Thursday 18 January 2018

Qantas A380 engine blowout 'caused by faulty design'

Bonnie Malkin

The midair engine blowout that forced a Qantas A380 superjumbo to make an emergency landing in Singapore yesterday was probably caused by a material failure or faulty design, the company's chief executive has said.

Alan Joyce told a news conference in Sydney that it was too early to say exactly what caused the explosion, which took place shortly after the plane took off Changi Airport. An investigation into the incident is currently underway.

Mr Joyce said that the "significant failure" was an engine issue and not related to maintenance of the two-year-old aircraft.

The problem was "most likely a material failure or some type of design issue," with the Rolls Royce engine, he said.

Qantas immediately grounded its fleet of six A380s after the incident yesterday. No one was hurt when the QF32, which was carring 440 passengers and 26 crew, was forced to turn back when its number two engine disintegrated in flames over Indonesia.

After circling and dumping fuel for an hour, the aircraft landed safely. It is the most serious incident involving the A380 aircrafts, which are also operated by Air France, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.

After the plane touched down in Singapore, the engine closest to the fuselage on the left wing had visible burn marks and was missing part of its casing. The upper part of the left wing also appeared damaged, indicating that one or more pieces from the engine had gouged a hole in the wing.

Passenger amateur video from inside the plane showed white vapour coming out of the wing as the A380 landed.

Mr Joyce said that a "regime of checks" would be done on the engines of the airline's fleet of A380s by a team of Qantas and Rolls Royce engineers over the next two days.

The aircraft would be back in the air if those eight checks were completed satisfactorily. "We're not going to take any shortcuts," he said. "We regard our safety reputation as the most important thing we have."

In its 90 year history Qantas has never suffered a fatal crash.

Passengers onboard QF32, which was flying from London to Sydney, have praised the actions of the crew and pilot during the emergency.

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