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Cathay Pacific updates CX780 incident

14 Apr 2010

Cathay Pacific today emphasized that at no time were both engines on CX780 from Surabaya, which made an emergency landing at Hong Kong International Airport yesterday, shut down.

At a press briefing, Dennis Hui Manager Maintenance Support at the airline’s Engineering Department emphasised that safety is always the airline’s number one priority. He said that after further investigation of the flight data from CX780 and having interviewed the crew, updated information had shown a clear picture of this aspect of the incident.

He said it had been determined that the number 2 (RH) engine was at idle power throughout the approach and landing at HKIA, and the Number 1(LH) engine was operating at 70 per cent of its maximum power, and frozen at that level.

Mr. Hui said: “This is a higher power setting than is required for a normal approach with a single operating engine. Consequently, this higher than normal power setting led to a higher than normal approach speed and incorrect flap configuration.

“The aircraft therefore touched down at approx 230 knots, as against a normal 135 knots at this aircraft’s operating weight.

“ However, the aircraft touched down on the correct position on the runway, but due to its high speed had to brake hard and use reverse thrust from the operating engine to bring the aircraft to a halt.

“The high speed and high energy braking led to very hot brakes, tyre deflation and the report from the FSD outside the aircraft that it had observed flames and smoke on the landing gear,” he added.

Mr. Hui said details of what happened and what caused the engine malfunction are now the subject of CAD investigations. Cathay Pacific was co-operating closely with the investigation, along with Airbus and Rolls Royce, the engine supplier.

At the same briefing, Quince Chong Director Corporate Affairs emphasized that no decision could be taken before touchdown on evacuation, until the aircraft safely landed and the commander was in the best position to assess the situation.

Once the pilots were told by the Fire Services Department that they had seen flames and smoke in the undercarriage, they decided to deplane the passengers and immediately alerted the cabin crew to begin the evacuation procedure.

Ms Chong praised the professionalism of the cockpit and cabin crews for their handling of the incident.

She said the cabin crew had assisted all the passengers out of the aircraft, and made sure all were safely deplaned before leaving themselves. Then the Captain and First Officer walked the entire length of the plane to ensure all were safely evacuated before leaving themselves.

She said the evacuation had taken just two minutes.

Ms Chong said: “The pilots and the 11 cabin crew all demonstrated professionalism of a highest order in handling a most testing situation. It was due to their training, professionalism, their judgment, and ability to perform multi-tasks under a highly intense situation that the injuries had been kept to a minimum.”

She said that Cathay Pacific had mobilized 40 department heads to operate the Crisis Management Centre and deployed 50 members of a “care team”, including Indonesian speakers, to accompany injured passengers to hospital and assist the others with their baggage and connecting flights.

The company was now offering to refund all passengers tickets and offer them a free regional flight.