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Fri 4 Nov 2011 10:41 AM

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Engine fault forces Qantas A380 to divert to Dubai

Plane diverts to emirate, a year after Aussie airline grounded A380s after mid-air drama

Engine fault forces Qantas A380 to divert to Dubai
(Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

An engine fault forced a Qantas
Airways A380 plane bound for London to divert to Dubai on
Friday, exactly a year since a mid-air engine blowout prompted
the Australian airline to ground its entire fleet of A380
superjumbos for nearly a month.

The Airbus aircraft had an "oil quantity defect" in one
engine which was switched off according to standard procedure, a
Qantas spokeswoman in Sydney said, adding Qantas engineers would
investigate the problem.

The plane, with 258 people on
board, including English actor, comedian and
writer Stephen Fry, landed safely in Dubai.

"The two issues are completely unrelated. This is a one-off
and we will look to get the aircraft back in the skies as soon
as possible," spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said, referring to the
latest incident and the engine explosion a year ago.

"Still stuck on Dubai tarmac. No
one seems to know how long we'll be here. Should've landed in
London at 6:20. That won't happen! "
Fry told his 3.3 million followers on

"Not a great week for Qantas," he added.

Each Qantas A380 is powered by four Rolls
Royce engines. The carrier has 10 A380s in service and is
due to take delivery of two more by year-end. It also has two
more on order and deferred the delivery schedule for six others.

"We are aware that an A380 operated by Qantas diverted to
Dubai as a precautionary measure. We are working with the
airline to look into this matter," Airbus spokesman Sean Lee
said in an email to Reuters.

Airbus has sold 236 A380s . By the
end of September this year, it had
delivered 57. The four-engined double-decker airplanes sell for
$375 million each at list prices.

A Rolls Royce spokesman said the company was aware of the
incident and was working closely with Qantas to provide
appropriate support and technical assistance.

A Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft suffered an engine explosion
on November 4 last year, after it had taken off from Singapore for
Sydney. It returned to Singapore and landed safely.

Qantas, which has one of the best safety records in the
industry, blamed an oil fire for the blowout

In last year's engine blowout, a turbine disc
disintegrated and sent supersonic shards of metal through the
aircraft's wing, severing systems and narrowly missing the
cabin. Investigations have pinpointed a
suspected manufacturing fault in an oil pipe which could lead to
oil leaks and ordered regular safety checks.

Rolls-Royce , which
competes with a General Electric and Pratt &
Whitney joint venture to power the A380, says
it ha s solved the problem and
replaced or upgraded engines.

Rolls Royce engines power the A380 fleet of Qantas, Singapore Airlines , and Lufthansa and China Southern.

Qantas resumed A380 services on Nov. 27 after engine
inspections concluded the airplane was safe to fly.

The latest incident follows a series of setbacks for Qantas,
which is emerging from the grounding of its entire fleet over
the weekend to gain the upper hand against trade unions in a
long-running and costly labour dispute.

The weekend shutdown stranded almost 70,000 passengers but
succeeded in forcing the government and the nation's labour
tribunal to intervene and ban all further strikes at Qantas.

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