Qantas Plane Dives 20,000 Feet After Hole Ripped Mid-Air in Fuselage
Friday, July 25, 2008
MANILA, Philippines — A Qantas flight en route to Australia from London made an emergency stop in Manila on Friday after a loud bang punched a hole in the Boeing 747-400’s fuselage, officials and passengers said.
There were no injuries, but some of the 345 passengers vomited after disembarking, said Manila International Airport Authority deputy manager for operations Octavio Lina.
In a statement from Sydney, Qantas confirmed the hole in its fuselage and said it was being inspected by engineers.
A report by the Manila International Airport Authority quoting pilot John Francis Bartels, said an initial investigation indicated there was an “explosive decompression.” There were no details.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said QF30 made an emergency descent from 29,000 feet to 10,000 feet.
Lina said the cabin’s floor gave way, exposing some of the cargo beneath and part of the ceiling collapsed.
“There is a big hole on the right side near the wing,” he said, adding it was 2.5 to 3 yards (meters) in diameter.
Passengers who talked to the media at the airport described hearing an explosion and then oxygen masks were released.
“One hour into the flight there was a big bang then the plane started going down,” passenger Marina Scaffidi, 39, from Melbourne, told The Associated Press by phone from Manila airport. “There was wind swirling around the plane and some condensation.”
She said the hole extended from the cargo hold into the passenger cabin.
“The plane kept going down not too fast, but it was descending,” Scaffidi said, adding the jetliner was over the South China Sea when the staff informed passengers they were diverting to Manila.
“No one was very hysterical,” she said.
Australia’s Herald Sun Online quoted passengers as saying the plane plunged 20,000 feet after a door “popped” during the flight.
Michael Rahill, 57, an architect from Melbourne, said the bang sounded “like a tire exploding, but more violently.”
The passengers were taken to several hotels while waiting for another plane to Melbourne, said an airline officer who declined to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media.
Chief Superintendent Atilano Morada, head of the police Aviation Security Group, said his officers, including explosives experts, may assist in the airline’s investigation.
“So far, they don’t want us to touch it, so we will respect the aircraft owner. But we will make our personnel available if they need assistance in the investigation,” he said.