On 2 July 2014, a Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft, registered VH-OQD, departed Los Angeles, USA, for Melbourne, Victoria. During the climb, the captain switched off the seatbelt sign. A few minutes later, a cabin attendant entered the business class galley and, as she switched the hot water on, observed water leaking out from under the meal carts. A cabin supervisor then pulled the carts forward to access and switch off the water shut off valve, but that did not stem the flow of water.

A second officer went into the cabin to determine how much water had leaked and confirmed that the valve was switched off. The flight crew contacted maintenance watch ground staff. They advised the crew that there was a main switch to the potable water on the flight attendants’ panel and the cabin crew located the switch and selected it to ‘OFF’, which then stopped the water flow.

As a precaution, the cabin crew switched off the in-flight entertainment system and the power to all controls in the seats. With the potable water supply switched off, there was no water available for the toilets or basins for the duration of the flight. The crew elected to return to Los Angeles.

Initial engineering inspection found that the coupling that joins the water pipe at the floor level where the water supply enters the galley was unlatched. There was evidence that the rope-style mops used by cleaners may have contributed to the coupling coming undone. A fleet wide inspection of the aircraft was carried out and temporary preventative action taken on all similar galley installations.

This incident provides an excellent example of effective crew resource management techniques.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 35