The U.K. AAIB released a report on a Boeing 757-300 that lost an overwing emergency slide in-flight while on approach to London-Gatwick Airport.
A Boeing 757-300, operating Thomas Cook Airlines flight TCX1638 from London-Gatwick to Hurghada, Egypt took off from London-Gatwick’s runway 26L at 09:13 local time on October 31, 2014.
During the takeoff run, at a reported 70 kt, the ‘r wing slide’ advisory message appeared on the Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System (EICAS). The captain advised the co-pilot, who was pilot flying (PF), to continue the takeoff. The crew decided they would continue with the departure and assess the situation when the aircraft was safely established in the climb. The crew diagnosed that the warning was probably spurious and continued the climb. The flight climbed on to FL330. Meanwhile the crew contacted company operations to alert them to the problem and this consultation resulted in the crew deciding to return to Gatwick Airport.
While over Liège, Belgium, the airplane turned around. The airplane then entered a holding pattern southeast of Gatwick to burn off fuel.
After approximately 40 minutes of holding, ATC vectored the aircraft to a normal approach onto runway 26L at Gatwick. The aircraft was on base leg, descending to 3,000 ft at a speed of 188 kt with flaps 20 selected, when some of the cabin crew and passengers heard a number of bangs or felt a brief period of airframe “shuddering”. Two passengers reported seeing a white object detach from the aircraft on the right side. The cabin manager passed this information to the flight crew.
The crew established the aircraft on final approach and selected flaps 30. Shortly afterwards the commander noticed that the control yoke was offset to the left and commented that the autopilot seemed to be “struggling” to maintain wings level. He disconnected the autopilot and took manual control of the aircraft. He reported that a “significant amount of left aileron” was required to maintain the centreline, although the aircraft remained fully controllable.
The commander landed the aircraft and taxied onto the parallel taxiway where the aircraft was shut down. Subsequently, following inspection by the fire and rescue service and engineers, it was discovered that the right over-wing slide had detached from the aircraft.
The aircraft was then towed to a stand where the passengers were able to disembark normally. The total flight time was 2 hours 6 minutes.
The right over-wing slide carrier deployed in flight, allowing the slide to unravel possibly as a result of the crank handle with a reduced breakout friction progressively moving, over an indeterminate period of time, to an unsafe position. A contributory factor was possibly the loose number 6 screw jack in the flap system which resulted in vibration in the area of the crank handle. The insecurity of the lever went undetected whilst the maintenance panel was open due to the lack of alignment marks and unfamiliarity of the observer(s) with how the crank handle should look when correctly positioned. SB 757‑25-0298 addresses locking of the compartment door and provides revised and clearer alignment placards for the lever.
- AAIB report (PDF)