Qantas’s Airbus A380s will begin to resume service this weekend, with the first few aircraft being used on the “Kangaroo routes” from Australia to London.
A spokesman from Qantas said that one A380 – VH-OQF – is being ferried from Los Angeles to Sydney, and it will operate the QF31 service from Sydney to London via Singapore on November 27. A second aircraft – VH-OQE – will also be ferried across from Los Angeles later this week, and will be used on London routes either from Sydney or Melbourne.
The spokesman also said that no timetable has been announced for the return to service of the rest of the six Qantas A380s, although the initial focus will likely be on increasing A380 frequency on the London routes. Qantas will not be operating A380s on its longer Los Angeles routes until it has done sufficient in-flight analysis on the London routes. The spokesman commented that it is “being very circumspect about transpacific flying.”
Qantas says it has voluntarily suspended A380 service on routes that regularly require use of maximum certified engine thrust, “and will continue to do so until further operational experience is gained or possible additional changes are made to engines.” It says this is an operational decision in line with its conservative approach to safety, and is not a manufacturer’s directive. Pilots will still have access to maximum certified thrust if necessary during flight.
The first aircraft to be ferried back to Sydney has had two of its Trent 900 engines replaced – one is an overhauled engine from Rolls-Royce, and the second is from another of the carrier’s A380s.
Since Nov. 4, the Qantas A380 fleet has been grounded due to the uncontained failure of a Trent 900 on an A380 flight from Singapore and the subsequent discovery of problems in other Trent 900 engines. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says that up to 16 Trent 900 engines may require modification or replacement.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says it has “given a green light to a plan developed by Qantas to return its A380 aircraft to service.” This plan describes how the A380s will be operated, together with “additional safety measures and required inspections.”
The agency’s Director of Aviation Safety John McCormick said the decision to resume A380 flying has been “closely analyzed by CASA’s technical staff.”McCormick also stated that “CASA has looked at how Qantas will be carrying out the additional inspections of the Trent 900 engines, changes to the way the engines will be operated and how Rolls Royce service bulletins will be met.”
McCormick notes that Qantas provided extensive documentation and briefings in support of the plan. “Qantas has devoted considerable resources to making sure the return to service of the A380 will meet all relevant safety requirements,” he says. CASA will continue to monitor A380 operations, using data supplied by Qantas.
Qantas has confirmed that it is still taking delivery of two new A380s before the end of this year and a further two in early 2011.