The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on June 27 released the final report of its investigation into an uncontained engine failure aboard a Qantas Airbus A380 in November 2010 just after departure from Singapore.
The ATSB confirmed that a fatigue crack in an oil feed pipe was the first link in a chain of events on the flight, but earlier there were missed opportunities to detect a manufacturing defect. One of those missed opportunities was the use of manufacturing drawings, rather than design definition drawings, during the inspection process that caused the inspector not to notice that the oil pipe did not conform. Another was that the high-pressure (HP) spool of a Rolls-Royce Trent engine could recover from a power surge. Previous experience made users and inspectors believe the opposite was true. The recovery of the original HP spool proved that its failure created enough energy to cause the intermediate-pressure turbine disk to over-accelerate and finally burst through the engine casing.
The ATSB urged certification authorities to use modeling to revise estimates of the damage such a failure can cause. The ATSB also said it is satisfied with the remedial action taken by Rolls-Royce, Airbus and EASA.
In a recent speech, Capt. Richard de Crespigny, pilot of the Qantas A380 that November day, emphasized that the key to landing the aircraft safely back at Singapore was to “reverse the logic” of the problem. That meant considering the aircraft could fly on three engines, with two-and-a-half hours of endurance, rather than seeing it as a failed turbofan and an aircraft leaking fuel.