Event Details

Title:Engine fire, McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, N68065
Micro summary:Following a return to the stand for strange odors,the #2 engine on this McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 started venting fuel and eventually caught fire.
Event Time:1998-03-08 at 1145 UTC
File Name:1998-03-08-UK.pdf
Publishing Agency:Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB)
Publishing Country:United Kingdom
Report number:EW/C97/12/2
Site of event:Manchester, taxi-back
Departure:Manchester International Airport, Manchester, England
Destination:Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey, USA
Airplane Type(s):McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30
Flight Phase:Taxi
Operator(s):Continental Airlines
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:2
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:The aircraft and crew were planned to operate a scheduled passenger service from Manchester to Newark Airport, USA, and the crew reported for duty at 1000 hrs. The aircraft was serviceable for the flight and the forecast meteorological conditions for the take off were good. The relevant Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) information included a surface wind of 090?/15 kt with a temperature of +6°C.

Runway 06 was the runway in use and the aircraft was cleared to taxi for the holding point at 1132 hrs. At 1136 hrs the aircraft was transferred to the Tower frequency and at about his time, a strange odour was noted in the cabin and reported to the flight crew. There were no unusual flight deck indications, although the flight crew believed that they could detect a slight smell of gasoline. The commander instructed the flight engineer to ventilate the aircraft and made an announcement to the passengers explaining that they would be returning to the stand. At 1139 hrs, as the aircraft was approaching the holding point for Runway 06, the first officer asked for permission to taxi back to the stand, but gave no reason for this request. After a short hold, to await the landing of another aircraft, the DC-10 was cleared at 1142 hrs to enter the runway, backtrack and clear at intersection Bravo. As the aircraft cleared the runway and turned onto taxiway Bravo at 1144:42 hrs, the Tower controller saw vapour from the No 2 engine and informed the commander that the aircraft appeared to be venting fuel. The bird control patrol, which had also observed vapour/fuel emanating from the No 2 engine, had already informed the Ground movements controller of this at 1144:35 hrs, and he had passed the message to the Tower controller. However, by the time the Tower controller received this message he had already seen the problem and informed the commander and so did not repeat the message. The aircraft was then transferred to Ground Control who reiterated the information about fuel/vapour from the No 2 engine. At 1445:57 hrs the commander brought the aircraft to a halt on taxiway Bravo, at the intersection with taxiway Charlie, and asked for the Airport Fire Service (AFS) to attend because of a possible fuel leak. Inside the aircraft the fumes were becoming more noticeable but there were still no flight deck warnings or unusual indications; nor was there any visible smoke or vapour in the cabin. At 1446:10 hrs ATC initiated a Ground Incident and the AFS fire tenders reacted promptly and arrived at the aircraft almost immediately (the aircraft had come to a halt some 200 yards from the airport fire station).

When the AFS arrived at the aircraft, the chief fire officer asked ATC to instruct the crew to change frequency to 121·6 MHz. Having changed frequency, the commander informed the chief fire officer that there were fumes in the cabin, and he in turn was advised that fuel was now running from the No 2 engine. At about this time, a fire started in this engine and so the chief fire officer suggested that the commander should order an evacuation. The commander immediately initiated an evacuation and the appropriate Checklist actions were completed. Very shortly afterwards, passenger emergency slides deployed from the aircraft. ATC were not advised by the flight crew that an evacuation had been initiated. As the evacuation commenced, the fire crews discharged media onto the No 2 engine, extinguishing the fire. By 1449:18 hrs the bird control patrol, which had followed the aircraft, had also observed the onset of the fire in the No 2 engine and informed ATC.

The evacuation of the 239 passengers (including 3 infants) and 14 crew members was completed successfully, with only 2 minor injuries. However, problems were encountered with the slide at door 3L (ie the left overwing exit). The first section of this slide, which formed a horizontal walkway across the wing to the leading edge, inflated normally but the second section, which formed the escape slide from the wing to ground level, failed to inflate. About a dozen passengers evacuated through the overwing exit and made their way along the inflated first section, only to find that there was no means getting to the ground. These passengers were instructed by the firemen to go back into the cabin and find another exit, which they did.

In addition, the slide at door 1R (ie forward right) had adopted a rather steep angle and two firemen had to hold it in an extended position to allow it to be used. Videotape evidence suggested that this slide had failed to achieve full inflation pressure, resulting in reduced rigidity of the slide and consequently increased vulnerability to wind and to ‘sagging’ under the weight of passengers using the slide.

The slides at doors 2L, 2R and 4R were each tilted by the wind upon initial inflation, however each slide was quickly captured and held down by firemen, allowing passengers to use them.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Deadstick/Power Loss
Operations - Evacuation
Systems - Engine - Contained Engine Failure
Systems - Engine Fire
Systems - Fuel
Systems - Fuel - Leak
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