Qantas pilot left incapacitated after plane suddenly loses pressure

A pilot was left incapacitated as a Qantas plane suddenly lost pressure mid-air, forcing the remaining pilot to plunge 12,000 feet.

The Boeing 737 cargo plane was flying from Brisbane to Melbourne, when the cabin pressure suddenly dropped and left one pilot unable to fulfil his duties on Wednesday night.

Both pilots were forced to don oxygen masks as the cabin rapidly depressurised and they swiftly descended to 20,000 feet.

However, the first officer subsequently lost consciousness and the pilot made a solo descend to a height of 8,000 feet before diverting the plane to Canberra.

A Qantas Boeing 737 cargo plane descended 12,000 feet after losing cabin pressure. Source: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating the incident and provided an initial assessment of the incident.

“During cruise, the crew of the cargo flight received a wing body overheat warning resulting in a reduction of cabin pressure,” an ATSB report found.

“The crew donned oxygen and descended to 20,000 ft.

“The First Officer was subsequently incapacitated and the Captain descended to 8,000 feet and diverted the aircraft to Canberra.”

The terrifying plunge occurred near Narrandera, NSW. The plane landed in Canberra and emergency services met the aircraft on arrival.

The Boeing 737 was flying from Brisbane to Melbourne, when the cabin pressure suddenly dropped and left one pilot incapacitated. Source: Getty

The freight plane did not contain any passengers, according to a Qantas spokesperson.

“A Qantas Freight service travelling from Brisbane to Melbourne Wednesday night diverted into Canberra following a technical fault with the onboard air conditioning system that
affected the ability to maintain pressure in the cabin,” the Qantas spokesperson said.

“The aircraft landed normally in Canberra and engineers are inspecting the aircraft today (Thursday).”

There was no damage to the aircraft and the ATSB is investigating the incident.

“As part of the investigation, the ATSB will collect and examine information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and interview maintenance and flight crew,” the ATSB report read.

The final report is due in the last quarter of 2018.