NRT-ORD AA154 hydraulic part failure today [Sep 29 2009]

 
Old Sep 29, 09, 10:39 pm
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NRT-ORD AA154 hydraulic part failure today [Sep 29 2009]

I was flying NRT-ORD earlier today and after we landed we stopped on the runway for a while. Shortly thereafter the pilot announced that there was a failure with the hydraulic something or other and that we would be towed in by a tow-cart in 10-15 minutes. We ended up sitting on the runway for just over 2 hours before we were taxied in.

Has anyone else experienced this type of mechanical behavior before?
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Old Sep 29, 09, 10:46 pm
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Yes.

Cheers.
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Old Sep 29, 09, 11:15 pm
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Originally Posted by challett View Post
I was flying NRT-ORD earlier today and after we landed we stopped on the runway for a while. Shortly thereafter the pilot announced that there was a failure with the hydraulic something or other and that we would be towed in by a tow-cart in 10-15 minutes. We ended up sitting on the runway for just over 2 hours before we were taxied in.

Has anyone else experienced this type of mechanical behavior before?
You were actually on an active run-way for 2 hours at ORD?
That must have caused massive backups to the whole airport, loosing a runway for that amount of time.
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Old Sep 29, 09, 11:22 pm
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At least the landing went off without a hitch. Mechanical issues on the ground << mechanical issues in flight.
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Old Sep 29, 09, 11:49 pm
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Without knowing, of course, the exact details, speculation would lead to the possible loss of the center hydraulic system (the 777 has 3 hydro systems), and quite possibly loss of nose gear steering. Normally, the loss of one of the 3 hydro system wont adversely affect the utterly essential aircraft flight controls (flaperons, ailerons, rudder, elevators, etc), because hydraulics are available to these from 2 of the 3 systems (redundancy). However, other, less safety-critical elements, such as the main and body gear steering, are only powered by one hydro system. Hence today's possible issue. The aircraft could safely land, but could not steer off the runway. A tug would be required to get off the rwy and get to the gate.

However, as mentioned, ORD is an one of AA 777 hubs, and a mx hub at that, and a darn busy airport--surprised you remained "on the rwy" for 2+ hours? Now that sounds a bit odd---more going on here than what the passengers knew. But glad is was a small mx issue, and of course, all safe.
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Old Sep 30, 09, 12:25 am
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Originally Posted by zman View Post
You were actually on an active run-way for 2 hours at ORD?
That must have caused massive backups to the whole airport, loosing a runway for that amount of time.
Yes. I left out part of the story as I was writing on my connecting flight ORD-BOS and was running out of time.

After we landed and waited the initial 10-15 min timeframe the pilot came back on and said the tug (or security escort) had somewhere more important to be and that it should be another 15-20 minutes. Ultimately the tug arrived about 1 hour after landing, but unfortunately forgot a part of some sort that was needed to connect it to the plane. Then it took another hour before they came back. It seemed a bit strange to me.

Originally Posted by flatlined View Post
At least the landing went off without a hitch. Mechanical issues on the ground << mechanical issues in flight.
+1 Totally agree!

Originally Posted by b74l View Post
Without knowing, of course, the exact details, speculation would lead to the possible loss of the center hydraulic system (the 777 has 3 hydro systems), and quite possibly loss of nose gear steering. Normally, the loss of one of the 3 hydro system wont adversely affect the utterly essential aircraft flight controls (flaperons, ailerons, rudder, elevators, etc), because hydraulics are available to these from 2 of the 3 systems (redundancy). However, other, less safety-critical elements, such as the main and body gear steering, are only powered by one hydro system. Hence today's possible issue. The aircraft could safely land, but could not steer off the runway. A tug would be required to get off the rwy and get to the gate.
Wow! That was a lot of information. Thanks for the (possible) explanation.

However, as mentioned, ORD is an one of AA 777 hubs, and a mx hub at that, and a darn busy airport--surprised you remained "on the rwy" for 2+ hours? Now that sounds a bit odd---more going on here than what the passengers knew. But glad is was a small mx issue, and of course, all safe.
I was really surprised by this as well. Admittedly I don't know a lot about airports/runways, but I imagine that 777s can't land on just any runway. So I was really surprised that they let us sit there and tie things up.

However, I could speculate that the Control Tower was unhappy but that message didn't get to (or carry enough weight with) the ground/maintenance crews.
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Old Sep 30, 09, 12:32 am
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On a related note, I was watching the landing planes come in (at night) while we were waiting to take off and could see 3-4 planes in line (literally) for landing. I wonder how much of a challenge it is for control to redirect those landing planes (but especially the next one).

Obviously there are regulations/procedures they follow in case of such an emergency, but I can't imagine it happens all that often. Not to mention how long did it take our pilots to realize there was a problem after landing. Anyone have any insight into the landing procedure/timeframe for something like this?
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Old Sep 30, 09, 12:48 am
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Others on FT have intimate knowledge of this, but if you listen to ATC channels enough, you'll learn that 'go arounds' happen all the time - not frequently, but enough that it's generally not a big deal. Approach protocols include specific procedures for missed approaches (see IAP files for your favorite airport on FlightAware.com). If you search the LiveATC.net archives, you might even be able to find the Tower recordings for your flight.
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Old Sep 30, 09, 12:56 am
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Oh yeah -- it is indeed a carefully orchestrated task of the air traffic controller (ATC'er), almost like his/her own Picasso--the way the ATC'ers sequence the arrivals. Actually, most "go arounds" at busy airports are not at all a result of so called "near-misses" in the air--they are a result of the aircraft that just landed not getting off the active runway quickly enough for the ATC'er to issue landing clearance to the preceding arriving aircraft. The ATC'er does his/her job perfectly, but the pilots execution of the instructions sometimes fails, causing a jackpot of sorts...completely ruining the "picasso".

One other key item that is important, is what kind of planes are landing. For example, if a stream of CRJ's or MD-80/B737's come in, the horizontal separation btwn the arriving flights is very minimal. However, when you throw in B777/B747's into the mix, the separation btwn arriving aircraft can be as great as 6 miles. The ATC'er commonly issues minimum/maximum approach speeds for all aircraft, so there is never a threat that one runs into the next. Like I said, sometimes human factors play into this all, leading to mis understood/mis heard ATC clearance instructions. Human factors and communications skills (or lack there of) play a huge role in many incidents.

check these out for ATC in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul7Yg5PmUZA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j12L4...eature=related
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Old Sep 30, 09, 2:00 am
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Thanks for the insight (both of you). I knew that ATC had to be some sort of mastermind conductor, so it came as no surprise. And it makes sense that landing big planes requires extra space. So perhaps the fact that it was a 777 that didn't clear the runway made rerouting other planes easier?!

dstan - I did try to pull up the recordings from today (Sept. 29 20:00z) from both ORD channels but didn't hear anything exciting or informative. I heard reference to 154 a couple times but it wasn't with other info, so I'm guessing it was a reception issue (from wherever that feed comes from).
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Old Sep 30, 09, 2:30 pm
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b74l, awesome links you posted here. This really highlights to limitation with ATC today. As scary as these were, imagine what it's like in certain parts of the world (I know you know this already).

challett, if you fly UA at all you can hear ATC on most flights provided the Captain turns it on. You hear what the cockpit hears (as they change frequencies along the route). Pretty cool to hear madness in action. Also shows how little control pilots actually do have in the grand scheme of things. I do like how it keeps pilots honest (such as number X for take off). I wish all airlines including AA allowed passengers to listen in.
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Old Sep 30, 09, 2:45 pm
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Originally Posted by ktakahashi View Post
. . .I wish all airlines including AA allowed passengers to listen in.
Same here.

I've been told AA used to have nose wheel cameras but those were removed after the AA191 crash in Chicago.
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Old Sep 30, 09, 2:50 pm
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Originally Posted by challett View Post
dstan - I did try to pull up the recordings from today (Sept. 29 20:00z) from both ORD channels but didn't hear anything exciting or informative. I heard reference to 154 a couple times but it wasn't with other info, so I'm guessing it was a reception issue (from wherever that feed comes from).
I looked, too - at the very end of the 1930Z recording, which overlaps with the beginning of the 2000Z recording, the Tower controller instructs AA154 to make two right turns (off rwy 28) then continue on (taxiway) Mike (this was the standard instruction after landing for other aircraft at that time). There is a later Tower call to AA154, but the response is not heard (these are usually recordings of airwave transmissions from private receivers, often of multiple channels). It's possible that additional conversations were with Ground, but that channel is not available.
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Old Sep 30, 09, 4:11 pm
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Originally Posted by dstan View Post
Others on FT have intimate knowledge of this, but if you listen to ATC channels enough, you'll learn that 'go arounds' happen all the time - not frequently, but enough that it's generally not a big deal. Approach protocols include specific procedures for missed approaches (see IAP files for your favorite airport on FlightAware.com). If you search the LiveATC.net archives, you might even be able to find the Tower recordings for your flight.
I was on AA292 landing at DEL on 29-May, when the 777 had to do a fairly last minute quick engine rev-up and go around, as some other aircraft had improperly moved onto the runway. Our aircraft was quite low and probably less than 5km from landing when this occurred.... a bit scary, but no problem.

p.s. a go-around is nowhere near as scary as a 767 flight that starts a takeoff roll, thunders down the runway for about 20secs, then suddenly brakes to a complete stop. (AA125 @STN on 11-May-2008).
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Old Sep 30, 09, 5:06 pm
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Originally Posted by HNL View Post
I've been told AA used to have nose wheel cameras but those were removed after the AA191 crash in Chicago.
This story is often repeated, but untrue. As late as Summer 1988 (nearly 10 years after AA 191), AA had a camera mounted in the flight deck behind the captain in its DC-10s that was turned-on for landing.
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