BA 747 onboard FIRE

Final Report

VERSIONS of FIRE      or      "When is a Fire not a Fire - but just an Electrical Fault?

If you read the various accounts below you will note that:

a. The passengers were complaining about the heat in the cabin before start-up and that

b. The Captain assured them that it would all cool down once they got underway (i.e. airborne)

It would be a reasonable conclusion that the fire had been going for quite some time - even before take-off.

You might also notice the "spin" placed upon the events by "airline spokespersons"

a. There vwas no fire, it was just a faulty indicator in the cockpit.

later

b. "It appears that a light in the cockpit was illuminated due to a fault in the wiring to the fridge in the galley."

c. "It had been just a wiring fault in the galley refrigerator" - and there'd been no fire.

later

d. Airport sources who declined to be identified said the fire services found no sign of a fire in the hold of the aircraft.

and then

e. It was only a "small electrical wiring fire in the forward cargo hold." "there was "about a metre-square of fire damage."

It's somewhat reminiscent of this previous incident.

AP World Politics

British Airways flight makes emergency landing at Sydney Airport after faulty warning light

Sat Aug 10, 4:57 AM E

SYDNEY, Australia - A British Airways 747-400 made an emergency landing at Sydney Airport on Saturday after a faulty light in the cockpit indicated a problem in the aircraft's cargo hold, officials said.

   

None of the 247 passengers and crew onboard the jumbo aircraft was injured, British Airways said.

Flight BA 16 had just taken off from Sydney around 4 p.m. local time (0600 GMT) for Singapore when the pilot reported mechanical trouble, police said.

The call prompted a full-scale emergency response, with some 25 ambulances sent to the airport.

"The airport got a call from the plane indicating that they had some problems and the airport emergency plan was activated," a police spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

British Airways said in a statement that the aircraft landed safely at 4:24 p.m (0624 GMT) and passengers "disembarked normally."

"It appears that a light in the cockpit was illuminated due to a fault in the wiring to the fridge in the galley," the airline said in a statement. "The aircraft is now being looked at by our engineers."

August 10, 2002 - BA Plane Lands Safely In Sydney After Scare

SYDNEY, Australia - A British Airways 747 passenger jet made a safe emergency landing in Sydney on Saturday after a cockpit light indicated the plane had a fire in its forward cargo hold, authorities said.

A spokesman for Sydney airport told Reuters the BA flight bound for London from Sydney, via Singapore, returned to Sydney 15 minutes after takeoff.

It landed without incident, although heavy with fuel, the spokesman said.

A spokesman for New South Wales state police said ambulances, fire crews and police officers were called out for the emergency landing, but were quickly stood down.

Airport sources who declined to be identified
said the fire services found no sign of a fire in the hold of the aircraft.

BA officials were not available for comment.
 
AP World Politics
British Airways flight makes emergency landing at Sydney Airport
Sat Aug 10, 6:24 AM ET

SYDNEY, Australia - A British Airways 747-400 made an emergency landing at Sydney Airport on Saturday amid conflicting reports that there may have been a fire in the cargo hold.

   

None of the 247 passengers and crew onboard the jumbo aircraft on a flight to Singapore was injured, British Airways said.

The airline said the problem was simply a faulty warning light in the cockpit. But the airport and a passenger said there was in fact a fire in the cargo hold.

"Fire crews say there was a small electrical wiring fire in the forward cargo hold which was extinguished by the on-board extinguisher system," an airport spokesman said on condition anonymity. "There's about a meter-square of fire damage."

A passenger, British Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mike Souter, said the first sign something was amiss aboard the plane was the warmth of the cabin when passengers boarded.

Souter said the pilot assured passengers the temperature would drop after takeoff. Instead, the pilot issued a mayday and told those aboard there was a fire in the plane's hold and they were turning back.

"There was quite a strong smell of smoke and quite visibly the cabin crew were alarmed by the situation; they were rushing around checking everything," Souter told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio.

But British Airways dismissed the claims of a fire. "I've been assured that there wasn't actually a fire at all," airline spokeswoman Lucy Hays told The Associated Press.

"It appears that a light in the cockpit was illuminated due to a fault in the wiring to the fridge in the galley," the airline said in a statement. "The aircraft is now being looked at by our engineers."

Flight BA 16 had just taken off from Sydney around 4 p.m. local time (0600 GMT) when the pilot reported mechanical trouble, police said.

The call prompted a full-scale emergency response, with some 25 ambulances sent to the airport. Police and fire crews were also called in.

"The airport got a call from the plane indicating that they had some problems and the airport emergency plan was activated," a police spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

British Airways said in a statement that the aircraft landed safely at 4:24 p.m (0624 GMT) and passengers "disembarked normally."

Fire in jumbo hold sparks full-scale

 emergency

 

August 10 2002
 

The BA jumbo which reported a fire in the hold. Photo: Steve Lunam

 

A fire in the cargo hold of a British Airways 747 triggered a full-scale emergency at Australia's major airport today, as the jet was forced to turn back less than 10 minutes after take-off.

The drama unfolded as Flight 16 left Sydney international airport bound for Singapore with 270 people on board.

The jumbo pilot declared a mayday, saying there was fire in the hold, as he turned the plane around.

Emergency services immediately launched a full-scale response, closing all runways to all other traffic, and calling in police, fire brigade and ambulance services to back up the airport's response team.

An Airservices Australia spokesman said the 747-400 jet left the airport just after 4pm (AEST), but was in trouble within minutes.

"At about 10 minutes past four, having literally gone about five nautical miles north of sydney, he (the captain) declared a mayday and sought to return to return immediately to Sydney airport," the spokesman said.

"The aircraft landed successfully at 4.25pm."

The spokesman said a fire alarm in the forward cargo hold alerted the captain to the problem.

Fire crews on the ground at Sydney Airport have since confirmed there was an electrical fire.

"Fire crews say there was a small electrical wiring fire in the forward cargo hold which was extinguished by the on-board extinguisher system.

"There's about a metre-square of fire damage," he said.

BA released a statement saying the plane turned back after a light in the cockpit indicated a problem in the forward cargo hold.

"The aircraft is now being looked at by our engineers," the statement said.

"It appears that a light in the cockpit was illuminated due to a fault in the wiring to the fridge in the galley."

It was unclear whether passengers' luggage was damaged in the fire.

Passengers were evacuated safely down mobile stairways after the plane came to a halt on the tarmac.

A police spokesman said no-one was injured in the incident.

Engineers were looking at the aircraft which has been moved to the international terminal for examination, the Airservices Australia spokesman said.

A BA spokeswoman said the airline was assessing whether the aircraft would be able to continue its journey tonight.

AAP

Fire forces emergency landing in Sydney

A British Airways flight was forced to make an emergency landing at Sydney airport this afternoon, when a fire broke out on board just after it took off.

A spokesman for Airservices Australia says no-one was injured during the incident, which occurred just minutes after BA Flight 16 left Sydney for Singapore with 270 people onboard.

"At about 4:10pm, having literally gone about five nautical miles north of Sydney, (the captain) declared a Mayday and sought to return immediately to Sydney airport," the spokesman said.

Airport emergency services closed runways to all other traffic and called in police, fire brigade and ambulance services to back up the airport's response team.

The jumbo jet landed without incident and passengers were evacuated safely down mobile stairways after the plane came to a halt on the tarmac.

One of the passengers, Mike Souter, says the cabin was very warm before take-off but the pilot said the temperature would drop after take-off.

Mr Souter says passengers were informed shortly after take-off that there was a fire in the plane's hold.

"There was quite a strong smell of smoke and quite visibly the cabin crew were alarmed by the situation," he said.

Officials have confirmed an alarm in the forward cargo hold of the Boeing 747-400 alerted cockpit crew to the fire and emergency staff on the ground later said a small electrical fire had broken out.

"Fire crews say there was a small electrical wiring fire in the forward cargo hold which was extinguished by the onboard extinguisher system," the Airservices Australia spokesman said.

He added that there was "about a metre-square of fire damage."

BA said in a statement that the problem appeared to have been caused by faulty wiring to a refrigerator in one of the plane's galleys.

An airline spokeswoman says company officials are assessing whether the aircraft will be able to continue its journey.
A fire in the cargo hold of a British Airways 747 triggered a full-scale emergency at Australia's major airport today,
as the jet was forced to turn back less than 10 minutes after take-off.

The drama unfolded as Flight 16 left Sydney international airport bound for Singapore with 270 people on board.

The jumbo pilot declared a mayday, saying there was fire in the hold, as he turned the plane around.

Emergency services immediately launched a full-scale response, closing all runways to all other traffic, and calling in police, fire brigade and ambulance services to back up the airport's response team.

An Airservices Australia spokesman said the 747-400 jet left the airport just after 4pm (AEST), but was in trouble within minutes.

"At about 10 minutes past four, having literally gone about five nautical miles north of Sydney, he (the captain) declared a mayday and sought to return to return immediately to Sydney airport," the spokesman said.

"The aircraft landed successfully at 4.25pm."

The spokesman said a fire alarm in the forward cargo hold alerted the captain to the problem.

Fire crews on the ground at Sydney Airport have since confirmed there was an electrical fire.

"Fire crews say there was a small electrical wiring fire in the
forward cargo hold which was extinguished by the on-board
extinguisher system.

"There's about a metre-square of fire damage," he said.

BA released a statement saying the plane turned back after a light in the cockpit indicated a problem in the forward cargo hold.

"The aircraft is now being looked at by our engineers," the statement said.

"It appears that a light in the cockpit was illuminated due to a fault in the wiring to the fridge in the galley."

It was unclear whether passengers' luggage was damaged in the fire.

Passengers were evacuated safely down mobile stairways after
the plane came to a halt on the tarmac.

A police spokesman said no-one was injured in the incident.

Engineers were looking at the aircraft which has been moved to
the international terminal for examination, the Airservices Australia spokesman said.

A BA spokeswoman said the airline was assessing whether the
aircraft would be able to continue its journey tonight

SMH
At a rough guess the take off weight would have been just over 300 tonnes (175 basic weight + 30 pax + 90 fuel + maybe some cargo). Max Landing weight is 285 tonnes, so not much above and in any case when there is a possible fire you don't really care about the weight, you get in back to a suitable runway ASAP.
 
Overweight landings are not "good," but are sometimes prudent...

Max landing wt of current 747-400s is 302,100 Kg. That weight has several safety factors built in, including the repetitive stress of numerous such landing cycles.

However, the Runway Performance Manuals for the aircraft give max allowable emergency landing weights for individual airports and runways, including adjustments for temperature, wind, and rain. Those emergency landing weights are often above max takeoff gross weight.

For a fire in the forward cargo hold (or anywhere in the fuselage, for that matter), dumping fuel is not an additional safety problem, since the dump masts are near the wingtips, well away from any source of ignition.
A/c apparently landed 15 tonnes overweight. I believe the galley chiller fan unit/wiring are under investigation by the ATSB.

OJA - OJR are 295Tonne versions, OJS - OJU, NLH and the 3 ugly sisters (OEB/C/D) are 285Tonne.

G-BNLK "Water Dreaming" (c/n24053/790 Del 5/90) at the end of Rwy 34L with the engines shutdown and emergency services in attendance after an emergency just after departure. The aircraft, operating as BA016 to Singapore and London, declared a "Mayday" just after take off with a fire reported in the forward cargo hold. The aircraft, with 270 passengers made an overweight landing on Rwy 34L and came to rest where you see it in this shot.

Sydney - Kingsford Smith International (Mascot) (SYD / YSSY)


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