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Tue, Aug 05, 2008

CASA To Look Into Safety Practices At Qantas

Calls Move A Preventative Measure

Following a highly-visible incident onboard a Qantas Airways Boeing 747 last month, and two less serious incidents over the past 10 days, Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority says it will investigate safety standards at the Australian flag carrier.

As ANN reported, a blast -- thought to have come from the explosion of an onboard oxygen canister -- blew a hole in the fuselage of a 747 flying from Hong Kong to Melbourne on July 25.

No one was injured in that incident, which forced an emergency landing in Manila... but it did cast the media spotlight on the airline, and brought immediate press attention as two other Qantas flights suffered relatively benign mechanical failures that forced diversions. A domestic flight from Melbourne to Adelaide was forced to turn back July 28 after a mainwheel gear door would not retract; five days later, a hydraulic leak forced a flight to Manila to return to Sydney shortly after takeoff.

Public outcry over those incidents spurred CASA to announce the investigation, which officials say is purely a preventative measure.

"We have no evidence to suggest there are problems within Qantas, but we think it’s prudent and wise to go in with a new special team and take an additional look at a range of operational issues within Qantas," CASA spokesman Peter Gibson told The Australian Associated Press. The team will focus their efforts on maintenance and safety practices at the airline, he added.

Qantas has an eviable safety record, with no passenger fatalities since it began flying jet aircraft almost 50 years ago. The airline said Sunday it doesn't expect its reputation to be tarnished by the review.

"We have no issue with this latest review and CASA says it has no evidence to suggest that safety standards at Qantas have fallen," said Qantas engineering manager David Cox.

FMI: www.qantas.com, www.casa.gov.au

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