“…[T]he flight and cabin crew managed the event as a competent team in accordance with standard operating procedures and practices.”
Taken out of context, the rather colorless statement above probably would not generate much interest from a reader not steeped in aviation safety culture. Even some aviation professionals might skim over it looking for more interesting material. Basically, the statement in question just says that the crew followed procedures in doing its job.
But if you add in the context, this simple, declarative sentence takes on much greater meaning. The passage is from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s long-awaited final report on the uncontained engine failure that nearly brought down Qantas Flight 32, an Airbus A380 bound from Singapore to Sydney, Australia, in early November 2010. In short, the sentence summarizes how the flight and cabin crews expertly handled an in-flight emergency that had the potential to end disastrously.
Thousands of flights are operated every day without incidents, but aircraft crews don’t always fare well in the harsh light of accident investigation final reports. Human error, as we all know, is a leading causal factor when it comes to accidents and incidents.
But in the case of QF32, the five-pilot flight crew, under the leadership of Capt. Richard de Crespigny, performed as a well-coordinated team, processing the myriad of warning messages that followed the uncontained failure of one of the A380’s four Rolls-Royce engines, assessing the state of the airplane, devising a plan and safely landing the airplane back in Singapore (see “Uncontained Failure”) a little less than three hours after the event began. While it has gotten less attention, the cabin crew also is to be lauded for its handling of the situation, a point I heard de Crespigny make during a speech in Paris in June. (Note: We will take a closer look at the cabin crew’s performance in a future issue of AeroSafety World.)
Capt. de Crespigny and his crew performed as the highly trained professionals that they are, helping to assure the survival of 440 passengers that day and providing the industry with a case study in crew resource management.