An AirAsia X A330-300

No-one asked the critical question yesterday about the AirAsia X flight that returned to Perth after about 90 minutes of flight with a severely disabled engine that vibrated like a malfunctioning washing machine.

Why didn’t this jet land immediately at Learmonth (near Exmouth)  in compliance with the internationally accepted safety rule that requires a twin engine airliner to land at the first available suitably equipped airport if one engine fails or is shut down?

The AirAsia X flight to Kuala Lumpur, an A330-300 with 359 people on board, was about 370 kms from the fully equipped alternative airfield when one of its engines ingested a fractured fan blade according to the Aviation Herald.

Yet instead of heading directly to Learmonth, the big wide body twin airliner was turned around and flown for around 720 kilometres back to Perth, during which time maritime rescue services were put on alert for a possible ditching in the sea north of the city.

AirAsia X, the Australian safety regulator CASA, and the Australian air safety investigator the ATSB, all have some very serious matters to consider. And the joke media that passes for news reporting in this country needs to hire reporters smart enough to take a look at the maps and look up the rules that apply to airliners that suffer in flight engine failures.

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