DHL over Baghdad and Qantas Flight 32 are two exceptional cases of airmanship when the flight crew successfully landed the plane despite the failure of normal flight controls that could have been “a death sentence” (Aviation Today par. 1). Due to excellent both technical and untechnical skills, stress management, collaboration, and wisdom in decision-making, the flight crew in both cases managed to do the impossible.
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DHL over Baghdad
The DHL A300 aircraft was one of the planes that delivered mail and humanitarian aid to the US soldiers in Baghdad. On 22 November 2003, soon after the aircraft had taken off, it was hit by the SA-14 surface-to-air missile (Aviation Today par. 3). The missile hit the left wing of the plane and, although the left engine was not damaged, all hydraulic systems and flight controls were lost, which is why the flight crew had no other choice than to use throttles-only control. In result, they managed to turn the plane and land it safely in Baghdad.
The accident with the DHL A300 was the first time when a civil plane was hit by a missile (Kirby 8). Admittedly, there were attacks before that, but all of them were against military or official aircrafts only (Kirby 8). However, in the view of unsafe airspace and the possibility of attack, a special take-off procedure was applied in order to accelerate the climb maximally (“Missile Strike” 22). Since the precautions had been taken and even that could not help, it can be concluded that the accident was probably unpreventable.
As Lutz and Greeves stated, Crew Resource Management (CRM) “was absolutely essential to survival” (34). In this particular case, dividing the tasks among the crew members was of the highest priority. And the flight crew did it: Captain Eric Gennotte did his best to control the aircraft, first officer Steve Michielsen kept track of attitudes and distances and flight engineer Mario Rofail focused on the amount of fuel left in the damaged left wing (“Missile Strike” 23). During this accident, every member of the flight crew demonstrated composure, critical thinking, and excellent teamwork skills.
After the accident with the DHL A300, those airlines that still provided civil flights to Baghdad decided to suspend their services (Kirby 2).
Qantas Flight 32
The accident with Qantas Flight 32 happened on 4 November 2010 soon after the aircraft had taken off the ground (Australian Transport Safety Bureau par. 1). During the climbing, at an altitude of 7,000 feet, the flight crew faced the catastrophic uncontained engine failure that resulted in crucial damages of structures and systems. If this aircraft had crashed, it would have possibly been the “deadliest air disaster the world has ever seen” since there were nearly 500 people on board (Passion Aviation). The crew managed to turn the aircraft and land it at the Changi Airport in Singapore.
The QF32 incident could have been prevented. As the Australian Transport Safety Bureau revealed in its report on this case, the explosion in the engine was caused because of too thin walls of oil feed stub pipes installed in the number two engine of the aircraft (par. 2). Since the walls were too thin, cracks developed, oil was leaking, and an explosion finally happened. After the accident with Qantas Flight 32, a range of steps was taken to remove these oil feed stub pipes from the exploitation.
As in the case of the DHL A300, the flight crew demonstrated CRM skills that helped to save the situation. First of all, the crew remained “calm-headed” (Killalea par. 5). Secondly, they were aware of the situation and did not turn the plane until all calculations were made and it was concluded that turning around was actually an option (Killalea par. 9). Finally, the crew demonstrated a great teamwork and the ability of quick and efficient problem-solving. For example, they calculated the optimal speed for the landing and finally landed the aircraft with only 150 meters left to the end of the runway.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau. In-flight uncontained engine failure Airbus A380-842, VH-OQA, overhead Batam Island, Indonesia, 2010. Web.
Aviation Today. System Enables Safe Landings With Total Failure of Normal Flight Controls 2004. Web.
Killalea, Debra. How pilot Captain Richard de Crespigny and his crew saved QF32 from aviation disaster 2014. Web.
Kirby, Steve. Missile Damages DHL Cargo Plane Over Baghdad 2003. Web.
Lutz, Terry and Brian Greeves. “Throttles Only Control (TOC).” INTERpilot (2004): 32-34. Print.
“Missile Strike.” Flight Safety Australia 8.6 (2004): 22-24. Print.
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Passion Aviation. “Air Crash Investigation S13E10 – Qantas 32 Titanic In The Sky Qantas Flight 32.” Online video clip. YouTube. 2014. Web.