A faulty part or a design issue may have caused the engine failure on an Airbus A380, forcing the Qantas flight to make an emergency landing in Singapore, the airline's chief Alan Joyce said on Friday.
The engine failure on Thursday marked the biggest incident to date for the world's largest passenger plane, which has been in service since 2007. It forced Qantas to ground its fleet and other airlines to recheck their own A380s.
"We believe this is probably most likely a material failure or some sort of design issue," Joyce told a news conference in Sydney.
Qantas has grounded its fleet of six A380s pending safety checks which will take 24 to 48 hours to complete.
"If we don't find any adverse findings in those checks the aircraft will resume operations," said Joyce.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said on Friday there was no indication foul play had contributed to the incident on the Sydney-bound flight.
Singapore Airlines resumed flying its A380s on Friday, lifting a grounding order imposed after the Qantas incident. German airline Lufthansa said it would conduct checks without interrupting flights.
British A380 engine maker Rolls-Royce issued a statement urging operators of the aircraft to perform safety checks on its Trent 900 engines.
One passenger aboard flight QF32 reported hearing a "massive bang" while photographs of the engine showed its outer, rear casing had been torn apart.
"The fact that it survived the damage is a credit to the design. Twenty years ago that would probably have taken the aircraft out of the sky," said John Page, senior lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at the University of New South Wales.
Passengers also reported that a second engine on the stricken Qantas aircraft failed to shut down once on the tarmac, sparking fears it could ignite spilling fuel from the failed engine.
SECOND ENGINE PROBLEM
Qantas CEO Joyce confirmed another engine had failed to shut down after landing but said it could have been affected in some way by the first engine mishap, which caused parts to fly off. "We are still investigating the causes of that," he said.
Passengers said after landing they had been warned of the dangers of using any electronic device, as fire fighters sprayed the aircraft which was leaking fuel from a hole in the wing.
"Obviously in the back of your mind you're concerned about a very hot engine next to leaking fuel," passenger Christopher Lee said. "Obviously you're in a state of anxiety."
Qantas said its engineers, along with those from Airbus and Rolls-Royce, were working non-stop to determine what went wrong.
"Rolls-Royce have identified a number of potential areas," said Joyce. "This issue does not relate to maintenance."
Rolls-Royce had maintained the engines since they were installed on the aircraft, he added.