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The ATSB has reviewed safety information on a Qantas 747 tyre burst incident on take-off at Singapore Airport on 8 March 2006 and agrees with the Singapore and German authorities that there was no safety concern warranting a major investigation.

In March 2006, specialist investigators in Australia, Singapore and Germany determined after preliminary investigation that a full investigation was not warranted. From September 2006, the ATSB and Singapore Air Accidents Investigation Branch reviewed detailed material received with the full cooperation of Qantas and again determined a major investigation was not required.

While tyre burst incidents can be potentially very serious, in the Singapore incident the aircraft crew was not aware of any damage to the aircraft as a result of the loss of one of its 18 tyres on take-off until about 6 hours into the flight to Frankfurt when a problem with the number 4 hydraulic system became apparent. The crew managed the problem and landed safely in Frankfurt where the damage to the aircraft wing-to-aircraft body fairing (fibreglass non-structural) outer skin was seen. Repairs were made and appropriate safety authorities notified.

Under international aviation law (the Chicago Convention and its Annex 13) the country of occurrence is responsible for any safety investigation. Singapore assessed that the occurrence was not an accident or serious incident as defined by Annex 13 and decided not to investigate.

Modern passenger aircraft have many redundant safety systems and while damage to the aircraft's fairing may look very worrying to the general public, it was superficial and did not affect the structural integrity of the aircraft. There is also no suggestion of a systemic problem with 747 tyres or the aircraft's hydraulic systems.

The ATSB investigates aircraft accidents and serious incidents in Australia and has to apply judgement as to which of the more than 7000 occurrences reported annually warrant investigation within a budget that allows for about 30 larger and 60 smaller new investigations. Similar judgements are made by other professional investigation bodies around the world.

The ATSB investigates all fatal accidents (except sport aviation) which are overwhelmingly in the general aviation sector and all accidents involving international carriers in Australia. A number of recent ATSB investigations have involved aircraft in the Qantas group, which is in line with Australian passenger airline activity levels.

After further review of the circumstances of the tyre burst, the ATSB agrees with the Singapore authorities that a major investigation would not contribute to future safety in a manner that would be likely to lead to an improvement in 747 or tyre design, manufacture or operations.

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Last update 01 April 2011