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ATSB Releases Final Report On A380 Engine Failure

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Australia's aviation accident investigation agency, the ATSB, Thursday released its final report on an uncontained engine failure that occurred November 4, 2010, on a Qantas Airbus A380 over Indonesia and severely damaged aircraft systems. Investigators concluded that an oil pipe in the jet's Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine had been "made with a thin wall section" that "did not comply with the design specifications." That pipe cracked, investigators concluded, led to an oil fire that eventually caused one of the engine's turbine discs to separate from its drive shaft. The disc then over-accelerated, broke apart and burst through the engine casing "releasing other high energy debris" tha damaged the aircraft's structure and caused a "multitude of system failures." The jet was carrying 469 people out of Singapore at the time and returned to the airport safely. Rolls-Royce issues a statement, Thursday, supporting the ATSB's conclusions and saying in part, "On this occasion we clearly fell short."

In the company statement, Colin Smith, director engineering and technology for Rolls-Royce, called the event "serious and rare" and one "which we very much regret." Said Smith, "the  robustness of the Airbus A380 and the professionalism of the Qantas crew members assured that the aircraft and all its passengers landed safely." Rolls-Royce has already applied preventive measures through its engineering manufacturing and quality assurance procedures "to prevent this type of event from happening again." Adjustments include modifications made to engine software that Rolls-Royce says will prevent a turbine disc from bursting as a result of over-speed due to similar failures. The disc failure knocked out the aircraft's anti-lock brakes caused serious damage to a flight control motor, severed wiring, damaged a forward wing spar and tore open a fuel pipe.  A hydraulic system was also damaged. In the aftermath of the incident, Qantas temporarily grounded its A380s and Rolls-Royce paid the carrier $88 million in compensation.

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