Air France A380 Engine Part Recovered In Greenland

Filed Under: Air France

In September 2017 I wrote about how an Air France A380 (with the registration code F-HPJE) bound from Paris to Los Angeles diverted to Goose Bay, Canada, after losing an engine part somewhere over Greenland.

The pictures of the engine were pretty incredible. Fortunately the plane landed safely and the worst thing that happened is that passengers were inconvenienced (well, and I’m guessing this wasn’t cheap to fix either).

I had completely forgotten about this incident, though as it turns out there had been an effort to recover the part of the engine that was lost. The primary motivation for recovering it was being able to do a proper investigation and see what went wrong, to prevent something like this from happening again.

This work has been carried out by BEA (the Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authority), as they were delegated the task by the Danish Accident Investigation Board.

In late June, just under two years from when the incident occurred, the engine part was finally recovered in Greenland. It was buried deep in ice and was in an unpopulated area (as most of Greenland is).

Investigators knew early on that the incident occurred about 150km Southeast of the city of Paamiut, located in Western Greenland. Soon after the event the parts were visually spotted, but it got more challenging from there.

Due to extreme weather and snowfall, further helicopter flights to this area couldn’t happen for quite a while. By the time they could return to the area the parts were completely covered in snow, making any visual detection impossible.

It wasn’t possible to return to this area during winter, so they resumed recovery operations in the spring of 2018. So from there the efforts consisted of two parts:

  • an aerial campaign, consisting in the use of synthetic aperture radars operated from an airplane, to try to detect and locate the missing parts on the ice sheet under the snow layer
  • a ground campaign, consisting in recovering the parts previously located during the aerial campaign, or in performing a systematic search with help of ground penetrating radars in case the aerial phase was unsuccessful

This project turned out to be so complex that it took more than a year to recover the parts. For anyone who is interested in reading more, here is the full report.

Here’s a video of when they finally recover the engine fan:

What a project. Most other places you’d think recovering something like this wouldn’t be so complicated, but given the extreme conditions, this ended up being a nearly two year project. That’s not too surprising, when you consider how deep in ice this was buried by the time they got to it.

Meanwhile we’re all just still scratching our heads about MH370…

  1. I don’t think there is any head scratching left over MH 370. The recent Atlantic article by William Langewiesche was exhaustive and definitive. Given the data he presents it seems beyond a reasonable doubt that the pilot deliberately crashed the plane in the Indian Ocean.

  2. @brian, just because the facts were presented that way doesn’t make it real. Concluding it based on such shallow findings is really amateur.

  3. Why ya’ll commenting on MH370? New conspiracy theory? Every air incident from now to the end of time is just the 777 reincarnated. And no one need ever read anything again! Straight to the comments section with you!

  4. Also, that’s just the new Rolls-Royce Super Duper High Bypass turbofan. Nothing to see here.

  5. Front fan. Like the one that came off a United DC-10 which crash landed at Sioux City decades ago. That one severed control cables and hydraulic pipes leaving a three-man crew boosted by a dead heading training captain to try flying a two-engine Ten on using jet thrust alone. With tragic results, though the flight crew and roughly half the passengers survived their heroic effort.

    What was left of the fan was found by a farmer some months later in her Midwest corn field.

  6. @Brian & @gibboooo – I read it and it’s certainly one plausible theory but he dismisses the FO doing the exact same thing without any backup to his reasoning. If your thesis is undiagnosed depression by the Captain, you need to have a better reason to dismiss depression in the FO than he was young and promising. @JW isn’t wrong in concluding amateur hour.

  7. @ Brian
    THANKS for that reference to that excellent article! What an education in clarity drawn from chaos.

  8. @Brian, @Dr Stan, slow down there – the pilot suicide theory is nowhere close to being proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” You guys (and everyone) need to read “The Taking of MH370” by Jeff Wise. Lays out in meticulous detail how improbable it is that the plane took the southern route and crashed in the Indian Ocean.

  9. @Andrew –
    Wise’s book is pure conspiracy.

    His perspective has flipped several times on which direction the flight went. Its pure anti-russian/pooootin propaganda.

    But hey each to their own tinfoil hate hey?

  10. This really is not the place for such discussion. But after reading that Atlantic article, it is an incredible coincidence that the Captain had only 1 route on the simulator that he didn’t finish by landing. 3 weeks prior to the final flight when he took a 777 towards Antarctica until it ran out of fuel.
    That sounds the most realistic although uncomfortable outcome, especially with where fragments of the plane have washed up off Madagascar and Mozambique where those ocean currents lead to.

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