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Screwdriver part was left in engine of a Jetstar plane for more than 100 FLIGHTS

Screwdriver part was left in the engine of a Jetstar plane for more than 100 FLIGHTS before plane had to abort takeoff when its engine caught fire

  • Jetstar flight from Brisbane to Cairns veered off runway after engine caught fire 
  • The flight taxied back to the gate and the passengers safely disembarked  
  • An ATSB investigation found a screwdriver tip was in engine for 100 flights  


Engine failure that caused a Jetstar flight to veer to one side of a Brisbane Airport runway and abort take off was caused by a screwdriver tip left behind during maintenance.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation determined the tool piece had been inside the engine for more than 100 flights before the incident on October 23 last year.

Crew aboard the Airbus A320 felt a vibration and heard a popping noise that ‘rapidly grew faster and faster’ as power was applied for take off on the flight to Cairns.

The screwdriver tip (pictured) was left in the Jetstar plane’s engine for more than 100 flights 

The engine on the flight from Brisbane to Cairns burst into flames moments before take-off and the passengers disembarked safely (stock image)

The engine on the flight from Brisbane to Cairns burst into flames moments before take-off and the passengers disembarked safely (stock image) 

It diverged to the right of the runway’s centre line despite the first officer applying the full left direction rudder pedal. The plane had reached a ground speed of 30 knots, about 55km/h.

Passengers, an air traffic controller and crew of another aircraft saw flames momentarily flare from the plane’s right engine. 

The captain immediately put the plane into reverse and brought the aircraft to a stop, with all passengers and crew disembarking safely.

Engineers reported finding metal debris in the tailpipe of the engine and later discovered the high-pressure compressor had sustained ‘significant damage’.

The screwdriver tip was found in the engine’s combustion section.

‘The ATSB concluded the tool bit had been left in the engine after maintenance,’ director of transport safety Stuart Macleod said on Monday.

‘When the engine was running, it entered the high-pressure compressor, leaving dents and nicks in numerous rotor blades and stator vanes.

Some of the damage caused by the screwdriver tip included snapping off one of the stator vanes (pictured)

Some of the damage caused by the screwdriver tip included snapping off one of the stator vanes (pictured) 

Another view of the snapped metal of the stator vane (pictured)

Another view of the snapped metal of the stator vane (pictured) 

‘At least two of these dents and nicks initiated fatigue cracks, which developed during the aircraft’s subsequent operation, and led to a blade failing during the incident flight’s take-off roll.’

The blade further damaged the high-pressure compressor, causing the engine to surge and lose power.

The report noted ‘small and seemingly insignificant tool components can, and have, caused significant incidents or accidents’.

As a result of the mishap, Jetstar’s aircraft maintenance arm issued a safety alert to maintenance engineers which highlighted the need for all tooling to be accounted for.

Some more of the damage to the engine caused by the screwdriver tip (pictured)

Some more of the damage to the engine caused by the screwdriver tip (pictured) 

Another collision mark on a part of the engine caused by the metal screwdriver (pictured)

Another collision mark on a part of the engine caused by the metal screwdriver (pictured) 

The company also conducted a risk assessment to better understand the ongoing risk.

Jetstar Head of Safety Mike Chapman said the pilots aborted take-off at a very low speed.

‘This was an extremely rare situation and we reported the event to the ATSB in accordance with regulations, and assisted them in their investigation,’ he said in a statement.

‘We’ve issued a safety update to our engineering team on tooling checks and procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.’

More damage to the engine

More damage to the engine

More pictures show damage to the engine. Jetstar have said they have reviewed their safety protocols after the incident 

Both pilots told the investigation the noise and vibration was far more severe than what they had experienced during flight simulator training sessions when practising for similar events.

‘Tool control is an important part of maintenance processes that ensures they do not lead to foreign object damage,’ the ATSB report said.

‘Tool control should extend to pseudo consumable items such as screwdriver tips and drill bits.’ 

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