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Qantas A380 Was Heavily Damaged

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The Qantas crew whose A380 suffered an uncontained engine failure earlier this month had their hands full in getting the super jumbo back to Singapore. Shrapnel from the engine disabled one of two main hydraulic systems, hampered the fuel transfer system, punched a hole in the forward wing spar and caused a major fuel leak. The cascading nature of such failures meant the pilots couldn't dump enough fuel to bring the aircraft down to its maximum landing weight and the fuel left in the airplane was unbalanced. Flaps, slats and spoilers couldn't be fully deployed and the gear had to be dropped manually. Once it was on the ground, the anti-lock brakes didn't work and, since the damaged engine was an inboard one, there was only one left for reverse thrust (the outboard engines of A380s don't have reversers because they often overhang the grass and might be FOD damaged). The heavy, significantly disabled aircraft needed virtually all of the 13,123 feet of available runway. The whole wing might have to be replaced and the aircraft is expected to be out of commission for months. Meanwhile, the cause of the engine problem has been determined and it's just adding to the PR problems facing manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

According to the Courier Mail, newer versions of the Trent 900 engine installed in aircraft built after the Qantas jet in question had redesigned bearing boxes to prevent the oil leaks that resulted in the engine explosion. Airbus sales chief John Leahy told the paper he wasn't sure if the three airlines that chose the Trent for their A380s, Qantas, Singapore and Lufthansa, knew about the changes and which engines had been upgraded. Other A380 buyers chose the Engine Alliance GP7000.

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