Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lufthansa to become first airline to use biofuel on a passenger flight

Lufthansa is launching the world’s first scheduled commercial passenger flights using biofuel in the first half of 2011, with an IAE-V2500-powered Airbus A321.

In April 2011, LH will begin a six-month trial with an A321 on scheduled commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route. Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene. The primary purpose of the project is to conduct a long-term trial to study the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and engine life.

The daily flights are part of the ‘burnFair’ project to study the long-term impact of sustainable biofuels on aircraft performance. Airbus’ role is to provide technical assistance and to monitor the fuel properties. The biofuel will be supplied by Finland-based Neste Oil, a fuel refining and marketing company that has cooperated with Lufthansa for many years, LH said. Certification of its biofuel is expected in March 2011.

LH Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber said that during the six months trial, LH will save around 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions. "Lufthansa will be the world’s first airline to utilize bio-fuel in flight operations within the framework of a long-term trial. This is a further consistent step in a proven sustainability strategy, which Lufthansa has for many years successfully pursued and implemented," he said. The project will cost LH an estimated €6.6 million ($8.74 million).

Friday, November 26, 2010

ICAO Takes Clean Sheet Approach To Checkpoints


Security officials convening in Montreal Nov. 30-Dec. 1 will adopt a “clean sheet” approach to designing a checkpoint of the future. Their goal: Make substantial gains in screening technology to frustrate terrorist attackers while making the ritual of passing through airport security more tolerable for travelers.

About 50 specialists from government and industry will look at developments in the pipeline or in theory in the three major components of a security program—intelligence, behavior analysis and technology. They hope to “combine the different ingredients to produce a better system,” says Steve Berti, chief of aviation security and facilitation policy for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Airports Council International (ACI) requested the brainstorming session from ICAO’s Aviation Security Panel, the chief adviser to the ICAO Council, the legislative body that sets technical standards and practices. “All approaches to security have disadvantages and advantages,” Berti says, “depending on your interest, whether it is privacy on one hand or the necessity to prevent terrorism. It is a difficult balancing act.”

Experts say advances in technology, procedures and intelligence will enable the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other security agencies to drop the one-size-fits-all approach that commits every traveler to the same security treatment. How soon the new approach may be adopted depends on the pace of research and development, approvals by the TSA and the cooperation of governments on standards and information exchanges.

Though it may be years away, tomorrow’s checkpoint will continue to rely on body scanners, the one clear trend in technology, says Berti. But experts say the next advance will be less intrusive and less revealing of body features than the somewhat graphic images produced by the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners. Both manufacturers--L-3 Communications and Rapiscan Systems are testing units that produce a stick figure, and home in on anomalies—that could be a set of keys or a pack of chewing gum—but that in worst-case scenario could be an explosive. It’s a process called automated target recognition under TSA study. An X-ray unit deployed at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Technology adopts the automated target recognition capability.

“What we have now is not sustainable if we get to the FAA’s prediction of 1 billion passengers a year,” says Christopher Bidwell, VP-security and facilitation with ACI-North America. He is pushing for more research and development of screening technology and for mutually recognized standards for technology.

The lack of harmonized standards between the European Union and the U.S., for example, is why transatlantic travelers undergo the practice of duplicate screenings, one at their point of origination in Europe, and again on arrival if they are taking a domestic U.S. flight. In any case, common standards will make it easier for manufacturers to produce an effective and less-expensive scanner for processing passengers and baggage and eliminate the need for a second screening, Bidwell says.

Advances in millimeter wave wand technology may make pat downs more of a long-shot alternative deployed strictly as a follow-on procedure as passengers proceed through the security process. That process will involve using improved screening techniques that identify people, observe their behavior, clear them and their baggage and single out those who raise doubts.

Security consultant Rodger Dickey who works with BAS Strategic Solutions of Gainesville, Va., predicts a future of “dynamic screening and a risk-informed system” to defeat security threats. A former FAA and TSA official, Dickey says the future checkpoint will be more capable of utilizing multiple technologies, with workable policy and procedures in place. TSA is moving toward this goal, says Dickey. It is maturing as an agency and is supported by a core of key people who have been part of the organization since the start nine years ago and are dedicated to defeating terrorists, he adds.

Dickey expects that screening technologies will be integrated, so that “an individual screener has better situational awareness of the threat of a given person.” The screening process will be streamlined, “less of a gauntlet” that now requires removal of shoes and jackets, says Dickey.

Airlines support expansion of the trusted traveler concept that differentiates passengers to ease pressures on the checkpoints and advocates more use of risk management techniques. As many as half of the daily flow of passengers could qualify for trusted status and reduce the workload at airport checkpoints, says Kenneth Dunlap, IATA’s global director of security and travel facilitation. Dickey says a trusted traveler program will be another key to speeding up the process. “The more you know about a person and the more they are identified biometrically, their background, they will be subjected to less scrutiny in the screening process against one that you know little or nothing about.”

The checkpoint of the future also may be staffed by screeners from private security companies, if Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) has his way. Mica is expected to serve as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has suggested that airports should consider private security and allow the TSA role to convert from hands-on screening to oversight.

“We would expand if it’s made possible,” says Gerald Berry, president of Covenant Aviation Security of Winter Springs, Fla., the screening contractor at San Francisco International Airport. “TSA can’t provide and regulate at the same time.” He suggests that the shift to industry would bring new ideas to produce a checkpoint more secure and tolerable.

Korea to boost aviation industry

In a bid to develop the domestic aviation industry, the government laid out a specific plan yesterday based on a blueprint it had announced earlier this year to help it become one of the world’s top seven aircraft industry leaders by 2020. According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the government will focus on securing key technologies and promoting research and development.

“We have selected 10 key aviation-industry-related technologies that the country should develop and acquire to be recognized as advanced in the field,” Cho Seok, deputy minister for new growth engines, said during a briefing yesterday at the government complex building in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi.

He noted that the ministry had made its selections by gathering opinions from industry leaders, universities and institutions. The selected technologies include aircraft design, passenger-seat comfort, flight safety, next-generation materials, and a highly efficient, eco-friendly promotion system.

As for R&D, several government bodies - including the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs, and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration - will be responsible for conducting studies to help Korea develop aviation products using domestic components. Projects will be done in different regions.

“Aviation manufacturing will be promoted in South Gyeongsang, while the maintenance, repair and overhaul sectors will be in Busan because that is where Korean Air has its main maintenance center,” Cho said.

The government had said in January that it would create $10 billion in aviation-related exports by 2020. Unlike the electronics, semiconductor and automobile industries, Korea’s aviation industry has been lagging behind that of other developed nations.

Korea currently ranks 16th in terms of global aviation industry sales, behind other Asian countries such as Singapore, China and Japan. Industry leaders include the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, according to the Korea Aerospace Industries Association.

“The aviation industry is expected to thrive in the future, as demand for aircraft is increasing around the world. It has the potential to become a source of profit for Korea should it be prepared with key technologies and manufacturing skills,” said Lee Ok-hyeong, senior deputy director at the ministry’s growth-engine policy division.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Experts Zero In on Jet-Ice Risk

International aviation-safety experts are targeting an emerging flight hazard: tiny, high-altitude ice crystals that can clog airspeed sensors on jetliners and, in extreme cases, even cause planes to lose lift and stop flying.

Boeing Co. and Air France-KLM SA have been leading a broad study delving into this previously little-understood icing phenomenon, according to industry officials briefed on the preliminary findings.

The conclusions are likely to prompt a major push for changes in the way regulators, airplane makers and parts suppliers confront such dangers.

The companies are advocating adoption of tougher industrywide testing requirements for the sensors, the officials said, along with new procedures and more-precise checklists to help pilots maintain control of commercial jets if their airspeed indicators suddenly malfunction or fail.

The crystals—typically suspended above intense storms and found circulating on top of towering clouds where they are invisible to both pilots and weather radar—are small enough to penetrate heated speed sensors, or pitot tubes, mounted outside the fuselage.

The crystals quickly melt but under extremely cold conditions may refreeze, according to the study and independent safety experts, sending incorrect or wildly fluctuating speed indications to the cockpit. Pitot tubes use external air temperature and pressure to calculate changes in speed.

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Bloomberg News
Boeing and Air France-KLM are leading a study on an icing phenomenon.

The result can be that autopilots shut off, pilots lose altitude readings and receive false warnings about exceeding allowable speeds. The combination of factors can prompt crews to reduce thrust, momentarily lose control or even inadvertently stall the aircraft.

The study was prompted partly by the June 2009 crash of an Air France Airbus A330 as it flew through a particularly violent storm system on the way to Paris from Rio de Janeiro. All 228 people aboard Flight 447 perished after at least two of its three speed sensors apparently malfunctioned, resulting in a cascade of failures affecting flight-management computers, automated flight controls and other vital systems.

An international team of investigators hasn't been able to determine exactly why the widebody jet went down, partly because its flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders haven't been recovered from the ocean. Airbus officials are gearing up for a fourth attempt, probably early next year, to have rescue crews try to locate the "black boxes," industry officials said.

The high-profile crash—followed by revelations that both Airbus and Air France for years had been aware of chronic pitot tube problems on certain families of jets—sparked a broader review of the relevant science and technology. U.S. and European regulators ordered swift replacement of suspect tubes on hundreds of Airbus planes, and began work to draft more-stringent testing standards for next-generation devices.

The Boeing-Air France effort goes further by striving to thoroughly understand the reasons behind the formation and behavior of the tiny crystals.

According to industry officials, the companies also have teamed up to look at what happens to pitot tubes at substantially higher altitudes and colder temperatures than previously considered. Many of today's sensors are certified to operate at up to 40,000 feet and minus 40 degrees Celsius, while many experts want details about reliability in conditions around minus 65 degrees Celsius.

A senior Air France official declined to comment on the conclusions so far, referring questions to aircraft and hardware manufacturers.

A Boeing spokeswoman said it was premature to comment.

Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., has been informed about the study, but officials declined to comment.

Concern about ice building up on wings, coating speed sensors and disrupting airflow through engines is hardly a new concept. Going back to the 1940s, when commercial air travel was in its infancy, pilots recognized the dangers of flying through freezing rain. As technology advanced, pitot tubes became better heated and ice formations could be readily detected by onboard weather radar.

Until recently though, air-safety experts didn't fully recognize the heightened dangers posed by the smallest crystals. They also are grappling with the intricacies of how crystals refreeze and distort speed readings.

Safety experts are also increasingly turning their attention to training and emergency techniques aimed at helping pilots maintain steady speed and level flight—particularly at night or in turbulence—despite unreliable speed indications.

An FAA spokeswoman said the agency is working with manufacturers, industry groups and foreign regulators "to expand the icing environment," or the range of icing conditions, used to certify new sensor designs.

The anti-icing drive could go public early next year as Boeing and other companies solicit additional support and strive for consensus on how pilots should respond to airspeed emergencies. Air France already has made some adjustments in its pilot training. Many industry experts, however, believe a common approach should be adopted by all airlines, regardless of whether they fly Boeing or Airbus models.

In the wake of the 2009 A330 crash, French investigators identified what they described as more than a dozen "significant" events in which airspeed sensors malfunctioned. Barely three weeks after that accident, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board was looking at a pair of international flights, including a Northwest Airlines A330 airliner, which suffered a series of equipment and computer malfunctions similar to those encountered by Air France Flight 447.

The Northwest A330 was cruising at 39,000 feet on autopilot near Kagoshima, Japan, when it encountered intense rain and both the captain's and co-pilot's airspeed indicators immediately showed a huge rollback in the plane's forward velocity. With autopilot and automatic-throttle controls disengaged, the cockpit was filled with beeps and bright warning signals indicating various system problems.

The Northwest crew said the event lasted more than three minutes, but they maintained airspeed, manually flew the most direct route out of the storm and nobody was hurt.

Source : http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703730304575633043655381352.html

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

EasyJet Chases Business Market With Flexible Tickets

EasyJet Plc Chief Executive Officer Carolyn McCall said Europe’s second-largest discount airline will offer flexible tickets to lure business flyers, increasing competition with network carriers including British Airways Plc.

McCall, who has been conducting a strategy review since taking over in July, said today that Luton, England-based EasyJet will seek to lift profit margins by sharpening the focus on corporate customers, who account for 18 percent of its sales.

The switch will boost average fares and help differentiate EasyJet from Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest discount carrier, which is adding business-friendly routes at city-center airports but which offers no flexibility. At the same time the move brings its model closer to those of BA and low-cost rival Air Berlin Plc, and could also increase administrative costs.

“This would create a ‘low-cost plus’ carrier, sticking to discount principles but incorporating less traditional fare elements,” said Gert Zonneveld, an analyst at Panmure Gordon in London with a “buy” rating on the stock. “EasyJet has the network and frequencies to make a business offering feasible, but added complexity can have cost implications.”

EasyJet fell 4.8 percent to 448 pence as of the close in London, the biggest drop since July 28 and the worst performance on the eight-member Bloomberg EMEA Airlines Index, which declined 3.8 percent. The stock has gained 27 percent this year for a market value of 1.93 billion pounds ($3.1 billion).

First Dividend

McCall, 49, who joined from Guardian Media Group Plc with no experience of the aviation industry, said today that EasyJet plans to make dividend payments for the first time in its 15- year history after net income jumped 70 percent to 121.3 million pounds in the 12 months ended Sept. 30. The carrier reported a pretax profit of 154 million pounds after saying on Oct. 6 that the figure would beat a 150 million-pound target.

Revenue per seat will probably be flat in the first half of the current fiscal year, EasyJet said. That guidance is “disappointing” and suggests a revenue bounce enjoyed by the industry since the end of the recession is coming to an end, said George Humphreys, an analyst at NCB Group in London.

The International Air Transport Association said on Sept. 21 that airline earnings will probably peak at $8.9 billion this year before falling to $5.3 billion in 2011. While European carriers have generally raised guidance as demand recovers, EasyJet’s fiscal year begins later than at peers such as Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Ryanair.

Stelios Pressure

EasyJet is paying a dividend and modifying its strategy following pressure from founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who had lobbied McCall to return cash to investors and adopt a less- seasonal and tourist-dependent model. The entrepreneur said today that the CEO’s announcements were “positive moves.”

The first shareholder payment will be made in 2012 for the current fiscal year, conditional on a dividend cover of five times, EasyJet said in a statement.

Ryanair paid a one-time dividend of 500 million euros last month, its first such award, after CEO Michael O’Leary opted to limit fleet growth, citing a maturing discount-travel market. It’s also looking at routes to all European airports, other than London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

While EasyJet’s business plan is “sound,” the strategy review showed it could capture a bigger share of European short- haul travel and lure more corporate flyers, McCall said.

To target that market EasyJet will introduce flexible fares allowing customers to change flights until two hours before departure. Passengers will be able to make unlimited changes one week before and up to three weeks after the booked date, and the fare will include speedy boarding and one checked luggage item.

Fleet Plan

“We want to target more business customers,” McCall said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s Countdown with Maryam Nemazee. “It will be an investment, but one that will return itself quite comfortably.”

EasyJet will add 24 aircraft by September 2013, giving it a 220-strong fleet, equal to a 7 percent capacity increase. Growth will thereafter be in the region of 4 and 8 percent a year, the CEO said. Seating rose by an average 15 percent in 2005-2008.

“This looks like a sensible strategic plan,” said Wyn Ellis, an analyst at Numis Securities in London with a “hold” rating on EasyJet stock.

Stelios, who prefers to be known by his first name, said McCall should “carefully assess the financial viability” of any expansion, while also aspiring to a dividend payout ratio of 50 percent “over time.”

Brand Agreement

McCall has also sought to ease tensions with EasyJet’s founder and top investor by resolving a brand-licensing dispute.

The Oct. 11 deal allows the carrier to use the “Easy” identity to boost revenue through marketing deals with other companies for up to 50 years, in exchange for paying its founder a royalty of 0.25 percent of revenue, fixed at 3.9 million pounds and 4.95 million pounds in the first and second years.

“People had assumed that the brand-licensing deal marked the end of public debate about strategy with the largest shareholder, but this that may not now be the case,” said Douglas McNeill, an analyst at Charles Stanley Securities in London with a “sell” recommendation on the stock.

McCall has also faced crew shortages that caused delays across over the busy summer months. The CEO said today that revised assumptions for staff numbers, flexible rosters and improved management and communications should address the issue.

Analysts had anticipated full-year earnings of 114 million pounds. Net income was equal to 28 pence a share, up from 71.2 million pounds, or 16.6 pence, a year earlier, while sales rose 11 percent to 2.97 billion pounds.

Source : http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-11-16/easyjet-chases-business-market-with-flexible-tickets.html

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Knife found on Delta flight to Japan

Japanese police say they are investigating a Delta Air Lines flight from South Korea to Japan following the discovery of a small knife under passenger seats.

A police official at Japan's Narita airport said Tuesday a flight from the Atlanta-based airline with 86 passengers and eight crew members arrived at Narita from Pusan, South Korea.

Following the arrival, cleaners found a folding knife with a blade about 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) long.

The police official declined to be named as he was not authorized to talk to the media.

A Delta spokeswoman in Tokyo could not be reached for comment.

Source : http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9JCJQ8G0.htm
Volcanic ash spewing from Indonesia's Mount Merapi has forced some airlines to cancel flights out of Jakarta's international airport, airport officials said Wednesday.

Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways had canceled flights at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, airport spokesman Andang Santoso said. Singapore Airlines said it was continuing to fly.

Large clouds of gas and dust from Merapi's recent eruptions also have forced some flight cancellations into and out of the Yogyakarta airport.

Travelers were asked to check with their airlines for schedule changes.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama shortened his visit to the Indonesian capital because of concerns that volcanic ash could ground Air Force One in Jakarta, according to administration officials.

Recent eruptions of Merapi, which started on October 26, have killed at least 156 people, officials at Sardjito hospital have said. The eruptions also have displaced an estimated 200,000 people.

The 3,000-meter (9,800-foot) Merapi, in Central Java, is famously unpredictable. About 1,300 people died when Merapi erupted in 1930.

source : http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/11/10/indonesia.volcano.flights/?hpt=Sbinjakart

U.S. Flight Cancelations Soar as Delays Fall

New rules that prohibit airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac for more than three hours has cut long delays, but also boosted flight cancellations in the U.S., according to a U.S. Transportation Department report released Tuesday.

U.S. flight cancellations jumped about 50% in September from the same month last year, with about 0.9% of domestic flights canceled compared to 0.6% a year earlier, according to the report, which reviews data from 18 of the largest carriers. But the September cancellation rate was actually down slightly from the previous month.

Meanwhile, only four tarmac delays lasted longer than three hours in September, down from six a year ago, the Transportation Department says. And no wonder: Airlines face fines of thousands of dollars per passenger after the prohibition on keeping passengers cooped up during lengthy delays took effect in April.

Carriers also improved their on-time arrivals and baggage handling from a year earlier. About 85% of domestic flights arrived on time in September, up from 82% a year earlier, while carriers mishandled 2.89 bags per 1,000 passengers, an improvement from 3.06 bags per 1,000 passengers a year earlier, according to the report.


Source : http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/u-s-flight-cancelations-soar-as-delays-fall/19709974/

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Boards flight as old white man, comes out as a young Chinese!

Toronto, Nov 6 (IANS) In a story that reads like a spy thriller, a young Chinese fooled customs and security at Hong Kong airport last week to board an Air Canada flight faking as an elderly white man and land in Vancouver to seek asylum.

But his mask was blown off halfway through the journey when he went into a toilet as an elderly, wrinkled man and came out as a young Asian man Oct 29. He was taken into custody on landing in Vancouver and is now under custody even as he has filed for refugee status in Canada.

Reports say the man managed to hoodwink airport security and immigration authorities in Hong Kong by wearing a prosthetic mask to make him look like a 55-year-old US citizen, who actually acted as his accomplice.

The older American passed on a boarding pass to the young masked man after he had cleared the initial security check-up. Clearing the final gate security check was no difficult as the masked man had the boarding pass from his accomplice white man. For his ID, he used an Air Canada Aeroplan card which doesn't need photo or date of birth.

According to a report in the Globe and Mail, the man's disguise consisted of a silicone mask that covered his head, neck and part of his chest. He topped it off with a brown cardigan and apple cap and a pair of spectacles.

Before he was exposed, the flight crew was also baffled that this elderly white man had rather young hands.

'The passenger in question was observed at the beginning of the flight to be an elderly Caucasian male who appeared to have young looking hands,'' the paper quoted the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) as saying in its secret memo on the case.

But after his mid-air bathroom change-over when he came out as a young Asian, the Air Canada crew staff quickly alerted Canadian security agencies at Vancouver airport who took him in custody when he landed there.

The man admitted that he disguised as an elderly white man and mimicked his slow movement to fool multi-layered security in Hong Kong.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the investigation is 'ongoing and the facts are not established.'

Source : http://sify.com/news/boards-flight-as-old-white-man-comes-out-as-a-young-chinese-news-international-klgiOdbfaaf.html

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Qantas jumbo makes emergency landing in Singapore

SINGAPORE – Qantas grounded all six of its Airbus A380 superjumbos after one of them blew out an engine Thursday, shooting flames and debris that forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Singapore with 459 people aboard.

The carrier said the double-decker Airbus A380 plane landed safely with no injuries.
It was most serious midair incident involving the A380, the world's largest jetliner, since it debuted in October 2007 with Singapore Airlines flying it to Sydney — the same route that Qantas flight QF34 was flying when it was stricken Thursday.

Qantas said there had been no explosion, but witnesses aboard the plane and on the ground reported blasts.
After the plane touched down in Singapore, the engine closest to the fuselage on the left wing had visible burn marks and was missing a section of plate that would have been painted with the red kangaroo logo of the airline. The upper part of the left wing also appeared damaged.

One passenger, Rosemary Hegardy, 60, of Sydney, told The Associated Press that she heard two bangs and saw yellow flames from her window.

"There was flames — yellow flames came out, and debris came off. ... You could see black things shooting through the smoke, like bits of debris," she said.

In another seat, Tyler Wooster watched as part of the skin of the wing peeled off, exposing foam and broken wires.

"My whole body just went to jelly and I didn't know what was going to happen as we were going down, if we were going to be OK," Wooster told Australia's Nine Network news.

Hegardy said the pilot informed passengers of the engine trouble and that the plane would have to dump fuel before it could land.

Witnesses on the western Indonesian island of Batam, near Singapore, reported hearing a large blast and seeing debris — including panels painted white and red — falling onto houses and a nearby shopping mall.
The airline had no immediate comment on whether the engine trouble was related to eruptions of Indonesia's Mount Merapi over the past 10 days. Given the timing of the malfunction, 15 minutes after takeoff from Singapore at 9:56 a.m. and before the flight had time to approach the mountain, there appeared to be no connection.

The plane landed after one hour and 50 minutes.

The flight is a regular service that flies between Sydney, Singapore and London. Qantas' A380s can carry up to 525 people, but flight QF34 was carrying 433 passengers and 26 crew, all of whom were evacuated by a step ladder in an operation that lasted two hours.

Qantas spokeswoman Emma Kearns in Sydney said there were no reports of injuries or an explosion on board. The airline described the problem as an "engine issue" without elaborating.

"We will suspend those A380 services until we are completely confident that Qantas safety requirements have been met," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told a news conference in Sydney.

Aviation expert Tom Ballantyne told The Associated Press that it was Thursday's troubles were "certainly the most serious incident that the A380 has experienced since it entered operations."

He said while the engine shutdown couldn't have caused a crash. The planes are designed to fly on just two engines, and the pilots are trained to handle engine failures, he said.

He also pointed out that the problem appeared to be with the engine, made by Rolls-Royce.

"It's not like the aircraft is going to drop out of the sky," Ballantyne, Sydney-based chief correspondent at Orient Aviation Magazine, said by telephone from Brunei.

Still, the incident is likely to raise safety questions about one of the most modern aircraft, which has suffered a series of minor incidents.

In September 2009, a Singapore Airlines A380 turned around in midflight and returned to Paris after one of its four engines failed. On March 31, a Qantas A380 with 244 people on board burst two tires on landing in Sydney after a flight from Singapore.

The other issues with the A380s have all been relatively minor, such as electrical problems, Ballantyne said.
Ballantyne said airlines love the A380.

"They describe it as a passenger magnet. Passengers actually ask to fly on it," he said.

Qantas' safety record is enviable among major airlines, with no fatal crashes since it introduced jet-powered planes in the late 1950s.

But a run of scares have happened in recent years across a range of plane types. The most serious — when a faulty oxygen tank caused an explosion that blew a 5-foot hole in the fuselage of a Boeing 747-400 over the Philippines — prompted aviation officials to order Qantas to upgrade maintenance procedures.

Source : http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101104/ap_on_re_as/as_singapore_qantas_emergency