Accident to the AIRBUS A380-861 registered F-HPJE and operated by Air France on 30/09/2017 en route over Greenland [Investigation delegated to BEA by the authorities of Denmark]

Investigation progression Closed
Progress: 100%

On Saturday, 30 September 2017, the Airbus A380-861 operated by Air France, was carrying out scheduled flight AF066 from Paris (France) to Los Angeles (USA). It took off at 09:50. At 13:49, while the crew were changing en-route flight level, they heard an explosion and observed asymmetric thrust from the right side of the aeroplane, immediately followed by severe vibrations. The “ENG 4 STALL” and then the “ENG 4 FAIL” messages nearly simultaneously appeared on the ECAM. The crew diverted to Goose Bay airport (Canada) where they landed at 15:42 without any further incident.

A visual examination of the engine found that the fan, first rotating assembly at the front of the engine, along with the air inlet and fan case had separated in flight leading to slight damage to the surrounding structure of the aircraft.

The factors likely to have contributed to the accident include:

  • engine designer’s/manufacturer’s lack of knowledge of the cold dwell fatigue phenomenon in the titanium alloy, Ti-6-4;
  • absence of instructions from the certification bodies about taking into account macro-zones (i.e. colony of similarly oriented alpha grains) and the cold dwell fatigue phenomenon in the critical parts of an engine, when demonstrating conformity;
  • absence of non-destructive means to detect the presence of unusual macro?zones in titanium alloy parts;
  • an increase in the risk of having large macro-zones with increased intensity in large Ti-6-4 forgings due to bigger engines, and in particular, bigger fans.

After the accident, regular inspections of the fleet in service found that there were no cracks detected in the areas considered at risk on the fan hubs of the Engine Alliance engines equipping the A380. The certification bodies and engine manufacturers are currently considering how to better understand the cold dwell fatigue phenomenon and take it into account in the design of future engines.

A 380 F HPJE
D S C00812
D S C00829
D S C00835
20171004 103431
20171004 104045
20171004 104319

Publications and press releases

Press release

  • This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of this Information. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work or reference.

    Press Release n°3

    The Air Greenland helicopter crew deployed to the site has recovered some of the parts of the engine. These pieces have been given to the AIB DK and are being routed to the BEA.

    A forthcoming mission to recover other parts and try to localize missing parts will be set upwhen meteorological conditions will permit it. The snow that is covering progressively the debris might make their detection and retrieval harder.

     

  • This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of this Information. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work or reference.

    Press Release n°2

    The data contained in the flight data recorder (FDR) was used to determine the place of occurrence of the failure that occurred during the cruise to the Airbus A380 engine number 4 and to demarcate a search area to find the parts that were separated.

    This area is a wasteland covered with ice, situated about 150 km southeast of the city Paamiut located on the west coast.

    On the request of the Danish Accident Investigation Board, a helicopter operated by Air Greenland flew over this area yesterday and spotted parts from the engine.

    The BEA is in contact with its Danish counterpart to organize the recovery of these parts.

    The analysis of the data contained in the flight recorders will continue at the BEA laboratory. The engine computers will also be analyzed by the component manufacturer in the United States.

    All BEA investigators who traveled to Goose Bay and Ottawa leave today, Thursday, October 5th.

     

  • This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of this Information. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work or reference.

    Press Release n°1

    Following the accident to the Airbus A380, registered F-HPJE, during cruise over Greenland, the Danish Accident Investigation Board (AIB DK) have delegated to the BEA the opening and conduction of the safety investigation. The BEA represents France, State of the Operator, State of Registry and State of Design. Investigators from AIB DK, representing Greenland and Denmark, State of Occurrence, from NTSB, representing the United States of America, State of Engine Manufacturers, and TSB, representing Canada, State where the flight crew diverted, are taking part in this safety investigation.

    Four BEA investigators travelled to Goose Bay on Sunday 1st October, accompanied by technical advisors from Airbus and Air France. NTSB investigators, accompanied by technical advisors from engine manufacturers General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, as well as TSB investigators, also travelled to the site.

    A fifth BEA investigator travelled to Ottawa to attend the first read-out of the Flight Recorder data. This read-out enabled the investigators to determine at which point of the flight the failure occured.

    The Airbus A380-800, operated by Air France, was performing the flight from Paris (France) to Los Angeles (United States of America) under the callsign AF066. It had taken off from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on Saturday 30th September 2017 around 09 h30 (UTC), with 497 passengers and 24 crew members on board. Following a failure on the number 4 engine while the plane was overflying Greenland, the flight crew diverted to Goose Bay Airport (Canada), where they landed at 15 h 42 (UTC) without any further incident.

    Damage to the aircraft seems to be confined to the number 4 engine and its immediate surroundings. A visual check of the engine has shown that the fan, first rotating part at the front of the engine, has separated in flight, taking with it the whole air inlet cowl.

     

  • This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of this Information. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work or reference.

    Press Release n°4

    It has been decided to remove the damaged engine in Goose Bay (Canada) in order to preserve its integrity for future investigations.

    This operation will be carried out by teams from Air France and Airbus before sending the engine to Cardiff in a General Electric facility where the BEA teams will then go to continue their analyzes.

    The conveying conditions of the aircraft to another site in Europe are being studied, so that it can be repaired and put back into commercial service by Air France.

    It should be noted that, given the logistical complexity of these various operations, the forecasting schedule will last several weeks.

    The search and recovery of detached components of the damaged engine is still ongoing in Greenland.