passenger jet flew from Manila to Australia without emergency oxygen because it had been sealed off by Philippines maintenance workers.
A leaked maintenance report on the Airbus seen by the Herald Sun and dated March 11 says: "On investergation (sic) found crew oxy bottle shutoff valve in the closed position and lockwired."
The report notes the valve was opened to the flow position by engineering staff at Sydney's Mascot airport.
Angry pilots and maintenance engineers compared the problem with the situation Prime Minister John Howard confronted in a smoke-filled RAAF Hercules in Iraq at the weekend.
"If there had been smoke in the (Qantas) aircraft, the crew would have needed that oxygen," said Capt Mike Glynn, acting president of the Australian International Pilots Association and a qualified A330 pilot.
"This oxygen is meant to be provided to flight crew during an emergency."
Capt Glynn said if the problem was missed in a pre-flight check, it could have led to "potentially dire circumstances".
Is O2 not checked for "Tested and 100%" on the A330? I do realize a gauge may show line pressure even if the valve is closed, but then testing via the mask would show that very quickly that O2 was not available? I'm not so much surprised that a valve was closed erroneously but that it made a flight with it in that position! Payne Stewart anyone?!
Of course maintenance should have some very serious questions asked, ie if they missed this, what else did they miss? But O2 seems like an item that we as flightcrew at least have a way of testing for ourselves - as well we should for such a crucial item!
From the number of outraged experts spouting off in the article, it sounds more like political axe-grinding than anything...
How much time are the crews getting to do the preflight, I fly the small bus on short haul, 30 minutes is plenty of time, for the the BIG bus on long haul, what is an adequate amount of time needed, quite a different cup of tea I'm sure. I don't think it's an item most crews would miss unless they were cramped for time.
A certain UK company that I fly for changed their O2 test procedure to run it for 5 secs since I found the bottle had been turned 99.9% off and the standard test of "one pull" on the "Emerg 100%-test" lever wouldn't drain the line down enough to show a drop on the pressure gauge. It would refill slowly but when I put on the mask it sucked onto my face like a limpet. 5 sectors since maintenance.
Remember the KingAir off the coast of France? Reminds me of the old adage about Cessna fuel gauges. "The only thing it can reliably tell you is whether there is one fitted or not."
The HP pressure regulator transmitter is directly linked to the O2 bottle, this transmitter send the high pressure indication to the ECAM door/oxy page. when the O2 crew supply PB on the panel (211vu) is pushed to the off position after an inbound, it shows on the ECAM crew pressure in Amber (REGUL LO PR), IF for argument sake this was missed by the flight crew during the check list prior to departure, the Amber MSG of the crew O2 pressure QTY indication on the ECAM will always be displayed in amber. When the flight crew enable the O2 crew supply PB switch, this will allow the electrical valve to open and allow O2 distribution to the system and the MSG will be displayed in Green assuming the O2 bottle Manual shut off valve is OPEN. However all fail, with the bottle wire locked in the CLOSED position and having the PB switch enabled, the low pressure switch in the supply system will be activated (LP pressure less than 50 psi) and display a MSG on the upper ECAM.I think you all familiar with the MSG. ECAM HP pressure will indicate Zero psi when the valve is closed!!.
It seems to me that when the bottle was replaced and possibly the engineer had too many aircraft to deal with on his own, He may have just forgot to do the functional check and he may forgot to mention (ops check c/o) following the O2 bottle replacement in the tech log. No to mentioned the crew forgot to look at the DOOR/OXY page upper right hand corner.This by the way is not uncommon problem.
Removed reference to Helios These bottles are turned on so tight that they have to be turned towards Closed to check valve was in fact fully open. There is no grease allowed anywhere near the valve due to fire / explosion risk so it is very stiff anyway.
Last edited by Few Cloudy; 23rd Mar 2007 at 12:58.
Reason: Original contained false info
In the article it is also said that the plane was on a C-check in Manila. If I don't trust a plane then it is definetely after maintenance work has been carried out! Not because the engineers are bad but because errors happen and primary safety items like the mask and its O2-pressure/-flow should be important to us as crew and not just because it would be "illegal" to fly like that A330 did.
Another nice reminder that checking your mask everytime you board a new plane is not such a bad idea
Dont know about your Boeing Capt Bloggs, but on our 767's this scenario is entirely possible, hence the change by Boeing in procedures to test oxy flow from flt deck masks for ten (10) seconds and check for a drop in pressure not to exceed 100psi.
Quote from post #8
"If I don't trust a plane then it is definitely after maintenance work has been carried out!"
I find the above statement rather upseting. I have worked within the aircraft industry for a number of years and can honestly say that the aircraft leave there maintenance facility, in the places I have worked in Europe, in a far more serviceable condition than when they arrived. As for standards in 'far away places' being worse then its up to the 'users' ie pilots and crew to make a stand and stop the increasing use of these dubious facility's by the airlines purse holders just to save a few dollars.
Sorry chasb, but I have got to say that whenever I strap myself into one of our a/c that has been in the hangar I always give it a thorough going over. Things do tend to get missed, purely because so much has to be done in so little time, and it is our job to check a few things before we launch! And that is in the UK by the way....
The way I see it is that it is not so much not trusting the engineers as, when an aircraft is in service, you know systems are working because generally they have been working and not fiddled with, on return from maintenance many systems have been turned off and parts replaced or otherwise fiddled with so there is much more chance of something not being right.
If a world-wide inspection was made on these oxygen systems this weekend we would get a picture of how big the problem is, I would however guess many would not get recorded due to the power of the press etc etc.
. Reminds me of cross-wired checks after the 737 at Kegworth. Think that 737 was ok, but remember lots of faults recorded world-wide. I wonder how many were not recorded.
. Question, do oxygen systems get dual inspections like engines and flying controls ???
I agree with EatMyShorts too. After maintenance, double check everything. I'm just a low-time PPL but I got my scare on my very first flying lesson. We flew in the back of another plane to a small strip where our plane had been painted, to collect it. Shiny new paint job (shabby jobs, but that's another story) and the paint shop had already removed all the masking tape... Except for the tape on the pitot/static mast.
Fortunately we found out during preflight. But it would have been a short-field, soft-field take-off, in hot weather, with a lake at the end of the runway.