Qantas may resume A380 operations within 48h

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Qantas could resume operations with its five serviceable Airbus A380s within the next 48 hours subject to extensive checks of their Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines failing to uncover any potential defects.

The Australian flag-carrier grounded its A380 fleet yesterday after one of its aircraft suffered an apparent uncontained failure of the number two engine shortly after taking off from Singapore.

"Overnight, Qantas engineers with Airbus and Rolls-Royce engineers have been working around the clock trying to identify what are the potential root causes to the problem on [flight] QF32," said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce at a press conference earlier today.

qantas-a380-engine-cowling
 © PA

"As a consequence of that work we've agreed with Airbus and Rolls-Royce a regime of checks that are going to take place on the engines. Those checks will involve eight hours for each engine to be undertaken as part of the check regime that they're recommending.

"We are having a team of Rolls-Royce engineers come here to Sydney and a team of Qantas and Rolls-Royce engineers going to Los Angeles to conduct those checks. We believe then over the next 24-48 hours those checks will be complete on all of the A380s, and if we don't have any adverse findings out of those checks the aircraft will resume operations," he adds.

Singapore Airlines resumed operations with its Trent 900-powered A380s late yesterday, having held up several flights, while Lufthansa said it was continuing to operate its aircraft as normal.

Joyce confirms that in yesterday's incident the crew were unable to shut down the A380's number one engine after making their emergency landing back at Singapore, but he says that up until that point the engine had responded to control inputs normally.

Joyce says some of the aircraft's tyres burst during the landing roll due to the fact that the aircraft was "heavy", although this was not "significant" in the circumstances.

"It does look like as the uncontained failure occurred, parts of the engine did go into the wing. That is part of what made this a significant engine failure," says Joyce.

He says that there were "three experienced captains" on board flight QF32. The operating captain has told Joyce that throughout the incident he remained "fully confident that there were no issues with the safety of the flight".