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Thunderstorms in Madrid on Jul 26th 2012, landings, diversions, fuel emergencies and Ryanair

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Thunderstorms 26 de julio 2012
Infrared Satellite Image Jul 26th 2012 18:00Z (Graphics: Meteosat):
(THE AVIATION HERALD.com/Simon Hradecky)

A line of heavy thunderstorms was moving across Spain on Jul 26th 2012 and in the late evening reached Madrid, Metars indicating the thunderstorms were above the aerodrome beginning 21:52L (19:52Z) until 23:30L (21:30Z).

Beginning 19:52Z until 20:48Z a number of aircraft on approach to Madrid aborted their approaches and went around including all non-Spanish operators, except for eight flights of Spanish only operators which continued their flights for landings on Madrid's runways 18. The Aviation Herald is still monitoring these flights, that landed between 19:52Z and 20:10Z.

A number of flights of various operators, that diverted due to the weather in Madrid all around Spain, needed to declare emergencies as result of their diversions as well in order to prevent further delays, that could have put the flights at risk of cutting into the required final fuel reserve.

While ICAO recommends to recognize a "minimum fuel" declaration in order to indicate to air traffic control that any unexpected delay might create an emergency situation on board, Europe has no legal foundation for such a minimum fuel declaration as the French BEA recently reported in one of their final reports, see Report: Cityjet RJ85 at Basel/Mulhouse on Jun 17th 2010, fuel emergency. Standard operating procedures therefore require, that crews declare emergency in order to prevent any further delays at the latest, when landing above final fuel reserve is no longer ensured. Minimum fuel declarations as well as emergency calls as result of being low on fuel thus happen regularly around the planet following weather related holdings and diversions.

That night several Ryanair flights inbound to Madrid needed to divert as well. Following their diversion to Valencia three Ryanair crews declared emergency reporting being low on fuel, which resulted in media reports running around the planet.

The Aviation Herald learned of the emergency calls at about 21:30Z on Jul 26th 2012 and has since been researching the events. Spain's CIAIAC told The Aviation Herald they saw no reason to open an investigation and have to date not released any notification of an investigation being opened, which in effect meant all aircraft diverting and declaring fuel emergency landed at or above final fuel reserve, which also meant there were no safety relevant issues as result of the weather related diversions, the flights thus did not meet the necessary criteria for coverage on The Aviation Herald.

The Aviation Herald today however learned, that one of the three Ryanair flights declaring emergency did land below final fuel reserve.

A Ryanair Boeing 737-800, registration EI-ENM performing flight FR-5389 from Stockholm Skavsta (Sweden) to Madrid,SP (Spain), estimated flight time 3:45 hours, was approaching Madrid, levelled at FL100 at 20:06Z and received delay vectors until 20:38Z (32 minutes), when the crew decided they needed to divert to Valencia and could no longer risk to wait for the thunderstorms clearing (Madrid resumed landings at 20:48Z). The aircraft climbed to FL240 for the diversion and was on approach to Valencia at FL150 south of Valencia crossing the coast at 21:06Z, when another set of radar vectors delayed landing until the crew declared emergency. The aircraft landed safely in Valencia at 21:23Z with 1228 kg/2705 lbs of fuel remaining (minimum fuel reserve 1090 kg/2400 lbs), 77 minutes after aborting the approach to Madrid.

A Ryanair Boeing 737-800, registration EI-DHH performing flight FR-5998 from London Stansted,EN (UK) to Madrid,SP (Spain), estimated flight time 2:30 hours, aborted the approach to Madrid at FL078 at 20:12Z, climbed back to FL100 and followed delay vectors until 20:33Z (21 minutes), when the crew decided to divert to Valencia reaching Valencia at 21:07Z descending through FL100. Following unexpected vectors guiding the aircraft out over the Valencia basin the crew declared emergency and landed safely at 21:18Z with 1160 kg/2555 lbs of fuel (minimum fuel remaining required 1119 kg/2465 lbs) about 66 minutes after aborting the approach to Madrid.

A Ryanair Boeing 737-800, registration EI-EKK performing flight FR-2054 from Palma Mallorca,SP to Madrid,SP (Spain), estimated flight time 1:10 hours, was on final approach to Madrid's runway 18R when the crew initiated a go around from about 2700 feet MSL at 20:00Z. The aircraft climbed back to FL150 and received delay vectors until 20:27Z (27 minutes), when the crew determined they could no longer wait and needed to divert to Valencia. The aircraft climbed to FL270 and reached Valencia descending through FL100 south of Valencia at 20:59Z. When the aircraft was vectored through extended centerline to the north the crew declared emergency as landing above final fuel reserve was no longer ensured and received immediate vectors back to the aerodrome, where the aircraft landed at 21:07Z with 1029 kg/ 2266 lbs of fuel remaining below the minimum fuel reserve required of 1104 kg/2432 lbs about 67 minutes after going around in Madrid.

Ryanair confirmed in the evening of Aug 22nd that flight FR-2054 landed slightly below final fuel reserve.

LEMD 262300Z 36013KT 330V040 9999 FEW050CB 20/15 Q1016 NOSIG
LEMD 262230Z 01020KT 9999 FEW050CB 21/15 Q1015 NOSIG
LEMD 262200Z 29003KT 260V040 9999 FEW050CB BKN075 24/17 Q1014 NOSIG
LEMD 262130Z 25009KT 200V290 9999 VCTS SCT050CB BKN075 24/14 Q1014 BECMG NSW
LEMD 262116Z 25012KT 210V280 9999 -TSRA SCT050CB BKN070 23/15 Q1014 NOSIG
LEMD 262100Z 22017KT 7000 TSRA SCT050CB BKN070 23/18 Q1014 TEMPO TSGR
LEMD 262030Z 25015G25KT 220V280 7000 TSRA SCT040CB BKN060 24/15 Q1013 TEMPO TSGR
LEMD 262014Z 21017KT 5000 2400NE +TSRA SCT040CB BKN060 23/16 Q1013 TEMPO TSGR
LEMD 262000Z 12019KT 5000 TSRA SCT050CB 24/16 Q1012 TEMPO TSGR
LEMD 261952Z 14013G36KT 090V170 9999 TSRA SCT050CB 31/15 Q1011 TEMPO TSGR
LEMD 261930Z VRB05G17KT 9999 SCT050CB 33/10 Q1011 TEMPO TSRA
LEMD 261900Z 18004KT 130V220 9999 SCT050TCU 33/11 Q1010 TEMPO TSRA SCT050CB
LEMD 261830Z 16009KT 100V190 9999 FEW060 33/11 Q1010 NOSIG
LEMD 261853Z 18005KT 130V220 9999 SCT050TCU 33/11 Q1010 NOSIG
LEMD 261800Z 16013G26KT 120V200 9999 FEW060 34/10 Q1010 NOSIG
LEMD 261730Z 17013KT 130V200 9999 FEW060 34/09 Q1010 NOSIG
LEMD 261700Z 16014KT 130V190 CAVOK 35/08 Q1010 NOSIG
LEMD 261630Z 16011KT 110V200 CAVOK 35/08 Q1011 NOSIG

Infrared Satellite Image Jul 26th 2012 18:00Z (Graphics: Meteosat):

Map of Ryanair flights (Graphics: AVH/Google Earth):
RYR flights

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