The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has opened an investigation into the Airbus A380 engines following an incident last month in which one of the superjumbo engines exploded during flight in midair.
Produced by Airbus, the A380 is a double-deck , wide-body jet airliner that’s touted as being the largest passenger airline in the world. With its double-deck body, it boasts nearly 6,000 square feet of cabin space, making it 40% larger than its Boeing 747-8 counterpart. Furthermore, the Airbus A380 supports up to 525 seats in three-class configurations or 853 seats in all classes.
While the Airbus A380 was marketed as being a revolutionary step towards transforming the airline industry, sales of the superjumbo jet have been slow. As of September 2017, Airbus has received 317 orders, 216 of which have already been delivered. But this latest incident involving the Airbus A380’s engine could further slow down the superjumbo jet’s engines.
The incident occurred during an Air France flight from Paris to Los Angeles. Passengers aboard the flight reported hearing a louse noise outside the cabin after about five hours into the trip. After looking outside, passengers could see one of the jet’s four engines had exploded and was no longer functional. The A380 continued flying for another two hours before making an emergency landing at Goose Bay Airport in Labrador, Canada.
Analysts say this incident is particularly troubling because the cause is unknown. As a result, the FAA has decided to open an investigation into all Airbus A380 engines. The investigation requires a visual inspection of all operational engines, as per an emergency airworthiness directive. Basically, A380 owners and operators will have to visually inspect the engine for defects.
“An investigation to determine the cause of the failure is ongoing and we may consider additional rulemaking if final action is identified,” said the FAA in a statement regarding the A380 engine investigation.
The FAA further states that engine failures like the aforementioned incident could result in the uncontained release of the hub fan. Because of this, the FAA is asking owners and operators to remove the fan hub of the A380 engine if any defects are discovered.
The FAA’s emergency airworthiness directive only applies to the GP7200 engines, however. This is the engine that reportedly exploded during mid-flight. However, it’s also the most popular engine for the A380, accounting for approximately 60% of all A380 engines. The FAA says the engine inspections should be performed over the next eight weeks.