21st August 1998. The wake up call came at 0145 local time. The forecast had 20 knots headwind average and monsoonal weather from India all the way to Phuket. This long sector with expected weather diversions convinced us to fly lean of peak to arrive with a required alternate for Phuket. The formalities with customs, paying landing fees etc caused our set course time to blow out to 0414, the air temperature a warm 30 degrees! Initially we climbed to FL190 but with a ground speed of 240 knots reducing to 230kts, we continued to FL250. After about 4 hours we passed over Mumbai and our ground speed had increased to 260 knots. The cumuliform clouds were starting to build below us as we crossed the Indian continent. We suffered a vacuum pump failure over India so we flew the rest of the journey on the electric attitude indicator.
We heard QF10 bound from London to Singapore and the Captain was our friend Reg Darwell. We were on the same airway over the Andaman Sea. We were spotted just prior to entering cloud. The weather radar in the B-747-400 was used to great affect as we were guided through the worst of the weather.We diverted over 50 nm left of track due thunderstorms courtesy of Reg's radar returns. Icing became an issue so we had to descend. The headwinds had persisted and we landed at 1850 local time which was over 10.5 hours and a record of 233.96 knots. We noted the engine ran much cooler lean of peak as it was generating less horse power.
During our rest day we attempted to fix the vac pump without success, We refueled and went back to our Hotel to prepare for the sector in to Darwin. We requested weather and notams directly from Qantas as Phuket seemed to get this info via Bangkok with delays which we didn't need.