Qantas To Resume A380 Flights But On Limited Basis


SYDNEY - Qantas said Tuesday it would put some of its superjumbos back into service but will keep A380s off routes from Australia to the United States while it investigates whether extra thrust it uses to power those flights puts too much stress on the engines.

CEO Alan Joyce announced that two of Qantas' six A380s would resume commercial flights starting Saturday — 23 days after the disintegration during flight of a Rolls-Royce engine on one of its planes triggered the most serious safety scare yet for the world's largest and newest jetliner.

The blowout caused serious damage to some of the plane's flight systems, and pilots scrambled for an hour to deal with a cascade of warnings before making a safe landing in Singapore. Qantas grounded its superjumbo fleet within hours.

Joyce said two A380s would be flown without passengers to Sydney from Los Angeles, where engines had been replaced or modified and exhaustive checks carried out, and then they would resume passenger flights from Sydney to London via Singapore.

"After those extensive checks with Airbus and Rolls-Royce we are completely comfortable with the operation of the aircraft," Joyce told a news conference in Sydney on Tuesday. "We believe it is appropriate to start the services this week."

A380s would be kept off routes to Los Angeles from Australia's two largest cities — Sydney and Melbourne — while Qantas conducts tests on the engines of those planes returned to service. Joyce said Qantas wants to be sure the airline is not using too much power to get the giant aircraft off the ground.

The Australia-U.S. flights are among the longest non-stop commercial flights in the world, and the A380s must load up on more fuel than on other flights to make them. That means the planes heavier when they take off, and need more thrust from the A380's four engines.