Aviation safety investigations & reports

Engine vibrations and in-flight shutdown involving Airbus A330, VH-QPI, near Sydney Airport, New South Wales, on 1 June 2018

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final Report

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 539KB]

What happened

On 1 June 2018, a Qantas Airways Limited Airbus A330 aircraft, registered VH-QPI (QPI), was operating a scheduled passenger flight from Sydney, New South Wales to Bangkok, Thailand. On board were 13 crewmembers and 297 passengers.

Shortly after take-off, a ‘pop’ sound was heard, followed by light airframe vibration and a reduction in the rotational speed of the right engine. A cockpit advisory message relating to the right engine’s vibration level was also displayed to the crew.

The flight crew discontinued the climb and consulted the ‘High Engine Vibration’ checklist, which directed them to reduce the right engine’s thrust to idle. With the reduction in thrust, the vibration on the right engine reduced but remained relatively high. To prevent further engine damage the flight crew decided to shut the engine down. With the engine shut down, the airframe vibration ceased.

Following an uneventful descent and return to Sydney Airport, an overweight landing with one engine inoperative was conducted.

Initial inspection by engineering staff revealed visible damage to the right engine low-pressure turbine, and engine debris generated impact damage to the aircraft’s wing flap lower surfaces and body fairings. The engine was removed and sent to the operator’s overhaul facility for detailed examination and repair.

What the ATSB found

Technical examination identified that the effects of oxidation and deterioration of the protective coating of the low‑pressure turbine stage 4 nozzle guide vane segments, led to intergranular oxidation, crack development and loss of an aerofoil from the No. 5 segment. The liberated aerofoil impacted downstream rotating components, resulting in a loss of turbine blade material, rotor imbalance and subsequent airframe vibration.

What’s been done as a result

In response to the loss of the aerofoil from the No. 5 nozzle guide vane segment, the operator initiated a borescope inspection program to identify segments that exhibited evidence of cracking. Affected engines were removed from service. The operator also specified that at engine overhaul, all nozzle guide vane segments that had cracks were to be replaced, and that only new (rather than overhauled) segments were to be installed.

The engine manufacturer made a change to the type of protective coating used on the nozzle guide vane segments to reduce oxidation. Service instructions were issued in mid‑2019 to implement the coating replacement.

Safety message

This incident illustrates that, despite the high reliability of modern turbine engines, flight crews can still be faced with malfunctions that require their combined judgement and expertise to safely manage the situation.

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 539KB]

The occurrence

General details
Date: 01 June 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1220 AEST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Sydney Airport   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 28 August 2020   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus  
Aircraft model A330-303  
Aircraft registration VH-QPI  
Serial number 0705  
Operator Qantas Airways  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Sydney, New South Wales  
Destination Bangkok, Thailand  
Last update 28 August 2020