Aus­tralian reg­u­la­tor cites oil leak for Qan­tas Trent 900 en­gine ex­plo­sion

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

CAN­BERRA: Aus­tralia's avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor said an oil leak in a Rolls-Royce Group Plc en­gine was the likely cause of an ex­plo­sion that forced a Qan­tas Air­ways Ltd. Air­bus SAS A380 to make an emer­gency land­ing in Singapore last month.

An oil fire was "cen­tral to the en­gine fail­ure," the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bureau said in its pre­lim­i­nary re­port on the Nov. 4 ex­plo­sion.

While in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­tin­u­ing, the reg­u­la­tor has is­sued a safety rec­om­men­da­tion for Rolls-Royce and air­lines to carry out checks and mod­ify en­gines where the is­sue ap­pears.

A mis­aligned pipe caused by a man­u­fac­tur­ing de­fect in the Trent 900 pow­er­plant caused the oil leak that ul­ti­mately led to an ex­plo­sion that sent shrap­nel through the plane's wing, the ATSB said. The reg­u­la­tor said it was sat­is­fied with Qan­tas's ac­tions, which in­cluded an im­me­di­ate ground­ing of its six A380s fol­low­ing the ex­plo­sion and in­spec­tions.

"Given no one was aware the po­ten­tial prob­lem ex­isted, it is highly un­likely that any main­te­nance would have been able to es­tab­lish the prob­lem," ATSB Chief Com­mis­sioner Martin Dolan told re­porters in Can­berra to­day.

Rolls-Royce said in an emailed state­ment to­day the reg­u­la­tor's find­ings are "con­sis­tent" with its own pub­lic state­ments and the Lon­don­based en­gine-maker will con­tinue to work with au­thor­i­ties to en­sure com­pli­ance.

The en­gine ex­plo­sion over In­done­sia forced the Qan­tas A380 to make an emer­gency land­ing in Singapore. None of the 469 pas­sen­gers and crew on­board were in­jured, the reg­u­la­tor said.

The flight crew re­ported hear­ing two "loud bangs" as the plane was still climb­ing af­ter take­off, with the air­craft's monitor show­ing an over­heat­ing warn­ing for its num­ber 2 en­gine tur­bine, the re­port said.

As the pi­lots re­duced thrust in the en­gine, a ra­dio call was made to Singapore's Changi air­port in­di­cat­ing there may be a prob­lem and fire ex­tin­guish­ers were de­ployed on the af­fected pow­er­plant.

It took the crew about 50 min­utes to com­plete all the pro­ce­dures as­so­ci­ated with the en­gine mes­sage and to test con­trol­la­bil­ity of the plane be­fore be­gin­ning a de­scent into Singapore less than two hours af­ter take­off.

"The air­craft wouldn't have ar­rived safely in Singapore with­out the fo­cus and ef­fec­tive ac­tion of the flight crew," Dolan said to­day.

Qan­tas re­sumed pas­sen­ger su­per­jumbo flights on Nov. 27, and the car­rier now has two in ser­vice.

The air­line said it wel­comed the ATSB's find­ings. The car­rier has com­pleted the new rec­om­mended checks on one of the planes back in ser­vice while in­spec­tions on the sec­ond have started, Syd­ney­based Qan­tas said in a state­ment to­day.

The car­rier has re­placed five en­gines to meet the lat­est stan­dards and an­other 11 will also ei­ther need to be mod­i­fied or changed, it said. Qan­tas said it "con­tin­ues to work closely" with Roll­sRoyce, Air­bus and reg­u­la­tors on the Trent 900.

More than a dozen Aus­tralian in­ves­ti­ga­tors have been piec­ing to­gether shrap­nel from the ex­plo­sion over In­done­sia, with the reg­u­la­tor pass­ing on its find­ings to coun­ter­parts in Europe and Singapore.

The ATSB ex­pects to re­lease the fi­nal re­port within a year of the in­ci­dent, it said on its web­site. -Bloomberg

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