The ATSB is investigating an engine malfunction involving Airbus A330, B-6099, near Sydney International Airport, New South Wales on 11 June 2017. During take-off, a section of the left engine air inlet cowl separated from the aircraft. The crew conducted a circuit to reduce the fuel quantity onboard before returning the aircraft to Sydney. No injuries were reported.
Since the occurrence, the ATSB has been working closely with the Civil Aviation Administration of China and their adviser, China Eastern Airlines, the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety and their adviser Airbus, the United Kingdom Air Accidents Investigation Branch and their advisors Rolls-Royce, the Bombardier Group, and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
The ATSB has established that one of three panels within the left engine nose cowl, the inboard intake panel, had partly collapsed during take-off. The crew reduced the left engine power and broadcast a PAN PAN call while they attempted to establish the extent of the damage. After about 43 minutes, the aircraft was returned to Sydney where it landed without further incident.
Debris from the left engine nose cowl has been recovered with the assistance of the Sydney Airport Corporation and the New South Wales Police Service, and initially examined at the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra. This debris, along with the nose cowl assembly have since been transported to the manufacturer’s facilities in Belfast, United Kingdom for detailed examination. The ATSB’s investigator-in-charge attended that examination with the assistance of the accredited representatives and their advisors.
The engine will also be inspected in Hong Kong with the assistance of the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department China and their advisor Rolls-Royce, to establish the extent of the damage sustained by the engine due to the cowling separation event.
In addition to these examinations, the ATSB will:
- continue to work with the appropriate organisations in order to establish the factors that led to the collapse of the left engine nose cowl
- review the aircraft maintenance records and the current maintenance requirements relating to the engine nose cowl
- analyse the flight data and cockpit voice recorders
- interview personnel involved in the occurrence.
The aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, has issued an Operator Information Telex alerting operators of Airbus A330 aircraft of this occurrence and includes information that may further assist operators with inspections and technical data.
The investigation is continuing.
The information contained in this web update is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB's understanding of the accident as outlined in this web update. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this update.
 PAN PAN: an internationally recognised radio call announcing an urgency condition which concerns the safety of an aircraft or its occupants but where the flight crew does not require immediate assistance.