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Qantas continues A380 engine inspection

9-Nov-2010 8:04 AM

Qantas announced (08-Nov-2010) it is continuing an intensive inspection of all Rolls-Royce engines in its A380 fleet and significant disruptions to passengers should cease within the next 24 hours. As part of their investigation, Qantas engineers have removed a number of engines for further examination. The focus of the investigation has been narrowed to an oil leak in the turbine area, identified in three A380s (Associated Press, 08-Nov-2010). The engines will be replaced with spares. However, investigations on other areas of the engine are continuing, in order to rule out other potential issues. These inspections are taking place in Sydney and Los Angeles with Qantas engineers working closely with Rolls-Royce, as well as aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Australian regulators. Qantas will not return its A380 fleet to service until confident the issues have been identified and resolved. At this stage, Qantas does not expect to operate the A380 fleet for at least another 72 hours. CEO Alan Joyce stated the carrier has no plans to adjust the delivery schedule for new A380s and it is too early to discuss any legal action against Rolls-Royce or Airbus (Reuters, 08-Nov-2010). He also declined to comment on how much the carrier has lost since the incident.

All Qantas aircraft are being utilised to ensure minimal disruption to scheduled international services. Qantas has scheduled extra services from Los Angeles to ensure passengers affected by the suspension of A380 operations are returned to Australia as soon as possible. The backlog of passengers in Los Angeles is expected to be cleared by last departure from Los Angeles on 08-Nov-2010, with all passengers accommodated on chartered relief flights and across scheduled services. A Special Assistance Team has been deployed to Los Angeles to assist. Some 500 passengers have been stranded in Los Angeles due to the grounding. [more]

Rolls-Royce announced (08-Nov-2010) it has made progress in understanding the cause of the engine failure on the Trent 900-powered A380 Qantas flight QF32 on 04-Nov-2010. The company stated it is now clear this incident is specific to the Trent 900 engine. As a result, a series of checks and inspections has been agreed with Airbus, with operators of the Trent 900-powered A380 and with the airworthiness authorities. These are being progressively completed which is allowing a resumption of operation of aircraft in full compliance with all safety standards. Rolls-Royce stated it can be certain that the separate Trent 1000 event which occurred in Aug-2010 on a test bed in Derby is unconnected. This incident happened during a development programme with an engine operating outside normal parameters. The Trent 900 incident is the first of its kind to occur on a large civil Rolls-Royce engine since 1994. Since then Rolls-Royce has accumulated 142 million hours of flight on Trent and RB211 engines. The company stated it will provide a further update with our interim management statement on 12-Nov-2010. [more]

Australian Transport Safety Bureau has called on residents from Batam Island in Indonesia to help locate a missing piece of the A380 engine’s turbine disc, stating the recovery of the disk “could be crucial to a full understanding of the nature of the engine failure, and may have implications for the prevention of future similar occurrences”.

Qantas: “The oil leaks were beyond normal tolerances. So Rolls-Royce and our engineers have looked at what we have gathered as an accepted level and they have passed that threshold. All of these engines are new engines on a new aircraft type. The engines are not performing to the parameters that you would expect with this. We are not going to take any risks whatsoever. We want to make sure we have a 100% safe operation,” Alan Joyce, CEO. Source: Associated Press, 08-Nov-2010.