The ATSB announced today that propeller assembly from flight ZL768 (VH-NRX) was located today, in bushland around the Georges River National Park approximately, 18kms from Sydney Airport
This is the vital piece of the puzzle that is required to understand how the prop assembly managed to separate from the aircraft.
REX Chief Operating Officer Neville Howell has also clarified in a press release today, some of the inaccuracies of media reports recently put to air, in the hope of clearing up the public's concern relating to the recent incident.
1) 'that the aircraft should be diverted to Canberra in accordanc with regulations' As stated in our previous media release and as confirmed by the location of the propeller, the aircraft was some 20kms away from Sydney airport when the engine shut down and the propeller separated from the aircraft. It would be ludicrous for the pilot to divert the aircraft 250kms to Canberra airport when Sydney was only 20kms away. The company stands behind the decision made by the crew to continue to Sydney airport.
2) 'that maintenance checks would have been able to detect the fault in the vulnerable propeller shaft' It is premature to second guess the outcome of the ATSB investigations but on REX's part, it has been fully compliant with the engineering inspections prescribed by General Electric (GE), the manufaturer of the engine assembly.
REX has since taken the steps of replacing the gearboxes and shafts (of the same series as the separated propeller) from 5 aircraft, which will be finalised in the coming 2/3 days.
The ATSB investigation now has all the evidence it needs, so let's hope for an accurate and speedy conclusion so that future incidents can be avoided.