In the latest Qantas maintenance outrage an ageing Rolls-Royce powered 767 has been flown between Melbourne and Sydney with nine pressurisation leaks instead of the three permitted under the Minimum Equipment List or MEL system which allows faulty jets to remain in revenue service under some circumstances.

Whether or not it was three leaks or nine leaks is beside the point. Why would any airline allow a jet with a single cabin pressure leak to fly anywhere without being fixed? Where is CASA in all of this? Qantas used to have a dictum that it never adhered to the legal and minimum standards but its own much higher standards?

Yet following the Bangkok incident on 7 January in which a Boeing 747-400 operating as QF2 lost its main electrical distribution system and had to land using a back up battery system, the airline admitted this was caused by a leak in a galley which was subsequently found in at least six other 747s and has now been found among its CityFlyer 767s.

The ATSB is investigating the serious QF2 incident. But as yet there is no sign of a comprehensive inquiry into the inability of the airline to maintain drainage and electrical systems fleet wide, and no investigation as to why it allowed poisonous nitrogen gas to be pumped into emergency oxygen supply systems in Melbourne last November.

This can only get worse, or at any rate more public. A Channel Seven report is set to dish the dirt on Qantas inter-city flights, in full living colour.

It seems that a current affairs or news special unit worked out that marching on board with a full production crew might be unsubtle, so they’ve resorted to using tiny cameras and available light to capture the evidence both on jets and in the Sydney and Melbourne terminals.

We invite Crikey subscribers to join them, and send their photos of issues with flights on all Australian carriers to [email protected].

The Channel Seven report is believed to be looking for more evidence of Qantas keeping dirty and potentially dangerous jets in service because of “lack of capacity” to deal with demand when professional standards of maintenance would see them cleaned up with special attention to plumbing and electrical systems.

Crikey has received a strong flow of reports from Qantas passengers upset at flying with crud squishing around on the floors in jets that are late anyhow. But more troublesome are reports of conflicts between flight crew and Qantas managers over the insistence that jets with too many faults continue to make flights.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey