Rolls-Royce locates fault with engine behind Qantas oil fire

12th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Rolls-Royce said Friday the failure of a "specific component" of its Trent 900 engine caused an oil fire that forced a Qantas A380 superjumbo to make an emergency landing last week.

Rolls said in a statement that "the failure was confined to a specific component in the turbine area of the engine. This caused an oil fire."

The British company said it would replace the faulty part.

"Safety continues to be Rolls-Royce's highest priority," it said.

Qantas said on Thursday that it had grounded its Airbus A380 superjumbos until further notice, after a mid-air engine blowout last week prompted serious safety worries over the world's biggest passenger jet.

Rolls-Royce chief executive John Rose said Friday that the fall-out "will have an impact" on the British group's earnings during its current financial year.

The company's share price has already taken a battering in recent days although it was showing a gain of 2.31 percent to 597.5 percent in early trading Friday on London's benchmark FTSE 100, which was down one percent.

Airbus chairman and chief executive Thomas Enders also warned on Friday that the fault would affect deliveries of the A380 superjumbo.

"I do expect that this event... will impact deliveries, especially in 2011," because of checks on and recommended replacements to some engines, he told journalists by telephone, without giving a specific figure.

Nevertheless "the reputation of this aircraft will remain untarnished and will even increase in the years ahead," he said.

Qantas meanwhile has revamped its flight schedule to exclude the six flagship A380s, potentially for weeks, after the blow-out on November 4 which also led to Singapore Airlines grounding three of its superjumbos.

A spokesman told AFP that Qantas's A380s, which service long-haul routes connecting Australian cities with Los Angeles and London, would not be used for at least a few days.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has ordered airlines to carry out new inspections of the Rolls-Royce engines on the A380 superjumbo after analysis of the one that blew up on a Qantas flight.

Qantas is among a group of carriers already conducting urgent safety checks of the Trent 900 engines following the blow-out over the Indonesian island of Batam.

Singapore Airlines put three of its A380s out of action on Wednesday to replace engines after finding unexpected oil stains during tests, while Germany's Lufthansa said it would replace one A380 engine as a precaution.

Rolls-Royce added on Friday that it had conducted engine checks "in parallel with a rigorous examination of all available evidence, including data from the damaged (Qantas) engine and its monitoring system, analysis of recovered material and interrogation of the fleet history."

"These investigations have led Rolls-Royce to draw two key conclusions. First, as previously announced, the issue is specific to the Trent 900.

"Second, the failure was confined to a specific component in the turbine area of the engine. This caused an oil fire, which led to the release of the intermediate pressure turbine disc.

"Rolls-Royce continues to work closely with the investigating authorities. Our process of inspection will continue and will be supplemented by the replacement of the relevant module according to an agreed programme," it added.

Airbus, a unit of European aerospace giant EADS, has been flying the double-decker A380 for almost three years without major incident.

On Wednesday, Chicago-based Boeing halted test flights of its new 787 Dreamliner this week after an in-flight fire prompted an emergency landing, a fresh setback to the troubled jetliner project seen as a rival to the A380.

© 2010 AFP

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