Qantas A380 engine blast ‘severed cables’ and had a series of system failures

18.11.2010   (BBC)

Further details have been released of the difficulties faced by the pilots of
the Qantas A380 superjumbo that saw one of its engines explode.

Airbus, the plane’s manufacturer, has said that flying debris from the Rolls-Royce
engine severed cables in the aircraft’s wing.

A separate report by the AP new agency said the explosion caused a series of
system failures in the plane.

The pilots made a successful emergency landing in Singapore on 4 November.

Airbus made its comments in its latest report to airlines.

It said that the severing of cables in one of the plane’s wings meant that the
pilots could not immediately shut down one of the A380’s three other engines.

AP’s report was based on an interview with Richard Woodward, a vice-president
of the Australian and International Pilots Association, who it said had spoken
to all five pilots who were on the plane.

He said they received 54 computer warning messages following the engine failure.

“The amount of failures is unprecedented,” Mr Woodward was quoted as saying.

Qantas said earlier on Thursday that up to 40 Rolls-Royce engines on Airbus A380
superjumbos worldwide would need to be replaced.

Rolls-Royce has said the engine failure “was confined to a specific component”
which led to an oil fire and loss of turbine pressure.

All 459 passengers and crew on the plane that had to make the emergency landing
were unharmed.

Qantas had grounded all six of its A380s.
see also
BBC     4.1.2010

Factfile: Airbus A380

The world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380, made its debut commercial
flight in October 2007 with Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Sydney.

Qantas took the plane in 2008, flying the route between Melbourne and Los Angeles.
Air France and Lufthansa also fly the Airbus A380, but its largest customer is
Emirates, which in June ordered 90 so-called superjumbos.

However, since the start of the global recession several airlines have postponed
orders, including Air France KLM Group, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The A380 superjumbo project was first conceived in the early 1990s as an eventual
successor to the Boeing 747, which has now been the world’s mainstay long-haul
aircraft for more than 30 years.

However, Boeing has hit back by stretching its 747, with its 747-8.

Development work of the A380 began in earnest in 1993. The project, designed
to challenge Boeing’s hold on the long-haul flight market, is valued at about
$24bn ( £15bn) and each plane has an average list price of $347m ( £215m).

Graphic compares Boeing 747 with Airbus A380

With its twin decks of seats, the aircraft can carry 555 people in separate seat
classes, or 840 passengers in an “all economy class” configuration.

The aircraft is designed to incorporate amenities such as bars, lounges, beauty
salons and duty-free shops, according to operators’ specifications.   [All these additions make it less fuel efficient per passenger].

A cargo version of the plane – designated the 800F – would be the world’s first
“triple-decker” freight aircraft, though it is not clear whether this will ever
be built.

Green technologies

Although the plane can carry 35% more passengers than a Boeing 747, it consumes
12% less fuel per seat, a rate of consumption comparable with that of an economical
family car, manufacturer Airbus states. [That is only if it is full – most airlines carry less passengers, giving them
each more space, and things like showers].

The plane’s vast size also gives it a more efficient seat-distance cost than
its rivals.

The A380 uses a number of pioneering technologies, including a new, lighter material
Glare – GLAss-REinforced fibre metal laminate.

Used in the upper fuselage, this aluminium/glass fibre composite offers better
resistance to corrosion and impacts.

The aircraft can be powered by either Rolls-Royce Trent 900 or Alliance GP7200
turbofan engines.
see also

Blast jet’s 466 passengers ‘so lucky not to die’

The 466 passengers on the Qantas Airbus A380 forced to make an emergency landing in Singapore this month were “very lucky” it did not explode in mid-air, killing everyone
on board, aerospace experts said today.

Shocking images in a leaked report show a large hole in the jet’s wing support
with metal ripped open, revealing the broken mechanism underneath.

The preliminary report by Airbus reveals the aircraft suffered “a cascade of system failures” and not just an
engine explosion.

Adrian Mouritz, head of aerospace and aviation engineering at RMIT University
Melbourne, said it was “very, very lucky” that thousands of litres of highly inflammable
jet fuel in the wings did not ignite from the ruptured fuel pipe or a spark from
severed wiring.

“If that fuel had ignited, the aircraft would have exploded,” he said.

The jet had left Singapore to fly to Sydney when one engine blew up in mid-air, forcing it back to Changi Airport. According
to the reports, engine parts struck the fuselage immediately above the wings between
the two decks of windows, while other metal pieces damaged the plane’s belly.
Professor Mouritz said depressurisation was “another major hazard”.

In a memo to all A380 operators, makers Airbus also gave the first detailed breakdown
of what happened to the aircraft following the blast caused by leaking oil from
Rolls-Royce engine.

It said the wing’s moving parts became jammed, meaning flight control switched
to the system that takes over if several functions stop working. “The crew had
to manage a dynamic situation,” it said.

Qantas said the captain had retained control of the aircraft at all times and
added that he and his crew had continued to have access to critical data such
as airspeed.