A Singapore Airlines Plane Lost Both Engines And Kept Flying

Flightradar24 is reporting that Singapore Airlines flight 836 from Singapore to Shanghai suffered a double engine failure yesterday at cruising altitude. The flight was operated by an Airbus A330-300, and apparently the plane dropped 13,000 feet before power returned:

The double engine failure happened while they were flying through the outflow of a huge storm:

Double engine failures are extremely rare, and immediately reminded me of British Airways flight 9, which was a 747 in that 1980s that lost all four engines due to an ash cloud:

Perhaps the most interesting part of the SQ836 situation is that the pilots decided to continue to Shanghai after restarting the engines, despite being really close to Hong Kong. Unless you’re 100% certain that the incident was isolated and couldn’t happen again (which is tough to do without a proper inspection/investigation), that’s not something you’d usually do.

While it doesn’t make sense to speculate, it will be really interesting to see what comes of this investigation. Hopefully the details are made public.

Fortunately this one ended well — thank goodness!

Comments

  1. Weather condition in south China wasn’t good at that time so I doubt captain can land in Hong Kong.
    Also, SQ hates CX so much, they are way beyond enemies. Competition between CX and SQ was bloody. Singapore and Hong Kong are among two richest cities in the world.

  2. Remind s me of an Eastern Airlines flight from the Bahamas to MIA that lost all three engines one after another. The pilot should have turned around immediately after losing the first engine while he was really close. The wrong decision to continue almost doomed all pax.
    The weird isolated incident was tied to a tech in the Bahamas changing a filter and did not know he had to replace a gasket so all the engines ran dry. Miraculously they restarte done engine and that was enough to reach MIA.

  3. I’m surprised no one has brought up Air Transat flight 236! This flight had a much better outcome with both engines able to start up again while the Air Transat flight had no engine power all the way till landing due to fuel starvation. Similar situations but different outcomes.

  4. Where do I begin? They were minutes away from being in the sea. The plane will only glide so far. You get both engines back (for now) declare PAN PAN PAN and divert to the nearest airport. This is reckless and inexcusable!

    Singapore Airlines should fire both pilots. In the US the FAA mandates that any engine failure regardless the phase of flight, you land at the nearest suitable airport. You simply do not continue and “hope for the best” unreal.

  5. A more famous double engine failure due to fuel starvation was Air Canada 143.

    I’m also very interested to find out what caused the apparent double engine failure, since it shouldn’t be related to water ingestion into the engines.

  6. Could they have diverted to HKG realistically and safely though? I’m assuming there are still severe storms in HKG?

  7. Even if weather was a problem at HKG, they could have diverted to KNH, XMN, or FOC (or maybe SWA) if need be.

  8. Love the comments by the wanna be pilots here that think they know best about how this should have been handled. Keep ’em coming!

  9. i love the fact that everyone knows immediately what should have been done by two pilots based on two screen shots from flight radar to the point where people are happy to call for them to be fired!!

    We have no idea what happened on this flight or why the decision was made to continue. Looking at the weather map it would seem that had they returned to Hong Kong they may have had to fly straight back through the storm that potentially caused the issue in the first place which perhaps isn’t the most sensible idea.

    But who knows, do we even know for certain it was double engine failure other than flight radar surmising?

  10. @Beil – What nonsense! As if an SQ plane would not land at HKG in the event of an emergency because of compettion with CX. Where do people come up with this stuff?

  11. And the guardian thinks its a ‘plunge’. Goodness me we shouldn’t even need to be reporting on these things, they are so minor. As long as the aircraft made a safe landing there is nothing to worry about. Guardian obviously has to link it to the A400M crash.

  12. oh joy this has now been picked up by the Daily Mail in the UK! The Plane Plunged 13,000 feet apparently. Looking at the Flight Radar data the descent was more gradual than the descent into landing! Hardly a plunge!!

  13. proably some sort of surge or flame out as has been mentioned. That being said, the decision to continue for so long after a double engine failure is ludicrous. There are plenty of suitable airports on the way up to Shanghai! This is not looking good for the pilots On this flight. And before anyone says anything, yes I am a pilot and yes I do fly these routes.

  14. “They were minutes away from being in the sea.”

    uh huh. stick to flight simulator x, pal.

  15. The Daily Mail article has some good details. Singapore Airlines did state that both engines lost power, though one was revived almost immediately, and they were able to restart the second engine “by putting the aircraft into a controlled descent”. I’m bothered by the continuation to the final destination. If you look at the wikipedia entry for glides, most have ended in crashes. Some required emergency landings, including the infamous Hudson River landing by Sullenberger in 2009. (Of course that one wasn’t just loss of power, it was bird strike.) DM says the engines were inspected and the plane took off on it’s next flight with only a 2 hour delay. Is 2 hours enough time to properly troubleshoot the problem?

  16. I was on that flight.Plane didn’t plunge,was bumpy and a few sudden drops but have had worse flying in rough weather.Could smell something like burning rubber or a burnt out clutch in the cabin.I knew then we had some issues,maybe a lightning strike or two,but the loss of two engines has freaked me out now.Can’t believe they didn’t divert somewhere on route,let alone turned the flight around at Shanghai with just two hours delay.Have bought mandatory lottery ticket.

  17. Ice crystals from nearby storms can cause multiple engine power loss. Whilst there are anti-icing measures for ground operations, there are not for high altitude ice crystals on older engines like the Trent 700. Ice crystal ingestion can lead to ice build up on the engine compressor, leading to one of several outcomes – surge, flameout, or damage from ice release within the compressor.

    Might be an explanation for what happened.

  18. My guess is that pilots forgot to switch on the engine anti icing and therefore knew that it was safe to fly on to Shanghai after restarting engines and of course turning on the anti icing

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