Does anyone have any idea what QF780 is doing tonight?

@jb747 can QF hold Edinburgh for ETOPS? I know it can't as an alternate but would have thought it could for ETOPS. Certainly in an actual emergency it's not a problem.

Moot point. RAAF Edinburgh does have sufficient firefighting for A330-200. Furthermore, airport isn't 24 hour. From the AIP last updated November 2023:

Screenshot 2024-02-16 at 11.39.50 pm.png
Screenshot 2024-02-16 at 11.41.07 pm.png
 
Ok - back to topic, what we know so far:

- The plane actually flew that route
- ATC Ops Room picked that up last night and seemed equally confused amazed
- It could be an APU issue that VH-EBB is suffering from that forced it on this path?
- Today’s QF769 flight back to Perth went via Adelaide but stayed mostly inland.
- Today’s QF648 flight is delayed to 1pm Perth time
I told you what the issue is. PRIM 1. Primary flight control computer #1.
Sorry @jb747 - could you explain it again for the non-expert as I am generally curious.

Is it APU issue —> non-ETOPS capable —> ADL runway was closed —> only option remaining was this weird path?
 
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Moot point. RAAF Edinburgh does have sufficient firefighting for A330-200. Furthermore, airport isn't 24 hour. From the AIP last updated November 2023:

View attachment 371430
View attachment 371432

Those rules go out the window in an emergency. Plenty of other military alternates (eg Tindal) used with similar restrictions.

Edinburgh is not a prescribed alternate in AIP (and I knew that) - unlike Tindal, but it's obviously available if an aircraft needs it during an emergency. I was not sure of QF's policy if they use that for ETOPS or not, but that question has been answered.
 
Those rules go out the window in an emergency. Plenty of other military alternates (eg Tindal) used with similar restrictions.

Edinburgh is not a prescribed alternate in AIP (and I knew that) - unlike Tindal, but it's obviously available if an aircraft needs it during an emergency. I was not sure of QF's policy if they use that for ETOPS or not, but that question has been answered.

Not quite - rules may go out the window in an emergency, but they don't go out the window for EDTO flight planning.

While RAAF Edinburgh could be used in an emergency it can't be used for EDTO flight planning purposes per CASA EDTO procedures (CAAP 82-1) (when applied to an A330-200). Qantas's EDTO SOP needs to comply with the CAAP 82-1 which specifically requires appropriate firefighting to be available at the time when the airport would listed as an EDTO alternate (an EDTO alternate has different considerations to an alternate). Would be fine on B737-800 though since firefighting would be in scope.
 
Not quite - rules may go out the window in an emergency, but they don't go out the window for EDTO flight planning.

While RAAF Edinburgh could be used in an emergency it can't be used for EDTO flight planning purposes per CASA EDTO procedures (CAAP 82-1) (when applied to an A330-200). Qantas's EDTO SOP needs to comply with the CAAP 82-1 which specifically requires appropriate firefighting to be available at the time when the airport would listed as an EDTO alternate (an EDTO alternate has different considerations to an alternate). Would be fine on B737-800 though since firefighting would be in scope.

Have a read of 5.3.12
 
Have a read of 5.3.12

I can safely say that I have read it in its entirety countless times, and passed a few exams on it, and actually prepared flight plans in compliance with it.

You're confusing the consideration of including the airport in the operators list of possible EDTO alternates versus using the airport as an EDTO alternate for that flight - there is a difference. Each operator must have a list, but the list isn't aircraft specific. The key element is the overarching definition of "adequate aerodrome". You'll notice 5.3.12 is not speaking of adequacy or the use as an alternate, but simply being "listed".

When preparing an EDTO compliant flight plan, each EDTO alternate must be "adequate" at the expected time of use as an EDTO alternate - that becomes aircraft and flight specific. Even if there is an unexpected change in adequacy during the flight there will be implications.

For the airport to be "listed" as an EDTO alternate to be it must meet several requirements, some of which go beyond adequacy (e.g., in this case an arrangement with RAAF). However for it to be considered "adequate" there is an overarching requirement that the airport has the appropriate runways, taxiways, lighting, ATC, communications, weather aids, NAV ads, and rescue and firefighting for that aircraft under its expected conditions.

An A330-200 is an ICAO CAT 8 aircraft meaning that the airport it operates into must have CAT 8 rescue and firefighting. Simply put, any airport used as an EDTO alternate for an A330-200 must have CAT 8 available at the expected time of use as an EDTO alternate.

Using 5.3.12 in the context of adequacy would mean the ability of using an airport with rescue and firefighting only capable of handling a Dash 8 as a 180 minute EDTO diversion for an A380!
 
An A330-200 is an ICAO CAT 8 aircraft meaning that the airport it operates into must have CAT 8 rescue and firefighting. Simply put, any airport used as an EDTO alternate for an A330-200 must have CAT 8 available at the expected time of use as an EDTO alternate.

Using 5.3.12 in the context of adequacy would mean the ability of using an airport with rescue and firefighting only capable of handling a Dash 8 as a 180 minute EDTO diversion for an A380!

And this is my point. A380s operate (not just hold as ETOPS) out of BNE, they require ARFF cat 10, but Brisbane is only cat 9. Darwin is Cat 8 - and how many aircraft are holding DRW? Tindal is only Cat 6.

It's not as black and white as you're making it out. In any case thanks for your contribution but my question was already answered by JB.
 
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You're confusing the consideration of including the airport in the operators list of possible EDTO alternates versus using the airport as an EDTO alternate for that flight - there is a difference. Each operator must have a list, but the list isn't aircraft specific. The key element is the overarching definition of "adequate aerodrome". You'll notice 5.3.12 is not speaking of adequacy or the use as an alternate, but simply being "listed".

When preparing an EDTO compliant flight plan, each EDTO alternate must be "adequate" at the expected time of use as an EDTO alternate - that becomes aircraft and flight specific. Even if there is an unexpected change in adequacy during the flight there will be implications.

For the airport to be "listed" as an EDTO alternate to be it must meet several requirements, some of which go beyond adequacy (e.g., in this case an arrangement with RAAF). However for it to be considered "adequate" there is an overarching requirement that the airport has the appropriate runways, taxiways, lighting, ATC, communications, weather aids, NAV ads, and rescue and firefighting for that aircraft under its expected conditions.

An A330-200 is an ICAO CAT 8 aircraft meaning that the airport it operates into must have CAT 8 rescue and firefighting. Simply put, any airport used as an EDTO alternate for an A330-200 must have CAT 8 available at the expected time of use as an EDTO alternate.

Using 5.3.12 in the context of adequacy would mean the ability of using an airport with rescue and firefighting only capable of handling a Dash 8 as a 180 minute EDTO diversion for an A380!
I recall some pretty horrid ETOPS airports. They made things legal on paper, but there was probably no way I'd really consider going there. Depressurisation options and calculations were much the same. I hated the logic of some, that it was ok for an issue at the worst point to leave you in a pretty extreme situation, as long as it was legal. Their (company) argument was that odds of anything happening at exactly that worst point were minimal. Murphy says that that is exactly where it will happen.

Presumably any agreement with the RAAF would have to include provision of various services. And as we know, airlines aren't big on paying for anything, so that's why I said it was possible in theory, but not in practice. With regard to fire services, aren't you permitted to operate to a level below what an aircraft would normally require, for a limited time period? I forget most of the rules, and I'm not keen on reading anything put out by CASA. It was bad enough when I was working, and had to.
 
Presumably any agreement with the RAAF would have to include provision of various services. And as we know, airlines aren't big on paying for anything, so that's why I said it was possible in theory, but not in practice. With regard to fire services, aren't you permitted to operate to a level below what an aircraft would normally require, for a limited time period? I forget most of the rules, and I'm not keen on reading anything put out by CASA. It was bad enough when I was working, and had to.
Airlines often engage with airports in this regard, not always in the context of ETOPS/EDTO but for other purposes. A few years ago, Delta were keen on Canberra to increase fire service capacity at certain times so that they could use it as an alternate for Sydney. At the time, Canberra didn't meet standard at expected time and they were having to use Brisbane or Melbourne as alternate and having to carry more fuel for this. This was eating into their already stretched payload on LAX-SYD.

I suppose some arrangement was made with Canberra and now American, Delta and United are using it as an alternate. It's not clear that Delta paid Canberra to widen the hours of the availability of higher category services. It could have simply been deciding on fees if it was used for a diversion and highlighting what Canberra would make, etc.
 
And this is my point. A380s operate (not just hold as ETOPS) out of BNE, they require ARFF cat 10, but Brisbane is only cat 9. Darwin is Cat 8 - and how many aircraft are holding DRW? Tindal is only Cat 6.

It's not as black and white as you're making it out. In any case thanks for your contribution but my question was already answered by JB.

Sure, but airports/airlines regularly apply for exceptions to CASA for a variety of things with appropriate motivation and risk assessment. How else does Emirates operate scheduled A380 to BNE then? My suspicion is that BNE has an exception to handle A380 with CAT 9 subject to limits (i.e. number at a time, per day, etc). It's somewhat easier getting an exception for a one category differential compared to four categories, or even two.

Indeed, it's not black and white, and lots of exceptions are made, but the general principle holds that the airport must be adequate.
 
Technical question: Why would an inoperable APU cause the aircraft to be ETOPS-incapable?

Sorry @jb747 - could you explain it again for the non-expert as I am generally curious.

Is it APU issue —> non-ETOPS capable —> ADL runway was closed —> only option remaining was this weird path?
I guess we really need to start with a bit of history. When twins first appeared as major components of air travel, the airlines, of course, wanted to send them everywhere. The regulators were rather more cautious, and the entire concept of extended range twin engine operations appeared. There are all sorts of distance and time limitations within the aviation world, and basically pre ETOPs twins were restricted to being no more than one hour of flight time, at a single engine speed from an airport that they could use. As time went by, the reliability of engines improved, to the extent that engine shutdowns in the cruise are extremely rare. Note that failures on takeoff, climb and descent, are not considered...only cruise. So that led us to the push for longer ETOPs, with 90 minute, 120 minute, 180 and 317 minute approvals. And so on probably... The idea of 317 minutes, engine out is not all that appealing to me.

The engines provide more than just thrust though. That's where we get hydraulics, and electrical power, and air for the pressurisation system. If you lose an engine, you probably lose half of your ancillary systems as well. And that's where the APU comes in. They can provide electrical power and pneumatic air, and hydraulics indirectly via either an electric or air driven pump. That leaves us with an aircraft on one engine, but with most other systems intact.

But, it was also realised that whilst engines might be extremely reliable, other systems might not. Starting with the APU itself. Firstly no APU, no ETOPs, but in some cases that APU might have to be started before reaching the ETOPS area, and kept running the entire time. On aircraft like the 747 the APU can't be started in flight, and was only ever used on the ground and for some take offs. The 380's could be started in flight, but not guaranteed at altitude, and its use was largely to give back full electrics after an engine failure, thus allowing Cat III. The 767, being a twin had an unrestricted APU (and I expect the 330 is the same). Beyond that though there are other systems that can make operating the aircraft difficult. For instance; autopilots. They're required in most airspace, but trying to fly without one is very tiring in the long term.

Thinking about this PRIM (and I'll post the entire MEL so you can read and confuse yourselves). Whilst it's a primary flight control computer, it's one of three. Loss of one has very little effect, other than on redundancy. Sometimes specific computers have functions locked to one system, but in the case of PRIMs, they're mostly interchangeable. The black boxes themselves are identical. The 330 also has a couple of SECs (which predictably are secondary computers). Best to think of them as falling further down the chain of redundancy, though normally SECs have no function if the PRIMs are operating. As an aside the 380 had 3 PRIMs and 3 SECs. All six were identical black boxes, but once installed the SECs did not have the same functionality as a PRIM. Any one computer can fly the aircraft, but it would be very limited.

So, with PRIM 1 out of the system, what is the issue, given that almost all functions will operate normally? The biggest problem that immediately comes to mind is that you're very near to a flight control law reversion. If, for example, the heater that provides anti icing to the #2 sideslip probe were to fail, then the #2 PRIM would consider that to be invalid data, and without #1 to provide another source, the system would probably consider #2 to be suspect and so would force a law reversion, probably to alternate law (but possibly even direct). Now, you've lost all of your autopilots, and the aircraft is much harder to fly accurately than normal. You don't need something as obviously important as a flight control computer for this sort of thing to happen though. An issue with an air data computer plus any probe from another system (i.e. #1 & #3) could cause the same sort of reversion.

Because the relationships between systems might not be all that apparent, we end up with the manufacturers generating a huge list of faults and limitations (MELs). They govern what the engineers can sign out as being acceptable. Basically, if it doesn't have an MEL, then it must be fixed. MELs might provide limitations (i.e. no ETOPS), changes to coughpit procedures and calculations, engineering procedures, and they all come with time limits. They can also be quite complex and take time to work though.
 
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All you never wanted to know about MELs. This will be cut and pasted from a PDF of the 330 MELs.

RECTIFICATION INTERVAL CATEGORY
All users of a MEL must effect rectification of items, deferred in accordance with the MEL, at orprior to the times established by the following designators indicated in the Repair interval field:

Category A: Items in this category shall be rectified within the time interval specified in the provisos.
Category B: Items in this category shall be rectified within three (3) consecutive calendar days, excluding the day of discovery.
Category C: Items in this category shall be rectified within ten (10) consecutive calendardays, excluding the day of discovery.
Category D: Items in this category shall be rectified within sixty (60) consecutive calendardays, excluding the day of discovery.

MEL ITEMS
27 - Flight Controls
27-93 - Flight control computer (FCPC/PRIM)
27-93-01A
Repair interval - C
Nbr installed - 1
Nbr required - 0
Placard - Yes

(o) (m) [P] [E] [L]

May be inoperative provided that:
1) ETOPS is not conducted, and
2) The PRIM 1 pb-sw is set to OFF and remains OFF for the whole flight, and
3) All SECs, SFCCs, LGCIUs, RAs, ADIRSs and the PRIM 3 are operative, and
4) The stabilizer actuator electrical motors associated with PRIM 2 and PRIM 3 are operative, and
5) The sidestick priority function is checked operative on both sides before each flight, and
6) All sidestick transducers associated with both SECs are checked operative, and
7) The back-up control module and the rudder control associated with SEC 1 are checked
operative before each flight, and
8) All pedals position transducer units associated with PRIM 2, PRIM 3 and SEC 1 are checked operative before each flight, and
9) The elevators control functioning is checked through each operative PRIM and SEC before each flight, and
10) The blue and yellow electric pumps are checked operative, and
11) The Flight Manual performance penalties for one pair of spoilers inoperative are applied.
Note: Deactivation of the pair of spoilers 5 is not necessary.



(o) means that coughpit operational changes are required
(m) maintenence procedures required
[P] performance calculations changed
[E] ETOPS affected
[L] Low vis ops affected

Every one of these needs to be hunted down and incorporated into your procedures before you can even start the aircraft, so you can see why MELs can cause delays. This will then need to be done by every crew in turn.
 
Because the relationships between systems might not be all that apparent, we end up with the manufacturers generating a huge list of faults and limitations (MELs). They govern what the engineers can sign out as being acceptable. Basically, if it doesn't have an MEL, then it must be fixed. MELs might provide limitations (i.e. no ETOPS), changes to coughpit procedures and calculations, engineering procedures, and they all come with time limits. They can also be quite complex and take time to work though.
Something further to MEL lists is that some elements may be time specific rather than just a no go for ETOPS/EDTO. For example, the B787 has approval from the FAA for 330 minutes and many of the redundancies are built into the aircraft in its standard configuration for that purpose.

However, if the aircraft has some inoperable communications systems (including HF, SATCOM, ACARS, etc) or reduced redundancy due to an inoperable unit they would be limited to 180 minutes. Something as simple as a satellite being down for maintenance for a few hours could affect availability of a redundant system during that time thereby limiting the use of an area of coverage under ETOPS/EDTO 330.

Here's a fantastic example of it this: QF 63 SYD-JNB usually sticks pretty close to the 330 limits near the Heard and McDonald Islands in the Southern Ocean following close to the great circle track on the west bound. However, have a look at the routing on 27 January this year which sticks pretty close to the 180 limits and then goes to a near great circle track from that point!

Screenshot 2024-02-17 at 2.53.59 pm.png
map.gif
 
A bit more of a play with the numbers, and my conclusion is that the aircraft is on this route because it is not ETOPs capable at all. And that means that even if Adelaide had been open, it still would have been on this convoluted route. Tech log would be interesting.
Noticed that this plane on Syd Per today took an inland route north of Adelaide and then over Kalgoorlie instead of flying over Adelaide then bight like all the 737's do.
 
Noticed that this plane on Syd Per today took an inland route north of Adelaide and then over Kalgoorlie instead of flying over Adelaide then bight like all the 737's do.
You can play with a map, but basically it's keeping itself within 410 nm of somewhere that it can go to.
 
Ah... fleet maintenance!

Lack of ... is the gift that keeps giving.


And before someone asks when would CASA ground the fleet ... Easter, of course! 😈


_______________________________________________________________________
Memory item: CASA bureaucrat headcount in CL above minimums... check! (Phew!)
 

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