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Germany

Rolls-Royce engines undergo scrutiny after airline emergencies

Two scares involving jet engines made by Rolls Royce, which European officials months ago said may pose problems, have airlines rechecking their fleets. The inspections were advised by the British engine manufacturer.

An airbus A380

Lufthansa wanted more time to inspect the plane's engine

A Qantas Airways plane made an emergency landing in Singapore on Friday, less two days after another of the Australian carrier's jets had to land prematurely due to engine failure.

The Boeing 747-400 aircraft, with 412 people on board headed to Sydney, returned to the airport 20 minutes after takeoff in a move Qantas' head Alan Joyce said was a "mechanical failure of the engine."

"There was smoke and sparks coming from the engine, so the pilot followed procedure and landed safely in Singapore," he said, adding that the pair of incidents involving Qantas' planes was a coincidence - not sabotage.

Taking a closer look

Parts of a Qantas plane

Parts of a Qantas plane were found in Indonesia

Like a number of other airlines, Germany's Lufthansa rechecked its A380 planes and after a Qantas A380 made an emergency landing on Thursday after a Rolls-Royce engine appeared to break apart in flight.

Lufthansa pulled one of its Airbus-made A380s, the world's largest passenger plane, from a Frankfurt-Johannesburg flight because the airline had not had enough time to examine the engines prior to take off.

Rolls Royce has not commented on the engines' possible role in the airline incidents nor to Qantas claims that a problem in engine design may have been to blame. Joyce ascribed the A380 engine blowout to a material failure, not substandard maintenance procedures.

Red flags

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) told airlines in August to conduct additional checks on the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 after finding "wear, beyond engine manual limits" on certain parts, an EASA spokesman said.

The incidents could provide Rolls' rivals GE and the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp with a chance to grab market share from the No. 2 engine-maker.

"Things move slowly in the engine business, but there is no question that you have a series of events that really put Rolls-Royce's reputation at risk," Richard Aboulafia, vice-president at aviation consultancy Teal Group, told Reuters news agency.

Author: Sarah Harman (dpa, Reuters)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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