EASA to ease inspection rules on Rolls-Royce jet engines.
The European Aviation Safety Agency will substantially relax tight inspection rules on Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines used by the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet, an EASA spokesman said Tuesday.
The decision to ease the rhythm of inspections indicates that regulators and experts have determined the engine's safety problems are not as widespread as initially thought.
"There is enough evidence today to show it is no longer necessary to make inspections every 20 flights," a spokesman told AFP.
The agency would revise probably on Tuesday or Wednesday its airworthiness directive to the airlines that use the Rolls-Royce engine, he added.
They are Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.
Inspections would now be required after engines had powered 200 flights and again after the next 100, the spokesman said, while noting that "we are getting closer to a normal inspection procedure."
On November 4, the explosion of one of four Trent engines mounted on a Qantas A380 forced the superjumbo to make an emergency landing in Singapore with 466 people on board.
EASA then ordered airlines to carry out new inspections after a preliminary analysis showed an oil fire might have caused the engine's "uncontained failure."
The agency required "repetitive inspections" of certain parts of the engine "in order to detect any abnormal oil leakage, and if any discrepancy is found, to prohibit further engine operation."
In early December, Australian officials investigating the Qantas incident said only three of 45 engines failed the first round of inspections.
After grounding six of the superjumbos, the airline has since returned just two to service however.
Lifting the emergency directive so quickly was a sign that most engines were unaffected by oil-system manufacturing defects.
The faster pace of engine checks "did not add anything" that would help inspectors who were still probing the incident, the EASA spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines, which owns 11 of the giant aircraft, has replaced one third of their engines as a precautionary measure.
Lufthansa continues to fly its A380s, which are equipped with a more recent version of the Trent 900 motors that has shown no signs of problems.
The German carrier has nonetheless also replaced two engines.
- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story -
© 2010 AFP