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Qantas considers suing Rolls-Royce after engine fire

By the CNN Wire Staff
A Qantas A380 lifts off in Sydney on November 27 on its first flight since a mid-air engine explosion three weeks earlier.
A Qantas A380 lifts off in Sydney on November 27 on its first flight since a mid-air engine explosion three weeks earlier.
  • NEW: Australian court grants Qantas permission to pursue legal action
  • NEW: Qantas says it has already started discussions with Rolls-Royce
  • Officials issue a safety recommendation about the Rolls-Royce engine
  • The problem could have been a factor in last month's Qantas fire

Sydney, Australia (CNN) -- Qantas is considering legal action against engine-maker Rolls-Royce after one of the manufacturer's engines sparked a fire on a flight last month, the airline said Thursday.

The Federal Court of Australia granted the Australian carrier an injunction Thursday allowing it to pursue legal action against Rolls-Royce in Australia if a commercial settlement is not possible, Qantas said.

Qantas said it has already started discussions with Rolls-Royce.

A Sydney, Australia-bound Qantas Airbus A380 was forced to turn back to Singapore on Nov. 4 when an oil fire badly damaged one of the plane's four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. The fire resulted in part of the engine casing falling off in flight.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau issued a safety recommendation Thursday about the Trent 900 engines, which are installed on some A380 superjumbos, the world's largest airliner.

The ATSB said it had identified a potential manufacturing defect with the Trent 900 on some A380s that could have been a factor in last month's fire on the Qantas flight.

"The problem relates to the potential for misaligned oil pipe counter-boring, which could lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage, and potential engine failure from an oil fire within the HP/IP bearing buffer space," the ATSB said in a statement.

Rolls-Royce said checks conducted immediately after the Nov. 4 incident showed the problem was specific to the Trent 900 and that it was confined to a specific component in the turbine area of the engine. That in turn caused an oil fire, Rolls-Royce said.

A Rolls-Royce spokesman said Thursday the ATSB recommendation was consistent with those findings.

"We have instituted a regime of inspection, maintenance, and removal which has assured safe operation," the spokesman said. "This program has been agreed in collaboration with Airbus, our airline customers, and the regulators."

Qantas grounded its A380 fleet for several weeks while it inspected the problem. It said Thursday it is doing further one-off inspections of the engines for possible tubing defects.

The ATSB plans to hold a media briefing Friday when it releases its preliminary report into the mishap.

CNN's Melissa Gray contributed to this report.