Photo: zund

One of four engines on a Qantas Airbus A380 shut down a mere six minutes after the plane took-off from Singapore’s Changi Airport on Thursday and sent debris falling to the ground.

The flight was full with 440 passengers and 26 crew members on its journey to Sydney, Australia. As the plane flew above the western Indonesian island of Batam a portion of the plane’s cowling tore off and dropped from the air.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said they are unsure why parts of the engine left the aircraft.

The pilot kept the passengers updated and soothed them with news that the aircraft was secure and flying safely as they returned to Singapore.

Flight QF32 managed to land safely with no passengers or crew being harmed.  Passengers on the plane described hearing a couple of loud bangs before the pilot spoke to them. Some saw the piece fly off. Many felt the crew kept them well informed and felt the mood aboard the flight was calm.

Qantas has suspended all Airbus A380 flights indefinitely while the investigation into the incident is underway. Joyce said that would be for “as long as it takes”.

The airline will work with the manufacturer of the plane and Rolls-Royce who makes the engine to discover what went wrong.

Qantas currently has six A380s among its 191 planes.

Singapore Airlines has halted flights of its A380s pending precautionary checks in light of the incident.  Lufthansa has done the same.