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28th of February 1998

A Boeing 767-338ER was scheduled to operate a passenger service from Sydney, (NSW Australia) to Cairns, (Qld Australia), a 2450 km flight (1323 NM) flight that was scheduled to take around 3 hours.

A General Electric CF6-80C2 engine (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

After a normal flight preparation, the engines were started and the aircraft taxied to Runway 16R at Sydney Airport. The take-off run was "textbook" without any abnormalities, the standard call-outs were made and at 12.47 local time, the aircraft became airborne. At a height of about 100ft (30 meters), a series of loud bangs were heard by the crew and a scan of the engine instruments showed that the right engine EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) rose rapidly into the red (exceedance range). As per procedure the thrust lever for the right engine was restarted to idle. Unbeknown to the crew ATC had observed a series of explosions (flames) from the right engine of the aircraft just after take-off and had already initiated the local emergency protocol. With the right-hand engine running at idle the crew requested a return to Sydney Airport. Due to the weather at the time the crew was given radar vectors for an ILS approach to runway 16R, where it landed without further problems. After vacating the runway the aircraft was brought to a stop at the taxiway and the righthand engine was shut down. Giving the Airport Fire Service the opportunity to inspect the engine. As there was no sign of a fire in the engine the aircraft taxied to a parking position with the Airport Fire Service following the aircraft. Once parked the lefthand engine was also shut down and the passengers disembarked normally.

An initial (external) inspection of the engine did not reveal any damage and an internal inspection using a horoscope was performed. This inspection revealed extensive damage to the 13th stage of the compressor. The engine was removed from the aircraft after this finding and sent to an engine overhaul facility for further inspection. During the disassembly of the engine, a "Phillips" bit was found in the compressor of the engine. (For reference, a standard "Phillips" bit measures ~1" by ~1/4")

One of the 12 Variable Bleed Valves on A CF6-80C2 engine in the open position (© V2 Aviation)

The incident flight was the first flight after the aircraft had been in the hangar for a maintenance check ('A' - Check) Although it could not be determined the "Phillips" bit had probably fallen into the engine via one of the 12 Variable Bleed Valves on the engine, which are open when the engine is not running. The operator started an investigation Phillips screwdriver bit (© V2 Aviation) into methods to avoid reoccurrence.

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