This weekend Nat Geo screens Air Crash Investigation, which looks at the same incident.
After making a refueling stop in Singapore, Qantas Flight 32 is back in the air and on the way to its final destination of Sydney, Australia.
The double-decker A380 aircraft is being piloted by former fighter pilot Captain Richard de Crespigny, First Officer Matt Hicks and Second Officer Mark Johnson.
Just four minutes into the flight, an engine begins to fail… and then explodes. The damaged engine is dangerously hot. The wings are filled with tonnes of highly flammable jet fuel. This state-of-the-art plane is now in very real danger of becoming a fireball.
One wrong move could lead to one of the deadliest air disasters the world has ever seen. The list of failures continues to grow, taxing the pilots’ abilities to respond.
6,300 kilometres away at the Qantas Operations Centre in Sydney, engineers try to make sense of the cascade of errors. It’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before.
Qantas Flight 32 seems to be failing in almost every conceivable way – and no one knows how long the plane can stay in the air.
Back on board Flight 32, Captain de Crespigny knows he’s running out of time. He needs to get the damaged plane on the ground. That means turning around and heading back to Singapore.
As Captain de Crespigny completes the turn, Second Officer Mark Johnson gets a sobering view. He can clearly see that the wing has been punctured straight through from below. The cause of the damage is obvious – the inboard left side engine is blown to pieces.
But knowing why the plane is failing doesn’t make it easier to fly – and the heavy load of flammable fuel means any landing attempt will be extremely dangerous.
Finally, after a gruelling two hour ordeal, Qantas 32 comes to a stop on the same runway it took off from. Three hours after their dramatic landing, the pilots get the all clear and their first look at the damage.
“I’m truly proud of everyone in the aircraft that day and I’m really proud of the decisions we made, the way we worked as a unified, cohesive team,” said Captain Richard de Crespigny
Now, the future of the entire Qantas fleet of A380s now depends on understanding what went wrong inside one single engine…
Sunday 8:30pm on Nat Geo.