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Rolls-Royce Falls on Qantas A380 Incident

Stocks in this article: BA

LONDON ( TheStreet) -- Shares in London-based Rolls-Royce PLC fell 5.5%, making it the biggest loser on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday, after an engine it manufactured blew out on an Airbus A380 operated by Qantas.

Following the incident Thursday in Singapore, the aerospace, power systems and defense company, which is no longer related to the automobile manufacturer with the same name, has recommended safety checks for A380 operators that use Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines. The A380 has four engines.

Currently, five airlines operate a total of 37 A380s. The five include Singapore, Qantas, Lufthansa, Air France and Emirates. Only Singapore, Qantas and Lufthansa operate A380s with Rolls-Royce engines. Qantas and Singapore, which operate a total of 17 A380s, suspended operations of the aircraft.

Lufthansa, meanwhile, conducted engine checks during normal ground times in Frankfurt and Tokyo and said it does not anticipate any schedule delays.

"The in-service fleet of Trent 900 engines is small and relatively new, and the group feels that it is prudent to recommend that a number of basic precautionary engine checks are performed," Rolls-Royce said in a prepared statement on Thursday. "This process is now underway."

After the engine blew out, it spit flames and large metal chunks, one of which appeared to damage the left wing. The plane turned back and landed safely. It carried 433 passengers and 26 crew members; none were injured. The pilot is being praised for his performance.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said: "This issue, an engine failure, has been one that we haven't seen before. So we are obviously taking it very seriously, because it is a significant engine failure."

Aviation consultant Addison Schonland, president of San Diego, Ca.-based Innovation Analysis Group, said that while attention has focused on Airbus in the aftermath of the incident, "the A380 and the crew handled the event really well, so the real story here is Rolls Royce."

"It appears to be quite a big engine failure, a quite damaging failure, in which some parts flew out of the engine and damaged the wing," said Schonland, who noted that engine incidents are supposed to be contained in order to prevent debris from damaging other aircraft parts.

"We don't know enough to reach any conclusions yet, but there are lots of questions for Rolls Royce to answer," he said.

Last month, Boeing (BA) grounded a 787 jet it was testing because of problems with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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