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Part failure likely cause of flap loss - Air NZ

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WELLINGTON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - National carrier Air New Zealand said on Wednesday the failure of a lug appeared to be the reason for one of its jumbos losing part of a wing flap on an trans-Pacific flight last month, and it was moving to replace the similar part on all its 747s. A piece of wing flap more than 1.5 metres (five feet) long fell off the Boeing BA.N 747-400 shortly after takeoff from Auckland International Airport en route to Los Angeles on August 30. The damage was discovered after the plane landed safely.The incident was the second in a week involving pieces falling off the wings of Air New Zealand aircraft.A 10 kilogram (22lb) wing panel detached on a flight from New Zealand to Japan earlier in August and landed in a carpark.Regarding the later incident, Boeing had advised the same lugs on 747s had failed on three previous occasions in the past five years and that such a failure was the most likely cause, Air New Zealand said.The carrier is replacing the 15 lugs of the same type on its other seven Boeing 747s, it said.Investigations by the aviation and safety officials are continuing.Initial findings on the earlier incident pointed to human error and a flaw in the airline's walk-round visual inspection procedure.Two aircraft maintenance workers had assumed the panel that fell off had been properly replaced after an inspection.A final ground level inspection had missed red tape indicating that work on the panel was still in progress because it was out of sight on the top of the wing.Changes were being made to visual inspections and the two maintenance workers would be placed on further training.Air NZ shares AIR.NZ, 82 percent owned by the New Zealand government, closed two cents firmer at NZ$0.56 on Wednesday. source

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