Aviation safety investigations & reports

In-flight engine failure, Sydney, 03 February 2007, Boeing Company 747-438, VH-OJM

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 1200 Eastern Standard Time, on 3 February 2007, after departing Sydney Airport and while in a climb at approximately 4,000 ft above ground level, the flight crew of a Boeing 747-438 aircraft, registered VH-OJM, heard several loud bangs and felt vibration through the aircraft structure. Observing an increase in the exhaust gas temperature indication for the number-3 engine, the crew following the non-normal checklist, shut down the engine, dumped excess fuel and returned the aircraft to Sydney Airport.

A subsequent examination of the engine found that it had sustained a high pressure compressor (HPC), stage 1, blade failure. The mode of failure was known to the engine manufacturer, who had attributed it to blade tip rubbing, due to distortion of the engines high pressure case (module 41). To address the problem, the engine manufacturer had introduced service bulletin (SB), SB72-F002. The number-3 engine did not have the service bulletin embodied at the time of the failure.

Although the exact time of the blade tip rubbing and subsequent cracking could not be determined, the engine manufacturer believed that crack initiation to blade failure took approximately 50 cycles.

During the investigation, the aircraft operator experienced a subsequent failure, bringing the total number of failures of this type for the operator to five. Similar failures were reported by another aircraft operator, with 16 similar failures reported in total.

As a result of the incident, the operator accelerated its modification embodiment program and expects to have all installed engines modified by early 2010.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 935KB]
General details
Date: 03 February 2007   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1205 ESuT    
Location   (show map): Sydney Aerodrome NNE N 57km    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Abnormal engine indications  
Release date: 22 May 2008   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 747  
Aircraft registration VH-OJM  
Serial number 25245  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Sydney, NSW  
Departure time 1200  
Destination Los Angeles, USA  
Last update 18 April 2018