Qantas has grounded its six strong fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft following an emergency landing in Singapore.
Flight QF32 to Sydney experienced engine trouble soon after takeoff earlier this morning and returned to Singapore.
A “loud bang” was subsequently reported by passengers, with Qantas stating the plane experienced an “engine issue” over western Indonesia.
Pictured: Engineers inspect damage to Qantas flight QF32
Debris, believed to be from the aircraft, has been recovered from the Indonesian island of Batam.
Smoke billowed from the aircraft as it landed at Singapore’s Changi airport, with fire engines surrounding it after it had landed.
One of the aircraft’s four engines was blackened with its rear casing was missing.
Passengers reported the eventual landing to be “smooth” with the pilot circling during descent to burn off additional fuel.
Some 433 passengers and 26 crew were on board during the incident, but no injuries have been reported.
“It is a significant engine failure,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told a news conference following the incident.
“We do take our safety reputation and our safety standards unbelievably seriously. And we are not going to take any risks with passenger safety - and as a precaution, we are suspending the flights of the A380 aircraft until we are comfortable that we understand the reasons for this.”
However, Mr Joyce said the incident would not affect pending orders for the aircraft.
“We have orders for over 20 aircraft. Those aircraft will continue to arrive,” he said.
Earlier reports suggested the plane had crashed during takeoff, with Qantas forced to deny the story.
“These reports are incorrect. No Qantas aircraft has crashed,” read a statement.
In line with procedure, the pilot sought priority clearance for its return to Singapore.
The aircraft landed safely at 11:45 local time, the airline confirmed.
Passengers on flight QF32 are being accommodated in Singapore, with alternative flights now being arranged.
Over 30 Airbus A380 aircraft are presently in operation, with Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa and Air France all employing the superjumbo.
The aircraft made its first commercial flight on October 25th 2007 from Singapore to Sydney with Singapore Airlines.
Following Qantas’ decision to ground its fleet, Singapore Airlines, which runs 11 A380 aircraft, said it had no plans to follow suit.
Qantas had no immediate comment on whether the incident might be related to eruptions of Indonesia’s Mount Merapi over the past ten days - which have prompted some flights above the volcano to be suspended.