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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 95

(Question No. 516)


Senator Jones asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation, upon notice, on 11 September 1985:

(1) How many commercial Qantas flights from Australian airports were (a) delayed and (b) cancelled at the time of departure because of last minute maintenance checks that revealed faults during the years (a) 1983, (b) 1984 and (c) to this stage in 1985.

(2) How many commercial Qantas flights from Australian airports have been forced to abort, and either return to their point of departure, or land at unscheduled airports because of unscheduled faults detected in flight by aircrew during the years (a) 1983, (b) 1984 and (c) to this stage in 1985.

(3) What were the makes and models of the aircraft whose faults were detected prior to take off.

(4) What were the makes and models of the aircraft whose faults were detected in-flight.

(5) What were the ages of the individual aircraft involved.

(6) What was the life expectancy of each individual aircraft involved at the time the faults were detected prior to take off or in the air.

(7) What was the nature of the faults, and what potential dangers were posed to the travelling public in each instance.


Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

In providing the answers to the separate parts of the question, the following explanation is given for the format that has been adopted.

Qantas Airways Ltd provide each quarter to the Department of Aviation under the provisions of Air Navigation Order 100.8 a statistical summary of engineering related delays, defects and component reliability.

These reports not only address aborts, delays and returns at Australian airports but those throughout the entire Qantas network. The delays are not shown on an individual basis but as an item against each aircraft ``system''. This statistical presentation, known as ATA100, was developed by the American Air Transport Association and is used by a great number of airlines throughout the world.

The report does not show if a delay was due to a defect found as a result of maintenance checks or because of reports made by the crew from the last flight. Qantas averages in excess of 1,400 departures per month and total delays fluctuate between 40 and 80 per month giving a despatch reliability normally better than 95 per cent. This yields for the period requested about 900 delays.

Any defect, meeting the criteria of a `Major Defence', is required to be reported to the Department in the manner specified in Air Navigation Order 100.8.

In respect of Question 2, the Qantas report provides information on each of these occurrences. Such occurrences also require that an Incident Report be submitted to the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation as specified in Air Navigation Regulation 274. If the occurrence was due to a mechanical problem, a ``Major Defect Report'' must also be submitted.

Questions 1 and 2.

Extracts from the Qantas reports for 1983, 1984 and 1st and 2nd quarters of 1985 are available if required. The extracts comprise 247 sheets of A4 size paper. The data for the 3rd quarter 1985 has not yet been reduced to report format.

Questions 3, 4 and 5

During the period concerned Qantas operated various models of the Boeing B747. The operation of B767 aircraft commenced on 30 July 1985 and these have therefore not been included.

B747 models operated are:

(a) B747-238B powered by Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7 series engines.

(b) B747-238B `Combi' (part freighter) powered by Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7 series engines.

(c) B747-238B powered by Rolls-Royce RB211-524 series engines.

(d) B747-238B `Combi' powered by Rolls-Royce RB211-524 series engines.

(e) B747-SP38 powered by Rolls-Royce RB211-524 series engines.

(f) B747-338B `Extended Upper Deck' powered by Rolls-Royce RB211-524 series engines.

Listed below are the registrations of the Qantas B747 fleet over the years concerned. They are coded as shown above.

Registration

Letters

Model

Code

Date

Acquired

EBA

(d)

16.8.71

EBB

(a)

29.8.71

EBC

(a)

24.10.71

EBD

(a)

12.12.71

EBE

(a)

14.8.72

EBF

(a)

3.8.73

EBG

(a)

22.3.74

EBH

(a)

29.5.74

EBI

(a)

14.10.74

EBJ

(a)

3.6.75

EBK

(a)

10.11.75

EBL

(a)

1.7.76

EBM

(a)

18.8.77

EBN

(a)

22.12.77

EBO

(a)

20.9.78

EBP

(c)

19.10.78

EBQ

(c)

11.12.79

EBR

(c)

2.10.80

EBS

(c)

3.11.81

EBT

(f)

16.11.84

EBU

(f)

27.1.85

EBV

(f)

17.4.85

EAA

(e)

23.1.81

EAB

(e)

31.8.81

ECA

(b)

27.10.77

ECB

(d)

14.11.79

ECC

(d)

18.10.80

Question 6.

The Boeing B747 aircraft has no finite life. There are some life limited components in the aircraft and engines. Such components are covered by a System of Maintenance approved by the Department.

However, because of increased engineering costs as aircraft become older, there comes a time when an economic operating life is reached. This will vary greatly between countries and operators depending upon financial resources and the degree of Airworthiness Authority control. However, it is expected that many Boeing 747 aircraft will quite safely exceed 100,000 flying hours.

Question 7.

A statement on the nature of each fault is available as outlined in the general preamble above.

It is impossible to assess the potential danger as this is a meaningless term in this context. Aircraft unserviceability states are not uncommon and procedures for both aircrew and maintenance engineers are explicitly detailed in operations and maintenance manuals. The potential for danger is therefore kept to a minimum statistical level consistent with other forms of transportation.