5 November 2010
As you would know, Qantas Flight 32 blew one of its engines yesterday a few minutes after leaving Indonesia. A little knowledge, however, can be a dangerous thing.
Everyone's focusing on Qantas right now thanks to the pictures of two beaming Indonesians holding a it of the engine cover with the unmistakable red and white flying 'roo. And of course, it's easy to bash any industry giant (except Apple).
Qantas has held two media conferences and probably more to come. As I type this, Alan Joyce has just announced a couple of flights have been delayed, with another couple on time - and the A380s could be back in the air in a couple of days even though he's also said Rolls Royce have identified potential issues with the Trent 900 engine - so you'd think they can't be too severe. Singapore Airlines grounded its A380s for about five minutes before deciding it was happy to put over 400 people back into the air in these giant flying pieces of metal.
In reality, it's highly unlikely to have much of an impact on Qantas other than to add a little bit more of a smudge on this airline's otherwise spotless safety record. For all people may dump on other aspects of Qantas, as Ray from Rain Man could tell you, they've never had a crash.
There will be plenty of attention on Airbus, though, thanks to the figuratively and literally enormous profile of the giant A380. The head of UNSW's school of aviation (you can major in airplanes? All that time I spent in accounting lectures...) says the Trent 900 engine has been working nicely on planes since 2004. Which means there may - and let's keep in mind the investigation is yet to happen, and it will be extremely thorough - be an issue with the way the A380 controls that engine.
UNSW Professor Jason Middleton says, however, that given it looks like a catastrophic engine failure, much of the attention will be on Rolls Royce. Yet given the justifiably proud 104 year history of the maker of Penelope Tracy's favourite weapon, this isn't unlikely to cause it long term reputational damage. He also says the fact Singapore Airlines have put their A380s back up suggests they know the investigations won't show anything systemically serious.
For now, Professor Middleton thinks this will all blow over soon - it'll be looked at as an isolated incident which was rapidly remedied and handled well. Qantas, Airbus, Rolls Royce and Lufthansa Technik (who services these engines) will have avoided any long term resentment.
That won't, of course, stop an immense media frenzy, in the short term. Some of the questions coming from general news reporters at the company's Mascot base media briefing last night weren't so much reaching as they were attempting a seance with the spirits of sensationalism. Don't mistake me for a big company apologist, however. Maybe my colleagues were simply venting their frustrations over their latest run in with grumpy or cabin crew, which admittedly tend to come up more in chats with friends than do those about say, Singapore Airlines crews.
And it's hard not to be cynical about the Union choosing this moment to draw a vague line to the fact the servicing of the A380 and its engines is done overseas in Lufthansa's service base (there's simply no way, says Professor Middleton, that any company could afford to service these things locally).
Of course, all bets are off if it happens again. Let's all pray it doesn't happen again - and also pray for those such as the 68 souls who just perished on the Cubana Airlines flight. There are worse things than a few delayed flights - something we in the Lucky Country sometimes forget.
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Siobhan Eirlys, Sydney (17 January 2011 11:56PM) wrote:
Awesome blog Ky... x
John, Sydney (5 November 2010 6:23PM) wrote:
There should be more blogs like this!
Dean, Perth (5 November 2010 6:20PM) wrote:
Great blog, Ky!
adam, Perth (5 November 2010 6:19PM) wrote: