Aero Club flying captain dispels REX aircraft fears

Airline passengers fearing to fly are urged to remain calm, following a freak incident on Friday. 

Regional Express Airlines (Rex) confirmed its fleet would continue flying after a propeller dislodged from a SAAB 340 while journeying from Albury to Sydney last week. 

One Riverina aircraft expert said he had never heard of a plane losing a propeller but added the flight was actually safer without it. 

Wagga City Aero Club flying captain John Smith said on a normal day, engine failure would be hardly worth mentioning around the table at tea time.

“[A propeller falling mid-flight is] not good at all… but it’s very, very rare,” Mr Smith said. “It was certainly no danger to any passengers.”

Mr Smith said when an engine failed and the propeller became stationary it created drag, which was more of a problem for pilots. 

He said despite the media attention and increased fear of flight, Rex pilots, engineers and mechanics conducted very strict checks of all their aircraft before take-off.  

“Some things just can’t be seen,” Mr Smith said. “Ninety-nine-point-nine per cent of the time something like this doesn't happen.” 

Mr Smith urged those now questioning the safety of flight to see reason. 

“All pilots are trained over and over to handle all sorts of situations and they’re checked and tested every six months,” he said. “One of the most common things they’re tested on is engine failure.” 

He said if there had been a real concern, the pilot would have put out a MAYDAY and not a PAN. 

“I wouldn’t be worried,” Mr Smith said. “I wouldn’t be worried at all.”

Flight Flight ZL768 was travelling at around 6,000 feet over the Camden area, south-west of Sydney, when the propeller dislodged before noon.Less than twenty minutes later, the sixteen passengers and three crew members safely landed at Sydney Airport.

The Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the incident to discover what went wrong. Residents from Camden and surrounds are asked to keep an eye out for the rogue prop as investigators say it will aid the inquiry.