Qantas Mid-Air Jet Drama Injures 36
PERTH ~ Thirty-six passengers and crew were injured, some seriously, in a mid-air drama that forced a Qantas jetliner to make an emergency landing on Tuesday, the Australian carrier and police said.
The terrifying incident saw the Airbus A330-300 issue a mayday call when it suddenly changed altitude during a flight from Singapore to Perth, Qantas said.
It was the latest in a series of incidents that have tarnished the safety record of Qantas, which has long boasted a reputation of being one of the world’s safest airlines.
“A number of passengers and crew sustained injuries, including fractures and lacerations, on board QF72 this afternoon en route from Singapore to Perth following a sudden change in altitude,” the airline said.
A fleet of emergency vehicles was on standby at the Learmonth air base, about 1,100 kilometers northwest of the state capital Perth, when the plane landed, said Sergeant Greg Lambert of the West Australian Police.
“Some 36 people were injured in the incident, about 12 of them seriously,” he said.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) spokesman Ian Sangston said 15 people sustained serious injuries, including broken bones and cuts.
“While cruising in level flight, the aircraft experienced a sudden in-flight upset, resulting in injuries to a number of cabin crew and passengers, primarily in the rear of the aircraft,” the ATSB said in a statement.
Neither the ATSB nor Qantas could not immediately confirm the number of injured or whether it was turbulence or another factor that had caused the aircraft, which was carrying 303 passengers and 10 crew, to drop or rise suddenly during flight.
“In terms of what happened, we’ll be investigating all sorts of possibilities, clear air turbulence perhaps,” Qantas regional manager Ian Gay told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“But we’ll have to be looking at all of those; we don’t have any details at the moment.”
The incident was the fourth in two and a half months to dent Qantas’s once-enviable safety reputation.
On July 25, an exploding oxygen bottle punched a huge hole in the side of a Qantas Boeing 747-400, forcing an emergency landing in the Philippines. No passengers were injured in the mid-air drama.
The plane, which was carrying 365 people, was cruising at 8,800 meters en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne when the drama struck.
Just three days later, a Qantas Boeing 737-800 returned to Adelaide after a landing gear door failed to retract. And in early August a Boeing 767 bound for Manila turned back to Sydney after developing a hydraulic fluid leak.
Australian air safety watchdog the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in August announced a safety review of Qantas.
But it said that despite the review there was no evidence to suggest any links between three mid-air emergencies on Qantas flights.