Engine flames force jet back to Logan

smooshfacekitty

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This B737 was only one year old...........Thank goodness no one was hurt.


Alaska Airlines flight had 160 people aboard

Three minutes after takeoff from Logan International Airport, Emilie Soisson froze in fear as she looked out the window at flames shooting from the left engine of the Alaska Airlines jet about 6:30 p.m. yesterday.

Soisson was one of the dozens of passengers who worried that they would never make it to Seattle, as the Boeing 737 shuddered several times and at least nine fireballs shot out of the engine, lighting up the cabin.

''It was like a big fireball,'' said Soisson, a 24-year-old hospital employee from Brighton.

''I was scared,'' she said. ''I was hyperventilating.''

Flight 15, with 160 people on board, had climbed less than 3,000 feet when it turned around and landed safely back at Logan about 15 minutes after takeoff.

The pilot never had to shut down the engine, said Phil Orlandella, spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Early accounts from crew members indicate blades in the engine might have failed, interfering with air compression and prompting the explosions, he said.

Meanwhile, rush-hour commuters in Revere and East Boston were able to stare at the flaming jet passing overhead.

Hundreds of people flocked to open areas such as Revere Beach to see if the plane would make it back safely.

''You feel the plane shaking and you look out the window and see red sparks from the left-hand side,'' said passenger Mike Gillette, 31, of Waltham.

''You're just hoping that the plane doesn't nosedive or something. You're just like, `Keep steady, keep steady, keep steady ... just get me on the ground.''

A number of Alaska Airlines flights have had problems in the last few years.

On May 31, another Alaska Airlines jet flying from Boston to Seattle was forced to abort the trip twice within 24 hours because of problems with the wing flaps.

In January 2000, an Alaska Airlines MD-80 crashed off the coast of California and killed all 88 people on board.

Airline spokesman Jack Walsh told the Associated Press last night that the engine itself never caught fire, and that the explosions were essentially a backfiring.

The aircraft used for Flight 15 yesterday is one year old, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. No maintenance records on it were available last night.

The FAA is investigating the incident.

Last night, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said compression stalls, while not typical, are also not that unusual. If the engine had quit, he said, the plane would have been able to safely land with just one functioning engine.

Although some of the 154 passengers and six crew members were even unaware of what was happening, pedestrians and commuters heading home from work saw the flames.

Michael Sforza, 26, of Revere, said he heard what sounded like gunshots before he looked up and saw flames bursting from a jet.

''I've been watching planes for 13 years from the same spot,'' Sforza said. ''I looked and saw a flash and I thought it was the light reflecting off - but it wasn't - it was the flames shooting out. Huge orange flames.

''I looked again and it was doing it even worse. I saw the pilot turn and I thought it was going to crash into the ocean. It was crazy.''

John Tieuli, 35, of Reading, said he and hundreds of others drove to Winthrop Beach to see if the plane had landed safely.

''There were people running from the hills to see if the plane crashed,'' Tieuli said.

''I think everyone was a lot more aware because of 9/11.''

Tieuli congratulated the pilot.

The landing ''was textbook,'' he said. ''He never came back over land until he landed.''

By Douglas Belkin, Globe Staff and Jenny Jiang, Globe Correspondent, 8/8/2002
 

KingAirer

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I wish the media would stop trying to put fear into people and say "Look here folks, even if something bad happens, our pilots are skillful enough too get us back safely."
 

Timebuilder

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The Fox infobabe said that passengers saw that "the engine was on fire" and that officials said the problem was a "compression stall". Nothing like using a reporter that knows next to nothing about aviation.

I miss the days when these reports were handled by science correspondents like Jules Bergman, who covered all of the manned space missions through Apollo.
 

AK737FO

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News media hype...

To be in the news industry you have to know two words... Wonk and Blah. A really skilled and seasoned news professional will add a few other words to their vocabulary - important words like Yap and Zoinks.
Put them all together and you have- Wonk, wonk, Yap, yap, Blah, blah, Zoinks! Now, didn't that sound just like the 5 O'clock news?

The only reason I watch the news it to see the weather, and they even get that wrong 50% of the time!
 

EagleRJ

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They'll call the movie "Compressor Stall at 3000 Feet". It will star Connie Selleca as the heroic captain who is able, through skill, cunning, and a little luck, to wrestle the crippled jet back around to the airport. If you miss the movie the first time around, no worries- it will live forever in reruns on the Lifetime Network.

Television for Women....and fearful airline travellers.
 

Yeti

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Re: News media hype...

AK737FO said:
To be in the news industry you have to know two words... Wonk and Blah. A really skilled and seasoned news professional will add a few other words to their vocabulary - important words like Yap and Zoinks.
Put them all together and you have- Wonk, wonk, Yap, yap, Blah, blah, Zoinks! Now, didn't that sound just like the 5 O'clock news?

The only reason I watch the news it to see the weather, and they even get that wrong 50% of the time!

AK737FO:

I'll give you one good reason to watch the news if you live in Seattle: Leslie Miller, Q13 FOX News's resident fox!
 

RightBettor

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I've been watching the reports on this. O'Reilly discussed it at the end of his program tonight. I have noticed that there hasn't been one mention of how well the flight crew handled the situation and safely returned to BOS. Not one reporter said, "Thanks to the professionalism and skill of a well qualified crew, there were no injuries or fatalities and this whole incident ended with a safe landing."

It would be nice to hear a reporter say something like that, but who do I think I am kidding? (and people in hell want a glass of ice water) I guess pilots are still a bunch of drunk, lazy, underworked and overpaid bums who have too much time off and have multiple wives scattered throughout the country.

Whatever.
:rolleyes:
 

chperplt

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The left engine on the aircraft looked like it got a little toasty..

It was parked at the US Airways terminal around 7pm when I taxed in and saw it stripped down to a bare engine. I don't know what the engine is supposed to look like on the 737, but it was scorched. Looked like someone had a bon fire going in there.
 

banned username 2

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EagleRJ said:
Connie Selleca as the heroic captain who is able, through skill, cunning, and a little luck, to wrestle the crippled jet back around to the airport.

I'd like to wrestle with Connie Selleca! ;) :D ;) :D ;)
 

Fast8945

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I am a future reporter/ photographer, who wants to be the best aviation correspondant, and trust me, i will give a lot of praise to the flight crews. After all- arn't pax required to follow all flight crew instructions?


I was watching fox this afternoon and i had to say to myself- why in the world is she saying this- So, mr. xxxxx, when you saw the fires, were there thoughts of terrorism in your head? and that was her FIRST question.
 

ShawnC

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RightBettor said:
It would be nice to hear a reporter say something like that, but who do I think I am kidding? (and people in hell want a glass of ice water) I guess pilots are still a bunch of drunk, lazy, underworked and overpaid bums who have too much time off and have multiple wives scattered throughout the country.

You mean that not true. Man and I have spent so much money. :p

It would be nice for once that the people actually trusted us and praised us as PIC instead of sniffing to check for Vodka on our breath.
 

AK737FO

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The rest of the story...

Below you will read a post from a company board. The engine has about 3,000 hours on it and is under warranty. The problem was found to be a faulty HMU (hydro mechanical unit). No other damage was found on the engine. Repairs complete, run ups good, ferry it home to SEA, ETA about 0100 tonight.


The facts about Flight 15 in Boston
Video footage sparks media interest
Posted August 8, 2002

As you no doubt are aware, media interest in the air return in Boston on Wednesday of Alaska Flight 15 has been intense. We wanted to shed some light on it all because the nature of some reporters' questions we've received today indicates they don't plan to let the story rest.
In short, the aircraft — the newest 737-900 in our fleet — briefly experienced what appeared to be a compressor stall after takeoff and returned to the airport after the captain declared an emergency. A compressor stall is similar to when a car backfires, resulting in a series of loud booms and several quick bursts of flame out of the back of the engine. However, the engine was not on fire, despite some erroneous news reports, and the engine was never shut down.

While compressor stalls are a fact of life in our industry, the reason this one is taking on a life of its own is because someone on the ground happened to be rolling vide tape when the backfire occurred. Such images make for exciting news, even though control of the flight was never in question and the aircraft landed routinely and taxied under its own power to the gate.

Since then, we've called in the engine's manufacturer, General Electric, to look at the aircraft since it's still under warranty. At this point, it appears it may be a problem with one of the engine's components, but no final determination has been made as of press time. Once a final determination and any subsequent repairs are made, however, the aircraft will be ferried back to Seattle and checked out one more time before it's returned to service.
 

probablecause

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Media

Talking about the incompetent media, the other day I was watching a local Nashville news station that had sent a crew to the Nashville Airport (BNA) to do a live shot for a returning recently elected official. They were set up at Signature Flight Support. The spot went something like this….

“Live From Signature Airport here is Bozo Clown with the latest. Bozo…�

At the bottom of the screen it actually said Signature Airport along with the reporter repeating it. Do these people not get out much?

Name changed to protect the pathetic.
:eek:
 

Anne

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That is scary......

:p But I LOVE your kitty avatar
 
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jetexas

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Ahhh, the press and aviation. Gotta love it! People fear what they don't understand and the press preys on fear.
 

smooshfacekitty

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follow up from yesterday's article

here's the follow up to yesterday's article in the boston globe - I didn't think the article would receive any responses - it did and I loved it - the media is a bunch of shmucks - can't wait for the responses to the follow up...here it is:


Aborted flight was 2d in five months for Alaska Airlines jet
By Jack Healy, Globe Correspondent, 8/9/2002

The Alaska Airlines jet that returned to Logan Airport on Wednesday after fireballs and smoke erupted from its left engine had to abort another flight five months ago, Federal Aviation Administration records show.

Pilots of a March 17 flight from Alaska to Seattle were taking off when they heard a loud bang and felt the Boeing 737 jerk to the left, records show.

But inspectors found no problems with the plane's engine and believe there is no link between the two incidents, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said yesterday, adding that the flames and terrifying booms that grounded the year-old Alaska Airlines plane this week occurred because its engine backfired.

FAA inspectors still don't know what caused the compressor to apparently stall, a rare airplane engine problem that is considered minor. The engine, manufactured by General Electric and Snecma Moteurs, a French firm, appears to be well-maintained by the airline, they said.

Jay Pardee, director of the FAA's engine and propeller directorate, said the engine blades might have misperformed, or a bird or other debris could have been sucked into the engine, upsetting the mix of air and fuel and causing the stall.

Yesterday, weary Flight 15 passengers traveled to Seattle via Alaska Airlines or other carriers while the FAA inspected the jet.

The plane will return without passengers to Seattle once its engine is deemed safe or a new engine is installed, said Alaska Airlines spokesman Jack Evans.

At the Alaska Airlines ticket counter yesterday, a few passengers from Wednesday's flight waiting for information and substitute flights expressed confidence in the airline. Jim Duncan of Juneau, Alaska, said he has flown through snowstorms more frightening than Wednesday's smoke and explosions.

''Being from Alaska, you can't be reluctant. You have to fly,'' Duncan said. ''Yesterday was a piece of cake.''

Flight 15 had climbed fewer than 3,000 feet Wednesday when nine fireballs burst from the left engine's tailpipe, jostling the jet and its 160 passengers and crew members. As hundreds of rush-hour commuters and residents watched from below, the plane turned around and landed safely back at Logan 15 minutes after takeoff.

No one was injured and neither engine was shut down, Evans said.

Compressor stalls occur when something interrupts the delicate balance of air and fuel burning to spin a jet engine's turbines, a rhythm that retired commercial pilot Stephen Luckey calls ''suck, squeeze, bang, blow.''

The process begins when high-speed fans suck air into the jet engine, said Pardee. The air is channeled through smaller and smaller fans until it is super-compressed, Pardee said.

The high-pressure air is then pumped into the engine's combustion chamber, where it mixes with a spray of jet fuel and a spark, then burns up, generating intense heat that spins turbines and pushes the plane forward, Pardee said.

In a compressor stall, the explosive bursts that result from the imbalance between the flow of air and fuel are relatively minor problems, but pilots must respond quickly to lower the engine temperature, Luckey said. The heat created by the explosion can cripple or destroy an engine unless pilots ''take their foot off the gas,'' Luckey said.

''It can end up getting away from you if you don't take care of it,'' Luckey said.

Alaska Airlines, the ninth-largest US carrier, began daily service from Logan Airport to Seattle in April. On May 31, pilots halted an outbound flight twice because of problems with a plane's wing slats.

Robert Vandel, executive vice president of the Flight Safety Foundation, a Virginia-based airline safety watchdog, lauded Alaska, which began operating 70 years ago, as a safe, reliable carrier.

''That's a very good airline,'' Vandel said. ''They have a great safety record.''

The airline's record includes a crash on Jan. 31, 2000, when an MD-80 plunged into the ocean off the California coast, killing all 88 on board. Court documents later revealed that repairs on the plane were behind schedule, and documents were being falsified - information Alaska Airlines officials knew about a year before the crash.

There have been no fatal crashes involving Alaska Airlines since, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

In October 2001, an Alaska Airlines California flight bound for Seattle landed after pilots detected a jammed horizontal stabilizer, a problem similar to the one that caused the January 2000 crash. In May, a flight from Los Angeles to Mexico made an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport after pilots detected unspecified mechanical problems.



This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 8/9/2002.
 

smooshfacekitty

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Thanks Anne

That's my wife's smooshfacekitty............the face inspired the username.....
 

Jump Pilot

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''suck, squeeze, bang, blow.''

I love aviation terms. Nothing like taking something complicated and breaking it down into simple terms.

Heck, if I didn't like flying I'd still be a pilot just so I could use the words cockpit, joystick, and "suck, squeeze, bang, blow" in a conversation.:)
 
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