Qantas jet forced to divert to Dubai

Last Updated: Friday, November 4, 2011 - 13:28

Sydney: An engine fault forced a Qantas Airways A380 plane bound for London to divert to Dubai on Friday, exactly a year since a mid-air engine blowout prompted the Australian airline to ground its entire fleet of A380 superjumbos for nearly a month.

The Airbus aircraft had an "oil quantity defect" in one engine which was switched off according to standard procedure, a Qantas spokeswoman in Sydney said, adding Qantas engineers would investigate the problem.

The plane, with 258 people on board, including English actor, comedian and writer Stephen Fry, landed safely in Dubai.

"The two issues are completely unrelated. This is a one-off and we will look to get the aircraft back in the skies as soon as possible," spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said, referring to the latest incident and the engine explosion a year ago.

"Still stuck on Dubai tarmac. No one seems to know how long we`ll be here. Should`ve landed in London at 6:20. That won`t happen!" Fry told his 3.3 million followers on Twitter.

"Not a great week for Qantas," he added.

Each Qantas A380 is powered by four Rolls Royce engines. The carrier has 10 A380s in service and is due to take delivery of two more by year-end. It also has two more on order and deferred the delivery schedule for six others.

"We are aware that an A380 operated by Qantas diverted to Dubai as a precautionary measure. We are working with the airline to look into this matter," Airbus spokesman Sean Lee said in an e-mail to a news agency.

Airbus has sold 236 A380s. By the end of September this year, it had delivered 57. The four-engined double-decker airplanes sell for $375 million each at list prices.

A Rolls Royce spokesman said the company was aware of the incident and was working closely with Qantas to provide appropriate support and technical assistance.

A Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft suffered an engine explosion on November 04 last year, after it had taken off from Singapore for Sydney. It returned to Singapore and landed safely.

Qantas, which has one of the best safety records in the industry, blamed an oil fire for the blowout

In last year`s engine blowout, a turbine disc disintegrated and sent supersonic shards of metal through the aircraft`s wing, severing systems and narrowly missing the cabin. Investigations have pinpointed a suspected manufacturing fault in an oil pipe which could lead to oil leaks and ordered regular safety checks.

Rolls-Royce, which competes with a General Electric and Pratt & Whitney joint venture to power the A380, says it has solved the problem and replaced or upgraded engines.

Rolls Royce engines power the A380 fleet of Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and Lufthansa and China Southern.

Qantas resumed A380 services on November 27 after engine inspections concluded the airplane was safe to fly.

The latest incident follows a series of setbacks for Qantas, which is emerging from the grounding of its entire fleet over the weekend to gain the upper hand against trade unions in a long-running and costly labour dispute.

The weekend shutdown stranded almost 70,000 passengers but succeeded in forcing the government and the nation`s labour tribunal to intervene and ban all further strikes at Qantas.

Qantas shares were up 2.22 percent at AUD 1.61 near the close, in line with the broader market.

Bureau Report



First Published: Friday, November 4, 2011 - 13:28

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