Rolls-Royce faces legal action over engine failure

Qantas laid the groundwork yesterday for legal action against Rolls-Royce in the absence of a compensation deal after the engine explosion that grounded the airline's fleet of superjumbos last month.

The two companies are already in talks about the Trent 900 engine failure in early November that forced Qantas flight QF32 into an emergency landing in Singapore after shrapnel from the engine tore into the wing of the A380 passenger jet.

Two of the six Airbus A380s operated by Qantas are now back in service, but the airline's costs are estimated to be more than A$100m (£62m) already, even without taking reputational damage into account.

Qantas filed a statement of claim with the Federal Court of Australia yesterday allowing legal action against Rolls-Royce under the Trade Practices Act "if a commercial settlement is not possible" between the two parties.

"Today's action allows Qantas to keep all options available to the company to recover losses, as a result of the grounding of the A380 fleet and the operational constraints currently imposed on A380 services," the carrier said.

Rolls-Royce declined to comment on the move yesterday, although it is understood that the company is expecting a deal over costs. Last month's interim management statement warned of underlying profit growth for the full year "slightly lower than previously guided" because of the impact of the QF32 problems.

Meanwhile the two companies are still working closely on the inspection programme to establish the safety of all Trent 900 A380 engines in the Qantas fleet.

Under an "airworthiness directive" issues by the European Aviation Safety Agency in the aftermath of the explosion, the Trent 900s must be reviewed every 20 flying cycles. Qantas said yesterday it is instituting a further one-off inspection routine in line with the latest recommendations from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

The ATSB alert followed detailed investigations of the QF32 engine, which revealed uneven boring in an oil tube. The weak tube wall cracked, allowing oil to escape and catch fire, causing the engine to explode.



In response to the ATSB recommendation, a spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: "The safety recommendation of the ATSB is consistent with what we have said before. We have instituted a regime of inspection, maintenance and removal which has assured safe operation. This programme has been agreed in collaboration with Airbus, our airline customers and the regulators."

Qantas's threat of court action reignites censure over Rolls-Royce's handling of the affair. In the aftermath of the explosion, critics said the company's chief executive, Sir John Rose, was not doing enough to reassure investors and the travelling public.

Howard Wheeldon, the senior strategist at BGC Partners, said yesterday that even with little lasting damage to Rolls-Royce's order book, the "minimal level of communication" from the company is no "easier to swallow". The lack of response to Qantas's latest move is also "a huge disappointment" to investors, Mr Wheeldon said.

There are 20 Trent 900-powered A380s in service, run by Qantas, Lufthansa and Singapore. Another 17 A380s flown by Air France and Emirates use different engines, made by GE and Pratt & Whitney.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent