Cargolux B748 enroute on Mar 30th 2017, cargo leak

Last Update: July 12, 2018 / 16:21:25 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 30, 2017

Classification
Accident

Airline
Cargolux

Aircraft Registration
LX-VCF

Aircraft Type
Boeing 747-8

ICAO Type Designator
B748

A Cargolux Boeing 747-800, registration LX-VCF performing freight flight CV-775 (dep Mar 29th) from Houston Intercontinental,TX (USA) to Prestwick,SC (UK) carrying a helicopter as cargo, completed the flight with a safe landing in Prestwick.

The British AAIB reported on Jun 15th 2017, they have opened an investigation into the occurrence of LX-VCF on Mar 30th 2017, when the cargo leaked in flight.

According to various aviation sources the helicopter, a Bell 412EP, leaked fuel into the cargo hold reportedly amounting to more than 300 liters (fuel capacity of the helicopter 1257 liters not including auxiliary fuel of up to 617 liters). The fuel entered the avionics bay and caused substantial damage.

Ground observers reported the aircraft was seen in Prestwick with all cargo doors, nose door as well as all gear doors wide open for more than a week.

The occurrence aircraft remained on the ground in Prestwick until April 11th 2017, then positioned to Luxembourg and remained on the ground there until Apr 29th 2017 before returning to service.

On May 1st 2017 the airline tweeted a photo of the aircraft stating: "Back in service, LX-VCF!"

On Jul 12th 2018 the AAIB released their bulletin concluding:

Regardless of the exact mechanism by which the fuel escaped from the helicopter, the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations exist to prevent the transportation of hazardous cargo representing a hazard to the safety of an aircraft. Adequate steps were not taken to correctly prepare the helicopter for transport and this situation was not identified prior to it being offered for transportation by air. The investigation identified that the dilution of responsibility among the various individuals and agencies involved meant that no one agency or individual could assure that the shipping documentation reflected the actual condition of the helicopter and was in compliance with the DGR. An inspection of the helicopter prior to travel was superficial in nature and, although no attempt was made to verify the actual fuel state of the helicopter, incorrectly concluded that the helicopter had been defuelled.

This resulted in the helicopter shipment being identified as unrestricted cargo, despite containing non-declared dangerous goods. The fuel hazard was not identified to the operator or the commander of the flight on which the helicopter travelled, and they were therefore unaware of the risk it posed. The escape of fuel from the helicopter during the flight represented a substantial hazard to the safety of the aircraft, the flight crew and those on the ground at Prestwick Airport. The containment actions taken by the RFFS at Prestwick Airport substantially reduced the possibility of a more adverse outcome.

The AAIB wrote:

The escape of fuel from the helicopter represented a substantial hazard to the safety of the aircraft, the flight crew and those on the ground at Prestwick Airport. The airport RFFS advised that the measured fuel vapour levels within the aircraft indicated a high risk of explosion and that the fuel flammability limits were potentially in range. Additionally, photographs show that fuel was exiting the aircraft close to the left body landing gear and pooling beneath the aircraft. The presence of fuel in proximity to potentially hot wheel brakes created a substantial risk of fire.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 30, 2017

Classification
Accident

Airline
Cargolux

Aircraft Registration
LX-VCF

Aircraft Type
Boeing 747-8

ICAO Type Designator
B748

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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