Tu-204 directive warns pilots to check thrust-reverse status

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Russian authorities have ordered immediate action by Tupolev Tu-204 operators in the wake of two runway overruns by Red Wings aircraft, including the fatal accident at Moscow Vnukovo.

Federal aviation authority Rosaviatsia has issued an airworthiness directive highlighting the 29 December crash at Vnukovo - in which five crew members were killed - and an incident on 20 December during which another Red Wings Tu-204 rolled beyond the end of the runway while landing at Novosibirsk.

Rosaviatsia says Tupolev has developed a technical response for Tu-204 and Tu-214 twinjets, powered by Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines, which centres on lubricating mechanisms linked to limit-switches on the landing-gear, notably during low-temperature operations.

But the authority has also ordered a temporary amendment to the aircraft operating manual regarding the operation of thrust-reversers on the type.

It points out that the crew should check for an early indication that the reverser system is operating correctly.

After touchdown, with the throttle reduced to idle and the spoilers deployed, the thrust-reverse control lever should normally be moved, over the course of 1-2s, initially to the 'small reverse' position.

The engine instrument panel should indicate, in yellow text, that the thrust-reverse lock has opened and then - with the symbol 'REV' in green text - that the reverser is active, says the manual.

Once the crew has confirmed this, and the correct alignment with the runway, the nose should be lowered and maximum reverse-thrust engaged. When the speed has reduced to 70-75kt (130-140km/h) the crew should restore the reverser control to the 'small reverse' position and, at about 25kt, disengage it.

But the operating manual specifically warns the crew to check that the reverser is active, with the presence of the green 'REV' indication, before committing to maximum reverse thrust.

If the indication does not appear after the control lever has been moved to the 'small reverse' position, the warning says, the pilots should "immediately" disengage the lever and continue the roll-out without reverse thrust.

The Novosibirsk incident involved a Red Wings Tu-204 registered RA-64049, which had arrived after flight WZ123 from Moscow Vnukovo.

Red Wings' flight WZ9268, a ferry service from Pardubice, had been operated by another Tu-204 (RA-64047) and was carrying just eight crew members when it overran at Vnukovo.