Qantas initiates legal action against Rolls-Royce

Qantas has taken the first step towards suing Rolls-Royce following the mid-flight failure of one of the British firm’s aircraft engines.

The airline announced this morning it had been granted an injunction by the Federal Court of Australia that would ensure the company could pursue legal action against Rolls-Royce if commercial settlement talks fail.

The two firms have already begun discussions over the financial and operational impact of mechanical problems with the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.

A suspected engine design fault forced one Qantas plane to make an emergency landing in Singapore on 4 November and kept the rest of the firm’s Airbus A380 fleet grounded for several weeks after.

The airline said in a statement: ‘Today’s action allows Qantas to keep all options available to the company to recover losses, as a result of the grounding of the A380 fleet and the operational constraints currently imposed on A380 services.

‘Qantas remains committed to working with Rolls-Royce on the Trent 900 inspection programme, in consultation with Airbus and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.’

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating the original engine failure and today identified a potential manufacturing defect with an oil tube connection to the high-pressure/intermediate-pressure bearing structure in the engine.

‘The problem relates to the potential for misaligned oil pipe counter-boring, which could lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage and potential engine failure from an oil fire within the HP/IP bearing buffer space,’ the ATSB said in a statement.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) made a similar diagnosis last month but also issued a directive in August that warned Rolls-Royce of wear to the turbines that could cause an oil fire or engine shutdown.

All Rolls-Royce Trent 900 A380 engines remain subject to EASA’s Airworthiness Directive of 10 November, requiring all engines to undergo certain inspections every 20 flying cycles.

Rolls-Royce had not responded to The Engineer’s request for comment at the time this story was published.