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!]


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