What happened to Qantas QF32

For me it was a double grief:

My much loved airline (Qantas) and my all time favourite plane: the Super Jumbo A380 - both tainted. Worse my favourite engine type, the Rolls Royce is in disgrace. Up to now,  I had always felt safer flying with the best of British engineering. A Qantas flight powered by Rolls Royce? Mythically in my mind this meant creme de la creme!  On November 4, this all changed.

In a  highly publicised incident, on that day, aircraft VH-OQA called Nancy Bird Walton, (which was in fact  the first of Qantas' A380 s) took off from Singapore flying Qantas Flight 32 to Sydney, Australia.

Four minutes into flight, at 10:01 am Singapore Time the plane's Number 2 engine had an "uncontained failure"  with a turbine disk being released in the engine. The debris punched holes in part of the wing, damaged the fuel system disabled a hydraulic system, knocked out the anti-lock brakes, damaged landing flaps and wiped out the controls for the neighbouring engine )outer left No.1).

Here is a video filmed on board after the incident:

Part of the engine cowling fell onto the island of Batam (Indonesian island very close to Singapore) which led to media reports that the plane had crashed on Batam.

The Airbus circled for over an hour attempting to dump fuel while the very experienced crew dealt with multiple checklists and reportedly 54 alarms (as luck would have it, there were five pilots in the cockpit with Captain, First Officer  and Second Officer, plus  two check captains. The first  was performing an annual  check on the Captain -hope he passed! The second check captain was evaluating the first check captain).

The crew found that the fuel couldn’t be dumped. They also could not pump it between tanks. As it leaked out, the plane started to become harder to control as it grew tail-heavy.  In the end the decision was made to land with more than 80 tonnes of highly volatile jet kerosene still in the 11 tanks -- two of which were leaking.

The landing was back at Singapore's Changi Airport where the plane had started from.Without the full hydraulics, the spoilers - the flaps which slow the plane down - could not be deployed fully so the  crew also had to rely on gravity for the undercarriage to lock into place. With only one engine able to deploy reverse thrust and no anti skid brakes, the landing took most of the  4km Changi runway. Four tyres were blown in the process. Even after landing the Number one engine would not shut down and it had to be doused by the fire crew until it flamed out.

No one on board was injured but two people at a school were injured by parts of the falling debris. The chance of everyone on board dying however was very high. If the explosion had punctured the fuel tank and sparked a fire, the A380 would have quickly turned into a fireball. If the crew had been less experienced, they may not have been able to control or land the plane. If the explosion had occurred in the middle of the Pacific on the Los Angeles -Sydney route, there may not have been time to get to a usable airport. If Changi did not have a 4km runway. There was a combination of good luck and good experience that day for QF 32

After the landing, both Qantas and Singapore Airlines  grounded their A380s. Singapore resumed their flights the next day after tests. Qantas however found two engines on their other A380s that they had concerns with. Qantas kept their planes grounded stating they had found oil leaks that were "beyond normal tolerances".

Singapore Airlines, announced that they planned to replace three engines on three separate planes, grounding the aircraft in question until the issues were resolved and Lufthansa announced the precautionary replacement of an engine on its A380. Emirates and Air France kept flying as their  A380 engines are not made by Rolls Royce but  by Engine Alliance (consortium between GE and Pratt & Whitney).

After the incident, the fingers started pointing. Media, passengers and some Qantas staff blamed outsourced maintenance and cost cutting, Many worried that Qantas was losing its rain man status.(as detailed in an earlier blog post). Qantas suggested there was a design issue. Airbus pointed all questions to Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce has officially said nothing but they are  replacing all of the engines that are suffering from oil leaks.

Four days after the incident, EASA (The European Aviation Safety Agency) issued an Airworthiness Directive, ordering airlines using the Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine to conduct stringent tests frequently. The reversed some of those demands two weeks later. Rolls Royce had already had a highly publicised failure with its Trent 1000 engine designed for the 787.

Qantas has now partially returned its fleet of A380s to service with two starting back. The rest of the fleet will remain grounded until  16 of the massive engines are replaced. No A380s will be used on flights  between Los Angeles and Australia which require the highest amount of take off thrust. (I also wonder if the distance to an emergency airport may be too great on that sector).

My first A380 with Singapore Airlines
Qantas will need to do a lot of reassuring of its Airbus A380 passengers in the next few flights and I can imagine here will be a lot of nervous passengers if the planes encounter any turbulence! I was therefore impressed that Alan Joyce, CEO   took the first A380 flight since the incident as a sign of his belief that the planes are safe to fly. (Did he fly Economy? -LOL)

I had personally made a decision to wait two years before I flew in the A380 because I figured that the real world would provide the best tests of the safety of this plane. Seems I was almost right. Qantas launched the A380 with the tagline "World's Most Experienced Airline". On November 4, 2010, the crew showed the value and the reality of the statement. My next A380 flight? Singapore to Sydney with Singapore airlines (my second A380 with them). Wish me good luck with highly experienced crew.

(See my blog post about my wonderful Qantas 380 flight last year)

You can't yawn through this & it may save ya life!

Today, I have chosen what i believe are the five most fun safety briefings in the sky. See what you think (below).

First: a few comments about on board safety.   I have flown 683 times. In that time, while I have had five scarey flights*, i have never been in an emergency. Air Travel is indeed a very safe way to travel. However, the time I am in an emergency, I want and need to know how to get off that plane alive-fast. So, it amazes me how many people sleep, chat or read through the safety video. Hence why airlines are resorting to fun ways to engage with passengers.

Five reasons why people ignore safety videos
  1. Some people  have flown so often they think they know it all. Yet research suggests that in an emergency, even frequent flyer's become confused and/or freeze. You really need to listen and pay attention for every flight
  2. Some do not believe an accident can happen to them
  3. Some are so scared of flying that they want to avoid any possibility of something going wrong so they even avoid the safety briefing
  4. Some people are so excited that they are oblivious to whats going on
  5. Some people are just not aware that there are still risks because we have all become accustomed to saying how safe it is to fly

WATCH Your Next Safety Briefing
  1. Watch and listen to the safety briefing - you may be grateful one day
  2. Ask others to be quiet for it (I was once on an Ansett flight where the FA asked two passengers to shut up). Although I was not sure of it was appropriate to ask the United crew to shut up when they talked loudly through the demo on a recent flight
  3. Totally concentrate on that briefing (i have found myself sometimes drifting off to another world  and had to come back to earth)
  4. Count the seats to two different exits....do not assume if you are seated at one, that you will be able to get out that way
  5. Hunt for your life jacket during the briefing. If you are needing to find it in a smoke filled cabin emergency, its good to know where it is.  I know there are people who remove life jackets off planes as a prank. This is an offense under most jurisdictions and bloody stupid

Five Best Safety Videos...believe me you will enjoy them! Then please vote for your favourite!
Check videos below or at the People First YouTube Channel here and vote here
  1. Air New Zealand: Essentials of Safety-Fun and Quirky
  2. Cebu Pacific Male Dancing Team   -fun and sexy and Female Dancing Team -fun and sexy
  3. Southwest Rapping FA-very Southwest Airlines
  4. Thompson Airways- Alice and Co- so cute!
  5. Virgin America-Cartoon-great visual and auditory gags 

Which one do you like the best... please vote here!

*what I defined as scarey!

Airports brace for 'don't touch my junk' protests

From MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40351426/ns/travel/

Travelers dismayed by airport body scans are headed to airports Wednesday with the makings of any good protest: handmade fliers, eye-catching placards, slogan-bearing T-shirts — and Scottish kilts.

The loosely organized effort dubbed National Opt-Out Day hopes to highlight what some call unnecessarily intrusive security screenings. Others fear it will merely snarl pre-Thanksgiving airline operations on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

If enough people opt for a pat-down rather than a body scan, security-line delays could quickly cascade .
More than 40 million people plan to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA, with just more than 1.6 million flying — a 3.5 percent increase from last year. Body scans for passengers chosen at random take as little as 10 seconds. New pat-down procedures, which involve a security worker touching travelers' crotch and chest areas, can take 4 minutes or longer.

The full-body scanners show a traveler's physical contours on a computer in a private room removed from security checkpoints. But critics say they amount to virtual strip searches.

About 70 airports nationwide have more than 400 of the refrigerator-sized imaging units. Only around 20 percent of travelers are asked to go through them, but passengers cannot opt out of both the scan and the pat-down once they have been randomly selected for the enhanced searches.

Officials say the procedures are necessary to ward off terror attacks like the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound plane last Christmas by a Nigerian man who stashed explosives in his underwear. 

At a main checkpoint in Atlanta on Tuesday, a few passengers asked to step through a scanner grimaced before walking through, while others seemed more bemused than annoyed.

Out of 30 asked to go through during a half-hour period, just two opted for a pat-down. Karen Keebler, 54, of Atlanta said later that her main concern was the low-level radiation. The TSA says the scans emit very low radiation and aren't a health risk.

"I just think the less radiation the better, and if you can opt out, you need to," she said.
Wednesday's planned protest is the brainchild of Brian Sodergren of Ashburn, Va., who constructed a one-page website early this month urging people to decline scans.
But public interest boomed after an Oceanside, Calif., man named John Tyner resisted a scan and groin check at the San Diego airport with the words, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested." A cell-phone video of the incident went viral.
Tyner's words became famous, spawning online sales of T-shirts, bumper stickers and even underwear emblazoned with the words, "Don't Touch My Junk!" A Google search of the phrase on Tuesday registered 4.2 million hits.    Saturday Night Live jumped on the controversy last weekend, with a minute-long skit equating the TSA with a dating service. The skit ends: "It's our business to touch yours."Pilots and flight attendants also had complained about being subject to body scans and pat-downs. On Friday, the TSA said pilots could avoid the more intense screening. TSA spokesman Nick Kimball confirmed the same for flight attendants Tuesday
Both groups must show photo ID and go through metal detectors. If that sets off an alarm, they may still get a pat-down in some cases, he said.
Publicity or no, some predicted little fallout from the planned protest, with many travelers at airports Tuesday deriding the effort and saying the stepped-up security measures made them feel safer.
"I think there ought to be two flights," said Jacksonville, Fla., native Marc Gruber, 53, who was at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport. "One for people who want to be scanned and one for people who don't want to be scanned." 

Lantastic! NZ-Aus -great way to travel!

My flight with my 70th airline (LAN Chile) almost came to blows in the Check In line - before it had started.

I get to stand in the priority check in queue because  of the curse/benefit of having flown too much!!. When I arrived at Auckland, New Zealand airport for my 430am Check in for  Sydney, I went straight to the Priority Line. As I stood there,   I observed the man in the regular line was eyeing me carefully. When the check in clerk gestured to me to move forward, he was off! He roared across with his luggage trolley, narrowly scraping in front of me. The check in  clerk gestured him to stop and waved me forward again. He kept zooming up to the counter glowering at me the whole way and demanding attention from the check in staff. Suffice to say, the clerk refused to serve him. He looked ready to punch me out as he slunk back to his place in the line.   I could feel his eyes burning holes in my back as i checked in!

Air New Zealand handled the check in on behalf of LAN. I appreciated their initiative in getting me an exit row seats. What was even nicer was that they seated me alone! (after defending my place in then line!)

The LAN plane was an A340 which I love. Its a great plane. Almost as nice as the A380 but its engines don't seem to blow up. It feels roomy (especially in 25A exit row!). 

Being an airline from a Spanish speaking country, the crew were bilingual. They greeted each passenger in Spanish and/or English. I decided I would go Spanish! Every member of the crew from front door to my seat welcomed me!

Safety briefings included the crew standing silently while a cute cartoon briefing played. It was very well done.LAN appeared to take safety very seriously and their pre safety checks were quite thorough (compare to Uniteds' slap dash approach I blogged about a few weeks ago)
The pilot made his announcements in English and Spanish and wasted no time in getting the plane into the air. It was a superb take off on a grey morning

 My only two negatives with my seat were:
  1. that the man who tried to head me off at the check in was just a couple of seats behind. He glared at me as he boarded!
  2.  that it was opposite the :facilities" which were well used after take off and before landing.

Breakfast was fresh fruit, a very fresh ham and cheese croissant and carrot cake. Alcohol (from Chile) and non alcoholic drinks were freely and generously available. Cabin Service was warm and friendly from all crew.

The Trans-Tasman route Between Australia and New Zealand is one of the more competitive in Asia Pacific. Multiple airlines have slugged it out on this route. Because i like ranking everything, This  list ranks the airlines on that sector based on my rating of my experiences with them:
These ratings are ONLY for the Trans Tasman (Aust-NZ) Service
  1. Emirates (amazing meals, great service, comfy planes, individual entertainment)  55/60 
  2. LAN (good meals, v good service, comfy planes, individual entertainment)   51/60
  3. Air New Zealand (no meals to good meals, v good service)  : 50/60
  4. Qantas (ok meals, ok service, cramped planes, no ind entertainment)    39/60
  5. Pacific Blue/Virgin Blue (no food, ok service, cramped planes, no ind entertainment)   30/60
  6. Continental (ceased this sector)
  7. Jetstar (no food, ok service, cramped planes, no ind entertainment)  26/60
  8. United (ceased)
  9. Aerolíneas Argentinas (not flown but they have a horrendous rap)  ?/60

I would fly with LAN again! I just hope check in is in the afternoon! (and watch out for pushy  men at check in)

Is Qantas now unsafe?

Charlie: Ray, all airlines have crashed at one time or another, that doesn't mean that they are not safe. 
Raymond: QANTAS. QANTAS never crashed. 
Charlie: QANTAS? 
Raymond: Never crashed. 
Charlie: Oh that's gonna do me a lot of good because QANTAS doesn't fly to Los Angeles out of Cincinnati, you have to get to Melbourne! Melbourne, Australia in order to get the plane that flies to Los Angeles!

In those words from the movie "Rain Man", Qantas was immortalised as the world's safest airline. 
What was not strictly true was the "never crashed" statement. Qantas, which in 90 years old this month have actually had five  "hull losses" with the loss of  21 passengers: 

  • 1934: De Havilland DH-50 aircraft and pilot lost near Winton, central Queensland.
  • 1942: De Havilland DH-86 crashes in Brisbane are killing  two crew and seven passengers.
  • 1944: Empire flying boat engine trouble on Sydney-Brisbane flight, crashes in Sydney Harbour. All but one passenger rescued.
  • 1946: Avro Lancastrian on Colombo-Cocos Island flight lost in Indian Ocean with five crew and five passengers.
  • 1960: Super Constellation crashes at Mauritius and burns. Everyone got out safely.
  • In the same year,  1960, a Trans Australia Airlines (TAA)  538, a Fokker Friendship belonging crash landed in the ocean south-east of Mackay on final approach in foggy night conditions. TAA was later absorbed into Qantas.

Since 1960, however, Qantas has never  had a "hull loss" (fatal accident).  Moreover, Qantas have never lost a jet aeroplane (although they came close ten years ago when a 747 slid down the runway in Bangkok)

This last two weeks,  Qantas has been is in the news for five incidents:

  1. November 4, QF 32 Singapore, AIRBUS 380 -Rolls Royce engine explosion
  2. November 5, Singapore, 747 - contained engine failure
  3. November 12, QF 768, Perth, 767  -after flight crew became aware of vibration in number one engine.
  4. November 15, - QF 17 Sydney, 747 -smoke from electrical problem
  5. November 17, QF 64, Qantas 747 - Bird strike

I  have flown Qantas 224 times. Should I be worried? Yes  or No

Investors say  Yes!  90 per cent of Australian investors say these recent incidents are damaging Qantas-  55% blame the incidents outsourced  maintenance. 37% say its because of cost-cutting.  77% of investors want the cost-control strategy is stop.

The Australian and International Pilots Association say  Yes -accusing all airlines of lowering safety, maintenance and training standards. The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association has warned that ''danger signs'' were now emerging from Qantas's decision to outsource maintenance, with a spate of safety incidents since it sent the work overseas.

Opinion Polls are saying  Yes The with 47% in an Age poll, saying they would fly another airline
Blogs are saying  Yes 
Tweets are saying  Yes

Are they right? Is Qantas now unsafe?

Qantas has a good safety record for five reasons;

  1. Luck- lets be honest!
  2. Geography- most of Qantas flights are into airports that are not crowded, very rarely snow bound and have moderate winds and temperate weather conditions
  3. Pilot training- Listen to this pilot of the Qantas A380 and be impressed. The crew that landed that A380 were impressive in the way the pilots handled what was potentially a real disaster. Qantas Crews are highly experienced and highly trained.
  4. Australian Culture- which allows a first officer to challenge a pilot
  5. Maintenance- the perception has been that Qantas planes are very carefully maintained. With the  shift to offshore maintenance have become nervous
Of the five recent incidents:
  1. Nov 4 A380 -is not caused by poor maintenance but what appears to be a design fault and good luck certainly came in to play- Qantas did right thing and grounded
  2. Nov  5,  747 - contained engine failure -possible but unlikely to be maintenance related
  3. Nov 12,  767  -vibration in number one engine - could be linked to maintenance
  4. Nov 15, - 747 -smoke from electrical problem- could be linked to maintenance
  5. Nov 17, 747 - Bird strike, incident.- Not maintenance related, just bad luck for plane and birds -they happen to all airlines from time to time

Some members of Qantas frequent flyer have questioned if there are really more incidents or if the Media are "slamming" Qantas hard? What do you think?

The Main Qantas Brand = still safer than most airlines. 

Facts about Iceland

Iceland is a country in the north of the globe with 330 000 people living in an area the size of England. The Capital is Reykjavik with 120 000 people (SMALLER than GEELONG or WOLLONGONG in Australia)

  1. Iceland used to be the poorest country in Europe
  2. Iceland grows bananas in greenhouses fuelled by geothermal heat
  3. the word  Geyser is from The Great Geysir of Iceland, which first erupted in the 14th century, It now erupts  every few hours. The Geyser above is called Stroker which erupts every few minutes
  4. Every child has to learn to swim
  5. Energy consumption per capita in Iceland is among the highest in the world because it is so cheap
  6. Children can only be named an official Icelandic name approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee
  7. Your surname consists of your dad's first name with sson after it if you are a boy and dottir
  8. if you are a girl...so my surname would be Geoffsson and my sister would be Geoffdottir
  9. 7. the Phone books here are arranged by FIRST NAME
  10. 8. Modern Icelandic has 31 letters but not a W or a C. Toilets are labelled WC however!!!!
  11. 9. there is no word in Icelandic for please
  12. 10. a very entertaining way to meet people is at the swimming baths there are 9 scattered around the capital (120 000 people)
  13. McDonalds left Iceland last year ..the stores were replaced by Metro, a new local hamburger brand
  14. Iceland is hoping that geothermal power will fuel a hydrogen cell export market to power cars around the world
  15. Icelanders plan to be 100% fossil fuel-free in the near future
  16. Iceland liberalised iits banking system and freed restrictions on its pension funds leading to spectacular growth followed by a massive meltdown resulting from the sub prime and world economic crisis. look at these ads made before the crisis for the bank that bankrupted Iceland: John Cleese 1 and John Cleese 2 and and the Bank's meglomanic ad
  17.  Iceland’s 300,000 citizens have some kind of responsibility for $100 billion of banking losses—which works out to roughly $330,000 for every Icelandic man, woman, and child. On top of that they have tens of billions of dollars in personal losses from their own foreign-currency losses and the 85 percent collapse in the Icelandic stock market. The news of the collapse and a Funny sketch about the situation here
  18. The Uk declared Iceland a terrorist state in order to freeze Iceland assets. Icelanders are very angry about this!
  19.  Iceland will pay back the UK for their banking losses there by 2024
  20. A third of the population have told pollsters that they were considering emigration..mostly to Norway
  21.  Iceland had several months of protest after the economic collapse leading to the sacking of the Central Bank President and the resignation of the government. These are some pics of the demos
  22.  Iceland may become again the poorest country in Europe

Dont use GoldCar rent a car in Spain

Not my article but helpful one recounting someone being stung by a car rental company in Spain--some helpful warnings


I LOVE JetBlue

An hour late but the ground crew did an excellent job of updating things.

Midnight Blue was the plane (all JetBlue planes are named) delivering me to the amazing JetBlue Terminal 5 (NB terminal has free wifi).

America's Worst Airlines

Having just had a horror United Airlines recently, I found this report very fascinating. US News used information produced by the UN Department of Transport and produced an excellent slide show.  Best to worst
  1. Hawaiian Airlines (excellent on time performance and customer satisfaction ratings)
  2. AirTran (high customer satisfaction and good baggage handling)
  3. JetBlue (great customer satisfaction)
  4. Southwest ( lowest % of customer complaints)
  5. Continental  (consistently good for six years)
  6. Frontier (similar rating as Continental)
  7. US Airways (scores have been improving)
  8. American (the worst airine for baggage losses)
  9. Alaska (good on-time performance but passenger dissatisfaction)
  10. United (with the lowest passenger satisfaction score)
  11. Delta (most delays and most passenger complaints)
From my own experience, this is my current rating of the airlines in the USA (notice some overlaps!)

  1. Virgin America-everything about VA is class-hope they can hang onto this as they expand
  2. JetBlue
  3. AirTran- 
  4. Southwest Airlines-
  5. Frontier Airlines
  6. Continental
  7. Alaska Airlines
  8. United Airlines- 
  9. American Airlines 
  10. US Airways 
  11. Delta
See my list of best airlnes and worst.