Jul 262008
 

300-odd people are now safely on the ground after a hair-raising ride between Hong Kong and Manilla.

A little research reveals that the aircraft in question is registered VH-OJK, Boeing certification number 25067. First flown 21 May 1991, delivered 17 June 1991. Seventeen years, one month, one week and one day old when she suffered explosive decompression.

I think it’s fair to say that even in these difficult-for-business times, I doubt QANTAS would be wanting to sacrifice a jealously guarded reputation for safety by skimping on maintenance. I might be wrong, but I don’t believe claims of rust which seem to have surfaced in the media, in regard to Friday’s episode over the South China Sea. Here’s a link to an online decoder for the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) site. In short, a search engine which will show you the activity of any given aircraft, anywhere in the world, as long as you know it’s registration. Plug ‘VH-OJK’ into the registration search box and pay close attention to the flight hours of City of Newcastle over the last week alone. For those who don’t get the gist or can’t be bothered, here’s the result:

Date Registration Type Operator Flightnumber Route
24/07/2008 13:57 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0030 LHR-HKG-MEL
24/07/2008 4:49 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0009 MEL-SIN-LHR
23/07/2008 5:25 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0009 MEL-SIN-LHR
22/07/2008 21:01 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0012 LAX-SYD
21/07/2008 6:48 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0011 SYD-LAX
20/07/2008 20:49 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0002 LHR-BKK-SYD
20/07/2008 0:15 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0002 LHR-BKK-SYD
19/07/2008 23:46 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0002 LHR-BKK-SYD
19/07/2008 12:12 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0029 SYD-HKG-LHR
18/07/2008 15:08 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0029 SYD-HKG-LHR
18/07/2008 12:01 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0030 LHR-HKG-MEL
17/07/2008 13:13 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0030 EGLL-VHHH
17/07/2008 6:24 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0001 SYD-BKK-LHR
16/07/2008 9:32 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0001 SYD-BKK-LHR
15/07/2008 23:07 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0108 JFK-LAX-SYD
14/07/2008 15:14 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0011 SYD-LAX< /td>
14/07/2008 9:44 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0176 LAX-BNE
13/07/2008 4:30 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0175 BNE-LAX
13/07/2008 2:31 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF6191 BNE-SYD
12/07/2008 23:06 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0002 LHR-BKK-SYD
12/07/2008 3:09 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0002 LHR-BKK-SYD
12/07/2008 0:03 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF031D SIN-LHR
12/07/2008 0:02 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0031 SYD-SIN-LHR
11/07/2008 23:57 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0031 SYD-SIN-LHR
11/07/2008 22:48 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF031D SIN-LHR
7/07/2008 22:36 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0150 LAX-SYD< /td>
6/07/2008 2:29 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0149 SYD-LAX
5/07/2008 23:20 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0128 HKG-SYD
5/07/2008 3:39 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0127 SYD-HKG
3/07/2008 10:17 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0032 LHR-SIN-SYD
2/07/2008 13:04 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0032 LHR-SIN-SYD
2/07/2008 5:46 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF001D VTBS-LHR
1/07/2008 9:45 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0001 SYD-BKK-LHR
1/07/2008 5:22 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0064 JNB-SYD
30/06/2008 3:26 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0063 SYD-JNB
29/06/2008 23:32 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0128 HKG-SYD
29/06/2008 3:46 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0127 SYD-HKG
28/06/2008 20:29 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0010 EGLL-WSSS
28/06/2008 20:17 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0002 LHR-BKK-SYD
28/06/2008 0:18 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0002 LHR-BKK-SYD
28/06/2008 0:02 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0002 LHR-BKK-SYD
27/06/2008 6:19 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0009 MEL-SIN-LHR
26/06/2008 8:14 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0009 MEL-SIN-LHR
25/06/2008 19:34 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0010 EGLL-WSSS
25/06/2008 0:04 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0010 EGLL-WSSS
24/06/2008 23:48 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0010 LHR-SIN-MEL
24/06/2008 6:38 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0031 SYD-SIN-LHR
23/06/2008 11:00 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0031 SYD-SIN-LHR
23/06/2008 4:59 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0064 JNB-SYD
22/06/2008 2:38 VH-OJK B744 Qantas QF0063 SYD-JNB

 

 

 

That’s just the last month. Lots and lots of air hours. Lots and lots of take-offs and landings. As I say, I don’t doubt QANTAS’ dedication to engineering safety, however, just how long should an aircraft like OJK be kept in service flying extreme long haul routes?

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  2 Responses to “How Old Is Too Old?”

  1. It’s pretty typical utilisation for an airliner though, all airlines look to keep their aircraft in the air as much as possible, that’s where they make money.
    Qantas aircraft on the international routes get it much easier than a lot of aircraft, long routes and overall less take-offs and landings in a given period than say 747s on the Atlantic or internal US routes.
    i live in Perth WA where we are only now seeing Qantas phase out 747-300s on the Perth/Melbourne route in favour of Airbus A330-200s. I fly that route quite often, those aircraft are getting VERY old.
    i’m bemused by this incident mainly because any information on what caused it is so slow being released. Obviously there is a hole, no comments on what caused it beyond Qantas disingenuously saying there was no corrosion in the vicinity of the damage.
    i find that difficult to believe of any aircraft of that age, corrosion is a fact of life. (I was a professional pilot, military and charter for a long time.)
    However it may not be corrosion, could be fatigue, could be damage when on the ground, could even have been an explosion in the hold, although that seems unlikely. It is very unlikely it was a bird-strike, not at 30,000 feet and not at that spot on the fuselage in any event.
    Interesting, I’ll be watching for a detailed explanation when they get around to it. ;-)
    Cheers

  2. It’s pretty typical utilisation for an airliner though, all airlines look to keep their aircraft in the air as much as possible, that’s where they make money.
    Qantas aircraft on the international routes get it much easier than a lot of aircraft, long routes and overall less take-offs and landings in a given period than say 747s on the Atlantic or internal US routes.
    i live in Perth WA where we are only now seeing Qantas phase out 747-300s on the Perth/Melbourne route in favour of Airbus A330-200s. I fly that route quite often, those aircraft are getting VERY old.
    i’m bemused by this incident mainly because any information on what caused it is so slow being released. Obviously there is a hole, no comments on what caused it beyond Qantas disingenuously saying there was no corrosion in the vicinity of the damage.
    i find that difficult to believe of any aircraft of that age, corrosion is a fact of life. (I was a professional pilot, military and charter for a long time.)
    However it may not be corrosion, could be fatigue, could be damage when on the ground, could even have been an explosion in the hold, although that seems unlikely. It is very unlikely it was a bird-strike, not at 30,000 feet and not at that spot on the fuselage in any event.
    Interesting, I’ll be watching for a detailed explanation when they get around to it. ;-)
    Cheers