Jun 28, 2013

    2010 Airbus engine blast: Defect 'not spotted'

    ROLLS-ROYCE repeatedly failed to identify a defect in an oil pipe that caused one of its engines to explode in a Qantas Airways aircraft carrying more than 400 people over Indonesia in 2010, an Australian safety regulator found.

    In its final report on the incident, the Australian Safety Transport Bureau (ASTB) said the company missed multiple opportunities to detect the faulty component, which almost certainly would have caused the Airbus A380 to crash had it not been for the exceptional skill of the pilots.

    It was the first major safety scare to affect the A380, and led to Qantas suspending its operation of the aircraft for three weeks.

    The ASTB report could lead to broader requirements for new aircraft certification around the world.

    "Those opportunities were missed for a number of reasons, but generally due to ambiguities within the manufacturer's procedures and the non-adherence by a number of the manufacturing staff to those procedures," the report said yesterday.

    The four-engine A380 was flying from Singapore to Sydney with 433 passengers and 26 crew on board when one of its engines blew up, spraying shrapnel and dropping chunks of debris on Batam island.

    The pilots' skill likely averted a disaster as the plane had suffered a series of system problems. They flew the plane back to Singapore and landed with limited controls, stopping 150m before the end of the runway with four blown tyres, brakes heated to 900 deg C and fuel leaking to the ground.