air safety

Nov 12, 2012

Emirates A380s have two engine failures in two days … but

Last night's engine failure on an Emirates A380

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Last night’s engine failure on an Emirates A380 comparatively soon after taking off from Sydney for the 14 hours 20 minutes or so stage to Dubai was the second engine incident for one of its giant Airbuses in two days.

On Saturday the Emirates A380 service from Dubai to JFK diverted to Charles de Gaulle airport at Paris after the pilots elected to shut down one of its engines while over Slovakia.

No additional description of that shut down has been reported, while the Sydney incident is factually reported by a Sydney Morning Herald journalist who was onboard, and who describes a brief bright light and  a shock wave felt inside the cabin.

The engine shutdowns, involving the Engine Alliance power plant that has been chosen by most A380 customers over the Rolls-Royce engine type used by Qantas and Singapore Airlines, may be unrelated.

We don’t know if the cause was the same or different.

What we can say however is that neither incident disrupted the control of the aircraft, as occurred after the catastrophic disintegration of a Rolls-Royce engine on the Qantas A380 which had just departed from Singapore for Sydney on 4 November 2010, causing a critical emergency which ended hours later after the pilots dealt with serious issues arising from the loss of half the jet’s hydraulic systems and the severing of control lines and other critical impairments.

Had the Emirates incidents involved severe damage of the type that affected the Qantas flight, the flight over Europe would have called May Day and headed for the nearest of many airports that were closer than Paris and equipped with emergency rescue and fire fighting equipment. The Dubai flight that had left Sydney would have also headed back to Sydney very promptly and as fast as it prudently could have been flown.

By coincidence, Emirates also shut down one of the engines on a Boeing 777-300ER twin engined airliner on Saturday while it was near Mumbai on a Bangkok-Dubai sector. The pilots reported indications of a fire in the engine and deployed its fire suppression equipment. An emergency landing was made at Mumbai, but there was no sign of fire found when the engine was inspected.

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7 thoughts on “Emirates A380s have two engine failures in two days … but

  1. FlyLo

    Ben, I dispute your claim that “the Engine Alliance power plant has been chosen by most A380 customers over the Rolls-Royce engine”.

    Of the 8 current operators of the A380, 5 use Rolls-Royce engines. 57% of all A380s currently in service have Rolls-Royce engines.

    Of the announced engine choices for delivered and undelivered orders, 10 operators have elected Rolls-Royce engines with 7 operators electing the Engine Alliance.

    So, in terms of A380 customers, most of them chose Rolls-Royce engines.

    However, with the completion of its order to just one customer (Emirates existing order alone is for 90 A380s) Engine Alliance will eventually power more A380s.

    But this does not alter the fact that more customers have elected Rolls-Royce over Engine Alliance.

  2. Ben Sandilands

    Point taken. The list of engines choices I have relied on for the orders for 262 A380s to date give a breakdown of airframes is 140: 103 advantage EA, with 19 frames with an undeclared engine choice. More operators have chosen the Rolls-Royce engine but at present most of type will fly with the Engine Alliance design.

    The struts on the A380, as on the 787, are designed to allow a straightforward change of engine type, if desired by an operator or by a new owner in the event of a sale or a return of lease.


    Factually reported. Which included flying in the top deck, in business class courtesy of Audi to Dubai.

  4. xhilde

    Have you heard anything more about the A330 in Lusaka from last month Ben?

    Seemed to be an uncontained engine failure but didn’t hear any more about the cause

  5. Ben Sandilands

    Have been monitoring Aviation Herald closely this year and noted the small but persistent number of uncontained engine failures being reported.

    Nothing more on Lusaka or the other recent incidents of similar failures on both single and wide bodied airliners has yet come to light. It wouldn’t surprise me if such reports take a year or more to be finalised, but the better way of chasing these matters, which I try to do, is to keep across the airworthiness directives that apply to widely used current airliners.

    Usually an AD related to a serious incident will appear before a particular final report appears. Usually. These reporting systems are far from perfect or reliable.

  6. Harish Jagannath

    There seems to be a burst of such incidents concerning Emirates. I don’t see any press release from Emirates on their website. Could this have anything to do with fatigue? or too much of operations to ensure proper maintenance?

  7. Iain Wicking

    A type fault across the fleet could be a bit of a challenge as they obviously only use one engine type.

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