Friday, July 25, 2008

Qantas Flight QF30 -- Sudden decompression in flight

QF30 - July 25, 2008A Qantas Boeing 747-400 made an emergency landing at Manila today, July 25, 2008, after experiencing a sudden decompression in flight. Qantas Flight QF30 had been en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne. A Qantas press release about the incident said that "all 346 passengers and 19 crew disembarked normally and there were no reports of any injuries to passengers or crew."

The aircraft was said to be at an altitude of about 29,000 ft when the crew reportedly heard a loud bang, followed by a rapid depressurization of the cabin. Oxygen masks deployed in the passenger cabin, and various news reports quoted passengers who said a "wind" passed through the cabin carrying with it loose papers and bits of debris. The crew immediately executed an emergency descent to 10,000 ft and diverted to Manila where the aircraft landed safely at about 11:15 AM local time.

Upon landing, a large hole in the fuselage was discovered, just forward of the starboard wing. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is sending a team to assist with the accident investigation, said in an advisory that the aircraft has a 5 foot hole in the cargo area forward of the right wing leading edge and there is also some wing damage.

News photos taken of the aircraft after it was parked on the ramp at Manila, such as this one from Reuters, show that a panel of the fairing between the wing and the body had separated, revealing substantial structural damage inside. A piece of the aircraft's pressure hull is missing, as well as sections of the fuselage frame. What appears to be baggage or cargo is visible through the gaping hole. In all, not a very pretty sight!

The accident investigation team will include representatives of the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB); Qantas Airways; the U.S. NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); Boeing; and possibly others.

In a second Qantas press release, the airline's CEO, Geoff Dixon, praised the pilots and cabin crew for the way they handled the incident. I would like to join in extending congratulations to the entire crew of Flight QF30 for a job well done.

[Photo Source]