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Captain Richard de Crespigny Travels from Sydney, NSW

Richard de Crespigny


  • Inspirational
  • Leadership
  • Performance
  • Resilience

Melbourne born and educated Richard de Crespigny got his first taste of a future flying career as a 14-year-old when his father organised a tour of the RAAF Academy at Point Cook in Victoria.

He had never seen such extraordinary facilities before. He knew, then, that he needed to get a university degree and become an RAAF Officer and Pilot.

The rest is history. In 1975, aged 17, he joined the RAAF. One year later, he started flying. During his 11 years with the RAAF, he was seconded as Aide-de-Camp to two Australian Governors General – Sir Zelman Cowan and Sir Ninian Stephen. Richard remained with the RAAF until 1986 when he joined Qantas, converting to Boeing 747s.

He converted to A380 command in 2008 as one of Qantas’ most senior captains. It was at the control of the world’s largest and most advanced commercial jetliner when he and his fellow officers were faced with their greatest challenge.

The date was November 4 2010.

Early into the Singapore/Sydney leg of flight QF32, one of four engines exploded. The damage to the aircraft was extensive. On top of ensuring that 440 passengers remained calm during the ordeal, Richard had a mammoth task on the flight deck to keep the aircraft in the air and then get it back on the ground. For two hours he and his fellow crew (technical and cabin) remained calm as they planned to stabilise the damage, configure the overweight aircraft, then manoeuvre it towards Changi Airport in Singapore.

Once on the ground, a recalcitrant engine refused to shut down, fuel was leaking near white hot brakes and a new environment was set for potential disaster. Passengers remained on board for two nervous hours before they safely disembarked. The incident brought into play Richard de Crespigny’s considerable skills involving teamwork, problem solving, judgement, knowledge, experience and putting years of highly-skilled training into practice.

This pivotal event has changed his life forever.

His autobiography QF32, which tells the story of the incident in gripping detail, is a best-seller. QF32 also won the Best Non Fiction award in the 2013 Australian Book Industry Awards and the Australian Independent Booksellers Best Non Fiction award for books released in Australia in 2012.

Richard de Crespigny has developed into one of Australia’s most sought-after corporate speakers, his presentations focusing on crisis management, leadership, problem solving and teamwork. He has presented to Fortune 500 companies, the Federal Government and its agencies, including defence, safety and investigation.

In his new book Fly!, released in September 2018, Richard de Crespigny shares the insights and techniques he built up over decades in the high-pressure world of military and civilian aviation. Covering leadership, teamwork, risk-assessment, decision-making, crisis management, lifelong resilience and more, it’s a book whose wisdom can be applied to challenges and opportunities in the workplace as well as to life.

Keynote Titles

  • QF32


Richard is one of the highest quality and most genuine presenters I have seen in my lifetime. He tells a unique story about his life leading up to the QF32 event, and takes the audience on a journey leading right into the depths of the cockpit on that day. He provides exceptional explanations with the upmost fidelity into everything that took place. I was immersed in his presentation.

Australian Information Security Association (AISA) National Conference Director

Richard delivered a presentation that was compelling and thought-provoking. His QF32 story brought our Safety Day to life and was a powerful illustration of how ‘Chronic Unease’ can play out in real life. Never before have I seen an audience from Shell Australia so captivated and engaged. Safety is our number one priority and Richard really delivered for us. We look forward to working with him again in the future.

Shell Australia

The feedback we received on your presentation was absolutely outstanding. Everyone had positive things to say and enjoyed your presentation very much. The most notable common theme in what our advisers said (and put on their feedback forms) was how well you drew the parallels between your industry (and specifically the value you/Qantas added in your retelling of the particular event) and ours - with the many challenges the retail financial advice market face. Other feedback included how well you explained the technical aspects of the talk which were integral to understanding what a significant event had occurred to that flight, the feedback was outstanding.

AMP Financial Services


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