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Rolls-Royce facing Qantas lawsuit

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Australian officials investigating the mid-air disintegration of an engine on a Qantas superjumbo have identified a potential manufacturing defect

Qantas has launched preliminary legal action against Rolls-Royce, the manufacturer of the engine that exploded on one of its A380 superjumbos in mid-air last month.

The airline said it has filed a statement of claim in a federal court that will allow it to launch legal action against Rolls-Royce at some point.

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce has said the airline will seek compensation from Rolls-Royce over the November 4 incident in which an engine disintegrated shortly after take-off.

Qantas said the legal action would ensure it could sue Rolls-Royce if it was not satisfied with a compensation offer from the UK-based company.

The legal move was announced after Australian investigators said they had identified the source of an oil leak that caused the engine to blow apart in mid air last month, and said a suspected manufacturing defect in the Rolls-Royce engine was to blame.

They warned airlines the potential flaw could cause engine failure.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommended the three airlines that use Rolls-Royce’s Trent 900 engines on their A380s – Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Germany’s Lufthansa – go back and conduct more checks now it has pinpointed the problem area. Three airlines fly a total of 20 such planes.

Earlier warnings blamed an oil leak for a fire and subsequent chain of failures that sent heavy parts flying off an engine on a Qantas A380 shortly after it took off from Singapore on November 4, the most serious safety problem for the world’s largest and newest jetliner.

The ATSB, which is leading the international investigation into the Qantas break-up, has added some specifics, saying a section of an oil tube that connects the high-pressure and intermediate-pressure bearing structures of the engine was the danger area.

“The problem relates to the potential for misaligned oil pipe counter-boring, which could lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage and potential engine failure from an oil fire within the HP/IP bearing buffer space,” the ATSB said in a brief statement. It called the problem “a potential manufacturing defect”.

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