A Qantas Airbus 380 has diverted into Dubai during a flight from Singapore to London after engine number 4 suffered “an engine oil defect”. The plane was carrying 258 passengers onboard, along with four pilots and 21 cabin crew.
I wanted to write a very quick post in case some of you have seen this news story and feeling a little concerned.
Firstly, this incident is not news… Once again, the world’s media have chosen to report a story despite there being no story! Jet engines are incredibly reliable, but every now and again one will suffer a technical fault. With today’s modern aircraft running extensive computer systems that monitor every single minor detail any technical fault is immediately noticed, analysed, and recorded.
One of four engines has suffered a defect of some kind – it is unknown exactly what – and the Airbus computer systems would have alerted the pilots immediately. After receiving this information, the pilots would have run a set checklist based on this scenario. As a precaution the engine would have been shut down, and a diversion initiated.
In this sccenario it is always the safest option to shut down the affected engine to prevent the problem worsening. The a380 – and any other commercial airliner – flies perfectly normally with an engine shut down.
Let me say this again: Shutting the engine down does not affect the safety of the aircraft.
So, why did the plane divert into Dubai? This would also have been a necessary precautionary measure. Despite the plane being perfectly safe to fly with only 3 of the 4 engines running, a diversion is the safest action to take. An engineer can check the problem, and ensure that the aircraft is 100% safe to continue flying.
I hope that helps.. Just remember, commercial airliners have such powerful and complex computer systems monitoring every detail. An aircraft can fly perfectly safely with one or two engines shutting down, and we – that’s all of us in the aviation industry – will always take the SAFEST course of action. If that means diverting an aircraft to get it checked, then that is what we will do.
At no point was the plane or any of it’s passengers in any danger.