- June 25, 1977
- Sector Orly to John F. Kennedy
- Aircraft B747-282B
- Registration AP-AYW
- Call sign: Pakistan Seven Zero Three.
- LFPO or ORY is Paris Orly Airport
- KJFK or JFK is New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport
- Z=GMT/ UTC
This is my second flight with Capt Anwar Khan after completing a DXB-FRA-ORY-FRA-DXB* pattern earlier with him on June 8 and 9, 1977.
I was a raw B747 First Officer, having earlier completed my training that year on March 27 in Denver, Colorado and the first flight as copilot B747 on April 13. We departed Orly at 2013Z for Kennedy Airport. It was summer, so the departure was in daylight with the captain flying the sector and Flight Engineer Hasan Mirza looking after the aircraft systems.
Our oceanic entry is near Cork over Ireland, and after contacting Shanwick Oceanic prior to reaching the entry point, we are given the route clearance over the Atlantic in the form of ‘Track-Foxtrot’ , part of the North Atlantic Track System (NATS).
I have to read back the clearance, backwards from exit to entry, in the form of coordinates of latitude and longitude, forming different reporting points en-route at 15, 20, 30, 40 and 50 degrees west to Gander, the other point across the ocean, and our ocean exit. The track coordinates are entered into the triple Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) we carry on board. This system is self contained, and it does not rely on any outside aid for navigation. My job is to assist the captain in flying when required and otherwise maintain the flight plan; make position calls en route, and keep a fuel score of plus or minus ( how goes it ) as we pass the check points. Also, to take the weather forecast on the HF Radio for the New York Area and our alternate airfields on the flight plan in case the weather deteriorates at Kennedy, a laborious process, since the channel is common to other stations in the area also. The aircraft flies, navigates, and handles turbulence on the auto-pilot. Our alternate airports are Washington D.C. (Dulles) and Philadelphia.
The flight is routine, it is night over the ocean and we are cruising at Flight Level 330, thirty three thousand feet above mean sea level . We are in contact with ‘Gander Oceanic’, and after crossing the mid-point over the ocean, past 45 degrees west longitude, the fire warning light comes on along with loud ringing of the bell in the cockpit. It is quickly identified as a fire warning in the aft cargo bay in the belly of the aircraft and the bell silenced in a reflex action by me by pushing a button. The Flight Engineer checks his panel and the smoke detectors for any sign of visible information, while the captain in coordination with him goes through the appropriate checklist and the necessary fire extinguishers; two bottles are discharged. Only the fire warning bell has been silenced earlier by my action, and the warning light still stares at us from the glare shield panel and on the flight engineer’s panel meaning the fire is not out.
We have taken whatever action we could in the air and regulations and common sense dictate an immediate landing as soon as possible. But we are over the ocean, and I contact Gander Oceanic on the HF Radio, who luckily advises us to contact Halifax Radar on VHF as we are in line of sight radio range now.
I quickly advise Halifax Radar of our predicament, and we are immediately cleared to a lower level for descent into Halifax Airport. Halifax Radar only bothered us once to ask if the warning light was still on, along with a request for total souls on board and continued giving us the necessary radar heading vectors* (*speed and direction) and descent altitudes for approach to the Instrument Landing Runway there.
The captain asks me to convey to Halifax Radar if the runway can accommodate the 747, and we are told it can. I tune in the frequency for the Instrument Landing System on our navigation receivers for the runway and set the front course direction in degrees for the Localizer, the radio beam which will take us into the runway laterally till we intercept another radio beam for our sloping descent, the Glide Slope. We have to maintain a cross in the centre with these two radio beams on the Flight Director, the attitude instrument in front of both of us on our respective panels ( true Christian, we call it ), and to fly the approach on this instrument mainly into the runway till we are able to see it visually, usually from a 200 feet height above ground for a landing.
The FDI is many instruments incorporated in one. When tuned to the instrument landing system receiver (ILS), the vertical yellow needle responds to deviations away from the center line of the runway. The horizontal yellow needle at this time functions in response to the glide slope signal on a 3 degree descent path to the runway. In other words the aircraft is turned in the direction of the deviation to centralize the vertical or horizontal bar. When the aircraft is again on the correct beam, the bank has to be reduced to follow the signal.The black portion is the earth, the blue is the sky which always has to be up.
There is a strong wind blowing at the time we touch down, and with the fire trucks in tow, we taxi back to the ramp. The captain has decided against any evacuation as no fire is visible through contact from outside sources. Later while standing outside the aircraft after shut down, he asks me to check if he has indeed shut down the engines as the jet rotors vanes are noisily windmilling in the blowing wind. Such is the strain on him and all of us. That is how I first arrived in Canada, the time is 0308Z or 2308 EDT.
Boeing 747-282 in the picture,: a true giant of the skies, it revolutionized air travel by carrying more people further, and at a lower cost, than any other aircraft before it. Called the “Jumbo Jet” because of its wide-body capacity, it introduced size and economy to the world’s airline routes..It was also one of the fastest; its four powerful engines drove it to a maximum of almost nine-tenths the speed of sound.
Specifications 747-200 B
Type High capacity commercial transport
Power Plant Four (54, 800 lb-thrust) Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofans
Cruising Speed 584 mph at 20, 000 ft
Range 6524, normal payload
Cruising ceiling 45, 000 ft
Empty : 382, 000 lb
MTOGW : 832, 906 lb
Passenger load : 490 seats maximum; typically 394 seats including 24 first class, 70 business-class and 290 standard-class passengers
Span 195’ 8”
Length 231’ 10”
Height 63’ 5”
Wing area 5, 500 sq. ft.