Australian officials investigating the mid-air disintegration of an engine on a Qantas superjumbo said on Thursday they identified a potential manufacturing defect in Rolls-Royce engines in 20 A380s worldwide.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau issued a safety recommendation, the day before it was due to release an interim report on the Qantas blowout -- the most serious safety problem for the world's newest and largest jetliner.
It said there is "a potential manufacturing defect with an oil tube connection" in the Trent 900 engine.
"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," the bureau said in a statement.
The bureau said on the recommendations of Rolls-Royce, affected airlines and safety regulators were taking action to ensure planes using the engines were safe.
This involved close inspection of engines "and the removal from service of any engine which displays the counter-boring problem," the bureau said.
After the bureau's statement, Qantas said Thursday it would conduct detailed one-off inspections of Trent 900 engines on its A380s.
The airline grounded its fleet of six superjumbos after the engine disintegration on one of its A380s on Nov. 4. It returned two A380s to service last weekend after conducting extensive checks and removing 16 Trent 900 engines from its planes.
Qantas spokesman Simon Rushton said the airline was not pulling its A380s from service and the latest checks were not expected to interrupt services.
Two other airlines use Trent 900 engines on their A380s -- Singapore Airlines, which has 11 of the superjumbos, and Lufthansa, which has three.