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air safety

Mar 20, 2017

REX may be victim of engine defect in lost prop incident

A SAAB 340 similar to the REX plane did lose a propeller in similar circumstances 26 years ago

The propeller-less REX flight after landing at Sydney

The possibility that the REX incident involving a lost propeller from a SAAB 340 turboprop approaching Sydney last Friday was caused by a rare manufacturing fault has firmed following the finding of a US investigative report concerning a similarly non-fatal incident in America in 1991.

That NTSB report was uncovered by Simon Hradecky, the author of the Aviation Herald air accident website.

The parallels between the US findings and the known details concerning the shedding of a propeller from the REX flight are striking, although it is far from confirmed that they do in fact explain that incident.

The NTSB summary is all in upper case.

An earlier post on this topic (for which the comments have been preserved) contained some incorrect information published in good faith.

To be blunt, this reporter is unhappy with this situation, particularly given some of the sources.

It has now been established that the flight last Friday from Albury to Sydney was well past Canberra Airport when the pilots shut down the right hand engine and feathered its propeller, shortly before it separated and fell away, fortunately missing any control critical surface of the SAAB 340, which could have caused an crash likely to kill all 16 people on board.

That propeller hasn’t been found. My apologies to REX and their pilots for doubting the judgments that led to a continuation of the flight when it was incorrectly described as having first encountered engine problems near Canberra.

The ATSB inquiry is in its early days. The close up photos of the break point between the missing propeller and the engine appear to indicate some sort of structural failure induced by stresses that may or may not have been affecting the assemblage even prior to the vibrations that caused it to be shut down while near Canberra. Whether the causes include structural as well as maintenance related factors remains to be determined.

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