Qantas flight in Johannesburg scare

2010-11-17 09:13
Sydney - A Boeing 747 carrying 171 passengers bound for Sydney turned back to Johannesburg after a bird slammed into one of the jumbo's four engines shortly after takeoff late on Tuesday, the airline said.

It landed safely, but suffered damage to turbine blades in one engine that would take a day or two to repair, Qantas spokesperson Tom Woodward said.

Also on Tuesday, a Qantas Boeing 717 sustained minor damage to its fuselage when it was struck by lightning during a domestic flight between Alice Springs and Darwin. The aircraft did not have to turn back because of the strike, and continued safely to its destination of Darwin, Woodward said.

The bird and the bolt of lightning were the latest problems to strike Qantas, the airline said on Wednesday, causing the fourth flight turnaround since an engine blowout on one of its Airbus superjumbos caused a global safety scare.

The string of incidents on Qantas' older fleet of Boeing aircraft is unrelated to the A380 scare and were caused by various glitches and uncontrollable events that are not uncommon to any major carrier, the airline and a commercial aviation analyst said. But the events have happened in an unusual cluster and have drawn extra attention following the superjumbo blowout.

Four Qantas flights have turned back to port since the A380 incident because of various faults and problems. The airline says none of them were as serious as the superjumbo problem, and the turnarounds were in line with Qantas' routine safety procedures.

The day after the A380 problem, a Qantas Boeing 747 bound for Sydney turned around and landed safely in Singapore after an engine caught fire minutes after takeoff. Last Friday, a Boeing 767 turned back on a domestic flight in Australia after pilots detected abnormal vibrations in an engine.

Not uncommon

On Monday, the flight crew aboard a Qantas Boeing 747 bound for Argentina donned oxygen masks and returned to Sydney after an electrical fault sent smoke into the cockpit.

Peter Harbison, the head of the respected consultancy the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said the various problems Qantas flights have experienced since the A380 incident are the kind of things that all airlines experience from time to time.

"None of them is uncommon in its own right, though it is relatively uncommon to have such a string of them so quickly, with no common cause," he said. "It's just one of those times - when you're unlucky, you're unlucky."

Extra attention has focused on Qantas - which has a reputation as one of the world's safest airlines - since the November 4 A380 incident, when one of the plane's four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines disintegrated in flight and sent shrapnel ripping through the wing before it returned to Singapore and landed safely.

Aviation officials have identified an oil leak near a turbine as the flaw that caused a fire and the engine failure, and Qantas' six A380 - the world's largest passenger plane - remain grounded while the airline carries out checks and repairs. The other carriers using Trent 900s on their A380s, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, have returned their planes to service.

Meanwhile, investigators called off their search for missing parts from the stricken A380 that fell off when the engine disintegrated - including a chunk of a turbine disc that shattered into pieces in the explosion.

Engine being scrutinised

The failure sent shrapnel searing through a wing and scattered debris across Indonesia's island of Batam. Many parts were found by residents, and investigators found more, though they said they were being hampered by thick jungle.

"A number of small engine components were recovered during the search, including some turbine blades and blade attachments; however, other significant parts of the liberated No. 2 turbine disc have not been located," the bureau said in an update on the investigation posted on its web site.

The stricken engine has been removed from the plane in Singapore and was being dismantled for closer scrutiny, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said. Examination of a part of the turbine disc that was recovered from the plane has been completed, it said.

The bureau is due to deliver a preliminary report on the incident by December 3.

- Were you on the flight? Do you know anyone who was on the flight? Send us your story

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    qantas  |  air travel

Beirut protest turns violent

2015-10-08 22:24 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

De Allende's star burns bright
Boks were 'in a dark space'
Pacific island teams singled out for rough tactics?
Ireland favourites but France bullish
Traffic Alerts

It is always easier to notice the faults in others rather than face our own. Focusing too much on the perfect and ideal more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.