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Failed tyre tread penetrated wing of Jetstar 787-8

A Jetstar Boeing 787-8 suffered damage to its left wing and flap system after one of its main landing gear tyres delaminated while taking off from Singapore Changi International airport on 13 May.

As the aircraft, registered VH-VKA, was climbing through 3,000ft enroute to Melbourne, the captain set the aircraft’s flap setting to flaps 1. That triggered a ‘Flaps Drive’ caution alert, indicating a fault with the system.

In response, the crew notified air traffic control and levelled off at 6,000ft to complete a fault checklist. Thereafter, a decision was made to return to Singapore.

The aircraft landed safely and taxied to the gate escorted by emergency service vehicles. Before the flight crew left the aircraft, an engineering staff member advised that they found damage to the left wing. Ground staff meanwhile reported that there was debris on the runway the aircraft had taken off from.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) says that examination of the aircraft’s main landing gear showed that the tread on one of the tyres had delaminated, penetrated the left under-wing panel, and broke a flap torque tube, triggering the warning.

“The delamination on take-off likely occurred at the southern end of the runway, when the tyre was at high speed, which provided sufficient energy for the tread to penetrate the left under wing panel and break a flap torque tube,” it adds.

Manufacturer Michelin examined the failed tyre, and concluded that the tread had been undercut due to the aircraft mostly operating on grooved runways.

Following the incident, Jetstar issued notices to engineers and pilots highlighting the need to pay close attention to the shoulder areas of the tyres during preflight inspections to help identify any excessive wear.

In its safety message, the ATSB commended Jetstar's crew for their handling of the situation.

“While the condition of the tyre and the exact fault with the flaps were unknown to the flight crew at the time of their decision-making, this occurrence highlights the importance of following failure management procedures.”

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