Australian airline Qantas discovered anomalies on three Airbus A380 engines and is keeping its fleet of the super jumbos grounded beyond an initial 48-hour deadline for further checks.
The airline’s shares lost as much as 4% on Monday due to investors concern about damage to its reputation as one of the safest airlines in the world and the financial impact of grounding planes.
“For all businesses it is imperative that safety is front of mind when running the business. Qantas has a pretty good track record and they probably get a lot of unwarranted attention,” said Jason Teh, portfolio manager at fund manager Investors Mutual.
A Qantas A380 engine broke apart in flight on Thursday, forcing the world’s largest passenger plane to make an emergency landing in Singapore with 459 passengers and crew on board.
“On three of the engines what we found is slight anomalies — oil where oil shouldn’t be on the engines,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told ABC radio on Monday.
“We’re just trying to check what the cause of that would be. These are new engines on new aircraft and they shouldn’t have these issues at this stage, so it’s given us indication of an area for us to focus into,” Joyce said.
Qantas plans to hold a news conference later on Monday. Thursday’s engine failure was the biggest incident to date for the A380, which went into service in 2007.
Australian air safety investigators said the recovery of a broken engine disk may be crucial in understanding what caused the A380 engine failure.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued a statement and photograph of the broken disk and called on residents of Indonesia’s Batam Island who may have found the parts of the disk among debris to return it to the police.
“The recovery of that disk could be crucial to a full understanding of the nature of the engine failure, and may have implications for the prevention of future similar occurrences,” said the ATSB.
The three suspect Rolls-Royce engines from two airplanes have been removed for closer inspection and Qantas would give no deadline for the checks.
On Friday, it said it expected engine checks to take up to 48 hours but spokesperson Simon Rushton on Monday said the A380 would only fly once the airline was 100% confident it was safe.
Joyce said he expected the issue to be resolved in “days not weeks”. – Reuters