The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has today released its final report on the incident which occurred on July 2nd. The leak became apparent to flight crew shortly after take off, as a crew members were preparing hot towels for business class passengers.
Despite turning off the leaking water valve relatively quickly, it was noted only 40 per cent of the potable water supply remained — half of what was available on takeoff.
“As a precaution, the cabin crew switched off the in-flight entertainment system and the power to all controls in the seats,” the report said.
“The water had progressed through the upper deck floor and water was ‘raining’ on passengers in the vicinity of row 65 of the main deck.
“With the potable water supply switched off, there was no water available for the toilets or basins for the duration of the flight.”
It was at that point the decision was made not to continue the 14-hour flight to Melbourne and preparations were made to return to LA for landing.
The report noted that “leakage of that quantity of water had not occurred previously and the eventual impact of the water on the aircraft was unknown.”
The ATSB praised the Qantas crew for displaying “excellent resource management techniques”.
“The crew were faced with an abnormal and unusual situation. Communication between flight crew, cabin crew and ground maintenance staff enabled a variety of scenarios and options to be considered.,” said the report.
“The ultimate decision to turn back to Los Angeles rested with the Captain and he was
able to make that decision using all available resources and in a collaborative way.”
Further investigation of the issue found that strands of cleaning mops were found to have “unlatched” the water pipe at floor level.
“Fleet-wide inspection of the fittings found strands of cleaning mops tangled in the brackets, with evidence of couplings rotated in opposing directions,” the report said.
As a result of the finding Qantas, in consultation with Airbus, double-wrapped the couplings with aluminium tape to avoid unintentional disturbance.
The airline has also begun using sponge style mops to clean under the galley bench instead of cotton rope mops. Airbus is looking at providing a permanent solution to the issue.
JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website