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Rolls Royce in rapid firing line from both Australia and the USA




Rolls Royce Trent 1000 may have unwittingly incorporated
the design defects of the failed Airbus Rolls Royce Trent 900
 Australian airline Qantas claims that its engineers have discovered new problems with three Rolls-Royce engines on its new fleet of Airbus A380s that will keep the superjumbos grounded for a few more days, the airline's CEO said on Monday.  Quantas grounded its six double-decker A380s, the world's newest and largest airliner, after an engine burst minutes into a flight from Singapore to Sydney last week, scattering debris over Indonesia's Batam island. The plane made a safe emergency landing in Singapore.


Engineers conducted eight hours of extensive checks on each engine over the weekend.


“On three of the engines what we found are slight anomalies, oil where oil shouldn't be,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce speaking on ABC televsion said: .“We're trying to check what the cause of that could be. These are new engines on new aircraft and they shouldn't have these issues at this stage, so it's given us an indication of an area for us to focus on.” Joyce said the A380s will not fly until testing is complete and the airline is certain that the planes can fly safely, though that is expected to take days rather than weeks.
“Our top priority is making sure we have the continued safe operation of the aircraft,” Joyce said. “If this takes a bit longer, we'll take longer.”


Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, the other airlines that fly A380s fitted with Rolls-Royce's Trent 900 engines, also briefly grounded their planes last week but resumed services after completing checks.
The Qantas engineers are working with Rolls-Royce, who manufacture and maintain the engines, as well as Airbus.


Joyce said it still was not clear what caused the engine failure on flight QF32 last Thursday but believed it was not a maintenance issue.  “It could be a series of things. We think it could have could have been a materials issue or a design issue,” he said.  Investigators have concentrated  the search on a missing piece of turbine from the Rolls-Royce engine.  The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading an international investigation into the blowout on the A380, appealed for help from residents of Indonesia's Batam island to find the missing chunk of a turbine disc.

The island was scattered with debris last Thursday when one of the A380's four Trent 900 engines failed minutes into a flight to Sydney, with 466 people aboard. The engine was quickly shut down and the plane returned to Singapore and safely made an emergency landing.


“The recovery of that disk could be crucial to a full understanding of the nature of the engine failure, and may have implications for the prevention of future similar occurrences,” the bureau said in a statement.


It released details of a jagged and bent piece of turbine disc from the Trent 900 engine and asked that anyone who might have found a similar piece should hand it to police.


It said one piece of the shattered engine that had been found on Batam was being sent to Britain for examination by Rolls-Royce engineers, under the supervision of bureau investigators. Extra experts were being sent from Australia to Singapore to examine other debris.


Rolls-Royce Group PLC, has been heavily condemned in the media for leaving all the comment to the Quantas chief executive and seeming to take none of the flack directly for the engine blow out  but has said through a corporate spokesman the investigation is in its early stages and that it is too early to draw any conclusions. All this has come at a bad time for Rolls Royce as they watched more than a billion pounds sterling wiped off their share price. The UK Coalition government has also privately indicated that it would not financially bail out Rolls Royce.  


John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member was able to throw a little more light on matters. Golia, an expert on aircraft maintenance, said the photo showing the broken turbine disc indicates it was the disc that may have failed. The photo didn't show any signs of discolouration on the disc that would indicate overheating.  There are several reasons why a disc might fail, but they usually involve the metal used to make the disc or the manufacturing method, Goglia said. He cautioned that he was looking at one photo, which was not enough information to make a definitive judgment.

Julian Bray Aviation Expert comments: The embattled engine maker Rolls Royce has been served with legal papers by the USA rival engine maker Pratt & Whitney claiming that bits of the Rolls Royce Trent 900 and the newer 1000 are full of unlawfully copied engine parts, the design copyright of rival US Engine makers Pratt & Whitney. Lawsuits with P&W are nothing new they have been going on for over a decade but it does smack of opportunism that P&W should suddenly decide to file court papers; whilst one of the Rolls Royce engines concerned lies shattered following an uncontained blowout and grounded in Singapore plus several more engines are now said to be leaking oil...   It has also been suggested that a new Airbus deal with China for end assembly of Airbus jets, will hasten the end of complete Airbus wing assemblies in the UK on grounds of cost and logistics.    

Additional reporting CNS-Sapa-AP

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