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Sat, Dec 04, 2010

Qantas Pilots Credited With Saving Crippled A380

ATSB Reports More Than A Dozen System Errors After Trent 900 Engine Failed

While the official preliminary report from the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau reads like a sterile government document, officials said in a news conference Friday that the pilots of a Qantas A380 which suffered an uncontained engine failure over Batam Island after departing from Singapore prevented a major disaster from occurring.


ATSB Photo Of A380 Engine As It Is Being Removed From The Aircraft

Reuters reports that in a news conference, ATSB Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan told a story of a crippled airplane which stopped with just 450 feet of runway to spare. He said that the engine failure severed fuel and hydraulic lines which made the airplane difficult to control, and which caused its center of gravity to shift. The pilots, he said, were not able to transfer fuel to re-balance the airplane because they did not know the extent of the damage to the fuel systems.


ATSB Photo Showing Wing And Engine Damage

After nearly an hour preparing the airplane to land and dealing with more than a dozen system errors, Dolan said the crew, which had a combined 72,000 hours of flight experience, determined that they could land the airplane some 50 tons over its maximum landing weight, but that it would leave only about 300 feet of runway when they finally came to a stop. Rather than dump fuel, which could have further upset the balance of the airplane, they decided to land heavy, which they did safely. They reportedly had about 450 feet of runway left when they came to a stop. The FDR showed that the brakes had heated to about 900 degrees celsius as the airplane was brought to a stop.

FMI: www.atsb.gov.au

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