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Plane drops 13,000ft after losing power in both engines

The pilots were able to land the flight safely.

9V-STI File photo of an Airbus A330-300 operated by SIA. Source: redlegsfan21 via Flickr/Creative Commons

A SINGAPORE AIRLINES (SIA) Airbus plane carrying 194 people temporarily lost power to both engines on a recent flight to Shanghai, SIA confirmed today after a flight tracker said the plane had to descend 13,000 feet before normal operation was restored.

The carrier said it was investigating the May 23 incident together with Airbus and engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

“We are not able to provide further information but we can confirm that the same aircraft was used for the return flight,” an airline spokesman told AFP.

In a statement, SIA said the Airbus A330-300, carrying 182 passengers and 12 crew members, “encountered bad weather at 39,000 feet about three and a half hours after departure” from Singapore.

Both engines experienced a temporary loss of power and the pilots followed operational procedures to restore normal operation of the engines.

“The flight continued to Shanghai and touched down uneventfully at 10:56 pm local time,” it said.

It added that the engines “were thoroughly inspected and tested upon arrival in Shanghai with no anomalies detected”.

In a Twitter post late Tuesday, industry portal Flightradar24 said the flight, codenamed SQ836, “lost power on both engines & 13,000 feet before power returned”.

CF8Uw13WIAA-2HP Source: FlightRadar24

In a subsequent post, it said the plane “lost both engines during the cruise” while flying through a “huge storm”, pinpointing an area in the South China Sea off China’s southern coast where the incident occurred.

Airbus said only that it was “working with the company to understand what happened”.

Rolls-Royce said its Trent 700 engine “has an exceptional record of safety and reliability, established over 20 years” and has flown 32 million hours powering the Airbus A330.

The firm is working with the airline to provide support and technical assistance, a spokesperson said.

SIA has 29 Airbus A330-300s in its passenger fleet. It also has a fleet of 19 Airbus A380-800 superjumbos.

The airline, along with its subsidiaries SilkAir, Scoot, and Tiger Airways, flies to 119 destinations across 35 countries.

Spain Plane Crash Source: Associated Press

Last week Airbus warned of a technical bug potentially affecting the engines of its A400M military planes that was discovered during an internal test after one crashed in Spain.

Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at aviation information firm Flightglobal, said the incident was a “very unusual occurrence” that “highlights the requirements of rigorous pilot training”.

“Generally these engines are extremely reliable and they work continuously for 13-14 hours a day for months and years,” he said.

He added that as passengers did not seem to have posted about the incident on social media after the weekend, they may have been unaware of the engine problem.

“This is speculation, but from the inside of the aircraft it could have been that the power loss was not obvious,” Waldron said.

- © AFP 2015

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