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Aussie police eye suspected sabotage of Qantas jet
Australian police investigate suspected sabotage of entertainment system aboard Qantas jet
By The Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) ' Australian police are investigating the suspected sabotage of the entertainment system on a Qantas Airways airliner during the ongoing bitter labor dispute between the airline and the aircraft maintenance union, officials said Wednesday.

Engineers noticed several wires were cut on the in-flight entertainment system of a Qantas Boeing 767 undergoing maintenance at Brisbane Airport on Australia's east coast on Oct. 26, Qantas said in a statement.

Further investigation by the engineers revealed more cut wires had been covered up, the airline said.

"Given the nature of the incident, we immediately referred it to the Australian Federal Police," Qantas said.

"There was no operational safety risk at any stage," it added.

A police statement confirmed that an investigation was under way, but said no further comment would be made.

The incident occurred days before Qantas grounded its entire fleet at the weekend and threatened to lock out unions whose rolling strikes and work bans cost the Australian airline millions of dollars in recent months.

An Australian court on Monday ordered the airline to end the lockout and unions representing engineers, pilots, baggage handlers and caterers to halt their strike action. The Qantas flight schedule was back to normal by Tuesday.

The engineers' union said it was unlikely the plane was sabotaged because of the labor dispute.

Steve Purvinas, federal secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that the damage was more likely accidental. Purvinas did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Australian regulator Civil Aviation Safety Authority did not intend to mount its own investigation, spokesman Peter Gibson said.

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