Friday, December 03, 2010

Qantas Airbus A380 uncontained engine failure: ATSB preliminary report

by B. N. Sullivan

Airbus A380The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its preliminary report regarding its investigation of the November 4, 2010 uncontained failure of a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine on a Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft over Batam Island, Indonesia.  The aircraft (registration VH-OQA), operating as Qantas Flight QF32, was en route from Changi Airport, Singapore to Sydney with five flight crew, 24 cabin crew and 440 passengers on board.  No one on board was injured, but the aircraft sustained substantial damage.  Two people on the ground sustained minor injuries due to falling debris.

The abstract of the ATSB report provides this brief summary of what happened:
Following a normal takeoff, the crew retracted the landing gear and flaps.  The crew reported that, while maintaining 250 kts in the climb and passing 7,000 ft above mean sea level, they heard two almost coincident ‘loud bangs’, followed shortly after by indications of a failure of the No 2 engine.

The crew advised Singapore Air Traffic Control of the situation and were provided with radar vectors to a holding pattern.  The crew undertook a series of actions before returning the aircraft to land at Singapore.  There were no reported injuries to the crew or passengers on the aircraft.  There were reports of minor injuries to two persons on Batam Island, Indonesia.

A subsequent examination of the aircraft indicated that the No 2 engine had sustained an uncontained failure of the Intermediate Pressure (IP) turbine disc.  Sections of the liberated disc penetrated the left wing and the left wing-to-fuselage fairing, resulting in structural and systems damage to the aircraft.

As a result of this occurrence, a number of safety actions were immediately undertaken by Qantas, Airbus, Rolls-Royce plc and the European Aviation Safety Agency.  On 1 December 2010, the ATSB issued a safety recommendation to Rolls-Royce plc in respect of the Trent 900 series engine high pressure/intermediate pressure bearing structure oil feed stub pipes.  In addition, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority issued a Regulation 38 maintenance direction that addressed the immediate safety of flight concerns in respect of Qantas A380 operations with the Trent 900 series engine.  On 2 December 2010, Qantas advised that the requirements of Rolls-Royce plc Service Bulletin RB211 72 G595 would take place within the next 24 hours on engines in place on A380 aircraft currently in service, and before further flight on engines on aircraft not yet returned to service.
The ATSB report, which was issued today, is lengthy and detailed.  I will present some of the details of particular interest to crew members in the next two posts on Aircrew Buzz.  Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, here is the link to the landing page on the ATSB website where you can find links to the full text reports; photos; and safety recommendations pertaining to this accident: ATSB Investigation Number:AO-2010-089

[Photo Source]