Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Regional Express (REX) Grounds Some SAAB 340 Aircraft as a Result of Propeller Malfunction over Sydney

As has been widely reported, on Friday 17 March, Regional Express (REX) Flight ZL768 from Albury to Sydney lost the propeller from its Number 2 engine in flight, then carried on to make a safe landing at Sydney Airport.


The flight was operated by SAAB 340B VH-NRX (c/n 340B-291) which was manufactured in 1991, and was first registered in Australia in October 2004.

VH-NRX in happier times  (File photo)

As an investigation continues into how a propeller fell off the SAAB as it was approaching Sydney Airport, REX has grounded some of its planes.

“REX has decided, by abundance of caution, to immediately remove from service and quarantine all propeller gear boxes and shafts of the same series as that of the incident for further inspection and testing if warranted,” REX said in a statement.

REX is yet to confirm how many planes have been impacted.

It is believed the fleet of three Pel-Air SAAB 340 Freighter aircraft has been grounded.  As a result, it was interesting to note that Qantas Freight Boeing B737-300F VH-XML popped into Mackay Airport early on Tuesday 21 March to cover for the grounded SAAB 340.

File photo

VH-XML flew into Mackay Airport from Brisbane as QFA7339 before continuing to Townsville using the same flight number.  Of interest, the Qantas Freight B737-300's operated on this route during 2016 - as shown above.

UPDATE!  Qantas Freight Boeing B737-300F VH-XMB was noted completing the same Brisbane to Mackay to Townsville QFA7339 freight run on Wednesday 22 March.

Back on Friday, the Number 2 engine on VH-NRX was shut down following 'abnormal indications'. That action 'feathers' the propeller in order to reduce drag.  It was at this point that the propeller assembly separated and rotated upwards and to the right of the aircraft which was carrying 16 passengers and three crew members.

Regional Express operates a fleet of more than 50 Saab 340 aircraft on about 1500 weekly flights to 58 destinations across Australia.

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