Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire. Where There’s Fire, Will There Be Passengers?

George’s Point of View

The biggest consequence in this Trent 900 engine brouhaha may be the Rolls Royce reputation.

While the company's engineering skills have not suddenly degraded overnight, confidence in Rolls Royce certainly has. If, as the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says, the internal fire in the notorious (Qantas owned) Trent 900 engine is the result of an internal engine oil leak at 1,000°C at high pressure, the endangerment of 440 passengers and 26 crew may have been preventible, given that there seems to have been fore-knowlege (by Rolls Royce) of a 1st generation manufacturing defect in a pipe coupling. As the 3rd generation versions of the engine no longer sport the same problem, the issue was recognized prior to the explosion, and dealt with.

The failure to communicate a potential problem to Qantas before the engine fire, and for that matter, to owners of all affected 1st and 2nd generation products (Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa), goes beyond a communications failure and inches toward negligence. And the practical concern now is that irregardless of whether the specific factor was a manufacturing defect or fatigue, how swift and responsible will Rolls Royce be in corrective action, aggressive inspection schedules and reconfiguring a maintenance paradigm that gets A380s back on track?

Time will tell. Also, only time will tell if this engine explosion will be contained within the auspices of Rolls Royce; Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. In fact, Rolls Royce is not alone in its sub-culture of secrecy and non-reportage and disclosure. Will the teetering public confidence in aviation safety will be irrevocably compromised in the days to come?

Originally Posted by George Hatcher Thursday, December 2nd, 2010