British air accident investigators have provided an update on last week's crash of a British Airways 777-200ER at London Heathrow.
In a nutshell: investigators now say the engines at first did respond to the autopilot's call for more thrust, but after a few moments the right engine's power level dropped, followed by the left engine. Plenty of fuel was on hand.
Here's exactly what the AAIB is saying:
Since the issue of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) 1st Preliminary Report on Friday 18 January 2008 at 1700 hrs, work has continued on all fronts to identify why neither engine responded to throttle lever inputs during the final approach. The 150 tonne aircraft was moved from the threshold of Runway 27L to an airport apron on Sunday evening, allowing the airport to return to normal operations.
The AAIB, sensitive to the needs of the industry including Boeing, Rolls Royce, British Airways and other Boeing 777 operators and crews, is issuing this update to provide such further factual information as is now available.
As previously reported, whilst the aircraft was stabilised on an ILS approach with the autopilot engaged, the autothrust system commanded an increase in thrust from both engines. The engines both initially responded but after about 3 seconds the thrust of the right engine reduced. Some eight seconds later the thrust reduced on the left engine to a similar level. The engines did not shut down and both engines continued to produce thrust at an engine speed above flight idle, but less than the commanded thrust.
Recorded data indicates that an adequate fuel quantity was on board the aircraft and that the autothrottle and engine control commands were performing as expected prior to, and after, the reduction in thrust.
All possible scenarios that could explain the thrust reduction and continued lack of response of the engines to throttle lever inputs are being examined, in close cooperation with Boeing, Rolls Royce and British Airways. This work includes a detailed analysis and examination of the complete fuel flow path from the aircraft tanks to the engine fuel nozzles.
Further factual information will be released as and when available.