Qantas 747 Lands With Engine Fault a Day After Airbus Blowout
By Anand Krishnamoorthy – Nov 5, 2010
A Qantas Airways Ltd. 747 jumbo jet made by Boeing Co. returned to Singapore after flames erupted from one of its engines, a day after an exploded turbine forced an Airbus SAS A380 operated by the Australian carrier to make an emergency landing there.
The four-engine 747, which departed Singapore as flight QF6 bound for Sydney at about 8 p.m. local time on Nov. 5, was being examined on the ground after landing, according to an official on the Qantas desk at Singapore’s Changi airport, who declined to be identified.
Passengers on the wide-body 747 said a problem developed soon after takeoff, with several reporting that flames were seen coming from one of the engines. The plane dumped fuel before landing two hours after its departure, they said.
“It was like the afterburner of a fighter jet,” said Andrew Jenkins, 43, a passenger who is based in London and was flying to Sydney for work. “The captain explained that the problem was contained. He shut the engine down and it didn’t look like anything beyond that.”
Anaita Talkhan, 40, another passenger on the plane who lives in Sydney, said flight attendants told everyone to get into emergency landing positions.
“There was a quick flash of light and I could hear ‘brace, brace, brace’ from one side and ‘head down, head down, head down,’ from the other,” she said. “After that the captain came on line and asked everyone to stay calm. He said an engine had overheated and we have three perfectly good ones otherwise.”
An airline spokeswoman in Singapore said the captain of the 747, carrying 412 passengers and 19 crew, had sought priority clearance to return to Changi as a precautionary measure.
Jim Proulx, Boeing spokesman in Seattle, said the company doesn’t typically comment on operational issues, and referred calls to Qantas.
A380 Engine Failure
It was the second incident for Qantas in two days. Qantas A380 jetliner carrying 466 people had to make an emergency landing in Singapore on Nov. 4 following a blowout to one of its Rolls-Royce Group Plc Trent 900 engines.
Some of the Australian airline’s 747s are powered by Rolls- Royce RB211 turbines that were upgraded with Trent technology, said Nick Cunningham, an analyst at Agency Partners LLP in London who has covered the aviation industry for 25 years.
A Rolls spokesman at the company’s civil aerospace business in Derby, England, said he couldn’t immediately comment.
The engine involved in the Nov. 4 A380 incident had what appeared to be an “uncontained failure,” where pieces of debris were flung out at high speed, piercing the casing, or nacelle, Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said yesterday.
There’s no suggestion of foul play in that explosion, said Ian Sangston, general manager of aviation safety investigations at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
“Engine shutdowns do happen,” said Hans Weber, CEO of Tecop International. “Except for uncontained failures, engine shutdowns don’t normally get any attention. Airplanes are all certificated to be able to fly with one engine out.”
Passengers on the grounded 747 said they’ll think twice about flying with Qantas again.
“We all panicked,” said Jeremy Lee, who was heading to Queenstown, New Zealand, on vacation. “I could smell fumes and there was some shouting and noise. Qantas hasn’t said when we’ll fly again, but I’m tired of this. I won’t fly with them and I’m asking for a refund. I am only 35 and I have a long way to go.”
To contact the reporter on this story: anandk
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow
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