(Reuters) - An A380 Emirates jet bound for Dubai was forced to return to Australia on Sunday night when one of its engines caught fire soon after take-off.
The flight, with 380 passengers on board, was just 20 minutes into its flight from Sydney to Dubai and climbing at an altitude of 10,000 feet when it experienced a problem with one of its engines.
"Emirates flight EK413 from Sydney to Dubai on 11 November turned back shortly after take-off due to an engine fault. Passengers are being re-booked on alternative flights," the airline said in a statement on Monday.
A mid-air engine blowout in November 2010 on an A380 using Rolls Royce Trent engines prompted Australia's Qantas Airlines to ground its entire fleet of Airbus superjumbos for nearly a month.
Emirates, the world's biggest user of A380s, uses rival GP7200 engines built by Engine Alliance, a joint venture between engine manufacturers General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.
Passengers on the giant double-deck aircraft, manufactured by Airbus parent EADS, said the superjumbo experienced a "judder" and then they saw flames shooting several metres out of one of the engines.
"I saw a flash. I thought it could have been lightning, but then we saw flames come out of the engine. The whole interior of the A380 lit up," passenger John Fothergill, 49, from New Zealand told Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Emirates apologised for the inconvenience to its passengers and said their safety was "of the highest priority and will not be compromised."
Superjumbos, worth $375 million apiece, typically carry around 525 passengers.
A380 aircraft, manufactured in Toulouse from parts sourced across Europe, have also been affected by cracks in the wings of a small number of planes.
There are eighteen airlines currently using the aircraft with total orders outstanding for 262.
I'll highlight this bit. Just how many plane engines has he seen explode ???????
(as opposed to ingest something and spit it and flames out the back ?).
Fairfax Media motoring journalist Matt Campbell, who was on board the plane, said the aircraft was still ascending when the incident occurred.
"It seemed about half an hour in to the flight when I saw a bright orange flash, heard a loud bang and there was a big thump through the cabin," he said. "The flight attendants were rushing about through the cabin and then eventually the PA came on and the captain said there was an engine problem with engine number three and that engine had now been shut down."
Campbell said others on board the flight heard the issue may have been caused by a bird strike.
"I didn't see flames but the flash that I saw would be consistent with an engine exploding," he said.
"It was a bright orange light, I didn't see it for more than a split second, but it was still a very scary sight."
"An Emirates Airbus A380-800, registration A6-EDO performing flight EK-201 from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to New York JFK,NY (USA), was enroute at FL340 about 30nm northeast of Kosice (Slovakia) when the crew shut the #4 engine (GP7270, outboard right hand) down. The aircraft set course in direction of Frankfurt/Main (Germany) descending to FL100, about 85nm east of Frankfurt the aircraft changed course to fly south around Frankfurt and divert to Paris (France). The aircraft landed safely on Charles de Gaulle Airport's runway 26R about 140 minutes after the engine was shut down.
A replacement Airbus A380-800 registration A6-EDM was dispatched from Dubai to Paris as flight EK-3073 and resumed flight EK-201 reaching New York with a delay of 12 hours.
A passenger reported the crew announced engine #4 had been shut down.
The incident aircraft was able to position to Dubai on Nov 8th as flight EK-7002 and resumed service about 35 hours after landing in Paris. "Simon Hradecky, created Saturday, Nov 10th 2012 21:31Z
The real gem was when Emirates was seeking damages from Rolls-Royce shortly after the QF incident, (even though Emirates has GE engine on their fleet). Emirates' claimed the QF engine failure had tarnished the image of all A-380's, thus causing a loss of value to Emirates' fleet.
Maybe QF, Singapore and Lufthansa will seek damages from Emirates now for the same reasoning?