Monday, November 10, 2008

Ryanair Flight FR4102 Emergency at Rome-Ciampino: Multiple Bird Strikes

Ryanair B737-800, Rome-Ciampino, Nov. 11, 2008 - Reuters PhotoEarly this morning, Nov. 10, 2008, a Boeing 737-800 aircraft (registration EI-DYG) operated by Ryanair suffered a multiple bird strike, ingesting birds into both engines, while on approach to Rome-Ciampino Airport. Ryanair Flight FR4102 made an emergency landing at Ciampino, during which "the left-hand main landing-gear suffered substantial damage," according to the airline. The aircraft was arriving from Frankfurt-Hahn with six crew members and 166 passengers on board. Passengers were evacuated from the aircraft via slides onto the runway. There were no reports of serious injuries, although two cabin crew members and eight passengers were reportedly taken to a hospital for medical attention.

News photos of the accident site show the left main landing gear collapsed, and the number one engine nacelle resting on the runway. The "multiple bird strike" phrase may be an understatement, judging from the large number of blood splotches on the radome and wing slats!

Ciampino Airport closed after the accident, and inbound flights were diverted to Rome's Fiumicino Airport.

I will follow up with more details as they become available.

UPDATE Nov. 11, 2008: The Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo (ANSV), the Italian flight safety agency, issued a brief statement regarding the Ryanair accident at Rome-Ciampino. The statement confirms what was already known: that a large flock of birds struck the aircraft's wing surfaces and engines as it was landing. (For what it's worth, the statement identified the birds as starlings.) The statement mentioned "extensive damage" to the aircraft's left wing, landing gear, and fuselage.

The so-called "black boxes," i.e., the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, have been retrieved from the accident aircraft and are undergoing data analysis. ANSV is interviewing the crew.

That's all that the ANSV says so far.

Unofficial buzz that I am hearing says that the sequence of events went something like this: the aircraft was on short finals when an engine flamed out due to bird strike; crew initiated a go-around, but at about the same time, the second engine flamed out as well -- so they landed, albeit a little hard. Okay, maybe really hard.

Based on everything I've heard and read, the crew did a fantastic job. They had an enormous amount on their plate very suddenly -- and at just a couple hundred feet above the ground they had to make a split-second decision, with virtually no time to ponder what to do or consult manuals, checklists, or what have you. They landed the plane, and they brought it to a halt on the runway. The airframe suffered some major dings, but there were no fatalities or major injuries to the passengers and crew. I say, "Well done!"

[Photo Source]