Even before it has completed its first flight from London to Sydney since the fleet was grounded, a Qantas A380 is the subject of a new safety alert by the ATSB.
The giant jet, also designated QF32, is currently between Singapore and Sydney on the final leg of the first Rolls-Royce powered A380 service Qantas has operated since it grounded the fleet on November 4, hours after its first ever A380, Nancy-Bird Walton, also operating QF32, suffered a violent disintegration of its No2 engine after leaving Singapore.
The incident caused major problems with the A380, including multiple punctures of the wing, fuel tanks and fuel lines and control cabling. It lost half of its hydraulics and was unable to shut down the No1 engine after it landed back in Singapore, requiring the use of water cannons to drown it.
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The ATSB has identified a drilling defect with the potential to cause the Rolls-Royce engine to catch fire and disintegrate, and has issued a critical safety recommendation.
CASA has issued this statement.
For those into nuances, here is the Qantas statement, which anticipates no disruption to other A380 services, but makes it clear the safety first imperative is paramount, and that contingency plans have been drawn up should this drilling anomaly be found in other engines.
A spokesman for Qantas said their were currently three builds or versions of the Trent 900, A, B and C. The incident on November 4 was in an A build engine, and all such builds have been removed from the Qantas fleet.
The engines on the A380 now into its final hours of the flight from Singapore to Sydney are version B power plants. The spokesman also said that the three brand new A380s to be delivered to Qantas soon, two this month and one in the New Year, are currently powered with B and C build engines.
“Qantas doesn’t know if the (drilling issue) found on the engine on the aircraft involved on November 4 is a one off defect or a systemic problem,” he said. ” But we will find out. The inspections we are doing on all of the engines use a new 3D borescope different to the borescope used in the inspections specified in the EASA emergency airworthiness directive. There are only three of these 3D borescopes in the world and we have one of them.”
The ATSB will tomorrow morning Australian time release a detailed interim report into the November 4 incident.
Update: Qantas files claim on Rolls-Royce and obtains injunction
The charm offensive is over at Qantas which early this evening announced a number of steps aimed at negotiating or recovering compensation from Rolls-Royce for the damage done to its business by the QF32 incident on November 4.