Qantas Will Return Two A380s to Service

Qantas will return two of its six A380 superjumbo jets to service this weekend, three weeks after a mid-air engine explosion triggered a global safety review.

According to the Associated Press, CEO Alan Joyce announced the two jets would begin flying between Sydney and London via Singapore on Saturday. The airline also plans to employ two additional A380s that are to be delivered before Christmas.

The two planes returning to service have gone through exhaustive checks and fixes in collaboration with Airbus and Rolls-Royce, the maker of the Trent 900 engine that failed shortly after a Qantas plane took off from Singapore on November 4th.

"After those extensive checks with Airbus and Rolls-Royce we are completely comfortable with the operation of the aircraft," Joyce said to a news conference in Sydney. "The aircraft have been grounded now for 19 days, and we believe it is appropriate to start the services this week."

Investigators believe the November 4th incident was caused by an oil leak that caught fire in the Qantas engine. The fire then caused metal parts to heat and disintegrate or break off. Experts reported chunks of flying metal actually cut hydraulics and an engine-control line in the wing of the plane, resulting in a cascade of problems. By the time the plane returned safely to Singapore with 466 people aboard there were more than 50 on-board warnings.

The engine failure may also have happened because a greater thrust is used during takeoff on flights across the Pacific Ocean because the plane is carrying a greater fuel load.

Qantas moved to suspend direct A380 flights from Australia to Los Angeles as a precaution, because the flight uses the maximum amount of engine thrust, adding stress to the engines. Joyce commented that the decision is in line with Qantas "conservative approach to safety," reported Associated Press.

"We are voluntarily reducing the thrust of the aircraft, and making sure that we don't operate out of LA until we have sufficient information going forward about the performance of engines as we put them back into service," Joyce said.

The rest of Qantas A380 fleet will remain grounded while engineer continue checks and work to switch out engines and parts.

Photo by simon_sees on flickr.

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