Plane Forced Into U-Turn After Clipboard Sucked Into Engine

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Have you ever left a cup of coffee or bag of groceries on your car roof and then driven off? This is worse.

Absent-minded ground staff at a New Zealand airport forced a flight to turn around after a clipboard was sucked into a plane's engine.

The Sydney-bound Jetstar plane was already airborne when airport authorities were alerted, forcing the pilot to return to AKL.

It happened late last year according to the just-released Australian Transport Safety Bureau incident report.

The clipboard was left behind in an engine cowling after luggage was loaded and pre-flight checks carried out but it was overlooked. Once the plane's engines were engaged it was sucked inside.

The ATSAB report said it was later inspected by engineers and found to contain shredded pieces of paper and 'a piece of sheared metal.'

Jetstar, the low-cost unit of Qantas, has since revised procedures to ensure no objects are left in the engine cowling, the ATSB said. Good idea.

"This incident demonstrates the effect foreign object debris has on aircraft operations. It has the potential to cause aircraft damage during critical phases of flight, costing airlines and airports millions of dollars each year," the ATSB said in its report.

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