On July 29, a Cathay Pacific Jet landed in Vancouver, BC after a piece of its fuselage broke off. According to a representative of the Transportation Safety Board, the piece that fell covered the air-conditioning unit in the belly of the plane. The plane, which was carrying 363 passengers to Hong Kong via Vancouver, is believed to have lost the fuselage during its descent into Vancouver. A statement released by Cathay Pacific noted that there was minor damage to other parts of the plane's fuselage.
This is the second time in a week that a plane has lost a piece of fuselage while in flight. On Friday, July 25, a Qantas flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Manila. Now, investigators are looking into the possibility than an exploding oxygen bottle caused the large hole in the plane. According to Reuters, the exploding oxygen bottle may also have partly moved a door lock toward the open position. The plane's cabin lost pressure in the incident and reports have surfaced that not all oxygen masks worked properly.
Reports are also surfacing that the Qantas plane lost "critical pilot instruments" after the oxygen cylinder exploded. Those critical instruments included three landing instrument systems and an anti-skid braking system. Luckily, the landing in Manila was fairly straightforward and the plane did not require those instruments; however, had there been any fog or cloud that day, the outcome could easily have been different.
While no one was physically injured in either of the two instances of in-flight plane damage, the psychological toll could still be huge. Imagine hearing a loud noise and feeling an unexpected bump during your flight, then attempting to use your oxygen mask to aid with breathing only to learn that your oxygen mask is not working properly. It would be understandable if you were to panic in that situation. Some people reportedly did panic a little, and it would not be surprising if they were to forego airplane travel in the future.
One of the problems with air travel is that so much control is out of the hands of the passengers. Of course, that is as it should be but that can still lead to some terrifying moments. After all, a person in a plane is flying at thousands of feet above ground, traveling at high speeds, in a machine that involves not only parts that are made by various companies, but also maintained and operated by numerous organizations.
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Airplane passengers have to put a great deal of faith in numerous people and companies, and that faith is not always deserved. Earlier this year Southwest Airlines had 43 of its planes grounded and faced huge fines for missing safety inspections. If one airline has cut corners along the way, it is reasonable to assume that others have done so as well.
It's almost enough to make a person want to stick to automobile transportation and if you have ever been in a plane crash or other airline incident, no one could fault you for wanting to do so.
If you or someone you know was harmed in an airplane crash, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.