I have already discussed the “long line of incidents” that in the last two years has posed a risk to the famous Qantas safety record. More or less two years ago I wrote an article titled “Qantas electric failures” commenting two occurrences of two subsequent losses of electrical power experienced by two Qantas B747-400s. One of the aircraft was flying from London to Bangkok as QF2 and the other one from Singapore to Melbourne as QF10, and I noticed that I had travelled with both of them a few months earlier. QF10 had some problems once again on Dec. 18, 2009, when it was forced to return to Singapore after experiencing an engine fire shortly after departure.
The following Sydney Morning Herald article provides some more details about the last emergency:
Qantas flight turns back after ‘flames from engine’
December 18, 2009
Qantas passengers on board a flight that turned back shortly after leaving Singapore have described seeing “tongues of fire” coming from one of the 747 jumbo jet’s engines.
Flight QF10 was on its way to Melbourne carrying 354 passengers when the incident occurred.
Dylan Brady, 38, was returning to Melbourne after visiting Singapore on business when the plane “convulsed and lost power”.
“[My business partner and I] both thought something had fallen off the bottom, or the landing gear had come undone,” he said.
“Then we saw this orange light and we both looked out the window to see fire coming out of the back of the jet. It was pretty scary.”
Mr Brady said the flames lasted about 10 seconds, while the whole incident was over in about 25 seconds. He said the passengers knew something had happened but stayed calm, and the captain quickly informed them he had shut the engine down.
“When he shut the engine off, obviously everything was OK, the plane slowed down a little bit and then he sort of pulled gently and slowly to the left to get out of the flight path because the plane behind us was only a minute and half behind and still going full speed,” he said.
On its return to Singapore, Mr Brady said the plane was directed to its own runway which was lined with fire engines and emergency crews.
“To Qantas’s credit, by the time the plane got back to the ground they had hotels for everybody. It was pretty well organised. There were some conniptions when the business class passengers got their luggage and economy didn’t … I didn’t notice anyone who was ridiculously disgruntled.”
Another passenger, Steve Tanoto, described the shock “tongues of fire on the rightmost engine … in the middle of the night”.
The airline this morning confirmed a “mechanical fault” forced the jet back to Singapore soon after it took off last night.
A passenger who contacted Traveller reported flames coming from an engine 25 minutes after the jet took off from Singapore’s Changi Airport at 8.53pm, local time (11.53pm Melbourne time).
The plane landed safely and Qantas engineers are believed to be examining the aircraft.
The spokeswoman said pilots announced to passengers that the jet had developed a problem and they were shutting down the No.4 engine.
There was no panic among passengers, the spokeswoman said, as the pilots carried out “an air turn back” and returned to Singapore.
“There was no smoke or fire in the cabin, according to official reports, and at no stage was the safety of any of the passengers at risk,” the spokeswoman said.
Asked if the cabin crew reported smoke and flames from the failed engine, she said “there was no report of that, none at all”.
Passengers were take by bus accommodation for an expected 23-hour delay while the airline arranged a replacement 747 to fly passengers to Melbourne.
The incident is the latest in a long line of incidents to affect the trouble-plagued airline.
In July last year an oxygen gas bottle exploded mid-flight, ripping a hole in the side of a Qantas jet above the South China Sea.
A final report is expected next year. The explosion happened on a Hong Kong-Melbourne flight, carrying 369 people. No one was seriously hurt.
In October 2008 a computer glitch caused a Qantas Airbus to plunge twice in quick succession on its way from Singapore to Perth, injuring more than 100 people.
Meanwhile, industrial action at Qantas by professional engineers had no impact on services, an airline spokesman said yesterday. Alison Rose from the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers said yesterday’s action was designed to not inconvenience the public over Christmas.
If the dispute was not resolved she said passengers travelling next month may be affected.