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Mon 8 Nov 2010 01:27 PM

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Qantas finds oil leaks in three A380 engines

Carrier will keep fleet grounded after engineers found leaks in three of its A380 craft

Qantas finds oil leaks in three A380 engines

Australia's Qantas has discovered “anomalies” in the Rolls-Royce engines of three of its A380 superjumbos that will keep the fleet grounded for at least another 72 hours, the airline said on Monday.

The Australian carrier grounded its fleet of six Airbuses after an engine broke apart in flight last Thursday after takeoff from Singapore, showering the Indonesian island of Batam with debris.

 The double-deck jet was carrying 466 passengers and crew.

An investigation since carried out by Qantas into each of the A380s has uncovered oil leaks within the fleet’s Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines, said Alan Joyce, CEO of the airline.

“On three of the engines what we found are slight anomalies, oil where oil shouldn’t be,” Joyce told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We’re trying to check what the cause of that could be. These are new engines on new aircraft and they shouldn’t have these issues at this stage, so it’s given us an indication of an area for us to focus on.”

On Friday, a Qantas Boeing 747 was also forced to make an emergency landing after another model of Rolls Royce engine failed in mid-air.

It was still not clear what caused the engine failures, Joyce said.

“One of things we're looking at is whether those operational considerations by having the high level of power is actually contributing to this. So this is a problem with the engine note meeting its design criteria if that is the case,” said Joyce.

Discovery of the leaks will put added pressure on England-based Rolls Royce amid concerns of wider design flaws in certain A380 engines.

Roll-Royce has not commented on the oil leaks identified by Qantas on its engines.

Joyce said the discovery means the fleet remains grounded until the airline is sure the planes can fly safely. Qantas, one of the largest operators of the A380, faces heavy losses from suspending the fleet as it struggles to maintain its flight schedules.

“Our top priority is making sure we have the continued safe operation of the aircraft,” Joyce said. “If this takes a bit longer, we’ll take longer.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau on Sunday appealed for Indonesian islanders to help find engine part - including a missing part of a turbine disc - to help with the investigation into the engine failure.

The emergency landings prompted Germany’s Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, which also fly A380s with Rolls-Royce engines, to ground their fleets for inspections.

Both carriers have since returned their planes to service.

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Kim Childs 9 years ago

I hope that Emirates and Etihad will consider grounding their A380 fleets until safety inspections can be made on the Rolls Royce engines.

feras 9 years ago

Emirates is not using the same Rolls Royce engine s for their A380,

Bob 9 years ago

Emirates does not have A380 with same type of engines and Etihad has not received A380's yet.

Dave 9 years ago

Etihad doesn't have any A380s. Emirates doesn't use RR engines on its A380 fleet.

Kim 9 years ago

Thanks, Bob and all who commented. I am sure that AB readers that do not know the nuances of the A380 (like me) appreciate those reassurances. Etihad and Emirates are my 2 favorite airlines, and it is good to know that the issues Quantas is having will not be an issue for Etihad or Emirates.

Kumdhar 9 years ago

Emirates 13 A380 planes are equipped with Engine Alliance GP7200 engines.