Regional Express grounds further five planes

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A propeller that fell off a Regional Express flight bound for Sydney has been found in bushland close to a built-up residential area in the city's south-west.

"Police are now working with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to safely recover the item as inquiries into Friday's incident continue".

An investigation into that incident found the likely cause was "a fatigue fracture of the propeller shaft" which originated in the material used to manufacture the shaft.

Today the airline had a change of heart about grounding the fleet as a precaution and said that while it was waiting for the ATSB to determine the cause of the accident it would withdraw from service an additional five planes with the propeller gear boxes and shafts from the same series as the plane involved. An investigation has been launched and five similar planes have been grounded.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority confirmed that the plane's right-hand propeller "came dislodged" about 10 nautical miles from Sydney Airport, and the plane declared a PAN emergency before it proceeded on to land safely.

Two are freight services while the other three Saab 340s operate on the Melbourne and Sydney networks.

"There will be some minor disruptions for 1 or 2 days", the spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Monday.

The 34-seat plane, carrying 16 passengers and three crew, was about 19 kilometres from Sydney Airport when its right-hand propeller flew off last Friday, narrowly avoiding hitting the wing and tail.

Rex said it had been in contact with the aircraft manufacturer Saab and the engine manufacturer General Electric (GE).

Spotted: the missing propeller in bushland, as seen from above.

The plane's first officer saw the propeller break away, and rotate upwards and to the right before moving in a horizontal direction. "The Captain displayed exceptional skills in landing the aircraft so smoothly in bad weather and strong winds, so much so that the passengers did not notice anything different".

Mr Howell said he was aware of only one similar incident.

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