Engine of a SmartWings Boeing 737-800 shuts down in-flight, crew continues to Prague for another 2 hours and 20 minutes on remaining engine

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On 22 August, a SmartWings Boeing 737-800 (OK-TVO) operated flight QS-1125 from Samos, Greece to Prague, Czech Republic with 170 passengers on board. The aircraft was flying at 36,000 feet over the Aegean Sea about 100nm northeast of Athens, Greece when the crew drifted the aircraft down to 24,000 feet and continued to Prague at that level for a landing without further incident about 2:20 hours later.

Initial reporting by The Aviation Herald

The Aviation Herald reported that the aircraft’s left-hand engine shut down spontaneously while flying at 36,000 feet. The crew descended the aircraft to 24,000 feet, worked the related checklists and attempted to relight the engine twice, first using windmilling and then using cross-bleed, the engine however did not restart. As there was sufficient fuel on board the crew decided to continue to Prague nonetheless.

Crew continued to Prague for another 2 hours 20 minutes on one engine

The pilots, however, continued their journey to Prague for another 2 hours and 20 minutes on one engine. On pprune.org, a member comments that in case of an engine failure, the pilots are required to find the nearest suitable airport:

An In Flight Shut Down (IFSD) event is defined (by EASA and the FAA) as follows.

When an engine ceases to function in flight and is shutdown, whether self-induced, crew initiated or caused by some other external influence (i.e. In Flight Shutdown / IFSD for all causes; for example: due to flameout, internal failure, crew-initiated shutoff, foreign object ingestion, icing, inability to obtain and / or control desired thrust).

In the event of an IFSD the Boeing QRH instruction is ‘Plan to land at the nearest suitable airport’.

Crew didn’t mention to air traffic control that they were flying on one engine

Marc, an air traffic controller working at the Budapest ACC commented on the article published on The Aviation Herald: “I was in contact with this A/C when they overflew Hungary. Not a word did they mention about engine failure we were informed about a “technical issue”. That is in most cases an air con failure for the 737 to fly at 240 or 250. So they came in at FL240 as they reached the Austrian border we sent them to Vienna Approach. 

10 minutes later they called us back to inquire us why we haven’t told them about the engine failure. It turned out that the failure was announced over Prague, Vienna then called us back but we didn’t know either. Serbians were also unaware and I also asked my colleague who was working at KFOR (Kosovo) airspace – it is also operated from Budapest – but he didn’t know either. 

I think that tells a lot about this airline. And just to add: This evening I had 2 A/C in 20 minutes from this operator on my frequency cruising at 250 so it’s not so unusual to see the like that.

It was safe to operate,” the airline told Czech newspapers

The airline confirmed the incident to Czech newspaper iROZHLAS, stating that it was perfectly safe to operate the aircraft on one engine all the way to Prague.

SmartWings spokesperson Vlaďka Dufková denies that the company violated safety regulations and explains to newspaper Zdopravy.cz:The crew proceeded in accordance with the safety and operational procedures for these cases and the aircraft landed safely. The commander of the aircraft is one of the most experienced in the company, the crew had the situation under control and certainly would not underestimate anything.

Czech civil aviation authorities have launched an investigation

A spokesman working for the Czech CAA confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the incident: “we have decided to launch an investigation as the procedure followed doesn’t seem standard.

The CAA launched a two-level investigation. First, they will investigate the engine failure, which seems to be related to fuel contamination. Then, they will investigate the pilot’s response: “we are investigating from the perspective of the supervisory body over the company’s procedures, whether there was a breach of procedures when the flight went all the way to Prague“.

Source:

 

21 COMMENTS

  1. “The crew proceeded in accordance with the safety and operational procedures for these cases and the aircraft landed safely. The commander of the aircraft is one of the most experienced in the company, the crew had the situation under control and certainly would not underestimate anything.“

    Only in the sense of the Black Knight from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail had everything under control…

  2. The general consensus is the airplane land at the nearest suitable airport. What does that mean? Land at an airport with RVR 1000? Land at an airport with 4000 ft. Of available landing distance? Or land at an airport where suitable repairs can be made? It’s up to the PIC to determine a suitable airport, not ATC, not the crowd reading and commenting with sometimes snarky remarks.

  3. I really don’t get it, why still today, they were allowed to fly and not having their AOC suspended.
    Amazing times…EASA keep on sleeping!!!

  4. Well Steve, if you feel safe that the airline operated a flight with only 1 engine for two hours, that’s ok.

  5. Sorry. Continuation of flight at 24000 ft with single engine with 170 passengers on board is criminal. That too when you don’t know what causes the engine failure. The 2nd engine could have gone and then what. The disaster which no country, airline or Boeing can afford. For 2:20 hrs on route to Prague the pilots could not find a single airport is unbelievable. Also it was total disregard to the Boeing emergency procedures. Boeing must take action on that.

  6. I hope that the investigation will be correct, how dare you do something like this as the “best” pilot of the company?
    BTW this company has many issues and they don’t learn….

  7. And this is why you don’t fly on SmartWings…. As a Captain (Elsewhere), we always strive to get to a maintenance facility but this is a huge stretch on one engine. This Captain is an idiot!

  8. So the cause was perhaps fuel contamination….
    So how close to having the other engine shut down too?
    This POC needs some time off to think about what he almost did!

  9. Unreal… Unforgivable. You wonder how this PIC would have reacted if his family would have been on some flight and another crew did the same.

  10. Correction Steve, Boeing Checklist STATES,
    “Land at nearest suitable Airport”
    The AFM forms part of the company AOC by which the crew must abide Generally suitable is defined as RWY length, pavement strength, navaids, emergency services, lighting, wx reporting, and wx suitable for an approach that the aircraft is capable of and crew are qualified for. Commercial concerns only come
    Into play if there are two fields equi distant. Otherwise I’d always choose to divert to the town with the friendliest girls coldest beer and best steaks!

  11. Ahahah… may be they were qualified ETOPS 180 minutes with ALL the adequate airports not suitable within this time radius except their destination ?…
    Just kidding guys!
    Those 2 pilots must be immediatly grounded for their whole life!
    On top of that their company must get rid of their AOC until major changes are done in their management and airline policy!

    SHAME ON THEM

  12. Dear Mr. Noeth,

    due to the current situation with the investigation of the occurence we are not able to provide any information instead of generally known.

    Thank you for your understanding.

    Kind regards

    Vitezslav Hezky (Czech CAA)

  13. There’s an airline to avoid – let’s face it, if the other engine failed, they’d have been up there all day! [joke]. More seriously, on a 2hr 20min cruise over Europe, they probably passed 20 ‘suitable airports’.

  14. Incredible and sucide. Procedures are made to be atended, not to be discussed inflight. Crew should be landed for ever.

  15. Answer for NOT and other….Are you education about aviation or what? better care about your flights and country with many many problems. Also can tell to Boing company big thanks for all problems with Boing Max 8….after that the company must use just older planes….as odthers. many experts here!!!

  16. To Jitka Adlerová :

    Yes I am Sir !!!

    Don’t change the subject and remain factual!!!

    I dare you are not !!!

  17. On Sep 13th 2019 The Aviation Herald learned that an internal investigation conducted by Smartwings identified there was no systemic fault, but a crew error. The captain of the flight, at that time head of flight operations of Smartwings, is no longer head of flight operations, his deputy has now taken that position. The captain continues to fly for the airline and maintains privileges as instructor, examiner and TRE. Czechia’s CAA is determined to ensure that such a decision is not taken again in the future and pledges very harsh penalties. Surrounding nations also show significant interest in the ongoing investigation, revocations of overflight permits are being discussed. http://avherald.com/h?article=4cbe8434&opt=0

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