Qantas grounds A380 fleet after emergency landing


Singapore : A Qantas A380 superjumbo made a safe emergency landing in Singapore Thursday after experiencing engine problems, prompting the airline to ground its Airbus A380 fleet.

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Australia’s Qantas Airways said flight QF32 bound for Sydney had just taken off from Singapore’s Changi airport with 433 passengers and 26 crew on board when an engine problem forced its return.

“The aircraft landed safely at 11:45 a.m. (0345 GMT),” the airline said in a statement.

There were no injuries among passengers and crew, Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said.

In a statement posted on the company website, Qantas said it had “suspended scheduled A380 takeoffs until sufficient information has been obtained about what occurred on QF32”.

The airline would ground its six A380 aircraft “until we are confident that Qantas safety requirements have been met”, chief executive Alan Joyce said.

The A380 departed from Singapore at 9:56 a.m., but had to shut down one engine after experiencing technical problems over neighbouring Batam.

After shedding some debris, the plane circled and dumped fuel to prepare for the emergency landing.

“There’s been some debris off the aircraft,” Wirth said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean an explosion of sorts but there’s been some damage to the aircraft engine.”

“Whether there’s been an explosion or not we can’t confirm at this stage,” she said.

Indonesia’s Metro TV reported residents in Batam found broken pieces, believed to be plane parts, after they heard an explosion in the air and saw smoke from a plane flying over the area.

“We heard a loud explosion and after that the plane emitted dark smoke from the left wing,” a resident, identified as Reinhard, told Metro TV.

“The plane was still flying but residents found pieces – one of them was about 80 centimetres,” he said.

Metro showed a photo from a local police station showing metal pieces painted red and white, the colours of Qantas.

The double-deck Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, made its first commercial flight in October 2007 on the same Singapore-Sydney service, operated by Singapore Airlines.