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Singapore Air Grounds Three A380s for Engine Swaps

Singapore Airlines to Replace Engines on Three A380s
Singapore Airlines Ltd. will replace Rolls-Royce Group Plc engines on three Airbus SAS A380 planes after a similar unit exploded on a Qantas Airways Ltd. flight last week. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore Airlines Ltd. will take three Airbus SAS A380s out of service for as long as 48 hours to change Rolls-Royce Group Plc engines following a turbine blowout on a Qantas Airways Ltd. flight last week.

One engine will be changed on each of the planes, which will arrive in Singapore today, Chief Executive Officer Chew Choon Seng told reporters in the city-state. The move is a precautionary measure after “slight” oil staining was found in areas of the Trent 900 engines, he said.

The carrier, which operates 11 471-seat A380s, has no plans to cancel flights because of the engine swaps, Chew said. Qantas extended a grounding of its superjumbos to at least a week after finding evidence of potential oil leaks in three Rolls-Royce units during checks prompted by the Nov. 4 mid-flight explosion. Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the only other operator of Trent 900-powered A380s, said it replaced an engine on one jet.

Singapore Air’s A380s will only return to service “when we are thoroughly happy,” Chew said. “They will be out of action for a day or a maximum of two days.”

The aircraft are flying back from London, Melbourne and Sydney, said spokesman Nicholas Ionides. Singapore Air, the largest user of Trent 900s, grounded its A380s on the day of the Qantas incident to undertake checks recommended by Airbus and London-based Rolls-Royce. The aircraft returned to service less than 24 hours later.

4 Million Passengers

Airbus has a team in Singapore to assist the carrier, Sean Lee, a spokesman, said by phone. Rolls-Royce advised the airline to make the changes, he said. Roger Hunt, a Sydney-based spokesman for the engine-maker, declined to comment.

Chew said he had been “assured at the highest levels” that Rolls-Royce is doing everything necessary to investigate the issue.

Singapore Air, which began flying the A380 in October, 2007, has operated more than 10,000 flights using superjumbos, carrying at least 4 million passengers, Chew said. The planes account for about 12 percent of the carrier’s passenger capacity, according to K. Ajith, an analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Research Pte in Singapore.

The airline has an engine maintenance contract with Rolls-Royce that includes spare parts for the Trent 900, Chew said. Warranties for new engines run as long as two years, he said.

‘Precautionary’

Cologne, Germany-based Lufthansa, Europe’s second-largest airline, replaced an engine on one of its three A380s as a “precautionary measure,” spokesman Andreas Bartels said by phone. The replacement “had nothing to with what happened at Qantas,” he said, declining to be specific.

Singapore Air fell 1.2 percent to S$16.12 at the close of trading in Singapore today. Rolls-Royce dropped 0.7 percent to 602 pence at 12:29 p.m. in London. Lufthansa added half a cent to 16.05 euros on the Frankfurt exchange.

Qantas’s six A380s, representing about 17 percent of its international capacity, may return to service as soon as tomorrow, spokesman Simon Rushton reiterated by phone today. The carrier grounded its superjumbos after the engine explosion, which forced an emergency landing in Singapore.

The airline rose 1.8 percent to A$2.80 in Sydney trading, the first gain in four days.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chan Sue Ling in Singapore slchan@bloomberg.net; Robert Fenner in Melbourne at rfenner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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