Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Passengers stuck on north Queensland Qantas flight for more than six hours

QANTAS passengers from Brisbane endured a nightmare six hours stuck on board a flight to Mackay on Monday and ended up in Townsville. What should have been a 1 hour and 35 minute trip turned into a lengthy ordeal after weather prevented the plane from landing twice in Mackay and a technical fault halted a third take-off.

The more than 100 passengers were forced to remain on board the Alliance plane for the entire journey on Monday and were not offered any additional food.

Between boarding at 2pm in Brisbane and disembarking in Townsville at almost 9pm, passengers were given only a muffin in the first hour of the journey and offered water and juice at 8pm.

The flight - QF2516 - was supposed to take off at 2.10pm from Brisbane and land in Gladstone 1 hour and 35 minutes later. However, the flight touched down in Townsville about 5.30pm and then again at 7.20pm after two failed attempts to land. The plane was to make a third attempt to get to Mackay at 8pm but the take off was aborted due to a technical fault.

"At this stage I don't think we'll be going anywhere," the pilot told irate passengers.

A Qantas spokeswoman said low cloud cover over Mackay had prevented the flight from landing.

She said it was an "unusual situation" and said passengers had not been offered any more food because the flight had not been re-catered on either of its two refuelling stops in Townsville.

Angry Qantas passengers were offered accommodation.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Qantas plane diverts to Noumea "because of fog" at Brisbane

Even though Brisbane airport remained open! A weak excuse for an inadequate fuel load, it would seem

HEAVY and persistent fog over Brisbane has forced a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to divert to Noumea as a "fuel conservation measure".

A spokesman said after a long-haul flight it was “not ideal to be circling indefinitely” waiting for the fog to lift. He said the flight would leave Noumea about 9am and arrive into Brisbane at 10.15am.

Bureau of Meteorology Senior Forecaster Brett Harrison said the fog started forming about 3am today, gradually becoming denser. He said the fog should start clearing about 7.30am and would be gone by about 8.30am.

A Brisbane Airport Corporation spokeswoman said the fog had not affected the ability for planes to take off and land. “The fog is down the southern end, so at the moment we’re ok and there have been no diversions due to the fog,” she said. “But we are monitoring it really closely in case it shifts.”

Last week Qantas came under fire for allegedly pressuring pilots to cut costs by taking on less fuel. The strategy was blamed for two diversions of Qantas flights because of low fuel.

Qantas has emphatically denied pressuring pilots to carry less fuel but it has admitted to encouraging pilots to monitor how much fuel they put on board their aircraft. The airline has imposed a series of increases in fuel surcharges this year as a result of soaring world oil prices.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Engine problems force Qantas plane to turn back to Bangkok

A QANTAS jet heading out of Bangkok was forced to turn around following take-off last night after the pilot discovered problems with the engine. A Qantas spokesman confirmed this morning there had been "an issue with the engine" overnight.

The Boeing 747 QF1 flight was heading to London from Bangkok when the pilot discovered a mechanical problem and turned the jet around. The pilot managed to land the plane, which was carrying 308 passengers, safely about 2.30pm local time.

"Shortly after take-off there was an increase in vibration and high temperatures from one of the four engines, so the pilots shut down this engine and as a precaution returned to Bangkok," the spokesman said. "The aircraft can safely fly on three engines and it had a normal landing in Bangkok not long afterwards. "We believe the cause is similar to events that other airlines are experiencing and is subject to an increased monitoring program from the manufacturer Rolls Royce."

Nobody was injured in the incident.

The problem is the second experienced by Qantas in as many weeks, with another flight forced to turn around earlier this month.

The airline also experienced similar problems in January when a Boeing 747 jet plunged 8000m during an emergency descent and hours later a Sydney-bound flight was forced to return to Bangkok because of one of the engines began consuming fuel more quickly then normal.

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.

Dangerous practice - Qantas A380s carrying less fuel

What if the nearest available airport is in the middle of bad weather when fuel runs low? Landing in a storm is the recipe for a crash

QANTAS pilots flying the flagship Airbus A380 super jumbos are being pressured to carry less fuel on long-haul flights in a cost-cutting measure to reduce the airline's soaring fuel bills.

Company insiders have revealed a campaign - which includes charts ranking pilots based on fuel usage - that is increasing the risk of flights being diverted because they could not safely reach their destinations.

Two flights were forced to divert with fuel issues in the past week. A Melbourne-bound A380 was redirected to Adelaide on Tuesday after crew discovered it had burnt through too much fuel.

A flight from London to Singapore was forced to land in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday because it had inadequate spare fuel to circle Singapore while a storm cleared.

The airline yesterday denied the diversions were solely the result of planes not carrying enough fuel.

But documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph reveal that in the past two years the amount of "discretionary fuel" - carried on board flights to deal with emergencies, unforeseen bad weather and airport delays - has been almost halved.

The documents also show flights landing at Singapore and Melbourne - the two destinations to suffer diversions this week - on average landed with the least amount of remaining fuel of any Qantas A380 flights.

A pilot said yesterday the document, which ranks pilots based on how much fuel they take on board, was putting "subtle pressure" on crews. "The airline is trying to save money, knowing that a lot of our pilots will see it as a challenge and compete with each other," he said.

He said the reductions in discretionary fuel - which save the airline about $3000 on each flight - would lead to more delays due to weather or other unforeseen problems.

Adjunct senior lecturer at the UNSW School of Aviation Peter Marosszeky, who has almost 50 years experience in the sector, said that while the fuel policy had no impact on safety, it increased the chance of passengers being inconvenienced.

A Qantas spokesman confirmed the company was looking at ways to reduce fuel costs but denied it had any impact on services. "It is entirely appropriate that, within our carefully managed policies and procedures, pilots are encouraged to closely monitor discretionary fuel uplift," he said.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Amazing! Qantas flight forced to divert to Adelaide after running low on fuel

A MELBOURNE-bound Qantas plane was forced to divert to Adelaide this morning after crew discovered it did not have enough fuel. A Qantas spokesman said the A380 from Singapore made the unexpected pit stop around 5am AEST.

He said the low fuel supply was not the result of a leak. "Engineers have inspected the aircraft on ground this morning in Adelaide and found there were no technical issues," the spokesman said.

"The flight crew found they had burnt through the fuel supplies quicker than expected. "It was not an emergency landing."

The jet carrying 249 passengers was expected to arrive in Melbourne about 7.30am.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Qantas passengers tell of engine fire scare

A second Qantas passenger on QF5 from Sydney says he heard what sounded like an "explosion" before the plane rolled and "suddenly lost altitude".

Craig Scutella, a Sydney-based management executive, said he was relaxing in the premium economy section of the Singapore-bound Boeing 747 on Monday evening when he heard a "large noise". "[It] sounded like an explosion from the right hand side of the plane, the plane rolled a little, there was an [sic] noticeable increase in the air pressure on board, then the plane suddenly lost altitude," Mr Scutella said in an email.

Pierre Lord, who was also on board, said he saw an engine on the right wing ablaze with large flames about an hour and a half from Singapore, while the aircraft was flying over the ocean. Mr Lord said he was sitting at the back of the plane two seats from the window when flames "five or six metres long and about a metre in diameter" shot out of the engine for about two minutes before the fire was put out. "It looked like the back of a rocket, burning white and pink and blue, not little yellow flames," he said.

The captain told passengers, when the plane landed in Singapore, that an engine had failed, Mr Lord said. Mr Scutella said he heard the captain announce that the engine "misfired" and was restarted.

Qantas this morning denied that the engine failed and disputed the extent of the flames, but said an engine had to be shut down. "There was an increase in vibration from one of the four engines, so the pilots shut down this engine as a precaution and flew the plane safely to Singapore," the spokesman said. "The planes can safely fly on three engines and landed without incident around two hours later in Singapore.

"The passenger may have seen sparks and small flames for a short time in the exhaust area of the affected engine but it was definitely not on fire."

Mr Lord said he thought it was "the end" and ran to tell a flight attendant who was already talking to the pilot on the phone. Although the plane was surprisingly calm and no one panicked, he said about 30 people were on their feet looking out of the window "counting the seconds". "I was expecting something to blow any second," he said.

Mr Scutella said the incident lasted about five minutes before "the plane was back to normality".

Qantas said its engineers were looking into what caused the increase in vibration.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

'Unbelievably moronic' Qantas

It seems Qantas just can't get a break. Aussie comedian Corinne Grant is their latest disgruntled passenger, taking to Twitter to vent her frustration at the "moronic" and 'idiotic' airline that left her stranded on the tarmac.

Grant was among other Sydney-bound passengers who found themselves stuck on the tarmac this morning because the plane they had already boarded was deemed unsuitable to fly.

Grant tweeted: "Apparently u don't check the hydraulics for oil leaks until the plane is boarded & about to leave. Have I mentioned how much I hate qantas? "2nd time in 2 wks I've been on a Qantas flight they've discovered at the last minute isn't flight worthy. No wonder staff are striking Fri."

To make matters worse, Grant reported that all passengers were made to sit on the aircraft until they were found other flights. "Unbelievably moronic - they've decided to make us all sit on the aircraft while one by one they find us other flights," she tweeted. "If they'd just let me off the bloody plane I could go to another carrier. But no - we're trapped here & being found planes 1 by 1. Idiotic."

One of her followers is daring enough to suggest that she switch to a Virgin Blue, to which she responds: "I've asked to swap over, but so many companies use Q that it's hard to change their habit. Wish I was flying with anyone else!"

Grant's outburst comes on the back of the announcement by Qantas aircraft engineers that they will strike on Friday over wage discrepancies.

Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) federal secretary Steve Purvinas said concerns about job security had not been allayed by Qantas. "Our wage claim is modest - less than inflation in fact," he said. "What interests us more is job security, and for aircraft engineers that means simply being able to carry out aircraft maintenance in Australia."

But what does Grant think about the proposed strike? "Yes--I support them striking on Friday!!"


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Trainee pilots in the cockpits with Jetstar's domestic flights

JETSTAR passenger services are being flown by trainee pilots with as little as 200 hours experience, according to the pilots' association. The cadets are employed on part-time contracts which guarantee just $57,600 a year - with no pay rise for six years - and require them to pay the airline $10,500 a year for on-the-job training costs. If they wish to resign after less than six years with Jetstar, their contracts require they pay up to $10,000.

Trainees under the program are currently co-piloting Airbus A320s between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Most are unable to legally fly to New Zealand, where the requirement for commercial pilots is 500 hours experience.

Australian and International Pilots Association vice-president Richard Woodward accused Jetstar of trying to make young pilots "financial prisoners of the airline". "This program is putting a person with about the same number of hours it takes to drive a car in the right hand seat of the cockpit," he said. "Jetstar is creating a 'B scale' for pilots because they're part-time employees."

Jetstar denied the claims and said the program provided an "excellent career opportunity. In the past, becoming a pilot has been extremely expensive and has taken many years of flying in general aviation," a spokeswoman said. "[It] makes becoming a pilot more accessible."

Jetstar said the program, launched late last year, would "deliver enhanced safety outcomes as it is based on ensuring pilot competency, with the pilots trained in Jetstar procedures ... from day one."


Monday, May 2, 2011

Qantas AGAIN!

Loud bang shakes mine workers' Qantas FIFO flight

A QANTAS flight carrying about 100 mining workers from Perth has been turned back after a loud bang shook the plane. Flight QF1820 took off from Perth Domestic Airport at about 5.40am (WST) today carrying fly in-fly out mine workers to Newman in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

A mining worker on board said the plane had just begun to level out after take-off when the captain told passengers they had experienced a problem with the left engine and would be returning to Perth.

"Shortly after take-off we did experience a bit of a bang. We heard it and felt it as well, and not long after that we dropped a little bit in altitude," Tim Williams told ABC Radio. "We did notice a little bit of instability in the plane in the flight."

Mr Williams said the Boeing 717's take-off seemed normal. But, he said the subsequent drop in altitude caused concern among passengers and cabin crew. "There was quite an uneasy reaction. Everyone sort of stopped what they were doing, had a look around, thought about it for a second and tried to be calm," Mr Williams said. "Just to watch (the crew) was a bit worrying, to see them fumbling themselves, not knowing what to do, but they were quite calm and handled it well."

He said a member of the cabin crew let passengers know what had happened, but "you could hear she was a bit shaky".

"At first, I didn't realise what had happened, but as we dropped in altitude I knew what was going on," the mining worker said. "I was a bit worried, a bit scared, had a little prayer in my head and that was it. It was out of my hands, there was nothing I could do."

The flight landed safely at Perth Domestic Airport.

Many of the mine workers on board were headed to BHP Billiton's Mt Whaleback mine, the biggest single open-cut iron ore mine in the world.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Jetstar: Terrible service

My wife and newborn child recently had to fly Jetstar to get from Melbourne to Singapore. We lined up to check in for over an hour, then when were told that she couldn't board the flight unless she had her itinery for her onwards flight to Colombia. I let them know that this was incorrect because my Dad is a Singapore PR so all they need is an address and to tell them that she is catching a bus onwards, or that she will fly out shortly and they will let her in. They didn't care.

Not wanting to waste time arguing with someone who hadn't been trained correctly I had the idea to purchase a flexi-ticket and get it refunded a few days later. I did this, the girl who did it for us, informed me that I (as in, me personally) could call up in a couple of days and get the refund. So, I purchased the ticket for my wife and son and they boarded the plane.

Two days later I called up, using the number on the tax invoice that the girl behind the counter handed to me (not my wife who wasn't even nearby when I purchased the ticket) and they told me that since I hadn't been listed as a contact on the ticket I wasn't able to get my refund! I let them know that I was the one who purchased the ticket, I used my debit card, the money came out of my account, I was never asked if I wanted to be a contact (honestly shouldn't this be assumed? I mean how dumb are these people?) yet they wouldn't give me my refund.

Then, after much hassle, I got my wife to call them up and list me as a contact. She did, but when I called in to get my refund, they told me that nothing had been noted down and that I STILL couldn't get my money back.

This is possibly the worst customer service I have ever had to deal with. I don't care how cheap they are, that doesn't mean they have to hire utter morons. All I want is my money back, the money that should have even needed to be spent in the first place.

Will NEVER be flying jetstar again. Won't even consider it, wouldn't even do it if they paid me to. I have since filed a formal complaint with the ombudsmen and will take this to court if I need to. Nobody should have to deal with this level of incompetence.