How many Safety Boards does it take to investigate the Air France A-380 incident?

air france a380 investigation probe
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Air France A-380 Investigation

Who should lead the probe?

Agencies dither over who leads A380 engine explosion probe

Air accident investigators from both sides of the Atlantic have been struggling to decide who should lead a probe into an engine explosion that forced an Air France A380 to make an emergency landing in Canada people familiar with the matter said.” The date of this report is October 2, 2017. The date of the incident was September 30, 2017.

On October 1, 2017 the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) announced that it had deployed a team of investigators following an emergency landing at the Goose Bay International Airport, Newfoundland and Labrador. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

As of October 3, the French BEA (Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la Sécurité de l’Aviation Civile) issued the following statement:

“Following the accident at the Airbus A380, registered F-HPJE, cruising over Greenland, the Danish civil aviation authorities delegated to the BEA the opening and conduct of the safety investigation. The BEA represents France, the State of the operator, the registration and design of the aircraft. Investigators from Havarikommissionen, representing Denmark, State of Occurrence, of the NTSB, representing the United States, State of Engine Manufacturers, and the TSB, representing Canada, the State where the crew was diverted safely.

air france a380 investigation

Four BEA investigators went to Goose Bay Sunday 1st of October, accompanied by advisers from Airbus and Air France. NTSB investigators, accompanied by General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and TSB engineers, also visited the site.

A fifth BEA investigator traveled to Ottawa to attend the first reading of the data recorded in the Parameter Recorder (FDR). This reading made it possible to confirm the place where the damage occurred.

The Airbus A380-800, operated by the airline Air France, operated the Paris (France) – Los Angeles (United States) flight AF066. He took off from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport on Saturday 30 September 2017 at 0930 hours (TU), with 497 passengers and 24 crew members on board. Following damage to the No. 4 engine while flying over Greenland (Denmark), the crew diverted to Goose Bay Airport (Canada) where it landed at 15:42 (TU) without further incident.

Damage to the aircraft appears to be limited to the No. 4 engine and its immediate environment. The observation of the reactor shows that the fan, the first rotating member in front of the engine, detached in flight, causing it to lose the air intake.”

It will be interesting to see how the 4 Boards work through this accident.

Airbus has issued an alert to all operators of the aircraft that use the same type of engine, confirming the low-pressure compressor fan had been separated. No cause had yet been identified, it said, according to one recipient.

The Engine Alliance (EA)’s GP7000 was the powerplant which had an uncontained failure on the flight. It is the product of 50/50 joint venture between GE Aviation and Pratt & Whitney. It is the second iteration of the GP7200, was originally the Boeing 747-500/600X projects, now cancelled. The GP7000 was redesigned for the Airbus A380 superjumbo.

engine alliance air france a380 investigation

AeroInside accumulates accident and incident reports of all aircraft. As to the A-380, that website lists 120 incidents ranging from smoke/odor in the cockpit to engine shutdown over 10 years of service. The same resource identified the following incidents involving engine problems:

1. Qantas Airbus A-380-800 over Pacific on May 20th 2017, engine shut down in flight Trent

2. Qantas Airbus A-380-800 at Dubai on Mar 28th 2014, engine automatically shut down in flight Trent

3. Qantas Airbus A-380-800 near Singapore on Feb 6th 2017, engine shut down in flight Trent

4. Emirates Airbus A-380-800 near Tehran on Dec 25th 2016, engine problem EA

5. Singapore Airbus A-380-800 near Dubai on Nov 29th 2016, engine problem Trent

6. Emirates Airbus A-380-800 near Dubai on Sep 18th 2016, engine shut down in flight EA

9. Emirates Airbus A-380-800 at Dubai on Aug 12th 2016, engine problem EA

10. Korean Airbus A-380-800 at Seoul on May 15th 2016, rejected takeoff due to engine failure

11. Qantas Airbus A-380-800 over Australia on Apr 5th 2016, engine vibrations

12. Singapore Airbus A-380-800 at Tokyo on Sep 15th 2015, engine shut down in flight Trent

13. Emirates Airbus A-380-800 at Sydney on Nov 11th 2012, engine shut down in flight, engine failed rated contained despite holes in engine case Trent

14. Qantas Airbus A-380-800 near Singapore on Nov 4th 2010, uncontained engine failure Trent

15. Emirates Airbus A-380-800 near Singapore on Jan 18th 2013, engine shut down in flight EA

16. Singapore Airbus A-380-800 near Singapore on Jul 19th 2012, engine problem

The A-380’s wings developed some structural problems during the early flights: The Airbus A380 wing cracks: an engineer’s perspective.

airbus a380

This investigation has a fairly long history to incorporate into this review. The coordination among the Canadian, Danish, French and US investigators will be carefully watched.


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