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Investigators release first report into Qantas A380 fire

By the CNN Wire Staff
A Qantas A380 lifts off in Sydney on November 27 on its first flight since a mid-air engine explosion three weeks earlier.
A Qantas A380 lifts off in Sydney on November 27 on its first flight since a mid-air engine explosion three weeks earlier.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The report shows significant structural and systems damage
  • The fire also caused problems in landing and dumping fuel
  • The report praises the professionalism of the crew
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Sydney, Australia (CNN) -- The Qantas A380 that experienced an engine fire over Indonesia last month suffered significant structural and systems damage and would not have landed safely without the professionalism of the crew, a preliminary report revealed Friday.

The report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is a factual report only into the Nov. 4 incident on the Sydney-bound Qantas flight, which had to return to Singapore after losing one of its four engines.

It showed that the fire on the plane's No. 2 engine not only caused half of the engine casing to fall off in flight, but it also damaged the aircraft's electrical wiring, which affected the operation of the hydraulic system, landing gear and flight controls, and damaged fuel system components.

It meant the crew landed at Changi Airport with restricted landing controls and without having been able to dump fuel beforehand. It also prevented anyone from shutting off one of the engines until three hours after landing because aircraft systems prevented a shutdown.

Investigators identify a potential manufacturing defect in the type of engine that caught fire -- a Trent 900 engine manufactured by Rolls-Royce.

The defect is in the oil pipes, which have the potential to lead to fatigue cracking and can cause oil to leak, said Martin Dolan, the bureau's chief commissioner. That's what happened in the Nov. 4 incident, he said.

Rolls-Royce has since started checking all relevant engines to find out whether the problem is more widespread.

It's possible the issue is a "one-off," Dolan said, but it could also potentially exist in other engines, so urgent checks are being carried out.