- Boeing 787 being used for freight operations flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles with tape covering its engine cowl fan static ports;
- While the flight was uneventful, the covered ports meant redundancy for the engine electronic control system was reduced;
- Job instruction card for restoring a 787 to service did not link to Boeing’s recommended procedures;
- Qantas has amended its engineering instructions to properly reference Boeing’s recommended procedures.
According to a new ATSB investigative report, a Boeing 787 freight plane flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles with tape covering four of its static ports.
A Qantas engineer discovered tape covering the four static ports on the aircraft’s engine fan cowls after the Qantas 787-9 aircraft, registered VH-ZNJ, landed in Los Angeles on the morning of September 22, 2021.
Aircraft systems rely on static ports for critical air pressure data. When the aircraft is parked for up to 7 days, Boeing suggests covering them to prevent contamination, and Qantas has included this recommendation into its ‘regular’ parking practise.
“Later that day, another engineer was tasked to conduct the ‘restore’ procedure to return the aircraft to flight status,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod explained.
“The tape on the engine fan cowls was not removed by that engineer, as per the manufacturer’s procedures, and this wasn’t identified by flight crew or dispatch during pre-departure checks.”
VH-ZNJ subsequently took off with the tape still on its engine fan cowl static ports.
“While the flight was uneventful, the covered ports meant redundancy for the engine electronic control system was reduced,” Mr Macleod noted.
The ATSB found that while the job instruction card (JIC) developed by Qantas for parking a 787 did link to Boeing’s recommended procedures, the JIC for restoring it back to service did not.
“This was a missed opportunity to assist engineers to readily access the current procedures and determine which ports were covered, and also allowed for different interpretations of which ports could be covered,” Mr Macleod said.
Mr Macleod continued, “The second officer also believed Qantas engineers had performed a pre-flight examination prior to the flight crew arriving at the aircraft.”
Following the incident, Qantas sent letters to engineering, flight and ramp crews, pointing out the location of the fan cowl static ports and warning that they may be covered.
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