Saturday Scenes

Thu 28 July 2011

The Gimli Glider

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 19:26

On the 23rd of July 1983, Air Canada Flight 143 ran out of fuel flying at 41,000 feet. Both engines failed and the plane glided to an emergency landing at Gimli, an abandoned Royal Canadian Air Force Base in Canada. This gained the aircraft the affectionate nickname “The Gimli Glider.”

But how could a commercial jet simply run out of fuel? The sequence of events is somewhat convoluted but in the end, it came down to a conversion fault.

Fear of Landing » The Gimli Glider

The maintenance crew worked out how many litres of fuel were needed to make up 22,300kg of fuel, then subtracted the 7,682 litres on board and then used the fuel gauge on the refuelling truck to fill the aircraft tanks with the remaining required litres of fuel.

Canada was at this time changing from imperial to metric. The Boeing 767 was the first plane in the fleet to measure fuel in kilograms rather than pounds.

The maintenance crew had a multiplier of 1.77 for converting from litres. Somehow, no one noticed that this figure was for a conversion to pounds, not kilograms.

The flight required 22,300kg on board. The maintenance crew reported that the plane had 22,300kg of fuel on board. It actually had 22,300 pounds of fuel, just over 10,000kg. Less than half of what they needed to reach their destination.

However, quick actions on the part of both the pilot and the co-pilot brought the plane to ground safely. The Gimli Glider remained in service until 2008.

On 23 July 2011, people took photographs which were measured in millimetres and inches and pixels and bytes. And every single one was beautiful:

And here are those who submitted:

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