Rolls-Royce has been taking a lot of heat. Having one of its newest products - a mighty Trent 900 - blow up under the wing of that most attention-grabbing of aircraft, a packed-with-people Qantas Airbus A380, was a good route to negative publicity.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce jumped straight into the fray with a series of statements that said, essentially, "this wasn't our fault".

R-R did what it does and dispatched engineers to inspect the damage. Meanwhile, the news media and the industry did what they do and, working with essentially zero information from R-R, speculated wildly. R-R shares plunged. Uncontained engine failures are rare, and often result in little financial damage to the engine maker, but they are conspicuous. And while the travelling public - and investors - sought reassurance, R-R stayed silent for days after the incident.

But could the boffins of Derby really have handled the public relations battle any better? A company such as Rolls-Royce cannot allow itself to engage in uninformed speculation.

But while, in the first days after the incident, R-R didn't know much about the problem technically, it did know how many engineers were working on it, who and where they were, and so on.

To have said, essentially, "we're working on it and will report back" is accurate, but not good enough.

Source: Flight International