AMANA INQUIRY ENDS AFTER 12 DAYS Australian National Airways could offer no explanation as to what caused the crash of its flagship, Amana, near York on June 26, with the loss of 29 lives, Mr. G. A. Pape (counsel for the company) told the Air Court of Inquiry yesterday.
One clue, he said, might be found in the collapsed vapour vent floats in each of the car buretters. "We do not know what happened but we do know, or believe, that they were not collapsed as a re sult of the impact," said Mr. Pape. "Where did the very great surge of pressure come from to crush these? We do not know. We have been try ing to find out and the Doug las Aircraft Corporation has been trying to find out in the United States. This terrific pressure might have caused engine failure." Yesterday was the 12th and final day of the inquiry, which was adjourned sine die by Mr. Jus tice Simpson, who, with the assist ance of two assessors, Capt. J. W. Bennett and Mr. D. B. Hudson, has been presiding. He will make his report to the Minister for Air (Mr. White). Mr. Justice Simpson said that he would make a recommenda tion to Mr. White that in future inquiries of this sort, companies and persons who might be vitally interested should be informed beforehand as to what subjects of interest to them would be brought up. "Fantastic Theory" Mr. Pape, in his address to the Court, said there were 11 formal findings which Mr. Justice Simp son would be justified in making and they included the facts that relevant licences were in force for both the plane and the crew, the members of the crew were in a satisfactory physical condition, there was a proper loading of the plane, the flight was under taken under the regular flight plan, there was an uneventful trip from Sydney to Perth, and the plane was fit to make the return flight to Sydney when it took off from Guildford. Four further facts were also evi dent. They were that the plane was on track, that according to a statement from the one sur vivor everything happened very suddenly, that there were three engines on power, with No. 4 feathered, and that when the crash occurred the plane was faced in a northerly direction. The evidence of the survivor, Mr. Forwood, was very important because it showed that there was a sudden falling of the nose of the plane, said Mr. Pape. He submitted that if there had been anything wrong the pilot would have returned to Guildford. He believed, he said, that when the plane nosed-down it was a com plete surprise to the crew, and that this was due to a sudden loss of power. Mr. Pape said that the theory of water in the fuel was "com pletely and utterly untenable." There was no basis for the "fan tastic theory" that the pilot would be cross-feeding at that stage of the flight and so cause any water that might have been in one fuel tank to be distributed to all en gines. "No Water In Fuel" Mr. R. I. Ainslie (for the Vacuum Oil Co.) held that the Court was not in a position to find that corrosion was caused by water in the fuel because Dr. Thompson, a corrosion expert, had said that he could not say how the water was introduced. The point at which corrosion occurred, Mr. Ainslie said, was close to the vent through which air was drawn to be mixed with the petrol vapour. Rain could easily have been drawn in. "I ask the Court to find," he said, "that it has been proved conclusively proved beyond a shadow of doubt-that no water
was in the fuel supplied by the Vacuum Oil Co. to the Amana." Mr. L. D. Seaton, K.C. (assist ing the Court), said that he had not meant to infer that the pilot had committed suicide and con sequently mass murder by using the wrong controls in the plane, but that according to the cir cumstances of the moment a wrong action could have been taken-not from negligence but merely from inadvertence. In reply to Mr. Justice Simp son, Mr. Seaton said he thought that it would not be unreason able for a recommendation to be made that weatherhead tests should be made into a glass con tainer and that some time should elapse between refuelling and the draining of the weatherheads. Judge's Career Mr. Justice Simpson and his two assessors left for the Eastern States by air last night. Mr. Justice Simpson who is the Judge Advocate-General of the Australian Army went over seas as a private in the army dur ing World War I and was finally discharged as a captain. In the last war Mr. Justice Simpson was Deputy-Judge Advocate to Gene ral Blamey in the Middle East and saw extensive active ser vice. He had reached the rank of brigadier when he was dis charged in 1945. In the follow ing year he was appointed a judge of the Canberra Supreme Court. He presided over the in quiry into the loss of the Lutana, another Skymaster. Mr. Seaton. K.C. and Mr. B. Simpson assisted the Court; Mr. H. A. Winneke, K.C., and Mr. A. J. Leckie appeared for the Depart ment of Civil Aviation; Mr. Pape, for A.N.A.: Mr. R. I. Ainslie for the Vacuum Oil Co. and certain of its employees; Mr. F. T. P. Burt for the Air Pilots' Association: and Mr. R. Holmes for the widow of Mr. E. S. Baker and his employees, Ampol Petroleum Ltd.