That is a question that must be on the minds of more than a few air-travelling Aussies this morning.

Early reports have Rolls-Royce checking the engines in a manner neither admitting guilt nor pointing the blame elsewhere. The several stories are relating the facts of the investigation as almost routine, though the engine and wing were more than slightly damaged and the airplane in question had to make an emergency landing.

From half way around the world, but the home of engine maker Rolls-Royce, the BBC has the full story today –

The Australian airline Qantas has grounded its six-strong fleet of Airbus A380 airliners after one of the superjumbos made an emergency landing.

Qantas flight QF32 experienced engine trouble shortly after taking off from Singapore on its way to Sydney.

One of the engines exploded with a bang, a passenger told the BBC, and debris was found on an island below.

First, imagine this falling from the sky, and wanting to run, but not sure of what direction!

The fact that the piece fell on the ground is a great thing for the accident investigators, as they will find it much easier to work with most of the parts of the engine to study. It should also speed things along, since no recovery time will be needed to try to pick ocean pieces.

Singapore Airlines said its A380 flights would be delayed pending technical checks.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce said it was in the process of checking the 20 A380 planes currently in service – with Qantas, Singapore and Lufthansa – that use its Trent 900 engines.

The other 17 A380s in service – with Air France and Emirates – use another engine.

Those engines if found to be inherently unsafe after a period of time would be replaced with the engines in the other A380s. Since there are so many, it might be some time before, in such a circumstance, all the planes would return to service.

Here Wikipedia was helpful, with some statistics on the engine design, market share, and time in use.

Rolls-Royce Trent is the name given to a family of high bypass turbofan engines manufactured by Rolls-Royce. All are developments of the RB211 with thrust ratings of 53,000 to 95,000 lbf (240 to 420 kN). Versions of the Trent are in service on the Airbus A330, A340, A380 and Boeing 777, and variants are in development for the forthcoming 787 and A350 XWB. The Trent has also been adapted for marine and industrial applications.

The Trent has achieved significant commercial success, and has been selected as the launch engine for all three 787 variants, the A380 and A350. Its overall share of the markets in which it competes is around 40%. Sales of the Trent family of engines have made Rolls-Royce the second biggest supplier of large civil turbofans after General Electric.

Singapore Airlines is currently the largest operator of Trents with five variants in service or on order.

The article also tells of its different design, using three spools, which leads to more efficient operation, but also is obviously a more complex design.

The A380 can be fitted with two types of engines: A380-841, A380-842 and A380-843F with Rolls-Royce Trent 900, and the A380-861 and A380-863F with Engine Alliance GP7000 turbofans.


Qantas said flight QF32, with 433 passengers and 26 crew on board, experienced an "engine issue" over western Indonesia shortly after taking off from Singapore at about 1000 (0200 GMT).

When we got off and saw the engine itself and the back casing burnt off, that was pretty scary. I’m just happy to be alive and safe”

"It’s a significant engine failure," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said at a news conference.

"We do take our safety reputation and our safety standards unbelievably seriously. And we’re not going to take any risks with passenger safety – and as a precaution, we’re suspending the flights of the A380 aircraft until we’re comfortable that we understand the reasons for this."

No-one was injured during the incident, which ended at Singapore’s Changi airport.

Smoke billowed from the aircraft, which aviation experts say is capable of flying on two engines. One of the engines was blackened and its rear casing was missing.

A team of air crash investigators is being sent to Singapore from France, where Airbus is based, to assist in the investigation.

"I was on the plane right next to engine two, which exploded with a loud bang within the first 10-15 minutes of take-off," Lars Sandberg – a DJ who was travelling to Sydney to begin a music tour of Australia – told the BBC.

"I thought that something had fallen down in cargo underneath the plane, but the plane started shaking… I’m a little bit shaken up.

"The captain did a good job, though, in reassuring us, making announcements every few minutes."

The rather long and complete article states that this could not have come at a worse time for a few reasons, not the least of which is that China is contemplating a large order from Airbus.

Also, Qantas, which prides itself on the safety throughout its entire history (remember “ Rain Man "?) is very upset by the entire incident, and grounding a fleet of 6 planes, each which carries that number of passengers, is a great economic burden on the company.



A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. – P. J. O’Rourke

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