British Airways Flight 9 was a scheduled British Airways flight from Heathrow Airport to Auckland, with stops in Bombay, Madras, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, and Melbourne.
On June 24 1982, a Boeing 747-236B called the City of Edinburgh flew the route. Mount Galunggung (approximately 110 miles (180 km) southeast of Jakarta, Indonesia) erupted, and the aircraft flew into a volcanic ash cloud, causing all four engines to fail. The aircraft glided out of the ash cloud, and the crew restarted all four engines (although one failed soon after), allowing the aircraft to land safely at the Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in Jakarta.
The flight crew consisted of 41-year-old Captain Eric Moody, 32-year-old Senior First Officer Roger Greaves, and 40-year-old Senior Engineer Barry Townley-Freeman.
At approximately 13:40 UTC, above the Indian Ocean, south of Java, Greaves and Townley-Freeman noticed an effect similar to St. Elmo's fire on the windscreen (Moody was in the restroom at the time). While the weather radar showed clear skies, the crew switched on engine anti-ice and seat belt signs.
Soon after, smoke with an sulfuric odor begin to fill the passenger cabin. Passengers noticed the aircraft's engines had an unusual blue glow.
At approximately 13:42, the number four Rolls-Royce RB211 engine begin surging and soon flamed out. Less than a minute later, the other three engines followed suit.
At 13:44 UTC, Greaves declared an emergency to the local air traffic control authority, stating all four engines had failed. Jakarta Area Control misunderstood the message, believing only engine number four had shut down. After a nearby Garuda Indonesia flight relayed the message to them, ATC correctly understood the message.
Owing to the high Indonesian mountains on the south coast of the island of Java, an altitude of at least 11,500 feet (3,500 m) was required to cross the coast safely. The crew decided that if the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude by the time they reached 12,000 feet (3,700 m) they would turn back out to sea and attempt to ditch into the Indian Ocean. The crew began engine restart drills, despite being well outside the recommended maximum engine in-flight start envelope altitude of 28,000 feet (8,500 m). The restart attempts failed.
As pressure within the cabin fell, oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling – an automatic emergency measure to make up for the lack of air. On the flight deck, however, Greaves's mask was broken; the delivery tube had detached from the rest of the mask. Moody swiftly decided to descend at 1,800 m per minute to an altitude where there was enough pressure in the outside atmosphere to breathe almost normally.
At 13,500 feet (4,100 m), the crew was approaching the altitude at which they would have to turn over the ocean and attempt a risky ditching. Although there were guidelines for the water landing procedure, no one had ever tried it in a Boeing 747. As they performed the engine restart procedure, engine number four finally started, and at 13:56 UTC (20:56 Jakarta time), Moody used its power to reduce the rate of descent. Shortly thereafter, engine three restarted, allowing him to climb slowly. Shortly after that, engines one and two successfully restarted as well. The crew subsequently requested and expedited an increase in altitude to clear the high mountains of Indonesia.
As the aircraft approached its target altitude, the St. Elmo's fire effect on the windscreen returned. Moody throttled back; however, engine number two surged again and was shut down. The crew immediately descended and held 12,000 feet (3,700 m).
As Flight 9 approached Jakarta, the crew found it difficult to see anything through the windscreen, and made the approach almost entirely on instruments, despite reports of good visibility. The crew decided to fly the instrument landing system (ILS); however, the vertical guidance system was inoperative, so they were forced to fly with only the lateral guidance as the first officer monitored the airport's distance measuring equipment (DME). He then called out how high they should be at each DME step along the final approach to the runway, creating a virtual glide slope for them to follow. It was, in Moody's words, "a bit like negotiating one's way up a badger's arse."Although the runway lights could be made out through a small strip of the windscreen, the landing lights on the aircraft seemed to be inoperable. After landing, the flight crew found it impossible to taxi, due to glare from apron floodlights which made the already sandblasted windscreen opaque. For or info look on wikipedia
- Faith, Nicholas (1998). Black Box. p. 156.
- Faith, Nicholas (1998). Black Box. p. 156.