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Update @ 0520 EST

The IOC (Maintenance Watch) has just received an ECAM (electronic centralised aircraft monitor) message from LHK operating Flight 10 en route FRA-BKK. The aircraft is close to the top of descent into BKK, but the crew have also been alerted (also via the ECAM system) to a hydraulic problem - the aircraft is losing pressure in the Green System hydraulics. Maintenance Watch have alerted Ops Control. Meanwhile, they have begun to interrogate the ECAM system through the aircraft’s ACARS facility. A conference call has been set up between the IOC, Maintenance Watch and the operating crew of LHK.

The immediate thought processes are for the safety of the aircraft, taking into account the remainder of the flight, and in particular whether the landing in BKK will be normal or abnormal. First, the IOC needs to

Multi-engineering - status @0515

Figure 8.3 Multi-engineering - status @0515

establish from Maintenance Watch the exact nature of this unserviceability. (If the crew deem the landing to be abnormal or an emergency, more responses need to be undertaken by the IOC.) As it stands, forewarning Social Media in the IOC may be judicious, even at this early stage. The conference call between the IOC, Maintenance Watch and the operating crew will ascertain the circumstances of the problem, and any resulting safety and/or operational irregularities, so the attention in the IOC can then turn to the next commitment of the aircraft. The Gantt chart shows that the turnaround time on the ground is just under three hours and there is no other aircraft in the vicinity that could become part of a solution. The next commitment for the aircraft is Flight 11 scheduled to depart BKK at 0845, and which is virtually full. Those customers will begin checking in shortly. Also needing to be clarified are the crew arrangements regarding Flight 11.

The information sought by the IOC includes the following in relation to Engineering:

  • a) What does this hydraulic problem mean in the context of this flight? Is it likely to cause any problem in-flight or in relation to landing?
  • b) What aircraft systems may be affected by the loss of Green System Hydraulics?
  • c) Will the aircraft be U/S on arrival BKK? If so, for how long?
  • d) What is the likelihood of parts being needed? Where from?
  • e) Are there suitably qualified Engineers (and sufficient manpower) available to inspect and fix the aircraft?

The following is sought in relation to both Crewing sections:

  • a) What is the sign-on time for the crews in BKK and what is the maximum ToD (this establishes how much delay or other disruption can be tolerated)?
  • b) If the problem resulted in delaying Flight 11, can the crews be held at the hotel (i.e., deferring sign-on time to prevent duty hours being used)?

And the following in relation to the BKK Airport Manager:

  • a) What is the weather expected at arrival time? (If rain or strong winds are expected, the crew may elect to divert to an airport with calmer conditions.)
  • b) Is there any media presence either there or expected? (The rationale would be to prepare for any commentary or questioning that might arise in case the media learn of an ‘aircraft incident’.)
  • c) Should the aircraft become disabled on the runway after landing (due to the loss of hydraulic systems), does АТС need to be notified of the possible loss of a runway for some time?

If there were a simple fix to the problem such as a physical replacement line or fitting or some adjustment in relation to the ECAM system, there would be no need for any IOC action, with the expectation that the aircraft could be made serviceable within the current scheduled ground time. However, if this were to develop into a hydraulic pump change and/or other changes of significant components, a delay is more than likely on Flight 11. Major considerations now relate to the crew duties and for the curfew in FRA. The STA of Flight 11 is 2100 UTC, which is 2200 local FRA time, and with the curfew beginning at 2300, there is only a one-hour grace period.

Update @ 0530 EST

Maintenance Watch have interrogated the aircraft’s ECAM system and also referred to the various maintenance databases. It appears that there is no previous history of hydraulic problems with LHK. The ECAM system appears to be normal with no erroneous readings apparent. They have also just finished speaking with their contracted Lead Engineer in BKK. The advice is that if it’s a hydraulic pump change, parts will be needed and that the fix could be lengthy. In that case, the aircraft probably won’t make departure time. They also confirm that the Green System supplies hydraulics to the nosewheel steering so although the landing is expected to be normal, there may not be nosewheel steering available for taxiing (this means the aircraft will have to shut down all engines on the runway and be towed to the gate). The Engineers cautioned that they won’t know anything more until the aircraft lands and they have a chance to examine further. The ETA is 0604.

With this information the IOC have a lot to consider:

  • a) The crew duty time is not the overriding problem should the aircraft not meet departure time. The problem becomes arriving before curfew in FRA.
  • b) Can the work be conducted on the line (i.e., at the gate), or must the aircraft be towed to a hangar? (This would be a considerably longer and more extensive process.)
  • c) Should the Engineers expect the problem to be resolved within a few hours of arrival, the crew should sign on at the normal time (0715 - 90 minutes prior to departure).
  • d) However, should the aircraft be delayed more than one hour, the curfew will prevent the flight departing BKK (based on scheduled block time). If that’s the case, then there’s little point bringing the crew out to the airport. The curfew in FRA operates from 2300- 0500, so if the flight failed to operate on the current day, it would need to be rescheduled to arrive FRA immediately after curfew ends (i.e., 0500 arrival). In that case, Flight 11 would depart BKK at 1645, requiring the crew to sign on at 1515, so one option would be to hold the crew at the hotel until later.
  • e) If such a delay were to occur, can a new slot be negotiated for the FRA arrival time?
  • f) If the crew were to come to the airport and sign on, and then the aircraft’s serviceability deteriorated, the crew would have to take another full rest break (e.g., 12 or so hours once signed off), thereby delaying the flight even further. So, the sooner the engineering estimates are made, the sooner all the other factors start to fall into place.
  • g) The next thought relates to the customers checking in at BKK. The IOC would need to consult with the Station Manager to establish if they wished to show any delay on the flight yet (to the public), both on the departure boards and by direct contact with customers via electronic media.
  • h) The CJM would need to check with their accommodation provider(s) should the aircraft not be able to depart during the day. This would also include transport and meal vouchers.
Multi-engineering - status @ 0620

Figure 8.4 Multi-engineering - status @ 0620

 
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