A rag trapped in equipment under the flight deck on a Qantas jet – which could have posed a serious safety risk – was likely left behind during maintenance operations in Sydney.
That’s according to a report by the New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission.
The Boeing 737 was undergoing scheduled maintenance at Auckland International Airport in June 2013 when an engineer discovered metal filings in the forward electronics and equipment compartment area under the flight deck.
On closer inspection, a rag was found trapped under a cable wound around a cable drum.
The commission’s report, released on Thursday, said the rag made the cable bulge outwards, which meant it touched the cable guides and resulted in damage.
“The presence of the rag trapped in the cable drum windings compromised the integrity of the aeroplane’s stabiliser trim system manual control,” the report said.
The commission said it’s highly likely the rag was left behind during cleaning, inspection or maintenance carried out at Qantas’ Sydney maintenance hangar.
Qantas says it has made changes to prevent the likelihood of what it calls a “very rare occurrence” happening again.
“We have improved the processes within our engineering department to ensure that items are not left behind during maintenance checks,” a spokesman said.
He said that at no time was the safety of the aircraft compromised.
The report makes no recommendations but says all personnel “must take care not to leave anything behind inside an aircraft after completing maintenance or cleaning tasks, especially in areas or near systems critical to flight safety”.