Below, an excerpt from an older flight crew training manual for the Airbus Industrie A320/A321 airliner, the same model that was ditched yesterday by pilot Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger, III in New York’s Hudson River after losing both engines to birdstrike. There were no deaths and — baring one unfortunate person who broke both legs — no casualties.
How would you put a 150-passenger plane into a river with no engines? According to the training manual in another related emergency scenario (All Engine Generators Fault), it pays to keep your head on straight: “Remember one of the golden rules; fly the aircraft. ”
I also asked a pilot buddy of mine, Rick Sanders, what he thought about the whole episode:
My first thought is: the whole incident shows that the “system” works. It’s virtually unheard of for an aircraft to lose both engines, but after it did, the pilot drew on his training, kept calm, and flew the aircraft to a safe landing. Then the flight attendants, using their training, quickly evacuated the passengers. And the fire department and coast guard were there very soon to pick up the survivors.
Another way to put this is: even when everything goes wrong, the ultimate goal (of keeping everyone alive) is usually met.
The “system” consists of more than just pilots learning to fly from point A to point B, it’s a complete set of tasks and procedures, given to a whole team of people, that deal with all likely scenarios, and many very unlikely ones. And it works, because the safety record for commercial aviation is absolutely amazing.
FLIGHT CREW TRAINING MANUAL
REV 21 MAY 98
ALL ENGINE FLAME OUT
01 – TRAINING OBJECTIVE
• To establish a safe flight path.
• To recognize the indications of a dual engine failure.
• To carry out correct procedure.
02 – SCHEDULE
Briefing duration : 20 minutes
03 – EQUIPMENT
DOC references :
• QRH 1.01 to 1.04 (Systems remaining)
• QRH 2.18 (Engine relight in flight)
• FCOM 1.70.80 (Ignition and starting)
• FCOM 3.02.70 (Engine Dual Failure)
04 – INSTRUCTOR’S ACTIONS
Briefing of the following key points.
• Monitoring of flight path and parameters.
• Choice of optimum speed.
• ECAM actions (APU use, relight parameters…).
• Situational awareness.
• Relight monitoring and system recovery.
• Aircraft status : systems, F/CTL law..
• Minimum RAT speed.
• Communications (ATC, transponder, cabin).
• Related consequences (Pressurization, forced landing, ditching…).
05 – TRAINEES’ ACTIONS
Following a dual engine failure the flight deck indications change drastically as generators drop off line, the RAT is deployed and ECAM prioritizes checklists. Control of the aircraft must be taken immediately by CM1, and a safe flight path established.
It is important at this stage to correctly identify the failure as it can be easily confused with all engine generators fault. ECAM will prioritize checklists so to avoid confusion read ECAM carefully to correctly identify the failure. It is vital to establish good crew communications and to apply efficient task-sharing.
Establish communications with ATC, stating nature of emergency and intentions. Consider use of transponder emergency code.
The ECAM actions can be commenced, with attention to optimum relight speed . If there is no relight within 30 sec ECAM will order the engine master switches to be placed off for 30 sec and then on again. This is to permit ventilation of the combustion chamber. Start the APU.
Maximum gliding range is achieved at green dot speed. Think ahead and plan the approach. Depending on the airplane’s position, a forced landing or a ditching may be required if the relight is unsuccessful. Find the relevant QRH page and review the procedure.
The list of affected systems is long and flight controls will be much degraded. If the relight attempts are successful, consider the options of immediate landing versus continuing the flight. If the engines failed simultaneously, was there a common cause ?
At all times, maintain correct speed and situational awareness.
06 – COMPLETION STANDARDS
• Establishes immediately a safe flight path.
• Makes correct analysis and carries out procedure.
• Ensures strict application of task-sharing and good crew communications.
• Makes appropriate decision according to outcome of relight attempt.
07 – COMMON ERRORS
• Incorrect speed choice and lack of monitoring.
• Confusion with ELEC EMER CONFIG.
• Lack of situational awareness.
• APU started too late.
• Engine relight not monitored (stopwatch/parameters).
• Lack of communication.