Ice / Weather Likely Culprit in Singapore Dual Engine Stall Says Pilots

Back at the end of May, it was quite the scary situation when a Singapore Airlines A330-300 flying from Singapore (SIN) to Shanghai (PVG) lost power to both Rolls Royce engines while flying at 39,000 feet. The incident occurred just south of Hong Kong and the jet descended all the way down to 13,000 feet before the crew was able to restart the engines.

Singapore had this to say:

“Singapore Airlines flight SQ836, operated by an Airbus A330-300, was bound for Shanghai from Singapore on 23 May 2015 when it encountered bad weather at 39,000ft about three and a half hours after departure. Both engines experienced a temporary loss of power and the pilots followed operational procedures to restore normal operation of the engines. The flight continued to Shanghai and touched down uneventfully at 10:56pm local time.” The aircraft underwent thorough examination and tests with no anomalies detected. The occurrence has been reported to the Authorities of Singapore and is being discussed with Rolls Royce and Airbus.”

Both engines were examined without any findings, but one engine was removed to de-pair the two involved in the incident. Singapore’s Air Accident Investigation Bureau (SAAIB) is investigating the double stall which occurred in an area of “inclement weather”, but has not yet released their findings.

Business Insider reached out to two pilots to get their opinions on the mystery:

“These engines are designed to shut down if they have severe problems,” experienced A330 pilot Karlene Petitt told Business Insider in an email. “Good news is they are also designed to auto-restart.” Although she has never experienced a “dual flameout” in an A330, Petitt believes the “bad weather” may have caused an engine glitch. “Pilots never stop flying the plane, no matter what,” Petitt said. “I’m so glad it turned out well.”

According to pilot and author Patrick Smith, the loss of both engines is exceptionally rare.  “One possibility is that the engines succumbed to ice ingestion —perhaps the ingestion of high-altitude ice crystals,” Smith wrote in an email to Business Insider.  “Of course, jet engines are equipped with sophisticated anti-icing systems, so this would have to have been something unusual.  If indeed that was the culprit. Everything at this point is speculation.”

Initial findings are expected at the end of the summer.

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Comments

  1. Dual flame out, loss of 26,000 feet and the pilots choose to fly almost 800 miles further when there was a perfectly good airport almost immediately below – not be mention XMN and FOC en route.

    This could have turned out much worse. Thankfully it did not.

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