x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Exploding oxygen tank pierced Qantas door

Investigators confirm shrapnel from an oxygen cylinder explosion aboard a Qantas plane sheared off part of a door handle.

The Qantas pilot Capt John Francis Bartels, right, looks at the hole of the Melbourne-bound Boeing 747 after it made an emergency landing at the international airport in Manila.
The Qantas pilot Capt John Francis Bartels, right, looks at the hole of the Melbourne-bound Boeing 747 after it made an emergency landing at the international airport in Manila.

CANBERRA // An air safety investigator says it appears shrapnel from an oxygen cylinder explosion aboard a packed Qantas jetliner entered the passenger cabin and sheared off part of a door handle. The explosion last Friday during a flight from London to Melbourne blew a large hole in the side of the Boeing 747-400, causing the pilots to rapidly descend 6,000 metres before stabilising and then make an emergency landing in the Philippines.

The three-metre hole was on the plane's right side near the wing. No one was injured but the Manila International Airport Authority deputy manager for operations, Octavio Lina, said the cabin's floor gave way. The cargo underneath was exposed and part of the ceiling collapsed. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau official Julian Walsh says part of the oxygen tank struck the door handle, sheared off part of it and knocked it halfway out of position. But he says "there was never any danger of the door opening" because it is designed never to be opened while the plane is in the air.

*AP