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Airline chief blames plane's engine

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce said the mid-air blow-out on one of its A380 jetliners was most likely caused by a material failure or faulty design in one of the plane's Rolls Royce engines.

Mr Joyce told a news conference in Sydney that it was too early to say exactly what caused the engine blow-out shortly after the plane took off on Thursday from Singapore and that a thorough investigation was under way.

But he said the blow-out "is an engine issue" and not one of maintenance on the two-year-old plane.

He said Qantas believes the blow-out "is most likely a material failure or some type of design issue".

It was most serious mid-air incident involving the double-decker Airbus A380 since it debuted in October 2007 with Singapore Airlines flying it to Sydney - the same route that Qantas flight QF32 was flying when it experienced the engine problem.

Passengers were put on a relief flight bound for Australia on Friday morning, a day after the A380 suffered an engine blowout soon after taking off from Singapore, shooting flames and shedding large metal chunks over an Indonesian island.

It later made a safe emergency landing in Singapore, and Qantas grounded all six of its A380s.

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