Karratha flight’s engine issues blamed on Boxing Day maintenance mishap

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Caitlyn RintoulThe West Australian
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Maintenance on the aircraft’s right engine was carried out in Perth Boxing Day, the day
before the incident flight, by a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer.
Camera IconMaintenance on the aircraft’s right engine was carried out in Perth Boxing Day, the day before the incident flight, by a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer. Credit: Operator, annotated by ATSB.

A passenger flight from Perth to Karratha in December 2017 had the wrong part installed in its landing gear, a report released today by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has found.

While flight VH-NHA had a “normal descent and touchdown” without injuries on December 27, the pilot noticed the right engine thrust reverser was inoperative during final approach.

Without the function, which helps airplanes slow down on landing, the aircraft was able to decelerate using normal braking before being taxied to the gate without further incident.

There were 64 passengers and six crew members on board at the time.

The ATSB investigation found a wrong lockout bolt was rendered onto the engine thrust reverser during maintenance in Perth on Boxing Day.

Maintenance on the aircraft’s right engine was carried out the day before the incident flight by a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer who began his scheduled day shift about 4am.

The bolt was a maintenance part that had a red warning flag on it and needed to be removed before the plane was released back into service.

“The aircraft’s maintenance organisation advised that in response to this incident it has taken safety action to highlight to maintenance staff the importance to follow the safety instructions and warnings contained in the aircraft maintenance manual,” the report stated.

“Further, the procedures for maintenance activities including task assessments, tooling and task procedures, have been reinforced.

“The engineer who installed the bolt during the maintenance in Perth before the flight had mistakenly not removed the bolt after the maintenance was completed.

“This investigation highlights the risk of varying procedures when performing maintenance tasks.

“It is important that, in all parts of the maintenance system, there is an awareness of human factors associated with completion of the task.”

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