Sydney: A Qantas superjumbo took off from Sydney on Saturday on the first A380 passenger flight for the airline since a midair engine explosion earlier this month triggered a global safety review.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was among the 478 passengers and crew who boarded the giant double-decker Airbus plane, a gesture meant to reassure customers that the planes are safe to return to the skies.
“We are 100% comfortable with it,” Joyce told reporters. “If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be restarting the operations today.”
Qantas grounded its six A380s immediately after a Rolls-Royce engine on one of its superjumbos disintegrated shortly after the plane took off from Singapore on 4 November, sending shrapnel slicing through a wing and causing multiple problems for the pilots.
Investigators say leaking oil caught fire in the Qantas engine and heated metal parts, causing them to disintegrate before the jetliner returned safely to Singapore with 466 people aboard. Experts say chunks of flying metal cut hydraulics and an engine-control line in the wing of the A380, causing a cascade of problems including the loss of control of a second engine and some braking power, fuel leaks and more than 50 on-board warnings.
It was the most serious safety incident for the world’s largest and newest jetliners. Other airlines using the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine aboard A380s - Singapore Airlines and Germany’s Lufthansa - also briefly grounded some planes while safety checks were carried out.
Qantas’ checks have been more exhaustive than the other airlines. It has replaced at least 14 of the Trent 900 engines - each A380 has four of the bus-sized engines.
Qantas is putting just two of its A380s back into service while modifications are made on engines on other aircraft. The plane involved in the midair blowout is still in Singapore, where investigations are continuing.
Qantas spokesman Tom Woodward said Saturday’s flight left Sydney a few minutes late on Saturday but with no problems. It was headed for Singapore, then London.