Re: Cripple 7 ???

Date:         16 Nov 97 19:58:45 
From:         Andrew Weir <andyweir@compuserve.com>
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>"This story was told to me by a British Airways stewardess. A British
>Airways have had a few proplems with their 777's. The worst incident
>occured when one was flying from London to the Middle East. Over Germany
>the wing started bending and twisting into all different ways. The
>passengers started to get a bit worried and informed the cabin crew who
>in turn informed the flight crew. It was decided that the aircraft should
>return to London.  Many people on board the aircraft thought that it was
>not going to make it. There was one stewardess on board the aircraft who
>was normally the calmest person in any situation by she was in floods of
>tears by the time the aircraft reached London. British Airways cabin crew
>have now renamed the aircraft from the Triple 7 to the Cripple 7.

I guess even seasoned cabin staff can react like this, particularly under
accumulated stress that may even have little to do with believing that your
number is up.

What the spotter may have picked up was reference to an incident in October
1996, which befell a BA 777-200A bound for Jeddah from London, according to
Flight Int'l in Feb 1997. The mag reported that the UK Air Accident
Investigation Branch was looking into "uncommanded movement of rudder and
rudder pedals during climb and cruise at random intervals," adding that
when they diverted back to LHR "large rudder input" was required on
landing. The report said intermittent fault in the two autopilot
flight-director computers was suspected. I have not checked the AAIB
web-site lately to see whether they have reported on this or not. It would
be interesting to know if they have. They've had plenty of time.

>ing up this story I have been in contact from someone who was
>on an Emerites 777 which had a similar proplem with its wing. Is there a
>problem with this aircraft?"

On September 16 an Emirates 777 lost an engine just after V1. The crew
continued take off and brought her back with no problem. In other words
plane and crew coped as they were supposed too. Engine out on take-off is,
obviously, a big problem, but crews rehearse dealing with it so often they
get pretty good at it, as in this case.

>Then came
>"I don't know about the story about the British Airways 777 wing twisting,
>but a mechanic at United told me that the 777 has turned out to be quite
>the problem plane. He says that they break down both easily and frequently.
>He called them 'pieces of sh*t.' Whether or not the wings bend I do not
>know, but according to this guy, the 777 has so far been a headache for
>UA mechanics."

(I thought  wings always twisted a bit. I can never forget the 707 wing
flapping about like it was imitating a wounded goose. )

UA complained in writing to Boeing in February 1996 and the letter was
leaked, making a story in the National Business Review a month later, which
included the following:

        <<"In the letter, whose contents were confirmed by both companies,
United used stinging language           to describe its frustration with
the performance of the 10 777s that the carrier has received so far.

          Mr O'Gorman wrote that he was "very concerned" about the problems
he described as "significant"   He also characterised as "intolerable" the
number of flights cancellations. The "airplane out of   service time" and
the volumes of reports of problems from pilots.>>

None of these problems, however, were safety-related, the story went on,
and what was really bugging UA was poor dispatch reliability. So, if the
777 is having problems, it seems that most of them relate either to the
profitable operation of planes, not safety, or to teething troubles,  but
nothing, I think, has yet happened to put crew and pax in any unanticipated
danger. The software/computer problems, in particular, are reminiscent of
the kind of trouble Airbus had when the A320 was young.

The Aviation Safety Institute, and Mary Schiavo in her book Flying Blind
Flying Safe, were critical of exemptions in the certification process that
Boeing managed to obtain from the FAA for the 777. That, however, is a
different issue, and nobody has shown there is a problem with the plane
that threatens anyone's safety.

A Weir