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Wheel falls off Virgin plane at Melbourne airport


10:33 AEST Mon Jul 27 2009

A wheel has fallen off a Virgin Blue plane while it was taxiing towards the runway in Melbourne.

The incident involved one of the budget carrier's 737 aircraft as it prepared to take off about 8am on Saturday.

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association secretary Steve Purvinas told ninemsn that part of a corroded front axle became loose and fell off, with one of the plane's two front wheels still attached.

"A wheel came off the nose of the aircraft, we believe it was noticed by another aircraft in the vicinity who radioed through and told the Virgin driver to get his aircraft back to the base to get it checked properly," Mr Purvinas told Radio 3AW.

He has since told ninemsn he spoke with two engineers who saw the aircraft on the tarmac with one front wheel missing and witnessed an airport safety vehicle operator pick up the axle that had snapped off.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman says the investigation is underway and components of the plane are being examined.

He said they have identified a problem with the axle which has caused the wheel to come away.

"The focus of the investigation will be to determine the reason for the failure of the axle," the spokesman was quoted by the ABC as saying.

Mr Purvinas called on Virgin Blue to conduct pre-flight safety checks before all flights.

"In this case, we were lucky that the failure occurred on the ground. The release of the wheel assembly in-flight could have seen a loss of aircraft," he said in a statement today.

"Unless action is taken, future incidences could be much more serious."

Mr Purvinas said Virgin Blue did not undertake engineering safety checks before most flights.

Comment was being sought from the airline.

F-111 C/C:
Scary stuff!
Hey, are you a Moderator now? Congratulations and keep up the good work! You deserve a lot of kudos for your efforts here. I try to post but find I sometimes don't have a lot to talk about.

For about three weeks or more  just on the civil news Aard. Only thing I can be trusted with I guess.
First forum I have ever been on out of about fifteen where there are no Mods doing anything.
I always thought Mods were appointed for loyalty and effort.


Virgin Blue wheel problem blamed on axle corrosion

Steve Creedy, Aviation writer | July 27, 2009
Article from:  The Australian

A CORRODED axle is being blamed for a nosewheel coming off a Virgin Blue plane as it taxied at Melbourne Airport on Saturday.

The aircraft was at the end of the runway when a ground engineer noticed one of the wheels had fallen off. The crew were apparently unaware of the problem.

Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey today rejected claims from aircraft engineers that the fault would have been picked up in an overnight pre-flight safety check.

“In a nutshell, that type of issue with the nosewheel would not have been found on a general inspection,” he said. “You have to take the wheel off, you have to get access to the axle.

“It was an actual axle shear and the early indications were that it was corrosion. If that turns out to be case, you typically find corrosion of that magnitude when major checks, basically when the aircraft is stripped down.”

Mr Godfrey said the aircraft would have still functioned with one wheel and he believed the airline’s safety management system exceeded required standards.

He said the aircraft had been overhauled by Lufthansa Technik about 12 months ago and this sort of problem was rare.

The airline had inspected all aircraft around the same age and with a similar number of landing and take-off cycles and there were no signs of cracks, corrosion or fatigue.

“At this early stage, we think it was an anomaly,” he said.

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association federal secretary Steve Purvinas had earlier said the nosewheel fault could have caused serious problems.
Mr Purvinas said Virgin Blue checked its planes every day, but not always before each flight.
"We say that there would have been some tell-tale signs here that this wheel was ready to give way and unfortunately it wasn't picked up," he said.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating.


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