Qantas’s six-strong A380 fleet remained grounded overnight as the airline dispatched some of its aircraft and chartered in others to cover the capacity shortfall brought about by the grounding.
The airline says passengers from the A380 which was forced to return to Singapore on Thursday afternoon following an inflight uncontained failure of its second Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine will be brought home on Friday morning on an aircraft which flew to Singapore last night. Other flights affected by the grounding are Friday’s QF93 service from Melbourne to Los Angeles which has been delayed 24 hours; flights QF12 and QF108 from Sydney to Los Angeles which were delayed from Thursday afternoon for at least 24 hours; and QF94 from Los Angeles to Melbourne which has also been delayed 24 hours from Thursday night.
Other flights including QF11 from Sydney to Los Angeles and QF31 from Sydney to London via Singapore will operate on Friday as scheduled but with Boeing 747 equipment, while Friday’s QF10 from London to Singapore will be operated by a chartered British Airways Boeing 777.
The airline says all passengers booked on these flights have been advised of the changes, and there are no indications as yet as to how long the grounding may be in place. “We will suspend those A380 services until we are completely confident that Qantas safety requirements have been met,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a media conference on Thursday afternoon.
In the meantime, the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) said it was dispatching four investigators including two structural engineers to Singapore on Thursday night to commence its investigations into the incident. Indonesian authorities, involved because of the debris from the engine which fell on the Indonesian island of Batam, have delegated responsibility for the investigation to the ATSB. An ATSB spokesman told the ABC that, although investigations into such incidents can take up to a year, it is required to release a preliminary report within 30 days.
Qantas, Airbus and Rolls-Royce are also investigating. “In line with the ICAO Annex 13 international convention, Airbus will provide full technical assistance to the French BEA as well as to the Australian authorities who will be responsible for the investigation,” a statement from the manufacturer read. “A team of specialists from Airbus is being dispatched to Singapore.”
Rolls-Royce also released a statement which read: “Since Qantas QF32 suffered an engine failure and returned safely to Singapore Changi Airport we have been working closely with our customer and the authorities. In situations like these Rolls-Royce has well established processes to collect and understand information relating to the event and to determine suitable actions. As always the safe operation of our products is our number one priority. The in service fleet of Trent 900 engines is small and relatively new, and the Group feels that it is prudent to recommend that a number of basic precautionary engine checks are performed. This process is now underway. We will continue to work closely with our customers as the investigation moves forward. This is at a very early stage and it would be inappropriate to draw any conclusions at this time.”
Shares in Rolls-Royce dropped five per cent in London trading on Thursday following the incident.
Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) secretary Steve Purvinas has spuriously linked the incident to the outsourcing of Qantas maintenance offshore, and reportedly told the Herald Sun that Lufthansa Technik which performed maintenance on the aircraft involved in the incident last month did not even have the same aircraft in the fleet. But Lufthansa Technik, the world’s largest non manufacturer qualified Maintenance and Repair Organisation (MRO), was spun off from the Lufthansa airline in 1994, and therefore does not own or operate any aircraft of its own.
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