Richard De Crespigny

Credited with saving the lives of more than 460 passengers on an extensively-damaged aircraft earned the Qantas A380 captain worldwide commendation and an avenue to the global corporate speaking circuit. Best selling author of QF32 and soon to be released book via Penguin Radom House.

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, and 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.

In the 2016 Australia Day Honours, Richard de Crespigny was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to the aviation industry, both nationally and internationally, particularly to flight safety and to the community.

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.


Richard is one of the highest quality and most genuine presenters I have seen in my lifetime. I have seen former Presidents of the United States, sports stars and celebrities speak at events. But nothing has ever resonated with me like the story he can tell about what should have been another routine flight out of Singapore. The book is fantastic, but the real life person is just amazing! I was fortunate enough to see Richard present at a luncheon event with approximately 50 guests and I knew straight away that we should have him present at the AISA National Conference 2013. Richard is a truly passionate individual with so much experience in both the aviation industry and life. He is able to tell the 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 with the aircraft and remarkable crew who saved hundreds of lives that day. At times, my heart was beating faster whilst I was immersed in his presentation. I felt like I was on the flight deck as the event unfolded! People from any industry and profession can learn much from Richard and practically apply the teachings each and every day at work and outside too. The feedback from the audience about Richard’s presentation was outstanding and you could see that everyone was deeply engaged and focused. He also spent time mingling with our members and generously answering their questions. Richard with the flight crew on QF32 that day are true heroes and seeing him present in person should be on every person’s checklist. I can’t wait to see him present again. Grae Meyer-Gleaves, AISA National Conference Director (2013

Cristina Libro

Conference Director, Lawtech Summit 2016

Richard presented to our National Conference of over 300 people leaders and was simply phenomenal. The story is of course inspiring and relates to many attributes of great leadership - teamwork, decision making, calmness, authority and doing the basics day in day out as a unit to build proficiency. It has been 6 weeks since Richard spoke to us and I continue to receive the most positive feedback from the colleagues privileged to hear this story.

Ian Rakhit

Head of Broker Sales, Bankwest

The conference was commenced by a life changing presentation from Captain Richard de Crespigny, Pilot of QF flight 32 from Singapore to Sydney. Captain Richard challenged us to be bullet proof and to take risks, be resilient and know the difference between threats and risk. His breathtaking presentation took us on a journey far more dangerous than anything we have ever encountered. The lives on 400 plus people were in his hands (literally) – 21 out of 22 systems were affected and he was committed to getting them all home safely. His decisions were driven by agility, experience, knowledge, training and teamwork. His courage under fire (the Black Swan moment) and exceptional leadership will be something that I will continually strive to match here on the ground. He focussed on what was at his fingertips, what he could utilise to get the outcome that he wanted. There is so much in his presentation that will stay with me forever. But, as IT Leaders of the Future – we must draw as many analogies as possible from his sage words. Assess what we have that works and know always where we need to go and what outcomes we are committed to.

Emma Boling, WPO Education

Melbourne Chapter

)Richard de Crespigny was the key note speaker for a function recently held for the World President’s Organisation, Melbourne Chapter. His presentation was enthralling and completely captivated our audience. It felt as if we were in the cockpit watching him manage and overcome such a desperate situation. Richard engaged with our members before, during and after the event and we couldn’t have asked for more from a speaker. He was extremely professional and thorough, ensuring he understood both the audience and venue in advance and arriving well before the guests to test sound, lighting, AV etc. to guarantee a seamless presentation.

Grae Meyer-Gleaves

AISA National Conference Director (2013)

“Captain de Crespigny’s presentation is compelling. It will open your mind to new concepts in crisis management such as inverting the logic and challenging conventions. It reinforces the principles of leadership, executive management, accountability & teamwork. I recommend the presentation and the book to anyone who is, or who aspires to be, a leader. Captain de Crespigny and his team not only saved nearly 500 lives but by sharing his experiences Captain de Crespigny enables others to learn from this extraordinary event.”

Mick Keelty AO

Former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP)

+61 2 9332 9111

13-15 Little Burton St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

© 2017 The Fordham Company