• Air France Flight 66 suffered uncontained engine failure on Saturday.
  • Passengers landed safely after a diversion to an airport in Canada.
  • Engine failure is uncommon but it is generally not a major concern.
  • Modern twin-engine airliners are designed to fly on a single engine.

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In rare and extreme instances, like Flight 66, a plane can experience an uncontained engine failure. In such cases, the big worry centers around the extent of the damage to the plane caused by flying debris from the engine.

In November 2010, another Airbus A380, Qantas Flight 32, suffered a catastrophic uncontained engine failure caused by a leaking oil feed pipe. Flight 32 was able to make a safe landing even though the aircraft suffered significant structural damage and damage to several important flight management systems.

So far, there is no word on how much damage the failing engine caused to the aircraft on Flight 66.

It should be noted that the Qantas A380 and the Air France A380 are powered by engines from two separate manufacturers with fundamentally different design philosophies.

The Air France aircraft reportedly involved in the incident, F-HPJE is a seven-year-old Airbus A380 powered by four Engine Alliance GP7200 turbofan engines. Engine Alliance is a Connecticut-based joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and General Electric. While the Qantas Flight 32 was powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.

One engine? No problem.

Long-distance and transoceanic flights have traditionally been flown by three- or four-engine wide-body airliners. This is because when it comes to the engine count on an airliner, aviation thinking dictates that there is safety in numbers.