Laptops to blame for Qantas jet plunge?
Cargo hold over-filled with XXXX no longer thought responsible
Passengers are being questioned over whether they were using electronic equipment just before their Qantas A330-300 plunged out-of-control over Western Australia.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has said an "irregularity" in one of the aircraft's computers may have caused the dramatic altitude change that threw passengers and crew around the cabin, injuring 74 people.
Safety officials have began investigating how the aircraft, on a routine flight from Singapore to Perth, suddenly shot up 91m (300ft) up into the air before plunging nose first after indicating to its pilots "irregularities" in its elevator control system.
The possibility that passengers' gadgets affected the aircraft's avionics hasn't been ruled out. However, a spokesperson for the ATSB said it was "too early" to lay blame on laptop computers or such like for the mid-air drama.
The Herald Sun has revealed that Qantas and other airlines were warned in July 2004 and again in August 2007 about the potential for a serious malfunction aboard the A330-300 series aircraft. Problems with elevation controls, including concerns about potential break-down of hydraulic "O-ring" seals were highlighted by Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Last July, it was claimed that a passenger clicking a wireless mouse during a flight sent a Qantas jumbo jet off course on a three-degree bank.
It is unlikely but not impossible that an electronic device caused the jet to fail. As the engineer stated we do EMI testing on all products including aircraft, however it has been my observation that this testing does not cover all eventualities and that EMI is poorly understood particularly in aviation circles.
Our firm is currently working with an American contractor who -in 2006- specified pigtails for shielding termination on a military aircraft. EMI is infinitely complex, and if engineers are still failing to make the most basic of EMI decisions correctly, anything is possible.
Trains also require EMI testing to 20V/m. About 10 years ago we worked on a new train running out of NYC which would open the doors and apply emergency breaks when a cell phone was used in just the right location.
Stating that EMI could not cause a flight systems failure is ridiculous. If they feel it necessary they should conduct a review.
With airlines looking to introduce systems that would allow people to use their mobiles to make inflight calls, and laptops, etc being allowed for many years, it's quite obvious that these devices do not affect the planes navigation systems. Anyone suggesting otherwise is showing their ignorance!
On the other hand Qantas former Australian maintenance staff have been saying for a few years now that the maintenance standards have dropped and it's only a matter of time before there is a serious incident (a few years ago most of the Aussie maintenance staff got the sack, the maintenance was all off-shored to low-cost / high corruption countries, and the execs gave themselves big fat bonuses while assuring everyone that standards would not be affected - sound familiar?) In the last few months there has been a string of incidents with Qantas planes and this is only the latest. It seems that a week doesn't go by now without some new Qantas incident.
I certainly won't be flying Qantas.
I may be wrong but...
Im sure I read someting about a UK operator (Possibly Virgin) installing hardware to allow fliers to use mobiles on board...
The main reason for asking people to switch them off in flight is that you are in an enclosed space with 100+ people who dont want to hear you tell your mates about what you did to that hooker at the weekend...