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|Description||The DHL attempted shootdown incident at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), occurred on 22 November 2003, aboard an Airbus A300B4-203F cargo plane, registered OO-DLL, operating on behalf of DHL Aviation, a subsidiary of DHL. At around 10,000 feet, the aircraft was hit by a missile which resulted in the loss of its hydraulic systems. The crew later landed the crippled aircraft safely by using only differential engine thrust by adjusting the individual throttle controls of each engine.
The aircraft took off from Baghdad International Airport en route to Bahrain International Airport at 06:30 UTC with a crew of three: two Belgians (Captain Eric Genotte and co-pilot Steve Michielsen) and a Scot (engineer Mario Rafoil), who were experienced pilots. At around 9000 feet (2700 metres), a SA-7 ground-to-air missile struck the Airbus on the tip of its left wing. The strike ruptured fuel tanks there, and a gradual fuel leak began. The missile also caused a 5-metre long crack in the wing's rear spar, and punctured all three hydraulic lines in the wing. As the hydraulic fluid bled away, and the crew tried to decide what to do next, the plane started to oscillate up and down in a phugoid cycle, which is characteristic of a hydraulic failure. Captain Gennotte, remembering a broadcast about the United Airlines Flight 232 disaster in the USA in 1989, managed to flatten out the plane's gyrations by use of the throttles. He then put the plane into a turn to line up for their approach to Baghdad International Airport. As they circled the area, flight engineer Mario Rafoil executed a gravity drop to extend the landing gear (landing gear is normally operated by hydraulic power). Although the undercarriage lowered successfully, it altered the balance of the aircraft, which began to oscillate upwards. Horrified, the captain reduced power to both engines to pitch the nose down. As the aircraft approached stall speed, he managed to level the flight out. With the landing gear extended, the Airbus also became easier to control. As they approached Runway 33R, it became clear that they were too high to safely attempt a landing. After abandoning the landing attempt, they flew further to give themselves a long final to Runway 33L, although this increased the danger of the left wing structure failing from the fire. After nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles), the crew felt satisfied they could come round by applying more power to the left engine to bank right, they swung round, and managed to line up with Runway 33L. However, as happened to UA232, at 400 feet (120 metres), crosswinds disturbed the plane's flight path. The plane's right gear slammed onto the runway first in a large puff of smoke, followed by the left and then nose gear, and then veered off the runway to the left. It finally came to a stop in the sand between the runway and taxiway. It had torn through a large section of razor wire that shredded many of the tires, and also punctured the crew's emergency escape slide on the left side. They were able to deploy the aircraft's right hand slide and made it out safely.After landing successfully, the crew deployed the emergency slides and saw for themselves the extensive damage done to the left wing. They also received the bad news from the airport's emergency crew that the area was littered with unexploded ordnance from the recent war. They were told to leave the area by following the fire truck's wheel tracks.
|Date||3 January 2008, 19:37:33|
|Source||originally posted to Flickr as DHL Airbus A300B4-203F, BIAP|
(Reusing this file)
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