MONDAY MORNING HOT NEWS – Jet gas bottle blamed for Qantas near-disaster – TravelMole true

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MONDAY MORNING HOT NEWS – Jet gas bottle blamed for Qantas near-disaster

Sunday, 28 Jul, 2008 0

An article in the Herald Sun this morning says that an exploding oxygen bottle in the cargo hold of Qantas jumbo Flight 30 is suspected of causing Friday’s mid-air emergency.

An investigation team found jagged pieces sprayed throughout the hold.

The Herald Sun has learned the cylinder exploded with such force that pieces of metal were driven into the ceiling of the hold, buckling the business class floor above.

Qantas and Australia’s air transport regulators – the Air Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority – refused to formally confirm the theory last night.

“It’s too early to say but one of the cylinders that provides back-up oxygen is missing,” ATSB’s Neville Blyth said.

Two bottles that serve as an emergency supply for the flight deck are fitted in the cargo holds of 747s at the point where the fuselage ruptured.

Qantas and CASA investigators last night began detailed checks of the oxygen equipment on all 34 of the airline’s Boeing 747s.

David Cox, executive general manager of engineering, said the oxygen safety survey was expected to continue until Friday.

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said: “Starting now our inspectors with Qantas engineers will visually inspect bottles, plumbing, wiring and brackets and bolts that hold them on to the aircraft.

“If it wasn’t the oxygen bottles it will be a little bit of effort that wasn’t needed.

“If it was the oxygen bottles then we can say we have done the inspections already.”

Qantas also confirmed that airline executives will speak with each of the passengers about refunding fares and other yet-to-be determined levels of compensation.

Friday’s incident involving the QF30 flight from London to Melbourne occurred when the fuselage was torn by an explosion at 29,000ft.

Investigators have ruled out any form of sabotage, because there are no burn marks on or around damaged interior ribs, or on the jagged metal outer skin of the fuselage.

CASA chairman Bruce Byron also ruled out claims that metal corrosion could have caused part of the fuselage to give way causing the incident.

It was learned the only corrosion detected on the jet was found in a seat track in the economy section, far from the rupture below business class.

The corroded seat track was repaired when the plane went through detailed mechanical checks at the airline’s Avalon workshops last March.

The plane entered service with Qantas in 1991 and has been maintained by the airline’s own engineers in Australia throughout its flying life.

Qantas has not yet said what it will do with the jet but it is almost certain to fix the plane rather than lose its claim to never having lost a jet.

A precedent for putting repaired planes back into the skies was made in 1991 when Qantas spent $100 million to fix another 747 that was severely damaged at Bangkok after it overshot the runway.

Boeing and the US National Transportation Safety Board were also sending specialists to help the investigation.

The ATSB has 30 days to release an initial report and has a technical team operating in Australia to analyse data from Manila.

Apart from the oxygen bottle probe, the accident team in Manila will examine fracture points on the skin of the aircraft to see if metal fatigue or a manufacturing defect caused the ripping.

Chris Yates, an aviation expert at Britain’s Jane’s Information Group, said losing a panel was not uncommon.

“Every year there are reports of panels being lost from aircraft in flight and these instances are rarely, if every, fatal,” Mr Yates said.

A Report by The Mole from the Herald Sun


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