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Updated: 23 August 2017

The ATSB is investigating an engine malfunction involving Airbus A330, registered 9M-XXE, near Carnarvon, Western Australia, on 25 June 2017.

The aircraft had earlier departed Perth, Western Australia bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While conducting a climb from flight level (FL) 380 to FL 400, [1] a fan blade on the number 1 engine failed resulting in engine damage and significant airframe vibration.

Interviews and analysis of recorded flight data, indicated that the flight crew conducted an in-flight engine shutdown and returned to Perth. The shutdown engine continued to rotate in the airflow, resulting in ongoing airframe vibration. The aircraft returned to Perth and landed safely.

The engine manufacturer found that a section of the fan blade separated at about one quarter of its length from the blade base. The blade section and associated engine debris were retained within the engine cowls. Examination of the retained fan blade section identified that the separation was likely due to metal fatigue that originated within the blade’s internal structure. Investigation and analysis of the failure mode are on-going.

The findings of the engine manufacturer will be included in the ATSB’s draft safety investigation report. The draft report will be provided to relevant parties for comment before the completion and release of the final report.


[1]              Flight level: at altitudes above 10,000 ft in Australia, an aircraft’s height above mean sea level is referred to as a flight level (FL). FL 370 equates to 37,000 ft.


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.




Published: 1 August 2017

The ATSB is investigating an engine malfunction involving Airbus A330, registered 9M-XXE, near Carnarvon, Western Australia, on 25 June 2017.

As a result of an in‑flight engine fault, the aircraft was subjected to moderate airframe vibration. The flight crew elected to return to Perth.

As part of the investigation the ATSB will:

  • interview personnel involved
  • examine the engine damage
  • download and analyse data from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

A final safety report will be released following the conclusion of the ATSB’s investigation. Should a safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue.

General details
Date: 25 June 2017 Investigation status: Active 
Time: 0816 WST Investigation phase: Evidence collection 
Location   (show map):near Carnarvon Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 23 August 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Pending Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
Anticipated completion: 1st Quarter 2019 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus 
Aircraft model: A330-343X 
Aircraft registration: 9M-XXE 
Serial number: 1075 
Operator: AirAsia X 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Sector: Jet 
Damage to aircraft: Unknown 
Departure point:Perth, WA
Destination:Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Last update 03 December 2018