Qantas finds A380 engine faults
Airliner will fly its fleet of A380s only when confident that 'slight anomalies' found on the engines are fixed.
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2010 07:40 GMT

Qantas believes A380 engine failure was material or design issue [Reuters] 

Qantas, the Australian flagship carrier, has found 'slight anomalies' in three Airbus A380 engines. This has given way to fresh fears following two mid-air engine failures last week.

The airline announced on Monday that it will keep its fleet of the superjumbos grounded for at least another 72 hours for further checks.

"On three of the engines what we found is slight anomalies, oil where oil shouldn't be on the engines," Alan Joyce, Qantas Chief Executive, told ABC radio.

"We're just trying to check what the cause of that would be. These are new engines on new aircraft and they shouldn't have these issues at this stage, so it's given us indication of an area for us to focus into," Joyce said.

"We are keeping an open mind on it but we think it could have been a materials issue on the engine or a design issue on the engine."

The airline's shares lost as much as 4 percent on Monday amid investors' concern about damage to its reputation as one of the safest airlines in the world and the financial impact of grounding planes.

Jason Teh, portfolio manager at Investors Mutual, said that, "For all businesses it is imperative that safety is front of mind when running the business. Qantas has a pretty good track record and they probably get a lot of unwarranted attention."

A Qantas A380 engine broke apart in flight on Thursday, forcing the world's largest passenger plane to make an emergency landing in Singapore with 459 passengers and crew on board.

And on Friday, a Qantas Boeing 747, which was carrying the A380's captain, had to turn back to Singapore after another model of Rolls-Royce engine also failed in mid-air.

Profits vulnerable

The incidents have overshadowed Qantas's anniversary celebrations which started on Saturday.

According to analysts, the company's profit forecast could be affected if the airline's six A380 jets are grounded for more than a week. But Joyce said that he expects the issue to be resolved in "days not weeks".

"But we will take as long as it needs to in order that we are absolutely comfortable the aircraft is safe to fly."

The airline has chartered an aircraft from British Airways and may lease other planes to accommodate passengers booked on A380 flights.

Qantas will hold a news conference at 0500 GMT on Monday.

It has denied union claims that the problems have been caused by outsourcing of maintenance work to overseas companies.

Australian air safety investigators believe that the recovery of a broken engine disk may be crucial in understanding what caused the A380 engine failure.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued a statement and photograph of the broken disk and called on residents of Indonesia's Batam Island who may have found the parts of the disk among debris to return it to the police. 

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