Qantas announced today that it would resume Airbus A380 services between Australia and Los Angeles more than two months after an in-flight uncontained engine failure forced an emergency landing of one of its superjumbos in Singapore. The airline said Flight QF93 from Melbourne would take off for Los Angeles on January 16.
The move follows the grounding of Qantas’s A380 fleet and continued suspension of A380 flights on routes that regularly require the use of maximum engine thrust. In accordance with what the airline calls its “safety-first approach,” Qantas maintained its suspension of the Los Angeles-Australia routes while it monitored the performance of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine.
After engineering analysis and consultation with Rolls-Royce, Airbus and the European and Australian regulators, Qantas, Rolls-Royce and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority all expressed satisfaction that Qantas could safety resume A380 flying on the Los Angeles-Australia routes.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the decision would see Qantas continue the progressive reintroduction of A380s to its network.
“As always, safety has been our first priority in assessing when and where to bring A380s back into service over the past month,” he said. “Only when we, our manufacturers and our regulators were completely satisfied that it was safe to begin flying the aircraft again did we resume A380 services, initially on London routes only.”
Qantas resumed A380 service from Sydney to London via Singapore on November 27, marking the end of a 23-day suspension of service with the double-decker transport. It has since gradually returned.
“In the meantime, our A380 engine-inspection process continues as we gradually restore the aircraft to our international network,” added Joyce. We are operating a full international and domestic schedule, using our entire range of aircraft.”
For the remainder of January, Qantas will operate 14 A380 services per week on the following routes:
• QF9/10 (Melbourne-Singapore-London): three services per week.
• QF11/12 (Sydney-Los Angeles): four services per week.
• QF31/32 (Sydney-Singapore-London): daily.
Starting next month, Qantas said it plans to steadily increase A380 frequencies on its London and Los Angeles routes as aircraft return to service and new deliveries join the fleet.
“We are delighted that Qantas is now resuming its services to Los Angeles and that the Trent 900 fleet has returned to normal operation,” added Rolls-Royce. “All engine thrust restrictions have now been removed in agreement with Airbus, our airline customers and the regulators.
“Immediately following the event of November 4 we agreed [to] a program of inspection and maintenance, which allowed the majority of the Trent 900 fleet to continue to fly as scheduled. This inspection regime has also been alleviated. Delivery of new Rolls-Royce powered A380s is continuing.”
Just last week British Airways placed the first firm order for Trent 900s since the Qantas engine exploded. The deal, involving engines to power 12 A380s, finally made official BA’s conditional choice of the Trent 900s when it announced its order for the airplanes in 2007. The contract calls for first delivery in 2013 and includes options on another seven A380s. BA also placed orders for Trent 1000s to power 24 Boeing 787s, along with options on another 18.