Australia’s Qantas Airways is carrying out inspections of oxygen bottles on its entire Boeing 747-400 fleet, following an incident on 25 July in which one of its aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Manila after a large section of its fuselage separated, resulting in a rapid decompression.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) spokesman Peter Gibson says from Canberra that a decision to inspect the oxygen bottles on all 30 of Qantas’ 747-400s was taken jointly with the airline yesterday morning and checks will take several days.
“These are the oxygen bottles that supply the oxygen for the emergency masks,” says Gibson.
“There are a number of bottles at that exact location [in the cargo hold where part of the fuselage separated] and one is missing. Clearly that is a major focus of the investigation.”
Gibson says the inspection work entails a visual check of “all the oxygen bottles and associated systems”, adding that checks will take “a few hours per aircraft”.
He says that “the FAA and Boeing haven’t issued anything to other operators internationally but it was decided with Qantas that it is better to be safe than sorry”.
The incident on the morning of 25 July involved a 747-400 that was operating as flight QF30 from Hong Kong to Melbourne. At around 29,000ft (8,839m) a section of the fuselage separated at the forward cargo compartment on the right side of the aircraft which resulted in a rapid decompression.
A rapid descent was carried out to 10,000ft after which the aircraft made an emergency landing in Manila. None on board was injured.
Investigators have indicated that terrorism has effectively been ruled out as tests were carried out for evidence of explosive materials and none were found.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news