Singapore Airlines Will Replace Engines on Three A380s

Singapore Airlines has pulled three superjumbo jets from the skies after tests revealed troubling oil stains in the carrier's A380s outfitted with Rolls-Royce engines.

The news comes just two days after Qantas announced finding oil leaks in the turbine area of three planes with the same engines. The airline cited the leaks may be the cause of a mid-flight explosion of a Rolls-Royce engine on a Qantas A380 jet last week. The plane, en route from Singapore to Sydney, made a safe emergency landing in Singapore and then grounded its fleet of A380s to investigate the cause.

"Singapore Airlines said it does not know whether the oil stains found in its engines have any connection to the engine oil leaks found on Qantas, but was temporarily pulling the planes from service as a precaution," the Associated Press is reporting.

Singapore Airlines' A380s are currently grounded in Melbourne, Sydney and London. The planes will be flown back to Singapore without passengers, where they will be fitted with new engines. The airline said it is unsure how long the replacements will take.

"We apologise to our customers for flight disruptions that may result and we seek their understanding," airline spokesman Nicholas Ionides said in a statement.

Singapore Airlines had initially grounded its entire fleet of 11 A380s after news of the engine explosion on Qantas came out last Thursday. After a series of tests, the planes returned to service Friday. Following subsequent tests on Wednesday that found oil stains, the airline pulled three of its A380s from the skies.

John Page, an aircraft designer and senior lecturer in aerospace engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney told Associated Press a tiny crack in the oil supply pipe, which lubricates the engine's bearings, is the most likely cause of the leak.

"Normally it's not a critical problem, but if it's associated with a growing crack, then obviously it becomes a problem," Page said. "If it's a first indication it's a growing crack, then it's serious."

Oil leaks have the potential to spark fires, which in the turbine area could put too much stress on an engine and lead to a breakdown.

London-based Rolls-Royce, a separate company from the car manufacturer, issued a statement Monday saying it is investigating what caused the Qantas engine to burst.

Singapore operates eight other A380s that fly with Trent 900 engines. These planes remain in service. Emirates and Air France also fly A380s, but these planes are outfitted with engines manufactured by Engine Alliance, a collaboration between GE Aircraft Engines and Pratt & Whitney.

Photo: Simon_sees on flickr.

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