Qantas Airways will resume limited Airbus A380 services on 27 November, more than three weeks after an uncontained engine failure forced one of its aircraft to make an emergency landing.
Australia's flag carrier, however, will continue the suspension of A380s on routes that regularly require the use of the maximum engine thrust. This, it adds, is an individual operational decision and not a directive by Airbus or Rolls-Royce.
"The decision to restore A380 services follows an intensive [Rolls-Royce] Trent 900 engine inspection programme carried out in close consultation with Rolls-Royce and Airbus. Together with the engine and aircraft manufacturers and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Qantas is now satisfied that it can begin reintroducing A380s to its international network progressively," says the Oneworld member.
The first flight, QF31, will leave Sydney on Saturday morning for a service to London via Singapore. The aircraft that will operate this service is scheduled to leave Los Angeles shortly for a ferry flight to Sydney. A second A380 is expected to depart Los Angeles for Sydney on a ferry flight later this week.
The airline says that it will initially deploy a single A380 on the routes between Australia and the UK. As more A380s return to service, Qantas says that it will "assess when and how best to deploy them".
"In line with its conservative approach to operational safety, Qantas is voluntarily suspending A380 services on routes that regularly require use of maximum certified engine thrust and will do so until further operational experience is gained, or possible additional changes are made to engines. This is an operational decision by Qantas and pilots still have access to maximum certified thrust if they require it during flight. It is not a manufacturer's directive," says the airline.
In the 4 November incident, an uncontained engine failure on the Qantas A380 shortly after take-off on a Singapore-Sydney flight forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing in Singapore. Initial indications point to an oil leakage in the engine as the likely cause of the failure.
A European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Airworthiness directive, issued after the incident, mandates that all Trent 900 engines must undergo inspections every 20 flying cycles. Qantas says that its existing A380s, and the new ones entering its fleet, continue to be subject to this directive.
The airline has six A380s in its fleet, although the aircraft involved in the 4 November incident remains in Singapore under official investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). It is scheduled to receive two new A380s in December and another two in early 2011, and says that there are no plans to change that.