Air France Flight 66

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Air France Flight 66
Airbus A380-800 Air France (AFR) F-HPJE - MSN 052 (9270323641).jpg
F-HPJE, the aircraft involved in the incident, from December 2011
Accident
Date30 September 2017 (2017-09-30)
SummaryUncontained engine failure, under investigation
Site150 km (90 mi) southeast of Paamiut, Greenland
Aircraft
Aircraft typeAirbus A380-861
OperatorAir France
IATA flight No.AF66
ICAO flight No.AFR066
Call signAIRFRANS 66
RegistrationF-HPJE
Flight originParis Charles de Gaulle Airport
DestinationLos Angeles International Airport
Occupants521
Passengers497
Crew24
Fatalities0
Injuries0
Survivors521

Air France Flight 66 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Los Angeles International Airport, operated by Air France and using an Airbus A380-861. On 30 September 2017, the aircraft suffered an uncontained engine failure and made an emergency landing at Goose Bay Airport, Canada. The outboard right-side Engine Alliance GP7000 engine failed and its fan hub and intake separated 150 kilometres (93 mi) southeast of Paamiut, Greenland, while the aircraft was in cruise.

This was the second uncontained engine failure suffered by an Airbus A380, following that of a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine on Qantas Flight 32 in 2010.

Engine failure[edit]

The aircraft diverted to CFB Goose Bay, a military air base also used for civilian flights, and landed at 15:42 UTC (12:42 local time)[1][2] after suffering an uncontained failure on its number 4 (rightmost) engine while flying 150 kilometres (93 mi) southeast of Paamiut, Greenland.[3] The engine had operated 3,527 cycles since new.[4]

There were no reported injuries or fatalities among the 497 passengers and 24 crew on board.[1][5] Passengers were not allowed to disembark from the A380 until another Air France aircraft and a chartered aircraft arrived the next morning (1 October), because the airport (located on the Canadian Forces air base) is not equipped to accommodate a large number of passengers from commercial aircraft. The Air France aircraft (a Boeing 777) landed at Atlanta, requiring a wait for its passengers to board another flight while the chartered Boeing 737 aircraft took passengers directly to Los Angeles with a refuelling stopover at Winnipeg.[6]

Pictures and video of the damaged engine were posted to social media by passengers;[7][8][9] and of the landing by an observer on the ground.[10]

Aircraft[edit]

The aircraft involved was an Airbus A380-861,[11] registration F-HPJE, powered by four Engine Alliance GP7000 turbofan engines, delivered to Air France on 17 May 2011.[12]

Investigation[edit]

Air France issued a press release stating that an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the engine failure, including representatives of the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA, the French aviation accident investigation bureau), Airbus and Air France.[1] The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is responsible for investigating aviation accidents in Canada and planned to send investigators.[13] However, since the incident occurred over Greenland, the Danish Accident Investigation Board has jurisdiction over the investigation.[14]

On 3 October 2017 the Danish aviation authorities delegated the investigation to the BEA. Investigators from Denmark, the US and Canada joined the investigation. Advisors from Airbus, Air France and Engine Alliance (a partnership between General Electric and Pratt & Whitney) also flew to Goose Bay. The first observation was that the engine's fan hub had detached during the flight and dragged the air inlet with it.[15] Some six days later, debris from the aircraft's engine was recovered in Greenland.[16]

The BEA stated that "the recovery of the missing parts, especially of the fan hub fragments, was the key to supporting the investigation" and initiated a large search operation including synthetic-aperture radar overflights on a Dassault Falcon 20, but failed to locate the crucial components in 2018, before returning in 2019.[17][18]

In July 2019, another missing piece of the engine, weighing 150 kg, was located in Greenland and recovered.[19]

Subsequent action[edit]

On 12 October 2017, the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) affecting all Engine Alliance GP7270, GP7272 and GP7277 engines. The EAD required a visual inspection of the fan hub within a timescale of two to eight weeks, depending on the number of cycles an engine had operated since new.[4] In June 2018 the FAA issued another Airworthiness Directive, requiring eddy-current testing of the fan hubs of GP7000 engines, to check for cracks in the slots in the hub that serve to attach the fan blades.[11]

In August 2019, the BEA announced that a part from the fan hub recovered from Greenland had been examined by the manufacturer Engine Alliance under BEA supervision. Metallurgical examination of the recovered titanium fan hub fragment identified a subsurface fatigue crack origin. The fracture was initiated in a microtextured area approximately in the middle of the slot bottom. Examination of the fracture was ongoing. Meanwhile, Engine Alliance announced to the concerned A380 operators that an engine inspection campaign would be launched soon. [20]

Recovery and repair[edit]

Air France announced plans to ferry the aircraft back to Europe for repair, with an inoperable replacement engine installed, for reasons of weight and balance.[21] Such a flight requires special operating procedures, and thus rehearsal by the crew in a simulator.[21] That plan was revised and the aircraft was flown to Paris on four operational engines by Air France pilots.[21] The replacement engine was delivered, and the damaged engine flown to East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom for examination by General Electric during the period 23–25 November 2017.[21][22]

The aircraft was subsequently ferried back from Goose Bay Airport to Charles de Gaulle Airport on 6 December 2017.[23] The aircraft returned to service on 15 January 2018.[24]

Recovery of the fan hub from the Greenland ice sheet took place on 29–30 June 2019 after 20 months and four phases of complex aerial and ground search operations to locate the various elements from the engine.[25]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Information About Flight Af066 Paris Los Angeles on 30 September 2017". Air France. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  2. ^ Park, Madison; Ostrower, Jon. "Air France superjumbo engine failure forces emergency landing in Canada". CNN. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Information du 5 octobre 2017" [Information from 5 October 2017] (in French). 5 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b "AD#2107-21-51" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Engine breaks up on Air France A380, forcing emergency landing in Canada". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Wheels up: Air France passengers depart Goose Bay on two flights after hours on tarmac". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  7. ^ Marley, Remy [@theamadoor] (30 September 2017). "Engine failure halfway over the Atlantic Ocean #airfrance #airfrance66 #AF66 #birdstrike possibly" (Tweet). Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ McNeely, Daniel [@DanMcneely] (30 September 2017). "I think the engine has seen better days" (Tweet). Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Soboroff, Jacob [@jacobsoboroff] (30 September 2017). "Just got this pic from friend aboard the Air France CDG to LAX flight that suffered engine failure & landed safely in Canada. Terrifying" (Tweet). Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Twitter.
  10. ^ Barker, Jacob [@JacobBarkerCBC] (30 September 2017). "Just received this video from Kate Heath of Air France emergency landing in Goose Bay" (Tweet). Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via Twitter.
  11. ^ a b "ASN Aircraft accident Airbus A380-861 F-HPJE southern Greenland". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  12. ^ "The Airbus A380 Fleet Cabin and Operations Part I: Korean Air, Lufthansa And Air France". AviationReportGlobal.com. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  13. ^ "TSB investigating after Air France plane forced to land in N.L." CTV News. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Agencies dither over who leads A380 engine explosion probe". Reuters. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Incident: France A388 over Greenland on Sep 30th 2017, fan and engine inlet separated". avherald.com. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Debris recovered in Greenland from Air France plane forced to land in Labrador: Snowy conditions in Greenland are hampering the recovery effort". CBC News. Canadian Press. October 9, 2017. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  17. ^ David Kaminski-Morrow. "High-tech radar hunts for missing A380 fan debris 10 May 2019". Flightglobal.
  18. ^ "October 2017 - June 2018 Searches Phase I & II" (PDF). Accident to the Airbus A380 registered F-HPJE and operated by Air France on 30/09/2017 en route over Greenland. BEA. May 2019.
  19. ^ Simon Hradecky (July 1, 2019). "Incident: France A388 over Greenland on Sep 30th 2017, uncontained engine failure, fan and engine inlet separated". Aviation Herald.
  20. ^ https://news.aviation-safety.net/2019/08/21/engine-alliance-to-start-engine-inspection-campaign-over-a380-uncontained-engine-failure/
  21. ^ a b c d "Air France Flight AF66 Suffers Engine Failure over Greenland – Flightradar24 Blog". blog.flightradar24.com. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  22. ^ Hepher, Tim (10 October 2017). "Damaged A380 to be flown to France to investigate engine blast". Reuters. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  23. ^ Flightradar24. "Flightradar24.com - Live flight tracker!". Flightradar24. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  24. ^ planespotters.net. "F-HPJE Air France Airbus A380-861". planespotters.net. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  25. ^ AIRBUS A380 F-HPJ Greenland Fan Hub Recovery by GEUS / BEA (June 2019), retrieved 2019-08-13