John Lichfield: Rolls-Royce stands to lose more than Qantas if investigation finds fault

Share
Related Topics

The engine failure on the A380 superjumbo is a potentially serious blow to the European aircraft industry – and especially to the British engine-maker Rolls-Royce.

The incident is the third involving an A380 in the past 13 months and the second involving an aircraft with a Rolls-Royce engine. With scores of orders pending or still unconfirmed for the world's largest passenger plane, the outcome of the preliminary investigations could be commercially damaging.

The Airbus A380 can be bought with Rolls-Royce or Engine Alliance (Pratt and Whitney, General Electric and Safran) versions of its four engines. Both inflight incidents involving engines have been on Rolls-Royce-fitted aircraft.

Although the share prices of both Rolls-Royce and the Airbus parent company, EADS, dropped sharply after yesterday's incident, aviation experts in France said they thought the longer-term questions would mostly be asked of Rolls-Royce, rather than the Toulouse-based Airbus organisation.

One analyst pointed out that the giant aircraft had "performed perfectly" yesterday in making an emergency landing at Singapore with three engines. The A380 is designed to be able to fly with only two. "The plane-maker's work is not in question here," the analyst said. "It is Rolls-Royce that has to find some answers."

One of the four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines is believed to have suffered an explosion so violent that the rear part of the engine fell off. The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said: "This issue, an engine failure, has been one that we haven't seen before. So we are obviously taking it very seriously."

In September 2009, a Singapore Airlines A380 was forced to return to Paris after an engine malfunction. On 31 March this year, a Qantas A380 burst two tyres when it landed in Sydney.

The latest incident comes just as Airbus is in discussions to sell 100 smaller aircraft to China with a €3.5bn (£3.05) deal for 36 planes due to be finalised during a state visit to France by President Hu Jintao, which began yesterday.

Both Singapore Airlines, which has 11 Rolls-Royce-fitted A380s, and Qantas, which has six, grounded their aircraft for checks yesterday. Emirates has 13 A380 aircraft fitted with the alternative Engine Alliance engine, Air France has four and Lufthansa has three. All their planes continued to fly yesterday.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are among a number of carriers from 17 nations which have placed orders for the superjumbo. Airbus has received 234 orders and industry analysts have predicted an ultimate worldwide fleet of up to 800.

Despite design delays and higher than expected costs, the Airbus flagship aircraft has been a reasonable commercial and operating success since it entered service in 2007. The 37 A380s in service have flown 192,000 flying hours and made 21,400 commercial flights.

Airbus employs 57,000 people at 16 sites. Final assembly is at Toulouse (France), Hamburg (Germany), Seville (Spain) and Tianjin (China). Wings and other parts are made at Broughton in Flintshire (5,000 jobs) and Filton near Bristol (4,600 jobs).

The Airbus A380

* There are currently 37 Airbus A380 planes in operation.

* 20 of the A380s use the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. Six are operated by Qantas, eleven by Singapore Airlines and three by Lufthansa. The Qantas fleet has been grounded until further notice. Singapore says it will delay all A380 flights. Lufthansa says it will not ground flights.

* The other 17 A380s, flown by Air France (4) and Emirates (13), use another engine. They will not be grounded.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting startup disruptin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A promised 'women's museum' opens as a Jack the Ripper exhibit tonight, and I won't take it lying down

Becky Warnock
A protester wears a golden mask and Romanian flag during a demonstration in Bucharest against Gabriel Resources Rosia Montana gold and silver project  

Corporate vampires have tried to suck $4 billion out of Romania, and with TTIP the UK could be next

Kevin Smith
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen