Qantas Grounds A380s Following Incident
French experts blamed "a fault on the rear part of the jet motor" for "serious damage" that blew a hole in the wing of a Qantas A380 out of Singapore for Sydney and caused it to return (safely) to its point of departure, Thursday. Speaking for France's air investigative agency, BEA, Jean-Paul Troadec called the event "a serious incident" that led to "serious damage." One passenger posted an image of the aircraft's wing that showed damage to its upper surface near the leading edge in line with the number-two engine. That damage did not prevent the safe landing of the aircraft without injury to the 459 people on board. It did, however, leave "metal shards" of debris raining down on the Indonesian island of Batam, according to a witness on the island who spoke to the AFP. Qantas immediately responded to the event by grounding all six of its active A380s. Most other carriers did not immediately follow Qantas' lead.
Air France, Lufthansa, the Emirates airline and Singapore Airlines initially said they will continue flying the jet, although Singapore later changed its mind and grounded its fleet of 11 A380s. The pilots of the afflicted Qantas aircraft flew it for well more than an hour after the event to burn off fuel for their return to Singapore. The event itself was initiated with a loud bang followed by "a little bit of fire," one passenger told the Sydney Morning Herald. Many others on board the aircraft felt it physically shudder. Passenger accounts state that the pilots kept passengers informed with regular updates after the event and there was calm in the cabin.