Date:         13 Nov 96 02:41:22 
From:         Bill Chivers <>
Organization: Chivers Consultants
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In article <airliners.1996.2356@ohare.Chicago.COM>, Graham Barber
<> writes
>With specific reference to the British Midland B737.
>I was actually on duty as an ATCA on the night this aircraft went down. I
>was in the approach room and took the initial telephone call from the area
>centre advising the problem.
>The only thing that has ever stuck in my mind is that whilst the aircraft
>was descending through the overhead we all expected him to keep his decent
>as steep as possible. The crew elected, however, to go quite a way north
>then turn slowly east, then south and go through the centreline to do a
>180degree turn back onto a northerly heading to close final from the south.
>All the approach room staff kept saying was "Why don't they get this thing
>down on the ground quickly?". On at least 6 occasions the aircraft was
>offered a tight turn to make final quicker and on every occasion this offer
>was rejected.

This accident is one of the classics which seems to get studied in most
CRM courses. Crews are now trained to review their actions to ensure
that they are appropriate. One of the areas about the conduct of the
crew on this flight was that they did not properly review their actions.
What is a little unfortunate about this is that the one time the Captain
actually tried to review the state of play, he was interupted by yet
another ATC transmission!

I don't want to get into the 'pilot knocking ATC' mentality but you
would have thought that it was fairly obvious, after the second offering
of a tighter turn was rejected, that the captain didn't want one.

Really, in the event of an engine failure, there is no great rush to get
the aircraft on the ground (by that I mean a few minutes doesn't matter,
I'm not suggesting continuing on to the destination!). Its more critical
to get the aircraft sorted out, that any appropriate drills are
complete, actions reviewed,  and finally that the aircraft is stabilised
early on the approach. You don't want to do a single engined go around
with a heavy aircraft, even if Perf 'A' say's its O.K!

Personally, I'm quite happy with a late / tight turn on when the
aeroplane is working, but I when do a pre-departure emergency brief I
always include a statement like "If we do have an emergency we'll come
back in here and we'll ask for an 8 mile final".

>The other fact is that only a month before I had flown on the flight deck
>with that same captain as part of a familiarization programme. It only took
>5 minutes to realize just what a competent, switched on guy he was.
>Obviously he is a skipper and needs to be switched on, but I swear that if
>he had lost both engines at FL260 overhead and KNOWN about it he would have
>put that aircraft down on RW 27 at EGNX without so much as a ripple in the
>passengers coffee.

The real shame about this accident is that if the engine had just held
together a few seconds more they might have just cleared the M1 cutting,
or if it had come apart a few seconds earlier they might have had long
enough to successfully relight the good engine.

Also, an awareness that disconnecting the Autothrottle would affect fuel
flow to *both* engines might have helped the crew avoid misdiagnosing
the failure. Personally, I think there is a case for better technical
training for professional pilots, perhaps concentrating a bit more on
general engineering principals & control systems.

Bill Chivers
'my other signature file has something funny at the bottom of it'