Qantas to Resume Airbus A380 Service

 - November 23, 2010, 9:19 AM

Qantas plans to resume Airbus A380 service this Saturday (November 27) on Flight QF31 from Sydney to Singapore and onward to London. The flight, scheduled to depart Sydney at 5:30 p.m. local time, would mark the end of a 23-day suspension of service with Qantas A380s after an uncontained engine failure forced one of the airline’s six superjumbos to make an emergency landing in Singapore on November 4.

“Qantas is now satisfied that it can begin reintroducing A380s to its international network progressively,” the company said in a statement released today. “As more A380s become serviceable, Qantas will assess when and how best to deploy them, consistent with its conservative approach over the past weeks.”

Rolls-Royce has confirmed that an oil fire led to the Trent 900’s failure and that “a specific component” in the turbine area of the left inboard engine and led to the release of the intermediate pressure turbine disc. Yesterday the European Aviation Safety Agency issued a new emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) that narrows inspection requirements of a November 10 AD. The new AD omits the earlier directive’s requirement for inspecting the engines’ low-pressure turbine stage one blades and case drain, but retains the mandate to inspect the high pressure/intermediate pressure (HP/IP) air buffer cavity and places particular emphasis on the oil service tubes within the HP/IP structure. The new AD still requires the inspections within 10 flight cycles of the original AD’s November 10 effective date and at least every 20 cycles thereafter.

Qantas decided to ground its A380s immediately following the engine failure, which now appears to have caused more extensive damage to the airframe than first thought. Shrapnel from the destroyed engine reportedly punctured two fuel tanks and badly damaged the wing and flaps, disabled one of the airplane’s two hydraulic systems, severed electrical cables and compromised the fuel transfer system. As a result, the pilots could not pump fuel out of the rear tank, creating a balance problem as it landed at Changi International Airport.

Meanwhile, the crew could not move the left wing’s slats and the airplane’s anti-skid system no longer functioned. After touching down, they could not use reverse thrust to slow the airplane because only the two inboard engines have thrust reversers. Using only the right engine’s thrust reverser would have spun the airplane out of control. Landing overweight and at a higher-than-normal speed, the airplane needed almost all of Changi International’s 13,123-foot runway to roll to a safe stop.