Engine disintegrates on Air France A380 transatlantic flight | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 02.10.2017
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Business

Engine disintegrates on Air France A380 transatlantic flight

A flight from Paris to Los Angeles was forced into an emergency landing in Canada after one of the engines sustained "serious damage." It's the second time this kind of incident has occurred on an Airbus A380.

The share prices of Air France and Airbus have recovered after dipping following the news of an engine of an Airbus A380 disintegrating over the Atlantic on a flight from Paris to Los Angeles.

The plane was forced to land in Newfoundland, Canada, after the far engine on the right-hand side of the world's largest commercial passenger jet reportedly exploded.

The plane was carrying 520 passengers and no one was hurt, Air France confirmed.

"The aircraft landed safely at 16:42 (CET), and the regularly trained pilots and cabin crew handled this serious incident perfectly," Air France said in a statement.

It is thought the incident was caused by damage to the 'fan disc' inside the engine, which according to aviation expert Heinrich Großbongardt, could have been present before the plane left Paris, and should have been detected during routine checks.

"The most likely scenario is the so-called 'fan disc' - a massive piece of metal - developed some sort of crack, which led to the disintegration of the entire disc and the loss of all fan blades," Großbongardt told DW.

"The force on every blade is huge so the disintegration of this piece of metal would have been very fast.

"In general, the cause of such a crack is fatigue. It should not happen so probably there was a fault in the material which remained undetected, or there was an initial crack which was undetected in the maintence work. This kind of crack would usually be detected in the routine analysis of an engine."

Since launching in 2007, the A380 was involved in a similar incident in 2010. Großbongardt, the former press speaker for Boeing and Cessna, explained that this incident involved a different engine and airline, hence the lack of concern in the markets.

"We have seen something somewhat similar seven years ago with the Qantas A380 in Singapore," Großbongardt said.

"There was an uncontained engine failure as a compressor disc inside the engine disintegrated, damaging hydraulic pipes and electrical systems. This was a close call which could have led to disaster. However, this was a Rolls Royce engine, whereas Air France uses Engine Alliance, a joint venture between General Electric and Pratt & Whitney," he went on

"This won't have an impact on Airbus or Air France's reputations. The engine is the business of the engine manufacturer."

Passengers reported a sudden loud bang several hours into the flight from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to Los Angeles International Airport. 

"I was doing some yoga stretches and suddenly it felt like we had run into a jeep in the middle of 35,000 feet high," passenger Pamela Adams told Canadian broadcaster CBC News. "It did not sound like an explosion as much as it sounded like an engine malfunction."

Adams said she was "jostled" and the plane dipped slightly "but the pilots recovered beautifully."

A team of investigators have arrived in Canada to assess the damage to the engine and confirm the cause of the incident.

mds (Reuters/dpa)

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