AMANA INQUIRY CORROSION BY WATER IN ENGINE PARTS The West Australian Deputy-Mineralogist, George Rodney Le Mesurier, told the Air Court of Inquiry yesterday that he had found evidence of corrosion by water in two engine parts which had been handed to him for examination.
Yesterday was the sixth day of the inquiry into the cause of the crash of the Australian Na tional Airways flagship, Amana, near York on June 26, with the loss of 29 lives. The president is Mr. Justice Simpson. He is being assisted by two assessors, Capt. J. W. Bennett and Mr. D. B. Hudson. Le Mesurier said he had found magnesium hydroxide on a fuel passage and a smaller amount on an insert supercharger intake. He explained that such corrosion was the product of water on magnesium, which was a reactive metal. He did not know whether it could have been caused by moisture in the air while an engine was lying out in the open. lan Thompson Perry, of Seven street, Yarraville, Victoria, an aeronautical engineer for the De partment of Civil Aviation, said it would have been possible for the Amana with its full-up load ing of 63,000 lb. to climb at a rate of 110ft. a minute at sea level or 85ft. a minute at 3,000 ft. with two engines running and two engines feathered. With three motors inoperative the plane could not have maintained height, he added. In reply to Mr. R. Holmes (for the widow of E. S. Baker and his employers, Ampol Petroleum Ltd.), witness said it would have been an unnatural condition for the elevator trim-tabs to have jammed in a full-up position (as had been suggested by Mr. Holmes at the previous day's sitting). If such a thing did occur at a speed of 140 m.p.h., Perry said, the pilot would have to exert a force of between 60lb. and 70lb. to hold the control stick back. One pilot could hold it for about a minute, he con sidered. At a speed of 210 m.p.h. the pressure would be 140lb. to 150lb. and if the speed in creased to 300 m.p.h. in a dive it would need a "hydraulic jack to hold it back." Leslie Anzac Storey, of Patty street, Mentone, Victoria, an air craft surveyor for the depart ment and an expert on propel lers, said that he had found on examination that the No. 1, 2 and 3 propellers were operating on full power, at a constant speed range, at the time of impact. No. 4 pro peller was feathered at the time but he had found that steps had apparently been taken to unfeather it. The witness was questioned at considerable length by counsel on the method of feathering the air screws and he had a full-scale cut-away model brought into the Court for illustration purposes. The blades from No. 1 propeller were badly bent and one had been broken off, he said. No. 2 propeller blades were bent and twisted and the tip of one blade of the No. 3 propeller was found 500 ft away from the remainder of the propeller. The angle of fracture of one blade of No. 4 propeller indicated that it had been feathered. Company Tests Albert Frazer West, of West Perth. a dip clerk of the Vacuum Oil Co., said that between June 4 and June 6 a shipment of 500, 000 gallons of 100-octane aviation fuel was pumped into the com pany's bulk installation tank at Fremantle. After the intake there was 2.12ft. of water at the bottom of the tank. He said it was normal practice to have the bulk petrol floating on water:
On June 21 he tested the depth of water again and found it to be 1.53ft. and on June 30, 1.842ft. The draw-off point was 3ft. above the bottom of the tank, he said. Neil Edward Kessell, of Fair field-street, Mt. Hawthorn, a company checker, said that four gallons was drawn from each of the three compartments of the tankers used to carry the fuel to the bulk tanks at the airports to see whether water was present. "In all the time I have been there-three years--I have not seen any water in the aviation petrol," he said. Gate Pass Robert Patrick Baker, a tanker driver, said it would be impos sible for him to leave the bulk installation at Fremantle without having the tanks tested as he would not get a gate pass unless the test had been carried out in the presence of the checker. Roger Sidney Choke, of Hens man-road, Subiaco, a Department of Civil Aviation aircraft sur veyor in radio, said that he found various pieces of radio equip ment at the scene of the crash but there was no indication that there had been a fire in the vici nity of the equipment before the smash. Mr. L. D. Seaton. K.C., is ap pearing, with Mr. B. Simpson to assist the Court; Mr. H. A. Win neke. K.C., is appearing with Mr. R. J. Leckie for the Department of Civil Aviation; Mr. G. A. Pape for A.N.A.; Mr. F. T. P. Burt for the Australian Air Pilots' Assocla tion; Mr. R. I. Ainslie for the Vac uum Oil Co. and certain of its employees; Mr. F. W. Miller for the Professional Officers' Association; and Mr. L. P. McGowan for the Professional Radio Employees' As sociation.