THE once enviable safety record of Qantas has suffered another blow, after air safety investigators confirmed the discovery of cracks in the “drip shields” of nearly half of the airline’s 747 fleet.
The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau yesterday revealed Qantas found cracks in 14 of its 30 Boeing 747-400s, similar to those on a jet that lost nearly all of its electrical power on approach to Bangkok on January 7.
The bureau in its preliminary report said “the event was less serious than first reported” regarding the London to Bangkok flight. It said one of the jet’s four power generation units was still in operation, along with some systems powered by batteries.
The loss of power occurred after a blocked sink led water to leak onto the forward galley of the plane and through the crack onto three electrical generator control units underneath.
Cabin crew attempted to soak up the water that covered the entire galley floor using five blankets. Minutes later, the jet’s auto-pilot was disengaged, the first officer’s displays were “blanked” and three of the jets four power units lost power.
“The captain’s primary flight display, navigation display, and some other instruments were available in a degraded mode,” the report said. Around 27 minutes after losing power, the jet landed.
A Qantas spokeswoman said the airline fixed the cracks discovered on its 747s after the Bangkok incident and was working with investigators and Boeing.