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Hole in Jet Forces Emergency Landing

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Fri July 25 2008, 05:28 AM
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Hole in Jet Forces Emergency Landing
By OLIVER TEVES,

(Jan. 25) -- A Qantas flight en route to Australia from London made an emergency stop in Manila on Friday after a loud bang punched a hole in the Boeing 747-400's fuselage, officials and passengers said.

There were no injuries, but some of the 350 passengers vomited after disembarking, said Manila International Airport Authority deputy manager for operations Octavio Lina.

In a statement from Sydney, Qantas confirmed the hole in its fuselage and said it was being inspected by engineers.

Lina said the cabin's floor gave way, exposing some of the cargo beneath and part of the ceiling collapsed.

"There is a big hole on the right side near the wing," he said, adding it was 2.5 to 3 yards in diameter.

Passengers who talked to the media at the airport described hearing an explosion and then oxygen masks were released.

"One hour into the flight there was a big bang, then the plane started going down," passenger Marina Scaffidi, 39, from Melbourne, told The Associated Press by phone from Manila airport. "There was wind swirling around the plane and some condensation."

She said the hole extended from the cargo hold into the passenger cabin.

"The plane kept going down not too fast, but it was descending," Scaffidi said, adding the jetliner was over the South China Sea when the staff informed passengers they were diverting to Manila.

"No one was very hysterical," she said.
Glenyce Johnson, 47, told Reuters, "It was an amazing experience, but not a good one."

Johnson, who was traveling home to Australia, saw items flying out of the plane. Oxygen masks were released.

"I have to compliment the pilot for doing a good job, for safely landing the plane," she said.

The passengers will be given hotel accommodation while the aircraft is being repaired, said Alfonso Cusi, the airport's general manager.
Associated Press writer Teresa Cerojano contributed to this report.

http://news.aol.com/article/hole-in-jet-forces-emergenc...206273960x1200332682
Fri July 25 2008, 05:48 AM
BF
Apparently, union engineers, who have been on strike recently, have said that safety is being compromised by low wages and too much overtime.
__________________________________

Qantas jet lands with gaping hole in fuselage By PAUL ALEXANDER, Associated Press Writer
6 minutes ago



MANILA, Philippines - A Qantas jumbo jet carrying 345 passengers made an emergency landing Friday with a gaping hole in its fuselage after a mysterious "explosive decompression," officials said.

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There were no injuries, but some passengers vomited after disembarking the Boeing 747-400, said Octavio Lina, Manila International Airport Authority deputy manager for operations.

The cabin's floor gave way, he said, exposing some of the cargo beneath and part of the ceiling collapsed.

"There is a big hole on the right side near the wing," he said, adding it was 7 1/2 feet to 9 feet in diameter.

Flight QF 30, from London to Melbourne, had just made a stopover in Hong Kong. Passengers who talked to the media at the airport described hearing an explosion, and then oxygen masks were released.

"One hour into the flight there was a big bang, then the plane started going down," passenger Marina Scaffidi, 39, from Melbourne, told The Associated Press by phone from Manila airport. "There was wind swirling around the plane and some condensation."

She said the hole extended from the cargo hold into the passenger cabin.

"No one was very hysterical," she said.

June Kane of Melbourne described how parts of the plane's interior broke apart in the depressurized cabin.

"There was a terrific boom and bits of wood and debris just flew forward into first (class) and the oxygen masks dropped down," she told Australia's ABC Radio. "It was absolutely terrifying, but I have to say everyone was very calm."

Qantas "” Australia's largest domestic and international airline "” boasts a strong safety record and has never lost a jet to an accident, although there were crashes of smaller planes, the last in 1951.

However, the airline has had a few scares in recent years. In February 2008, a Qantas 717 with 84 passengers on board sustained substantial damage in a heavy landing in Darwin, Australia.

In addition, union engineers "” who have held several strikes this year to demand pay raises "” say that safety is being compromised by low wages and overtime work.

A report by the Manila International Airport Authority, quoting pilot John Francis Bartels, said the plane on Friday suffered an "explosive decompression." Australia's air-safety investigator said an initial investigation suggested "a section of the fuselage separated."

Geoff Dixon, the chief executive officer of Qantas, praised the pilots and the rest of the 19-person crew for how they handled the incident.

"This was a highly unusual situation and our crew responded with the professionalism that Qantas is known for," he said.

The passengers were taken to several hotels while waiting for another plane to Melbourne late Friday, Wantas said. The plane was towed to a hangar in Manila.

Chief Superintendent Atilano Morada, head of the police Aviation Security Group, said his officers, including explosives experts, may assist in the airline's investigation.

"So far, they don't want us to touch it, so we will respect the aircraft owner. But we will make our personnel available if they need assistance in the investigation," he said.

Qantas touts itself as the world's second-oldest airline, founded in 1920. As of December 2007, Qantas was operating 216 aircraft flying to 140 destinations in 37 countries, though in recent months it has announced it will retire some aircraft and cancel some routes "” as well as cutting 1,500 jobs worldwide "” due to skyrocketing fuel prices.

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Associated Press writers Oliver Teves and Teresa Cerojano contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080725/ap_on_re_as/philippines_emergency_landing
Sat July 26 2008, 06:44 AM
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Australian investigators examine hole in jumbo jet By OLIVER TEVES, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jul 26, 6:10 AM ET



MANILA, Philippines - Australian investigators on Saturday began examining a Qantas jumbo jet which had to make an emergency landing after a large hole opened on its fuselage, a Philippine aviation official said.



The Boeing 747-400 was cruising at 29,000 feet with 346 passengers Friday when it was shaken by an explosive bang. The plane descended rapidly before landing safely minutes later at the Manila airport.

There were no injuries among the passengers and crew, but some of the passengers suffered nausea.

Ruben Ciron, chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said four specialists from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau were still inspecting the aircraft to determine what caused the damage.

Qantas Chief Executive Officer Geoff Dixon told reporters Saturday he was "horrified" after seeing pictures of the aircraft's gaping hole. He said it was too early to speculate on what caused the damage.

"There are thousands of aircraft flying around the world today, things happen. Something has happened here and we cannot speculate any more about what did happen," Dixon said.

Passengers on Flight QF 30, enroute to Melbourne from London, had just been served a meal after a stopover in Hong Kong when they heard a loud bang, then their ears popped as air rushed out the hole.

After disembarking, they saw a gaping 9-foot wide hole at the joint where the front of the right wing attaches to the plane. Luggage from the cargo hold strained against the webbing used to keep it from shifting during a flight.

The passengers boarded another Qantas plane to Melbourne before midnight Friday.

An official of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said initial reports indicated no link to terrorism.

Peter Gibson, spokesman for Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority, said speculation that rust contributed to the accident could be discounted.

"It's clearly an extremely rare and unusual event that a hole opens up in the fuselage," he told reporters in Australia. "I know there's a number of theories around, but they're just that at this stage, they're just theories. We don't have the solid facts."

Quoting pilot John Francis Bartels, the Manila International Airport Authority, said an initial investigation showed the aircraft suffered from "explosive decompression."

Boeing spokeswoman Liz Verdier said it was too soon to determine what caused the hole, but the company was providing technical assistance as part of an investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Verdier said the company was sending an investigator and three engineers to help in the probe.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080726/ap_on_re_as/philippines_emergency_landing
Sun July 27 2008, 05:03 AM
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Qantas investigators focus on oxygen cylinder By JIM GOMEZ, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 9 minutes ago



MANILA, Philippines - Australian investigators on focusing on the possibility that an oxygen cylinder could have exploded mid-flight on a Qantas jumbo jet that made an emergency landing in the Philippines with a giant hole in its fuselage, officials said Sunday.


Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority said Qantas has been ordered to urgently inspect every oxygen bottle aboard its fleet of 30 Boeing 747s.

"At this stage, there is no evidence whatsoever that this is a security-related event," Neville Blyth, senior investigator from the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau, told a news conference in Manila. "This is being treated as a safety investigation."

Blyth said tests for bomb residue were negative. Philippine bomb-sniffing dogs went through the aircraft, particularly the cargo hold and the passenger baggage, and found no indication of explosives.

He said the focus is now on an oxygen bottle missing from the cargo hold that was left exposed when a section of the 747-400's metal skin ripped away at 29,000 feet over the South China Sea on Friday.

"I can't speculate as to indeed the probability of that cylinder having caused the damage," Blyth said, when asked if there were indications that the scuba tank-like cylinder had exploded and damaged the plane.

"In the vicinity of the damage, we are missing one cylinder. The areas around the damage will be inspected. We're obviously looking for evidence on where that cylinder may have gone," he said.

Australian aviation safety authority official Peter Gibson said an inspection of all oxygen bottles in Qantas' fleet will take several days.

Passengers described the plane being shaken by a loud bang. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling due to rapid decompression caused by the 9-foot hole in its fuselage, and the plane descended rapidly as debris flew through the cabin. The plane, en route from London to Melbourne, Australia, had made a stopover in Hong Kong an hour earlier.

Four Australian Transport Safety Bureau specialists began inspecting the aircraft Saturday and were expected to continue their work for two or three days with assistance from Boeing and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, Blyth said.

The plane's flight data recorder, cockpit voice recorder and a small disc that records maintenance details have been sent to Australia to be analyzed "in respect of the handling of the aircraft," Blyth said.

The possibility of an explosion is one of several scenarios being considered by investigators, said Julian Walsh of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

"There are oxygen cylinders contained in the cargo compartment," he told reporters. "The relevance of that will certainly be covered in the investigation."

An official of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said initial reports indicated no link to terrorism.

Some passengers told Australian media that their oxygen masks failed to work properly during the crisis, causing some to nearly pass out.

Other passengers, while applauding the pilot and crew's performance, told of having to share oxygen masks among three people.

"Ours didn't come down, and my husband just about (passed out) because he didn't have any oxygen for about three minutes," Beverley Doors told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Passenger David Saunders said one man in front of him smashed the ceiling panel to force his mask to come down and that children were screaming and flailing.

"Their cheeks and lips were turning blue from lack of oxygen," he said.

Boeing spokeswoman Liz Verdier said the design of the Qantas jet includes dozens of oxygen tanks located throughout the lower part of the aircraft, including below the passenger compartment where the hole is.

Peter Gibson, spokesman for Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority, said speculation that corrosion contributed to the accident could be discounted.

"It's clearly an extremely rare and unusual event that a hole opens up in the fuselage," he told reporters in Australia. "I know there's a number of theories around, but they're just that at this stage, they're just theories. We don't have the solid facts."

Blyth, however, said investigators will check whether there was any corrosion in the aircraft wall or the oxygen cylinders that may have caused a problem.

Qantas boasts a strong safety record and has never lost a jet to an accident. Its last crash of a smaller plane was in 1951.

___

Associated Press writer Tanalee Smith in Sydney, Australia, contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080727/ap_on_re_as/philippines_emergency_landing