Posts Tagged ‘Trent 900 failure risk’

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

November 14, 2010

Another new twist to the Rolls Royce Trent story.

First it appears that the regulators (EASA) relaxed their original inspection requirements in their Directive of August. It is not clear if this relaxation was in response to the airlines or to the engine maker requesting a change.

Now it seems that Rolls Royce may well have known (perhaps a year ago) that a number of their engines on “older” A 380s were susceptible to oil leaks and therefore to the potentially catastrophic consequences of a fire. About 40 engines on the Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa A 380s have to be changed out.  The newer engines have undergone two modifications compared to the older engines. It seems that Rolls Royce started modifying oil systems on some engines almost a year ago.

If Rolls Royce knew about the risk to the Trent 900 before the flight of Qantas QF32 on November 4th, there is an ethical dimension which needs to be considered.

According to the Herald Sun,

Fourteen of the 24 Trent 900 engines fitted to the six A380s Qantas has grounded are suspected of having an oil leak problem. Another 24 “faulty” engines are on Singapore Airlines jets. The airline has grounded three A380s. Two have been found by the German carrier, which has suffered two Trent incidents.

Revised versions of the engine are being rushed to Qantas.

Sir John Rose, chairman of the British engine maker, issued a statement late on Friday in which he admitted a “specific component in the turbine area of the engine caused an oil fire”, which led to a turbine disc hurtling out. He offered “regret” for causing “disruption”. But he failed to reveal when Rolls-Royce discovered the turbines of the Trent 900 were being exposed to the dangerous oil leaks and the dates of the two upgrades.

Qantas, Singapore Airlines and German carrier Lufthansa installed the original-spec engines on some of their jets. It is understood Qantas has begun record checks to see whether Rolls kept its engineers informed of the design changes to the $25 million engines.

An aircraft mechanic with one of the three airlines claimed Rolls-Royce began modifying the oil lubrication system on the Trent 900 engine in the second half of last year.


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