Rolls-Royce supports conclusions of report into Trent 900 incident on board Qantas flight QF32 in 2010

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Rolls-Royce supports the conclusions of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) report into the failure of a Trent 900 engine on board a Qantas Airways Airbus A380 on 4 November, 2010. Earlier today, the ATSB published its final report into the incident, which happened on a flight from Singapore to Sydney. 

Colin Smith, Director Engineering & Technology, Rolls-Royce said: "This was a serious and rare event which we very much regret. At Rolls-Royce we continually strive to meet the high standards of safety, quality and reliability that our customers and their passengers are entitled to expect. On this occasion we clearly fell short. The robustness of the Airbus A380 and the professionalism of the Qantas crew members assured that the aircraft and all its passengers landed safely.

"We support the ATSB's conclusions and, as the report notes, have already applied the lessons learned throughout our engineering, manufacturing and quality assurance procedures to prevent this type of event from happening again."

The incident was caused by a leak from an oil pipe on one of the aircraft's four engines. The oil pipe was one of a small number which had been incorrectly manufactured as a result of a measurement error during a precision drilling procedure. The oil leak led to a fire in the engine and the break-up of a turbine disc, fragments of which exited the engine and caused significant damage to the aircraft. (This is described in the industry as an uncontained disc failure).The aircraft returned to Singapore and landed safely. 

Following the incident, and in parallel with the ATSB's investigation, Rolls-Royce carried out its own detailed investigations to understand and address the chain of events which led to faulty oil pipes being released into service. A number of issues were identified and changes implemented to address them, including:

  • Modification of the engine software to prevent a turbine disc from bursting as a result of over-speeding following a similar failure.
  • Better quality assurance processes with supporting training.
  • Revised analysis of the likely effects on an engine in the event of a component failure.
  • Improved manufacturing and design procedures.

Uncontained disc failures are extremely uncommon. Before 4 November 2010, the last such failure on a Rolls-Royce large civil engine occurred in 1994 since when the fleet has accumulated more than 170 million engine flying hours.

  1. Rolls-Royce is a world-leading provider of power systems and services for use on land, at sea and in the air, and has established a strong position in global markets - civil aerospace, defence aerospace, marine and energy.
  2. As a result of this strategy, Rolls-Royce has a broad customer base comprising more than 300 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces, more than 4,000 marine customers, including 70 navies, and energy customers in more than 80 countries.
  3. Annual underlying revenue was £12.2 billion in 2012, of which more than half came from the provision of services. The firm and announced order book stood at £60.1 billion at 31 December 2012, providing visibility of future levels of activity.
  4. Rolls-Royce employs over 45,000 people in offices, manufacturing and service facilities in over 50 countries. Over 14,000 of these employees are engineers.
  5. In 2012, Rolls-Royce invested £919 million on research and development, two thirds of which had the objective of further improving the environmental performance of its products, in particular reducing emissions.
  6. Rolls-Royce supports a global network of 28 University Technology Centres, which connect the company's engineers with the forefront of scientific research.
  7. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills.

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