Here’s a really scary incident, hardly even reported in the US … 20 something hours later I can only read about it on UK, Filipino and Australian sites.
A Qantas flight from London to Melbourne by way of Hong Kong somehow developed a huge hole in it’s side and made an emergency landing at Manila yesterday.
It’s really too soon to tell but the size of the hole and the pictures I see (there are many better pictures on various Philippine news sites, Google is your friend) leave room for any cause factor right now, from some kind of structural fault right up to an explosive device. If it was intentional it is really scary since London and Hong Kong are probably two of the most security conscious airports on earth. Heaven protect those of us who travel through the ‘zoo” the City of Los Angeles and the TSA laughingly call an International Terminal at LAX)
I wonder how long it will be before one of the news agencies spins this to try to make it look like something that occurred in the Philippines or because of the Philippines … when, in fact, it was damn lucky for the people on board that the Philippines was there with an airport to give them safe haven.
I read the news article with some amusement … the report breathless describing the jet “plunging” more than 20,000 feet in “an attempt to deal with the sudden depressurization”. Well it wasn’t an “attempt” to deal with the loss of cabin pressure, it was the standard procedure that every airline pilot practices at least twice a year .. one of the many emergencies pilot’s train on to keep passenger’s alive. A controlled, by the book, rapid decent to get down to an altitude where the passengers can safely breath. Off hand, since exactly zero injuries occurred I would judge Captain Bartels’s “attempt” was pretty successful, wouldn’t you?
With air travel such an important part of our daily lives, I wonder why it seems to be a requirement for every journalist (many of whom travel extensively and almost all of whom have graduated college, and thus ought to know better) to pass an exam to prove their ignorance of simple physics and aerodynamics before they are allowed to write for the public.
Aside from the possible foul play aspects, which gain, are not yet confirmed nor ruled out, the scary thing about this incident is something else safety-wise which the media is missing out on.
Had this incident happened somewhere out over the middle of the Pacific, rather than conveniently close to Manila, there would be a big problem. Jet engines burn many times more fuel at low altitudes than at typical cruising altitudes. passenger supplemental oxygen only lasts abut 15 or 20 minutes … the aircraft has to be now in ‘high fuel burn’ country and stay there until it can land, or people will die. And airlines carry absolute minimum legal amounts of fuel these days to save costs. Low altitude, high rate of fuel consumption, no extra fuel on board to begin with …. get the picture? How many life rafts does a 747 carry, anyway?