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Plane Loses Part of an Engine Mid-Flight

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SingaporePassengers onboard a flight from Singapore to Sydney, Australia, must have feared they were bound for a plane crash after part of one of the plane's engines detached from the plane mid-flight. Although there was the potential for a tragic airplane crash, no one was injured in the event.

Passengers on the Qantas plane that made an emergency landing in Singapore said they heard two loud bangs approximately 15 minutes after the plane took off. According to CNN (11/04/10), the covering on the engine fell off the plane, which was carrying 440 passengers and 26 crewmembers, and the engine shut down. There were three other engines on the plane.

Shortly after the covering detached, the pilot made an announcement that there was a technical issue with the number 2 engine and they would be turning back to Singapore. The plane landed safely with no injuries reported on the plane; however, injuries were reported on the Indonesian island of Batam, where the debris landed. A teacher and a student were reportedly injured by the falling debris.

Following the incident, Qantas grounded its Airbus A380 fleet until an investigation into the incident is complete. The engine is manufactured by Rolls-Royce, the same company that manufactured an engine that exploded on a Qantas 747-400 plane on August 30, 2010, flying between San Francisco and Sydney, according to The Sydney Morning Herald (11/05/10). That explosion resulted in holes being torn in the engine cover.

Meanwhile, in the US, the NTSB has said that regional carriers should be reviewed by federal regulators, noting that the link between regional airlines and major carriers can be confusing. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle (10/25/10), regional carriers have been involved in the last six commercial airplane crashes that involved fatalities on the plane. These include a plane crash near Buffalo, New York, that caused 50 deaths in 2009 when the pilot did not properly respond to a cockpit stall warning; an airplane crash in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2006 in which the pilots chose a runway that was too short for takeoff that resulted in 49 deaths; and a flight in 2004 that resulted in 13 deaths when the pilots flew too low.

As a result of these concerns, the NTSB is holding a hearing to determine what is being done to ensure that both regional and major carriers are held to the highest safety standards.

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