Qantas A380s to remain grounded another 72 hours

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 8, 2010
Qantas's A380s remain grounded.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has told a press briefing at the airline’s Mascot headquarters that its fleet of Airbus A380s will remain grounded for at least another 72 hours, while he has confirmed that oil leaks have been found on three engines on two A380s.

Joyce clarified earlier comments on oil leaks in the A380’s Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, noting that oil leaks in three engines on three of its A380s were “beyond normal tolerances” in the turbine region of the engine. Subsequently, the airline was taking action by replacing the three engines on the aircraft and the three removed engines will be sent to Rolls-Royce for testing to see if the issue may have contributed to the uncontained engine failure which took place on QF32 last week.

So far, one A380 at Sydney has had its engine swapped out, while two other engines are being shipped by Rolls-Royce to Los Angeles, where the other two A380s will have their engines changed.

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Interestingly, Joyce confirmed the airline has been experienced performance issues with its Trent 900s.

“The engines are not performing to the parameters that you would expect with this [new engines, on a new aircraft type]. So that leaves us to look, as part of the investigation, at the design, and the material that’s been used, and performance of those materials, potentially, in different operating conditions. And we’re looking at the wider operating conditions, as well, as part of that investigation.”

Despite the grounding and uncertainty over what caused the engine failure on QF32, Joyce said that there were no plans to delay delivery of any of its A380s or to change to the rival Engine Alliance GP7200 engine for its remaining A380s. Qantas currently has six A380s in service, and is due to take delivery of its seventh aircraft in the coming weeks.

With the ongoing disruption that the A380 grounding is having on Qantas’s long haul operations, the airline says that it is putting on additional services to London and Los Angeles to assist with moving of backlog of passengers at those ports. Qantas says it has covered costs and accommodation of any passengers affected by the A380 grounding, and is also planning to offer some form of compensation to passengers.

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Qantas says it is too early to estimate the costs of the disruption to the airline.

“We will do that once we have the aircraft back into service,” Joyce said. “We can estimate the implications and the cost of having the aircraft out for that length of period, and also the impact on demand that this situation has cost. But this is too early, today, to do that.”

The Qantas CEO also said it was also too early to discuss possible financial compensation from Rolls-Royce or Airbus for the incident.

“And in terms of legal action, or recovery, from Airbus and Rolls-Royce, our focus is still on making sure we work with Airbus and Rolls-Royce to get the aircraft back into operations, and any discussion about compensation will take place after that event, and we won’t be doing it beforehand.”

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