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Name: pom

posted 07-09-98 01:49 BST

There have been several such incidents over the last few months; in my opinion some companies do not give their crews adequate training to deal with these situations.

This is the worst survivable incident you could encounter in an aircraft. If you read the accident reports where hull losses have occurred you will find that the time from the first warning of the problem to the crash is around 10 minutes. The checklist will contain the item "Land ASAP" and this is the most important item on the checklist. All modern jet aircraft are certificated to land safely at maximum takeoff weight. The brakes may catch fire and the tires deflate, there may be a need for engineers to inspect the aircraft before it flies again, but the aircraft can land safely. If there is no airfield within range, the 10 minutes are approaching, and the situation is worsening, you may have to consider a crash landing. In the VARIG incident at Paris, the pilot of a 707 had to land in a field. The crewmembers on the flightdeck survived, but all the other occupants had already died through smoke inhalation. In this case, 8 minutes elapsed between the first warning and the crash. On the approach, the pilots were unable to see the instrument panel as the smoke was so dense. In any event the instrument glass had been obscured by soot.

When a UK company ran an aircraft smoke LOFT scenario in the simulator they discovered that the time taken to land ranged from 10 to 45 minutes. This is one of the events where it pays to make your decision quietly sitting at home. I know what I would do.

Finally, despite pronouncements by the CAA and the media, most recently The Telegraph last week, most of these incidents were caused by carelessly discarded cigarette ends. Smoking is now quite rightly banned on aircraft. People who smoke on an aircraft are not only anti-social, they are criminally endangering their fellow passengers lives. 70% of aircraft fires are caused by smokers, and the majority of these fires result in a hull loss.


posted 07-09-98 05:31 BST

Pom although I found your article most interesting and true, I feel that you may have missed a point. Many Companies (including my own, and Swiss Air for that matter) have standard simulator senarios for cockpit smoke, fires etc. However we must never forget that it is impossible to simulate everything. Unfortunately there are too numerous things that may go wrong at any time to simulate and train for. I think that this is basically the essence of task sharing and procedures, a methodology to deal with any emergency. Having said that Swiss Air is renowned for the outstanding level of its aircrews and their emergency procedure training. That's what makes this disaster so devastating to us in the industry. It has personally made me realise my own mortality in a job which has become a daily routine.

In honour of the Crew of sr111 I feel compelled not to go into any speculation of what may have happened until hard facts provided by the CVR or DFDR's have been published. All I wish to say is that I feel the need, much more than any other accident, to know what happened.

I truly hope that once the investigation is concluded we could all learn something from this, if we haven't already.

May God Bless those 229 souls on-board.


posted 07-09-98 05:57 BST

Thanks for you comments, Captain. I started a new thread because I did not want to

comment on any particular incident. I certainly did not wish to imply that the Swissair

crew were at fault in any way, and if my comments gave that impression I apologise.


posted 08-09-98 15:10 BST

This also brings to mind the Saudia 1011 incident at Riyadh in 1980.

Flight SV163 landed at Riyadh at 16.06h GMT for a scheduled intermediate stop after

a flight from Karachi. At 18.08hrs the aircraft took off for the final leg to Jeddah. Six

minutes and 54secs. after take-off, while climbing to FL350, visual and aural warnings

indicated smoke in the aft cargo compartment C-3.

Climbing through FL220 (at 18.20h), a return to Riyadh was initiated. About two

minutes later smoke was noted in the aft of the cabin, and passengers were panicking.

At 18.25:26h the no.2 engine throttle was stuck. The fire had by then entered the cabin

of the TriStar. Because passengers were fighting in the aisles, aft of doors L2 and R2,

the captain asked everybody to remain seated (18.27:40). On final approach engine

no.2 was shut down, and the captain told the cabin crew not to evacuate. Flight SV163

landed back at Riyadh runway 01 at 18.36:24hrs. The crew continued to a taxiway and

told the tower that they were going to shut the engines down and evacuate. The engines

were shut down at 18.42:18h. Because no evacuation had been initiated by then, crash,

fire and rescue personnel tried to open the doors. At about 19.05 they succeeded in

opening door 2R.

About three minutes later, the interior was seen to be engulfed in flames.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The initiation of a fire in the C-3 cargo compartment. The

source of the ignition of the fire is undetermined. Factors contributing to the fatal

results of this accident were 1) the failure of the captain to prepare the cabin crew for

immediate evacuation upon landing and his failure in not making a maximum stop

landing on the runway, with immediate evacuation, 2) the failure of the captain to

properly utilize his flight crew throughout the emergency 3) the failure of C/F/R

headquarters management personnel to ensure that its personnel had adequate

equipment and training to function as required during an emergency."


posted 08-09-98 16:22 BST

The above scenario wasn't helped by the captain chanting incantations to Allah on the

approach, by the inexperience of the first officer who was operating in a non CRM

enviroment and last but by no means least, the marginally dyslexic flight engineer who

had problems with the checklist.


posted 08-09-98 17:38 BST


You are 100% correct. LAND ASAP...PERIOD...

This is not a simulator exercise, but real life.


posted 08-09-98 18:45 BST

Newswatcher and XL5, I have a nagging feeling that your comments on the Saudi

accident are basically the TV version. Were'nt the doors inoperable due to fire



posted 08-09-98 19:12 BST

Having crossed over the pond on numerous occasions in my twin-jet, the thought of an

in-flight fire used to keep me awake at night. How do you land ASAP when you are

two hours out of Santa Maria. It didn't help matters that most of my continental pax

smoked like chimneys. Now that I am relegated to the Shed, there are plenty of fields

on my way up to Aberdeen to put down in.


posted 08-09-98 19:14 BST

I think that the aircraft was pressurised while on the ground as the engines had been

left running , hence the problems with the doors.


posted 08-09-98 20:01 BST

A step in the right direction would be to FORCE all operators (no exceptions, no dispensations) to fit full face mask Eros type oxygen masks ie NOT the type with separate smoke goggles. Fitting and purging the separate type is a major distraction from communication, operation and managing arguably the worst emergency which a crew can face.

Ignition Override

posted 09-09-98 01:40 BST

Well said Basil- the time spent fumbling with those b.s. goggles and oxy valve to purge them has meant lives lost. That might be why Valuejet's (now Airtran) crew hesitated putting them on. They are very distracting and a one-piece should be industry standard.

PERIOD. If a coalition of pilot unions do not accomplish this, no other org. will have the clout, motivation, or integrity, unless a prominent Senator loses a family member.

Ignition Override

posted 09-09-98 01:47 BST

The Saudia 1011 crew forgot to depressurize after landing (is there a manual back-up?).

No evacuation possible, from what I read.

Was a DC-8 lost after takeoff somewhere in Saudi many years ago due to overheated/stuck brake?


posted 09-09-98 03:48 BST

Interesting points here and, yes, let's not refer to specifics until the pros have done their job, as other factors may well have been involved. However it has resurrected the smoke/fire on-board scenario which , as pom pointed out, has been a major cause of"totals" over the last 40+ years. It is still the worst possible emergency that any airman can encounter, not least due to the probably high level of uncertainty of cause or source and the inability to control it.

The point about having full-face masks is certainly valid and the standard "two piece"

which most of us carry takes too much time to fit. In spite of numerous representations

in the past, not to mention some graphic accident reports, the majority of us continue to

fly with the Mickey Mouse goggles.

Sadly, as pointed out above, the most common cause of loss of control has been the

inability to read the instruments due to the smoke density. If you can't see the gauges

you're lost. (The various comments about land ASAP are, of course, absolutely valid).

The sooting-up of the glass is one that I missed but is seriously interesting.

I was at an aviation "do" this evening, virtually all trades present, and needless to say

the smoke thing was a major topic. One of the engineering chaps mentioned a demo he

had seen, about 5 years ago, in a (non-toxic) smoke-filled simulator. Somebody had

invented what I could best describe as a "transparent airbag", neatly shaped and gas-

inflated, which effectively stretched pyramid-like from the pilot to the panel. I gather it

was NOT cumbersome. Although no one else on board could read the dials, the pilots

were able to do so and successfully landed the sim.

An uncontrollable fire on-board is generally a Fate Is The Hunter situation. The Air

Canada DC-9 had some survivors, the Valuejet did not. But, in view of the fact that

MOST of the other fatal incidents related to visibility rather than burning up before

impact, it struck me as an ingenious idea. Did anyone out there take part in the

experiment or have any knowledge of it? As we pride ourselves in preventative flight

safety and some of the best ideas are often the simplest, this seems to be a classic case

of "the one that got away".

Before anybody hits me with witty repostes, remember that this is one condition that

has claimed numerous lives and planes without having achieved a satisfactory solution.


posted 09-09-98 03:56 BST

Ignition override: Canadian Nationair 60 series DC-8 in the middle east,circa 1991.

Aircraft tyres incorrectly serviced and a fraudulent entry made in maintenance log.

Heavyweight takeoff resulted in failure of underinflated tyres which continued to burn

and generate even more heat once retracted.Crew unaware of problem until secondary

systems such as electrical and pressurisation failed which along with smoke entering

the passenger cabin initiated a return. Aircraft departed from controlled flight on an

extended final due to the burn through of numerous cable linkages.Inflight damage to

the aircraft was so extensive that several passengers along with seats and items of

baggage fell out through the holes in the floor and lower fuselage whilst airborne.There

was very little time between realising that a problem existed and loss of controlled

flight. No survivors.

Swissair lost a Caravelle in 1963 to an inflight fire caused by hot brakes being retracted

into the wheelwell. Extensive high power taxiing (trying to burn off the fog) No

survivors on that one either.


posted 11-09-98 05:44 BST

The instrument smoke hood ref to above could have been the invention of engineer

Bertil Werjefelt.

Known as EVAS, (pilot) Emergency Vision Assurance System, is sold for US$20,000

per a/c.

It was approved by the FAA but not mandated.

I wonder how long it would take most airlines to recoup that cost by adding 50 cents a


Try as I might, I cannot find any other info on this safety equipment on the Net apart

from an address in Hawaii.

Does anyone know of a website with info on this product or the co. selling it?


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SR 111 A sad day for aviation

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posted 04-09-98 16:07 BST

My deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the families of Captain Urs

Zimmermann and First Officer Stephan Loew.

A truly sad day for aviation.


posted 04-09-98 17:47 BST

I offer the same condolences. I live in Toronto and have visited Peggy’s cove several

times, a beautiful small village. A memorial will be built when the time is right.


posted 04-09-98 21:21 BST

The loss of any life is not just the end of a life but the end of a way of life, especially

for close family and friends. My heart goes out to all involved and would wish to add

my condolences.

Flying has almost become so routine that we tend to forget the enormous

responsibilities that everyone associated with flight operations carry. It is such a shame

when such a highly trained and professional crew do not have the time or resources to

resolve certain in-flight emergencies. We have to accept that, in fact, flying is "risky".

If you are going to pack scores of fragile people into a narrow tube and shoot them

through the air at 600 mph, supported on wings of inflammable explosive, then perhaps

we should not be surprised if, very occasionally, things go wrong. This is not a reason

for complacency but a hard fact of life or perhaps I should say death.

The reasons behind this accident have yet to be established but perhaps the wisdom of

carrying certain types of cargo on passenger flights will have to be reviewed if



posted 04-09-98 21:49 BST

As Chaos said, my deepest condolences to the families and close relatives of the

victims and the crews.

We are all hit by this tragic accident. But for the sake of us all and for the future I have

the hope the investigating authorities will find the reasons for this desaster soon and do

not hide behind letters full of explanations and excuses.

We need to face the situation. As firefly already explained, very occasionally such an

accident happens despite earlier predictions of more such accidents to be seen at a

regular rate. We have it in our hands to watch the proceedings closely and if there is

again this unacceptable shutter inhibitting access to the real facts of this accident we

need to stand up and find a way to force authorities as well as manufacturers to present

the details and their plans to solve these issues.

Scooby Doo

posted 05-09-98 03:11 BST

The news was swift to reach the shores of Brunei. Royal Brunei Airlines has a close

relationship with SwissAir due to the training requirements for our Fokker 100 fleet.

I am sure that all those on both the Fokker and Boeing fleets will wish to extend their

condolences to the families of all crew members and families of the passengers.


Captain IF Snailtrails

posted 05-09-98 11:09 BST

Yes I share the same sentiments. But I have to admit that prangs like this scare the hell

out of me, initially anyway.

Swissair have a very good safety record and tech crew standards. I've seen firsthand

their cockpit procedure, CRM, level of standards etc and have to say it is extremely

high indeed. This was when I was invited to the cockpit by the crew a few years ago,

when I was on their SR as a foreign positioning crew ZRH-LHR (i.e. paxing). The

captain discussed the ins and outs of certain emergency procedures peculiar to the

MD11 (as against the 747) and I was extremely impressed by his familiarity of the

aircraft emergency procedures and intimate systems knowledge. I even learned from

him a bit more about the 744, my own current aircraft!

The MD11 is known to be a good aircraft too. It was an MD11 that crashed that I was

in the J/S, where I observed Swissair standards.

Put these 2 combinations together and its.... scary. Of course we should all wait for the final conclusion of the

investigation, but it's still scary.

At the risk of sounding condescending or even egotistic, in some other recent prangs

this year and last, one could say "Yes, if I was there I would've made a difference to

the outcome". In this SR accident, knowing the standard of SR crew, no. I wouldn't.

At this stage of the investigation it appears the crew did exactly what professionals

would do - don't panic. Assess the situation first and respond accordingly - hence the

initial Boston consideration. As the situation deteriorated yes - go for Halifax, dump on

the way and get down fast! Pulling apart the data we know thus far, they did what was

expected by any other professional - and perhaps they even did it better.

That's what makes it bloody scary, if you catch my drift - there but for fate went I.


posted 05-09-98 11:45 BST

As soon as I heard the news on CNN and although flying the 744, I had a look on my

check list to see what procedure applies in such a case.

Well, the sad news is you're just suppse to flick off a couple of buttons and then, so

Says the check list, land ASAP.

I flew just above the crash site on my way back from Mexico to Paris and couldn't help

thinking what would we do if the same thing happened at 30 W.

This sad story will just be a reminder of how uncertain long haul flying is when things

start going wrong and how ( in my view ) poorly covered some emergency cases are.

The fact it happened to a technically outstanding airline makes my point even stronger.

A sad day indeed.


posted 05-09-98 12:10 BST

Please tell me that Australian TV reports of fuel starvation of sr111 being the ultimate

cause of the accident are unsubstantiated. If so I presume the crew were incapacitated

by this time. I am not one to rely on the media for aeronautical expertise.


posted 05-09-98 13:02 BST

Saw the same news...typical of Aussie Media....anything at the moment is pure

speculation but they know better of is a sour point but the Aussie media

seems to delight in trying to make flying and aviation the most dangerous persuit on the

planet, and wherever possible blame the crew, makes me sick that they come up with

such and idea when they have nothing to prove it. Any MD11 drivers out there with any

info about auto-cut off with fuel dumping..most stop dumping at around 10 ton as far as

I know?

Finally maybe the media will suprise me one day and not start 'guessing' at the reason

for this tragic accident(and others), before even the CVR or FDR have been

found...think i'll be waiting.


posted 05-09-98 14:55 BST


posted 05-09-98 17:59 BST

It's hard to imagine a more uninformed media than what we have in the states...NBC

had two of their "experts", both former NTSB and DOT desk jockeys, state that the

crew could have mistakenly dumped all of their fuel...i cannot comment on the

MadDog11, but considering the ET of the "event", even disallowing for any auto-

protect feature, it would not have been possible to jettison their entire fuel load. The

media however never lets facts stand in the way of a good story.


posted 05-09-98 18:29 BST

Flame Out

posted 06-09-98 10:37 BST

"The cockpit was my office. It was a place where I experienced many emotions and

learned many lessons. It was a place of work, but also a keeper of dreams. It was a

place of deadly serious encounters, yet there I discovered much about life. I learned

about joy and sorrow, pride and humility, and fear, and overcoming fear. I saw much

from that office that most people would never see. At times it terrified me, yet I could

always feel at home there... Though it was a place where I could quickly die, the

cockpit was a place where I truly lived."

Brian Shul, "Sled Driver"

God Bless

Sea Jet

posted 06-09-98 11:22 BST

Fire in the air or at sea.

One of the most dreadful emergencies any of us could face.

With regard to dumping fuel, I think most modern aircraft have minimum drain pipe

levels which usually equate to at least an hour's worth of flying.


posted 06-09-98 13:21 BST

I have many dear friends at SwissAir who are consumate professionals. As mentioned,

Many of the pilots have superior technical knowledge of the MD-11 and its systems.

This week's disaster near Peggy's Cove, N.S, was a particular shock. I am most

impressed by the way the airline, and its president are handling the post-crash events.

I must comment once again on some of the speculation and rumours that are broadcast

on many networks. It is a function of the satellite/microwave technology.

Many reporters become slaves to technology, and they are driven to say stupid things

by their producers who insist on putting them on television every five minutes----even

though they have no FACTS to add. What happens?---they start repeating

unsubstantiated rumours. Filling 24 hours of TV a day is not easy. Producers don't like

you to repeat yourself over and over. So many TV reporters-- and some Radio and

Press, begin to repeat the stuff that's not based on fact. Bad. They haven't even

recovered the CVR ! but again, it's all being driven by competition and technology. We

have a satellite truck..let;s go live even though there is nothing new to say. Sad, and

yes, --that--- is irresponsible !


posted 06-09-98 15:47 BST

Rafale.... It's hard to be objective when we read the bad reporting in the past and the

speculation of the present, but I respect your view, and you semm to be blessed with

some knowledge of Flight which other reporters do not.

However, the current speculation of the cause will soon give way to the conspiracy

theories which will really make us wince.

I salute the memory of a fine Flight Crew, and their Cabin Colleagues.


David Johnson

posted 06-09-98 21:19 BST



posted 07-09-98 12:18 BST

My deepest condolences to all the family and friends of the crew and pax of sr111.

I think that this tragedy has touched every corner of this world.


posted 07-09-98 11:15 BST

Now not many things give me the shivers but I've just visited the following site:-

Looking down the list, reading the names and (if it could be worse ) the grouping of

what I can only presume are those members of the same family is chilling - to say

nothing of the time lapse between the declaration of the problem and their ultimate


[This message has been edited by CrashDive (edited 07-09-98).]

tarjet fixated

posted 07-09-98 12:30 BST

My deepest condolencies to the families and friends of the victims of Swissair 111.

I just got back from recurrent sim training and I realized how hard it is to get killed in a

modern jet liner. At least doing the usual things we all do during sim checks.

With regard to what happened are these checks simulating everyday's reality?

How many of you have ever trained a smoke situation in the sim (with real smoke I mean)?

I never did and to tell the truth "oxygen on and 100%, communications establish..."

sounds just too easy to do when you can see and breath normally.


posted 07-09-98 18:52 BST

Tarjet fixated, many modern (and some not so modern) simulators have a smoke facility.

However, I think you are right, the statutory requirements do not, in my opinion, match

what we really need to be training for in the sense that smoke or fire in the cabin has

downed far more aircraft that engine failure on take off. Don't blame the training

captains though because to get "results" the mandatory items have to be done first.

One very experienced training captain that I once knew always talked about the "factor

of disbelief" when a REAL emergency occurs which we all suffer from to a degree

which can cause us to lose vital time.

It is always easier to be wise after any event but my experience is that electrical

isolation drills to try and discover the source of smoke are pretty useless and very time

consuming and also require the aircraft to be flown on basic instruments whilst the

procedure is run.

Also in the simulator the assumption is often made that emergency descents are only for

pressurisation problems but statistics do not support this.

My advice? Head for the nearest airport, carry out an emergency descent, learn the

smoke evac. drill by heart and be able to do it with your eyes closed and get

depressurised as SOON as possible.

It seems that this is exactly what the Swissair crew did but they had a lot of bad luck.

I recall many years ago that a B707 was lost in the states when Nitric Acid was loaded

the wrong way up in the cargo. The aircraft lost control because all the AC had been

tripped off line to do the elec isol drill which meant the yaw dampers were off. The

crew were flying on the stby horiz and lost it because of a combination of difficult

flight handling chacteristics together with standby instruments and smoke on the flight


Flame Out

posted 11-09-98 14:46 BST

I hear ya Tarjet, we do get smoke in our sim ride. Not fun. Fanning away the smoke just

to be able to see some of the buttons and switches not to mention reading and doing the

check list, all that while in a Darth Vader get-up (even sounded like one too). Thank

god for autopilot.


posted 13-09-98 20:12 BST

Just a thought !!

Is anyone out there who think that FE might have made a difference in a smoke situation ?


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