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Rolls-Royce A380 Engine May Require Additional Airline Scrutiny

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc’s Trent 900 engines that power Airbus A380s may require added airline attention after an in-flight component failure.

One of four Trent 900s on an A380 suffered increased vibration and debris was found in the engine during a post-flight inspection, the Cologne, Germany-based European Aviation Safety Agency said an airworthiness directive yesterday. A part of the low pressure turbine detached and caused surrounding damage, the agency said.

The issue was first raised with airlines in mid-September to gain operator input on what corrective action to take. Almost two years ago, a Qantas Airways Ltd. A380 powered by the Trent 900 engine suffered major damage after an uncontained engine failure caused by a different issue with the power plant. Airlines this time around have 10 flights to investigate the engine once a warning indication is received.

Rolls-Royce, which maintains a 24-hour operational monitor center of all Trent 900s, will also see the alert. Where an issue is found, the engine needs to be fixed immediately before commercial operations can resume.

Customers can continue to operate as normal while undertaking the checks, Rolls-Royce spokesman Bill O’Sullivan said.

Airbus, in an emailed statement, described the event as “isolated” and not requiring immediate action. “Operator schedules are not impacted by the precautionary inspections which can be performed quickly,” spokesman Martin Fendt said.

The Trent 900 is one of two engines Airbus offers on the A380. A joint venture of General Electric and United Technologies Co.’s Pratt & Whitney offers the GP7200.

The directive, which EASA said is an interim measure, takes effect Nov. 5. Further guidance to deal with the problem may follow, the regulator said.

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