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Qantas chief says latest engine problem 'minor'

An engine problem which caused vibrations on a domestic Qantas flight, prompting the pilot to turn back, was a "minor issue", the airline's chief executive said on Saturday.

world Updated: Nov 13, 2010 12:36 IST

An engine problem which caused vibrations on a domestic Qantas flight, prompting the pilot to turn back, was a "minor issue", the airline's chief executive said on Saturday.

A Boeing 767 with 234 passengers on board returned to Perth, in Western Australia, 10 minutes after taking off to fly to Melbourne on Friday after its crew detected something unusual in one engine.

The incident comes after Qantas grounded its entire fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos after a mid-air blowout earlier this month on one of the planes' Rolls-Royce engines prompted serious safety worries.

"This is a vibration. It wasn't engine failure. It wasn't anything significant. This should be regarded as a minor issue," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said of Friday's incident.

"This would happen hundreds, if not thousands of times, around the world each year," he told reporters in Melbourne.

Joyce said the pilot's decision to return to Perth was appropriate -- and an indication of the airline's emphasis on safety.

"I think Qantas pilots will always act over cautiously and we expect them to do that," he said. "They brought this aircraft back to the base, some other airlines may have gone on. Qantas would never do that."

Joyce said he was pleased with the progress Rolls-Royce and Airbus were making in investigating the blast on the superjumbo which rained components from the damaged engine on to an Indonesian island.

Rolls-Royce on Friday pinpointed the failure of a "specific component" in its Trent 900 engine as the cause of an oil fire which forced the A380 to make an emergency landing last week with 466 passengers and crew on board.

No-one was injured in the incident.

"They have identified that they believe, what we have said previously, that the cause of this was an oil fire in the turbine area of the engine and that caused the uncontained failure of the engine," Joyce said.

"We will be working very closely with them to get the aircraft back in the air as soon as we can."

Joyce gave no indication of when the double-decked A380 craft -- which carry 17 percent of the airline's international traffic -- would be back in the air.

"We're not going to rush anybody, we're not going to be putting a deadline on it," he said.

"We're going to make sure it's absolutely right before we have this aircraft start flying again," he said.

The string of incidents, including a Boeing 747 being forced to turn back from Singapore en route to Sydney earlier this month because of a "contained engine failure", come as Qantas celebrates its 90th birthday.