Rolls-Royce troubled by engine blowout

Dec. 2, 2010 at 11:24 AM
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LONDON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Qantas, Australia's largest airline, has launched legal action against British engine maker Rolls-Royce after an in-flight engine explosion on one of the airline's Airbus A380s.

Qantas Thursday filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court of Australia as a backup if settlement talks with Rolls-Royce fail, Qantas said. The move comes after Australian air safety authorities said they had identified a serious manufacturing fault with some engines fitted to the A380, the world's largest passenger plane.

"Today's action allows Qantas to keep all options available to the company to recover losses, as a result of the grounding of the A380 fleet and the operational constraints currently imposed on A380 services," the airline said in a statement.

Qantas' entire fleet of six A380s was grounded from until last week after a Nov. 4 in-flight explosion of a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 jet engine mounted to a Qantas A380. The pilots of the plane made a successful emergency landing in Singapore. No one was injured.

Observers expect the British engine maker, which supplies engines for several Airbus planes, to push for a friendly settlement with the airlines.

Australian air safety authorities meanwhile urged other airlines with A380s using the Trent 900 engine -- including Singapore Airlines and Germany's Lufthansa -- to conduct further checkups. The A380 aircraft from Air France and Emirates use a different engine.

"The problem relates to the potential for misaligned oil pipe counter-boring, which could lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage and potential engine failure from an oil fire," the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a statement.

Rolls-Royce said in a statement that the ATSB's findings were "consistent with what we have said before."

"We have instituted a regime of inspection, maintenance and removal which has assured safe operation," the group said. "This program has been agreed in collaboration with Airbus, our airline customers and the regulators."

The Airbus A380 can carry up to 800 passengers. It is produced by Airbus, the main competitor of Boeing and a daughter company of multinational defense giant European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co.

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