Asiana Airlines A380 Loses Single Engine Over The Pacific

An Asiana Airlines Airbus A380 suffered an engine failure flying between Los Angeles and Seoul. The incident happened above the Pacific Ocean on 11th July. Thankfully, the aircraft was able to continue to Seoul without incident.

Asiana Airlines Airbus A380 Engine Failure
An Asiana Airlines A380 lost an engine over the Pacific last week. Photo: Masakatsu Ukon via Wikimedia

Unfortunately, engine failures can occasionally occur. However, with four engines, as was proven in this incident, it is not the end of the world if one is lost. While sometimes aircraft would divert given such an event, there are very few options for diversions when you’re above the world’s largest ocean. As such, the aircraft continued to its destination where it landed without incident.

The flight details

On the 10th July, Asiana Airlines flight OZ201 departed Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at around 12:56 local time. The aircraft departed a quarter of an hour later than its scheduled departure time of 12:40. Around seven hours into the flight, the pilots noticed a problem with the aircraft’s number three engine, according to the Aviation Herald. This is the right-hand engine nearest the aircraft’s fuselage.

The aircraft was flying at flight level 340 when the incident occurred. It has been reported that the engine experienced an oil leak. To deal with the engine failure, the pilots decided to cut the engine. Following the engine’s shut down, the crew descended to FL320.

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Asiana Airlines Airbus A380 Engine Failure
The aircraft continued to its destination. Photo: tjdarmstadt via Wikimedia

According to AirFleets.net, the Airbus A380 involved is 5.6 years old. HL7625 was delivered to Asiana Airlines during May 2014, however, it took its first flight during December 2013. The aircraft is equipped with four Rolls Royce Trent 970 engines.

Why didn’t the flight divert?

The flight continued onto its destination as planned despite the engine failure. The aircraft flew right over Japan, which has Airbus A380 capacity given ANA’s Flying Honu aircraft. Instead of diverting, as we’ve previously seen with an Air France A380, the aircraft continued onto its destination.

The Airbus A380 can safely be flown on three engines, although it is not preferable. By continuing to Seoul, Asiana Air would’ve been able to access its in house mechanics. Had the aircraft diverted, it would’ve used third-party mechanics who may not have the relevant part to hand. It is possible that the passengers on board the aircraft wouldn’t have even noticed a problem.

A past example

A great example of a four-engine aircraft’s ability to fly on three engines involves a British Airways Boeing 747. On February 20th, 2005, G-BNLG was flying between Los Angeles and London. The aircraft suffered an engine failure on takeoff from Los Angles. Air Trafic Controllers expected the aircraft to return to its point of departure, however, the airline didn’t want to waste fuel.

Asiana Airlines Airbus A380 Engine Failure
In 2005 a British Airways Boeing 747 flew from Los Angeles to the United Kingdom on three engines. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

British Airways’ Boeing 747 flew to the United Kingdom on three engines. Eventually, the aircraft declared an emergency above the UK and diverted to Manchester Airport. The FAA was not happy with BA’s decision, however, decided to respect the CAA’s decision that the aircraft was airworthy.

Have you been on an aircraft that has lost an engine? Let us know in the comments!

12 comments
  1. I don’t think there was any reason for the plane to divert: a voluntary shutdown by the crew is a different matter to an uncontained engine failure suffered by the Air France A380 (and the Qantas A380 years ago). In a way, a diversion would potentially have been more dangerous: if the plane had to do a go-around on landing, it might not have had sufficient thrust for climbout.
    A twinjet with ETOPS-370 is certified to fly for six hours with one engine out of operation. So flying for several engines on 3/4 engines was probably not an issue.

  2. I worry about a twin engined airliner losing an engine while at mid-point over a huge ocean. Some pilots tell me ETOPS is far too tolerant.

  3. I flew years ago transatlantic on a Pan Am 747 when the pilots declared they were shutting down 1 of the 4 engines, announcing it was perfectly safe. My understanding is that 747’s once at an altitude higher than 10,000 feet can remain airborne on 1 engine, not so sure about 380’s.

    On the Pan Am flight, once the engine was powered down, there was a noticeable vibration throughout the duration of the flight, I believe this was referred to as losing its trim.

    While it’s rare statistically for an engine to fail, or for pilots to power down, they do happen. The chances of a double failure on a twin-engine jet may be remote, but what if, especially while mid-ocean.

    I don’t regard this as an “if” situation, but a “when” as it’s just a matter of time when such an incident is going to happen.

    Overland hops where there are hundreds of airports that can divert to is totally different to ocean crossings. It may be that governing authorities i.e FAA mandate use of 3 or 4 engine planes for such crossings – better to be safe than sorry. Regretfully such decisions are made in hindsight once such a catastrophe takes place.

    My preference would be to see the continuation of 4 engine planes, or even 3-engine ones like L-1011; the manufacturing decisions behind phasing 4-engines out is largely an economic one so the manufacturers and airlines can make money as privately run businesses. Hopefully, with continued advances in new technology and fuel efficiencies, and possibly hybrid cargo/passenger combos/modular design to accommodate fluctuating seasonal capacity that we’ll see a return to 4-engine planes.

  4. I was on a United 777 out of SFO en route to IAD when we lost the starboard engine due to an oil pressure issue. We were about 40 minutes out from SFO. The captain elected to return to SFO, where we landed without incident.

  5. The Boeing Stratocruiser (B377) commonly lost at least one engine in flight due to propeller and engine problems. I well remember glorious side-on views of Mont Blanc on at least 2 occasions on the London/Rome/Kano/Lagos flights as we set to arrive in Rome on 3 engines. In those days of course BOAC put you up in a top class hotel until a replacement aircraft was flown in or a new engine fitted…free holiday in Rome…once it was for a week. You guys today have got it made when all you have to complain about is a slow touchscreen on the IFE !

    1. I am pleased to read that other fellow passengers prefer the safety of a three or four engine jet on international flights, especially those flying over vast ocean distances. I also feet that ETOPS assumptions are far too optimistic, and wonder how the FAA and other aviation regulatory agencies signed on to them. I suspect the airplane manufacturers have perhaps an overly friendly relationship with them, as we have seen revealed in the 737 MAX debacle, and one could argue, in the certification of the lithium battery in the 787.

  6. I have serious doubts about this twin engined aircrafts flying over oceans. Eventhough people claim ETOPS , i don’t trust the approving authorities

  7. I was on a Singapore Air 777 once that flew from Seoul to Sing on one engine. I do not trust 2 engine aircraft for overseas flights. Virgin had it right…4 engines for long haul!

  8. For context, I design spacecraft avionics. I am actually not sure if that helps me or not in having a better grasp in the highly political regulations of commercial air travel, but I much prefer the more efficient engine configuration instead of optimizing for a statistically rare event. However hopefully withing few decades all.of these discussions will be over if and when P2P suborbital flights will become routine.

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