From Times Online
July 25, 2008
Qantas 747 terror could have been caused by bomb, say aviation experts
The hole blown in the side of the Boeing 747 on flight from London to Melbourne, could have been caused by an explosive device or a damaged fuselage, according to aviation experts.
Passengers on the flight have described their terror after a panel on the side of the aircraft was ripped off in midair, blowing a hole in the fuselage.
Qantas flight QF30, with 300 passengers and crew on board, plunged 20,000ft after the missing panel caused an "explosive" depressurisation.
David Learmount, Safety Editor at Flight International Magazine, said: "It's possible there was some kind of explosive device in the suitcases. There's a hole where there shouldn't be."
But he stressed that other possible causes for the damage included physical damage or a corrosive that weakened the hull, making it give way.
He said the hole had exposed some bags in the hold which are usually contained in metal containers. "It's interesting to see them - how else could that be if not an explosion? Bags are moved about quite roughly in the hold and the plane was built in 1991 so it has seen a lot of action. If damage was done to the fuselage over a period of time a crack could have developed...weakening to the point where it was blown out."
The Boeing 747 had just taken off from a stopover in Hong Kong when the incident happened. As the plane dropped from 30,000ft to 10,000ft, oxygen masks fell from the ceiling.
Investigators should be able to quickly pinpoint the basic reason behind the Qantas plane’s emergency landing in the Philippines, aviation experts said today. But they warned that a full understanding of the terrifying incident may take much longer.
Although there has been no immediate evidence that terrorism played a part in the incident, investigators will want to look at anything that points towards a deliberately-planted explosive device. The probe will also concentrate on whether there was a non-criminal explosion of some kind or whether the incident was sparked by something breaking on the plane.
“It should become apparent fairly quickly if something exploded or something broke,” said Kieran Daly, editor of internet news service Air Transport Intelligence. “When things like this happens there is always the thought that it might be a criminal case.Investigators will also want to see if something like a gas cylinder exploded or that something broke for whatever reason.
“There may also have been some form of structural failure. Sometimes with accidents, the essential gist of the cause is very quickly known, but then it can take a much longer period of time to know exactly what happened.”
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