A baggage vehicle has collided with the lovely Qantas retrojet 737 in Perth today. Reportedly, the baggage vehicle’s brakes failed, sending it crashing into the aircraft and trapping the driver inside. The incident left the 737 with a sizeable rip in the fuselage.
Qantas 737 significantly damaged
An iconic Qantas aircraft has been seriously damaged in a collision at Perth Airport today. A baggage vehicle crashed into the jet while it was parked at the airport, reportedly due to the brakes on the vehicle failing. The vehicle impacted the starboard side, tearing a significant hole in the belly of the plane.
Reports in News.com.au suggest that the driver of the baggage vehicle was not injured, but that he was trapped underneath the plane until the vehicle could be recovered. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) notes that several other ground workers narrowly escaped injury during the incident.
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@breakingavnews) May 26, 2021
Qantas has come under fire for outsourcing its ground handling to third parties, after the pandemic-induced shutdown slashed the airline’s finances. The TWU claims that this is the latest in a string of incidents that have jeopardized the safety of aviation workers, telling the News publication,
“The other incidents include pilots being given dangerous and incorrect baggage weight information, understaffing of ground operations with teams halved, the use of old equipment around aircraft and problems including excessive delays with baggage at airports.”
BREAKING: shocking evidence of safety breaches at @Qantas. A baggage loader smashes into a plane leaving extensive damage and a worker narrowly escaping injury. Qantas outsourced this work and must take responsibility pic.twitter.com/HnJxVoSlMM
— TWU Australia (@TWUAus) May 26, 2021
The TWU says that it is now writing to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and WorkSafe WA, demanding a safety investigating into Qantas’ entire ground operations. The Union’s national secretary Michael Kaine described today’s incident at Perth as a ‘major safety breach,’ noting that it could have been fatal.
— 9News Australia (@9NewsAUS) May 26, 2021
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The Retro Roo
The 737 damaged in the accident was VH-VXQ, an 18-year-old 737-800, which has been with Qantas from new. To celebrate the airline’s 95th anniversary in 2015, the airline repainted the aircraft in a vintage 1960s livery, the same that featured on its Boeing 707s from 1959 to 1961.
This 737 is actually the second Qantas 737 to receive the retro makeover. Retro Roo I was launched in 2014, and featured the livery from 1971 – 1984. Nevertheless, Retro Roo II is likely to be grounded for some time while repairs are carried out. A Qantas spokesperson told News,
“We are investigating how this occurred and are working with our ground handling provider Menzies on this investigation. Engineering works to repair the damage are underway.”
Retro Roo II had flown into Perth almost a week ago, on May 20th. Arriving from Melbourne, it has not flown since its arrival, but was in regular use up until then. Data from Radarbox.com shows that, on average, it has been flying around 40 flights per month over the past year, and that it flew 68 in April 2021.
What do you make of this incident? Let us know in the comments.