Sorry about the delay in replying. Been busy here. Thanks for your reply.
You donÕt want to discuss the benefits of a US style dispatch system, yet you say that Europe enjoys the benefits without the drawbacks. What benefits?
Flights in Europe are routinely launched off on both long and short haul trips with no support whatsoever from the airline. The airline in many cases doesnÕt even know where the flight is at any given time, as they donÕt monitor or track them. That allows a crew to get into trouble that could have been prevented. They don't get the information that they need.
Your question about if there was a flight dispatch system in place for this incident, is a good one, but then you purposely cripple it with requiring it to operate under JARs and SOP that exist now. This is exactly the problem. They donÕt have the requirements that would provide the safety of a US style system. They donÕt have licensing of flight dispatchers, they donÕt have required communication by the dispatcher with the flight, they donÕt have a requirement for the dispatcher to provide safety info to the flight and of course they donÕt have the safety that joint responsibility and authority would provide. And they have no emergency authority provision either, which could have been used in this case. So to answer your question of course it would not be effective, as it would still be under the very inadequate JARs and SOP used now. They need to be changed.
The factors that the dispatcher would have used would have been as follows under a US system: (not JAR or SOP as used at BA
1. The dispatcher would have advised the crew that they did not have a release to continue the flight to its destination, considering all of the factors in 121.565, which has been discussed here at length.
This authority is given in 121.533 as follows.
(c) The aircraft dispatcher is responsible for-
(1) Monitoring the progress of each flight;
(2) Issuing necessary information for the safety of the flight; and
(3) Canceling or redispatching a flight if, in his opinion or the opinion of the pilot in command, the flight cannot operate or continue to operate safely as planned or released.
They also would have advised the crew that to continue it would have constituted continuing flight in unsafe conditions, as per FAR
121.627 as here.
¤ 121.627 Continuing flight in unsafe conditions.
(a) No pilot in command may allow a flight to continue toward any airport to which it has been dispatched or released if, in the opinion of the pilot in command or dispatcher (domestic and flag operations only), the flight cannot be completed safely; unless, in the opinion of the pilot in command, there is no safer procedure. In that event, continuation toward that airport is an emergency situation as set forth in ¤121.557.
It would force the PIC into an emergency situation if he continued. He would have had to land at a suitable alternate long before the destination. There are none of the above requirements in JAR-OPS.
And by the way, it is not just a US style system. Even the Chinese have adopted this system in its entirety. They understand its benefits. They and others are way ahead of Europe in this regard.
Now to the #2 fuel tank. Your are right, the fuel, if it was useable, it should have been accessible, But it was not. It sounds like a conflict, I know. But it is a fact. LetÕs just say, that there was another problem at work here. But it clearly shows that other things were happening, not just the shutdown of the engine. It created a double problem. It would not have been a factor if the flight had landed earlier, as there would have been much more fuel available in the other tanks.
A note about Boeing and todayÕs aircraft. Yes they are very reliable and redundant in their systems. But if an engine is shut down, it doesnÕt mean that one should just go on forever. It is definitely a less capable aircraft. Why do it if it is not necessary?
I think that you are on the wrong side of this argument. You are arguing that an aircraft with an engine out that is less capable is safe, when we all know that it is not as safe as one with all engines operating.
And of course we also know that this aircraft had another engine shutdown on its next series of flights, coming back from Singapore. Same position, #2, but different engine, as it had been changed. What did the flight do? Of course, it followed the JARs and SOP. It flew all the way back from the Far East to LHR
on 3 engines. It is simply not sustainable to continue this practice. Ferry the thing, donÕt take it with passengers.
The FAA agrees with this practice as being illegal under the FARs.From the Wall Street Journal today.
"...FAA said the flight was a violation of U.S. regulations, but it didn't have jurisdiction over the British flight crew. Many pilots agreed with the FAA's reading that setting off on a 10-hour flight across a continent and an ocean is not as safe as landing at the nearest suitable airport -- just consider a possible second engine failure when you're hundreds of miles from an airport."
Here are some comments from passengers in the Wall Street Journal from today.
ÒLike many fliers, Steven Hill said he would have been a wreck had he been on the plane. He's decided to fly a U.S. airline to Europe this summer instead of a British carrier. "British Airways is nuts if they think three engines is OK
to continue the flight all the way to England," he said.
Jim Finke says if he had been on the plane, he would have been on his cellphone immediately, regardless of the impropriety.
Arthur M. Cash: "There is no question why this flight was continued: money. I am shocked and amazed that these people had the gall to risk the lives of 300 people for money. They can blow all the smoke they want. They know, we know, and their former customers aboard that airplane know: They took the action that they did due to greed, period. I am disgusted and saddened by their actions."
Charles M. West: "Ultimately, British Airways will not have saved any money by making a decision to cross the North American continent and Arctic Ocean on only three engines. When the news gets out about what happened, many passengers making the flight from Los Angeles will choose a domestic carrier over British Airways. The airline, along with the European Union, needs to reassess its policy concerning such an incident."
Even you yourself say ÒI'm not suggesting that an engine failure is anything other than a serious event, even on a four engined aircraftÉÓ,
Then it canÕt be as safe as having all 4 running.
The thing that strikes me is that this is the same mentality that had the Titannic being ÒunsinkableÓ. It had a double hull, multiple compartments and watertight doors. Unfortunately it wasnÕt enough. Interestingly, one of the other comments in the Wall Street Journal today was:
"I don't know what all the fuss is about," wrote Eli Bensky. "I'm sure that the 747 had enough life rafts to accommodate all of the passengers and every passenger had a life vest."
A little black humor. How Titannic like. I suggest that BA
has hit a "Titannic" of a public relations iceberg, especially now with the 2nd incident on the same aircraft. The best thing that they could do is to change the practice and for EASA/JAA to change their rules to bring them up to at least the standards of US carriers. They should track their aircraft and support them appropriately. Engine out rules should limit how far they can go with an engine out. The word is out now out if they don't. Their reputation is at stake. And that counts for a lot in aviation. Maybe everything.