In case you missed it, last week was a week to forget for Lufthansa’s D-ABYA, their first 747-8i that entered service back on June 1, 2012.
On 2 separate occasions, ‘Brandi’ had to make unscheduled landings due to smoke/fire alarms in the nose gear bay being triggered. When fire alarms go off, the plane has to land ASAP. No questions, no debate and if not possible, no fuel dump.
The first incident took place only a few minutes into her flight on Tuesday August 4 from Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro. She returned safely shortly after take off and passengers were booked on later flights to Rio.
Then on August 7, while enroute from Frankfurt to New York (JFK), she was forced to land in Manchester, England for the same reason. ‘YA’ spent the night in MAN and flew back with her passengers to FRA the next day. Passengers were accommodated at local hotels in MAN and then rebooked on flights to get them to NYC after returning to FRA.
Thanks to a few well placed sources (FlyerTalk’s Oliver2002 for example), the reason behind these false alarms has been discovered. Apparently Frankfurt’s ground crews had jammed a tow bar in the nose gear of D-ABYA and in the process of freeing it damaged the smoke and fire sensors.
The problem has been identified and resolved. Fortunately it had nothing to do with the aircraft itself or its reliability but rather with a ground handler that should have paid better attention to what they were doing around a 350 million dollar aircraft!