Titan Airways Airbus A321 Engine Stalled And Caught Fire After 'Engineer's Fuel Error'

A Titan Airways Airbus A321-200 had to make a emergency landing after one of its engine caught fire and the other one stalled shortly after take-off.

Titan Airways Airbus A321 Engine Stalled And Caught Fire After 'Engineer's Fuel Error'
The aircraft returned back after 11 minutes of take-off Photo: Ian Gratton Wikipedia Commons

The plane with registration G-POWN took off from London Gatwick Airport for a flight bound for London Stansted Airport on 26th February. The interim report was published this week.



The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after take-off due to fuel additive error made by an engineer using an internet calculator.

The engineer added 37 times more chemical in the plane's fuel. According to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the engineer had not carried out the task before.

The engineer was not familiar with the term 'ppm' which means 'Parts per million'. He therefore searched the internet for the meaning and a conversion calculator. 



The engineer was aware that he would be uploading 6,200 kg of fuel into each wing tank. Therefore, he used an internet calculator and calculated 30kg of kathon for each wing tank.


Titan Airways Airbus A321 Engine Stalled And Caught Fire After 'Engineer's Fuel Error'
Kathon was poured nearly 37 more than the maximum permitted dose Photo: @airlinegossip

The aircraft required anti-contamination treatment biocide of 100ppm. The correct quantity of kathon required to maintain this concentration was just 0.8kg per wing fuel tank. He poured 37 times more kathon than the maximum permitted dose. 



Altogether, 150 kg of kathon was available in the store. So, he made a material requisition for 60 kg of kathon. Kathon is used to prevent contamination in the fuel tank by microbes.

"The task had not been designated as a critical task, and therefore no additional measures were used to check that it was performed in accordance with the manual," said the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

"No control measures were in place at the maintenance stores or planning departments to prevent unusually large quantities of chemicals being issued to engineering staff."



Being first time, the engineer did not even notice that he was pouring the chemical in an excessive quantity.


Titan Airways Airbus A321 Engine Stalled And Caught Fire After 'Engineer's Fuel Error'
Significant points involved during the incident Photo: AAIB

After the aircraft took off from Gatwick's runway 26L, the left side CFM suddenly started to surge after climbing around 500 feet. A loud noise was heard and flames were seen coming from the tailpipe of the engine.



The crew made a MAYDAY call and started to turn right and return back before the right engine indicated a stall.

After two minutes, the aircraft's right engine indicated a stall after parameters related to the engine started to fluctuate. 

The crew than started to return back after climbing to around 3,500 feet. The aircraft safely landed back on runway 26L, just after 11 minutes from departure.



The Air Accidents Investigations Branch of the United Kingdom classified this event as a serious incident and began investigation on 26th February, 2020 in accordance with established international arrangements.


Titan Airways Airbus A321 Engine Stalled And Caught Fire After 'Engineer's Fuel Error'
The flight was a non-revenue flight Photo: @jong_pj

The flight was a non-revenue, air transport flight. So, only seven crew members were on board the aircraft with no injuries.


Although, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has published the interim report this week, the final report will be published in due course.



The Airbus A321-200 involved in this incident was an 11.2 years old aircraft delivered to the airline back in March, 2016 after seven years of service.

Before that, the aircraft was in service with Austrian low-cost airline Niki after receiving delivery in March, 2009.


Titan Airways Airbus A321 Engine Stalled And Caught Fire After 'Engineer's Fuel Error'
The Airbus A321 involved was operated by Jet2 several times Photo: JetPhotos



Titan Airways has leased the aircraft to low-cost airline Jet2 four times after it was delivered in March, 2016.

Titan Airways is a British charter airline which was founded in 1988 and is based at London Stansted Airport. The airline charters services to tour operators, corporations, governments and the sports and entertainment sector.

The British government is chartering the Titan Airways aircraft in some of the repatriation flights. The airline have remarkably managed to turn a profit nearly every year of its existence.



Currently, Titan Airways has a fleet of 12 aircraft with an average fleet age of 16.3 years. The airline has one Airbus A318-100, two Airbus A320s, four Airbus A321s, two Boeing 737s, two Boeing 757-200s and one Boeing 767-300ER.


Titan Airways Airbus A321 Engine Stalled And Caught Fire After 'Engineer's Fuel Error'
The airline will be retiring its Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft Photo: @SimonHeinz3

The airline also has one Airbus A321LR and one Airbus A330-200 on order to replace the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 respectively. 


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