An AirAsia X Airbus A330-300 was forced to return to Perth around one hour into a flight to Kuala Lumpur on 25 June after what appears to have been a major engine failure.
The aircraft, registered 9M-XXE (MSN 1075), was cruising just off the coast of Carnarvon, Western Australia, when passengers and cabin crew reported a loud explosion from the left-hand engine, followed by strong vibrations and shudders.
Media reports indicate that the captain informed passengers that the engine had "seized", however AirAsia X would only say that the aircraft returned to Perth due to “a technical issue” and landed safely at 10:00 local time, around three hours after take-off.
It adds that there were 359 passengers on-board the A330, who were offered transfers to a recovery flight that operated later on that day.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is expected to launch an investigation into the event, with a particular focus on the engine and the actions of the crew.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that the A330 was built in 2009 and is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60EP engines. It is owned by AirAsia X and financed by Barclays Capital.
It is the second time an AirAsia X A330 has been forced to divert whilst operating a flight from Australia in as many years. The last occurrence was in August 2016, when 9M-XXD diverted to Alice Springs while enroute from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur due to an in-flight engine shutdown that has been linked to a fracture in one of the engines' oil pump drive shafts.