Discovery of oil leaks keeps Qantas A380s grounded
Date added: 8 November, 2010
8.11.2010 (The Engineer)
Qantas is keeping its Airbus A380 aircraft grounded after investigations into a mid-air engine failure found oil leaks in three crafts’ turbines.
Rolls-Royce share prices have fallen around 10 per cent since one of the company’s Trent 900 engines exploded mid-flight last Thursday, forcing the Qantas aircraft carrying it to make an emergency landing in Singapore.
‘Oil leaks have been discovered in the turbine area of three engines,’ Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive, told a news conference in Sydney
‘The focus of our investigation has narrowed to the possibility of an oil leakage of the relevant turbine area, however, investigations on other areas of the engine are continuing in order to rule out other potential issues.’
The airline expects its six A380s to be out of operation for at least the next 72 hours as it works with Rolls-Royce and Airbus engineers to carry out inspections in Sydney and Los Angeles.
A second Qantas aircraft – a Boeing 747 using a different type of Rolls-Royce engine – was also forced to return to Singapore last Friday after reporting an engine problem.
Shortly after the A380 incident last week, it emerged that Rolls-Royce was warned several months previously by European officials that there were potential safety problems with the Trent 900 engines.
An airworthiness directive from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) reported wear on the splines of the engine’s intermediate pressure (IP) turbine that could lead to ‘in-flight shut down, oil migration and oil fire’.
A statement issued by Rolls-Royce today said it was clear that the A380 incident was specific to the Trent 900 engine and unrelated to another event involving a Trent 1000 that occurred in August 2010 on a test-bed in Derby.
’As a result, a series of checks and inspections has been agreed with Airbus, with operators of the Trent 900-powered A380 and with the airworthiness authorities. These are being progressively completed, which is allowing a resumption of operation of aircraft in full compliance with all safety standards. We are working in close cooperation with Airbus, our customers and the authorities, and, as always, safety remains our highest priorityâ€¦
’The Trent 900 incident is the first of its kind to occur on a large civil Rolls-Royce engine since 1994. Since then, Rolls-Royce has accumulated 142 million hours of flight on Trent and RB211 engines.’