Rolls-Royce value falls by £1.2bn after jet accident

The turbulence is likely to be severe

Rolls-Royce, one of Britain's last remaining manufacturing giants, was facing tough questions over the safety of one of its jet engines last night amid suggestions a design flaw may have caused one to explode.

The company saw around £600m wiped off its share value yesterday, after a similar fall on Thursday, as it continued to investigate the possible problems with the Trent 900 engine, used in 20 of the 37 new Airbus superjumbos.

Two British investigators have been dispatched to help examine the emergency landing of the Airbus A380, which was heading to Sydney from London, because of the firm's involvement in the dramatic incident.

Debris was sprayed over the Indonesian island of Batam on Thursday, when one of the Qantas-owned plane's four engines blew up four minutes after take-off.

While the experts from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will take a special interest in Rolls-Royce's role in the failure, they are not expected to file a separate report to Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary.

Germany's Lufthansa chose to keep its fleet of the planes flying, while Singapore Airlines removed its A380s from service for less than 24 hours after carrying out safety checks.

Rolls-Royce was a big loser on the stock exchange, seeing the value of its shares fall by 3.5 per cent after Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce suggested that faulty engine design could be behind the explosion. Shares had already fallen by 5 per cent a day earlier.

"We believe this is probably most likely a material failure or some type of design issue," Mr Joyce said. "We don't believe this is related to maintenance in any way." He revealed the engines had been inspected by Rolls-Royce since they were installed.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) head of aviation safety, Ian Sangston, said "a number of abnormal engine indications" had appeared in the plane's second engine shortly after it took off.

Safety checks on the airline's other five A380 planes kept them grounded last night. However, the ATSB said it thought they will be back in the air in days rather than weeks.

Rolls-Royce, which employs around 11,000 workers at its Derby manufacturing site, refused to expand on an initial statement, in which it said it would be "inappropriate to draw any conclusions" at what was a "very early stage" of the investigation.

The firm was dealt another blow yesterday when a second Qantas plane was forced to make an unscheduled landing because of an apparent problem with one of its engines.

The Boeing 747-400, fitted with four Rolls-Royce RB211-524G-T engines, headed back to Changi Airport in Singapore shortly after taking off. However, it began its flight successfully three hours later.

Last August, Europe's air safety watchdog warned airlines about abnormal wear inside the Trent 900 engines installed on the A380s. In January, it issued a further directive on the issue. Qantas said it was aware of the alert and had dealt with it.

"Airworthiness directives are there to try and improve the performance of...how the maintenance is taking place – it is not unusual," Mr Joyce said. "If it was unusual we would be signalling that." Another new Rolls-Royce engine, a Trent 1000, experienced an "uncontained failure" during testing over the summer.

Delivery of the engines for use in Boeing's Dreamliner was then delayed. Industry analysts said retaining the confidence of customers was crucial for the British firm. Air France and Emirates are already using A380s with engines built by the Engine Alliance, a United States-based joint venture between GE Aircraft Engines and Pratt & Whitney.

Both airlines chose to keep their planes in service following the engine failure on flight QF32.

The dramatic midair incident is also a blow to Airbus, as its A380 – the world's largest passenger airliner – had been heavily trumpeted as a major development in civil aviation. The double-decker design of the plane allows it to carry up to 850 people.

It also emerged yesterday that falling debris from the damaged A380 engine had struck homes on the island of Batam. A 6ft hole was ripped in the side of one property, but nobody was injured.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...

Guru Careers: FX Trader / Risk Manager

Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue