8 Nov 2010

Qantas A380 fleet could fly again 'within days'

3:26 pm on 8 November 2010

Australian airline Qantas hopes to have its grounded fleet of A380s flying again within days, chief executive Alan Joyce says.

The airline grounded its fleet of six A380s after an engine exploded on a flight to Australia on Thursday. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Singapore. The incident forced all A380 operators to check their planes.

Mr Joyce said on Saturday that he was optimistic the plane would pass the tests.

The Airbus engine failure marked the biggest incident to date for the world's largest passenger plane, which has been in service since 2007.

In a second incident on Friday, a Boeing 747 en route to Australia was also forced to turn back to Singapore.

Mr Joyce said an engine on that plane produced "smoke and sparks" but called it a "contained engine failure" and said there were no plans to ground the airline's 747 fleet.

The incidents cast a shadow over Qantas' 90th anniversary celebrations at the weekend, which included a visit by Hollywood actor John Travolta, who is a pilot and aviation enthusiast.

Air investigators seek debris

Australian authorities are asking residents of Indonesia's Batam Island to help them find a crucial piece of debris lost from the Qantas Airbus on Thursday.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the mid-flight failure in the number two engine of QF32, an Airbus A380 superjumbo.

The Bureau says it's looking in particular for parts of the plane, like a geared disk, which could help establish why the engine failed.

The Indonesian Transportation Safety Committee has assisted with the recovery of a number of items of debris from the A380.

The items arrived in Singapore on Saturday, and a portion of a recovered engine component will be sent to the UK to be examined by the manufacturer and other experts.