Aug 30, 2008

Qantas interim report on the emergency landing on July 25 released on Friday

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Air safety inspectors in its preliminary interim report on Friday, which is not yet a final binding one, confirmed that an exploding oxygen cylinder ripped a gaping hole on Boeing 747-438 aircraft's fuselage mid flight last month belonging to the Australian airlines Qantas. Julian Walsh, acting executive director of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau released this interim report on an ongoing investigation of the emergency aboard the aircraft, which took place while carrying 365 people, over the South China Sea on July 25 almost an hour after take off from Hong Kong.

Fridays report confirmed that one of the seven oxygen cylinders below the cabin floor had exploded, causing the emergency. The flight made a miraculous emergency landing at the Philippine's capital city Airport of Manila after having lost the landing instruments due the severe emergency, which led to the plane's dropping to an altitude of 3000 m, where the oxygen masks are not required generally if there are no patients and elderly people aboard the aircraft.

Mr Walsh could not say what exactly could have been done to prevent this type of incident as the investigations are still going on and the aircraft is presently parked at the Manila airport where a physical examination for clues to the cause of the near-disaster has been completed.

The 12 kg steel cylinder, pressurized to 1,850 pounds per square inch (12,755 Kilo pascals), "sustained a failure that allowed a sudden and complete release of the pressurized contents," Mr. Walsh said. The explosion blew a hole in the fuselage 202 cm wide and 152 cm high, the report said. Most of the cylinder rocketed up through the cabin floor, shearing off an emergency exit door handle and narrowly missing a crew seat before striking the cabin roof. It ricocheted down through the hole it created in the cabin floor, the report said. All of the cylinder's remains dropped through the ruptured fuselage and disappeared into the sea.

Investigations are still on to find the cylinder's manufacturing and all the safety procedures involved before installing the cylinders on board an aircraft.

Since the incident Qantas has carried out its fleet wide inspections on the cylinders and other safety measures. Qantas released a statement backing the preliminary report's findings that an exploding bottle had caused the emergency.

The explosion aboard the flight from London to Melbourne, Australia, has raised questions about the much lauded safety of Australia's flagship airline, which has never lost a jet aircraft because of an incident.

News Source - AP

The impact of the emergency can be gauged from the fact the cylinder made a gaping hole in the cabin and ricocheted back through the same hole, so it was a very gaping hole indeed as generally the cylinders ricochet could have prevented it from escaping the cabin and the fuselage had the holes been small. This was definitely a major emergency case, it was all luck that have saved the passengers lives on the plane. And the credit should go to the crew which managed the emergency landing of the aircraft without the vital landing instruments, which were lost in the incident.


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