10:07 am, Saturday 31 October, 2009
Qantas allowed a passenger aircraft to continue its flights for nine months despite having a defect, a recently published book reveals.
The Men Who Killed Qantas says that one of the airline company’s Boeing 747 was leaking oil. The book alleges that oil leaks are believed to be the cause of toxic fumes being pumped into cabin air.
During its continued operation the aircraft’s flight engineer was at one point overcome by toxic fumes.
Between July 2007 and July 2008 there were 31 Incident Reports by various crew members of possible to toxic fume exposure while working on various planes. But when asked about the reports, Qantas says that the staff had made “fewer than five claims” during the period.
Despite repeated inspections, the cause of the problem was never found, the book reveals. It is also alleges that the possible toxic air problem was not relayed to the passengers.
The Men Who Killed Qantas, written by investigative journalist Matthew Benns, reveals gaffes inSafety Procedures committed by Qantas in the last few years. One account in the book details an incident in 2008 where an exploding oxygen tank blew a hole in the side of a Qantas jet. Mr. Benns says the book is a wake up call for Qantas.
“I have spoken to current and former Qantas staff members so it’s the full history of Qantas right from the word go and its the version you won’t read on their website,” Mr. Benns said.
“It’s not a book about the death of the Qantas the airline but the death of an iconic Australian brand and its reputation for safety around the world.”
Qantas denied the allegation that one of its planes continued to operate despite the leaking oil. It says that its commitment to safety remained at the core of everything it did.
On the allegations of possible toxic fumes in cabin air, Qantas spokesman Simon Rushton says it complies with all Civil Aviation Safety Authority directives on air quality on all its fleet. He adds the airline follows the plane manufacturers’ normal operating procedures regarding its air cabin systems, with the proper Occupational Health And Safety System in place.
Asked if a flight engineer was overcome by toxic fumes, the airline said there was “no evidence to suggest that cabin air quality is an issue in any of our aircraft types.”
Mr. Rushton claims that air quality incidents were extremely rare in Qantas aircraft. The small number of employee claims only involved costs associated with doctor visits and days off work.
Mr. Rushton says that the company used only “reputable overseas providers for some heavy maintenance work.”