A China Eastern Airbus A330 departing Sydney for Shanghai last Sunday experienced an engine problem during initial climb out from Runway 34 Left. The Rolls-Royce Trent 700 series-powered Airbus leveled off at 5,000 feet so the crew could shut down the left engine after a power plant fault appeared. Passengers on the left side of the aircraft near the engine later reported hearing odd noises just before something unknown at the time happened near the inboard side of the left engine. They also smelled something burning, although they were unable to immediately identify the source. The engine never caught fire and no one was injured in the incident.
A runway check prior to the aircraft’s return did not discover any foreign objects that might have presented a hazard to the China Eastern flight or other aircraft. After a safe landing on Runway 34 Left at Sydney, a post-flight inspection of the A330 uncovered a large section of the forward inboard cowling had blown out.
The China Eastern incident this week appears to mimic a similar one aboard another Trent-powered aircraft in Cairo a month ago. In the Egyptian incident, the engine problem occurred early enough in the takeoff for the crew to halt the aircraft before it left the runway.
AeroInside suggested the failures could be related to earlier EASA airworthiness directives against Trent engines — one issued in 2011, the other in 2016 — that detailed potential weaknesses in the air intake cowling structures.