Two Airlines Ground Airbus A380s After Qantas Engine Explosion

After what Australian airline Qantas calls a “significant engine failure” during a flight from Singapore to Sydney, both it and Singapore Airlines have temporarily grounded their fleets of Airbus A380 jumbo jets.

The Qantas flight had just taken off from Changi Airport in Singapore when the front inner left engine reportedly exploded over the Indonesian island of Batam.

“I just heard this massive bang, like a shotgun going off,” one passenger told the media afterward. “Part of the skin had peeled off and you could see the foam underneath, pieces of broken wires sticking out.”

The plane landed safely back at Changi, where it was greeted by six fire engines. None of the 459 passengers on the plane were seriously injured, says Qantas, which has never had a fatal in-air accident.

Meanwhile, both Qantas and SIngapore Airlines have grounded their A380s pending safety checks recommended by both Airbus and Rolls-Royce, which makes the engines for the jets.

Two airlines ground A380s after emergency landing [Reuters]

Qantas grounds A380s after engine blast [The Australian]

Comments

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  1. seth_lerman says:

    A380, not A830

    • Alvis says:

      Wow, that’s embarrassing. Wonder if they’ll change the slug, too.

    • HoJu says:

      I spent the last couple minutes making sure I was right before I came to post the same thing… Turns out I was and there are a LOT of people that seem to be making the same mistake. Google it.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      But it’s bigger and newer than a 747 so logically it has bigger number.

  2. suburbancowboy says:

    Is there a single airline that Rainman can fly on now?

  3. APFPilot says:

    In-flight video of the wing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yK5SzV4OBF0

  4. Nitrogen says:

    A better way to run the story might be, “A Rolls-Royce jet engine on an Airbus A-380 exploded…

    As Rolls Royce makes the engines, not Airbus. It’s a fine point, but its a point lost on many people.

  5. jaydez860 says:

    Never had a fatal in-air accident? Is that because most airline fatalities happen when the plane hits the ground?

  6. Nighthawke says:

    Looks like an accessory seized up, probably the oil pump. The major damage is at the bottom where the support and accessory equipment is at, as well as the PTO gear to drive both the alternator and the oil pump.

    On the P&W JT9D engines, when a pump blows, the cowling buckles, but does not blow apart like this one did. What a mess.

    • AngryK9 says:

      Saw engine 2 on a boeing 727 blow once…nice little bit of a mess that was. Glad I was on the other side of the tarmac at the time.

  7. full.tang.halo says:

    The real question is did the airline provide replacement pants for all the passengers?

  8. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I always feel unsafe on an Airbus: On takeoff and landing, the vibration and shaking of overhead bins is distressing, to say the least.

    Give me a 747 anyday: solid as a rock, proven, and just plain elegant in its design. Like flying in my easy chair. I don’t even care that the basic design is the same one from the ’60s. They built awesome stuff back then… (SR-71, – THE most awesome plane, and designed with slide rules!, Apollo Spacecraft)

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      While I certainly like a lot of the 747s, which Airbuses do you not like? I’ve had plenty of comfortable flights on Airbuses, and given that I fly on average 50,000 miles a year I have a lot of experience across types of planes…

    • DanC922 says:

      To be fair, (and I do have a Boeing bias since my dad and brother work for them) the A380 is a very comfortable plane. I’ve flown several 15 hour flights on Qantas A380s as well as 747 and 777 and I think the A380 was probably more comfortable. Qantas’ incredible service has helped a lot though (the V(irgin) Australia 777 flight wasn’t great).

    • DanC922 says:

      To be fair, (and I do have a Boeing bias since my dad and brother work for them) the A380 is a very comfortable plane. I’ve flown several 15 hour flights on Qantas A380s as well as 747 and 777 and I think the A380 was probably more comfortable. Qantas’ incredible service has helped a lot though (the V(irgin) Australia 777 flight wasn’t great).

  9. Eyeheartpie says:

    A380, not A830.

  10. ArmyCats says:

    When will Boeing and Airbus implement something like a HUUUUGE parachute for planes?

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      The small Cirrus aircraft have a parachute system but are sold to buyers with more money than experience…. who have used the parachute as first resort not a last resort. AFAIK the parachutes have never been deployed in a real emergency. More experienced pilots would have been able to handle the situation without deployment and without the resulting injury to passengers and damage to the aircraft.

      The parachute system “…is designed to bring the aircraft and its occupants to the ground in the event of a life-threatening emergency. The system is intended to save the lives of the occupants but will most likely destroy the aircraft and may, in adverse circumstances, cause serious injury or death to the occupants”. – Cirrus handbook

      • Jay911 says:

        The parachutes on a Cirrus have been deployed in an emergency. There was one in British Columbia a few years ago.

        Then again, I guess if you do deploy the parachute, it will quickly become an emergency regardless if it was from the start or not……

        • DarksSideMoon says:

          I think they found though that in all but one of those situations if the pilot had followed standard procedure the plane (and its occupants) would’ve been fine.

  11. Robofish says:

    Qantas is a pretty sweet airline. Nothing but good experiences when I used them

  12. BigHeadEd says:

    I noticed from some of the news photos that the bits that rained down looked to be made from some type of carbon fiber honeycomb, which made me wonder if it is more brittle and less able to absorb the impact of parts flying off the engine compared to an aluminum enclosure?

    • plumbob says:

      The answer is no, it is different but not superior or inferior in terms of when it is designed to do.

  13. Spinfusor says:

    This is what happens when you fly in an Airbus plane.

  14. winnabago says:

    The front engine? As opposed to the rear one?

  15. Urgleglurk says:

    The same things happened to the Boeing 747 and the C-5A when they first went into service. Rolls-Royce may or may not be at fault – It will be more clear after the investigation of exactly what happened and why is completed.
    What bothers me is the fact that it was an uncontained failure. That tells me that they have a serious problem with the engine casing. A turbofan failure should stay contained inside the engine.
    Stay tuned…

    • Nighthawke says:

      The cowling damage makes it look worse than it is. Take a look at the accessory drive section under the intermediates. You got guts hanging out from under there where there should be pump hardware.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Don’t blame Rolls-Royce yet. It can just as easily be an improper maintenance issue.

  16. phillip says:

    Here’s a better image if anybody cares:
    http://imgur.com/RJx8P.jpg

    • Nighthawke says:

      Thanks. The belts around the final stages of the turbine are intact. No buckling of the cowling around the intake compressor or fan bypass. So the turbine itself is intact. You can see at the bottom the majority of the damage is in the accessory drive section, suggesting a major failure of a pump or PTO driven accessory such as the alternator. The engine’s design did exactly what it was supposed to do if a pump let go; the pump blows, sending pieces down and away from the engine and body of the aircraft. The cowling is a bit flimsy for something like that, it looks worse than it actually is.

      If this were a major failure of the turbine, half the engine would be missing, with pieces of turbine sticking out of various places on the aircraft from impalement.

      Rolls-Royce has a lot of explaining to do when you have a low hour engine like that blowing pumps off their mounts.

  17. ElizabethD says:

    Damn. I’d be gulping Xanax after that BANG.

  18. webweazel says:

    I heard this on the world news last night. They said (I don’t remember the details) that there was an ‘explosion on a plane, and they are investigating, but there didn’t seem to be any evidence of terrorist involvement.’ Okay. So I watched it, and lo and behold- an engine had a problem and blew up. Okay. So please tell me why the fuck did they have to play the TERRORIST CARD here? It was an ENGINE issue. One that could potentially happen when something breaks on an airplane engine? I was very angry about that stupid description.
    Yup, the terrorists have won if we have to keep knee-jerking to the terrorist card every single time something happens in this country, and we cannot collectively get our heads out of our terrorist-around-every-dark-corner asses and look at the actual picture in front of us.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      So please tell me why the fuck did they have to play the TERRORIST CARD here?

      Because they won. Look at the TSA. Look at all the fear-mongering. Every time the news says “It could be terrorists!” and people go “ZOMG,” the terrorists win. They’ve turned them into big scary monsters we’re all desperate to avoid. Every time someone gets scared of it or treats someone else like crap out of fear because they’re brown or whatever, they win.

      BTW, is your avatar the little bat from the Bugs Bunny vampire cartoon? That is my FAVORITE ONE. XD

      • webweazel says:

        “BTW, is your avatar the little bat from the Bugs Bunny vampire cartoon? That is my FAVORITE ONE. XD”

        You know, I never even thought of that. Yes, he does kinda look like the bat/vampire from that cartoon. That was a good one! I like bats, so I was looking around for a bat avatar in clipart, and thought he was cool.

  19. scoosdad says:

    “None of the 459 passengers on the plane were seriously injured, says Qantas”

    Huh, Consumerist? Neither report linked mentioned injuries at all. In fact, the Reuters report stated, “Authorities said none of the 459 people on board were hurt.”

  20. ywgflyer says:

    Sure looks like a turbine wheel threw a blade. As one guy said…the accessory gearbox is down there, too…but a seized pump would just shear the shaft off, not blow the entire engine. They’re designed to shear off before any damage to the gearbox occurs.

    I’m going with a thrown blade, probably from one of the HP compressor wheels (N2).

    Possibly the most alarming thing about the whole incident is that it affected the wiring to the #1 engine, to the point where it couldn’t be shut down by any method outside of spraying water in it until it flamed out. That’s quite unheard of. It could just as easily have damaged hydraulic lines, structural members, or any other unfortunately located parts. The design is supposed to take this into account.