An Emirates Airbus A380 superjumbo made an emergency landing in Sydney shortly after takeoff on its way to Dubai following an engine fault.
“There was no fire, flames or smoke, however passengers may have witnessed a spark and a noise from the engine,” Emirates said in a statement.
The incident, which occurred yesterday with 380 passengers onboard, is being investigated, said the airline, which took delivery of its latest flagship plane yesterday.
Emirates, which has ordered a total of 90 of the double-decker aircraft, has received 27 so far, making it the biggest operator of the plane. It powers the model with engines built by a joint venture of General Electric Co. and United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit.
Passenger numbers at Emirates have surged fivefold in a decade, making it the world No. 1 by international traffic. Hubs in Paris, Frankfurt and London are already under pressure as the carrier diverts long-haul passengers through Dubai. The airline has also stepped up its use of the superjumbo to target the U.S. market over the last year.
An engine explosion on a Qantas Airways Ltd. A380 in 2010 involved a turbine built by Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, the other engine provider for the plane. Emirates’ decision to go with power plants provided by GE’s and Pratt’s Engine Alliance means it’s not among the A380 users that have had to replace Rolls engines in the wake of the Qantas incident.
“The Engine Alliance is investigating the root cause of the engine event and will initiate prompt corrective action,” the engine maker said in a statement. “The GP7200 has demonstrated excellent reliability and performance on the Airbus A380, and the Engine Alliance is committed to maintaining those standards.”
Like other A380 users, Emirates has been impacted by the discovery of cracks in some wings that have led to mandatory inspections. European regulators are expected to approve a permanent fix for the issue by around year-end, though the repairs will mean planes will be out of action for as many as eight weeks.
Starting in 2014, all new A380s delivered will come without the fault, as Airbus aims to change the wing design.