Posts Tagged ‘A380’

EngineAlliance GP7200 engine fails on Air France Airbus380

October 1, 2017

This time it wasn’t a Rolls Royce engine. It was an Engine Alliance (GE/Pratt & Whitney) GP7200 on an Air France Airbus A380-861 (registration F-HPJE).

Fortunately this was one engine on a 4-engine plane. Even two-engine planes (B777 for example) are supposed to be capable of making a controlled descent with just one engine, but losing one in four is a lot less chancy than one in two.


An Air France Airbus A380, operating flight AF66 from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France, to Los Angeles International Airport, California, USA, diverted to Goose Bay, Canada following an en route engine malfunction (Engine Alliance GP7200). 
The aircraft lost the no.4 engine inlet cowling. A decision was made to divert to Goose Bay where a safe landing was carried out on runway 26 at at 15:42 UTC. 
After landing, ARFF reporting damage to the leading edge of the wing above the no. 4 engine. Additionally, the no.4 engine cowling had disintegrated. 
Photos from the incident seem to show that the entire fan is missing from the engine. 

EngineAlliance is an American aircraft engine manufacturer based in East Hartford, Connecticut. The company is a 50/50 joint venture between GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, and Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies.

The GP7200 is a twin spool axial flow turbofan that delivers 70,000 pounds of thrust for the Airbus A380. The GP7200 is derived from two of the most successful wide body engine programs in aviation history—the PW4000 and GE90 families. The engine benefits from each programs’ latest proven technologies and incorporates lessons learned from more than 25 million flight hours of safe operation on both engines. The GP7200 entered service in 2008 with the world’s largest A380 fleet, Emirates. The first GP7200-powered A380 was delivered to Air France in 2009. 

No injuries, no fatalities.

The GP7200 competes with the Rolls Royce Trent 900 for the A380. It has always struck me that with only two suppliers available, this is a strange competition where neither can afford the other to fail. In fact the plane manufacturers and the airlines both need that neither fails. Markets don’t like monopoly situations. History shows that monopoly situations can lead to the death of a product or even a technology. It may take time but alternative technologies do appear.

As I wrote some 7 years ago:

Trent 900 vs. GP7200: Competitive pressures getting too hot? 

…… It follows that for the airlines and the airplane manufacturers that the market (in this case the number of A 380s) be split between the two suppliers such that:

  1. neither supplier gains a dominant market position such that it can dictate the engine price,
  2. each supplier has a large enough market share and sufficient earnings such that their continuation in the market is not jeopardised (for the sake of spares, service, development of new engines and, above all, to avoid a monopoly situation arising by the exit of one supplier).

If either engine supplier has an uncompetitive product – whether for price or for performance – the monopoly becomes inevitable and immediately jeopardises the continuation of the market itself. So if only one engine supplier was available, the A 380 itself becomes non-viable.


EASA eases safety inspections for A380’s Trent 900 engines

December 22, 2010

From the WSJ:


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images The damaged Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine and wing section from a Qantas Airways Airbus A380.

European aviation regulators on Tuesday substantially relaxed tight inspection rules covering Rolls-Royce Group PLC engines on Airbus A380 superjumbo jetliners, signaling that safety concerns about the planes are fading. The European Aviation Safety Agency, dropping emergency mandates to inspect Trent 900 engines after every 20 flights, moved to require repetitive inspections of most of the engines after 100 flights. The change is likely to reduce disruption of flight schedules, according to industry officials.

EASA’s move follows intensive inspections of Trent 900s on A380s operated by Qantas, Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Deutsche Lufthansa AG. In its latest directive, the agency said a review of manufacturing and inspection data convinced safety officials that many “lower risk” tubes are less prone to fracture and therefore don’t need such frequent checks.

Lifting the emergency directives so quickly, particularly after such a high-profile and dangerous event, indicates much of the fleet is unaffected by oil-system manufacturing defects.

To further assure the safety of Rolls-Royce-powered A380 jets, European regulators previously also ordered upgrades of Trent 900 electrical systems to prevent engine parts from turning dangerously fast, a condition that can lead to disintegration of spinning disks. Those enhancements already have been incorporated into the A380 fleet.

Problems caused by a manufacturing defect on an oil-supply tube have been blamed for the explosive failure of a relatively new Trent engine on the Qantas jet shortly after takeoff from Singapore. The fault has been found on the current fleet as well as at least one new plane slated for delivery to Qantas, according to industry officials. But on Tuesday, EASA for the first time specifically defined what it considers to be an acceptable minimum thickness for the walls of the tubes.

EASA’s decision also is good news for Qantas and the other carriers that fly A380s with Rolls-Royce engines because those airlines have been concerned about potential schedule disruptions and longer required layovers to accomplish the inspections.


Australian Transport Safety Bureau report: The Trent 900 engine blew out after the Qantas A380 took off from Singapore on Nov. 4.

It would seem that the initial failings of the Trent 900 have now been found and are being rectified. But it needs a few more months of operation before it can be said that all the “teething” problems of the Trent 900 have been identified and resolved. The costs for the fix – mainly to be borne by Rolls Royce – have still to be added up and will not be finally clear for a few more months.

EASA had also relaxed inspection requirements before the explosion on the Qantas A380 probably in response to representations by the engine manufacturer and /or the airlines. One hopes that their decision to relax inspections this time is not just in response to pressure.

A380 resumes flying but Qantas has another engine failure on a B747

November 27, 2010

As Qantas staged a major PR exercise to mark the return of its A380 fleet to service, another plane from Sydney, a 747, was grounded last night with engine failure.

The flight, QF1 from Sydney to London, was due to leave at 6.05pm – but passengers were pulled off the plane after a loud noise emanated from the engine while they were taxiing towards the runway. The flight was later cancelled.

Earlier, passengers watched as Qantas CEO Alan Joyce staged a media conference to assure the public the company was now “100 per cent confident” A380 planes were safe. But while passengers on the A380 flight to London got away on time, passengers on board flight QF1 to London via Bangkok were pulled off their flight because of an engine fault.

The passengers disembarked about 7pm and were given meal vouchers, while engineers examined the engine. But at 9pm they were told the flight was cancelled. It was expected to leave at 9am today.A passenger on the plane told The Sunday Telegraph he could hear the engine die. “We were on the tarmac and then the captain said there was a mechanical problem; he said there was an electrical fault and that every time they tried to start the engine up it cut out,” he said. “We sat for 45 minutes and then they took us off the plane.”

The captain of yesterday’s flight, David Evans, who was part of the cockpit crew onboard flight QF32, said as “a precaution” Qantas had decided to use “reduced thrust” on the engines for the initial flights.

Airbus vs. Boeing: or a tale of the marketing of delays and engine problems

November 26, 2010

For large, complex, expensive, high-technology products (airplanes, turbines, power plants or ships for example) it is usually not worth indulging in too much negative marketing based on a competitor’s technical difficulties. Early technical difficulties and “teething” problems are common and when a competitor has difficulties it usually leads to some feeling of satisfaction but it is tempered by the knowledge that one could easily suffer similar difficulties. So when GE experiences some problem with its gas turbines or Areva has delays in its nuclear plants there will never be an overt, negative marketing campaign by Siemens against GE or by Westinghouse against Areva.

File:Airbus A380.jpg

A380: image wikipedia

And this is the current situation between the Airbus A380 and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. The A380 had its share of delays and was over 2 years late in coming into service. Right now the troubles that Rolls Royce are having with their Trent 900 engines is not helping the A380 image. (There are only two engines available for the A380 but it is noteworthy that the General Electric / Pratt & Whitney Alliance which manufacture the GP7200 engine which competes with the Trent 900 are not indulging in any overt negative marketing). The “Rolls Royce effect” for Airbus is currently negative because of the Trent 900 issues but it is indirectly mitigated by the reports of delays in developing the Trent 1000 which is one of the engines for Boeing’s 787.

File:Boeing 787first flight.jpg

B787 First flight: image Wikipedia

As Airbus fights to get airlines to accept the A380 their “best friend” strangely is the delays to the B787 Dreamliner program. The Dreamliner has been further delayed by an electrical system fault which caused a fire on a test flight in early November. For an airline the decision of choosing between Boeing and Airbus has become not one of comparing the advantages each has to offer but instead one of judging the risk exposure that a choice may bring. It becomes a comparison of potential “downsides” and risk mitigation possibilities rather than selecting between potential “upsides”.

For Airbus and Boeing, their sales processes now have to emphasise the risk mitigation available with their products rather than promoting all the advantages their products have to offer. This is unusual for a “sales process” but nothing new in the history of marketing of technologically new products. But it is not so easy for corporations, their salesmen and for sales processes to shift from promoting advantages to the much more difficult task of showing that the risks (whether of delay or of technical difficulties) they pose are less than that of the competitor. Even in terms of financing, the usual offers of financing and leasing packages for the customer must now additionally address the mitigation of financial and consequential exposures in the event that a risk materialises. When a single A380 costs around $320 million, a Boeing 747-400 about $250 million and a Dreamliner has a price tag of $150 -200 million, then downtime and delays have enormous financial consequences for the customer. Marketing strategy for new products in the face of heightened risk perceptions is quite different to the marketing of “tried and tested” products. But this is a fascinating marketing challenge!

The latest reports of delays to the Dreamliner has led to harsh words about Boeing from a potential customer. CityAM reports:

QATAR Airways has threatened to hand extra business to European aircraft giant Airbus after attacking Boeing over problems with its new 787 Dreamliner. Chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the airline was considering increasing its order for five Airbus A380 super-jumbo planes and might order a re-engined version of the A320 single-aisle jetliner. He did not say how many more A380s it might order.

Qatar has expanded its fleet from four to 94 aircraft in 13 years and has orders for 200 more from Airbus and its US rival Boeing worth $40bn, including 30 Dreamliners. Al Baker said Boeing had “failed” in developing its 787 Dreamliner, which is expected to suffer further delays following a fire on a test flight.

Boeing’s development of the carbon-composite 787 is running around three years late and brokers expect a further delay as it addresses the cause of a fire which led to the test flight being grounded two weeks ago.

But I would expect that there is a strong element of price negotiation in Qatar Airways’ statement!

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