Australian reporter Ben Sandilands has published an extraordinary visual and technical account of the damage sustained by VH-OQA when its number two Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine suffered an uncontained failure on November 4 six minutes after takeoff from Singapore’s Changi International Airport. Sandilands’ report originates from the preliminary Airbus assessment for the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation into incident aboard Qantas Flight 32.
The document’s authenticity has been confirmed by Airbus.
The explosion, now traced to an excessive oil build up in the intermediate and high pressure turbines of the Trent 900 engine, caused engine debris to be violently expelled into the surrounding structure of the A380.
Airbus has grouped the damage to VH-OQA in several main areas,including to “perforations” to the aircraft’s wing, which entered in thebottom skin of the wing and exited the upper skin. Additionally, twoadditional perforations were sustained to the lower panel of the wing, as well as the belly fairing and inboard flap track fairings.
The first, and larger, of two major punctures was suffered by the droop nose 2 on the wing’s leading edge structure. In the line of fire was the drive motor for the droop nose which was “badly damaged” and “seems ot [sic] have been on the direct path of trajectory through the wing.” The debris entered in front of wing rib 13 on the lower panel and exited at the topskin just in front of rib 12.
The second major puncture came as engine debris tore into the lower side of the droop nose panel, and continued its path through the front wing spar (CATIA rendering pictured above). As the debris transited the A380′s wing structure, a fuel pipe and wiring were severed near wing rib 9 where it exited.
Additionally, the lower skin on wing panel 1 was punctured in two locations, causing a leak in the A380′s left wing inner tank. The first, was at rib 7 at stringer 0 and the second at rib 10 and stringer 6.
Immediately following the explosion in the number two engine, the crew was presented with 53 electronic centralized aircraft monitor (ECAM) messages, including the confirmed failure of the A380′s green hydraulic system. The severed wiring also appears to have locked out control of engine number one to the crew.
Sandilands addresses the questions of the A380′s system redundancy directly, writing:
“The wing of the jet shows remarkable structural strength in sustaining damage that might have destroyed the airliners of earlier decades, but the questions as to whether control system revisions are necessary to deal with some of the consequences in terms of failed hydraulics and fuel imbalance are said to be very actively under consideration.”
The ATSB plans to release its preliminary factual report on December 3.