Qantas grounds A380s 72 more hours after discovering oil leaks

USA TODAY

Qantas has grounded its six Airbus A380s for at least 72 more hours, following a discovery of oil leaks in three engines, says a report by the Associated Press Monday.

Engineers from the Australian carrier conducted tests on the double-decker jets after an engine burst on a flight last week over Indonesia’s Batam island. The Sydney-bound flight returned and made an emergency landing in Singapore. No one was hurt.

Eight hours of checks over the weekend revealed oil leaks in the turbine area of three engines – made by Rolls-Royce – on three different A380s, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said Monday in a press conference. “The oil leaks were beyond normal tolerances. So Rolls-Royce and our engineers have looked at what we have gathered as an accepted level and they have passed that threshold,” he said.

The engines that showed the leaks were new and have been removed from the planes for further testing.

Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, the other airlines that fly A380s fitted with Rolls-Royce’s Trent 900 engines, also briefly grounded their planes last week but resumed services after completing checks, the AP says.

Investigators are still looking for a missing piece of turbine from the Rolls-Royce engine. And the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading an international investigation, appealed for help from residents of Batam island to find the missing chunk.

“The recovery of that disk could be crucial to a full understanding of the nature of the engine failure, and may have implications for the prevention of future similar occurrences,” the bureau said.

Joyce said it was still too early to say what the grounding would cost the airline. It has had to replace flights on routes from Australia to London and Los Angeles and put displaced passengers up in hotels, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Qantas has deployed additional flights in Los Angeles, where 500 passengers are stranded, the paper says. It also has assigned more flights in London, where 30 passengers were still looking to depart.

Joyce didn’t comment on whether Qantas would seek compensation from Rolls-Royce.

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