Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Angelic Activity: Turbulence forces Qantas emergency landing

SYDNEY - More than 30 people were injured, some with broken bones and lacerations, when a Qantas passenger jet flying from Singapore to Perth struck turbulence Tuesday and had to make an emergency landing at a remote Australian airport, officials said.

"While cruising in level flight, the aircraft experienced a sudden in-flight upset, resulting in injuries to a number of cabin crew and passengers, primarily in the rear of the aircraft," the Australian Air Transport Safety Bureau said in a statement.

"The crew declared a MAYDAY and diverted the aircraft to Learmonth, near Exmouth ... where it landed without further incident," it said.

Police initially described the aircraft as an airbus A320 with 370 passengers on board, but Qantas later said flight QF72 as an A330-300 with 303 passengers and 10 crew.

"Early reports indicate that three cabin crew and approximately 30 passengers sustained injuries, including about 15 with serious injuries, namely broken bones and lacerations," Air Transport Safety Bureau said.

Remote airport
Learmonth has only one runway, about 10,000 feet long, and is used mainly by oil and gas companies. The nearest town is the port of Exmouth, around 700 miles north of Perth.

Qantas has been hit by a spate of incidents recently.

In one, Australian air safety investigators blamed an oxygen bottle for a mid-air explosion which blew a minivan-size hole in the side of Qantas 747 last month.

The Qantas 747-400 suffered a sudden loss of cabin pressure during a flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne on July 25, forcing the aircraft to make an emergency descent before diverting to the Philippines, where it landed safely in Manila.

The pilot landed the plane manually, with help from air traffic controllers in Manila, where all 346 passengers and 19 crew disembarked safely.


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