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The great Qantas A380 waterfall – it was mops that did it

October 17, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The mystery of the great Qantas A380 flood back in July appears to have been solved, with something very mundane – namely cleaners’ mops – said to have been responsible.

Qantas flight QF94 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, operated by an A380 Airbus, turned back about an hour into the 14-hour flight after a cascade of water gushed like a river down the aisle into economy from a leaking business class pipe.

Passengers used blankets to shield themselves from drips. The striking picture shown here did the rounds of social media at the time, depicting the aisle looking like a river, or a creek at least. Qantas A380 flood

Qantas said the water came from the plane’s drinking water supply (rather than from any less pleasant source). It ran from the business class cabin on the upper deck through the roof into the economy cabin below. The trickle-down effect in action.

Now, a report into the incident by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has blamed mops for the incident.

“Initial engineering inspection found that the coupling that joins the water pipe at the floor level where the water supply enters the galley was unlatched,” the ATSB report said.

“There was evidence that the rope-style mops used by cleaners may have contributed to the coupling coming undone. A fleet wide inspection of the aircraft was carried out and temporary preventative action taken on all similar galley installations. This incident provides an excellent example of effective crew resource management techniques.”

The report recaps the flood thus:

On 2 July 2014, a Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft, registered VH-OQD, departed Los Angeles, USA, for Melbourne, Victoria. During the climb, the captain switched off the seatbelt sign. A few minutes later, a cabin attendant entered the business class galley and, as she switched the hot water on, observed water leaking out from under the meal carts. A cabin supervisor then pulled the carts forward to access and switch off the water shut off valve, but that did not stem the flow of water.

A second officer went into the cabin to determine how much water had leaked and confirmed that the valve was switched off. The flight crew contacted maintenance watch ground staff. They advised the crew that there was a main switch to the potable water on the flight attendants’ panel and the cabin crew located the switch and selected it to ‘OFF’, which then stopped the water flow.

As a precaution, the cabin crew switched off the in-flight entertainment system and the power to all controls in the seats. With the potable water supply switched off, there was no water available for the toilets or basins for the duration of the flight. The crew elected to return to Los Angeles.

Not included in the ATSB report is the passenger reaction.

Qantas cabin crew moved passengers to unaffected areas and gave them extra blankets. Passengers praised the Qantas response. They were put up in hotels overnight while engineers assessed the plane.

One passenger on the plane, US actress Yvette Nicole Brown, said on CNN the flood was “the scariest thing I’ve ever seen”.

“There was a river flowing past us. We are on the upper deck and there are people below us, and … we’ve got a staircase behind us.

“This is over the Pacific, and we have a leak and there is water and there is electricity on board.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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