ATSB launches investigation into Rex propeller detaching

Saab 340B VH-NRX on short final to Sydney’s runway 16R after losing its right hand side propeller. (Damien Aiello)

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has opened an investigation into the loss of a propeller during a Regional Express (Rex) flight from Albury to Sydney.

Saab 340B VH-NRX was operating flight ZL768 on Friday when the right propeller became separated from the engine about 19km from Sydney. The aircraft was carrying 16 passengers and three crew and landed safely with all on board unharmed.

Rex said the crew “followed standard operating procedures and the aircraft landed normally and on-time at Sydney Airport”.

“The 16 passengers and three crew members were met by Rex staff upon arrival and did not require any further assistance,” Rex said in a statement.

“Rex is investigating the cause of the incident, and the matter has been reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) as well as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).”

The incident occurred just before 1200 local time.

The ATSB said it had deployed three investigators with expertise in materials failure engineering, recorded flight data analysis and human factors to the scene.

It called on anyone who finds the missing propeller to contact the ATSB or local police.

“It is reported that the right propeller assembly detached in-flight during the Regional Express (REX) flight from Albury to Sydney,” the ATSB said in a statement.

“Over the next few days, investigators will examine the aircraft, interview the flight and cabin crew, collect maintenance records and recorded flight data.

“The ATSB urges anyone who finds a piece of suspected aircraft debris NOT to handle it. Please call the local police or the ATSB on 1800 020 616.”

Some photos of the aircraft at Sydney Airport posted by 16Right Media on Twitter

Comments

  1. Peter says

    Imagine there will be a few nervous engineers in Wagga. Last time I can remember an incident like this involving a regional airline around YSSY was the Nord Mohawk wet leased to Ansett losing a prop enroute to YSTW in the 90s. Pretty certain Ansett cancelled the wet lease arrangement immediately. I think the operator might have been Southern Pacific but I could be mistaken. They seemed to change their tails quite frequently the old mohawks

  2. Chris Grealy says

    There was an AD out for this in 1994. Did this one slip through? “This amendment supersedes an existing airworthiness directive (AD), applicable to General Electric Aircraft Engines (GEAE) CT7 series turboprop engines, that currently requires a one-time ultrasonic inspection of a suspect population of propeller shafts for metallurgical defects, and if necessary, replacement with a serviceable part. This amendment extends the compliance time for the required ultrasonic inspection on certain propeller shafts. This amendment is prompted by information indicating that the equipment necessary to perform the ultrasonic inspection is less available than originally assumed. The actions specified by this AD are intended to prevent failure of the propeller shaft, which can result in separation of the propeller from the propeller shaft and possible damage to the aircraft.”

  3. JR says

    Not speculating on the cause of this, but aren’t these planes pretty old? Maybe time to think of longer term replacement with ATR’s.

  4. Craigy says

    According to Flightglobal, the aircraft was manufactured in 1992 and has been in Rex service since 2004 and subsequently purchased off lease in 2008

  5. David Bentley says

    Separation is a way better outcome than the prop running to the low pitch stop and causing huge amounts of drag.

    On older prop aircraft one of the ways of dealing with an overspeeding prop was to have the F/E shut off the oil supply and wait until the reduction gearbox seized and the prop sheared off.

    Much less drag that way.

  6. Peter says

    Another incident today. Time they took a look at maintenance practices in Wagga. I think they recently changed management down there?

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