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The ATSB was advised on Friday 25 July of an accident involving a Qantas aircraft.

The aircraft, a Boeing 747-400 was operating a scheduled passenger service from Hong Kong to Melbourne Australia. At approximately 29,000 feet, the crew were forced to conduct an emergency descent after a section of the fuselage separated and resulted in a rapid decompression of the cabin. The crew descended the aircraft to 10,000 feet in accordance with established procedures and diverted the aircraft to Manila where a safe landing was carried out. The aircraft taxied to the terminal unassisted, where the passengers and crew disembarked. There were no reported injuries.

The ATSB is leading this safety investigation with the assistance of a number of other organisations and agencies, including the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration of the USA, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia and Qantas and Boeing.

The ongoing investigation has confirmed that there is one unaccounted for oxygen cylinder from the bank of cylinders that are located in the area of the breach. There are 13 oxygen cylinders in the bank that are responsible for supplying oxygen to the passenger masks and cabin crew.

Also recovered are a number of parts of components including part of a valve in the vicinity of the breach. However, it is yet to be determined whether these components are part of the aircraft system.

A number of passengers have reported that some of the oxygen masks appeared not to function correctly when they deployed from the overhead modules. The ATSB intends to examine the oxygen system including the oxygen masks.

The ATSB is also intending to interview the aircraft crew including the cabin crew and make contact with all passengers on the flight. All passengers will be surveyed, while those that had reported problems with mask deployment will be interviewed.

The passenger survey should be available in about two weeks.

The ATSB would like to request that any passengers that experienced issues during the flight, or those who photographed or videoed the incident contacts us via email at atsbinfo@atsb.gov.au.

The ATSB would also like to encourage passengers to write down their recollection of events that occurred. This will aid them with the completion of the passenger survey.

The aircraft flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have arrived in Australia. The ATSB will download the recorders at its Canberra facilities over the next few days.

The ATSB will also be examining maintenance records for the aircraft. This will include any airworthiness directives or alert bulletins that may have been issued by the regulators or the manufacturers.

Media contact: 1800 020 616
 
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Last update 01 April 2011