Qantas Keeps Legal Options Open Against Rolls-Royce

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Qantas Thursday secured its option to pursue legal action against Rolls-Royce if the two companies fail to reach a settlement over losses suffered when a Trent 900 engine experienced uncontained failure on a Qantas A380. The two companies are engaged in discussions covering a range of issues related to the incident and Qantas' "statement of claim" opens the possibility to sue. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has found that a specific manufacturing defect was to blame. According to the ATSB, a misaligned boring on an oil pipe can lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage, oil fires, and explosive engine failure. Rolls-Royce has instituted an inspection, maintenance and removal plan to assure the safe operations of the Trent 900s still in service. The failure of the engine on Nov. 4, aboard the Qantas airliner, caused substantial damage to the aircraft and led to a disruption of Qantas' operations. One report suggests Rolls-Royce knew enough that the event could have been avoided.

Richard Woodward, vice-president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, said of the damage, "The amount of failures is unprecedented." Rolls-Royce was reportedly aware of problems with oil leaks in its Trent 900 engines and made design changes to models shipped after the delivery of those fitted to the Qantas A380s. The accident aircraft suffered serious damage to a flight control drive motor, wiring was severed, damage was inflicted on a forward spar and a large fuel pipe was ripped open. Pieces of the engine were thrown toward the fuselage. Qantas temporarily grounded its fleet of six A380s following the Nov. 4 event.