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QF32 captain defends crew actions over Singapore landing

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 5, 2011
Captain Richard de Crespigny

QF32 pilot Captain Richard de Crespigny has defended the actions taken by his crew after an uncontained engine failure forced the Sydney-bound Airbus A380 to return to Singapore’s Changi Airport in November last year.

Speaking at a joint event hosted by the Australian Association of Aviation and Aerospace Industries (AAAAI) and Monash University in June, the veteran pilot hit back at internet criticism which questioned why the crew of QF32 did not land immediately after the explosion occurred, and the decision not to evacuate passengers and crew via the aircraft’s escape slides.

“It was threat and error management. If we’d landed straight away we may have got the approach speed too low and stalled, or approached too fast and ended up off the runway,” de Crespigny argued, adding that it took 55 minutes to stabilise the A380 once the explosion occurred.

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“We had fuel, and fuel gave us time.”

On the decision not to deploy escape slides, de Crespigny said the crew was driven by a desire to avoid unnecessary injuries, such as the risk of broken limbs caused by the panic of an evacuation. “Our decision was based on the facts of where are the passengers safest right now,” he said.

de Crespigny also praised the reliability of Rolls-Royce engines and engine technology in general, pointing out that modern commercial jet engines had a failure rate of only 0.3 per 100,000 hours in 2010.

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7 Comments

  • Flier

    says:

    Considering what those pilots and that plane accomplished, one should not take too much notice of that criticism. All I can say the flight crew should be congratulated for their capable handling of that very serious accident. Congratulation to all of you.

  • pez

    says:

    Critisism? Of this guy (and his crew)? Wow. This should be up there with the Hudson River ditching as how multi-crew platforms should perform under duress. Astounded people are second-guessing his actions.

  • john mccaffrey

    says:

    however they were streaming fuel [not controlled dumping] and could have become a fire ball, waiting to happen!!

  • Gabe gajdatsy

    says:

    I’ll fly with this crew anyday. I would like to see the critics do a better job under the same circumstances. The bottom line is that the aircraft was landed and that EVERYONE walked away.

  • boleropilot

    says:

    from what i have heard of this incident there was a ‘cascading flow-on effect of failues’ associated with the engine failure, and the work that was done to contain all of these and save the aircraft (not to mention the passengers and crew) was extraordinary work

    i agree with Gabe and pez, i want guys this good up front when the shite hits the fan

    and they are going on strike to make sure that there will ALWAYS be good guys up front, that’s what Red Rat Airlines is all about

    i won’t fly with anyone else if i can help it, even if it costs more

  • Wayne W

    says:

    Jeez, hollywood has a lot to answer for.
    There were no M*&^%$F%^&*&^ snakes on the M*&^%$F%@#$! plane, Kirt Russel was not flying, Mav was not doing a fly by on the tower, and there was no seal team on board trying to defuse a bomb in the cargo hold. These guys are highly trained aircrew, and did exactly what their training had taught, them – follow the procedures. Its the same for military aircrew – follow the procedures. Its the same for maintenance personel – follow the procedures. Its the same for check in staff and security staff – follow the procedures. You get the point.
    And guess what, they did just that.
    There is a reason the there are procedures in place and its not to fill up the flight manual, its to make flying safer.
    As far are the streaming fuel comment, would you rather have liquid Avtur (kerosene) in cold conditions streaming behind you, or liquid Avtur in warm conditions (Singapore), pooling on the ground underneath the aircraft, and vapourising near hot brakes after the hot and heavy landing?
    Cold liquid Avtur (Kerosene), will not combust – try it.
    The flight crew did an amazing job under difficult conditions. Well done.

  • Hudson

    says:

    He was critisised because he didn’t do what people expected him to do, even though it was what he considered the safest option at the time.

    Most importantly, everyone survived because if his heroic actions.

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