Oz hero pilot dodges major disaster once again

Sunday, November 7, 2010

MELBOURNE - An Australian pilot, who saved 466 lives on a Qantas flight, has dodged a disaster once again.

Captain Richard de Crespigny was a passenger on flight QF6 when flames burst from an engine shortly after take-off from Singapore’s Changi airport, forced the Boeing 747-400 jumbo to turn back.

All 412 shaken passengers and crew were safely offloaded, including crew who had already survived the earlier drama, along with Capt de Crespigny.

Previously, he was hailed a hero after an engine exploded on his Qantas jet-an Airbus A-380 flying as QF32-shortly after take-off from the same airport, bound for Sydney.

Crespigny dumped fuel, reassured passengers and safely executed an emergency landing. He and 19 other crew-members were on QF6, attempting to return home to their families.

Anxious wife Coral de Crespigny had no idea of the second drama until her husband rang and announced calmly, “There’s been a delay, I’ve landed again and I’m going back to the hotel.”

Coral said she had initially been unconcerned by the QF32 drama, but upon reflection had begun to worry about her husband’s welfare.

“The first time I was OK, because I got told by Qantas that everything was all right, so by the time I knew (about it) the danger was over, I already knew he was safe,” she said.

“The second time was similar but I thought ‘Gosh, that’s a worry’.

“I’m still looking at the (whole) situation, going Holy cow, how did he get out of that?” she said.

The father of a cabin attendant who was flying home to Sydney on QF6 as a passenger said his daughter was “definitely frightened” after the first one, but her insecurities were peaking after it happened again. She was considering flying home with another carrier, he said.

Qantas has sent another plane to Singapore to collect the passengers.

Chief executive Alan Joyce has denied any link between the two engine failures-although both are Rolls-Royce engines.

Captain de Crespigny is desperate to get home, his wife said.

“He’s still in Singapore and seats are so limited that we’re not even sure when he’ll be back. He was disappointed but he didn’t seem that upset - he just wanted to get home.

“Qantas has a pretty good safety record so I don’t think he ever feared for his life or anything. But he’s sad because he’s spent half his life in hotel rooms, so when he can get home to his family it’s a happy occasion,” she said.

“You’d think he’d have dealt with that sort of thing on a simulator and he’d just know what to do - but you read about what actually happened and I find myself sitting there saying to myself: ‘My God, he really is a hero’,” she added. (ANI)

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