Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cessna 401 fuel tank explosion: Air New Zealand company fined

A company owned by Air New Zealand has been fined more than $57,000 over a fuel tank explosion at Adelaide Airport that injured a worker.

Mark Meehan was repairing the wing on a twin-engined Cessna 401 in March at the premises operated by TAE Aviation Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air New Zealand.

He had begun using a cutting tool to remove a corroded panel when a spark ignited residual fuel vapors in the plane’s fuel tank.

The blast smashed Mr Meehan’s left arm, burned both hands and burnt and lacerated his face.

TAE pleaded guilty to breaching workplace safety laws by not ensuring the fuel tank was free of fuel or fuel vapours and by not warning Mr Meehan of the risk of an explosion.

Industrial magistrate Stephen Lieschke said the skilled aircraft engineer could have suffered much more serious injuries.

“He was exposed to an explosive force of sufficient intensity to deform metal and break an arm bone and with the potential to cause shards of metal to fly off,” the magistrate said.

“He was relatively fortunate to sustain only minor lacerations and minor burns to his face.”

TAE Aviation was fined $56,000 and ordered to pay other court costs after receiving a discounted penalty because of its early guilty plea and contrition.

The company had also instigated new safety measures.


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