French researchers have called for a review of the design and maintenance of titanium alloy engine parts to ensure that they protect against the risks of metal fatigue following an explosion in an Airbus A380 exactly three years ago.
The French agency BEA made the recommendation in its final report on the incident in which an Air France aircraft carrying more than 500 passengers lost the front section of one of its four engines while flying over Greenland before landing safely in Canada.
The move follows a dangerous investigation that included a 21-month international air and ground search across the ice sheet to find a crucial fragment of titanium alloy.
The BEA said a recovered fragment had shown minute fatigue cracks in a titanium alloy called Ti-6-4 and urged regulators – the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Union’s Air Safety Agency – to conduct a review of the design, manufacturing, maintenance and certification processes.
“Neither the manufacturer nor the certification authorities had anticipated this phenomenon in this alloy during engine design,” the BEA said.
The Engine Alliance reported that it had already taken steps to address the findings. For its part, Airbus said no failures had been found during inspections of other engines from the same supplier, one of the two A380 engine manufacturers along with Rolls-Royce.
A Rolls spokeswoman said she was confident that problems related to the Engine Alliance part “cannot be attributed to any Rolls-Royce engine fan discs currently in service.