SKYMASTER CRASH PROBE: HINT OF WATER IN PETROL
It would be suggested that there was water in the fuel tanks of the airliner Amana, Mr. D. L. Seaton, K.C., told the Amana air crash inquiry which opened today.
The Amana, an A.N.A. Sky- master, crashed at York (W.A.) on June 25, 1950, shortly after taking off from Guilford (near Perth) for the Eastern States.
There were 28 passengers kill- ed in the crash. Another, an elderly man, suffered injuries from which he subsequently died.
The inquiry is being conducted by Mr. Justice Simpson, of the Supreme Court, Canberra, with Captain J. W. Bennett (B.C.P.A. pilot) and Mr. D. B. Hudson (Qantas aero engineer) as
Mr. Seaton, who is represent- ing the Commonwealth, said that technical evidence would show that number four engine was not functioning at the time of impact, and that there was corrosion in the engine caused by water in the fuel.
"It appears that this is the only suggestion as to the cause of the crash," he said.
Mr. Seaton said before the Amana left Sydney the weather heads on the fuel tanks were ex- amined and the fuel checked, but no water was found.
The plane was refuelled at Melbourne, Parafield (S.A.) and at Perth, but no check on the petrol was made.
He said evidence would also show that some roughness had been experienced with one of the engines between Parafield and Rawlinna on the westward trip, and that the pilot had reported this on arrival at Guilford, W.A.
He said evidence would also show that the plane caught fire before it hit the ground.
Lindsay Gordon Reading, fore- man engineer for A.N.A. at Guilford, said he drained two of the auxiliary fuel tanks before the Amana left Guilford. No foreign matter had been found in the fuel, in either tank or in the
Mr Seaton: Is it not correct
procedure to drain all the tanks?
Why was it not followed on this occasion?—We were short of time and would have delayed the aircraft, and we had no evid- ence of water having been in the petrol.
To Mr. G. A. Pape (for A.N.A.) Reading said that roughness in one engine reported by the pilot when the Amana reached Guilford had lasted only a few minutes.
When the engines had been started before the take-off there was no sign of roughness, nor had there been any difficulty in turning them over.
Reading told Mr. H. A. Win- neke (for the Director of Civil Aviation) that weatherheads were draincocks at the bottom of fuel tanks.
In answer to Mr. F. T. P. Burt (for the Australian Air Pilots' Association) Reading said the tanks were filled by an oil company tanker with two hoses, and both sides of the aircraft were fuelled simultaneously.
He agreed that if there were water in the tanker it would be pumped in first, and if the main tank were refuelled first prob- ably the water would get into it.
Reading said he did not think it important to inspect the main tank on this occasion, although the most dangerous part of a flight was the take-off, and nor- mally the main tanks were used.
The inquiry, which was ad- journed, is expected to last for ten days.