QANTAS flight QF 30 incident

The recent incident involving a Qantas B747 aircraft that experienced a loss of cabin pressure whilst flying from Hongkong to Melbourne has stirred a lot of interests and debates amongst aviation enthusiasts and flight crews alike. Common after every incident or accident, where comments and speculations are aplenty and some people are even quick in apportioning blame.

What I would like to do is to comment on the incident and lessons learned from it. These comments are purely my own expressed views based on my experience as a pilot, as a flight instructor and from the information obtained from the internet and newspapers.

Modern airplane rarely encounters malfunctions with the aircraft systems that could cause major problems let alone such structural damage. This is attributed to the advanced technology that could detect potential problems with the aircraft systems, improved systems reliability, systems redundancy, plus the stringent regulatory requirements for aircraft maintenance. Despite the above, malfunctions and incidents still continue to happen.

As the last line of defense, this is where the skills and the training of pilots are called upon to solve those problems. In fact the reason why pilots have to attend training classes, simulator training and undergo periodic checks and tests is to prepare themselves for such eventualities.

Yes flying is becoming safer and safer despite the occasional incident and accident. There are more fatalities on the road than in the air. Because of this, we tend to take safety for granted. Whilst sitting down comfortably in the cabin we place our trust in the hands of the pilots flying the airplane assuming that they are well trained and able to handle any problems during the flight.

Looking at the picture of the QANTAS aircraft one could not help but wonder what had happened and was it a miracle that the aircraft landed safely? Well to allay any fear, aircrafts structures are durable and airplanes are known to be able to sustain flights even after experiencing such structural damage. Two classic incidents involving a Boeing 737 and another, a Boeing 747 will attest to this. The B737 had part of the upper fuselage torn off, whilst the B747 had its forward cargo door blown off in mid air. In both cases, both aircrafts landed safely.

After the above incident both the aircraft manufacturer and the regulator’s safety board will disseminate information to all concerned operators on the outcome of the investigation, lessons learned and any other recommendations such as modifications to the aircraft systems or structure that would further enhance safety.

Therefore if you still have any fear of flying, don’t worry anymore. Be rest assured that flying has become one of the safest means of transportation. Both aircraft manufacturers and airlines have put in a lot of efforts and energy to make flying more comfortable and safer. The regulators too have played a pivotal role in enforcing safety oversight and requiring operators to invest in safety management systems and mandating crew resource management (CRM) training for pilots.

Written by Azharuddin Osman

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