Thu, 16 Aug, 2018
Qantas plane’s terrifying mid-air plunge as pilot is left incapacitated
An investigation has been launched by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) after an incident on a Qantas-owned cargo plane left a pilot incapacitated due to lost cabin pressure.
The Boeing 737 departed from Brisbane on Wednesday night making its way to Melbourne when the crew were alerted to a “wing body overheat warning” causing a reduction of cabin pressure.
The drop forced the crew to wear oxygen masks and descend 20,000 feet over Narrandera in southern NSW.
Due to the First Officer becoming incapacitated, the captain was then forced to descend a further 8,000 feet and divert the aircraft to Canberra a little while after midnight.
Emergency services were waiting at the airport from 11.46 pm on Wednesday, with firefighters and paramedics on standby. Both pilots were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.
As it was a freight service, no passengers were on board.
The bureau is currently compiling evidence to find out exactly what caused the incident.
“As part of the investigation, the ATSB will collect and examine information on the aircraft’s flight data recorders and interview maintenance and flight crew,” it said in a statement.
The VH-XMO Boeing 737-376 was operated by Express Freighters Australia – a cargo airline based in Sydney. It is a subsidiary of Qantas.
The airline claimed that the air conditioning system was partially at fault for the incident.
“The Boeing 737 freighter diverted into Canberra on Wednesday night following a fault with the cabin on-board air conditioning system that affected the ability to maintain pressure in the cabin,” a Qantas spokeswoman said.
“The aircraft landed normally in Canberra and the pilots went to the hospital as a precaution. They were discharged shortly after.”
Qantas will be conducting its own investigation and the plane is currently being inspected by engineers.
A final investigation report is expected by the end of the year.