Missing turbine part key to A380 emergency probe

Qantas hopes to have its grounded fleet of A380s back in service within days.

Sydney: Investigators of last week`s engine explosion on a Qantas superjumbo focused their search on Sunday on a missing piece of turbine from the Rolls-Royce engine, and the airline said it hoped to have its grounded fleet of A380s back in service within days.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading an international investigation into the blowout on the world`s newest and largest airliner, 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 a photograph to media 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.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has blamed the blowout on a mechanical or design fault in the engine, not maintenance. Experts said the shattered turbine could indicate the failure point.

Qantas grounded its six double-decker A380s and began rigorous safety checks. Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, the other airlines that fly A380s fitted with Trent 900 engines, also briefly grounded their planes last week but resumed services after completing checks.

Joyce told reporters yesterday that each engine on its A380s would undergo eight hours of tests, and no plane would fly until all checks, being undertaken in Sydney and Los Angeles, were complete.

"We are hopeful that within days the A380 fleet will start flying again," he said.


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