AF RTO then Smoke and return


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Why go all the way back to yul, and spend 4 hrs in the air if there was the smell of smoke?

Avherald.

An Air France Boeing 777-200, registration F-GSPV performing flight AF-345 from Montreal,QC (Canada) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (France), rejected takeoff from Montreal's runway 24R at low speed due to a programming error of the flight management system and subsequently vacated the runway at taxiway B2 about 2200 meters/7500 feet down the runway.

The airplane departed again about 2:10 hours later and was enroute at FL380 about 220nm northeast of Gander,NL (Canada) when the crew reported smell of smoke in the cockpit and decided to return to Montreal. The airplane landed safely in Montreal again about 4.5 hours after departure.

The flight was subsequently cancelled.

NAV Canada reported the crew rejected takeoff because of a programming error.

Air France said, a minor computer error causing a technical alert prompted the crew to reject takeoff at low speed following. After the departure the crew noticed an unusual smell of smoke caused by a faulty fan prompting them to return to Montreal.

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4.5 hours was the total time after departure including the return to YUL but I also wonder why return to YUL where there were a number of airports closer.

Gander?, Montreal?, Gander?, Montreal? I think Kip has it right :icon_super:

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Yup, very strange. I would be quite surprised if the "SMOKE" QRH didn't say, "Land at nearest suitable airport"! Scratch-Head.gif YQX, YYT, YQR all sound suitable if you think you're on fire.

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Yup, very strange. I would be quite surprised if the "SMOKE" QRH didn't say, "Land at nearest suitable airport"! Scratch-Head.gif YQX, YYT, YQR all sound suitable if you think you're on fire.

Especially YQR...if you were over the wheat fields of that vast plain of emptiness !!!:Scratch-Head::Grin-Nod:

Edited by Kip Powick
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Especially YQR...if you were over the wheat fields of that vast plain of emptiness !!!:Scratch-Head::Grin-Nod:

You got me - slip of the finger. I meant to type 'YYR"! (I've been to both places hundreds of times, hard to believe I could get them mixed up - blink.gif)

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I'm guessing there was only a faint smoke odour that was not enough of a concern to require an immediate diversion, but more than enough to preclude any thought of crossing the pond without further investigation, and given this kind of a scenario I would imagine the best option for dealing with the passengers and maintenance for the aircraft is to return to YUL, I have no idea what route they would track back to YUL on but I would think there would be plenty of options should the situation degrade further.

just a thought

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I'm guessing there was only a faint smoke odour that was not enough of a concern to require an immediate diversion, but more than enough to preclude any thought of crossing the pond without further investigation, and given this kind of a scenario I would imagine the best option for dealing with the passengers and maintenance for the aircraft is to return to YUL, I have no idea what route they would track back to YUL on but I would think there would be plenty of options should the situation degrade further.

just a thought

And a very valid thought...probably what happened.;)

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Have we forgotten Swissair 111 already? Scratch-Head.gif

Smoke events aren't always linear in how they play out, such as in a case where an avionics cooling fan is on its way out. Because they cycle on and off, you can get an electrical smell that is intermittent. Problem is, the amount of fumes it gives off can increase with each new cycle as the blower slowly self destructs. They rarely result in anything worse than a bad smell, but why take the chance when you can't adequately diagnose the problem in the air. Best rule of thumb - if there's any doubt and smoke / fumes is involved, put it on the ground and deal with the commercial consequences later. If I was the DFO, I'd be asking a lot of questions.

Edited by J.O.
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I'm guessing there was only a faint smoke odour that was not enough of a concern to require an immediate diversion, but more than enough to preclude any thought of crossing the pond without further investigation, and given this kind of a scenario I would imagine the best option for dealing with the passengers and maintenance for the aircraft is to return to YUL, I have no idea what route they would track back to YUL on but I would think there would be plenty of options should the situation degrade further.

just a thought

This is exactly what happened to me about a month ago. F/A came up and said there was an "odour" in the back but it wasn't too strong. Because of the implications, I went back and smelled a faint burning rubber smell. It only occurred in the area around 2 or 3 rows and only on one side of the aircraft. Inspected the bins, had people turn off their reading lights in that area and the smell went away. About an hour later, just as we hit the ocean, the smell came back. I wasn't prepared to cross the ocean with it like that, but there wasn't any haze or smoke anywhere in the aircraft, so I decided to return to LHR rather than land at Glasgow, but we had the charts out for all of the potential landing spots between us and LHR, just in case.

They planned on us taking the same aircraft out after they had done an inspection but I insisted that they swap aircraft. I wasn't going to repeat the process with the same aircraft and passengers. :red_smile: After we re-departed on the new aircraft, mtce looked for 4 hours for a cause but couldn't find one. The flight the next day using the same aircraft had no recurrence.

We can't just land immediately every time someone smells something a bit off. It looks like the AF guys and I had similar situations and reacted the same way.

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We can't just land immediately every time someone smells something a bit off. It looks like the AF guys and I had similar situations and reacted the same way.

I'm glad it worked out for you and I'm glad it worked out for the Air France guys but the most conservative course of action is to land at the nearest suitable airport, right?

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I'm glad it worked out for you and I'm glad it worked out for the Air France guys but the most conservative course of action is to land at the nearest suitable airport, right?

As pilots, our job is to manage risk.

The most conservative course of action is to stay on the gate when it's snowing, always have an alternate, never get more than an hour from shore, close all airspace east of Iceland when a volcano erupts and never fly above 290. Oh... and never leave your driveway or the ground.

We do things every day that entail some level of risk and is something less than the most conservative course of action.

While landing at the nearest suitable airport with an unusual odour might be considered the most conservative course of action, it may not be the most appropriate one, based on the actual circumstances. Had there been just one airport between me and LHR, then I might have made a different decision, but I managed the risk by keeping my options open.

If we landed every time something a little unusual happened, we would rarely make it to destination.

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As pilots, our job is to manage risk.

The most conservative course of action is to stay on the gate when it's snowing, always have an alternate, never get more than an hour from shore, close all airspace east of Iceland when a volcano erupts and never fly above 290. Oh... and never leave your driveway or the ground.

We do things every day that entail some level of risk and is something less than the most conservative course of action.

While landing at the nearest suitable airport with an unusual odour might be considered the most conservative course of action, it may not be the most appropriate one, based on the actual circumstances. Had there been just one airport between me and LHR, then I might have made a different decision, but I managed the risk by keeping my options open.

If we landed every time something a little unusual happened, we would rarely make it to destination.

Well, I'm not second guessing your decision since it obviously turned out to be correct. In general, I agree with you - everything we do entails some sort of risk. It's just that managing the risk involved with no-alternate IFR is easier than making inflight decisions about whether or not a whiff of smoke is serious. IMO, there are a few issues that deserve special attention; fire and fuel leaks leading the list. Your example of operating in snow is not applicable. I can check the books and show you that this is allowed, check the holdover charts and prove that the operation is safe, calculate the accelerate/stop distance etc. Where can you show me that a certain amount of smoke, in a certain location of the aircraft is safe? As I said, I am not second guessing your decision but you have to admit it was simply a seat of the pants judgement call. Now, before you get defensive, I have done this myself; decided that the whiff of odor after takeoff was residual from the compressor wash or was from the deicing we had just done. We have all done this. My point is simply that "fire/smoke" is a special case and we shouldn't ever forget that.

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Well, I'm not second guessing your decision since it obviously turned out to be correct. In general, I agree with you - everything we do entails some sort of risk. It's just that managing the risk involved with no-alternate IFR is easier than making inflight decisions about whether or not a whiff of smoke is serious. IMO, there are a few issues that deserve special attention; fire and fuel leaks leading the list. Your example of operating in snow is not applicable. I can check the books and show you that this is allowed, check the holdover charts and prove that the operation is safe, calculate the accelerate/stop distance etc. Where can you show me that a certain amount of smoke, in a certain location of the aircraft is safe? As I said, I am not second guessing your decision but you have to admit it was simply a seat of the pants judgement call. Now, before you get defensive, I have done this myself; decided that the whiff of odor after takeoff was residual from the compressor wash or was from the deicing we had just done. We have all done this. My point is simply that "fire/smoke" is a special case and we shouldn't ever forget that.

Sound's to me like you ARE second guessing even when you say you aren't.

Inchman posted a first hand report on a specific situation -- which need's no further explanation nor critique.

Henry

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A few thoughts to add.

First, each situation IS different. Smoke is like trying to trace a water leak in your house. It's coming out here, but where did it start? Guess right and you save the mission. Guess wrong and you lose the aircraft. Sometimes the risk is a sliding scale. Is the risk from the cause of smoke so high that you want to land a wide body at an alternate where you've never been, barely fits the aircraft type and whose runways may or may not be contaminated, or do you return to a known spot and keep the enroute sites ready just in case? No place for armchair QB's in that scenario. It is an occasion where pilots have to earn their pay.

But I would like to highlight a clip from the safety study cited above

[but the report seen Tuesday said that "the independent security team judges that in general, (Air France) lacks the strong line on safety matters that is necessary for correctly grasping safety and taking decisions day to day."]

More and more it seems there is only one strong line on safety - the unemployment line. It used to be that the regulator tracked who was leaving important positions in a company as a sign of risk. No longer under SMS. Maybe my experience is unique, but I have seen some pretty solid people ground up and spit out lately. The stories I hear are getting to be too familiar - they voiced a concern with a proposed cost cutting measure and got smoked for it. BTW these stories are not just from one company and not just private sector.

Just my opinion

Vs

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It's as if there is the corporate version of a hostage taking in progress. A primary investor or debtholder extorts the airline exec to make decision that will result in short term profit at the direct expense of longer term viability or safety. The investor gets their return, exits the scene and the company is left to weather the inevitable storm - or not.

It's like getting a telemarketing call from another country. Illegal but unstoppable with our current toolkit. We have had so many people say the same thing about the inevitable consequence that it's no longer treated seriously - 'oh the sky is falling again?'.

How many of us with too much grey in our hair have seen this movie before?

Vs

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