AUTHOR: Richard de Crespigny
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan Aust
THIS is a superb account of the four hours in 2010 during which the Qantas fatality-free record in the jet age hung by a thread.
It is written by the pilot I want up the pointy end every time I fly in future.
When engine two of the shiny new Airbus A380 exploded four minutes after takeoff from Singapore, Captain de Crespigny was responsible for the lives of 440 passengers and 29 crew.
The explosion destroyed so many of the controls in the "fly-by-wire" aircraft that de Crespigny was forced to go back to basics, and learn to fly what was left of the plane from scratch.
It was here that his 35 years of flying experience kicked in, so that he and his crew were able to successfully land the plane back in Singapore.
Complicating the issue was the fact that fuel could not be jettisoned because most of the fuel pumps were disabled, and fuel was leaking through numerous holes punched in the wing by shrapnel from the exploding engine.
So de Crespigny had the job of landing an overweight flying bomb on a runway which was barely long enough for such a plane, with overheating brakes threatening to ignite leaking fuel even after the plane had landed.
That all ended well is a tribute to both the flying and management skill of de Crespigny, and the complete professionalism of the rest of the flight crew.
This really is a book you will find hard to put down, even though you already know how it ends.
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