What the Qantas A380 crew had left after the engine blew up

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An Airbus information telex to all A380 operators was dispatched by the manufacturer on 17 November informing them, basically, of what the crew of flight QF32 had to deal with when their No 2 Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine suffered an uncontained engine failure.

Provided to Flightglobal by an industry source, it is intended to provide operators with a picture of what systems remained undamaged despite the extensive harm to the airframe, particularly the wing leading edge close to the engine. This is what it says:

"This [information telex] has been approved for release by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau who leads the on-going ICAO Annex 13 investigation.

"The second R-R inspection programme applicable to the Trent 900 engine family and covered by EASA engine airworthiness directive has been published allowing continuous operations of the fleet. Together with its partners, Airbus is providing support to the operators for engine logistics to minimise interruptions to the fleet.

"One single high energy fragment is considered from a certification requirement viewpoint. The damage assessment has established that the intermediate pressure turbine disc released three different high energy fragments, resulting in some structural and systems damage, with associated ECAM warnings. Therefore the crew had to manage a dynamic situation.

"Despite the situation, amongst the various available systems supporting the crew to operate the aircraft and return safely to Singapore were:

  • The flaps remained available (slats were jammed retracted).
  • All flight control surfaces remained available on the pitch and yaw axis.
  • Roll control was ensured through the following controls: (a) on the left wing: inner aileron, spoilers 1, 3, 5 and 7; (b) on the right wing: mid and inner ailerons, spoilers 1, 3, 5, 6 and 7.
  • Flight control law reverted to alternate law due to the loss of the slats and of some roll control surfaces. Normal law was kept on longitudinal and lateral axes.
  • Flight envelope protection was still active.
  • The autopilot was kept engaged [during approach] until about 700ft [215m] on radio altimeter, at which time the crew took over manually. Flight directors were on.
  • Manual control of engines 1, 3 and 4 was maintained till aircraft stop.
  • Landing in Singapore took place about 1h 40min after the engine 2 failure with flaps in configuration 3.
  • Normal braking was available on both body landing gears with anti-skid, and alternate braking without anti-skid on both wing landing gears. The crew modulated braking in order to stop close to emergency services.
  • The reason engine No 1 could not be shut down after the aircraft came to a stop, has been determined: two segregated wiring routes were cut by two out of the three individual units of disc debris."

More on the Qantas A380 engine failure