Recommendation R19970145

Recommendation issued to: Boeing Co

Recommendation details
Output No: R19970145
Date issued: 29 September 1997
Safety action status:


Simulator training for technical crews to equip them to handle jammed ailerons in flight on Boeing aircraft.


Shortly after departing from runway 34L at Sydney, the pilot of a Boeing 747 advised the departures controller that he could only comply with left turns, and that he needed to jettison fuel and return to the airfield. A distress phase was declared and the aircraft was vectored left to an area over water where fuel was dumped. The aircraft was subsequently vectored to the centreline of runway 34L and landed safely.

The subsequent investigation found that a plastic aileron cable guard had broken and jammed the aileron cables where they run vertically up the left sidewall of the aircraft. The pilot reported that he was unable to input any right aileron control and it appeared to be jammed.


The roll control surfaces on Boeing aircraft consist of hydraulically-powered inboard and outboard ailerons (and spoilers) which are normally controlled by rotating either control wheel. The aileron cable control systems are constructed in two separate sets, linked at the control wheels.

The control wheels are connected through an override mechanism which allows either wheel to move independently if the aileron control system connected to the other wheel jams and a significant manual force is applied to the free wheel. Roll control is then available through the ailerons on the wing corresponding to the free wheel.

The pilot in command of the above mentioned aircraft advised that after the aircraft had been landed, he was present when repairs were carried out and was surprised at the aileron breakout force required to override a jammed system. Ground training he had received covered aileron breakout (override) procedures but he believed it would be beneficial to have it physically demonstrated during simulator training in case of such an emergency.

Discussions with other technical crews revealed that, while they were aware of the system, they were generally not aware of the physical forces required to break out the aileron control system in the event of an aileron system jam.

The Boeing Company does not recommend activating the breakout feature of the aileron control system on a regular basis due to possible stretching of aileron cables and excessive wear to a system that is installed for emergency use only.

It has been reported that flight simulators in use by operators of Boeing aircraft in Australia can be programmed to enable demonstration of aileron control breakout forces. If the simulators are programmed correctly, all technical crews can be safely exposed to this aspect during simulator training.

The Boeing Commercial Airplane Company advised that Boeing B737, B747, B757 and B767 aircraft are all fitted with similar emergency aileron override and breakout systems.


The aircraft is designed to be flown from either control position should one side become jammed. The pilot was aware of this design feature but was not aware of the amount of force required to activate the breakout system.

Technical crews are instructed on this control feature during ground training but are not physically exposed to the forces required, either on an aircraft or in a simulator.

Output text

The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation recommends that the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company informs operators of affected aircraft manufactured by them of the need to:

1. develop a simulator training procedure to ensure that aircrew are familiar with the procedure to be used in the event of aileron control jamming; and

2. ensure that aircrew are aware of the control wheel forces required when the override mechanism is being operated in the event of jammed ailerons.

A similar recommendation (R970128) has been made to Australian operators of affected aircraft manufactured by the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company.

Initial response
Date issued: 13 May 1998
Response from: Boeing Co
Action status: Monitor
Response text:

We have not yet committed to any changes in our simulator training procedures or our manuals. We are reviewing the reported event and looking at possible training and manual changes which would be implemented for all applicable Boeing models, not just the 747.

However, additional time is necessary for this review before we can come to any conclusions. I anticipate that this review may take three more months. We plan to keep your office advised of the progress to our review.

Further correspondence
Date issued: 27 May 1998
Response from: Boeing Co
Response status: Monitor
Response text: Earlier this month I reviewed proposed changes to our operational documentation concerning flight control jams across all our various model airplanes. This has been a slow process trying to get agreement on. I anticipate that we will have some changes to be released in a couple months. Thesse changes would affect the Flight Manual, the Flight Crew Training Manual, the Operations Manual and the QRH.
Further correspondence
Date issued: 25 August 1998
Response from: Boeing Co
Response status: Closed - Accepted
Response text: We are progresing slowly on the issue. We currently are planning to review our Flight Crew Training Manual and Operations Manual to add wording describing the breakout forces and the sustained force required following "breakout". A change to the Flight Crew Training Manual will then get fed back into the simulator training syllabus. I now expect that we will have a firmer decision on what changes are being implemented by late October. I will keep you posted on our action. Sorry for the lengthy process.
Last update 01 April 2011