Qantas’s fleet of A380 superjumbos could be on the ground much longer than was first thought as the aircraft undergo safety checks following last week’s mid-air emergency. Investigators have discovered the emergency was caused by an engine fault after a specific component failed in the turbine area of the engine. This caused an oil fire which led to the release of the intermediate pressure turbine disc.
Engine makers Rolls Royce has said it will fix this relatively minor problem, allowing all A380s back in the air evenrtually, and apologised for the disruption. However, other airlines flying the A380 – although not with Rolls-Royce engines – are concerned that they may become victims of any bad press surrounding the Airbus superjumbo.
“We really don’t want this aircraft tarnished with a reputation for failures in certain areas," said Emirates’ president Tim Clark.
Qantas has released a new international schedule for coming weeks that does not include A380s. Airbus A330s will replace Boeing 747s on the Sydney-Tokyo and Sydney-Hong Kong routes, allowing the 747s to take over from the A380s on long-haul routes to Los Angeles and London. The release of the schedule suggests Qantas is preparing for its A380s to be on the ground for some time. A Qantas spokeswoman said the airline would not return the A380s to service until "there is complete certainty that the fleet can operate safely".
Singapore Airlines, which took three Airbus A380 planes out of service on Wednesday, has not ruled out the possibility of grounding more of the superjumbos.