Qantas waiting for answers on engine explosion
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QANTAS says it won’t rush to inspect all Rolls-Royce engines on its jumbos before it has received guidance from air safety investigators and regulators about the likely cause of a midair engine explosion on a flight out of San Francisco.
”It could be as long as 24 to 36 hours before Qantas is in a position to have a more informed view about the probable causes of the engine failure,” communications head David Epstein said.
Australian air investigators arrived in the US yesterday to liaise with American counterparts examining the engine. Qantas engineers will take guidance from the investigators’ and regulators’ preliminary findings.
”The investigators are expected to remain in San Francisco over the next few days to examine the engine and components and work with the operator and crew to determine the cause of the incident,” the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said.
The engine that failed on Tuesday was one of 85 Rolls-Royce RB211 engines in the Qantas fleet. They are used on 19 other of the airline’s Boeing 747s. The jumbos will keep flying as the investigations continue.
The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association said Qantas was fortunate pieces from the exploded engine did not pierce the fuselage or fuel tanks.
”Qantas was fairly lucky that the components that flew out of the engine flew out on the outboard side and didn’t get put through the fuselage, the other engine or the fuel tanks,” federal secretary Steve Purvinas said. ”They could have gone inboard, but fortunately they didn’t.”
From photos of the damaged engine it looked as if a turbine blade had broken off, he said.
A voice recording of the pilots at the 747’s controls and San Francisco air traffic control released yesterday gives an insight into the drama, which took place shortly after takeoff.
”The nature of the engine failure was severe damage and even after shutdown it had quite a large amount of sparking coming from it,” a pilot told an air traffic controller.
The plane made an emergency landing at San Francisco.
Meanwhile, the bodies of three Australians and one New Zealander have been recovered from a remote Papua New Guinea plane crash site, while the sole survivor has been released from hospital.
A convoy of PNG ambulances carried the remains of the four victims from Port Moresby airport to a nearby funeral home yesterday.
Their Trans Air charter plane slid off the runway and burst into flames at Misima Island, Milne Bay, in PNG’s south-east, on Tuesday afternoon. Co-pilot Kelby Cheyne, 25, survived and was discharged from Townsville Hospital late yesterday.
Among the dead were marine pilot Richard ”Chris” Hart, 61, from Sydney, and Trans Air co-owner and pilot Lesley Wright, 59, from Queensland.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith confirmed the third Australian was Darren Moore. A pilots’ internet forum said Mr Moore, 44, was from Leonora in Western Australia, and was a PNG civil aviation flight operations inspector.
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