British Caledonian / Austrian Airlines Wet Lease
31st March to 7th September 1975
by
Peter Buckland

Page 2

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Inspecting the Aircraft we found an inordinate amount of damage to the airframe.

All leading edges to the wings, vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizer had been hammered by hail to such an extent that they were now concave instead of convex and looked as if the procedure had been carried out using a large ball-pein hammer along every inch of the leading edge surfaces.

The leading edges of the upper and lower stub wing panels to both engines had been curled back. The Radome was also badly damaged.

The waterproof membrane had been peeled back, like a banana, with the underlying fibre glass shape and structure pulverised. We were AOG once again.
On the 13 July 75. G-AXJK was positioned from LGW to VIE to continue the contracted schedule. The inbound crew ferried G-AZMF back to LGW for repair. On the 16 July 75, G-AXJK was swapped with G-AZMF at LHR. From then on G-AZMF remained in Vienna. However, this was not the end of turbulence related problems. On the 18 July 75 G-AZMF encountered severe turbulence on approach into Vienna. Although the Aircraft checked OK, for the following three days we experienced Radar problems leading to the Radar transmitter/receiver being replaced again.
All was going well until the 24 July 75 when the aircraft suffered a lightning strike.  Fortunately, no damage was sustained and the compasses worked satisfactory, avoiding the need for a compass swing.

We now had a period that was busy but normal, insofar as defects and routine maintenance was concerned. However, the CAA decided they needed a jolly. On the 20th Aug a CAA surveyor arrived, gave the operation a good audit, night stopped and departed on the 21st Aug. Since no discrepancies were raised, it seems we were doing the right thing, from an engineering point of view.
Finally, on the 1 Sept ‘75 we were once again AOG as No1 EDP (Engine Driven Hydraulic Pump) had failed. We only managed one LHR trip that day.

During off duty periods in Vienna, it was possible to visit places of interest and see the sights, such as:-
St Stephans Cathedral. (The crypt contains hundreds of skeletons from the Black Death period)
Schloss Schoenbrunn. (Seat of Habsburg Monarchs
Mayerling. (In Vienna woods. Scene of murder/suicide/political conspiracy of Crown Prince Rudolf (30y)  and his lover Baroness Mary Vetsera (17)  in January 1889, that probably affected the course of European history that lead to the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand and WW1.
Lipizzaner horses. (Spanish Riding School)
Grinzing-Heurigen. (Attractive old world area of restaurants and new wine)

Prater Park. (Giant Ferris wheel­)

Kellerberg. (A local Heurigen area in Schwecat.) Being most unusual as the cellars and dining areas  are beneath the local cemetery.

This is where the duty crew usually finished up for a night cap as it was quite close to our Hotel. The “Jesuitenmuehle” (Jesuitmill) 
 
On the 7 Sept 1975 the wet lease ended, all spares and tow bar were re-loaded. We then positioned back to LGW. All engineers and some positioning pilots were on-board.

Austrian Airlines again required our services in May 1981. However, this was only for one month and did not require as much input as the 1975 detail. My records and memory let me down. Two Fitters, Jim Bull and myself were detached from LGW for the duration.   
My thanks to Peter for his super account of this wet lease, which until now little had been recorded

From Richard Church (1-11 Historian)
I interrogated thelog book for AZMF when the aircraft was transferred to BA and the last revenue service it flew for AUA was from Munich to Vienna on 6th September 1975 before the lease ended on the 7th September.

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From Jim Bull
I have subsequently come across one of the weather related incidents from the 1975 lease which Peter made mention of. It may be added interest now, I was on the flight into Vienna on the 18th July and the post flight report was this. "During descent to VIE, thunderstorm reported SW of airfield. A/C radar confirmed this report. Descent continued to north of VIE for right base R/W 30.

Below FL60 A/C radar of little use due ground returns obscuring CB cells. Under radar control, base leg, 4000' QNH moderate turbulence and heavy rain experienced. Control reported rapid deterioration of VIZ - cloud base with heavy rain. Requested abandon approach and climb to hold to west of area in clear air. A left turn from heading 210 degrees to 360 degrees given by radar controller and climb to FL 90. During turn, two 15 sec periods of severe turbulence experienced. Almost continual lightning in close proximity. No strikes experienced.

Before clearing area a further moderate period of turbulence experienced together with approx. 30 seconds of continuous updraft. Approx. 1000 feet gained, aircraft straight and level, then a shorter period of negative G when height gained was lost. Speed indicated averaged 280 knots but needle moving between 250 - 300 knots. Total time in turbulence 10 to 15 minutes.

Following the flight and the sea of worried passenger faces, the cabin floor was covered with the bags and other items which had previously been placed in the open overhead racks.

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