A diversion, then three failed landing attempts: The Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 barely had any fuel left in the tank when it managed to land.
A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 with registration number 9V-SWH filled with 106,604 liters of fuel in London. When the plane took off from Heathrow on October 24, 2022, the weather at the destination, Singapore, also looked good. But this has changed.
A storm was brewing over the area. Due to strong winds and rainfall, the pilots were finally forced to stop in front of Changi Airport in Singapore at 4:05 pm local time. The weather was also bad at the two main alternative airports, Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore and Senai International Airport in Malaysia.
At the alternative airport in Batam, Indonesia, conditions were good, but still. However, the crew expressed hope that conditions at Changi would improve. She told air traffic control at 4:36pm that they were flying another loop and only then would they request a diversion to Batam.
But conditions did not improve. The Boeing 777 flew a second loop and finally made the “Mayday Fuel” emergency call. This is done if the kerosene reserve is less than planned in the tank upon landing. The Boeing 777 received preferential landing permission for the alternative airport in Batam. But even then, bad weather was approaching.
Three failed attempts
This made things really difficult. Due to strong tailwinds of 14 knots and gusts of up to 30 knots, the crew had to abort the approach to Batam on the first attempt. The second attempt also failed, and the crew received a “no automatic landing” warning and had to take off at an altitude of 40 metres.
The crew prepared to land on runway 04. But then they said that visibility was very poor and that it was better on runway 22. This is not an option, according to the pilots. There is not enough fuel to turn to runway 22. The landing should now be successful. It didn’t work.
It landed despite the tailwind
As the plane broke through the low cloud cover, it became apparent that the plane was above the glide path and was also not properly aligned with the runway. In addition, the warning system reported that the drowning rate was very high. The Boeing 777 took off again at an altitude of 65 metres.
The fuel was so low at this point that the crew finally decided to land on runway 22, against instructions, with a 15-knot tailwind. The airline advises against landing with tailwinds exceeding 10 knots. The final report indicates that the reason for this action was “severely low fuel levels.”
Criticism of the crew
Finally, everything went well and the plane landed in Batam after 15 hours and 14 minutes. On average, the SQ319 flight takes only 12:33 hours. It is said: “There is only a much smaller amount of kerosene left in the tank compared to the reserve of 3,024 kilograms.” Singapore Airlines also later launched an investigation and modified crew training on fuel management.
The report also criticizes the crew’s decisions: “The decision to remain in a holding pattern for as long as possible in the hope that the scheduled arrival airport will accept arrivals again means that the flight crew has the disadvantage of having fewer safety reserves if a diversion decision is made and due to unforeseen events the She has to make more than one landing attempt.
“Typical entrepreneur. Lifelong beer expert. Hipster-friendly internet buff. Analyst. Social media enthusiast.”