Rolls-Royce says 787 engine issue 'unconnected' to A380 incident
Engine maker Rolls-Royce said Monday that the explosion of a Trent 1000 Dreamliner engine during a ground test in August is unrelated to last week's in-flight explosion of a different Rolls Trent 900 engine on an Airbus A380 flight operated by Qantas.
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
Engine maker Rolls-Royce said Monday the explosion of a Dreamliner engine during a ground test in August is unrelated to last week's in-flight explosion of a different Rolls engine on an Airbus A380 flight operated by Qantas.
In good news for Boeing, the Rolls statement asserts categorically that the problem is confined to the A380's Trent 900 engine and does not affect the similar Trent 1000 engine that is to power more than 250 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
"It is now clear this incident is specific to the Trent 900 engine," Rolls said about last week's A380 mishap. "We can be certain that the separate Trent 1000 event which occurred in August 2010 on a test bed in Derby (England) is unconnected."
The statement said the ground-test incident on the Dreamliner engine happened "with an engine operating outside normal parameters," implying that test procedures were not properly followed.
"We understand the cause and a solution has been implemented," Rolls said. However, the engine maker did not provide any detail on either the cause or the fix.
Boeing executives last month said the fix includes changes to both the software and the hardware of the Trent 1000 engine.
Meanwhile, the Qantas A380 incident continues to cause worry.
Although the double-decker jet landed safely and no one was hurt, it's now clear the plane was seriously damaged by the engine explosion that sent pieces of hot metal through the wing.
Video of the landing, taken by a passenger inside the jet, shows only half the jet's spoilers deployed on braking. The spoilers are hinged flaps on the wing that pop up to create drag on landing.
The plane took most of the length of the runway to come to a stop and blew its landing-gear tires in the process.
The fact that only half the spoilers deployed means that one of the two redundant hydraulic systems that operate the aircraft's flight controls was inactive. The explosion may have severed a hydraulic line or the engine damage may have reduced the pressure in the line.
Also, the other engine on the same wing did not respond to the pilot controls upon landing and had to be shut down by fire crews on the ground.
Qantas said Monday the focus of the investigation has been narrowed to the possibility of an oil leak around the engine's turbine, which spins at very high speed and high temperature.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the investigation, released a photo over the weekend of a broken turbine disk recovered from the debris scattered over Batam Island, Indonesia.
Qantas general manager David Epstein told the website of trade publication Flight International the aircraft appears to have lost the turbine disk from the center of the engine's interior.
"Virtually that entire area, the intermediate chamber of the engine, has disappeared," Epstein said.
Qantas said it is conducting inspections on all its A380 engines and won't fly the airplane again "until confident the issues have been identified and resolved."
The Rolls-Royce statement cited "progress in understanding the cause of the engine failure" and said this "Trent 900 incident is the first of its kind to occur on a large civil Rolls-Royce engine since 1994."
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
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