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UK Investigating Challenger Uncommanded Flap Deployment

The UK’s Aviation Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued a special bulletin urging Bombardier 600-series Challenger operators to inform them of the steps to take in the event of unintended flap deployment in flight.

The recommendation stems from the AAIB’s ongoing investigation into an incident on 10 August in which a German-registered Challenger 604 experienced an uncontrolled flap extension above maximum flap-extended speed. The incident occurred as the jet was climbing after leaving Farnborough Airport, where it returned and landed without further incident. The charter flight was carrying three crew members and seven passengers.

Testing identified that one of the two motor-retract relays was not operating properly. A fault in the No. 1 retract relay meant that the No. 1 motor continued to run and the wingtip brakes were not engaged. As a result, the flaps continue to extend continuously at half speed until they reach the limit stop. In addition, the uncommanded flap movement protection system did not work.

The aircraft’s master warning display warned the pilots of an unspecified flap failure, but there was no announcement for a failed reel. During the aircraft’s previous 64 flights (154 flight hours) recorded on the flight data recorder since July 4, flap retraction occurred at half-normal speeds.

According to the AAIB, it is possible “that other aircraft in the fleet may be operating with similar latent failures that could render the unintended flap movement protection system ineffective.” Bombardier is expected to issue an advisory next month to address the issue.

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