Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What We Train For

I'm way too late to the party to comment much on the uncontained engine failure on Qantas flight 32 on November 5th, but I wanted to share with you the cabin PA the captain made during the incident. I'm always interested in what makes these sound frightening or reassuring, and I think this captain did a very good job of this minor detail of the emergency handling, as well as the major job of putting the airplane back on the ground efficiently. They had some hard decisions to make.

The issue that has forced the grounding of Qantas' entire fleet of A380, as you'll know if you've been following the story, is not so much an Airbus problem as a Rolls-Royce problem. The engine failed so spectacularly that Rolls Royce has recalled forty of its Trent 900 engines worldwide, and the incident airframe may be a write-off. Debris from the engine damaged the wing spar and it's not certain how that might be repaired or replaced in this new, composite aircraft. Christine Negroni drew my attention to and summarizes a power point presentation on the extent of the damage, blogged by Ben Sandilands.


Anonymous said...

It's not entirely correct that 40 engines are being recalled. Qantas have said that 40 engines may need to be recalled. That's quite different from RR saying that 40 engines will definately have to be recalled. Qantas have only changed three engines so far.
The root cause is a single component failure causing and oil leak which then turned into an oil fire which destroyed the turbine.

Anonymous said...

which to me reads like a major design flaw, especially given the very low age of the engines.
A flaw which I doubt can be fixed without a major redesign (and I don't mean replacing that single component with another one).

Grant (Falcon124) said...

There's an interview with one of the pilots of QF32 on Aero Society Channel plus we had a senior Qantas A380 Check Captain on our podcast to talk about what the crew would have experienced (Plane Crazy Down Under).

Qantas are determined to repair the aircraft and as of now they're flying A380s again from Sydney to London via Asia but not on the LAX to SYD/MEL routes as RR have put thrust restrictions on the engines that prevent them from taking off at LAX (they used to depart LAX at max structural weight - about 569 tonnes - and would take 1 minute at full thrust to get off the runway - wow! :)

Aviatrix said...

I just heard a rumour that the airframe was going to be scrapped--donated to a local museum. You know aviation and rumours!

Grant (Falcon124) said...

Like the QF1 747-400 that went off the end of the runway in Bangkok and was repaired (despite a very large repair bill :), I suspect that the board of directors & management do not want to be remembered for the first loss of a jet in Qantas' history.