Monday, July 28, 2008

ATSB update on Qantas Flight QF30 accident investigation

Australian Transport Safety Bureau logoAs often happens following a widely publicized aircraft accident or safety incident involving a major international carrier, there are a lot of rumors and speculation surrounding the July 25, 2008 depressurization in flight of Qantas Flight QF30. With this in mind, I thought it would be useful to post some official (though preliminary) information released today by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), the agency leading the investigation regarding this event.

Here is the text of today's ATSB Media Release:
The ATSB was advised on Friday 25 July of a serious occurrence involving a Qantas aircraft.

The aircraft, a Boeing 747-400 was operating a scheduled passenger service from Hong Kong to Melbourne Australia. At approximately 29,000 feet, the crew were forced to conduct an emergency descent after a section of the fuselage separated and resulted in a rapid decompression of the cabin. The crew descended the aircraft to 10,000 feet in accordance with established procedures and diverted the aircraft to Manila where a safe landing was carried out. The aircraft taxied to the terminal unassisted, where the passengers and crew disembarked. There were no reported injuries.

The ATSB is leading this safety investigation with the assistance of a number of other organisations and agencies, including the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration of the USA, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia and Qantas and Boeing.

The ongoing investigation has confirmed that there is one unaccounted for oxygen cylinder from the bank of cylinders that are located in the area of the breech. There are 13 oxygen cylinders in the bank that are responsible for supplying oxygen to the passenger masks and cabin crew.

Also recovered are a number of parts of components including part of a valve in the vicinity of the breech. However, it is yet to be determined whether these components are part of the aircraft system.

A number of passengers have reported that some of the oxygen masks appeared not to function correctly when they deployed from the overhead modules. The ATSB intends to examine the oxygen system including the oxygen masks.

The ATSB is also intending to interview the aircraft crew including the cabin crew and make contact with all passengers on the flight. All passengers will be surveyed, while those that had reported problems with mask deployment will be interviewed.

The passenger survey should be available in about two weeks.

The ATSB would like to request that any passengers that experienced issues during the flight, or those who photographed or videoed the incident contacts us via email at

The ATSB would also like to encourage passengers to write down their recollection of events that occurred. This will aid them with the completion of the passenger survey.

The aircraft flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have arrived in Australia. The ATSB will download the recorders at its Canberra facilities over the next few days.

The ATSB will also be examining maintenance records for the aircraft. This will include any airworthiness directives or alert bulletins that may have been issued by the regulators or the manufacturers.
Additional factual information about Qantas Flight QF30 and the investigation into the cause of the accident will be posted here on Aircrew Buzz as it becomes available.

UPDATE July 29, 2008: Today the ATSB released another statement, indicating that the accident aircraft had been moved to a hangar, and that the "remainder of the freight on the aircraft has been progressively examined and removed from around the area of the rupture."

The team has removed the outer panels around the ruptured area and they are examining the interior of the cabin including the onboard oxygen system, the passenger masks and portable crew oxygen cylinders.

The aircraft's flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) have been removed and sent to Canberra for analysis. The two hour CVR recording was found to commence after the descent and diversion into Manila. The FDR, which nominally records 25 hours of data, is being downloaded at the ATSB facilities. Interviews with both flight crew and cabin crew are being conducted today in Melbourne.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Qantas Flt 30 on Aircrew Buzz.