Qantas A380 Flight Almost Blew Up

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Passengers on the Qantas A380 flight that made an emergency landing in Singapore earlier this month are learning just how lucky they are to be alive.

The plane, with 450 people onboard, came very close to exploding over Indonesia investigators have found.

Preliminary reports show that when a Rolls-Royce engine on the plane blew in mid-air, shrapnel "severed a fuel pipe and narrowly missed the wing's fuel tank," reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The airline was ''very, very lucky'," Adrian Mouritz, the head of aerospace and aviation engineering at RMIT University, tells the newspaper. "If that fuel ignited, that aircraft would have exploded," he says.

Debris also severed cables and hydraulic lines and took out some flight control systems, the reports say. Pieces of the engine also struck the fuselage above the wings and damaged the plane's underbelly.

Steve Purvanis, Secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, tells Australia's ABC News that given the catastrophic damage everyone was lucky to survive the incident.

"Definitely with fuel gushing out of the fuel tank there and some very hot components, certainly one that was hot enough to explode an engine, they were very lucky that fuel inside the wing didn't ignite," he says.

The pilots of the plane were forced to deal with an "unprecedented" series of events, Richard Woodward, vice president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, tells The Associated Press.

"There is probably a 1 in 100 million chance to have all that go wrong," says Woodward, who adds he has talked to all five of the pilots, including two extra captains, who were on the ill-fated flight.

As a result of the Nov. 4 incident, Qantas is replacing as many as 14 Rolls-Royce engines on its A380s, says chief executive Alan Joyce.

Qantas has grounded its A380 fleet and Joyce did not say when the planes would resume flying.

Other carriers including Singapore Airlines are also replacing engines on the giant planes. A380s are the world's largest passenger jets.

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