Crippled Air France A380 Arrives back in France

December 8, 2017

File photo of the Air France A380's #4 engine after the incident. Image taken by passenger David Rehmar, who was onboard the flight. Photograph: David Rehmar


Air France has just ferried an Airbus A380 aircraft from Goose Bay, Canada to Paris, after it suffered a catastrophic engine failure almost three months ago. On September 30, 2017, Air France flight AF497 from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), operated by an Airbus A380-800 (F-HPJE), suffered an "uncontained engine failure" over Greenland. The aircraft was subsequently diverted to Goose Bay, Canada, and has remained there until yesterday. 


While cruising near Paamiut, Greenland, the A380's #4 Engine Alliance GP7270 engine (outboard engine on the right side of the aircraft) seemed to have exploded, strewing debris over Greenland and rendering the engine inoperable. Furthermore, photos from onboard the aircraft, showed that much of its inlet, fan disk, and compressor were blown away by the implosion. The aircraft landed safely with three engines operating, and passengers were taken to their final destination on an Air France Boeing 777-300ER and a chartered Nolinor Boeing 737-300. 


Original plans for rescuing the stranded aircraft called for installing a dummy engine and removing the affected one, leaving three engines operational for the flight home. However, this was deemed too risky, and a fully functional GP7270 engine was delivered to Goose Bay on an Antonov An-124 cargo plane. According to Air France, the aircraft left Canada with all four engines in operation. 


Now, the Air France A380 will be in Paris for "a few weeks" of checks and maintenance before it is cleared to re-enter commercial service. On the other hand, the affected engine was shipped to the manufacturer's facility in Great Britain, where it will undergo a series of inspections. 


This was the second major incident to occur on an Airbus A380. In 2010, Qantas flight 32 made an emergency landing in Singapore, because its #2 engine (inboard engine on the left side) imploded due to a fan blade disintegrating. This aircraft was powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 972 engines, and was able to land safely following the incident. None of the A380's incidents have ever led to the loss of life. 


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