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Rolls-Royce to Replace Engines of Superjumbo Airbus Jets

Firefighters surround a Qantas passenger plane which made an emergency landing in Singapore's Changi International Airport after having engine problems, 04 Nov 2010

The Associated Press reports Monday that Rolls-Royce will temporarily replace entire engines on A380 Superjumbo jets, after an oil leak in an engine earlier this month caused a fire in the engine and a catastrophic failure.

British jet-engine maker Rolls-Royce would not comment on the report that it would swap out entire engines on A380 Superjumbo jets.

The company said it stands by its earlier statement that an engine fire in a QANTAS airliner was caused by a specific component in the turbine area, but declined to name the component. Industry analyst Howard Wheeldon said swapping out engines could take some time.

"It suggests that this is a three, six or maybe nine-month job to get these aircraft back in the air as opposed to and earlier hope that if could be just a few weeks," said Wheeldon.

Qantas has grounded its six A380s, after finding oil leaks in three of them. A QANTAS spokesman called its approach conservative. Wheeldon agrees.

"Perfectly understandable that QANTAS should want answers to what is still an unexplained problem, and to ensure that the engines in service in the future will not come up against a similar problem."

Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa checked their planes and returned all but one to service. Wheeldon said that was a logical decision. "We must remember that this was not a crash, this was an incident where one engine failed, there are three others, this aircraft can fly on two engines. Now obviously one does not want to see an incident like this, but the company [has] got to the bottom of it very quickly."

This report, though, spells bad financial news for Rolls-Royce, said Wheeldon.

"Clearly the stock has already suffered, it came back on a positive front Friday after the announcement. I think we are going to see some drift here until the day comes that they can tell us that this is firmly behind them."

A Rolls-Royce would not comment on how long repairs would take, as it would depend on how a specific airline wanted repairs to proceed. The company also would not comment on whether this would delay delivery of A380s expected to go into service in 2011.