstly, i didn't realize that the -800 had winglet options! " South African Airways was actually the first carrier in the world to get the -800 with winglets.

A visitor from United States posted Sun February 26, 2006:
This almost happened to my flight a couple years ago on a 737 out of SAT. The pilot later told me after the flight that an indicator light for a port side slat showed the surface as "in transition," even though it had completely retracted on climbout. The flaps were recycled, but the problem persisted and we were forced to reduce speed until landing in ORD.

Your photo strikes me as being extremely unique...I've never anything like this actually happen before. I'm sure even non-aviation passengers could tell something was wrong!

Well done!

A visitor from United States posted Sat February 25, 2006:
WOW Incredible he continued that flight.

A visitor from Mexico posted Fri February 24, 2006:
Real good picture and beautifull.
thanks

A visitor from Australia posted Fri February 24, 2006:
Looks like an slat actuator failure, which can be deadly if failing just on one side. Excellent shot.

A visitor from Germany posted Fri February 24, 2006:
Interesting to see the load under which the slats are in straight flight even at reduced speed.

A visitor from - posted Fri February 24, 2006:
Nice work, really love those clouds. To poster of the number 3 comment, if we're looking at the same thing, that doesn't look like hydraulic fluid, but in fact a reflection of the winglet.

A visitor from South Africa posted Thu February 23, 2006:
I've realised that it is called a slat and not a flap. The slat deployed during the flight about half way to Cape Town. The pilots descended to 20000ft, extended all the flaps and slats in the hope that the defective slat would retract together the other. It didn't work and the slat ended up worse than it did before (shown in my picture). Then we continued to Cape Town where we were awaited by the fire brigade and ambulances, but everything turned out fine.

A visitor from United Kingdom posted Thu February 23, 2006:
Thats not red hydraulic fluid, it's the reflection of the SA flag on the inside of the winglet.

A visitor from United States posted Thu February 23, 2006:
Wow. firstly, i didn't realize that the -800 had winglet options! i always thought it was the -700. anyway, curious to see how hydraulic pressure loss occurs midflight. also, i am surprised the leading edge flaps even go that far

A visitor from United States posted Thu February 23, 2006:
Great photo, why did the pilot deploy the flaps before landing? Did he deploy them on takeoff? During Flight?

A visitor from Netherlands posted Thu February 23, 2006:
Nice shot, check the ammound of red hydrolic fluid on the left side of the slat.
that's not to good i think

A visitor from United States posted Thu February 23, 2006:
I didn't understand why they didn't return to Johannesburgo to solve the problem. However, it is a fantastic shot... nice sky... keep up the good work...

A visitor from United States posted Thu February 23, 2006:
This photo is one of the best that I've seen for seeing what the leading edge slats look like.

A visitor from United States posted Thu February 23, 2006:
Agree with first poster, this simple shot says a lot. I hope the autopilot can handle that situation or it would be a tiring flight for the pilot. Good work photographer and pilot.

A visitor from Mexico posted Thu February 23, 2006:
I never thought the edge flaps on a 737-800 could be like this. Very interesting and a good idea from the pilots to go slowler and not very high. T.B.

A visitor from South Africa posted Thu February 23, 2006:
Great shot, pity it has to happen on our National carrier.

A visitor from Germany posted Thu February 23, 2006:
Fantastic view, wonderful sky....5*****

A visitor from Australia posted Thu February 23, 2006:
I love these type of shots because they're interesting, something different!

A visitor from Qatar posted Thu February 23, 2006:
There is clouds under the plane , looks like cotton!

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