Update: Singapore Airlines grounds A380s, Lufthansa changes engine

By Michael Flux, November 10 2010
Update: Singapore Airlines grounds A380s, Lufthansa changes engine

Update: Lufthansa has revealed it has replaced the engine of one of its A380 aircraft. This superjumbo is only six months old, and was the first flown by the German carrier.

Every airline flying with A380s using the Rolls-Royce Trent 900, one of which exploded on a Qantas flight last week, will be removing at least one of the engines from their craft.

Of the three airlines, Lufthansa is the only one which has not grounded any of their fleet. The engine change was made without any flights affected.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines has announced Boeing 747s and 777s will be replacing their three grounded A380s. The changes will last until the 17th of November, with flights between Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney being the only routes affected.

Singapore Airlines' grounded aircraft will be flown back to Singapore, without passengers, from their current locations at Melbourne, Sydney and London airports. The airline insists the aircraft are safe, and the additional checks are purely precautionary.

Previous: Singapore Airlines has cancelled an A380 flight to London and is grounding three A380s in the wake of continued concerns with the superjumbo's Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.

The airline, which had previously given the all-clear to its fleet of eleven A380s, now says it has found unexpected oil leaks in some of the engines.

Similar oil leaks have been found on the engines of several Qantas A380 aircraft, which also use the same Rolls-Royce powerplant and have been blamed for last Thursday's emergency landing of a Qantas A380 flight following a mid-air explosion of one of the engines.

That explosion caused significant structural damage to the aircraft including tearing holes in the wing and fuel tank.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce disclosed yesterday that the Trent 900 used on Qantas planes were operated at a higher thrust power than those used on Singapore or Lufthansa A380s, and that the airline was investigating whether this could have contributed to the engine explosion.

However, with Singapore Airlines now finding oil leaks in their A380 engines, broader questions will now be asked about the reliability of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine platform.

Other airlines with the same engine on their A380s are now likely to be closely examining their own fleet for signs of similar oil leaks.

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