Aviation safety investigations & reports

In-flight engine fuel leak, 482km NW Darwin; Boeing Co 747-438, VH-OJP

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 18 August 2006, a Boeing 747-438 aircraft, registered VH-OJP, with a crew of 18 and 243 passengers departed Hong Kong, China, on a scheduled passenger service to Melbourne, Australia.

While in cruise, at a position 482 km north-west of Darwin, one of the cabin crew notified the flight crew that there was a smell of fuel in the first class cabin. One of the pilots verified the fuel smell and then proceeded to inspect the engines from the cabin windows.

A fluid trail was evident from the rear of the number-3 engine. During this time, it was noted by the other pilots that the number-3 engine had a higher than normal fuel flow. The flight crew conducted an in-flight shut down of the number-3 engine and diverted the aircraft to Darwin.

A subsequent inspection of the number-3 engine revealed the fuel manifold return line had fractured, causing a fuel leak. The fuel line was replaced and the aircraft was returned to service.

In 2005, the ATSB investigated two other fuel manifold return line fractures, from the same engine type, under similar circumstances.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 168KB]
General details
Date: 18 August 2006   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 06:19 EST    
Location   (show map): 482km NW Darwin    
State: Northern Territory   Occurrence type: Fuel systems  
Release date: 09 November 2006   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 747  
Aircraft registration VH-OJP  
Serial number 25545  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Hong Kong  
Destination Melbourne, Vic.  
Last update 18 April 2018