The extent of damage inside a Qantas 747 engine that failed over Bangkok last year is making it difficult for investigators to determine what went wrong, the ATSB has said in an update to its inquiry on the incident.
Qantas flight QF2, operated by VH-OJS, was eight minutes into its climb away from Bangkok on October 16 when passengers heard a loud bang and the Sydney-bound aircraft began shaking and filling with fumes. Pilots shut down engine number three and were able to return safely to Bangkok after dumping some 55 tonnes of jet fuel as the plane circled near the airport for nearly an hour.
Investigators had determined that a turbine blade inside the jet’s Rolls-Royce RB211 engine broke off, causing “significant damage” to the rest of the engine as it was ejected out the back. But that damage has so far made it impossible for investigators to determine why the turbine blade broke off in the first place.
“The condition of the blade fragments was such that identification and physical analysis of the blade release mechanism was not possible,” the ATSB said in its update.
Rolls-Royce is also investigating. The company says the Bangkok incident was the first time in the engine’s nearly 40 million hours of flying that a blade had come free.