Qantas to resume A380 flights to LA

Company is 'confident' of safety of its A380 engines following extensive tests, two months after mid-air engine blast.

    The first Qantas flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles is scheduled to depart on Sunday [EPA]

    Australia's Qantas Airways will resume its A380 flights to Los Angeles this weekend after being halted for more than two months due to engine problems.

    In statement on Tuesday, Qantas said it was satisfied with the safety of the A380 engines following extensive engineering analysis and consultation with engine makers Rolls Royce, as well as Australian and European regulators.

    "We are now confident that we can begin flying the A380 to and from Los Angeles without any conditions on the use of maximum engine thrust," Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO, said in the statement.

    The flights had been grounded since an engine on one of the airline's superjumbo jets disintegrated shortly after the plane took off from Singapore on November 4, 2010.

    The first flight to the western US city of Los Angeles, QF93 from Melbourne, is scheduled to depart on Sunday.

    Qantas Airways grounded all six of its A380s for 19 days after the disintegration of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine.

    Other airlines that use that type of engine also suspended some services while checks were carried out.

    Preliminary reports said an oil leak caused a fire in the giant high-tech engine.

    While Qantas resumed A380 flights from Australia to London via Singapore, the company delayed the Los Angeles flights for more testing as this route requires more fuel and engine thrust.

    The direct flights between Los Angeles and Australia's two largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne are among the longest non-stop commercial flights in the world at up to 15 hours.

    Extra thrust required

    For these direct flights, the A380s must carry more fuel than on other flights to make the journey, which makes the planes heavier when they take off, requiring more thrust from the A380's four engines.

    The airline wanted to ensure that the extra thrust did not put unsafe stress on the engines.

    CEO Joyce said Qantas would continue to reintroduce more A380 flights, increasing the frequency of the services to London and Los Angeles in February and beyond as new planes join the fleet.

    "Our A380 engine inspection process continues as we gradually restore the aircraft to our international network," Joyce said.

    The decision to return Qantas' A380s to the US routes, one of the most lucrative for Qantas, is a sign of confidence that the problem that caused the blowout has been fixed.

    In late December, the European air safety regulator increased the number of flights that can be made by a Trent 900 engine before it must be inspected for signs of the type of problem that occurred on the Qantas plane.

    Qantas has launched legal action in Australia to sue Rolls-Royce over losses from the incident.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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