Qantas has begun legal action against UK-based engine maker Rolls-Royce, as a back-up in case the companies cannot reach a settlement over problems with the Trent 900 engine that powers the Australian carrier’s Airbus A380 fleet.
The airline’s entire A380 fleet was grounded from 4-27 November after an uncontained, in-flight engine failure that severely damaged an aircraft en route to Sydney from Singapore with 440 passengers and 26 crew on board (see article Rolls Royce pinpoints failure in Qantas incident.
The aircraft returned to make an emergency landing at Singapore.
Qantas says its legal moves allow it to keep “all options available” as it tries to recover losses incurred as a result of the incident and subsequent grounding.
The Federal Court of Australia has issued an injunction in favour of Qantas, permitting the airline to pursue legal action against Rolls-Royce in Australia in the event of a failure to reach a settlement out of court.
Qantas has said it is committed to working with the engine supplier on Trent 900 inspections, in co-operation with airframe manufacturer Airbus and the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). The airline will also follow a directive issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency ordering inspections on the engines every 20 flight cycles. The carrier has also promised to complete an additional one-off check of the engines for “tubing defects”.
The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau (ATSB) has said the engine failure happened as a result of fatigue cracking in a pipe feeding oil into the high pressure/intermediate pressure (HP/IP) bearing structure. This caused an oil leak, which led to an oil fire and then the failure of a turbine disc, which is thought to have split into two or three pieces before causing major damage to the wing, including leading-edge slats, the front spar, and adjacent systems.
The airline says it has found that 16 of the engines used by its A380 fleet have been found to require modification or replacement. Five had already been replaced as of 3 December, by which time two A380s had been returned to service, but only on routes that do not require the use of maximum engine thrust.
Qantas says it is expecting to take delivery of two additional A380s in the next few weeks, adding to its current fleet of six. The carrier ordered a total of 20 of the jetliners
The aircraft involved in the 4 November incident remained in Singapore as Asian Aviation went to press, and was likely to remain there “for some time”, according to Qantas.
Garuda Indonesia joins SkyTeam
Indonesian flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia has signed an agreement to join the SkyTeam airline alliance in 2012, expanding the group’s presence in South-East Asia and adding 30 destinations to the alliance’s network.
SkyTeam says it is actively working to expand its presence in the region, with Indonesia a particularly significant market as the largest economy in South-East Asia. Garuda is able to offer the group of 12 airlines additional coverage and improved Asia-Pacific connections.
Some of the 30 new destinations being added by Garuda are: Surabaya in East Java, Medan in North Sumatra and Perth in Australia.
“Joining SkyTeam is a long-term development strategy for Garuda Indonesia, and for years we have been upgrading our service and actively forging co-operation with SkyTeam member airlines with this objective in mind,” said Emirsyah Satar, the Jakarta-based carrier’s president and chief executive officer. “As the first Indonesian airline to join this world-class alliance, our strategic target is to continuously strengthen profitability and boost international market competitiveness.”
According to SkyTeam Managing Director Marie-Joseph Male: “Jakarta will serve as an alternate gateway to and from Asia. Garuda’s consideration to expand its intercontinental network to Frankfurt, Paris, London and Rome will make the airline an increasingly attractive option for business and leisure travellers.”
SkyTeam’s membership to date includes: Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines, Alitalia, China Southern Airlines, AeroMexico, Aeroflot, Air Europa, Czech Airlines, Kenya Airways, Korean Air, Tarom and Vietnam Airlines.
QANTAS HAS implemented its Next-Generation Check-in system in Sydney in November, following a successful trial in Perth. Next-Generation Check-in is designed to dramatically reduce domestic check-in times for passengers using one touch of their Qantas card on Q Card Readers.
The Q Bag Tag allows bags to be dropped at the auto bag drop with another touch of the card, the airline says. The new Qantas cards are embedded with “intelligent Q” chip technology. The Q Bag Tag automatically links customers’ luggage with their flight details. The process will be progressively introduced to more ports across the Qantas network throughout 2011, the airline says.