October 2, 2017 / 4:22 PM / in 10 months

Agencies dither over who leads A380 engine explosion probe

PARIS, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Air accident investigators from both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to decide who should lead a probe into an engine explosion that forced an Air France A380 to make an emergency landing in Canada, people familiar with the matter said.

Two days after the damaged superjumbo landed at Goose Bay in Labrador with over 500 people on board, a formal investigation had yet to be announced, a step that typically takes hours.

Experts from the United States and France, as well as planemaker Airbus and U.S-based engine maker Engine Alliance, have been sent to Goose Bay.

But a spokesman for France’s BEA air accident agency said no investigation had yet been formally launched.

The decision on who should lead an investigation depends on a number of factors including, first and foremost, the country where the incident took place.

Airline sources said an “uncontained explosion,” which ripped off the outer-right engine’s three-metre-wide fan together with its housing from the front of the engine, happened over Greenland, which comes under Danish jurisdiction.

Under aviation law, Denmark would officially own the investigation but it can delegate it to another country.

Denmark’s accident agency was not available for comment.

France and the United States would automatically be part of any investigation, since the aircraft and engine were made in those countries respectively.

France is additionally likely to argue it would well placed to lead the investigation, if Denmark takes a backseat, because the seven-year-old double-decker passenger plane was being operated on France’s aircraft register by a French carrier.

Nobody was injured in the incident, in which Air France Flight 66, originating in Paris and bound for Los Angeles, declared a mayday and diverted to Canada.

Airbus has issued an alert to all operators of the aircraft that use the same type of engine, confirming the low-pressure compressor fan had been separated. No cause had yet been identified, it said, according to one recipient.

In 2010, a Rolls-Royce engine on a Qantas A380 suffered mid-air damage after taking off in Singapore. An investigation blamed a leak from a badly made engine pipe. (Reporting by Tim Hepher. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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