The Daily Parker

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The Gimli Glider, 30 years on

It completely passed me by that last week was the 30th anniversary of one of aviation's biggest moments in "it could have been worse," when an Air Canada 767 ran out of fuel over western Ontario:

On 23 July 1983, flight 143 was cruising at 41,000 ft., over Red Lake, Ontario. The aircraft's cockpit warning system sounded, indicating a fuel pressure problem on the aircraft's left side. Assuming a fuel pump had failed,[3] the pilots turned it off,[3] since gravity should feed fuel to the aircraft's two engines. The aircraft's fuel gauges were inoperative because of an electronic fault which was indicated on the instrument panel and airplane logs (the pilots believed flight to be legal with this malfunction). The flight management computer indicated that there was still sufficient fuel for the flight; but the initial fuel load had been entered as pounds instead of kilograms. A few moments later, a second fuel pressure alarm sounded for the right engine, prompting the pilots to divert to Winnipeg. Within seconds, the left engine failed and they began preparing for a single-engine landing.

As they communicated their intentions to controllers in Winnipeg and tried to restart the left engine, the cockpit warning system sounded again with the "all engines out" sound, a long "bong" that no one in the cockpit could recall having heard before and that was not covered in flight simulator training.[3] Flying with all engines out was something that was never expected to occur and had therefore never been covered in training.[4] Seconds later, with the right-side engine also stopped, the 767 lost all power, and most of the instrument panels in the cockpit went blank.

What happened worth reading about.

Thanks to Jim Fallows for reminding me about this anniversary.

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