Rolls-Royce: we fell short in the Qantas A380 incident

Although Rolls-Royce admits it “clearly fell short” in the Qantas A380 incident two years ago, it has learned and applied the lessons learned to prevent a similar type of event from occurring in the future.

As the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ASTB) unveiled its final report into the failure of a Trent 900 engine on board a Qantas flight flying on the 4 November 2010, Rolls-Royce director engineering and technology Colin Smith said the company holds “much regret” over the “serious and rare event” and ensured the company was continually striving towards meetings “high standards of safety, quality and reliability”.

Revealed today, the Bureau’s report highlighted that the No,2 engine on the Qantas A380 flying over Batam Island, Indonesia en route Singapore to Sydney, failed shortly after takeoff from Changi Airport.

The engine failed as a result of an incorrectly manufactured oil feed stub pipe, which resulted in fatigue cracking of the pipe and sent oil into the engine during the flight, causing an internal fire.

This fire then led to one of the engine’s turbine discs fracturing and then rapidly over speeding before it burst, broke free of the engine casing, and impacted the A380’s airframe, according to the report.

Despite damage to the aircraft and the engine, the plane’s pilot managed to safely return and land the aircraft at Changi Airport without any major injuries to staff and passengers.

As part of the report and its own findings, Rolls-Royce has made modifications to the engine software to prevent a turbine disc from bursting as a result of over-speeding, introduced better quality assurance processes with supporting training and improved manufacturing and design procedures.

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