There is a strong buzz in Seattle and among sceptical pilots closer to home that something is too cute by half with the explanations of how QF2 lost its main electrical system on approach to Bangkok last Monday.

In the Boeing home town engineers are understood to be sifting through every record and potential scenario to identify all the factors that could have caused the serious incident in which the pilots landed using a battery back-up system that would only work for an hour.

QF2, a Boeing 747-400 with 360 people on board was fortuitously 15 minutes from its planned arrival from London when Qantas says water originating in a galley short-circuited the electrical distribution unit that is fed by generators from each of the four engines.

This has never happened in 38 years of service by 747s. But leaks from galleys often happen.

Among pilots there is bewilderment as well. Even the discovery of other faulty drip shields, and many reports of water seeping through a number of Qantas jets, do not provide a convincing explanation as to why, all of a sudden, this particular flight had a potentially catastrophic power failure.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is understood to have the data recordings and maintenance records it needs to pursue possible answers to the mystery, and to inform all civil aviation safety authorities and users of Boeing 747-400s of any evidence or findings which may be a importance to operations of the type of jet world wide.

As part of its charter, it will circulate such information immediately, rather than as a full report, which because of the complexity of safety investigations can sometimes take several years, preceded by preliminary or interim reports.

No one has suggested the QF2 incident is a cover up. Rather, there is a view that this is a genuine mystery, and like many safety incidents, the result of a combination of human and mechanical factors.

So just sit back, relax and enjoy the flight, and don’t worry too much about the water in the aisles, until the lights go out and a pilot rushes down the aisle with a torch asking passengers if they have a GPS unit handy because all the instruments are blacked out.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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