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Hero A380 pilot saw Qantas crew ‘high five’ Joyce exit

written by Jake Nelson | September 6, 2023

Former Qantas pilot Captain Richard de Crespigny. (Image supplied)

The former Qantas pilot who famously landed an A380 after one engine exploded has said he believes staff are relieved at the early exit of CEO Alan Joyce.

Captain Richard de Crespigny, who was the pilot of Qantas flight 32 aboard VH-OQA ‘Nancy-Bird Walton’ when it suffered an engine failure over Indonesia in 2010, said he saw staff celebrating on a Qantas plane at the news Joyce had stepped down.

“It was about five minutes before we touched down, and I saw staff high-fiving [among] themselves. Engagement’s at an all-time low in Qantas. In fact, they’ve got two aircraft currently grounded because of accidents by ground handling,” he told Melbourne’s 3AW.

“If you remember, they laid off a lot of the ground handlers about two years ago, I think unfairly, and maybe even illegally, and the airline suffered and the passengers suffered as a consequence. So, the after-effects of that continue.”

Captain de Crespigny described a “collapse of the brand” at the Flying Kangaroo among both staff and passengers due to a loss of trust but said the national carrier needs to be supported.


“Airlines live and die on trust, which is capability, credibility, vision, value and particularly care,” he said.

“I think the problem is that for the passengers and the staff that have suffered at the hands of the poor Qantas governance, they find that unimaginable that the CEO and executive should get a massive pay boost whilst the airline is failing to perform – it just shows there’s a disconnect and money flows to the top, and it’s unhealthy and there needs to be change.

“[Trust is] built-in teaspoons and it’s destroyed in shovel loads, and it takes incredible skill and determination and empathy to build it up. It’s got to be protected. I mean Qantas is a national airline, it fulfils the defence needs. Qantas needs to be protected.

“We probably forget that Qantas was shut down by the government. It was put into a coma, whilst airlines like Qatar that’s a state-funded enterprise that was dumping load all around the world, you know, it’s easy for them to look good when our airline’s being destroyed. We do need to have a national airline. We do need to support it.”

Alan Joyce, who has led Qantas since 2008, was originally to leave the role at the airline’s AGM in November but handed over the reins to CFO Vanessa Hudson on Wednesday.

Joyce’s early departure comes amid a storm of controversy surrounding Australia’s largest airline group, with the ACCC last week taking the Flying Kangaroo to court over allegations it had sold more than 8,000 tickets to flights it had already cancelled, and calling for a $250 million fine.

In its response, Qantas admitted its reputation had suffered damage on “several fronts” and said it would address the watchdog’s claims fully in court.

Captain de Crespigny, meanwhile, is best known for being involved in another one of the airline’s most infamous incidents, when his A380’s engine exploded mid-air.

Despite significant structural and systems damage, Captain de Crespigny and his colleagues in the flight deck — Qantas’s first A380 named after Australian aviation legend Nancy-Bird Walton — managed to return to Singapore Changi Airport for a safe landing. No passengers or crew were injured.

Investigators later found the failure was due to a fatigue crack in an oil feed pipe in the number two engine of the aircraft. This led to an internal oil leak and fire, with the turbine disc eventually bursting through the engine casing.

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Comment (1)

  • The ‘fatigue crack’ in the stub pipe was caused by poor quality control at Rolls-Royce, I know Qantas is on the nose at the moment but let’s not leave details out and make it look like it was Qantas’ fault (if I didn’t know the details, I’d assume from your last sentence above that it was poor maintenance.

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