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9.4.08 – NTSB Chairman Emphasizes International Cooperation in British Boeing 777 Recommendations

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NTSB PRESS RELEASE
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National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 4, 2008
SB-08-37

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NTSB CHAIRMAN EMPHASIZES INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN
BRITISH BOEING 777 RECOMMENDATIONS

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Washington, DC – National Transportation Safety Board Acting
Chairman Mark V. Rosenker today praised the work of all the
investigators looking into the crash of a Boeing 777 at
London’s Heathrow Airport in January, saying that the
recommendations issued today "show how international
cooperation can lead to safety improvements that benefit the
aviation community worldwide."

The United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch
(AAIB), which is leading the investigation into the January
17, 2008, accident in which a British Airways Boeing 777-
236ER landed short of Runway 27L at London Heathrow Airport,
issued an interim report today on the progress of the
investigation.

The interim report contains recommendations aimed at
addressing a circumstance identified by investigators
relating to Rolls Royce-powered Boeing 777 aircraft. The
investigation has shown that both engines lost power in the
final minute of flight because the fuel flow to each engine
was restricted; most probably due to an accumulation of ice
within the engine fuel feed system. The ice is likely to
have formed from water – which exists naturally in the fuel
– while the aircraft operated for a long period, with low
fuel flows, in the cold environment associated with high-
altitude flight.

In accordance with established international arrangements,
the National Transportation Safety Board, representing the
State of Design and Manufacture of the aircraft, appointed
an Accredited Representative to participate in the
investigation. The Accredited Representative is being
supported by a U.S. team that includes NTSB specialists, the
Federal Aviation Administration, and Boeing. Rolls-Royce,
the engine manufacturer, is also participating in the
investigation. British Airways, the operator, is cooperating
with the investigation and providing expertise as requested
by the AAIB.

This interim report updates and provides further details on
the history of the flight and the research done by teams in
both the U.K. and U.S. using data obtained from the accident
aircraft, and similar aircraft in the British Airways fleet.
The report further details the aircraft fuel systems and
describes testing performed in laboratories, on an adapted
fuel rig using actual aircraft components, in an engine test
facility, and on an exemplar engine. In conclusion, the
report provides recommendations for both interim action and
longer term changes to certification criteria.

Acting Chairman Rosenker stated, "When it comes to aviation
safety, there are shared interests that transcend national
borders." Rosenker noted that the U.S. Accredited
Representative and technical advisors fully participated in
the development of the factual material and supporting
research and that the recommendations are supported by the
U.S. team.

The investigation team indicated that a change to the fuel
system design would make the system more resilient, but
would take time to implement. Therefore, to reduce the risk
of recurrence interim measures need to be adopted until such
design changes to the fuel system are available.

Therefore, the AAIB recommends that:

The Federal Aviation Administration and the European
Aviation Safety Agency, in conjunction with Boeing and Rolls
Royce, introduce interim measures for the Boeing 777,
powered by Rolls Royce Trent 800 engines, to reduce the risk
of ice formed from water in aviation turbine fuel causing a
restriction in the fuel feed system (AAIB 2008-047), that

The Federal Aviation Administration and the European
Aviation Safety Agency should take immediate action to
consider the implications of the findings of this
investigation on other certificated airframe/engine
combinations (AAIB 2008-048), and that

The Federal Aviation Administration and the European
Aviation Safety Agency review the current certification
requirements to ensure that aircraft and engine fuel systems
are tolerant to the potential build up and sudden release of
ice in the fuel system (AAIB 2008-049).

The AAIB report is available at:
http://www.aaib.dft.gov.uk/cms_resources/G-YMMM%20Interim%20Report.pdf

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NTSB Media Contact: Peter Knudson 202-314-6100
[email protected]

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Call APFA

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Phone: (817) 540-0108

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