(Reuters) - The United Kingdom is at a much higher risk of life-threatening mid-air engine failure than other countries, according to a major new report by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) published on Thursday.
Balpa, which represents around 25,000 British pilots, said it examined international data from around 7,000 major air accidents and recorded incidents, and determined the UK was third in the world for the highest frequency of engine failure per million miles travelled.
“The number of recorded engine failures on UK flights is disturbingly high,” John Lamble, Balpa’s safety consultant, said in a statement.
Fellow British pilots working for British Airways have expressed similar concerns about the dangers posed by fast-paced start-up airline easyJet, saying in recent years that its “dynamic” business model has made it more susceptible to engine failure.
easyJet said that it did not comment on ongoing operational matters and would respond to Balpa’s findings in due course.
A spokesman for Rolls-Royce, whose Trent 1000 engines are used by easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Jet2, said that the company “reiterates that we are committed to reducing the occurrence of engine failures”.
A BAF officer walks towards an Airbus A320 as a service for Flight 1453 takes off from Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland, February 8, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Rolls-Royce said it planned to raise £150 million ($197 million) from investors to help fund the cost of a new engine programme that aims to double Rolls’ output of Trent 1000 engines and reduce the frequency of engine failures.
In late 2016 Rolls said it would spend around £2 billion on a programme to replace an “aging” engine system on its Trent 1000 engine for Airbus’s A330neo and A330 fleet, which will require over 1,000 aircraft to be retrofitted between 2021 and 2023.
Worn out or cracked engines will in future not be returned to service unless tests show they can be safely returned.
“We’ve worked with Rolls-Royce to develop a programme that will lead to greater reliability while improving maintenance,” Balpa said.
Balpa made its findings public to coincide with the Aviation Safety Network’s Global Air Safety Week, which aims to raise awareness of aviation safety risks.
“Fifty-two air accidents and hazardous incidents have been recorded in the last ten years where failure of an engine within 45 seconds or less was recorded,” Balpa said.
It said that at the least seven of these accidents and incidents could have been avoided if the cause had been detected earlier.
($1 = 0.7996 pounds)