A loose screwdriver head left inside an aircraft engine caused the crew of the Jetstar flight to abort take-off at Brisbane Airport, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has found.
The incident happened on October 23 2020, at Brisbane International Airport. A Jetstar Airways flight from Brisbane to Cairns was about to depart.
As the crew began to increase power to the engines of the Airbus A320 to begin the take-off process, both crew felt and heard a popping noise which was becoming louder and faster.
The situation became even more serious when the aircraft began diverging to the right of the runway centreline, despite the first officer applying full pressure to the left rudder pedal.
The captain immediately selected reverse thrust, rejecting the take off and bringing the aircraft to a stop.
Some of the passengers onboard the aircraft, a Brisbane tower air traffic controller, and flight crew of a following aircraft reported momentarily seeing flames coming out of the right engine.
The aircraft was taxied back to the airport gate, and all passengers and crew disembarked safely.
Engineers then reported finding metallic debris in the tailpipe of the aircraft’s right engine. On disassembly, it was discovered the engine’s high-pressure compressor had sustained significant damage. A removable screwdriver tip was found in the engine’s combustion section.
It had been there for over 100 flights
While the crew and passengers managed to escape without incident this time, it was revealed the screwdriver item had been inside the engine for over 100 flights.
'The ATSB concluded the tool bit had been left in the engine after maintenance and when the engine was running, it entered the high-pressure compressor, leaving dents and nicks in numerous rotor blades and stator vanes,' said ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod.
'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.'
'Tool control is an important part of maintenance processes. Small and seemingly insignificant tool components can, and have, caused significant incidents or accidents’' Macleod said.