Ask the traveller: aircraft safety


We have seen concern over the A380 engines on Qantas. What about other airlines that have the same aircraft/engine combination? The travelling public need assurance that the aircraft we are flying in are safe.



Peter Hyde

It's 20 days since Qantas flight 32 from London to Sydney experienced what the airline called an "engine issue" shortly after take-off from Singapore. The plane was the biggest passenger jet in the world, the Airbus A380. All on board were safe, but the Australian airline grounded its fleet of six "Superjumbos", all of them fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.

Initially it was thought the planes would be flying again within days, but the A380 has been removed from Qantas schedules until next Saturday. Even then, it will be used only on routes to London, because of concerns about the performance of engines on the long trans-Pacific routes to and from Los Angeles.

What about the other airlines with the same planes and engines? Currently the largest operator of the A380 is Singapore Airlines, which uses the same Rolls-Royce engines. The carrier told us that "Three A380s have returned to Singapore for a precautionary engine change. The engine change only involves one engine per aircraft. While checks are ongoing, flight schedules are unchanged. To minimise disruptions to passengers, Singapore Airlines is deploying Boeing 747-400s and Boeing 777s where necessary, in place of the A380 on certain flights to/from Sydney and Melbourne."

Lufthansa has three Rolls-Royce-powered A380 aircraft operating out of its Frankfurt hub to Tokyo, Beijing and Johannesburg. The airline says: "Following a recommendation from Rolls-Royce that airlines operating the Trent 900 engines carry out additional engine checks, Lufthansa has been running these checks during the existing, planned ground times in Frankfurt."

The only other A380 operators are Emirates and Air France. Their planes have different engines and have been operating normally.

Passengers who booked to fly on the new jet, but find themselves placed on another aircraft type have no rights. All airlines reserve the right to substitute a different aircraft or hand you over to another airline.

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