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Qantas suspends A380 flying after engine failure over Indonesia

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 4, 2010
Changi Airport Emergency Service crews spray water into the number 1 engine of QF32, which could not be shut down after the aircraft landed at Singapore. (AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN)

Qantas A380 VH-OQA has suffered an evident uncontained engine failure shortly after takeoff from Singapore for Sydney, forcing the crew to dump fuel and make an emergency landing back at Singapore, and leading the airline to suspend all A380 flying while investigatons into the incident take place.

The aircraft’s number two Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine experienced an issue shortly after takeoff from Singapore at 9.56am local time while operating the QF32 service with 440 passengers and 26 crew on board. “In line with procedure, the pilot sought priority clearance for its return to Singapore. The aircraft landed safely at 11.45am local time,” Qantas said in a preliminary statement.

“Changi Airport Group’s Airport Emergency Service (AES) responded with six fire vehicles, in accordance with standard operating procedure for such incidents,” said a Changi Airport Group spokesperson. “In response to the pilot’s request, checks were conducted on the aircraft by AES. Once the checks were completed, passengers and crew began disembarking from the aircraft at Runway 2. Buses were arranged to ferry them to the airport terminal. Disembarkation of all 466 passengers and crew on board was completed by 1340 hours.”

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Indonesian TV has shown footage of large pieces of nacelle and engine debris featuring the Qantas logo, while images of the aircraft on the ground at Singapore’s Changi airport shows extensive damage to the number two engine, possibly as a result of a turbine blade or disc separation. Other photos being circulated on Twitter have shown damage to the aircraft’s wing.

In a brief subsequent press conference Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said Qantas would immediately suspend all A380 operations until investigations could shed light on the cause of the incident. “We will suspend those A380 services until we are fully confident that Qantas safety standards have been met,” he said. “We’re not going to take any risks with passenger safety.”

Joyce added that the safety of the type will be determined following an investigation involving engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and Airbus, but could not say how long the investigation would take nor when the aircraft would likely be returned to service.

As a result, two A380s will be grounded in Los Angeles as well as one in Sydney, while a number of passengers in Perth and Los Angeles would be subject to delays as a knock-on effect of the grounding. Qantas currently has six A380s in service.

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Qantas is accomodating the passengers from QF32 in hotels in Singapore and is sending a replacement aircraft to Singapore to fly the passengers to Sydney tomorrow.

Engineers are now examining the engine to establish the cause of the incident, while the ATSB has dispatched a team of four air safety investigators to Singapore.

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