Thursday, December 30, 2010

Qantas backs off stupid restrictions

Still no reason why the policy was introduced. It was obviously introduced after zero consultations with the people affected.

QANTAS has bowed to pressure from a social networking campaign against its policy for carrying musical instruments on flights. It has adopted a policy that allows instruments it previously consigned to the cargo hold to be carried on board.

Its policy change follows a campaign on Facebook that drew 8700 supporters who were outraged that Qantas's stand meant instruments were at risk of being damaged in the hold.

The campaign was sparked by Qantas introducing a policy last year that all musical instruments had to be checked in as hold luggage, except violins and violas. Its policy created a furore within the musical community.

The Facebook protest was started by an award-winning Perth saxophonist, Jamie Oehlers, whose tenor saxophone was damaged when Qantas insisted it went in the hold on a flight to Melbourne a couple of months ago.

He started a Stop Qantas "No musical instruments on board policy protest" on the Facebook Causes site. Among those who signed it were the classical guitarist Leonard Grigoryan, Attack of the Mannequins' Jackson Freud and symphony orchestra members.

Qantas confirmed yesterday: "As a result of customer feedback we have revised our policy relating to the carriage of small musical instruments as carry-on baggage. "Due to the delicate nature of musical instruments, customers who travel on Qantas-operated services are no longer required to check in as checked baggage a small musical instrument that slightly exceeds the carry-on baggage limit of a total of 115 centimetres," a spokeswoman said.

The instrument must not exceed 81 centimetres in length, 30 centimetres in height or 19 centimetres in depth, she said.

While joking that travelling musicians will now have to carry a tape measure, Oehlers said: "It seems fair enough. Just the fact that it ends discrimination between violins and violas and any instruments of the same size."

Booked to fly Qantas for a performance in New York in two weeks, he said it was a relief "just to be able to get my horn on board and know it will arrive safely and not bent".

SOURCE

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Australian is Jetstar?

Below is a union point of view. It does however overlook the environment Jetstar is operating in. Jetstar could well cease to exist if it has to pay much higher salaries than its Asian rivals. Jetstar offers cheap and nasty travel. If people want better service and greater safety Qantas is positioned to offer that -- though whether it actually does would seem moot

The key take out that everyone in Australia got from the recent Qantas incident in Singapore is that pilot experience is critically important. As more and more information filters about just how serious the situation was with QF32, pilot training and experience are being widely acknowledged, from the CEO of Qantas down, as having arguably made the difference.

Given the travails of Qantas over recent weeks, you would think that Jetstar would think twice about its absurd plans to put less and less experienced pilots in the cockpit of its aircraft.

Until now Jetstar have employed pilots with a minimum of 2000 hours flight time and in fact, most, if not all, have more than 2000 hours flight time experience. What the company, however, is proposing to do in the near future is employ cadet pilots with as little as 200 hours total flight time.

Whilst the 200 hours will be supplemented by a further 1000 hours “supervised training”, what it neglects to mention is that some of this “supervised training” refers to actual flying time with fare paying passengers onboard.

That effectively means that pilots with a minimum of 200 hours total flight time experience will potentially be cutting their teeth with fare paying passengers onboard in an operating environment considered to be complex and demanding of even highly experienced pilots.

These cadets will pay up to $180 000 out of their own pockets for their training with no guarantee of employment at Jetstar. If they are indeed employed by the company they will be paid wages that are proposed to be less than half that of a regular newly recruited pilot at Jetstar.

In fact, their proposed salary is well below the Modern Pilots Award, which sets the minimum standards of employment in Australia.

Despite the cadets huge training debts they will be “bonded” to the company for up to 6 years and during that time will, based on my information, earn approximately $42,000.00 (New Zealand Dollars) a year, less than most secretaries or factory workers (before making the payments on their huge debts).

The people who are really paying for Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan’s aggressive cost-cutting strategy could be Jetstar’s fare paying passengers. Is a pilot with 200 hours actual flying experience as safe as a 2000 hours experienced pilot? Are you as competent a driver when you had your P plates for 2 months, as compared to now? You be the judge.

Jetstar’s Australian pilots feel their job security to be coming increasingly under threat as the company moves aggressively to undermine Australian working conditions by creating artificial offshore entities that are able to circumvent the Fair Work Act and pay pilots less than the relevant minimum Australian standards.

The company has recently offered employment to Australian pilots in off-shore entities to operate in and out of Australia and AIPA believes that if this trend is allowed to continue unchecked, the entire Australian Aviation industry could be off-shored using artificial foreign corporate entities to circumvent Australian workplace laws.

This would deprive an entire section of Australian society of their livelihood and irreparably diminish Australia’s reputation for aviation safety and excellence.

Mr Buchanan stated in his address to the National Aviation Press Club on the 15th of November that “Our cost base must reflect the markets we sell seats in and enable us to provide a competitive relevant offering to consumers in each of these markets. To achieve this we are developing significant local bases with locally relevant network offerings”.

Strategies such as these will see Australian Jetstar pilots, having to move their families to bases overseas, fly in and out of Australia, on third world pay rates.

What is the “regional relevance” of paying a pilot in New Zealand Dollars (less than the Australian Award) to fly an Australian aircraft from Sydney to Fiji or even worse, using these NZ$42,000.00-cadet pilots to operate domestically in Australia?

The passengers on those flights are paying their fares in Australian Dollars. It is Australian flying by an Australian company and they should be paying the appropriate Australian salary. It is not about obtaining “regional relevance”.

This term is merely a fa├žade to justify employing people on third world wages to work for an Australian airline, doing Australian work. It begs the question, how ‘Australian’ is Jetstar? Is what Jetstar doing ‘Australian’?

Australian aviation is at the crossroads. I understand that everyone loves cheap fares but nothing is for nothing and those who run Jetstar have failed to comprehend the lessons from recent events: experience may cost a little bit more, but it certainly counts for much, much, more – and I don’t think the travelling public will disagree.

SOURCE






One experience of the difference between Qantas and Jetstar

A few weeks ago I flew Perth-Melb-Newcastle…the first leg was Qantas, great - business class, Qantas lounge….

The second leg was Jetstar. I had a 3.5 hour wait at Melbourne, so I went straight to the check in line….HUGE. It took me a bit over an hour waiting in line to get to the counter, where I was informed by a very disinterested young girl, who had a smart mouth on her, that I couldn’t check in until two hours before the flight.

Fine…I grabbed my luggage (since Qantas and Jetstar couldn’t check anything through). I go back after having a bite to eat, wait in a longer line this time, get to the counter with 45 minutes to spare only to be told check-ins had closed for that flight!!

I calmly explain my predicament and highlight the fact that it was the second time I’d queued - tough luck. Turns out that flight was delayed by over 3 hours anyway…but they still wouldn’t let me on.

I refuse to use Jetstar ever again

SOURCE (Comments)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another fail for Qantas

After six hours on tarmac in London, family sent home ... only to see their plane take off on live TV

It was not the first Christmas holiday little George Painter was hoping for. The 10-month-old spent six hours stranded with his parents on the tarmac at Heathrow Airport after the family's QF32 flight to Sydney, via Singapore, was cancelled.

George's father, Robert Painter, said the London airport was in "utter chaos" as snow and ice ground operations to a halt. "After six hours on the tarmac we were finally told the flight would not go," Mr Painter said via email. "Qantas were great until then in keeping us informed and cared for, although [British Airways] were better in cancelling flights much earlier."

"We were then told to leave without clear instruction other than to call a helpline at 6am. "Passengers had nowhere to go, there were no announcements, restaurants at the airport ran out of food and tensions were high."

The family, who had left their north London home at 7am, arrived back about midnight and were told the next morning further flights on Sunday were "unlikely" and they would be telephoned after 8am if there were changes. "So it was a bit of a shock to wake up at 10.30am to discover the flight was due to take off at 11am," Mr Painter said.

"There was no call to passengers as promised and the flight was one of the few to take off today. "So rare that we actually watched the flight take off live on BBC news and heard a plane fly over our house 15 minutes later."

SOURCE

Monday, December 20, 2010

Engine problem diverts Jetstar plane

A JETSTAR flight travelling from Bali to Melbourne was forced to make an emergency landing in Adelaide after one of its two engines failed. The plane, which was carrying 226 passengers, landed in Adelaide airport just before 7am after the pilots reported they were experiencing engine trouble, the Seven Network reported.

Carrol O'Neill, who was a passenger on the flight, said the plane suddenly descended while over South Australia. "They said we were going to make an emergency landing in Adelaide as one of the engines had failed,'' Ms O'Neill said.

The Airbus A330 plane was bought by Qantas in 2008 and transferred into the Jetstar fleet only a few weeks ago. An investigation into the engine failure will be conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said a technical problem meant the aircraft's right engine was "operating on a lower power setting''.

SOURCE

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Transplant patient carried through Melbourne Airport after Jetstar refused wheelchair

Their usual form

A FIVE-year-old recovering from 151 days on a mechanical heart and a traumatic transplant had to be carried through Melbourne Airport because Jetstar wouldn't give his mother a wheelchair.

To add insult to injury, the airline also forced Kellin Hyde's mum to use his Christmas present money to fly his life-saving medication and toys home yesterday because their bags weighed too much, reported the Herald Sun. Jetstar officials yesterday called Ms Hyde to apologise and refund part of the money.

Andrea Hyde said she told the airline her son was ill. "He had a mask on his face and I explained to them he had a transplant, that he had been on a mechanical heart for 151 days and that he was going home for the first time in nine months, and they didn't care," she said.

"Kellin was getting tired and he was struggling because there was so many people around, so we asked if we could have help with a wheelchair to get to the aeroplane, and they said, 'No, we don't have wheelchairs'."

For five months Kellin was kept alive on a mechanical heart after his own heart had all but died. He needed to be revived and saved by Royal Children's Hospital doctors many times before enduring a traumatic transplant recently.

His parents celebrated when they were told he could finally leave the hospital on Thursday night for a dream Christmas at their Gold Coast home.

But Ms Hyde's relief turned to despair when she arrived at the airport to be told her bags were too heavy because they were overflowing with medication and toys donated by children's charities to help him through the trauma, and that she would have to pay extra for them to fly. "I just started crying. It is $200 that we just don't have," she said. "That is his Christmas present gone now. I can't afford to buy him anything.

"I had a rolling bag full of medicine, another square travel bag and a box full of medicine, but I had to take his medication out of the bag and carry it because it made his suitcase too heavy.

"Her (the Jetstar manager's) excuse was that we should have paid for our baggage in advance, but we didn't even know we were going until the night before."

Ms Hyde said she counted 55 empty seats on the flight and couldn't understand why Jetstar had refused to offer her family compassion.
A Jetstar spokeswoman said: "We sincerely regret that in this instance we were not advised a wheelchair was required and so one was not available.

"To minimise the excess baggage, we transferred some of the items to the passengers' hand luggage and halved the amount of fees due as a gesture of good will."

SOURCE

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Qantas jet's 'lucky escape' after water leak

This happened in 2008 but apparently the final report on it has just been released

LEAKING water knocked out electricity to a number of systems during a Qantas 747's flight to Bangkok, forcing the crew to land using limited battery power in a race against the clock.

The plane, with 346 passengers and 19 crew, was on descent in 2008 when the flight crew were alerted to a “substantial” water leak in the galley. As a result of the leak many of the aircraft‘s communication, navigation, monitoring and warning, and flight guidance systems were affected.

Had the event occurred more than 30 minutes flying time from the nearest suitable airport, or if there had been a delay prior to landing, numerous flight-critical systems would have become unavailable, placing the flight at “considerable” risk, air safety investigators warned.

The aircraft‘s batteries were available to provide power to critical systems for a limited period of time if the primary power sources were lost. “The limited battery power available restricted the amount of time that the aircraft‘s remaining functional instrumentation and communication systems were available to the crew, which necessitated an expedited descent and landing in order to reduce the risk of those systems failing,” a report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said.

At the end of the taxi to the passenger terminal the plane had been using battery power for approximately 21 minutes. The crew was unable to determine the time at which the aircraft had switched to battery power, or when the 30 minutes of minimum battery life would elapse.

If the plane had missed its approach or been at a different point in the flight when the use of battery power became necessary, the amount of battery power left could have been critical to the safe operation of the aircraft, the investigators said.

The investigation found that the galley leak was caused by an overflowing drain after a drain line was blocked with ice that had formed due to an inoperable drain line heater. The water flowed into the aircraft’s main equipment centre before leaking onto three of the plane’s four generator control units, causing them to malfunction and shut down.

The flight crew manuals did not contain information on means to extend the limited battery life or on managing the aircraft if the batteries were depleted.

The ATSB has issued two safety recommendations and a safety advisory notice as a result of the investigation.

SOURCE

Saturday, December 11, 2010

'Electrical issue' strands Qantas passengers -- again

The Qantas idea of maintenance seems to be to wait for something to go wrong and then fix it

THE Qantas brand has suffered another blow after a mechanical failure left 260 passengers on a San Francisco tarmac for more than four hours before the flight for Sydney was aborted last night.

Passengers had just boarded the Boeing 747 QF74 at 10pm (San Franciscan time) when the cabin blacked out and the emergency lights came on. "The pilot simply said 'APU fail' and then said later 'Don't be alarmed. Fire trucks are at the back of the plane but it is only precautionary. A fire extinguisher has been depleted and the engineers are having a look'," one passenger said last night.

The problem was the auxiliary power unit light which had apparently indicated a fire, setting off extinguishers. "We'd been there for hours when they tried to start the engines again but the APU light came back on so they went back to the (terminus) for more work," the passenger said.

"Then we were told the crew had run out of duty hours. We were on the plane for seven hours before they put us in hotels. "There were a lot of people on the plane very angry about the way this was handled."

The flight was to have arrived today at 8.30am but will now arrive in Sydney at 6.30am tomorrow.

A note to passengers stated there had been an "electrical issue" which required replacement parts not available locally. A spokesman for Qantas confirmed the electrical fault last night but said passengers were left on the tarmac for four-and-a-half hours, not seven.

SOURCE

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

QANTAS: The "must not complain" airline?

Complaints are valuable feedback and should not be penalized

A TRAINEE flight attendant has accused Qantas of sacking her for complaining about inadequate counselling after a mid-air emergency. Jessie Holgersson, 25, watched in horror as the engine outside her window on a Boeing 747-400 flight suffered an explosive engine blowout last month.

Flames burst from the engine shortly after take-off, forcing QF6 to make an emergency landing in Singapore just a day after the engine on a Qantas A380 had blown apart mid-flight.

Despite the seriousness of the incident, which required passengers to go into the brace position, Ms Holgersson complained that no counselling was provided until 9pm the following day. "I was terrified when I realised there was a problem. It was a scary moment," she said.

"Seeing flames out the window is not something you expect on your second training flight, but I stayed calm, I reassured passengers, I yelled out my commands, I did everything by the textbook."

Once safely back in Sydney she spoke to the Qantas cabin crew manager, saying she felt staff had been neglected immediately after the incident.

A week later she was called up by Julia Ross Limited, a recruiting firm Qantas uses to hire and train cabin crew for its UK division, and told they'd decided not to continue with her employment.

"If I'd run around screaming, sure, fire me - but I didn't," said Ms Holgersson, who quit a well-paying job, cancelled her lease, sold her belongings and finalised plans to move to London.

Solicitor Sian Ryan, from Turner Freeman Lawyers, is taking the case to Fair Work Australia next week claiming that Ms Holgersson was adversely treated by Qantas and Julia Ross for exercising her workplace right to complain about the failure to address a health and safety issue. "Jessica is a young woman who due to bad fortune ended up in a terrible situation in the early days of a new job," Ms Ryan said. "We will be arguing the reason her employment didn't go ahead was because she raised matters relating to the QF6 incident."

A Qantas spokeswoman denied the allegations yesterday: "Based on her performance and behaviours during the training phase, the decision was made not to offer her employment."

But a report from Qantas supervisor Brian Lynch, who was on the plane, applauded Ms Holgersson for doing a "fantastic job" during the emergency - and warned it would be a "great shame" if Qantas lost her. He wrote: "Would love Jessica to be in my team again one day."

SOURCE
Jetstar hits family with levy after baby dies suddenly during family holiday

But publicity produces a much more accommodating communication.

JETSTAR yesterday demanded that a distraught family whose baby died of SIDS during a holiday on the Gold Coast pay more than $600 to return a day early to Sydney.

The family of five was spending a week's holiday at the tourist destination when the infant died suddenly, The Australian reported. They were due to return to Sydney today.

When the four remaining members of the family tried to change their bookings to return home yesterday, they were told they would require proof the baby had died or they would be forced to pay the difference in fares and change fees upfront.

Relative Barry Phillips, who travelled to Queensland to accompany the family back to Sydney, said the four family members had to pay more than $160 each. "They reckon they needed to prove that the baby died to change their flight," he said. Mr Phillips said he believed the airline should make it easier for bereaved people to change their flights.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said last night the family would be fully reimbursed for the fare difference and the change fees. "We deeply sympathise with our passengers in such situations and seek to be as flexible and accommodating as possible," she said.

"If documentation is unable to be provided at the time, change fees and fare difference applies. However, the amount is fully reimbursed once the documentation is provided." The spokeswoman said the airline would contact the family.

Jetstar also provides a voucher to passengers no longer able to travel for the amount of the fare originally purchased.

SOURCE

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hilarious! Superjumbos can now carry only 80 passengers!

QANTAS is alleging in a multi-million-dollar damages claim against Rolls-Royce that it could now carry only 80 passengers across the Pacific in its Airbus 380s, under new operating rules for their troubled engines.

The airline states in Federal Court papers that it bought the Airbus superjumbos because they would carry 450 passengers and a payload of 60,900kg from Australia to Los Angeles.

But the new rules imposed by Rolls-Royce since one of its Trent 900 engines exploded on a Qantas A380 near Singapore last month mean that the world's biggest passenger jet is not a commercial proposition on the airline's Australia-US route. Qantas, which has suspended the route, has asked for damages and costs.

The national carrier is also seeking a declaration from the court ordering the UK engine maker to fund a $1 million credit note relating to a guarantee against "uncontained engine failure" - to stop engine parts perforating the outer shield of an engine. Rolls-Royce is accused of negligence and breach of contract.

Qantas says in its statement of claim that Rolls-Royce continued to modify the Trent 900 engine, but left 23 engines on its big jets unmodified. At the time of the Singapore incident only one engine had been modified.

Meanwhile the nation's top air safety investigator has lauded pilots who landed the faulty Qantas Airbus in Singapore, saying they saved the lives of all the 469 people on board QF32 on November 4.

A preliminary report yesterday confirmed an oil leak as the most likely cause of last month's Qantas A380 engine failure over Indonesia's Batam Island. The leak caused pieces of the Rolls-Royce engine to shear off, penetrating the aircraft's left wing and sections of the fuselage.

Capt Richard Champion de Crespigny and the four other officers safely landed the aircraft under the power of its remaining engines. ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan said the cool-headed reaction of the pilots prevented a catastrophic accident. "The aircraft would not have arrived safely in Singapore without the focused and effective action of the flight crew," he said.

SOURCE

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A380 problems continue

QANTAS will conduct more detailed inspections of its A380 Rolls-Royce engines after Australian air safety investigators issued a new safety alert.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued the alert today after identifying a potential manufacturing defect concerning an oil tube connection to the bearing structure of the Trent 900 engines installed in some A380 aircraft.

The problem relates to the potential for misaligned oil pipe counter-boring, which could lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage and potential engine failure from an oil fire. The issue has been found in the first series of the Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines and airlines which use these parts will be required to undergo further examination. It is believed to be the cause of the dramatic engine failure onboard QF32 on November 4.

Qantas grounded its entire A380 fleet after the incident but has since returned two planes to the skies.

One-off inspections will be conducted on both of the airline's A380 aircraft in Sydney this afternoon. The inspections are not expected to impact on international services, however Qantas says it has contingency arrangements in place if needed. “After discussions with the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Rolls-Royce, it was decided it was prudent to conduct further inspections of engine components, although there is no immediate risk to flight safety,” Qantas said. “This is in line with Qantas’ conservative, safety first approach.”

Turbine fragments flew out of the QF32’s engine when it exploded in mid-air last month, severing cables in the wing, narrowly missing the fuel tank and taking out flight control systems, a preliminary report by Airbus found.

The pilots were forced to deal with an "unprecedented" number of issues during the two-hour ordeal, Vice President of the Australian and International Pilots Association, Richard Woodward, said.

The ATSB will release its preliminary factual investigation report into the QF32 incident tomorrow.

SOURCE

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Qantas 'glitch' delays England cricket team

The faults sure keep coming quick and fast

THE Engish cricket team has been delayed in Brisbane this morning due to a mechanical glitch with their Qantas plane.

Fast bowler James Anderson tweeted: "Flight has been delayed due to a mechanical problem with the plane. I would rather them change the aircraft than say it will take 20 mins to fix." Beanpole paceman Steven Finn was more succinct. "Nervous!" he tweeted.

The team finally took off 70 minutes late. "The aircraft had a minor technical issue. It was a hydraulic fault," a Qantas spokesman said. "The plane was left there and passengers put on another flight."

The cricketers will now arrive at Adelaide, venue of this week's second Ashes Test, 55 minutes late.

SOURCE
Another mechanical fault stops a Qantas flight

PASSENGERS were forced off a Qantas plane bound for Sydney this morning after a brake problem. Heraldsun.com.au believes the 208 passengers waited for 50 minutes on the tarmac at Melbourne Airport as engineers assessed the plane.

The embattled airline's latest problem comes just two days after a stray rock-climbing rope jammed in the baggage conveyor. Some passengers were told they could search through trolleys to find their lost bags.

This morning's flight was due to leave Melbourne at 6.30am (AEDT). A Qantas spokeswoman said the passengers were being put on other flights. "The plane will be in service this afternoon," the spokeswoman said. "This is a really minor issue. "I don't have the statistics on how often this kind of thing happens."

The spokeswoman said travellers had no reason to worry about flying with Qantas. "We will always put safety before schedule," she said.

Qantas has employed couriers to return up to 400 items of luggage to passengers after Sunday's baggage malfunction at Melbourne Airport.

Sydney-bound passengers were told they could walk on to the Sydney Airport tarmac to search through trolleys of missing bags if they signed a form and donned a yellow vest.

SOURCE

Monday, November 29, 2010

QANTAS blots its copybook again

A customer reports on a drawn-out baggage bungle:

The day of my flight was the day after the A380 engine incident. Whist at the airport I was interviewed by Channel 7 asking me if I was at all worried about my flight. I told them I was like 'Rain Man' and only liked to fly Qantas, that I was more worried about my connecting flight with Aeromexico to Guadalajara.

I checked my bags in 3 hours before my flight as requested. When I was boarding my flight the scanner beeped after reading my ticket. I was pulled aside by a Qantas staff member and asked if I had my bags checked in. I told him that I had checked them several hours ago and also informed him that I was going to a 300 year old Hacienda in the middle of Mexico and that I needed my bags to be on board as well as I needed to get that flight because I had a conference to attend.

When I landed in LA my bags were not there. The Qantas representative who was a US citizen told me that my bags were still in Sydney and assured me they would be sent to my hotel. I informed him that I was not staying in a city luxury hotel, that my Hacienda was 2 hours away from Guadalajara airport and was not easy to find. He guaranteed me that I would have my luggage in 24 hours.

Over the next 2 days my husband had several conversations with Qantas 'Customer Service'. He was told that I could purchase some clothing and Qantas would refund me the cost of new clothing. There were no shops and there were no ATM machines anywhere near me. 4 days after I boarded the plane I received a phone call from Guadalajara airport saying I had just 1.5 hours to collect my luggage or it would be shipped back to Australia as unclaimed baggage. I had been wearing the same underwear and clothing for 4 days. I had had enough.

I got to the airport, not knowing any Spanish and had to try to find someone who could help me sort the situation out. I was led to a room where my luggage was, unfortunately on my way out of Customs for the second time I was told that I couldn't go through. I had already given the Customs officer the proper papers a few days earlier and the Customs officer said that without that paperwork I couldn't enter Mexico again.

I got back to my Hacienda and demanded that someone from Qantas call me. Finally I spoke to someone who was actually Australian who guaranteed me that Qantas would make arrangements to make my trip home better, at the very least I was offered to enter the Business Class lounge. When I checked in at LAX there was no such information on my booking. I didn't get an upgrade nor did I get to enter the Business Class lounge as promised.

After 2 weeks of dealing with Qantas and having my holiday totally ruined by their lack of customer service I have decided to revoke my membership of their frequent flyer programme. I will be contacting channel 7 to do a follow up story on their lack of customer service, and I have decided that from now on I'll be a Virgin customer.

SOURCE

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Can QANTAS get ANYTHING right?

The lack of maintenance really shows. Thank goodness the latest engine failure took place while the plane was still on the ground

AS Qantas staged a major PR exercise to mark the return of its A380 fleet to service, another plane from Sydney, a 747, was grounded last night with engine failure. The flight, QF1 from Sydney to London, was due to leave at 6.05pm - but passengers were pulled off the plane after a loud noise emanated from the engine while they were taxiing towards the runway. The flight was later cancelled.

Earlier, passengers watched as Qantas CEO Alan Joyce staged a media conference to assure the public the company was now "100 per cent confident" A380 planes were safe. To prove the point, Mr Joyce flew the Singapore leg on the first A380 plane to return to service since the fleet was grounded three weeks ago when an engine exploded on a flight from Singapore.

But while passengers on the A380 flight to London got away on time, passengers on board flight QF1 to London via Bangkok were pulled off their flight because of an engine fault. "The aircraft was taxiing to the runway and the pilot had an indication of an issue with one of the engines, and following procedures it returned to the bay," a Qantas spokesman said. The passengers disembarked about 7pm and were given meal vouchers, while engineers examined the engine. But at 9pm they were told the flight was cancelled.

It was expected to leave at 9am today.A passenger on the plane told The Sunday Telegraph he could hear the engine die. "We were on the tarmac and then the captain said there was a mechanical problem; he said there was an electrical fault and that every time they tried to start the engine up it cut out," he said. "We sat for 45 minutes and then they took us off the plane."

He said many passengers were annoyed the A380 flight, with Mr Joyce on board, left on time while they were stuck.

But as the passengers boarded the 5.30pm A380 QF31 flight to London earlier, they expressed concerns. Claudia Clegg, 28, from Lilyfield said she was far from happy to be on board the first flight to return to service since the November 4 incident.

On board QF31 for her honeymoon with husband Jonathan, she said she was feeling "anxious" and was not happy to be flying an A380. "I've been following the story," Mrs Clegg said. "I received an email from the CEO two days ago saying they were pleased to announce that the A380 was going to start flying again and that I would be on the first flight. "They said the CEO would be on the flight but that does not make me feel any better."

But Lesley Arena, 28, from Bondi, said she had no doubts the flight would be uneventful. "I'm sure that if it wasn't safe they wouldn't put it up at all," she said.

Mr Joyce said 16 Qantas A380 engines would have to be replaced, and two engines on yesterday's aircraft had already been replaced.

The captain of yesterday's flight, David Evans, who was part of the cockpit crew onboard flight QF32, said as "a precaution" Qantas had decided to use "reduced thrust" on the engines for the initial flights. [Not exactly a vote of confidence!]

SOURCE

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jetstar fires safety whistleblower

The usual Jetstar bloodymindedness. They sure hate criticism

JETSTAR has accused a former employee who publicly raised concerns the airline's cost-cutting methods of misleading the public with "numerous untruths".

First Officer Joe Eakins, 31, was fired after criticising the airline’s plan to hire air crews based in Singapore "on wages well below their Australian-based colleagues" and what effect this would have on passenger safety.

His concerns were outlined in an article published last month and he was sacked for breaching company policy of speaking publicly about the airline.

"I am shocked and saddened they have chosen to react this way," he told the Herald Sun. "I've been a good employee and I'm shocked any company would sack an employee for raising their concerns about safety and industrial issues, especially in the airline industry."

However Jetstar has hit back at his claims, saying they are “untrue”. "The employee chose to publicly make incorrect accusations on multiple and separate occasions against Jetstar with the effect of misleading the travelling public," the airline said in a statement.

The budget carrier said it sought to resolve the issue with Mr Eakins "on numerous occasions but there was no engagement, nor acknowledgement, than an issued existed".

Jetstar Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Officer David Hall said the airline has a healthy culture across its which encourages all employees to report and discuss any issues and concerns in relation to safety. “We will never, nor have, taken action against any employee for raising safety concerns - we welcome genuine engagement regarding safety from any part of our workforce - without fear or favour,” Mr Hall said.

“In the past, and moving forward, our pilots based in Singapore achieve better take home pay in comparison to our Australian pilots. “Assertions of a 50 per cent discrepancy in pilot pay between Australia and Singapore or circumvention of existing industrial law are patently false.

Mr Eakins has been contacted for comment regarding Jetstar's allegations.

The Australian and International Pilots Association says it has consulted lawyers over the incident and will take action via Fair Work Australia. Association president Barry Jackson described Mr Eakins as a whistleblower and hero to the Australian aviation community and vowed to "take this as far as we can". "Joe's bravery in blowing the whistle on some of these practices has been rewarded by an unfair dismissal," Mr Jackson said.

Mr Eakins said in his article that the Australian aviation sector "is at a crossroads". "Not only are the dreams of the youngsters who look skyward at risk, but the institutions that created our reputation for safety through well trained experienced pilots is under threat, which is bad news for all Australians."

Earlier this month a Jetstar training captain also questioned the airline's training methods and resources. Geoff Klouth, a Jetstar pilot for four years and commercial pilot since 1987, outlined his concerns at a senate inquiry into aviation training and standards. He said that as a result some flight attendants have completed their training without having operated on the airline’s A321 aircraft, leaving them unsure how to “arm” the doors.

"They have been unable to 'arm' doors. Arming the doors is necessary to allow for the automatic deployment of the emergency escape slide if the aircraft has to be evacuated," he said in his submission.

Klouth also raised concern about the increasing number of flight attendants who are based in Singapore and Bangkok yet operate domestically on international flights. “The foreign based crew all speak English but the ability to be understood in an emergency is an aspect of their training that is not effectively assessed.”

He said the increasing pressure airlines are under to cut costs may threaten air safety. “The CEO of Jetstar requires a ten percent reduction in the airline costs per year. In a safety sensitive industry this will result in a reduction of the safety margins that have contributed to Australia’s aviation safety record.

SOURCE

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fault delays another Qantas flight

A QANTAS flight from Frankfurt to Sydney had to be grounded in Singapore after engineers found a hydraulics system fault on Saturday evening.

The problem was found just before about 400 passengers began reboarding the Boeing 747, which was on a two-hour stop at Changi Airport. A spokeswoman for Qantas - which has endured a spate of mechanical incidents in past weeks, including the grounding of its fleet of A380s - said pilots had not noticed the fault during the flight from Germany.

"The problem came to light when engineers did their pre-flight checks, and there was no issue on the flight from Frankfurt," she said. "The passengers were put up in a hotel overnight and will travel to Sydney on the same plane and the overnight delay was caused by our engineers having to source a part." The flight, QF6, was due to take off at 12.35am today.

In recent weeks Qantas has suffered four midair incidents serious enough to require planes to return to their departure cities.

An Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 both returned to Singapore after engine failures. Another 747 returned to Sydney after smoke appeared in the cockpit and last Wednesday a bird strike forced another 747 to return to Johannesburg.

SOURCE

Saturday, November 20, 2010



Jetstar: 'If you don't like it, get off the f---ing plane'

I notice that Jetstar is running a competition for travel stories. Here's mine, which I doubt will win. It is a true story.

I was flying from Christchurch to Melbourne. I am 60 and a regular flyer, but I have never faced such aggression from cabin crew nor have I seen it directed at anyone else.

I was sitting in the front row, boarded last and found the luggage bins near my seat full. The attendant asked me to hang onto my bag for a minute. When he came to take it he said he would put it down the back.

I asked how I would get it when we landed, he said I'd have to wait until everyone deplaned. I said I'd prefer to have the bag closer. He said: "If you don't f---ing like it get off the f---ing plane." When I wrote and complained to Jetstar I received a $7 gift voucher, which can only be redeemed if I book another Jetstar flight. As if.






Qantas running on empty

On the same day as the Qantas A380 mid-air explosion, I flew from Los Angeles on QF16 non-stop to Brisbane. Early in the morning the captain announced that we did not have sufficient fuel to land in Brisbane and we'd be diverting to Noumea to top up.

There was also insufficient food on board. Several passengers did not receive the overnight goody bag and, after leaving Noumea, there were not enough breakfasts. This meant that some passengers had little or nothing to eat after the dinner service shortly after leaving LA, a period of about 17 hours, given the diversion.

These incidents are a lot less significant than the A380 engine explosion but I believe they do speak of a general disintegration of Qantas service standards on every level.

There are several daily non-stop Qantas flights between LA and Brisbane. How can it be that our flight ran short of fuel? Qantas has shown no interest in answering this question.





Big men not catered for on Qantas A380s

As noted in Flight Test (Traveller, November 6), the arm rests in economy on the Qantas A380 don't come all the way up. Having paid for an extra seat, for more space, my money was wasted.

SOURCE

Friday, November 19, 2010

'Unprecedented' number of failures on ill-fated Qantas A380 flight

Another very close "near miss" for Qantas

NEW details have emerged revealing just how close Qantas flight QF32 came to disaster earlier this month.

Turbine fragments flew out of the plane’s engine when it exploded in mid-air, severing cables in the wing, narrowly missing the fuel tank and taking out flight control systems during the November 4 incident, according to a preliminary report by Airbus.

The pilots were forced to deal with an "unprecedented" number of issues during the two-hour ordeal, Vice President of the Australian and International Pilots Association, Richard Woodward, said. "The amount of failures is unprecedented,'' Mr Woodward, a Qantas A380 pilot who has spoken to all five pilots told the Associated Press. “There is probably a one in 100 million chance to have all that go wrong.''

The Federal Secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, Steve Purvanis, has emphasised just how lucky the passengers were to survive the incident. "Definitely with fuel gushing out of the fuel tank there and some very hot components, certainly one that was hot enough to explode an engine, they were very lucky that fuel inside the wing didn't ignite," he told ABC News. "The passengers and crew on board were probably unaware of how serious the situation was. "I would say from the pictures that I've seen that they're very lucky to be alive today."

The pilots were hit with one problem after another during the ordeal. With the engine on fire, the pilots struggled to deploy the fire suppression system. The wing’s two fuel tanks were punctured and fuel was leaking out, creating a growing imbalance between the left and right sides of the plane. However the pilots were prevented from pumping fuel forward from tanks in the tail due to electrical problems, which saw the plane become tail heavy.

Safety investigators say that this may have been the greatest risk - if the plane had become too unbalanced it could have stalled and crashed.

The pilots were also bombarded with a massive number of computer messages alerting them to the current and future system failures. One message warned that the main power system was about to be lost, leaving them with only enough power for vital systems - “the last thing you need in that kind of situation”.

“I don't think any crew in the world would have been trained to deal with the amount of different issues this crew faced,'' Mr Woodward said.

Luckily, there were five experienced pilots onboard the plane with a total of 100 years of flying experience between them. Among them was Captain Richard De Crespigny, who flew the plane while the other pilots dealt with the computer alarms and made announcements to the passengers.

However even when the runway was in sight the problems were not over, with the wing flaps and landing gear doors inoperable. The pilots were forced to use gravity to lower the gear.

The aircraft suffered several flat tyres during the landing as brake temperatures reached over 900 degrees Celsius.

It is likely that for some of the problems there were no procedures because no airline anticipates so many things going wrong at once, John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member said.

The airline has kept its entire A380 fleet grounded since the incident. It was announced yesterday that over 40 Rolls-Royce engines on A380 fleets worldwide will need to be replaced following the incidents, with up to 14 Qantas engines needing to be inspected and potentially replaced.

SOURCE

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New engines for Qantas superjumbos

ABOUT 40 Rolls-Royce engines on the world's A380 fleet will need to be replaced, Qantas chief says. This would represent about half of all Rolls-Royce engines on A380 planes that are currently in service.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the move was to ensure safety after one of the airline's engines broke apart mid-flight earlier this month, Reuters reports. Mr Joyce said the airline is in talks with Airbus to replace some of its existing Rolls-Royce engines with new engines from planes still in production on the Airbus assembly line.

"We've been talking to Airbus and Rolls-Royce and we understand that the number (of engines to be replaced) is around 40," Mr Joyce said. "We've already replaced three and there could be more."

Qantas has been plagued with issues since grounding its fleet of Airbus A380s after an engine explosion on November 4 forced an emergency landing in Singapore.

Yesterday one of the airline's Boeing 747 planes bound for Sydney was forced to turn back to Johannesburg after one of its engines suffered a bird strike.

On Tuesday one of Qantas' smaller Boeing 717s was hit by lightning on a regional flight between the destinations of Alice Springs and Darwin hours earlier, causing "minor damage" to the exterior.

The incidents follow the return to Sydney of a Qantas Boeing 747 bound for Buenos Aires on Monday after it suffered an electrical fault which caused smoke to pour into the cockpit.

Qantas refuses to confirm reports its A380 fleet will not return to operation until next month.

Both Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa have inspected the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines on their A380 fleet and have returned the planes to service.

SOURCE

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jetstar flight hit by mechanical problem

A JETSTAR Airbus has been forced to return to Brisbane due to a mechanical problem soon after take off. A hydraulic system malfunctioned on the Airbus A320 early into the flight to Mackay around 4pm yesterday, Jetstar's head of corporate relations, Simon Westaway, said.

"We had a burst of hydraulic fluid," he said. "One of the systems was losing hydraulic fluid. "For safety reasons, the flight returned to Brisbane. "It was a standard return and the aircraft was under full control of the pilot at all times."

The flight, JQ 888, landed without incident, and none of the 164 passengers was injured. They are being put on alternative flights and Jetstar was to put on an extra service to Mackay tonight.

Mr Westaway said the A320s have three hydraulic systems and investigations are under way to discover which one failed. He said it could have been the landing gear.

Mr Westaway said the incident should be kept in perspective, especially in light of recent issues Jetstar's parent company Qantas has had with its A380s this month. "Safety is paramount and we operate very safe operations," Mr Westaway he said.

Qantas grounded its flagship Airbus A380 long-range aircraft after an engine exploded on a flight from Singapore to Sydney on November 4.

Since then a Qantas Boeing 747 on its way to Argentina was forced to return to Sydney after smoke was released into the cockpit and a domestic flight from Perth to Melbourne had to return after flight crew became aware of a vibration in one engine of the Boeing 767.

SOURCE

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Qantas calls in flying doctors for A380 'hospital line'

QANTAS will have an Airbus A380 superjumbo in the air by the end of the month - a new plane Airbus is due to deliver in France in the next fortnight.

But the other six aircraft remain out of service - one damaged and impounded by air investigators in Singapore after the midair engine explosion on November 4, and the other five grounded while engine checks and technical examinations continue.

Qantas is establishing what it calls a "hospital line" to manage the checking, dismantling, upgrading and reinstalling the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines from the aircraft, said Qantas's chief executive, Alan Joyce.

Airbus has announced that Rolls-Royce has a kit to bring older Trent 900s up to date with the latest version coming off its production line. "The engines, when we take them off, will essentially go through a 'hospital line', which is an intense program that will look at fixing these components on the engine," Mr Joyce said.

Rolls-Royce has been making running modifications to the design, manufacturing and assembly of the engine's components, including the component believed to be at the centre of the midair explosion, a gear bearing and its oil supply system.

Qantas first has to identify what version of the engines it has, what problems the engine might exhibit and determine what components need upgrading to bring the engines up to the latest specification.

"When we identify that there's an engine that is a problem engine, that engine will be taken off-wing, and that engine will go through a program that puts those [latest] modifications back on it," Mr Joyce said. "We have the aircraft on the ground so we're obviously taking engines off, as we speak. Rolls will be then telling us what the program is to get them through the 'mod program' [of technical updates] and this 'hospital' review.

"We need to have the plan from Rolls about when this can be done, when the components can be done, when the components can be provided."

Work will be done in Rolls-Royce's engine facilities - one in Hong Kong and one in Britain. Engines will be airfreighted to the workshops from the grounded planes, two in Sydney and three in Los Angeles. They will then be modified and flown back for re-installation.

"We don't know at this stage what that time-frame's going to be," Mr Joyce said. "That means we can't be definitive when the aircraft will be back in the air."

There is also likely to be a shortage of the special cranes that lift and move the engines from the wings.

The latest industry estimate is that about 20 engines in the Singapore Airlines fleet, as many as 14 in the Qantas fleet and two in Lufthansa's fleet will need to be upgraded. Singapore Airlines is particularly affected, having received more early versions of the engine, Mr Joyce said.

Even the new A380, the seventh in Qantas's fleet, will still be subjected to the same airworthiness directives from the European Aviation Safety Agency as the other Rolls-Royce engines in the A380 fleet, which requires engines to be inspected by their 10th flight and every 20 flights thereafter.

Qantas is due to receive its eighth A380 next month and its ninth in January, so it should have at least one in the skies for Oprah Winfrey's tour to Australia.

Airbus has said Rolls-Royce is completing a software patch that would shut down an engine automatically in flight if it sensed anomalies to its normal operating conditions. The new A380 will be fitted with the latest version of the Trent 900 engine and the safety shutdown software.

Mr Joyce said that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority was also involved in the process of returning the aircraft to the skies. He said Rolls-Royce would not put Qantas at the back of the queue for new engines, even if Singapore Airlines needs a larger number of engine replacements or upgrades.

"We did all testing before anybody else did. Other airlines were clearing their fleets to fly. "We said 'no', we'd found problems. And when we found the problems we were requesting spare engines, so we were in there first; it was one of the advantages of the process that we've done."

Rolls-Royce has provided scant information to the public about how it is handling the engine explosion and the fallout, leaving the explanations to the airlines and airframe manufacturer.

Some industry insiders say it has adopted the strategy of BP in its handling of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: say as little as you can and it will all go away.

SOURCE

Monday, November 15, 2010



Qantas flight turns back after 'electrical issue'

A Qantas flight from Sydney to Buenos Aires has been forced to turn back after experiencing electrical problems.

The incident comes nine days after a Qantas aircraft made an emergency landing at Singapore airport when one of its engines disintegrated over Indonesia.

A statement from Qantas said that flight QF17, operated by a Boeing 747 and carrying 199 passengers, departed from Sydney Kingsford Smith at 11:11am. The aircraft suffered "an issue with the electrical system" and landed safely back at 1:22pm, the statement said.

Reports from Australian media said that the plane, which was also carrying three flight crew and 18 cabin crew, had to dump fuel before it landed. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the electrical problem lead to smoke in the cockpit.

One passenger told the paper's website: "There were no lights, no entertainment, only the emergency panels were on," "We were pretty bloody concerned."

No one was injured during the incident, Qantas said. Engineers are investigating the cause of the problem.

The incident is the latest piece of bad news for the Australian carrier, which celebrated its 90th birthday last week under a cloud of concern over the safety of its fleet of A380 superjumbos.

The string of mid-air emergencies has dented Qantas's reputation as the safest airline in the world. The company has never suffered a fatal crash.

SOURCE
Investigator questions Jetstar safety

A Jetstar training captain and former air-accident investigator has raised concerns about safety standards at the low-cost airline, saying some cabin crew are not properly trained for emergencies and its safety department is not adequately resourced.

In a submission to a Senate inquiry into aviation training and standards, Geoff Klouth said the airline had reduced the time spent on training new attendants, resulting in some cabin crew completing their courses without operating on its A321 aircraft.

"They have been unable to 'arm' doors. Arming the doors is necessary to allow for the automatic deployment of the emergency escape slide if the aircraft has to be evacuated," he said in his submission.

Mr Klouth, a Jetstar pilot and a former senior investigator at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said captains had stood down some flight attendants because of their lack of safety training for the A321s, which was a "symptom of the reduction [by Jetstar] in resources and training".

A Jetstar spokesman, Simon Westaway, said the airline demanded its flight attendants meet the highest of safety standards and this had been the case since it was launched in 2003. "We require a very high standard … and we stand by the training regime we have in place," he said. "We have sound resourcing right across the business, including in our safety department."

Mr Klouth was a fleet investigator in Jetstar's safety department when one of its aircraft made an aborted landing in Melbourne on June 21, 2007. Although he said there was not a "deliberate attempt to conceal information", there were "no protocols that required the ATSB to be informed of subsequent information" about the incident. His role as a fleet investigator was a part-time position as he was also a first officer.

Mr Klouth said his investigation into the Melbourne incident was limited by a "lack of resources" in the department. "As a part-time investigator I was not provided with a computer and had to provide my own, and I was not even allocated a desk," he said in the submission. "An airline safety department should be audited, possibly by CASA [the Civil Aviation Safety Authority], to ensure that sufficient resources are provided."

He wants airline safety departments to be forced to send copies of any internal investigation to the safety bureau. "Not all incidents that have been investigated by Jetstar have been reported to the ATSB," he said.

Mr Westaway said the airline provided up to 40 per cent more incident reports to the ATSB than it was required to, and the safety bureau had issued a final report in March about the Melbourne incident. "We stand steadfastly by the safety culture - you only have to look at our record," he said.

SOURCE

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A380 gamble wings Qantas

A QUEST by Qantas to become an early operator of the troubled Airbus A380 aircraft to help stave off competition from its rivals has backfired, experts believe.

The purchase of 20 super-jumbos, at a price of $332 million each, goes against Qantas's previously conservative buying practices, a senior aviation source said. He said the airline would traditionally wait for teething problems to be fixed before buying new models. "Qantas wanted to … be the first and the fastest. It had to buy the A380 to compete with Singapore Airlines [the first airline to offer an A380 service] on similar routes."

Rolls-Royce, which makes the Trent 900 engines for Qantas's A380s, has admitted responsibility for two engine failures and other faults that have grounded the airline's six superjumbos since November 4, but not before Qantas suffered huge financial losses and blemishes on its safety record.

Qantas would not confirm if it planned to pursue a multimillion-dollar warranty and damages claim against Rolls-Royce even though the manufacturer admitted modifying its new Trent 900 engines to address a potentially dangerous oil leak.

The British company confirmed an oil fire on QF32 had led to the disintegration of a turbine disc above the Indonesian island of Batam. An airline spokesman said yesterday compensation "was not on the radar at this stage" while it was working closely with Rolls-Royce to modify the engines.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said yesterday he refused to rush the A380s back into service. "We're not going to rush anybody, we're not going to be putting a deadline on it. We're going to make sure it's absolutely right before we have this aircraft start flying again," he said.

The airline has suffered four in-flight or pre-flight mishaps since the engine on a Singapore-Sydney A380 flight failed 10 days ago. Another flight from Singapore to Sydney, of a Boeing 747-400, was also forced to turn back with engine failure, and yesterday a Sydney-to-Melbourne flight was temporarily grounded with a mechanical fault.

Richard Woodward, an A380 captain and vice-president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, said Qantas was a "victim" in the Rolls-Royce engine drama. "It is a customer of Rolls-Royce and had trust in its long association with that company," Captain Woodward said. "Qantas is a victim in some ways and will just have to wear it for the time being."

The airline has acknowledged that, despite its strong reputation for safety, the latest engine dramas would have an effect.

Qantas management was also watching developments with the new-generation Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. In August, a Trent 1000 exploded in a British test lab.

On Tuesday, a Dreamliner was forced to make an emergency landing during a test flight after a small fire in an equipment bay. Qantas has ordered 50 Dreamliners.

The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association said Qantas would suffer continuing operational issues because Rolls-Royce maintained the Trent 900 engines.

SOURCE

Saturday, November 13, 2010



Qantas grounds Perth flight after more engine problems

QANTAS has been involved in yet another mid-air mishap, with passengers on their way to Melbourne from Perth forced to return after engine problems. The flight had to return to Perth Domestic Airport after the crew detected a vibration in the left-hand engine of the Boeing 767. The plane landed safely and the 234 passengers on board would be flown to Melbourne on other Qantas flights.

The incident is the latest in a series of sky-high dramas that have plagued Qantas and seriously damaged its safety reputation and brand.

The airline last week grounded its fleet of six Airbus SAS A380s after an engine in one exploded mid-air over Indonesia on November 4, forcing an emergency landing in Singapore with 466 people on board. A day later, a Qantas 747 jumbo jet was forced to return to Singapore after flames erupted from one of its engines. A third Qantas aircraft made a priority landing at Heathrow Airport in London on November 5 after problems with its hydraulic fuel system.

The Boeing plane involved in the latest incident from Perth had GE engines.

Rolls-Royce, the makers of the A380 engine, was tonight expected to announce it had worked out solutions to the engine problems grounding the six Qantas superjumbos.

Singapore Airlines have also grounded its A380 planes while the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau investigate the explosion over Indonesia.

Qantas has embarked on a series of cost-cutting measures as the airline industry struggles in the wake of the global financial crisis.

It has undertaken massive staff reductions, cut back on customer service and in-flight catering and outsourced its maintenance work offshore as it struggles to retain profits and boost its share price.

SOURCE

Friday, November 12, 2010



Qantas 'scarebus' QF32 was a flying wreck -- a hairsbreadth from disaster

We now see how brilliant was the job done by the pilot in landing the aircraft safely. Up there with Chesley Sullenberger. Singapore's superb Changi airport also deserves some credit for having a full 4km runway

Last week's mid-air emergency off Singapore also badly damaged a wing, which may have to be replaced. A full list of the damage to the Airbus A380 has been revealed after it was nursed back to Singapore on three engines.

When it touched down the fuel systems were failing, the forward spar supporting the left wing had been holed and one of the jet's two hydraulic systems was knocked out and totally drained of fluid.

Sources compared flight QF32 to the Memphis Belle, the World War II bomber that became the subject of a fictional award-winning 1990s Hollywood movie by the same name. The film portrayed the heavily damaged aircraft landing in England after a bombing raid on Germany.

Richard Woodward, vice-president of the International Air Pilots' Federation, told the Herald Sun yesterday that the lesson from the near disaster was the value of an experienced flight crew.

"There was a wealth of experience in the cockpit, even the lowest ranked officer on board had thousands of hours of experience in his former role as a military flying instructor," said Capt Woodward, himself an A380 pilot on leave from Qantas.

As another senior pilot said: "It is bad enough for an engine to explode in mid-air let alone lose so many secondary systems".

Investigators found shrapnel damage to the flaps, a huge hole in the upper surface of the left wing and a generator that was not working.

The crew could not shutdown the No. 1 engine using the fire switch. As a result the engine's fire extinguishers could not be deployed.

Captain Richard de Crespigny, first officer Matt Hicks and Mark Johnson, the second officer, could not jettison the volume of fuel required for a safe emergency landing.

With more than 80 tonnes of highly volatile jet kerosene still in the 11 tanks -- two of which were leaking - they made an overweight and high speed approach to Changi Airport.

Without full hydraulics the spoilers - the hinged flaps on the front of the wings - could not be fully deployed to slow the jet. The crew also had to rely on gravity for the undercarriage to drop and lock into place.

On landing they had no anti-skid brakes and could rely on only one engine for reverse thrust - needing all of the 4km runway at Changi to bring the jet to a stop.

The three crew have been interviewed by Australian investigators and cleared to return to duties.

Industry sources said the damage will almost certainly put the airline's flagship jet - the Nancy-Bird Walton - out of service for months.

Investigators found that an oil fire may have caused the engine to explode.

Details of the stricken jet's problems were revealed yesterday in an emergency directive by the European Aviation Safety Authority. The authority made it mandatory for airlines with the now suspect Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines to make checks for excess oil. If not detected, excess oil can cause a fire and ultimately result in "uncontained" engine failure, with potential damage to the aeroplane and to people or property on the ground.

Qantas made it clear it will keep its six superjumbos grounded indefinitely and has rearranged flight schedules using substitute aircraft. "The specific checks mandated by the directive were already being carried out by Qantas in conjunction with Rolls-Royce," it said. "Qantas's A380 aircraft will not return to service until there is complete certainty that the fleet can operate safely."

WHAT WENT WRONG ON QF32

1 Massive fuel leak in the left mid fuel tank (there are 11 tanks, including in the horizontal stabiliser on the tail)

2 Massive fuel leak in the left inner fuel tank

3 A hole on the flap fairing big enough to climb through

4 The aft gallery in the fuel system failed, preventing many fuel transfer functions

5 Problem jettisoning fuel

6 Massive hole in the upper wing surface

7 Partial failure of leading edge slats

8 Partial failure of speed brakes/ground spoilers

9 Shrapnel damage to the flaps

10 Total loss of all hydraulic fluid in one of the jet's two systems

11 Manual extension of landing gear

12 Loss of one generator and associated systems

13 Loss of brake anti-skid system

14 No.1 engine could not be shut down in the usual way after landing because of major damage to systems

15 No.1 engine could not be shut down using the fire switch, which meant fire extinguishers would not work on that engine

16 ECAM (electronic centralised aircraft monitor) warnings about the major fuel imbalance (because of fuel leaks on left side) could not be fixed with cross-feeding

17 Fuel was trapped in the trim tank (in the tail)creating a balance problem for landing

18 Left wing forward spar penetrated by debris

SOURCE

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Airport nightmare as ill passenger 'ignored by Jetstar'

Jetstar big on waffle afterwards, though

A SICK and pregnant woman stranded in a Singapore airport says Jetstar repeatedly ignored requests for help after her condition deteriorated during the seven-hour delay. Instead it was left to another passenger on the flight - a doctor - to intervene and advise Antonia Phipps, 30, be urgently removed from the departure gate after being provided with water and a place to lie down.

By that stage Jetstar had run out of water and the couple were kept at the airport for another three hours along with the rest of the passengers.

“My wife and I were extremely disappointed and upset at how staff handled the situation,” Glenn Phipps, 34, said. “They (Jetstar staff) responded regarding the delay in quoting that there were many passengers to look after. I told them that surely my wife was a priority.”

Mrs Phipps, 18 weeks pregnant, contracted a virus in Thailand and was examined in hospital the day before the flight. She was eventually issued with a fit-to-fly certificate and medication for the scheduled flight back to Sydney from Phuket on JQ28.

The stranding happened after the plane developed a problem with both autopilots and was grounded. The problem was compounded when the flight they were rescheduled to fly home on - Qantas flight QF32 on Thursday – made headlines around the world after its engine exploded mid-air the day before and it too was grounded.

Mr Phipps said he didn't contact an ambulance as his wife wouldn't have let him. He said she was trying her best to "tough it out" in front of their daughter. Mr Phipps says Jetstar has now apologised over the incident and offered compensation in the way of flights.

Jetstar spokeswoman Andrea Wait said while the incident was being further investigated the airline has been proactive in addressing the delay. Ms Wait said the airline sought to minimise the impact of the diversion on its customers by providing day and evening accommodation in Singapore and re-booked all passengers onto Qantas and Jetstar services to Sydney.

“In this customer's case, we sought to be as flexible as possible, delaying travel until the customer was able,” she said. “In this situation if a passenger becomes unwell at the airport and requires urgent medical assistance, we will notify the relevant health authorities at that location or direct them to available medical facilities, if appropriate.”

SOURCE

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The "F*** you" airline again

Jetstar passengers forced to sleep in airport

Up to 60 Jetstar customers were forced to sleep on seats at Sydney Airport after storms caused delays to flights, a passenger claims.

The budget airline said it had not received official reports of people being told they had to sleep at the airport, saying it was providing rooms for stranded passengers until 1am (AEDT) this morning.

But Sam Thornton told ABC Radio in Sydney that many travellers were told to sleep on the floor and on seats. "It was just the management's attitude," he said. "They had no accommodation and no access of getting to anywhere - top management came down and I think they really didn't give a damn."

Jetstar communications general manager Simon Westaway said the airline was still "getting clarity" on what happened. "We haven't officially been told of anyone who was told they had to sleep in the airport," he said.

The storms in Sydney last night caused a backlog at several airports across the country. Hundreds of travellers were forced to sleep at Brisbane Airport after Sydney-bound flights were cancelled due to the poor weather.

Severe thunderstorms shut down Sydney Airport from 6pm with no domestic or international flights able to land or take off. Scores of flights to and from the city were cancelled, with many diverted to Brisbane and Melbourne. Five international flights carrying more than 1000 people were diverted to Brisbane.

Brisbane Airport Corporation spokesman Jim Carden said Sydney's 11pm curfew meant four of those services were unable to resume when weather eased about 8.30pm Brisbane time, stranding hundreds of people. Mr Carden was unable to confirm how many passengers had stayed overnight at the airport, but said more than 1000 passengers were affected.

A Qantas spokeswoman said hotels had struggled to cope with so many stranded people. "There was a severe shortage of accommodation in Brisbane so [for] any of our passengers that were unable to find accommodation or return to their homes, we made the Qantas Club lounge available to them," she said. "There were a lot of people in the terminal overnight. Over 1000 people were affected across the country [from all airlines] ... 6pm is not a great time, there's a lot of flights coming in."

Mr Carden said some would have chosen to stay at the airport with the hope of leaving early this morning. "We've been voted one of the best airports to sleep in ... we often find people sleeping there for six, seven hours," he said.

A Virgin Blue spokeswoman said about 800 customers in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne were affected by the storm. She said the airline had been able to accommodate all 200 Brisbane passengers in hotels and put them on new flights this morning.

The Qantas spokeswoman said all passengers from Brisbane had been rebooked on prescheduled flights this morning.

There were reports this morning that some passengers were angry they had not been given promised food vouchers while they waited at Sydney Airport.

SOURCE

Sunday, November 7, 2010

QANTAS superjumbo engine failure MAY have been due to inadequate maintenance

Following is an excerpt from an EU notification which says that Rolls Royce Trent engines have a component with a high wear rate -- and that unusually frequent inspections of the component are therefore required. It specifies that engine failure is likely if this is not done

Wear, beyond Engine Manual limits, has been identified on the abutment faces of the splines on the Trent 900 Intermediate Pressure (IP) shaft rigid coupling on several engines during strip. The shaft to coupling spline interface provides the means of controlling the turbine axial setting and wear through of the splines would permit the IP turbine to move rearwards. Rearward movement of the IP turbine would enable contact with static turbine components and would result in loss of engine performance with potential for in-flight shut down, oil migration and oil fire below the LP turbine discs prior to sufficient indication resulting in loss of LP turbine disc integrity. Some of these conditions present a potential unsafe condition to the aeroplane.

This AD requires inspection of the IP shaft coupling splines and, depending on the results, requires further repetitive inspections or corrective actions. Since issuance of AD 2010-0008 Rolls-Royce has inspected several additional engines subject to IP shaft coupling spline wear. Inspections were carried out on-wing as well as in-shop.

Analysis of the results EASA AD No : 2010-0008R1 EASA Form 110 Page 2/3 provides a better modelling of the wear rate and allow to redefine reinspection periods based on: - average wear measured on each individual engine rather than maximum wear. - individual engine wear rates rather than an assumed worst case rate.

These inspection periods are extended compared to original issue of AD 2010-0008, and are deemed sufficient to prevent unacceptable wear. Effective Date: Revision 1: 18 August 2010 Original issue: 29 January 2010

Source

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another Qantas jet forced to make emergency landing

This would seem to be too much of a coincidence. Sabotage?

Another Qantas plane has been forced to make made an emergency landing after experiencing engine problems. Passengers on board the Qantas Boeing 747-400 jumbo said they heard a bang and saw flames "coming out" of the aircraft's engine minutes after takeoff. "We could see some flames coming out from the engine," Singaporean passenger Terence Sim told reporters after disembarking at the airport.

It is the second Qantas jet in two days to be forced to return to the airport after take-off with engine trouble.

A Qantas spokesman said: "Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft (QF6) from Singapore to Sydney experienced an issue with one of its engines. As a precautionary measure, the captain got priority clearance to return to Singapore. The aircraft landed safely a short time later without incident." There were 412 passengers on board, along with three flight crew and 16 cabin crew. No one was injured.

"We could see quite an impressive plume of flame from the engine," said Australian passenger Andrew Jenkins, 43. "There was a bang, not particularly loud, just loud enough to draw your attention."

Alan Rumsey, a 60-year-old Australian, criticised Qantas for the second incident in as many days. On Thursday, an Airbus A380 also belonging to Qantas was forced to turn back to Singapore after one of its engines exploded minutes into the flight to Sydney, showering debris on a nearby Indonesian town. "It makes me wonder how reliable Qantas is since this is the second incident in two days," said Mr Rumsey, adding that the airline needed to improve its maintenance.

He said the people seated on the left side of the plane who saw the fire "got scared and started shouting".

The Boeing 747-400 passengers' accounts were similar to the experience of those aboard the A380, who also recounted hearing a loud explosion and seeing fire on the Rolls-Royce engine.

According to the Qantas website, flight QF6 is a Boeing 747-400, fitted with four Rolls-Royce RB211-524G-T engines. The daily flight operates between Frankfurt and Sydney, with a stopover in Singapore. The aircraft was expected to take off again several hours later.

SOURCE

Friday, November 5, 2010



QANTAS alleges a design fault in A380 engines

Rejects opportunistic union claims. The plane was only two years old and recently had a heavy maintenance procedure in Germany by a Lufthansa facility -- so maintenance is unlikely to be the problem. Apparently the wing was pierced by debris so the problem was much more dangerous than a loss of power in one of four engines

QANTAS has rejected as "outrageous" union concerns over the outsourcing of maintenance of its aircraft, after the mid-air explosion on one of its A380s.

Qantas has suspended all of its A380 flights across the world while the carrier investigates the cause of the blast in one of the plane's four engines shortly after departing Singapore for Sydney yesterday .

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the cause of the engine failure was still being investigated, but it appeared likely to be a design problem. "It was a significant issue and a significant failure with the engine, and something like this we take very, very seriously," Mr Joyce told Fairfax Radio Network in Melbourne.

"That's why we've made the decision independently to ground the aircraft because we feel that our safety reputation and our focus on safety is our number one priority."

Mr Joyce said the engines had been maintained by manufacturer Rolls Royce since Qantas took possession of the A380s. "This is not an issue with overseas maintenance... "The accusations that somehow we're damaging safety by taking shortcuts on maintenance is just outrageous and it's not true."

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) yesterday said there were serious concerns with the A380 aircraft and called for all six Qantas Airbus A380s to be examined.

ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas said safety was a growing concern for Qantas engineers, with continued outsourcing of maintenance work.

Mr Joyce said last year 92 per cent of Qantas' heavy maintenance work was done in Australia, and that figure would be over 85 per cent this year.

Another engine on the plane could not be switched off when the aircraft went to land, which Mr Joyce said was likely to be related to the problem with the No.2 engine that failed.

Mr Joyce said the A380s would remain grounded for "as long as it takes for us to be absolutely sure that the aircraft are going to be safe to fly".

SOURCE
Qantas engine drama: reports of debris, explosion on superjumbo


Back of engine blown off

Passengers on the giant Qantas Airways jet forced to make an emergency landing in Singapore on Thursday said they heard a loud bang and saw pieces of one of the engines fall off soon after take-off for Sydney.

The Airbus A380, which had originated in London and was carrying 459 people, suffered failure of one of its four engines.

Australian officials said no one on board was injured. One passenger said an explosion ripped off the engine's rear casing. "I just heard this massive bang, like a shotgun going off," Tyler Wooster told Australia's Network Nine television. "Part of the skin had peeled off and you could see the foam underneath, pieces of broken wires sticking out."

Thursday's incident was one of most serious for the A380, the world's biggest passenger jet, in its three years of commercial flight. Qantas said it was grounding its fleet of six A380s pending a full investigation.

"I was sitting over the wing, where the No. 2 engine is. I was looking out of the window on the tarmac as we took off," Ulf Waschbusch, another passenger, told Reuters.

Former aircraft engineer Neil Shephard was also on board. "Four or five minutes after the flight there was a loud bang. The pilot said there was a technical issue with the plane and then we circled around for an hour to dump the fuel," he told Reuters.

"During the landing, it was a bit wobbly. We could not tell the extent of the problem until we got out of the plane where we could see one hole around six to seven inches wide on the wing. The pilot did a good job, it could have been worse."

"Qantas flight QF32 was en route from Singapore to Sydney, the number two engine has shut down, so as a precautionary measure we are taking it back to Singapore," a Qantas spokeswoman said. Qantas said the airliner landed at 11.45am local time.

No passengers or crew have been injured, Australia's Foreign Affairs and Trade department said.

Six fire engines immediately swarmed around the aircraft as soon is it landed on the tarmac, an AFP reporter at Changi Airport said. "I can see smoke coming out of it," the reporter said. "One of the engines on the left wing looks blown off. It is black and has jagged edges."

A380 FLIGHTS SUSPENDED

Following Qantas's decision, two A380 flights from Los Angeles would be grounded tonight, as would one in Sydney.

Speaking in Sydney late this afternoon about today's incident, Qanta's chief executive officer, Alan Joyce, said the aircraft and its engine were new. "We have decided that we will suspend all A380 takeoffs until we are fully comfortable that sufficient information has been obtained about QF32,'' he said. "We will suspend those A380 services until we are completely confident that Qantas safety requirements have been met."

Indonesian authorities said there had been some sort of explosion over the island of Batam, just south of Singapore, at about 9.15am local time. The explosion rained debris on a downtown area of Batam. Pictures on local television showed the Qantas logo on some of the debris.

Australian Geoff Reay, who lives on Batam Island, said his neighbours all heard an "explosion" and ran out on to the street. "Our little boy goes to [Elsadai School], about 200 metres from where there are bits of the aircraft on the ground," Mr Reay, a former Qantas flight attendant, said. The debris fell in the suburb of Dutamas, Mr Reay said.

A Qantas spokeswoman said there was "no suggestion it's come from our aircraft".

Indonesian media reports said jet debris had fallen on downtown Batam and pictures on local television appeared to show the Qantas logo on some of it. Tatang Kurnia, head of Indonesia's Transportation Safety Board, said the explosion came from a Qantas plane that had just lifted off from Singapore.

A Qantas pilot, who did not want to be identified, said engines were routinely shut down on aircraft which fly around the world but "it must have been quite a catastrophic failure if it blew parts off an engine".

In a recent similar incident, an engine exploded on a Qantas flight to San Francisco on August 30, with debris tearing holes in the engine cover. Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators found all of the engine's turbine blades had either fractured or broken away. The cause of the explosion of the Boeing 747's Rolls Royce RB211 engine is still under investigation.

Qantas shares slumped 15 cents, or 3 per cent, to $2.82 on initial reports of a crash but soon recovered and were recently trading at $2.92.

PREVIOUS A380 INCIDENTS

A Singapore Airlines flight was forced to turn back on a flight from Paris in December last year due to an engine problem.

In August, German airline Lufthansa shut down one of the engines on a Airbus A380 flying from Tokyo to Frankfurt. Flight crew detected a change in oil pressure which was probably the result of dirt particles clogging a filter in the hydraulic circulation system, Lufthansa said at the time.

Air France has also been forced to ground its superjumbo several times due to a problem with the fuel system.

SOURCE

Sunday, October 31, 2010



Crook seats on QANTAS

On my recent travel to the US I used my Qantas frequent flyer points to upgrade from premium economy to business class. The cabin service was outstanding, I suspect to cover the poor state of the seating on the 747. My seat was so bad I would have rather gone back to premium economy. The seat frame struts and support bars could be felt through the wafer-thin padding and the state of the seats was shabby at best.

I would like to point out as a regular traveller to the US and being 206 centimetres tall, I have tried several other airlines in recent times (Jetstar via Hawaii, V Australia and Delta) with great seats but ''so-so'' crew.

While I'm sure the seats on the A380 are better, Qantas don't forget you still have 747s: please improve/maintain them.

SOURCE

Wednesday, October 27, 2010



QANTAS plane cockpit locks 'can be opened by Paddle Pop stick'

I am putting this up in case there is something in it. It would need independent verification before acceptance

Qantas is putting passenger and pilot safety at risk with cockpit locks that can be opened with an ice-cream stick or a rolled-up boarding pass, an engineers' group says. Sunstate Airlines, a subsidiary of Qantas, is operating more than 20 aircraft with the unsecure locks, the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association says.

But Qantas group spokesman David Epstein said the claims were not about safety and the association had a much broader agenda.

The ALAEA's federal secretary, Stephen Purvinas, said the aircraft are flying in breach of the transport regulations because the locks are easily opened with a "Paddle Pop stick" and not fully bulletproof. "Management are aware of the problem, have provided no solution and the aircraft continue to fly in breach of the Department of Transport regulations," Mr Purvinas said in a statement.

"QantasLink opted for cheaper versions of doors that are required to be bulletproof and, on the larger aircraft they fly, resistant to grenade shrapnel. "These doors are compromised by locks which are not fully bulletproof." He said the association was calling on the aircraft to be grounded immediately until the airline is able to comply with the legislation.

Mr Epstein said the complaints are "a well-worn tactic of the ALAEA's federal secretary Steve Purvinas when enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations are not going his way".

"Safety and security are our highest priorities and the cockpit doors on 28 QantasLink turboprop aircraft meet all relevant aviation security regulatory and manufacturer requirements," Mr Epstein said. "This has been validated after consultation with the Office of Transport Security and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. "Yet Mr Purvinas is still prepared to raise his spurious claims, needlessly alarming the travelling public and damaging Qantas."

Mr Epstein said Qantas and QantasLink continually review security measures. "There is no need to for any aircraft to be grounded, and the travelling public can fly on QantasLink services with complete confidence," he said.

SOURCE

Monday, October 25, 2010



Exploding Qantas engine turbines broke up



Air safety investigators have found extensive turbine damage in the jet engine that exploded on a Qantas jumbo at 25,000 feet near San Francisco in August.

Engine parts that were flung outwards tore not only a gaping hole on the far side of the engine cover but also peppered the near-side with holes, air safety investigators have revealed.

As the engine vibrated, debris ejected through the engine hole hit the underside of the wing, puncturing the wing flaps, investigators have found.

Despite passengers reporting seeing flames and sparks shooting from the engine, investigators say there were no indications of an engine fire. There was no damage to the plane's body.

All of the engine's turbine blades had either fractured or broken away, investigators said. There was also damage of other engine internals including vanes, bearings, speed probes and a turbine shaft.

Further testing of engine components will be undertaken by Rolls-Royce, overseen by UK air safety investigators. The Rolls-Royce RB211-524 engine was removed from the aircraft and taken to Hong Kong for examination. It was last overhauled in May 2009 and had accumulated 5000 flying hours since then. Investigators will further review the engine's maintenance records.

The findings are contained in a preliminary report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) into the explosion on flight QF74, carrying 213 passengers and 18 crew, on August 30. The incident occurred 15 minutes after take-off.

The pilots shut down the engine, sought landing clearance, dumped fuel and landed safely at San Francisco, where the plane was met by fire crew, inspected and allowed to taxi to the terminal.

"This was an exceptionally rare event and the first time Qantas has experienced this type of engine failure," a Qantas spokesman said. "The information contained in the report accords with our own investigation and initial conclusion that the turbine failure was the cause. "We continue to work with the ATSB and Rolls-Royce on their investigations," the spokesman said.

SOURCE

Thursday, October 21, 2010



Another triumph for QANTAS maintenance

Witness tells of smoke and tears in Jetstar engine drama

Jetstar has denied claims that flames were seen coming from an engine of one of its aircraft in a incident that one witness says left flight attendants in tears. The airline's Christchurch to Sydney flight - JQ150 - was forced to land with just one engine about 4.30pm yesterday, but a Jetstar spokeswoman said pilots remained in total control of the Airbus A320. No one was injured, the spokeswoman said.

New Zealander Amanda Tottle, of Christchurch, was one of the 118 passengers on board. She said nearby passengers reported flames and dark smoke coming from one of the engines. Ms Tottle, who was sitting near the damaged engine, said the incident started "with a big loud bang", which shook the aircraft. "We were happily sitting there and suddenly there was this big loud bang and the guy sitting in front of me called over the stewardess and said there was flames and black smoke coming from the engine," she said.

Ms Tottle said the flight attendant then told the pilot. "We had the stewardesses continually running across to look at the engine and asking people what they saw but we really didn't have any other information at the time," she said. "Some of the stewardesses were up the back in tears and kept moving past passengers to look at the engines ... and I think that worried some people."

A Jetstar spokesman denied the engine was on fire but said it was possible it produced dark smoke. "Our understanding is that there was no fire coming out of the engines," he said. "It is my understanding you may have spoken to someone who has seen smoke and there could have been. "An engine was shut down ... and there could well have been smoke but you and me weren't up there so we don't know."

The spokesman said pilots shut down the engine just out of Sydney and told air traffic staff of the situation. Fire crews were on standby when the jet landed.

"I can confirm that from reports from the captain ... that a thorough explanation was provided [to passengers] on what occurred and ... that was well received as it was coolly done and very professionally handled," he said. The spokesman said he could not comment on whether any of aircraft's staff were in tears.

Ms Tottle said it took pilots about 30 minutes to tell passengers of the situation. "About half an hour after the big bang the pilot said you may be aware of an earlier incident and that they had lost one engine but the plane can fly with just one engine," she said.

"We then circled the airport about three or four times ... and when we landed, which was [a] really heavy [landing], there were fire crews everywhere. But never were we told what was really going on."

The spokesman said the airline "has the most modern jet fleet in Australia and will thoroughly investigate" what caused the engine to malfunction. "It should take some time as to reasons why the engine malfunctioned ... but we are working with the manufacturers."

The aircraft did not carry out any further journeys yesterday, the spokesman said.

SOURCE