The Qantas announcement a short while ago of a resumption of A380 services on the Los Angeles routes from January 16  comes with no surprises.

But what happens in relation to Qantas and Rolls-Royce in the aftermath of the near disaster on November 4 when one of its Trent 900 engines failed because of an issue Qantas knew nothing about is something different.

Qantas lost control of its excellence in engine care for its A380 flagship when it traded in-house investments in same for a power-by-the-hour deal with Rolls-Royce .

It had no idea that Rolls-Royce was making modular changes to the design which the engine maker, following  the November 4 incident,  variously claimed had:

  • No relationship to the failure of the engine on QF32 on November 4, but
  • Would eliminate the problem that caused the failure of said engine

These two parallel claims by Rolls-Royce need to be examined in more detail, and the findings shared with the travelling public and Qantas shareholders.

An answer is also needed as to why Rolls-Royce was making modular changes to engines that were being put on brand new A380s before it made those changes to existing engines, which were on  jets that were carrying thousands of people a day.

There needs to be a really forthright and detailed statement as to exactly what changes and why were being made.

Only then can those who might fly on Qantas A380s in the future, and in particular, across the Pacific, be confident that Qantas is not still in the dark about critical power plant issues on its largest airliner.

The question also remains, will Qantas continue to hand off its excellence in engineering and maintenance to other parties which, as the QF32 incident makes clear, may not tell it everything it needs to know.

There are some really good accountancy arguments in favor of divesting excellence in engineering and maintenance, and for that matter, pilot endorsement training, to third party providers.

But the QF32 experience puts Qantas on notice that when it loses control over its standards it risks losing everything.

In related news  a US jury this week found Rolls-Royce guilty of fraud over a failed maritime propulsion system that it had marketed to the Carnival Cruise group for its flagship the Queen Mary II .  The damages are expected to run into tens of millions of dollars, and Rolls-Royce has already settled other claims by cruise lines for $65 million.

The Qantas statement follows:


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