SINGAPORE Airlines last night joined Australian airline Qantas in halting all flights on the iconic Airbus A380 aeroplane after a harrowing incident forced a Qantas flight to turn back and make an emergency landing at Changi Airport.

One of the four engines of Sydney-bound Flight QF32 exploded in mid-air shortly after taking off from Singapore, raining debris on residents in Batam.
The incident, which has shocked pilots and passengers alike, is the first major blemish on the operating record of the A380, the world's largest plane, launched three years ago.

At a news conference last night, Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce said the failure of the engine made by Rolls-Royce was one that the airline had not seen before.

The Qantas flight, which originated in London, encountered trouble less than 10 minutes after taking off from Singapore at 9.56am. Passengers said they heard a loud bang and saw from the windows that an engine was on fire. The captain confirmed on the public address system shortly after that one of the four engines had had to be shut down.

The plane continued circling for one tense hour, using up fuel so that it was light enough to make a safe landing back in Singapore. It finally touched down at 11.46am, barely two hours after it had departed.

Jet catches fire, lands safely