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We have a problem – both of our engines have stopped

May 29, 2015 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Singapore Airlines is conducting an urgent investigation after flight SQ836, an almost brand-new Airbus A330-343 flying from Singapore to Shanghai, lost power on both of its engines in mid flight.

As an A330 has only two engines, that is a serious matter, to put it mildly. The plane is just two months old.

The incident over the weekend was tracked by Flightradar 24. It happened while the plane was cruising at 39,000 feet and was south of Hong Kong. When both Rolls-Royce engines stopped, the airliner descended to 13,000 feet before the crew was able to restart the engines and land safely in Shanghai 90 minutes later.

The flight had 182 passengers and 12 crew aboard. Simon Hradecky’s Aviation Herald said Singapore Airlines confirmed that the A330 “experienced a temporary loss of power”.

The flight continued to Shanghai and touched down uneventfully. In Shanghai, the aircraft underwent thorough examination and tests. No anomalies were detected. The occurrence has been reported to aviation authorities in Singapore and is being discussed with Rolls Royce and Airbus.

The plane involved in the incident was fitted with two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B turbofan engines. 

Perhaps the most famous in-flight engine failure incident of all time (among those with a happy ending, that is) involved a plane with four engines: a Boeing 747-200. All four engines stopped at about the same time.

That was on 24 June 1982, when British Airways flight BA009 from London to Auckland ran into trouble on the Kuala Lumpur/Perth leg. The plane flew into a cloud of high-altitude volcanic ash thrown up by the eruption of Mount Galunggung, about 180 kilometres southeast of Jakarta.

When all four of its engines failed, the plane began to descend fast at an unusually steep angle. The reason for the failure was not immediately apparent to crew or air traffic control because the ash was virtually invisible.

The pilot diverted the B747 to Jakarta in the hope that enough engines could be restarted to allow it to land there. The plane was able to glide far enough to exit the ash cloud, and all engines were restarted (although one failed again soon after), allowing the flight to land safely at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta.

Passengers (248 were aboard, plus 15 crew) had been writing final messages to loved ones as the plane descended.

The captain, BA pilot Eric Moody, made an inflight announcement that has gone down in history as a masterpiece of English understatement.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Moody announced, “this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”

The plane landed without incident and nobody was hurt. Phew!

Written by Peter Needham

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