When Rolls Royce was faced with repairing an aircraft engine which had exploded midair it turned to a Hamilton company for help.
‘‘We supplied some engine stripping tools we manufactured to Rolls Royce specifications,’’ said Metal Tech Engineering general manager Gerald Kapoor.
The aerospace specialist in Te Rapa, which won the Hamilton International Airport Waikato Export Service Provider of the Year Award in 2007, makes all kinds of components for the industry, including aircraft landing gear.
The tools helped get the Airbus 8380, Qantas flight QF32, back into the air after more than a year on the ground undergoing repairs.
‘‘You should be very proud if you were part of the repair,’’ said Captain Richard de Crespigny who nursed the damaged plane into Changi Airport, Singapore, after the explosion which caused catastrophic damage to the aircraft’s systems in November 2010.
‘‘ It’s the most elaborate and highly technical repair of a plane ever done,’’ Mr de Crespigny said.
‘‘A new aeroplane costs about A$400 million and the repair cost about A$135 million.’’
Mr de Crespigny, and his flight crew, became heroes after they bought their plane and 469 passengers home safely.
‘‘We had 22 systems, 21 were out. At least 600 wires were cut by the exploding engine Eight out of 11 fuel tanks were empty. It was knowledge, experience and team work that got her in that day,’’ Mr de Crespigny said.
Asked whether he feared for his life during the emergency Mr de Crespigny said not.
‘‘My wife doesn’t like me saying this, but no. I didn’t wonder whether I would see my wife and kids again. An extra ordinary aircraft, the A380, lived up to it’s name. A pretty happy story for everyone involved.’’
A pretty happy story indeed, especially for de Crespigny who has penned a book simply entitled QF32 on his experiences, and publisher Pan Macmillan. The book launched in New Zealand on Thursday at an Aviation Industry Association conference in Rotorua.
‘‘In Australia it’s sold out. It’s in its third reprint in two weeks. I think the publisher is very happy.’’
Mr de Crespigny took four months off following the accident.
‘‘To answer the questions and deal with some of the post traumatic stress. It was stressful, we were working at 100 per cent and we did everything as well as we could. We were in the air one hour and 40 minutes and two hours on the ground.’’
The book is endorsed by astronaut Neil Armstrong and Captain Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger who successfully landed US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you agree with Hamilton City Council's plan to introduce a minimum living wage for its lowest paid workers?Related story: Hamilton City Council backs living wage