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Sunday 27th July 2008 - 9:32 pm

Oxygen bottle prime suspect in Qantas drama

by Alan Thornhill

A burst oxygen bottle may have ripped open the fuselage of a Qantas jet, bound for Melbourne, on Friday night.

So the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has ordered the airline to check the oxygen cylinders on all of the airline’s Boeing 747 aircraft.

The authority’s spokesman, Peter Gibson, said the checks would begin immediately.

Gibson said that while investigators have still to establish the cause of Friday night’s incident, the authority knew that there were two oxygen bottles close to the damaged area.

Investigators established that one was missing from the stricken aircraft.

Qantas says it will comply with the order and the inspections should be completed by Friday.

The damaged aircraft was 16 years old.

Although no-one was seriously injured in the incident, some of the passengers on board have reported that they had difficulty using the oxygen masks, which fell from the plane’s bulkhead, during the emergency.

Those claims will be investigated in detail.

The aircraft, which was travelling from London to Melbourne, was forced to make an emergency landing in Manila.

CASA is undertaking its own investigation of the mis-hap.

So far, there has been no suggestion that terrorists were involved, in any way, in the incident.

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Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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