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On November 4th, 2010 Qantas A380 VH-OQA (“Nancy Bird Walton”) was operating flight QF32 from Singapore to Sydney. During the climb out from Singapore, the number 2 Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine’s Intermediate Pressure Turbine appears to have failed and flown apart, sending bits through the aircraft’s wing in multiple locations and raining debris down on Batam island, Indonesia. After assessing the problem, determining their options and burning off fuel, the crew were able to return the aircraft to Singapore for a safe landing.
This incident, in conjunction with some other recent engine failures on Qantas 747s, has overshadowed Qantas’ 90th birthday celebrations. While the story is still unfolding and it will be some weeks before the ATSB’s preliminary investigations are completed, we have decided to quickly produce an episode dedicated to the incident.
To begin with, we talk to Captain Richard Woodward, Vice President of the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA). He discusses what the crew would have experienced on board as the incident unfolded, including the systems alerts & alarms, the processes to be followed and the roles over the various people on board. He also discusses the A380’s systems & redundancies and the options available to the crew when flying & landing a crippled aircraft.
We then chat with Steve Purvinas of the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) about the changes that have occurred in Qantas as they have moved from an exclusively in-house engineering operation to one that relies more on outsourced maintenance performed overseas. We discuss the implications of the changes and other paths Qantas could have followed.
This episode was conceived, implemented and released within the week of the incident occurring as we felt it important to present our listeners with good background information about the aircraft, the crew’s likely experience and some of the changes at Qantas that have seen their engineering force reduced significantly compared to their heyday of the 70’s & 80’s.
Nice interviews! Those heavy jet pilots are always worth a yarn. I’m doing aviation at GU in Brisbane and we’ve had a few Qantas pilots out to talk to us and they have all been characters. I’d like to buy that guy a few beers and get him talking!
More seriously, that’s a few serious incidents in recent times for the big Q. Extremely rare, random ones to be sure but the discussion with the LAME was concerning. Qantas and MIM used to have excellent relations between unions and management – it was the Howard/Economic Rationalism era that killed that and it is not good. The simple facts related to apprenticeship starts was illuminating. A happy airline is a safe airline. I decided against looking at Qantas as a future employer as a result of the Dixon era.
Once again I commend you on another great episode. My wife and 5 month bub where on QF17 on 15 Nov. I’m glad that the first I heard of it was from my wife upon returning to Sydney. It really brought the whole issue a lot closer to home. Ironically i was listening to this episode on my way back from the airport after I had dropped them off.
I know that the media love to have a real go at Qantas but I’m starting to think that Steve Peruvinas has some real strong (and concerning) points. When we choose QF it’s beacuse of their reliability and safety. I’ve always been a defender of QF and thought that Steve Peruvinas (sorry Steve!) and the media was always simply trying to grab a headline using scare tacticts. However it’s sad to say that I’m begining to think differently. Yes they do have an ageing fleet (especially 744s) but let’s hope, for QFs sake, that they begin to make changes before something realy serious happens.
Having said all this, QF isn’t all bad! From what my wife tells me, without going into too much detail, the service and attention they received was fenomenal (both in SYD and EZE). Everyone was real attentive and helpfull. She also said that the captain walked down the airplane, looking all huffed and sweaty (poor guy mus of been working so hard), stopping at about 10M intervals explaining what had happened.
Let’s hope that QF continues to be the great airline it used to be and not simply become part of the JesStar group!
Very interesting interview. Thank you.
After watching the Four Corners story about the QF32 incident on the 28th March 2011, I was very impressed as to see how the FO interacted with the PIC. Gone are the days when FO’s would be intimidated by PIC’s due to seniority. I found it amusing that after touchdown the FO was quizzing the PIC if he was braking and even had a look to ensure he was applying full brakes.