VH-OQA still due to re-enter service, Qantas affirms

Photograph: PA Photos

It has nearly been three months since the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 uncontained failure on Qantas A380 flight QF32. Since the 4 November accident little has been seen of the aircraft involved, VH-OQA and named Nancy-Bird Walton.

Theories ranging from the humble to extravagant are circulating about the aircraft’s fate, but a Qantas spokesman re-iterates the airline’s earlier intentions of repairing VH-OQA and returning her to service, but not before she becomes a royal hangar queen (my take, not his).

“Developing a repair plan for OQA is continuing,” the spokesman says.

“We have not put a timeline on this, but have confirmed, in the face of reasonably persistent rumours that the aircraft is not repairable, that it is absolutely repairable and will return to service at the appropriate time.”

It has been suggested that time could be this May, but the spokesman says that “would be wide off the mark”.

The damage to VH-OQA was officially cataloged in the ATSB’s December preliminary report. “The failure of the No 2 engine ejected a number of engine components that struck the aircraft or were liberated overboard,” the ATSB says. “Sections of the intermediate pressure (IP) turbine disc penetrated the leading edge of the left wing inboard of the No 2 engine, resulting in damage to the leading edge structure, the front wing spar and the upper surface of the wing.”

A small section of the No 2 engine’s “liberated turbine disc” penetrated the left wing-to-fuselage fairing, damaging numerous system components, the fuselage structure, and elements of the aircraft’s electrical wiring. Debris also hit the left wing’s lower surface, causing a fuel leak from the No 2 engine fuel feed tank and left wing inner fuel tank..

Debris also hit the No 2 engine support pylon, the No 1 engine, the left fuselage keel beam support splice, and the left wing false spar. A small impact region was also observed on the left side of the aircraft’s fuselage.

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