Singapore Airlines follow Quantas in grounding of A380s

By Michael Mckeand

Following from last week's incident involving a Quantas Airbus A380, Singapore Airlines have announced the grounding of three of their models. Photograph: Tim Wimborne/Reuters

Singapore Airlines have grounded three of their Airbus A380s. The three planes, currently in Sydney, Melbourne and London, have all been taken from service in order to undergo engine changes after the discovery of oil stains.

The decision comes in the wake of an engine malfunction on a Qantas Airbus A380 which saw an explosion in one of the planes engines last week. As a result the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing at Changi Airport in Singapore.

The Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines will be changed for a newer version of the engines. Singapore Airlines say that they will remain with the Rolls Royce engines, but with a minor variation. In a statement they said, “We apologise to our customers for flight disruptions that may result and we seek their understanding”.

It is understood that similar reasons were behind the malfunction on the engine of the Qantas A380 which exploded over Batam City, showering the Indonesian city with debris. Investigations show that an oil leak in one of the turbines was the reason behind the incident.

Singapore Airlines have stressed that the incidents are unrelated. A spokeswoman for the airline said that the oil stains found on their three A380s differ to the oil leak found on the Qantas plane. “This is a precautionary move to find out what caused the oil stains” she said, adding “Rolls Royce recommended a detailed inspection of the engines.”   

The airline later said that the remaining eight of its A380s will remain in service but could not rule out further engine changes. Bryony Duncan-Smith, spokeswoman for the airline told Australian radio: “At this stage there is no indication that more engines on our A380 aircraft will need to have precautionary engine changes carried out, but I would certainly not rule it out.”

Experts say that the current Qantas investigation has pointed to a design fault within the engine which may be easy to fix but will take time. “From information provided to date, it would appear to be a design issue and not a power setting issue. Lower power settings are not the solution,” said Peter Marosszeky, an aviation expert at the University of New South Wales.

Rolls Royce share prices rallied yesterday after a 10% fall two days after the Qantas incident which wiped £1.2 billion off the company’s value. After this most recent announcement from Singapore Airlines though, share prices are expected to tumble again.