Overspeed protection aims to prevent Trent 900 disc burst

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Rolls-Royce has developed a modification for the Trent 900 which aims to prevent the turbine overspeed which it believes destroyed the disc in Qantas' uncontained failure of an Airbus A380 engine.

An oil fire is suspected to have led to a ruptured drive arm of the intermediate pressure turbine disc, and the overspeed and bursting of the disc.

Debris from the shattered disc punctured structural elements in the wing, including the fuel tank, and badly damaged hydraulic systems.

Rolls-Royce has developed a modification of the engine electronic controller software, which features an overspeed protection system for the intermediate pressure turbine.

The protection aspect functions by detecting engine conditions that could potentially lead to turbine overspeed, and shutting down the powerplant before that overspeed can reach a level at which the disc could burst.

In an airworthiness directive which took effect on 27 December the European Aviation Safety Agency refers to the new software, designated 'version 10.6', for the electronic engine controller. It says the modification should have been carried out within 10 flight cycles.