A ground-to-air missile hit the A300 Freighter after it took off from Baghdad. The left wing of the plane was hit by the missile. The three-man crew used differential engine thrust as the only pilot input to land the badly damaged aircraft.

Flight Details

On November 22, 2003 a cargo mission was operated by the A300B2-200F. One of the few civilian planes that delivered mail and aid to the US soldiers in Baghdad was owned by European Air Transport.

A special take-off procedure was used to speed up the climb after the cargo was delivered. The captain had accumulated more flight hours in the A300 than the F/O and the flight engineer had in his log book. The take-off procedure was put in place after the 2003 war. It included take-off with slats only and maximum thrust, early retraction of the slats and a climb at 215 knots.

Even though, the aircraft was performing a rapid climb out to reduce exposure to ground attack, shortly after departure from Baghdad, at just over 8000 feet, a ground-to-air missile which was later identified to be a 9K34 Strela 3 struck the left. An explosion was heard, followed by a flurry of aural warnings and visual displays showing a master warning on all flight controls, according to a report.

Hydraulic Circuits Visualization. Source: TheFlightChannel

The crew lost control of the aircraft after it was hit by the missile. The green and yellow circuits were lost first, followed by the blue circuit. The aircraft moved between nose-up and nose-down positions. The slats and flaps were frozen.

Return To Baghdad

The crew made it to the ground despite being in a bad situation. The crew discovered how to control the pitch after the missile hit the plane.

The threat was a pawn control.

They learned how to manage in flight. The crew executed a right turn and headed back to Baghdad.

The flight engineer used a gravity drop to extend the landing gear. The early deployment of the landing gear was important to a safe outcome because of the increased drag. The captain circled twice and was aware of the time limitations as the left wing was still on fire.

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The left-wing had lost a lot of its surface and was on fire. If the left side of the engine lost fuel, the flight engineer would have to feed it from a right tank. The power control of the jet engines was the most important factor in survival.

runway 33R is the longest of the two runways at Baghdad and was elected by the crew. The wind was at 20 knots with a wind speed of 295. The turbulence caused the aircraft to drift to the right. The shorter runway was selected by the captain. The captain set up a 20-mile final with a reported approach speed of225 knots, but slowed to 180 knots just before touchdown.

The crew was able to control the roll with thrust adjustments. The flight engineer deployed full reverse thrust, but the plane went off the runway and onto the ground.

The aircraft made a controlled touchdown with a vertical velocity below 10 feet/s, a positive pitch and eight degree heading, and a 10 degree bank to the right. The A300 ran through the rough, soft ground before coming to a stop after rolling out for around 1,000 meters.

Conclusion and Aftermaths

The left engine was deemed unsalvageable due to the ingestion of razor wire and a lot of sand. On the other hand, the right engine had taken even larger components and sand from the ground. The engine inlet was damaged by the wire and fence components.

The safe landing of the A300 was dependent on the crew's efforts to keep both engines running. The aircraft would most likely have been lost if one of the engines failed.

Both pilots were relieved by the flight engineer during the emergency. He made sure that the plane was depressurised before it touched down. The outboard left wing fuel tank 1A was full at takeoff and there was no explosion.

The rear spar in front of the outboard flap was either blown or burned away, while the top and bottom wing skins bulged upward and downward.

The rest of the flap was gone from the outboard flap track. The fuel-tank ribs in front of the outboard fuel tank were burned halfway through.

The crew members all survived the missile strike. Although military aircraft have been hit several times, this is the first time a civilian aircraft has been hit by a missile. This is the first time that an airliner has not lost life when landing.

The crew members were awarded the Hugh Gordon-Burge Memorial prize by the company of air pilots. The flight crew who saved their aircraft or passengers or made a significant contribution to future air safety is the winner of the award. If a nomination is considered to be of significant merit, the annual award is not put together.

The crew members were awarded the Flight Safety Foundation's Professionalism Award in Flight Safety for their extraordinary piloting skills in flying their aircraft to a safe landing.

DHL Crew Members Mario, Eric and Steve.
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