CANBERRA An A380 Emirates jet bound for Dubai was forced to return to Australia on Sunday night when one of its engines caught fire soon after take-off.
The flight, with 380 passengers on board, was just 20 minutes into its flight from Sydney to Dubai and climbing at an altitude of 10,000 feet when it experienced a problem with one of its engines.
"Emirates flight EK413 from Sydney to Dubai on 11 November turned back shortly after take-off due to an engine fault. Passengers are being re-booked on alternative flights," the airline said in a statement on Monday.
A mid-air engine blowout in November 2010 on an A380 using Rolls Royce Trent engines prompted Australia's Qantas Airlines to ground its entire fleet of Airbus superjumbos for nearly a month.
Emirates, the world's biggest user of A380s, uses rival GP7200 engines built by Engine Alliance, a joint venture between engine manufacturers General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.
Passengers on the giant double-deck aircraft, manufactured by Airbus parent EADS, said the superjumbo experienced a "judder" and then they saw flames shooting several metres out of one of the engines.
"I saw a flash. I thought it could have been lightning, but then we saw flames come out of the engine. The whole interior of the A380 lit up," passenger John Fothergill, 49, from New Zealand told Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Emirates apologised for the inconvenience to its passengers and said their safety was "of the highest priority and will not be compromised."
Superjumbos, worth $375 million apiece, typically carry around 525 passengers.
A380 aircraft, manufactured in Toulouse from parts sourced across Europe, have also been affected by cracks in the wings of a small number of planes.
There are eighteen airlines currently using the aircraft with total orders outstanding for 262.
(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Ryan Woo)