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Drysdale 07-25-2008 08:54 AM

The Rainman will be sad!
Quantas Air.... definitely Quantas Air... 5 minutes to Wop- 5 minutes to Wopner...

AIR investigators examining a jumbo jet with a gaping hole in its side have ruled out terrorism as the cause.

The packed Quantas Boeing 747 was forced to make an emergency landing in the Philippines today after the hole ripped through the plane’s belly.

Some passengers were so terrified they vomited when oxygen masks has to be used as the Melbourne-bound flight touched down.

Aviation expert Chris Yates said there appeared to be no obvious sign of an explosion from the inside or outside of the aircraft, and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said initial reports show the incident was not related to terrorism.

Mr Yates said: “From the pictures coming in from Manila it’s quite evident that a section of the fuselage gave way in flight.

Tear ... plane is tattered

“As a consequence of this the aircraft experienced rapid decompression. Fast action from the pilot and co-pilot ensured that all those aboard remained safe.”

He went on: “Australian air accident investigators will examine closely the fracture points evident on the skin of the aircraft to determine whether metal fatigue or manufacturing defect caused the panel to be ripped away from the remainder of the fuselage in flight.

“This is not an uncommon occurrence, every year there are reports of panels being lost from aircraft in flight and these instances are rarely, if ever, fatal.”

Passengers spoke of hearing a loud bang and debris flying into the first class cabin as the plane’s flooring gave way, part of the ceiling collapsed and the plane reportedly plunged 20,000ft.

The aircraft touched down safely in Manila at 11.15am local time and amazingly all 346 passengers and 19 crew disembarked normally.

Manila airport operations officer Ding Lima told local radio the plane lost cabin pressure shortly after take-off on the Hong Kong to Melbourne leg of its journey and the pilot radioed for an emergency landing.


He said: “There is a big hole in the belly of the aircraft near the right wing, about three metres in diameter.

“Upon disembarkation, there were some passengers who vomited. You can see in their faces that they were really scared.”

Brit Owen Tudor said passengers feared for their lives as the plane rapidly lost altitude.

“There was an almighty crack and you could hear something happening,” he said.

“Then the oxygen masks fell down and you started dropping down, ears popping, that sort of thing.”

And Phil Restall said passengers were relieved to have landed safely, not realising the severity of the damage to the plane until they got off.

“You see the hole and you realise we were very lucky,” he said.

“Seeing the hole caused a lot of emotion. People were physically shaking. Many realised how close they were to their own mortality.”

English passenger Robin McGeechan said it was a scary moment when the oxygen masks fell down.

“We were told a door had popped,” he said.

“We only realised that there was a great big hole in the plane after we landed.”

Debra Manchester, a housewife from Buckinghamshire, was sitting in first class when the incident began.

She said: “Newspapers and what looked like part of the ceiling flew past me. We didn’t know what was happening to the plane. After a while, things calmed down and there was a deadly silence.

“There was still debris all around our feet but we all started to feel a bit safer when we could take our masks off.”

Mrs Manchester said luggage was “hanging out” of the hole where the hold had been, and the emergency door above appeared to have come loose.

She claimed that 20 minutes after the plane first took off from Heathrow, she heard a loud bang near one of the doors.

“You have to wonder if that explosion could have caused the second one,” she said.

George Kierans said: "For three or four minutes it was very scary stuff. I actually thought it was an engine blew originally. The plane seemed to tilt considerably to one side.

"Obviously when the masks shoot down in front of you, you do realise you’re definitely in a very dangerous situation.”

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon said the airline was sending an investigation team, including Qantas engineering personnel, to Manila tonight.

A replacement Boeing 747 to take passengers on to Australia is understood to have departed Manila today and will arrive in Melbourne tomorrow morning.

Peter Gibson, from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, told ABC Radio that initial reports indicated a problem with air pressure in the cabin.

He said: “The pilot has some pressurisation warnings about a door on the left-hand side of the aircraft, but exactly what went wrong is still being determined.”

Initial inspections revealed the aircraft sustained a hole in its fuselage, and it was being inspected by engineers.

FafnerMorell 07-25-2008 09:19 AM

Well, Quantas still has a great record with regards to fatalities.

This, however, will definitely hurt their percentage of luggage making it there....

(And as someone who flies a moderate amount for about a hell of a flight)

Misty 07-29-2008 05:22 AM

They're saying an Oxygen cylinder blew now. Didin't look like a loose panel, the tear is all jagged to one side the other follows a neat line against the structural frame. Kinda comparable to picturing a door swing open, then get blown off its hinges along with all that side of the door frame.

Drysdale 07-29-2008 05:38 AM

Props to the pilots, btw. Great job of getting her down relativlely intact.

Hormadrune 07-29-2008 06:03 AM

I hate flying- I'm quite sure I'd be all done with airplanes if I'd been on that flight :p

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