On the 19th of May, the crew of Qantas flight QF94 were forced to shut down the Airbus A380’s outboard right hand side engine and return to Los Angeles Int’l after passengers reported a hearing loud bang and witnessed streaks of flames and sparks. None of the 480 people onboard were injured.
Flight QF94 departed Los Angeles 22:42 local time and was en route to Melbourne when the incident occured. The aircraft was around 800nm from Los Angeles, climbing from FL320 to a higher cruising altitude of FL340 when the loud bang was heard from one of the A380’s four Rolls-Royce Trent 972 engines.
When passengers and cabin crew reported seeing streaks of flames and sparks, the pilots made the decision to shut the engine down. They then descended to FL290 and returned to Los Angeles, arriving around 4 hours and 15 minutes after departure. Airport fire crews responded to the arriving aircraft as a precaution.
When asked about the incident on social media, Qantas simply said that the aircraft had diverted for operational reasons.
A Qantas spokesperson, Thomas Woodward, also gave statement relating to the event:
“Friday night’s (local time) QF94 A380 service from Los Angeles to Melbourne turned back to LA because of an issue with one of the aircraft’s four engines.
The pilots followed standard procedure, shut down the engine, and the flight landed normally in LA at around 3am local time on Saturday. Engineers are now inspecting the aircraft.
Reports that the engine was on fire aren’t correct. Passengers may have seen some sparks because of high temperatures in the engine before it was safely shut down by the pilots.”
A spokesperson for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Michael Walker confirmed the Qantas flight was forced to land. He said:
“We have been notified of a Qantas flight that took off from Los Angeles and experienced severe engine troubles and was forced to return to Los Angeles International Airport”
Some of the passengers onboard reported “the engine blew up two hours into the flight,” while another mentioned the emergency landing. “The plane was then turned back and landed safely but multiple fire trucks were lining the runway when we landed,” the passenger said.
The aircraft involved in the incident was 8 year old Airbus A380-842 VH-OQG, delivered to Qantas in December 2010. She is configured in a F14C64W35Y371 layout and fitted with 4x Rolls-Royce Trent 972 engines.
Qantas flight QF94 is a scheduled passenger flight from Los Angeles Int’l (LAX/KLAX) to Melbourne Airport (MEL/YMML) with a regular flight time of 15 hours and 50 minutes.
The incident is the second major incident Qantas’ A380 fleet have suffered, after QF32 oprated by VH-OQA suffered an uncontained engine failure of a Trent 972 engine in November 2010. The damage from the QF32 incident was much worse, in addition to destruction of the engine, there was damage to the nacelle, wing, fuel system, landing gear, flight controls and the controls for engine No. 1