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Europe

EU safety regulator orders A380 engine inspection

The European Union’s air safety regulator has issued an emergency order to inspect all Superjumbo A380 passenger jet engines after a Rolls-Royce turbine blew up on a Qantas flight last week.

Lufthansa Airbus A380 Superjumbo in flight

Air safety concerns behind A380 inspection order

The order by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) confirms earlier indications from investigators that they suspect a turbine disc on Rolls-Royce engines was the cause of an explosion on the Qantas Airbus A380 jet.

"This condition, if not detected, could ultimately result in uncontained engine failure, potentially leading to damage to the airplane and hazards to persons or property on the ground," EASA said in its emergency directive.

Qantas, an Australian airline, said this week that it had found small oil leaks in Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines on three of its other Airbus A380s during tests it ran after the November 4 incident over Indonesia.

A chunk of metal was retrieved from the Qantas engine after it exploded

Investigators are still pondering the cause of the explosion

Qantas said on Thursday that it was keeping its six A380 Superjumbos grounded until further checks were completed.

Singapore Airlines also said on Thursday that it was inspecting its A380 engines after EASA issued the warning.

"We are inspecting our wider fleet in accordance with the directives set out by EASA and the recommendations from Rolls-Royce," the airline said in a statement.

Singapore, the first to fly the world's largest passenger jet, operates 11 A380s.

German carrier, Lufthansa, the other airline using the Rolls-Royce engine type, said its planes were all flying after safety checks were completed. It said one engine was replaced as a precaution.

Airlines, however, are worried about the financial impact of grounding planes and changing schedules. Aviation experts said the European directive involved a major safety inspection which would likely disrupt flight schedules.

Author: Gregg Benzow (AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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