April 21 saw the formal handing back to Qantas of their Airbus 380 named Nancy Bird Walton. This is the plane that dramatically “lost an engine” in a mid-air blast off Singapore in November 2010. I have previously blogged about how dangerous the incident was.. The incident dented both the reputation of Qantas as one of the world’s safest airlines (despite the fact the crew managed to nurse the plane into a safe landing) and the reputation of the giant plane. (The concerns some have about the 380 have been further heightened by hysteria over the wing cracks that have been found recently. Qantas is denying they are considering suing Airbus over the cracks but they are in discussions over the cost). The Financial Times reportsthat Airbus is “cutting the production rate for the A380 from 2.7 aircraft each month to 2.3 for the next two quarters, as it goes about mending defective components in the superjumbo’s wing structure.”
VH-OQA fixing was ”one of the biggest repair jobs in aviation”. The repair took 18 months and cost $A139 million ($US144 million). It required nearly 100,000 hours of work by 170 Airbus staff from eight countries. The repairs were carried out at the hangar of Singapore International Airlines Engineering subsidiary. The airline’s insurance company paid for the repairs and engine-maker Rolls-Royce compensated the airline Aus$95 million for the grounding of the aircraft.
Captain Richard de Crespigny, who was piloting the aircraft when the blast happened, received the flight log book from Airbus engineers and flew the plane back to Sydney where it departed for its first commercial flight to Hong Kong. Picture from theCanberra Times.