Euro regulator orders new tests on A380 engines
SYDNEY (AP) – Europe’s air safety authority ordered airlines to conduct more tests on the type of Rolls-Royce engine that failed in a Qantas A380 last week.
The European Aviation Safety Authority said in a new “emergency airworthiness directive” posted on its website Thursday that airlines using the Trent 900 engines should conduct “repetitive inspections” on the engines.
Airlines should be checking several parts of the engines, including the oil service tubes, to ensure there is no “abnormal” leakage, the agency said. If any such leaks are found, the airlines are prohibited from using the engines.
It follows the midair disintegration of a Trent 900 engine on a Qantas A380 superjumbo on Nov. 4 as it took off from Singapore. The plane made and emergency landing without any injuries.
The European agency said analysis of the early stages of the investigation into the Qantas incident “shows that an oil fire” in part of the engine “may have caused the failure of the Intermediate Pressure Turbine Disc.”
“This condition, if not detected, could ultimately result in uncontained engine failure potentially leading to damage to the airplane and hazards to persons or property on the ground,” the agency said.
Qantas has grounded its six A380s fitted with Trent 900 engines while checks are carried out. Singapore Airlines has grounded three of its 11 A380s. Lusthansa, the other airline using that plane-engine combination, said on Wednesday its planes are all flying after safety checks were completed.
Investigators of the Qantas failure have focused on a piece of turbine disc that shattered in the explosion, which sent debris slicing through part of the plane’s wing and littered an Indonesian island with metal parts.
Airworthiness directives are issued by the European agency to advise airlines about extra inspections or repairs needed to deal with potential problems on planes, and are relatively common occurrences covering many different types of planes and engines.
The latest directive was the third one issued this year on the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines that power many A380s currently in service.