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Uncontained Engine Failure

Article Information

Category: Airworthiness (/index.php/Category:Airworthiness)

Content source: SKYbrary (/index.php/About_SKYbrary)

Content control: SKYbrary (/index.php/About_SKYbrary)

Publication Authority: SKYbrary (/index.php/About_SKYbrary)

1 Description
2 Defences
3 Design and Certification Requirements
4 Damage Assessment
5 Structural Integrity
6 False Indications and Warnings
7 Fuel Leaks and Fire Risk
8 Loss of Hydraulic Fluid
9 Aircraft Handling
10 Passenger and Crew Management
11 Time
12 Investigation
13 Uncontained Engine Failure Events on SKYbrary
14 Related Articles
15 Further Reading
16 Notes

Most gas turbine engine failures are “contained” which means that although the components might
separate inside the engine, they either remain within the engine case or exit it via the tail pipe. This
is a standard design feature of all turbine engines and generally means that the failure of a single
engine on a multi engine aircraft will not present an immediate risk to the safety of the flight.
Sizeable pieces of ejected debris may, though, present a hazard to persons on the ground.

However, an “uncontained” engine failure is likely to be a violent one, and can be much more serious
because engine debris exits it at high speeds in other directions, posing potential danger to the
pressurised aircraft structure, adjacent engines, the integrity of the flight control system and,
possibly, directly to the aircraft occupants.
Aircraft/Engine design features to mitigate against the risks associated with uncontained engine
failure include:

Fan blade containment ring - to provide a measure of protection in the event of fan blade
Aircraft systems "Routing Segregation" - covering both rotor burst and rapid depressurisation
Fuel tank "Dry Bays" located in the most likely disk trajectories.

Design and Certification Requirements

Uncontained engine failures can affect both the fan and the turbine sections; certification
requirements and tests as well as related engine and airframe designs account for both scenarios.

Certification requirements are "multi-layered" as they include the following 4 layers:

1. Systems safety assessment (e.g. FAR 25.1309),

2. Common cause analysis,
3. Particular risks analysis (e.g. engine "rotor burst"),
4. Zonal analysis (also involved in the uncontained engine failure assessment).


CS-25 (Certification Specification Large Aeroplanes): The European equivalent of FAR-25.

The effects and rate of failure of an engine case rupture, uncontained engine rotor failure, engine
case burn-through, and propeller debris release are minimised by compliance with CS-E, Engines;
CS-P, Propellers; CS 25.903(d)(1), CS 25.905(d), and CS 25.1193.

CS 25.903 (d) (1) reads as follows:

"(d) Turbine engine installations. For turbine engine installations - (1) Design precautions must be
taken to minimise the hazards to the aeroplane in the event of an engine rotor failure or of a fire
originating within the engine which burns through the engine case. (See AMC 25.903(d)(1) and AMC

AMC (Acceptable means of compliance) 25.903 (d) (1) is relative to torching flames while AMC 20-
128A sets forth a method of compliance with the requirements of CS 23.901(f), 23.903(b)(1), 25.903(d)
(1) and 25A903(d)(1) of the EASA Certification Specifications (CS) pertaining to design precautions
taken to minimise the hazards to an aeroplane in the event of uncontained engine or auxiliary power
unit (APU) rotor failures. The guidance provided within this AMC is harmonised with that of the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

AMC 20-128 A is a significant document that provides background information, definitions, design
considerations, accepted design practices; engine and APU failure model and considerations for
safety analysis.

The paragraph on design considerations addresses location of engine and APU, location of critical
systems and component, external shields and deflectors.

The paragraph on accepted design practices identifies design practices that address the risks of
uncontrolled fire, loss of thrust, loss of aircraft control, passenger and crew incapacitation, loss of
structural integrity. These design practices currently in use by the aviation industry that have been
shown to reduce the overall risk, by effectively eliminating certain specific risks and reducing the
remaining specific risks to a minimum level.

EASA CS-E.510 (Certification Specifications - Engines - Safety Analysis) - Aircraft-level Failure

classifications are not directly applicable to Engine assessments since the aircraft may have features
that could reduce or increase the consequences of an Engine Failure condition. Additionally, the
same type-certificated Engine may be used in a variety of installations, each with different aircraft-
level Failure classifications. CS-E 510 defines the Engine-level Failure conditions and presumed
severity levels.


US FAR 33[footnote 1] covers engine certification aspects.

US FAR 25.XXXX[footnote 2] covers engine installation and airframe design aspects.

Damage Assessment
Each uncontained failure will result in a “unique” combination of collateral damage to the aircraft
and there will be little, if any, guidance in the AFM (/index.php/AFM) for dealing with this type of
potential failure. The aircrew must, therefore, be especially vigilant when dealing with an
uncontained engine failure. The engine failure itself should be dealt with IAW the manufacturer’s
prescribed shutdown procedures. However, it is the collateral damage that carries the greater
potential risk and that will require creative pilot assessment to ensure a positive outcome is

Structural Integrity
Loss of pressurisation (/index.php/Loss_of_Cabin_Pressurisation), if a factor, would have to be dealt
with in the usual fashion; however, the pilots must be cognizant of the fact that the structural
integrity of the aircraft may have been compromised and control the aircraft speed and drag devices

False Indications and Warnings

Severed wire bundles may result in false indications and warnings, potentially for other engines or
aircraft systems. The pilots must use all means at their disposal to confirm the validity of those
indications before actioning any emergency checklists.

Fuel Leaks and Fire Risk

Uncontrollable fuel leakage due to ruptured fuel lines or tanks may be present. Fuel system isolation
measures to ensure that fuel from unaffected tanks is not lost would have to be taken. The
additional fire (/index.php/Fire_in_the_Air) risk, both in flight and post landing, would need to be
considered and normal procedures such as use of reverse thrust modified accordingly.

Loss of Hydraulic Fluid

Loss of hydraulic fluid (/index.php/Hydraulic_Systems) due to severed pipes can lead to degradation
in flight controls, loss of the ability to extend lift devices (/index.php/High_Lift_Devices) such as
flaps (/index.php/Flaps) or slats (/index.php/Slats) and the ability to raise or lower the landing gear in
the normal fashion. These factors can have a great impact on approach speed, landing distance and
go around performance and must be considered in the diversion decision.
Aircraft Handling
Flight control response and aircraft handling characteristics, especially as the aircraft configuration
is changed, may have been compromised by the damage caused by the engine failure. Note that “fly
by wire (/index.php/Fly-By-Wire)” aircraft may mask some of the degraded handling symptoms and
make them more difficult to assess.

Passenger and Crew Management

Throughout all of this process, the crew and passengers must be reassured and kept apprised of the
time to landing and, if warranted, directed to prepare for any potential post landing evacuation

As in the case of all engine failures, getting the aircraft safely on the ground is a priority. However, in
the case of an uncontained failure the complexity of the problem is significantly greater and both the
pilots and controllers should recognize that additional airborne time may be required to achieve a
positive outcome to the event.

All uncontained engine failures involving transport category aircraft are likely to be investigated
under ICAO (/index.php/ICAO) Annex 13 procedures at least in the principal aviation jurisdictions.

Uncontained Engine Failure Events on SKYbrary

A388, en-route Batam Island Indonesia, 2010 (/index.php/A388,_en-
route_Batam_Island_Indonesia,_2010): On 4 November 2010, an Airbus A380-800 being operated by
Qantas on a flight in day VMC from Changi Airport, Singapore to Sydney, Australia was passing 7,000
ft in the climb when the No 2 engine suddenly suffered an uncontained failure and a return to
Singapore followed.
B762, Los Angeles USA, 2006 (/index.php/B762,_Los_Angeles_USA,_2006): On June 2, 2006, an
American Airlines Boeing 767-200ER fitted GE CF6-80A engines experienced an uncontained failure
of the high pressure turbine (HPT) stage 1 disc in the No. 1 engine during a high-power ground run
carried out in designated run up area at Los Angeles for maintenance purposes during daylight
normal visibility conditions. The three maintenance personnel on board the aircraft as well as two
observers on the ground were not injured but both engines and the aircraft sustained substantial
damage from the fuel-fed fire which occurred as an indirect result of the failure.
A320, Toronto Canada, 2000 (/index.php/A320,_Toronto_Canada,_2000): On 13 September, an Airbus
A320-200 being operated by Canadian airline Skyservice on a domestic passenger charter flight from
Toronto to Edmonton was departing in day VMC when, after a “loud bang and shudder” during
rotation, evidence of left engine malfunction occurred during initial climb and the flight crew
declared an emergency and returned for an immediate overweight landing on the departure runway
which necessitated navigation around several pieces of debris, later confirmed as the fan cowlings
of the left engine. There were no injuries to the occupants.
DC10, en-route, diversion Sioux City USA, 1989 (/index.php/DC10,_en-
route,_diversion_Sioux_City_USA,_1989): On 19 July 1989, a United Airlines DC-10 (Flight 232), after
earlier improper inspection, suffered an uncontained engine failure which led to loss of hydraulic
systems and Loss of Control during an attempted emergency landing, which was followed by a post
crash fire.
B732, Manchester UK, 1985 (/index.php/B732,_Manchester_UK,_1985): On 22nd August 1985, a B737-
200 operated by British Airtours, a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Airways, suffered an
uncontained engine failure, with fire spreading to the fuselage during the rejected take off, causing
rapid destruction of the aircraft before many of the occupants had evacuated.
B752, Las Vegas NV USA, 2008 (/index.php/B752,_Las_Vegas_NV_USA,_2008): On 22 December 2008,
a Boeing 757-200 departing Las Vegas for New York JFK experienced sudden failure of the right
engine as take off thrust was set and the aircraft was stopped on the runway for fire services
inspection. Fire service personnel observed a hole in the bottom of the right engine nacelle and saw
a glow inside so they discharged a fire bottle into the nacelle through the open pressure relief doors.
The failed engine was found to have experienced an uncontained release of high pressure turbine

Related Articles
Engine Failure: Guidance for Controllers (/index.php/Engine_Failure:_Guidance_for_Controllers) -
provides guidance to to controllers on what to expect and how to act when dealing with an aircraft
which has experienced a contained or uncontained engine failure.

Further Reading
FAA "Lessons Learned from Transport Airplane Accidents": Uncontained Engine Failure


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