The Quantas mishap: What’s the big deal?


“The Airbus 380 is designed to fly on just two of its four engines,” an MPR newscast mentioned a short time ago, citing an aviation expert in the case of the Quantas jumbo jet, whose engine exploded early this morning.

But the comment misses the point and the problem. It isn’t that an engine failed, it’s that when it exploded, it sent parts spewing all over the plane and through the wing. Airplane engines aren’t supposed to do that, because the shrapnel could conceivably — if improbably — cut the airplane’s systems. And it’s generally not good to have a hole in the wing.

Perhaps you remember United Airlines Flight 232, which lost all of its hydraulics when engine shrapnel ripped through the plane.

The BBC has a compelling interview with one of the passengers on the plane here.

And here’s video, which includes the pilot’s announcement to the passengers.

Ben Sandilands, who writes the Plane Talking blog, has posted some additional images.

The incident also was a reminder about how often we view the news through popular culture. Or perhaps you didn’t think “Rainman,” today when you heard Quantas?

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