Passengers on a flight from Wellington to Melbourne discovered themselves on an 870-kilometre detour up in direction of Norfolk Island, that means their flight took nearly 5 hours.
The huge semi-circle for these aboard QF172 on June 21 was resulting from a mechanical fault that developed earlier than the aircraft took off. A Qantas spokesperson stated it was a problem with the “engine driven pump filler” on the 737 plane.
The aircraft was checked by engineers and cleared to depart. However, Qantas defined this specific fault meant it wanted to fly nearer to diversion airports, that are used within the occasion of an emergency.
In this case, the restriction meant the aircraft flew over Mt Taranaki, up the west coast of Auckland and Northland, then in direction of Norfolk Island (which has a runway lengthy sufficient to take 737s). It then headed out in direction of the east coast of Australia, the place it was nearer to Port Macquarie Airport as an acceptable diversion level.
It then flew over Canberra and right down to Melbourne, including round 870km to the same old flight, in keeping with Flightaware.com.
The prolonged flight took 4 hours 50 minutes, versus the same old flight time of round 3 hours 40 minutes.
A Qantas spokesperson stated there was no security challenge with the plane and that it was a “requirement” to fly the prolonged route till it received again to Melbourne, including prolonged routes like this had been “very rare.”
The plane is already again in full service.
Why did the aircraft have to fly nearer to diversion airports?
Aviation is among the most safety-regulated industries on this planet. In the sooner days of long-haul journey, many four-engine planes flew longer routes over oceans – that means additional redundancy if an engine failed in comparison with a twin-engine aircraft.
However, occasions have modified in aviation. In current a long time, airways have more and more used twin-engine planes, just like the 777, to fly long-haul routes over oceans. Regulators got here up with guidelines on how removed from diversion airports these planes might fly, as a result of they’ve much less redundancy than 4 engine planes.
The guidelines are referred to as ETOPS – or Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards.
As engine reliability has improved, ETOPS limits have been prolonged. Twin engine planes can now fly as much as 5 and a half hours away from the closest airport. This means airways like Air New Zealand can function even faster routes throughout large areas of the Pacific Ocean when flying from Auckland to Los Angeles.
Across the Tasman, the quick hop is well inside ETOPS guidelines, that means twin-engine planes can fly direct. However, on this case with the Qantas aircraft, the ETOPS allowance was decreased due to the pre-flight fault, that means the plane needed to take an extended route nearer to diversion airports.
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