A safety report has revealed the tip of a screwdriver was left in the engine of a Jetstar plane, causing it to produce during take-off last year.
On the morning of 23 October 2020, an Airbus A320-232 operated by Jetstar was preparing to fly from Brisbane to Cairns when it was forced to abort take-off, according to a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
The flight crew reported feeling a rumble and hearing a ‘popping’ sound that rapidly increased in frequency and volume as power was applied for take-off.
The aircraft then veered to the right of the runway despite the pilot applying full left rudder pedal deflection.
At this point, the captain aborted take-off at a very low speed and returned to the gate, a spokesperson for Jetstar has confirmed.
Passengers, air traffic controllers and the flight crew of a nearby aircraft told the ATSB they had seen flames coming out of the right engine during the ordeal.
The investigation concluded a screwdriver tip had been left in the combustion section of the aircraft’s engine after maintenance, which moved around when the engine was running and caused fatigue cracks.
According to the ATSB, the screwdriver tip had been in the plane’s engine for more than 100 flights.
The damage made by the tool over time detached a rotor blade, further damaging the engine during the attempted take-off.
In response to the incident, Jetstar issued a safety alert to its maintenance engineers asking them to keep track of their tools.
The airline also undertook an internal investigation to determine the ongoing risk.
“This was an extremely rare situation and we reported the event to the ATSB in accordance with regulations and assisted them in their investigation,” the Jetstar spokesperson said.
“We’ve issued a safety update to our engineering team on tooling checks and procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
The ATSB said the incident outlined the importance of tool control.
“Small and seemingly insignificant tool components can, and have, caused significant incidents or accidents,” the ATSB said.
NOTE: This article has been updated to include quotes from a Jetstar spokesperson.
Featured image source: ATSB