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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Engine shutdown pilot: 'I'm no hero'
Pilot Robert Piche
Pilot Robert Piche flew without engines for 18 minutes
The pilot who landed his Airbus plane safely after suffering total engine failure over the Atlantic says he was just doing his job.

"I'm not a hero," Robert Piche told his first news conference since the landing last Friday.

"That's what we get trained for, that's what we get paid for, to be successful in a situation like that.

Of course we had doubts, but we did what we had to do

Pilot Robert Piche
"When we experienced the fuel leak, the first engine went on us, and maybe ten minutes after the other one went on us again.

"There was not much to play with, and never a second chance to make the landing so we managed to glide the aircraft all the way down."

The Air Transat Airbus 330 carrying 291 passengers and 13 crew was heading for Lisbon from Toronto when the engines stopped.

"Of course we had doubts," he said. "But we did what we had to do. You do as you've been taught, as you've been trained, and that's about it."

Wind surfing

He had to treat his plane as a glider, using the height and speed to try and manage a safe landing.

He and his co-pilots were preparing to ditch in the sea, but realised they could aim for a small airstrip on one of the remoter islands in the Azores.

Robert Piche
Mr Piche has been a pilot for 30 years
Eight of the plane's ten tyres burst during the landing, according to an Associated Press report.

And the main landing gear gouged furrows in the airstrip's tarmac.

Everyone was off the plane in ninety seconds.

Eleven people - nine passengers and two crew members - required hospitalisation, but none of the injuries was considered serious.

Investigators say both engines suffered fuel starvation, either because of a lack of fuel, a leak, or the failure of a fuel pump.

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