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What to Do When Your Britannia 314 Only Has Three Working Engines in Libya?

Discussion in 'Trip Experiences' started by vegli, Feb 28, 2015.

  1. vegli

    vegli Hangar Gold Member I

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    [​IMG]
    Caledonian Airways’ Bristol Britannia taken in February 1969 at Sabha Airport – Photo: Ken Fielding

    Just after joining Caledonian Airways in February, 1969, I went to Tripoli, Libya, to help handle Caledonian’s Hajj contract, taking passengers to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj Pilgrimage, sub-contracted by KLA Kingdom of Libya Airlines. The contract was over eight weeks: three weeks ferrying Pilgrims outbound, a two-week hiatus while the Pilgrimage took place, and another three weeks for the return. The contract was for two Boeing 707-320C’s and a Bristol Britannia.

    [​IMG]
    The French Colonial Fort seen next to Sebha in 1969 – Photo: Ken Fielding

    Part of the contract with the Britannia was for a 10-day series of flights from Sebha, a small oasis town about 600 miles south of Tripoli in the Libyan Desert. The town’s most prominent feature was a ‘Beau Geste’ style French Colonial Fort on the edge of the airfield, on the only hill for 200 miles. My hotel was the ‘Sebha Palace’, not quite what you expect when the word ‘palace’ is mentioned, but at least the rooms were en-suite. My bathroom had a 360 volt water heater (and a 220 volt supply). The wires were just pushed into the wall socket (no plug) and when it was switched on the lights dimmed and it took all day to heat enough water for a bath. The hotel restaurant only served chicken (well, we were 600 miles from nowhere). I had a bucket of fresh fish flown up from Tripoli on the ferry flight a few times and word soon got around. The restaurant was full on those evenings.


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    The Sebha Palace Hotel during my visit – Photo: Ken Fielding

    Sebha, at that time, was remote although it had a brand new terminal just built by UK builders Wimpey, and I’d flown down from Tripoli on a KLA Fokker F.27 as Hajj Station Manager for the flight series. There were no catering facilities or fuel supplies at Sebha, and the fire service consisted of two men, a Land Rover, and a couple bits of hose!

    The aircraft ferried in from Tripoli was already cleaned, catered (the famous Hajj Boxes) and fueled for the flight to Jeddah. This was almost the last flight in the series and went tech on arrival with a prop seal problem which put the number three prop into full feather. As there were no facilities to replace the prop seal, the aircraft had to do a three-engine ferry back to Tripoli, but with all that fuel on board and temperatures rising as the day progressed, it was rather overweight.

    We off-loaded the Hajj Boxes to feed the passengers on the ground. However, the aircraft was still around 7,700lbs overweight for a three-engine ferry with a crew fast running out of duty time. We needed to offload around 600 gallons of fuel. What to do?

    As there was no fuel tanker, the solution was interesting to say the least. While I got the KLA Station Manager to phone the local Esso supplier for twelve 50 gallon drums, the flight engineer fashioned a piece of aluminium sheet into a rough funnel. The local Esso man wanted us to pay for the drums but we told him he could keep the 600 gallons of kerosene instead — what a deal!

    More....
    http://www.airlinereporter.com/2015/02/britannia-314-three-working-engines-libya/
     
  2. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    Sounds like quite an adventure! I have heard of pilgrims on Hajj (Hadj) who have tried to light hibachis in the aisles of planes to and from. F/As new designations were "FF/A"s. Fire Fighters Attendants. :eek:
     
  3. Curt

    Curt Hangar Bronze Member IV

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    There was one incident years back where the pilgrims succeeded in burning up an L1011 in flight while cooking a Hajj meal. Killing 301. While the cause of the fire was not officially determined, there are those who believe that a hibachi was responsible.
     
  4. Art Troutman393

    Art Troutman393 Hangar Bronze Member V

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    You are so right, Curt! I believe that it was a Gulf Air L-1011 TriStar. Our Lockheed Field Service Rep - stationed at their HQ at Abu Dhabi [?] - sent us back these 'horror stories' concerning such 'cattle-car' scenarios!
     
  5. Art Troutman393

    Art Troutman393 Hangar Bronze Member V

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    Fascinating article that you dug up, 'vegli'. Airline ops in 3rd World countries are fascinating! Quite often - it is the only practical mode of transportation - where some distance is involved. Any type of ground transportation is not feasible in such places as the frozen sub-Arctic, the Sahara, the jungles of the Amazon and SE Asia, etc. A '3-engine ferry flight would not be uncommon in 1st or 2nd world countries, when a tech problem required it - but certainly not with pax! The Britannia never enjoyed its full day in the sun! It was a pioneer in the earliest days of the turboprop airliner. Its Proteus engines were smoothly enshrouded within clean nacelles.
     
  6. Brent Heiss

    Brent Heiss Hangar Bronze Member VI

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    Good history stuff
     
  7. Orca17

    Orca17 Hangar Bronze Member VI

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    Saudia flight 163.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Art Troutman393

    Art Troutman393 Hangar Bronze Member V

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    Thanks "orca17"! You guys are pushing me toward the truth! Sort of like: "TriStar on the half shell!" Gives a new added meaning to the question: "What's for dinner?!"
     
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  9. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    Is that the new Air Conditioning system? :rolleyes: Least they got it back on the ground.
     
  10. David Barnshaw

    David Barnshaw Hangar Gold Member I

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    The 'Whispering Giant'-a great aircraft.:)
     
  11. David Barnshaw

    David Barnshaw Hangar Gold Member I

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    I Know its hot out there,but that air conditioning has gone way over the top.;)
     
  12. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    Flew on an L-1011 once. Sure pushed ya back in yer seat on takeoff and smooth comfy ride.
     
  13. David Barnshaw

    David Barnshaw Hangar Gold Member I

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    Me too,I think the L-1011 gave you a much smoother ride than the DC10,I think that the third streamlined engine was the reason for that:)
     
  14. Edward Jeszka

    Edward Jeszka Hangar Gold Member I

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    I have to agree but not being an engineer type I would have to say whatever it was seemed to be very noticeable.
     
  15. Art Troutman393

    Art Troutman393 Hangar Bronze Member V

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    For your ''not being an engineer type", Edward - you sure have a grasp on the technical end of things!
     
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  16. Art Troutman393

    Art Troutman393 Hangar Bronze Member V

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    First off - I must confess that I'm apt to be guilty of being prejudiced- when it comes to Lockheed aircraft - such as the L1011 TriStar. For instance, I can't resist the temptation to brag about Lockheed's innovative approach - when it comes to designing an entry into a field already well established by its competitors - such as 'wide-bodies'. So it should have surprised no one when Lockheed introduced the industry's first 'Convertible'! Many years later - Boeing did come out with a convertible version of its 737 - introduced by Aloha Airlines - a hardtop that could be retracted inflight!
     
  17. Edward Jeszka

    Edward Jeszka Hangar Gold Member I

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    Art, they probably enlisted the help of LL as he had prior "convertible" experience with his Mustangs.
     
  18. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    I let my GF at the time, drive my convertible too. I had her turn it into a "pervertible", where the top doesn't go down, the driver does. :D
     
  19. Edward Jeszka

    Edward Jeszka Hangar Gold Member I

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  20. David Barnshaw

    David Barnshaw Hangar Gold Member I

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    :D
     
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