Mark Baker/AP

Bursting Oxygen Bottle Caused Qantas Scare

August 29, 2008 01:45 PM
by Rachel Balik
Investigators say that an oxygen cylinder exploded on board a Qantas jet last month, tearing a hole in the plane and forcing an emergency landing.

30-Second Summary

Investigators have confirmed that an exploding oxygen cylinder caused the explosion that tore a hole in the fueselage of a Qantas jet last month. They don't know why the cylinder exploded, and answers will be difficult to come by, since the tank cannot be found. Investigations will contine, but without essential evidence they should prove difficult. Julian Walsh, acting executive director of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said, "Let's not underestimate how difficult it will be for us to get to the bottom of this." Questions about the airline's safety standards are being raised.

Although no one on board was injured, oxygen masks did not come down for many of the passengers, raising concerns about the airline’s safety inspections. One passenger reported that the man in front of him had to forcefully break open the ceiling panel in order to get his oxygen mask, and that many children did not have one. "Their cheeks and lips were turning blue from lack of oxygen,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior Qantas employees have expressed fears that lower safety standards are to blame. In order to cut costs, plane maintenance checks have been outsourced to Malaysia. “Qantas outsourcing maintenance to Malaysia is certainly worrying a lot of us pilots. There has been aircraft come back with dodgy staples to secure wiring,” a senior Qantas pilot said.

Headline Link: 'Probe reveals oxygen bottle burst on Qantas flight'

Background: Qantas jet forced into emergency landing

Opinion & Analysis: Pilot blames outsourcing

Related Topic: Airlines accused of compromising safety to cut costs


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