Qantas A380 engine explosion caused by defective pipe


The mid-air engine explosion aboard a Qantas A380 passenger jet in November 2010 was caused by a defective oil pipe, according to an investigation into the incident.

On November 4, 2010, flight QF32 out of Singapore experienced an engine explosion en route to Sydney. Turbine fragments flew out of the engine when it exploded, causing extensive damage. No-one was injured in the incident that ground all of the carrier’s A380s for more than three weeks.

An update on the investigation today said that the Rolls Royce engine exploded because of a defective pipe, AFP reports. In an interim report, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said a “sequence of events” led to the engine failure, starting with an oil fire caused by a manufacturing defect in an oil feed pipe.
“That defect resulted in fatigue cracking in the pipe, so that oil sprayed into an engine cavity where it ignited because of the high air temperature,” the safety watchdog said. The fire weakened a turbine disc in the A380’s second engine, causing the disc to separate from its shaft, increasing its rotation speed and causing it to break into several parts. Engine parts shot off into the aircraft’s left wing, causing major structural damage and severing cables.

Rolls Royce said it was working with ATSB to address the incident. “Each time an incident happens the aviation industry learns lessons,” Rolls-Royce said in a statement. These are embedded in the rigorous safety procedures and standards of regulation which make flying an extraordinarily safe form of transport.”

The final report by ATSB’ is due to be released next year.

In June last year Rolls-Royce and Qantas reached an out-of-court settlement over the A380 engine explosion, which Qantas said would add A$95 million (US$100.6 million) to its 2011 pre-tax profit and called off legal action against Rolls-Royce.

The incident forced several airlines to ground their A380s, the world’s biggest passenger aircraft, and replace some Trent 900 engines.

On November 4 last year a London-bound Qantas A380 was forced to divert to Dubai after en engine problem – a year to the day since the first Qantas A380 midair engine blowout.

The flight, with 258 people on board, had an “oil quantity defect” in one engine which was switched off according to standard procedure, a Qantas spokeswoman in Sydney said.