Aviation safety investigations & reports

Powerplant/propulsion event - VH-­VQO, 74 km NNW of Adelaide SA, 15 March 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 15 March 2010, an Airbus A320-232, registered VH-VQO, departed Adelaide, South Australia on a scheduled passenger flight to Darwin, Northern Territory. On board were six crew and 175 passengers. When climbing through 12,000 ft, the flight crew observed a loss of thrust from the number-2 (right) engine, accompanied by a loud bang and several warning indications. Passengers also reported seeing flames and smoke emanating from the right engine tailpipe.

The crew shut down and discharged both fire bottles into the right engine. They then returned and landed at Adelaide.

A post-landing inspection by maintenance personnel found metal debris and evidence of a fire in the tailpipe of the right engine. Removal and examination of the engine revealed evidence of a titanium fire that originated in the vicinity of the 6th stage high pressure compressor.

The engine was identified in an engine manufacturer service bulletin. This included new production engines that received a limited number of High Pressure Compressor Stage 6 Stator Vanes from the suspect batch. The engine manufacturer recommended certain serial number engines (which included the incident engine) in this category remain in service until the next scheduled overhaul shop visit. It was considered likely that the partial power loss was initiated by a failure of one or more of these vanes.

The operator advised the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) that it had been operating four engines (one on each of four aircraft) that were identified within the service bulletin.

At the time of writing this report, the operator was working with the engine manufacturer to remove all four engines from service by September 2010.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.47MB]
General details
Date: 15 March 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2232 CSuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 74 km NNW of Adelaide    
State: South Australia   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 14 October 2010   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus Industrie  
Aircraft model A320  
Aircraft registration VH-VQO  
Serial number 2587  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Unknown  
Departure point Adelaide, SA  
Destination Darwin, NT  
Last update 14 November 2018