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04 November 2010

Comments

If what the Rain Man said is still true, Qantas has an impeccable safety record and wants to maintain at least an image of being very safety-conscious. Grounding the fleet of A380s could very well be a PR move just as much as (or more than) a safety move.

I could imagine the outcry if they had continued flying them without having a (public) explanation of what caused the failure...

This might be an overabundance of caution. My understanding is that Qantas has never had a plane crash, ever. That is either an enviable safety record, or an airline that hardly has any planes.

My Crikey colleague Ben Sandilands has pointed to a recent airworthiness directive for the Trent 900 engines used on Qantas' A380s that mentioned the potential for an uncontained engine failure.

https://blogs.crikey.com.au/planetalking/2010/11/04/what-happens-next-in-the-qantas-a380-incident/

Also, it's not that Qantas has never had a plane crash. It's that they've never had a crash that resulted in a fatality. This is still true. Their safety record was indeed enviable, but it came from their past practice of putting a very strong focus on maintenance, safety and reliability. It's a long way between airports in this part of the world.

Good news for Boeing, anyway.

@ Charles
Qantas is Australias national Carrier and has from their website:

6 x Airbus A380-800
6 x Boeing 747-400ER
20 x Boeing 747-400
26 x Boeing 767-300ER
41 x Boeing 737-800
21 x Boeing 737-400
11 x Boeing 717-200
10 x Airbus A330-300
7 x Airbus A330-200
21 x Bombardier Dash 8 (200/Q300)
21 x Bombardier Dash 8 (Q400)

Jetstar

51 x Airbus A320-200*
6 x Airbus A321-200
7 x Airbus A330-200

I'd hardly call that a Small fleet ;)

Accidents do not happen by chance. So, this case calls a deep investigation.

Second uncontained engine failure on Qantas A/C in as many months. The last was 8/31/10 departing KSFO. Same outcome - no pax injured.

That said, whether or not passengers are injured by the initial failure of turbine components is purely a matter of luck. When high speed, rotating parts fail and ejected from the casing by centrifugal forces, which direction they exit the engine casing is purely a matter of chance.

Engineering of these machines is intentended to CONTAIN the failure in all but the most extreme situations - - - once you go uncontained, you've departed the realm of engineered outcomes.

Small bits of metal penetrating the passenger cabin or wings full of fuel - at high velocity - have the opportunity for serious catastrophe.

We can all remain cool and calm and applaud the crew and designers for building an A/C capable of flying on three engines, but, the fact that no one was injured in this, or the previous Qantas UEF involved considerable amounts of pure luck.

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