Jumbo dumped fuel near city

Elizabeth Meryment

national political reporter

A QANTAS jumbo jet might have dumped fuel over Brisbane suburbs when it was forced to land after one of its engines stopped working on an international flight.

The incident took place on a Qantas flight between Sydney and Tokyo on March 12 about 11pm.

It is understood the jet dumped fuel over land as it made an emergency descent into Brisbane's Eagle Farm airport.

The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation yesterday confirmed the incident was under investigation, but said the location of the fuel dumping area was still unknown.

Qantas last night denied that the fuel was dumped at an altitude low enough to affect residents.

"Fuel was jettisoned at a sufficiently high altitude for it to evaporate prior to landing," a Qantas spokeswoman said.

She said the incident forced the QF21 flight on route to Tokyo's Narita airport to divert to Brisbane for repairs.

The aircraft's diversion was in accordance with "operational requirements".

The incident occurred after the jet's number two engine had problems after take-off from Sydney.

"Qantas and BASI are cooperating in a routine report on the incident which is currently in progress," the spokeswoman said.

BASI deputy director Alan Stray said there was "no way in the world" fuel dumped at a high altitude could have reached the ground.

"We believe that fuel was dumped over land but we are yet to know the details of the altitude and the location," Mr Stray said.

"I would sincerely hope that it was dumped at a height sufficient for it to evaporate and not over a built-up area, but we'll keep an open mind about it"

He said Qantas had informed him the fuel dumping had occurred "at the top of the descent" into Brisbane and at safe height.

Opposition transport spokeswoman Cheryl Kernot said the public should be informed if Qantas had had to dump fuel over land.

"If these allegations turn out to be true, then the public has a right to know what happened why it happened and what range of actions was open to Qantas," Ms Kernot said.

"There seem to be serious environmental and health considerations."

Ms Kernot said the quantity of fuel required for an international flight would have been substantial and could have caused massive environmental problems if dumped at a low altitude.

A spokesman for Transport Minister John Anderson said BASI would conduct "its usual thorough and professional job" in investigating the incident.

The investigation is expected to be concluded soon.

Airport boss outlines plan

 BRISBANE Airport Corporation boss Koen Rooijmans yesterday stressed the need for environmental balance in outlining plans for a parallel runway at Eagle Farm.

But Federal Member for Griffith Kevin Rudd said Mr Rooijmans was "guilty of breathtaking hypocrisy" and plans for the proposed runway would be like "constructing one huge autobahn in the sky".

Speaking at a Property Council luncheon, Mr Rooijmans said Brisbane needed infrastructure that would not destroy lives or make the city unattractive.

The Courier Mail Wednesday, March 31, 1999 page 4


last update 24 Oct 1999

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