Aviation regulator issued alert over fire risk

The engines on the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that disappeared were the subject of a directive from Europe's aviation safety regulator last month that warned of possible "fire related" failures if not fixed.

_The West Australian _has learnt the European Aviation Safety Agency issued the airworthiness directive to airlines on February 4 relating to Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines, the model used on MH370.

It told airlines to install software to prevent one of the turbines spinning too fast and into "fire-related failure modes".

"This condition, if not corrected, could lead to uncontained multiple turbine blade failures" or far worse a "turbine disc burst, possibly resulting in damage to, and reduced control of, the aeroplane", the directive said.

The software fix was supposed to be installed within 14 days.

It is unclear whether the engines on MH370 were fixed by the time the plane left Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

The failure would be similar to that which almost brought down a Qantas A380 in 2010 flying from London to Sydney with 469 passengers and crew.

It was crippled minutes after take-off from Singapore when, in a freak event, a 200kg turbine disc in the No. 2 engine shattered.

The blast showered the wing with shrapnel, disabling 53 mostly critical systems and causing a big fuel leak.

Two pieces of the disc narrowly missed the passenger area.

Only the skill of the pilots saved the super jumbo, according to Australia's crash investigator, and Rolls-Royce paid $90 million to Qantas as compensation for the grounding of its A380 fleet and damage to its brand.

Reports yesterday that Boeing 777s had been the subject of a separate service bulletin last year did not relate to the missing plane.

The bulletins related to 777s having cracks underneath a satellite communication antenna adapter but MH370 did not have that SATCOM adapter.

The West Australian

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