Emergency landing of the Boeing 767 SP-LPC at Okęcie on 1.11.2011.

Published on: 2021-05-16
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Updated on: 2021-03-02
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Emergency landing of the Boeing 767 SP-LPC "Poznań" at Okęcie, that is up to three times art.

The heroic pilot Captain Tadeusz Wrona and his crew.

Captain Tadeusz Wrona, Polish hero. 2011 year. Photo of LAC
Captain Tadeusz Wrona, Polish hero. 2011 year. Photo of LAC

In the history of our national carrier and Okęcie Airport, it was the first successful emergency landing, no less dramatic than the two previous attempts, which ended catastrophically. Tragically, because no one survived. (The tragedy of Ił-62 SP-LAA on March 14, 1980 and the tragedy of Ił-62 M SP-LBG on May 9, 1987). You have to remember this. Especially by reading the liberal press and listening to commercial radio or television stations. Reading the scribbles of journalists who are thirsty for blood, who at all costs wanted to find faults in the actions of Captain Tadeusz Wrona, the word - hero rarely crossed the throat.

Today the emotions have subsided. There is a preliminary report. We are richer in substantive knowledge. And the anti-Polish vultures flew away to another carrion.

At the same time, Polish sports pilots achieved great success in the 20th Precision Flying World Championships. They were held in the Republic of South Africa in the town of Brits on October 23-29, 2011. 56 pilots from 15 countries took part. The Polish team won three medals (two gold, one silver) in the competition. Individually, Michał Wieczorek won the championship title ahead of Bolesław Radomski. The Poles also triumphed as a team.

And none of the journalists took interest in it. There was not even a mention of this huge Polish success in any press. The media is not the Polish market anymore. These are games to the delight of the crowd. Almost all media is in foreign hands. They are not interested in sports aviation, and Polish especially - Until there is blood.

For us, the editorial staff of POLOT.net, Captain Tadeusz Wrona, co-pilot Mr. Jerzy Szwarc - are heroes. And we are very glad that the President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, awarded them with decorations. Because they did their job perfectly. It would be tragic to see photos of 231 coffins.

Captain Tadeusz Wrona - God bless you!

Captain Tadeusz Wrona and co-pilot Jerzy Szwarc. 2011 year. Photo of LAC
Captain Tadeusz Wrona and co-pilot Jerzy Szwarc. 2011 year. Photo of LAC

The President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, awarded: Kapitan Tadeusz Wrona - Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, II Pilot Jerzy Szwarc - Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, Chief of the deck Jerzy Konofalski - Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, Flight attendant Wioletta Bugajska - Golden Cross of Merit, Flight attendant Magdalena Gortat - Golden Cross of Merit, Stewardess Anna Michalak-Zawadzka - Golden Cross of Merit, Stewardess Magdalena Olędzka - Golden Cross of Merit, Stewardess Beata Sobczak - Golden Cross of Merit, Steward Grzegorz Pietrzyk - Golden Cross of Merit, Steward Wojciech Winiarski - Golden Cross of Merit. The crew was also honored with PLL LOT awards - Badge of honor.

On November 15, 2011, Captain Tadeusz Wrona made another scheduled flight to New York. The passengers of that flight, as soon as they found out that the plane would be piloted by our hero, rewarded him with thunderous applause. Captain Tadeusz Wrona in the USA met with; Polonia, the UN Secretary General - Ban Ki-moon and with Captain Chesley Sullenberger - the hero of the Airbus A 320 launching on the Hudson River, on January 15, 2009. Captain Tadeusz Wrona was complimented by the New York City Auditor John Liu and a member of the State Assembly of New York, representing, among others, Greenpoint Joseph R. Lentol. A democratic member of the House of Representatives sent the Pole a certificate of merit, recognizing him as a hero of the United States, and a flag that hung in his honor in the White House. City councilor Stephen Levin gave him an occasional proclamation establishing the day of November 16, 2011, the day of Captain Tadeusz Wrona.

Boeing 767-350 ER SP-LPC.

The aircraft is a Boeing 767-350 ER, complete with a 35D ER, registration SP-LPC, serial number 28656/659. The ER letters stand for long range. The 35D is a modernized version of the 300. It is powered by two General Electric CF 6-80CB6 engines. Range 11,700 km (7,800 miles). Length 54.94 m (180 ft), span 47.57 m (156 ft). It takes 243 passengers on board. It is a wide-body aircraft, now referred to as - with two aisles (passages). Two-class configuration. Business class 18 seats in 3 rows in a 2x2x2 arrangement. 132 cm (52 ​​in) row spacing, seat width 46 cm (18 in). Economy class 225 seats in 33 rows in a 2x3x2 arrangement. 81 cm (32 in) row spacing, seat width 43 cm (17 in).

History of SP-LPC service: From May 15, 1997, LOT Polish Airlines. From 23.12.2005, he has flown for Air Italy for 5 months. From April 1, 2006, again at LOT Polish Airlines. As of 03/01/2007, he flew for Santa Barbara Airlines SBA. From April 20, 2007, LOT Polish Airlines again. On November 1, 2011, an emergency landing.

The course of the cruise.

Nobody expected that a quiet afternoon on November 1, 2011, on All Saints' Day, when millions of countrymen visit the graves of their relatives, would go down in the history of great Polish and world aviation events, and most importantly, happily ended.

Flight 016 was a scheduled return flight from the USA to the Republic of Poland. It was performed on the route from Newark to Okęcie. KEWR / EWR - EPWA / WAW. Newark Airport is one of New York's airports. Since 2001, the airport has been called Newark-Liberty International Airport. 220 passengers and 11 crew members boarded the plane. Planned landing time in Okęcie, 13:15 (13:35).

Half an hour after take-off, the crew reported a failure of one of the plane's three hydraulic systems. This could only mean problems with the landing gear extension, but it did not endanger the safe continuation of the flight. After consulting with the carrier's operational center, the captain decided to continue the flight to Warsaw, and not to return to the take-off airport.

The rest of the flight was smooth. Just before landing, the crew began setting up the plane for landing, including extending the landing gear. However, it turned out to be a normal system impossible. Also, the emergency (electro-mechanical) system failed and the chassis was left in the retracted position. The pilots reported problems with the landing gear and flaps to inspectors. The controllers steered the machine into the waiting zone. Together (the crew and the crew on the ground) an attempt was made to solve the problem.

The emergency system is based on an electric motor that actuates a certain mechanism, which unlocks the locks of the landing gear chambers with the help of cables. The undercarriage under its own weight should extend by the force of gravity. However, this arrangement did not work either. The crew tried to apply additional overload with the movements of the controls so that the landing gear was extended. And these treatments did not help. At that time, the crew was already using the book - Instructions for Use in Flight, which describes emergency situations and remedies. Point by point.

Here are a few words of comment. After all, the storm in the media was caused by the fact that the fuse was pressed out, which, among other things, secured the electric system of emergency landing gear extension. The fuse should be depressed. But according to the knowledge, if the fuse was blown it means it has worked. There must have been a fault or even a short circuit in the electrical system. If the crew tried to force him down, it would be not far to the fire. It was during the communist times that fuses were padded with female hairpins and if the TV did not burn, it was fine. The "experts on the problem" argued that this activity is not in the book, but it is "obvious". Probably not so obvious. The procedure is a procedure and must be followed, rather than guessing what the author meant.

The crew consulted the activities with the personnel of the carrier's operations center and LOT AMS engineers. While the problem of the flaps was solved, the undercarriage was still retracted. Traffic at the Okęcie (Chopin) airport has been suspended. Other landing machines were directed to Łódź and Kraków. The SP-LPC was directed to the waiting zone, where it circulated burning excess fuel. The Boeing 767 does not have an emergency fuel dump system.

From the 32nd Tactical Air Base in Łask, a pair of F-16 Jastrząb multi-role combat aircraft was launched into the air. Captain pilot Michał Kras and captain pilot Krzysztof Duda were in the air. Around 1:40 pm they arrived at the SP-LPC. The pilots of the combat machines visually assessed the condition of the machine and confirmed that the SP-LPC landing gear was not extended. On the other hand, the tail skid was extended hydraulically. The hawks accompanied the SP-LPC to the very end, also using Sniper-XR pods.

And another comment. A helicopter from one of the Masonic TV stations also flew in the zone where SP-LPC and Jastrzębie were located. They probably wanted the best photos of the next Polish plane crash. They did not pay attention to the air traffic control commands, which led to an increase in the threat and such a dramatic situation. I hope that someday in the Republic of Poland they will not only be punished, but also that TV station will be withdrawn their license.

At that time, the Airport Fire Service and 10 units of the State Fire Service prepared RWY 33 for an emergency takeover of SP-LPC, which will land on its stomach. The runway was covered with foam to prevent fire and reduce friction.

Here are a few sentences of explanation. In the Republic of Poland, even in the 90s of the 20th century, there was an emergency landing on the ground (grass) emergency lane. It was marked out at all Polish airports; civil and military. These emergency runways could not only be used for landing but also for take-off. They were properly maintained, marked and lit. However, with the adoption of American-made equipment for the equipment of PLL LOT, and then of the army, the philosophy of approaching the subject began to change. It is true that an emergency landing on grass minimizes the occurrence of a fire, it is easier to maintain the direction on the landing, the landing run is much shorter (because there is a larger contact area of ​​the machine with the ground), but after such a landing the machine usually cannot be repaired. Engines become clogged with soil, the bottom of the fuselage is significantly folded, wings with moving surfaces are often damaged. As a result, the plane is subject to scrapping. Additionally, there may be problems with obtaining compensation. In the free world, insurance companies often do not consider landing outside of RWY.

All services were put on high alert. About 15 ambulances arrived at the Okęcie Airport. Aleja Krakowska, which is an extension of the RWY, was closed. All services were put on high alert. About 15 ambulances arrived at the Okęcie Airport. Aleja Krakowska, which is an extension of the RWY, was closed. The SP-LPC plane will land on the engine nacelles and the rear of the fuselage.

Emergency landing.

The decision was made - "We crash down". Captain Tadeusz Wrona is an active pilot not only of large passenger airplanes, but also of gliders and small light aircraft. This is a big plus for the task ahead. And there were many threats. In a dozen or so films that have appeared on the Internet, you can see how the machine is guided precisely on the approach. The appropriate (possibly lowest speed) and approach and attack angles are maintained. The touch of the concrete of the RWY 33 was so gentle that many passengers said, "Yet the landing gear came out." The first concrete touched the rear skid, then both engine nacelles almost simultaneously. Sparks sparked from under the right gondola and a small fire started. The plane did not deviate from the RWY axis and did not fall out of it. It stopped almost at the intersection of both RWY Okęcie Airport. At the best moment, the pilot turned off the engines (he could not use the thrust reversers). SP-LPC landed at 2:35 pm.

What could threaten the crew and passengers? First of all, a fire. The actions taken limited this risk to a minimum. Second - the plane crashes out of RWY, left or right. Then the engine nacelle, under which there would be no concrete, would burrow into the ground and fall off or / and turn the plane sideways. The design might not hold up. Third - the plane could slip in front of the entire RWY and fall outside the airport area. Fourth - And this seems to be the most dangerous. After hitting concrete with its tail, the plane could break. The tail is not prepared to take the greatest loads. The center wing is heavily loaded. This is where the fuselage is connected to the wings and the main landing gear mounting knots are located.

The passengers also did a great job. There was no panic on board. They all followed the crew's orders. The evacuation of passengers and crew through emergency exits and slide systems was performed in 90 seconds. Fire fighting vehicles drove up immediately, putting out a small fire of the right engine. Ambulances (at least 8 cars), security services and after a while several platform buses arrived to pick up all the passengers. Passengers were taken to the terminal. After the luggage was unloaded, it was collected by the owners.

Emergency landing. 2011 year. Photo of LAC
Emergency landing. 2011 year. Photo of LAC

Further actions.

The emergency landing of the SP-LPC and the blocking of both RWYs must have resulted in the issuance of a document called NOTAM. In fact, two such documents have been issued. In a word, the airport was closed for take-off and landing operations until 3.11.2011. (Thursday) at 3:00 UTC.

An important matter was the inspection of RWY 15/33 (DS.), Whether it was seriously damaged. It turned out that only a few lamps mounted in the pavement were damaged. They were repaired in a short time.

To raise the SP-LPC to a height that would allow the landing gear to be extended, a large crane was brought, for which an aircraft weighing 80,000 kg is a piece of cake. The crane alone can lift a load of 300,000 kg. The only problem is grabbing the hull in the right place. The method of attaching the fuselage was decided by specialists from the Boeing company, who know the Boeing 767 structures inside out.

The plan to raise the machine changed as the activities progressed. There was a proposal to raise the SP-LPC by two cranes. Up to three cranes could work with the SP-LPC. It was even possible to import a crane with a lifting capacity of 600,000 kg. There was a proposal to raise a wheeled platform (by Panas Transport) to a height of 1.50 m and put it under the plane and transport it to a hangar. Finally, there was a proposal to raise the machine and extend its own wheels.

Eventually, the SP-LPC was lifted by one Grove GMK 6300 truck crane, with a lifting capacity of 300,000 kg, with airbag protection. The SP-LPC was raised on November 2, 2011. (Wednesday). The aircraft's own landing gear was extended and towed to the hangar with a drawbar tractor.

Damage to the SP-LPC plane.

At the moment (December 2011) it is difficult to say if and when the SP-LPC plane will return to flying. If the plane returns to flying, it will be in a few months. The engines have already been sent for overhaul. On the other hand, the damage to the hull is not large on the one hand, but on the other hand more time-consuming and expensive to repair. The pressure frame in the rear part of the fuselage and several other frames and stringers were damaged. These items are replaced extremely rarely. Mainly after corrosion. The center wing, the spar fixing nodes and the spars themselves require inspection. The motors, on the other hand, are attached to the girders by means of pylons which are fixed with rivets. These rivets break when excessive forces occur. It is not known what their condition was.

Finally, there is a formal and legal issue. The user of SP-LPC is PLL LOT, but the owner is the leasing company Aircastle. It was up to her to decide the fate of the SP-LPC.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman