Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Qantas plane drops 20,000 feet during Melbourne-bound flight

Defective aircraft are now routine for Qantas. Their cost cutting will cause deaths in time

"Panicky" attendants were the first sign that something was "awfully wrong" on Qantas Flight 670 yesterday. The Boeing 737-400, which left Adelaide Airport at 6.20am bound for Melbourne, had been in the air for about 30 minutes when the airconditioning system suddenly depressurised and and oxygen masks dropped in the cabin.

The pilot was forced to plunge from 36,000 feet to 10,000 feet to stabilise the cabin pressure. One passenger, Simon, said the first they knew of the drama was when some of the flight attendants looked "panicky". "We knew there was something wrong because we were heading down," he said.

"We started powering down. It was quite a rapid rate. From there the masks dropped and they (the masks) sat there. We didn't know what it was for, there was no communication. "Finally we put on the masks and then the emergency message came across telling us `this is an emergency'.

"It appeared the flight attendants were looking at each other trying not to be the first ones that panicked - we knew something was awfully wrong. There was no yelling or screaming among the passengers, just a few people panicking, shaking, just generally scared for their lives." He said the passengers had their masks on for about 10 minutes.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the plane had a depressurisation problem in the cabin which was the result of an airconditioner fault. "There was no safety issue at any time, emergency services were not required to attend the aircraft, it was a normal routine landing," she said. "They (the crew) asked for a rapid descent as a result of a depressurisation. There was no medical assistance required."


Qantas 747 forced to return to Bangkok after engine problem

HOURS after a Qantas jet plunged almost 8000m during an emergency descent yesterday a Sydney-bound flight was forced to return to Bangkok because of engine problems.

Flight QF2 carrying 352 passengers was about 30 minutes into its flight from Bangkok International Airport when one of its engines began "consuming fuel more quickly than normal" a Qantas spokesman said. It was forced to return to Bangkok where it landed safely about 7pm local time (11pm AEST).

Affected passengers are expected to spend a second night in temporary accommodation with Qantas scrambling to send a replacement engine from Sydney for the troubled Boeing 747 today. "As far as possible we will try and get passengers who need to return to Sydney urgently on other flights but that will be dependent on availability on other airlines," the spokesman said.

"It was not actually an engine failure, (the pilots) did not shut the engine down they just reduced the thrust."

However one passenger on the flight says the engine "blew".

The spokesman said there were no other replacement Qantas aircraft available in Bangkok.

The latest safety drama for the besieged airline follows the emergency descent of a Boeing 737-400 yesterday after its cabin lost pressure on a flight from Adelaide to Melbourne.

Almost 100 passengers on board the flight were forced to wear oxygen masks as the plane plummeted 7900m to a height of 3000m.

Qantas said an air-conditioning fault caused the depressurisation.

Last week a trans-Pacific flight carrying 375 passengers diverted to Fiji after suffering an engine problem while in November Qantas suffered its most serious safety scare when an engine exploded mid-air en route to Sydney on board one of its flagship A380s.

Last night's incident was not the first time flight QF2 has been forced to land because of mechanical problems. In January 2008 the airline and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau launched an investigation after QF2 from London lost power from all four of its generators on its descent into Bangkok.

The 747 with 344 passengers on board lost electrical power about 15 minutes away from landing. At the time the ATSB said if the power failure occurred further away from an airport there could have been a serious accident.


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