Qantas: Forty A380 engines need to be replaced

Up to half of the Rolls-Royce engines of the type that disintegrated on an Airbus superjumbo this month may need to be replaced by the three carriers in Australia, Singapore and Germany that use them, the Qantas chief executive said Thursday.

Australia’s Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Germany’s Lufthansa fly A380s powered by four giant Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, with a total of 80 engines on 20 planes.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told reporters on Thursday that Rolls-Royce had indicated that up to 40 of them may need to be replaced.

“Rolls-Royce are still working through the criteria for which engines need to be changed,” Joyce said one the sidelines of an event in Sydney unrelated to the A380 incident. He said that 14 of the 24 engines on Qantas planes may have to be replaced.

One of the Trent 900s on a Qantas superjumbo caught fire and blew apart shortly after take-off from Singapore on November 4, in what experts say was the most serious safety incident for the world’s newest and largest passenger plane. The Sydney-bound flight returned safely to Singapore where it made an emergency landing.


All six of Qantas’ A380s have been grounded while extensive safety checks and fixes are carried out, and the airline says three Trent 900 engines have been removed, in addition to the one that blew out. Singapore Airlines, with 11 A380s, and Lufthansa, with three, briefly grounded some of their planes after the Qantas scare but returned almost all of them to service after conducting safety checks.

Singapore Airlines has said it replaced three Trent 900s. Lufthansa replaced one but said the reason was unrelated to the Qantas blowout.

The other airlines that fly A380s, Dubai’s Emirates and Air France, use engines built by Engine Alliance, a 50/50 joint venture between GE Aircraft Engines and Pratt & Whitney.

Joyce reiterated that Qantas would not be putting its A380s back into service until the airline was satisfied they were safe to fly.

“We’ll have a daily dialogue with Rolls-Royce to determine which engines actually need to be taken off,” he said. “We’re hoping to understand precisely which engines need to be replaced and therefore we can have a firm timeline for when they will be back in the air, but we are still a few days away from that.”

Short on detail
Rolls-Royce has been criticised for not providing enough detail on how it is resolving the Trent 900 problem. The London-based company has said the problem was linked to an unspecified single part and has outlined a plan of action to replace it.

Last Friday, Rolls-Royce said it would be replacing modules, or sections of linked parts, aboard Trent 900 engines that were found to have oil leaks.

But the company has said little about how long that process will take and if it will affect the delivery of new A380s to existing and new airline customers. It has not responded to reports that entire engines may need to be replaced or that engines currently in production may be diverted to existing customers with problem engines. Both issues raise the prospect of delays to the delivery of new planes.

Rolls-Royce had been scheduled to hold a news conference at a major biennial air show in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai in Wedesday, but cancelled it, without giving a reason.

Investigators say leaking oil caught fire in the Qantas engine on November 4 and heated metal parts, causing them to disintegrate before the jetliner returned safely to Singapore. Experts say chunks of flying metal cut hydraulics and an engine-control line in the wing of the A380, causing the pilots to lose control of the second engine and half of the brake flaps on the damaged wing in a situation far more serious than originally portrayed by Qantas. – Sapa-AP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Australian journalists flee China fearing arrest

Their dramatic overnight exit came following days of secret wrangling that had seen both men holed up in Australia's diplomatic missions to escape the clutches of China's feared security police

Facebook threatens ban on Australians sharing news in battle over media law

Australians would be stopped from posting local and international articles on Facebook and Instagram, the company said, claiming the move was "not our first choice" but the "only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic".

Empire and environmentalism: The legacy of a brilliant maverick, Richard Grove

The prolific interdisciplinary scholar who worked on the periphery and challenged Eurocentrism also drew attention to the El Niño phenomenon and global warming concerns in Victorian times

Invest in children to give them a better world

This entails putting them at the centre of national strategies, but doing it without high CO2 releases

Australia to force Google, Facebook to pay for news content

Australia's new regulations will also cover the sharing of data, and the ranking and display of news content, to be enforced by binding dispute resolution mechanisms and penalties

Olympics halt good for everyone

They took time, but the International Olympic Committee have finally done the responsible thing and postponed Tokyo 2020
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

It’s not a ‘second wave’: Covid resurges because safety measures...

A simple model shows how complacency in South Africa will cause the number of infections to go on an upward trend again

Unisa shortlists two candidates for the vice-chancellor job

The outgoing vice-chancellor’s term has been extended to April to allow for a smooth hand-over

How US foreign policy under Donald Trump has affected Africa

Lesotho has been used as a microcosm in this article to reflect how the foreign policy has affected Africa

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday