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Tuesday, 18 March 1997
Page: 2358

(Question No. 927)

Mr Albanese asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Development, upon notice, on 6 November 1996:

(1) Is he able to say whether a US registered Evergreen Airlines aircraft vented fuel over Marrickville, NSW, at 12.59pm on 15 October 1996; if so, (a) why, (b) what was the flight number of the aircraft, (c) what was the make of the aircraft, (d) what was the destination of the aircraft, (e) what was the volume of fuel carried by the aircraft when it departed and (f) what was the position over land of the aircraft when it vented the fuel.

(2) How many similar incidents have occurred since November 1995.

(3) What steps has the Government taken to warn or reprimand Evergreen Airlines over the incident.

(4) What steps has he taken to ensure fuel venting or dumping does not occur.

Mr Sharp —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I am aware of reports that an Evergreen Airlines B747-200 departing on 15 October 1996 at 12.59pm was sighted by members of the public appearing to release fuel on take-off.

(1) (a) I am advised by Airservices Australia that fuel venting to the outside atmosphere from an aircraft is a rare event and usually only happens on long haul flights when a full fuel load is uplifted. I am also advised that the fuel venting system of an aircraft can have faulty valves that do not seal properly therefore allowing fuel to escape into the atmosphere, particularly when the aircraft is steeply banked.

(1) (b) QFA7555.

(1) (c) Boeing 747-200.

(1) (d) Hong Kong.

(1) (e) The aircraft departed with 240,300 pounds or 35,865 U.S. gallons.

(1) (f) It is reported that the aircraft released fuel from take-off to Russell Lea, a distance of about 10 kilometres.

(2) Three similar alleged incidents have occurred.

(3) Airservices Australia wrote to the operator, Evergreen International Airlines, requesting that the aircraft be inspected and any fault be quickly rectified. My office also took the matter up with Qantas which was the charterer of the aircraft. Qantas has advised that it offered assistance to Evergreen with aircraft troubleshooting and defect rectification and that, following acceptance of this offer by Evergreen, five broken vent valves in the wing tanks were replaced.

(4) Should any future incidents occur, the issue will again be raised with the operator as a matter of urgency. I am examining ways in which these incidents can be minimised.