Posts Tagged ‘Airbus A380’

Rolls Royce settles with Qantas for over $100 million

June 22, 2011

Qantas has reached a settlement with engine maker Rolls-Royce over last year’s mid-air disintegration of a the Trent 900 engine, which temporarily forced the grounding of its entire fleet of A380s. The terms of the agreement have not been revealed but will give Qantas a $100 million (A$95 million) boost in profits. For Rolls Royce the cost of the Qantas settlement is therefore likely to be somewhat greater and my guess would be in the region of $110 million.

My estimate made in November 2010 that Rolls Royce would face a hit of around $300 million for direct costs and in settlement costs seems to be not far off the mark. The cost to Rolls Royce of loss of future sales remains intangible and perhaps only temporary.

The Telegraph:

Alan Joyce, the Qantas chief executive, said the terms of the agreement are confidential, but said the settlement’s profit and loss impact would amount to a A$95m boost to the Australian airline’s bottom line.

Mr Joyce said the settlement marks an end to the legal proceedings Qantas launched against Rolls-Royce in the Federal Court of Australia in December.

In November, a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine on a Qantas A380 disintegrated shortly after takeoff from Singapore, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s interim report on the A380 incident said a manufacturing defect in an oil pipe deep within one of the engines led to an oil leak, which sparked a fire. The fire caused a disintegration of one of the engine’s giant turbine discs, sending pieces of it shooting through the plane’s wing and raining onto the ground below.

The engine explosion was the most significant safety issue an A380 had ever faced since it began passenger flights in 2007, and prompted intense scrutiny of Rolls-Royce engines. 

The settlement will help Qantas recover from the millions it lost following the incident. The airline was forced to temporarily ground its entire fleet of A380s for a series of inspections, and Joyce said the plane damaged by the explosion won’t return to service until February.

“Qantas and Rolls-Royce have had a long and successful commercial partnership spanning several decades,” the airline said in a statement. “Qantas looks forward to a continued strong relationship with Rolls-Royce on the basis of the settlement announced today.”

The compensation payment helped boost the airline’s expected underlying pretax profit for the year to June 30 to between A$500 million (£326m) and A$550 million (£359m), up from A$377 million (£246m) a year ago.

…… Qantas shares rose 0.8 per cent to AU$1.84 in afternoon trading.

This leaves Rolls Royce the task of settling with Airbus and some less costly settlements with Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.

My estimate is that it will take another 2 to 3 quarters for most of these costs to have worked their way through Rolls Royce’s accounts. However RR will have to bear an increased and continuing service cost regime for some time to come for the Trent 900.

The Trent 1000  for the Dreamliner is still a long way off from generating real revenues for Rolls Royce.

The wrecked engine after the plane landed in Singapore.

The wrecked Trent 900 engine after the Qantas plane landed in Singapore.Photo: AFP

It could be time to buy Rolls Royce again.

Rolls Royce profits down 76% as Trent 900 costs start to kick in

February 10, 2011

BBC reports:

Manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce has said the mid-air failure of one of its Trent 900 engines on a Qantas superjumbo had led to costs of £56m. The explosion in the engine forced an emergency landing of the A380 in November last year. The one-off cost contributed to annual pre-tax profits dropping 76% to £702m in 2010 from £2.96bn. Foreign exchange costs and interest rate and fuel hedging contracts also contributed to the profit fall.

But the Derby-based company said that underlying pre-tax profits – which strip out one-off costs – were up by 4% to £955m in 2010 and were a better indication of its performance.

Rolls Royce say that the may face further “modest costs” but this seems to be far too optimistic considering that all the engine servicing costs have yet to show up and all the various compensation claims from Qantas, Airbus, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airline will take some time to work their way through. Once all the claims are presented there is an even chance that some will need arbitration before settlement which will take some time.

Jorn Madslien also writes:

Investors will be scrutinising Rolls-Royce’s financial figures to try to find out how the recent engine failure that led to the grounding of six Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft affected the company. ……..

….. The long-term effects of the engine failure, for instance a potential fall in new orders over the months and years ahead, cannot be measured at this stage. Consequently, the final impact on the company’s bottom line is not yet known.

It does not seem as if Rolls Royce have made any provision for further costs which is a little worrying and I stay with my estimate of around $300 million as the total hit that Rolls will have to swallow for the Trent 900 for the A380 in addition to any impact on engine sales.

Judging from the delays the development cost of the Trent 1000 for the Dreamliner is also likely to be significantly more than budgeted or expected.

It will be at least 2012 before the full financial impact is known though some residual impacts will continue for many years.

The wrecked engine after QF32 landed in Singapore in Nov. 2010:Photo: AFP


Dreamliner delayed again and Qantas dramatics continue – now with B747 engines

January 19, 2011

Boeing has delayed the Dreamliner again — for the seventh time!

The Telegraph reports:

Boeing told investors on Tuesday that the 787 will now be delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airways in the third quarter of the year, rather than the first, after a fire on one of the test planes in November. All test flights were suspended for six weeks after the fire.

The 787, which seats 210 to 250 passengers and has a list price of $202m, promises to be the company’s greenest and most efficient airliner yet and uses advanced composite materials to achieve these savings. However, technical problems have pushed the aircraft behind schedule and it is now into its third year of delays. Boeing is under pressure to deliver the 787, which has become the company’s fastest-selling airliner.

Shinichiro Ito, the president of All Nippon, said last week the airline is having a “hard time” dealing with the delay. Boeing has secured 847 orders for the 787, which took its maiden flight in December 2009. Boeing insisted the latest setback will not have a “material impact” on its results, something investors appeared to agree with.

Meanwhile Qantas experiences further problems with its Rolls Royce engines . AFP reports on two Boeing 747 Qantas flights with engine problems:

A Qantas passenger jet bound for New York made an unscheduled stop in Fiji after it developed a problem with one of its engines, the Australian airline said Wednesday.

Qantas said flight QF107, a Boeing 747, carrying 375 passengers from Sydney to New York via Los Angeles, touched down in Nadi on Tuesday for repairs to a fuel valve supplying one of its engines…..

…… The hitch comes just days after another Qantas Boeing 747, QF11 to Los Angeles, experienced a contained engine failure on the runway of Sydney airport due to a turbine blade defect.

Media reports on that incident said that passengers heard “a loud bang” and saw black smoke pour from the affected engine, with the captain reportedly telling those on board that the engine had “cooked itself” over the plane’s intercom.

The “contained”  engine failure is the more serious issue. The Boeing 747 long-reach aircraft flown by Qantas uses  Rolls-Royce RB211-524G-T engines. The “T” at the end signifies that it includes some of the Trent modifications. The Trent 900 engines are used on the Airbus A380s while the Trent 1000 is  planned for the Boeing Dreamliner.

A Trent 1000 experienced an uncontained failure on the test-bed last year while the Trent 900 has had an uncontained failure and a number of other difficulties on the A380.

Related:

https://ktwop.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/rolls-royce-trent-1000-fix-is-defined/

https://ktwop.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/in-flight-failure-of-rb-211-524-engine/

https://ktwop.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/qantas-a-380-suffers-in-flight-rr-trent-900-engine-failure/

https://ktwop.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/trent-900-vs-gp7200-competitive-pressures-getting-too-hot/

https://ktwop.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/further-boeing-dreamliner-delays-and-rolls-royce-shares-feeling-the-heat/

Qantas A380 flights to LA to restart on 17th January

January 5, 2011

While Qantas had restarted flying its A380 aircraft with Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines on  27th November after the engine failure on 4th November, its flights to Los Angeles remained grounded since the engines had not been cleared for operating at the higher thrust levels necessary for reaching LA.

Reuters reports that flights to LA could now resume on 17th January:

Qantas said on Wednesday it hoped to resume normal A380 operations from January 17 but it would still need the go-ahead from Australia’s aviation regulator before flying the superjumbo aircraft on the lucrative route……. Qantas said on Wednesday it expected to have eight A380 aircraft in the air by early February, up from five currently. The airline is scheduled to take delivery of a new A380 aircraft in mid-January and another new aircraft by early February. A third A380 currently grounded in Sydney was also due to be operating by mid-January……. Analysts estimate damages to Qantas could reach $60 million, although forecasts vary. The LA route is one of Qantas’ most profitable.

For Rolls Royce, getting Qantas back to full operation is critical to bringing this chapter to a close and to limiting at least one part of the inevitable claims that will come. They will also face claims from Airbus who announced a few days ago that they would only deliver 18 A380’s during 2010 and would not reach their already reduced target of 20 planes. This delay is put down to the extra inspections caused by the fault in Rolls Royce engines. No doubt Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa will also have claims on Rolls Royce. I still estimate that the total costs to Rolls Royce will reach $300 million.

Qantas prepares for legal action against Rolls Royce

December 2, 2010

The Trent 900 fix is not going to be cheap for Rolls Royce. I am still maintaining my estimate that the total cost for the engine manufacturer will be in excess of $300 M.

The Wall Street Journal:

Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd. Thursday said it has taken measures that would allow litigation against Rolls-Royce Group PLC  if it fails to reach a commercial settlement over the recent failure of a Trent 900 engine powering one of its A380 super jumbos. Qantas confirmed in a statement it is in talks with Rolls Royce over the “financial and operational impacts” of the engine failure.

Also Thursday, the international carrier said it plans fresh inspections on the Trent 900 engines after Australian safety regulators said they have identified a possible manufacturing flaw.

Qantas was forced to ground its fleet of six A380s last month after an engine on board flight QF32 exploded above Batam Island, Indonesia shortly after the airplane took off from Singapore, en route to Australia on November 4. Two of the mega airliners have since returned to service.

The explosion has put U.K., Derby-based Rolls-Royce engines under the microscope as airlines around the world that operate the Airbus A380 run a raft of safety tests. Airbus is a division of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

A statement of claim has been filed by Qantas and an injunction by the Federal Court of Australia granted, ensuring the carrier can pursue legal action if settlement does not emerge, it said in a statement.

Australian safety investigators now believe the cause of the November mid-air drama may have been a manufacturing defect with an oil tube connection on some Trent 900 engines. That problem could cause oil leakage, cracking and possible engine failure from an oil fire, the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau said Thursday.

“The safety recommendation of the ATSB is consistent with what we have said before. We have instituted a regime of inspection, maintenance and removal which has assured safe operation. This programme has been agreed in collaboration with Airbus, our airline customers and the regulators,” a Rolls-Royce spokesman said.

Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and even Airbus (EADS) can have claims on Rolls Royce and all may well have to resort to legal action to reach settlements. Qantas and Airbus have the greatest potential claims. Whether Rolls Royce knew about defects in advance of the accident on QF32 will be a key issue to determine if the engines delivered by Rolls Royce were actually “fit for service”. If the engines were not “fit for service” it opens the door to an even greater levels of claims on Rolls Royce.

Qantas to fly one A380 again on Saturday, Rolls Royce may limit Trent 900 thrust

November 23, 2010

Qantas will have one A380 ready to fly again on Saturday 27th, 23 days after the engine explosion on QF32. Bloomberg reports:

Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce will be on the first flight, which will go to London from Sydney via Singapore, he said at a media briefing today. The carrier will conduct further inspections with Airbus, regulators and engine-maker Rolls-Royce Group Plc before resuming other routes, it said in a statement.

The carrier will have four 450-seat A380s in service before Dec. 25, including two new ones, Joyce said. The airline is also due to receive two superjumbos next year. Joyce said it is too early to estimate the cost of the disruption caused by grounding the A380s or to comment on whether the carrier will seek compensation.

The Financial Times reports that Rolls Royce are likely to restrict the operating regime of the Trent 900 by limiting the maximum thrust that can be used,

Reports in Australia said Rolls-Royce was about to impose new guidelines on users of its Trent 900 engines stipulating that they cannot be operated at above 70,000 pounds of thrust.

Downgrading thrust to 70,000 pounds would knock out Qantas’s A380 services from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles, a worrying development for the Australian airline that dominates the Pacific route.

“72,000 pounds of thrust is needed for the Pacific route,” a Qantas spokesman said. The airline would not comment on reports that at 70,000 pounds of thrust, Qantas A380s would be forced to fly to Los Angeles less than half full. It said the voluntary suspension on the Pacific route remains “until further operational experience is gained or possible additional changes are made to engines”.

“Pilots still have access to maximum certified thrust [of 72,000 pounds] if they require it during flight. It is not a manufacturer’s directive,” the company added.

What did Rolls Royce know and when?

November 20, 2010

Rolls Royce have been conspicuously silent but it is now emerging from the airlines that Rolls Royce knew something was amiss with the older versions of the Trent 900 long before the engine failure on QF32 on November 4th. The indications are that they had serious doubts about the unmodified engines by May this year – and perhaps even earlier.

I posted my assessments about this on November 14th and 15th.

Did Rolls Royce know about the risk for a Trent 900 failure before the Qantas accident?

Problem with Trent 900 was known before accident and raises ethical questions

From an AP report via Yahoo Finance

Rolls-Royce modified a problematic section on new models of its engine for the world’s largest jetliner months before one caught fire and blew apart over Indonesia, a Lufthansa spokesman said Thursday.

The chief executive of Qantas, meanwhile, said Rolls-Royce had made modifications to the Trent 900 engine without telling the airline or Airbus, which makes the A380 superjumbo.

The officials’ remarks were the strongest indication yet that Rolls-Royce had addressed a defect in new models of the engine while allowing Airbus A380 superjumbos to continue flying with unmodified older models.

Lufthansa’s first A380, delivered by Airbus on May 19, had three newer versions of the Trent 900 engine and one older version, airline spokesman Thomas Jachnow said.

“When we got our first aircraft it was curious that one was from an older one and three were totally new from the production line,” Jachnow said. “I think this is more or less the cusp where the old to new happened.”

The Daily Telegraph carries a similar story:

The two airlines said Rolls had not informed them about the changes to the Trent 900, although sources close to the industry played down the modifications as “continuous improvements” and said reports that the changes related to the part that caused the oil leak on the Qantas A380 were “plain wrong”.

Rolls shares fell 11½, or 2pc, to 592p.

Investors are wary that the incident could cost Rolls customers. It is understood there are 22 A380s – bought by Qatar Airways, Kingfisher, Etihad and Air Austral – which are yet to decide whether to use the Trent 900 or a rival made by GE and Pratt & Whitney.

According to Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive, up to 40 engines could be replaced. Mr Joyce also claimed that Rolls had already been changing the engine. “Rolls-Royce have gone and modified certain parts of this engine,” he stated. “If this was significant and was known to be significant, we would have liked to have known about that. We and Airbus weren’t aware of it. But it depends on what the purpose of modifications were for. It doesn’t look like it’s a significant modification, but it is a modification that has an impact on how the engines are performing.”

A Lufthansa spokesman said it had noticed differences in newer versions of the Trent 900 it had been sent.

In addition to all their technical and logistic issues, Rolls Royce now need to urgently address their loss of credibility and provide detailed answers to:

What did Rolls Royce know and when did they know it?


Trent 900: European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) relaxed earlier directive and reduced inspection frequency

November 13, 2010

Now that it seems that the main cause of the uncontained failure of the Trent 900 on Qantas Airbus QF32 has been diagnosed, and that a remedy is being implemented, attention is turning to the Regulators.

In September the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) for the Trent 900 based on an AD issued in August by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Since the incident EASA has now issued an Emergency AD regarding the inspection of wear within the Trent 900.

Yesterday  Joerg Handwerg, a spokesman for the pilots’ union for Lufthansa said that minor problems are routine for any jet engine, but it is possible that the issues were an indication that regulators did not adequately check the engine before approving it for commercial use. “When you see we have a problem with not just one of these engines but several then it points towards that we have a problem in the certification process,” Handwerg said.

Today Business Week (carrying an AP report) writes that “Air agency issued engine warning then eased checks”

Three months before a superjumbo jet engine blew apart and forced an emergency landing, European safety regulators had relaxed their inspection order for the same section of the engine implicated in the dangerous mishap. In January, the European Aviation Safety Agency required airlines to inspect for wear on the shaft that holds one of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine’s turbine discs. The more wear they found, the sooner future inspections would be required.

In August, after Rolls-Royce had inspected several engines, EASA revised its directive. Previously, airlines had to calculate how worn out the part was based on the worst spot. Under the revised directive they calculate the average wear over the entire part. And previously they had to assume the part was wearing out at a worst-case rate. The new rule allows them to calculate the wear rate on each engine. That meant less frequent inspections, which the revised directive said were “sufficient to prevent unacceptable wear.”

The implication here is that the airlines (or Rolls Royce) were finding the inspection regime onerous and EASA responded by rationalising the change to base the frequency of future inspections on “average” wear rather than the “worst case wear” observed. Inspections of course require skilled resources, cost money and increase the down-time of aircraft. It becomes essentially an issue of operational cost. EASA – like all regulators – has to walk the tightrope balancing between public safety interests and the airlines’ need to keep costs reasonable.

Business Week continues that EASA apparently avoided the use of the word “uncontained” in its AD whereas the FAA Directive was more sharply worded:

The European directives warned of the potential for “in-flight shut down, oil migration and oil fire.” The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration went further in adopting a version of the European directive in September, warning of an “uncontained failure of the engine, and damage to the airplane.” Some of the parts inside jet engines rotate faster than the speed of sound. Engines are designed so that even if part of one shatters, pieces of metal aren’t sent rocketing away from the engine. An “uncontained engine failure” with shrapnel-like engine pieces that can damage other parts of the plane is both rare and extremely dangerous.

That’s what happened Nov. 4. Investigators have said that leaking oil caused a fire in the engine of a Qantas A380 that heated metal parts and made the motor disintegrate over Indonesia last week before the jetliner returned safely to Singapore. Experts say the mishap damaged vital systems on the plane, which had been bound for Sydney.

The safety order wasn’t addressing the exact same problem that caused the Qantas engine to disintegrate, but is very similar and involved a turbine next to the one that broke apart, said Chuck Eastlake, a former professor of aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The decision to relax the EASA order was likely based on inspections that gave engineers confidence that the wear on parts that could cause an oil leak was predictable enough to allow more time to elapse, Eastlake said. In hindsight that appears not to have been the case, he said.

“That kind of stuff is always a judgment call based on experience,” Eastlake said. “It’s hard to specifically justify a decision like that because it isn’t a matter of plugging numbers into a calculator and out comes an answer.”

John Cox, an aviation safety consultant and former airline pilot, said it’s a question of balancing “what is reasonable to ask the airlines to do against safety. The problem is we had a catastrophic failure. It turned out that apparently at least one engine had substantial wear that inspections didn’t pick up,” he said in a telephone interview from London.

No one from EASA was available to talk about the directive late Friday.

The different communications strategies used by the players involved have varied greatly. Rolls Royce have said remarkably little and even their latest statement was baked into a Trading Report for investors. In such a report the objective is to reassure the audience so that share price holds up and doesn’t crash. The conclusions – in consequence – have to be tailored to these objectives.  In this case the focus was on showing that while there will be some costs, profits for the year will not be hit too hard. Investors – and not passengers – were clearly the audience for this Rolls Royce communication and that is of some concern.

The other players – the airlines, Airbus and the Regulators – have all issued communications according to their interests. In fact, the most detailed information about the accident has come from Airbus sources and not from Qantas or from Rolls Royce. But that is coincidental, since clearly Airbus is greatly concerned that the aircraft not be “unfairly” blamed.  Other manufacturers of parts for the Trent 900 have also been quick to point out that “they are not at fault”. Yesterday SKF and Volvo Aero who are both sub-suppliers to Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines rushed to point out that the components they supply were not involved.

But of course the relationship between the airlines and the manufacturers is a symbiotic one. Business Week goes on:

Qantas spokesman Tom Woodward said Qantas has complied with all safety orders. Rolls-Royce Group PLC said in an update to investors Friday that the Qantas engine incident last week was due to failure in a specific component that caused an engine fire and “the release of the intermediate pressure turbine disc.” The company will be replacing the relevant part “according to an agreed program” as inspections on the engine continue in association with aviation regulators, it said. The company did not provide details. The disc, a plate that holds the turbine blades that move air through the motor, broke apart in last week’s mishap. Lufthansa spokesman Thomas Jachnow said the German airline has been told “that Rolls-Royce will gradually replace a modular part of the engine on all Trent 900 engines.” He added that the “exact parts to be replaced haven’t been finalized yet.”

Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy told reporters in Sydney that new versions of the Trent 900 engine that powers the Airbus A380 superjumbo will not suffer from the oil leaks that appear to have caused the fire on the Qantas flight. He said Rolls-Royce was equipping Trent 900s with software that would shut down a motor with leaking oil before it was put at risk of disintegration. Airbus said it planned to take newer versions of the Trent engine off its A380 production line and ship them to Qantas so that the airline could change the engines on some of its superjumbos.

“We think the engines on the production line will be fine,” The Age newspaper of Melbourne, Australia, quoted Leahy as saying. “The new engines should not have that issue … in terms of this one part that seems to have had a problem with leaking oil.”

The Herald Sun of Melbourne reported that Leahy said Rolls-Royce had made changes to some versions of engine to prevent such problems before the Nov. 4 mishap, but Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon denied the report. He said Leahy was referring to changes to the engines being made in light of the mishap.

Leahy, when asked whether he was suggesting that Rolls-Royce knew about problems with the engines before the Qantas incident, said, “Absolutely not,” according to Dubon. Dubon would not comment on whether changes had been made before the Qantas engine disintegrated, or whether the software Leahy described would be installed on engines already in service, referring those questions to Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce and the EASA declined repeated requests to comment about Leahy’s remarks.

A mechanic who works for an airline that uses the engine told The Associated Press, however, that Rolls-Royce made modifications to the oil lubrication system on Trent 900s delivered starting in the second half of 2009. The mechanic spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the media. The Qantas flight whose engine blew apart came into service in 2007.

Before last week’s disintegration there were four malfunctions involving Trent 900 engines dating to 2008, three of which centered on the turbines or oil system. All the planes landed safely.

Two of the malfunctions led to EASA warnings, including the directive issued in January and revised in August.

There are three turbines in the Trent 900 engine. The EASA order said wear had been found on parts in the intermediate turbine that could cause an oil leak. The order warned that oil leaking from the intermediate turbine could cause a fire under the adjacent lower turbine, causing the disc in that turbine to fail. Instead, there was an oil fire in the Qantas plane, but it was the intermediate turbine disc that failed. The two turbines are just a few inches apart, said Eastlake, the former aerospace engineering professor.

London-based Rolls-Royce said in an update to investors Friday that the incident will cause full year profit growth “to be slightly lower than previously guided,” but it also said that the company’s other operations will help to offset any losses.

Shares in the company rose after the update — a signal that investors are happy to see a definitive statement after days of silence from the world’s second-biggest engine maker behind General Electric.

There is clearly a need for looking again at the role of Regulators and how they create the balance between “public concern” and the interests of the industry they regulate. This is not unlike the balance in the financial world that regulators and auditors have spectacularly failed to achieve in recent years. This failure has been perhaps the primary cause of the financial crisis.

I cannot help thinking also that when the number of players is limited (as with aircraft suppliers or engine manufacturers) that there is a point beyond which competitive pressure can become counter-productive.


Qantas preparing for summer schedules without their A 380 fleet?

November 11, 2010

It seems that Qantas are preparing their summer schedules allowing for a potentially long non-availability of their A380s.

SMH (Business Day) reports that signs have emerged (that) Qantas’ flagship A380 aircraft may be out of service over the summer holidays, with its new schedule for international flights in coming weeks not including the A380.

Fairfax media says the airline’s A330 aircraft have replaced Boeing 747s on several Asian routes, freeing up the Boeing 747s to fly on the long-haul routes to Los Angeles and London. Fairfax quoted aviation insiders as saying that the Qantas A380 fleet was likely to remain grounded for weeks with the engine problem likely to be taking quite some time.

Qantas says it still hopes the A380s will be cleared within days, but at this stage it can provide no update and it won’t return the A380s to service until it can guarantee absolute safety.

Aviation Week reveals that all the changes and inspections of the engines on the A380s are straining the operations of Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.

The decisions by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Lufthansa to replace Trent 900 engines on parts of their Airbus A380 fleets indicates continued uncertainty over what prompted the uncontained engine failure on a Qantas Airways A380 and is highlighting the operational strains when one of the mega-transports is not available.

But the upheaval in A380 operations – the first significant disruptions for the Airbus flagship since it entered service in 2007 – also is highlighting the challenges airlines face when having to replace an A380 in day-to-day operations. To mitigate the effects, Lufthansa, for instance, is rushing to make its engine change so it will not have to miss another flight.

One issue for Lufthansa is that the latest engine change will consume its last available spare Trent 900.

With three of its 12 A380s grounded for engine changes, an SIA spokesman acknowledges that there will be flight disruptions to passengers. All three aircraft are displaced from the airline’s home base, with one located in London and the other two at Sydney.

The Age also reports that Airlines are frustrated with Roll-Royce’s reluctance to communicate publicly. Even Emirates – which uses different engines on its A380 – said it was worried that passengers might be frightened off.

“We really don’t want this aircraft tarnished with a reputation for failures in certain areas,” said Emirates’ president Tim Clark. ”One thing we will not allow is a contagion effect.”

Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued for Trent 900

November 11, 2010

The European Aviation Safety Agency have released Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) 2010-0236-E requiring operators of Trent 900 engines to perform inspections of their engines.

The Directive is applicable to the following engine variants: RB211 Trent 900 series engines, variants RB211 Trent 970-84, RB211Trent 970B-84, RB211 Trent 972-84, RB211 Trent 972B-84, RB211 Trent977-84, RB211 Trent 977B-84 and RB211 Trent 980-84, all serialnumbers.These engines are known to be installed on, but not limited to, AirbusA380 series aeroplanes.

Reason: An uncontained engine failure has recently occurred on a Rolls-RoyceTrent 900 involving release of high energy debris and leading to damage to the aeroplane.Analysis of the preliminary elements from the incident investigation showsthat an oil fire in the HP/IP structure cavity may have caused the failure ofthe Intermediate Pressure Turbine (IPT) Disc.This condition, if not detected, could ultimately result in uncontained engine failure potentially leading to damage to the aeroplane and hazardsto persons or property on the ground.For the reasons described above and pending conclusion of the incidentinvestigation, this AD requires repetitive inspections of the Low PressureTurbine (LPT) stage 1 blades and case drain, HP/IP structure air buffercavity and oil service tubes in order to detect any abnormal oil leakage,and if any discrepancy is found, to prohibit further engine operation.The requirements of this AD are considered as interim action. If, as a result of the on-going incident investigation, a terminating action is later identified, further mandatory actions might be considered.

Required as indicated, unless accomplished previously:

(1) Within the compliance times indicated in Table 1 of this AD, accomplish the following actions in accordance with Rolls-RoyceNon Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) 72-AG590, Par 3. Accomplishment Instructions, 3.A or 3.B as applicable to the engine configuration:

(1.1) Carry out an extended ground idle run.

(1.2) Inspect the Low Pressure Turbine (LPT) stage 1 blades andcase drain.(1.3) Inspect the HP/IP structure air buffer cavity and oil service tubes.

(2) If any discrepancy is found during the inspections required by paragraph (1) of this AD, any further engine operation is prohibited. Within one day after the accomplishment of the inspection, report the findings to Rolls-Royce.

(3) Inspections accomplished in accordance with the content of NMSB72-AG590 before the effective date of this AD, are acceptable to comply with the initial inspections required by this AD.

(4) After the effective date of this AD, do not operate an engine on an aeroplane unless it has been inspected in accordance with the requirements of this AD.

The Aviation Herald points out that:

An oil fire possibly similiar to the Qantas Trent 972 led to an uncontained engine failure of a Trent 772 engine on Edelweiss’ Airbus A330-200 registration HB-IQZ near Miami, see Final Report: Edelweiss A330 at Miami on Oct 5th 2003, uncontained engine failure during departure. In their safety recommendations released in December 2006 following the conclusion of the investigation the NTSB wrote:

“Disassembly of the No. 1 engine revealed evidence of heat damage and distress in the HP/IP turbine bearing chamber consistent with the presence of an oil fire. Microstructure examination of the fracture surfaces on the IP turbine disk drive arm revealed damage consistent with a localized fire that caused the drive arm to eventually fail and separate, allowing the IP turbine disk to overspeed. The overspeed condition resulted in the liberation of all IP turbine disk blades through the IP turbine case, with some blades striking the airplane. Because thermal damage within the HP/IP turbine bearing chamber and associated hardware prevented identifying the exact cause of the fire based solely on the physical evidence from the No. 1 engine, the No. 2 engine was examined to help establish possible causes or contributors to the bearing chamber fire in the No. 1 engine.

A borescope inspection of the No. 2 engine revealed that the HP/IP turbine bearing chamber internal vent tube was obstructed with a black substance. An airflow check of the vent tube revealed that the air passage was not completely blocked. A nondestructive three-dimensional neutron tomography analysis revealed that the substance was not solid and was characterized by nodules of carbon deposits (also known as coke) with areas of voids. Although coke formations within oil tubes are not uncommon, the morphology, amount, and location of the carbon deposits found in the vent tube of the No. 2 engine were unusual and inconsistent with coke formation seen on other Trent engines or from other service experiences.”

The NTSB had concluded in April 2006 the probable cause of the Trent 772’s failure was:
“the coking (carbon build-up) in a vent tube which led to a fire and the subsequent liberation of the IP turbine blades. Contributing to the cause of the uncontained engine failure was the absence of measures to adequately monitor the in-service performance of a new engine/oil combination.”


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