The first Qantas Airbus A380 to return to Australia ahead of its return to service has been revealed and is set to touch down in Sydney next week.
VH-OQB, named Hudson Fysh, will be the first Qantas A380 to return from storage overseas, and will shortly be ferried from its current location in Dresden, Germany to Sydney.
The aircraft is being brought back home in order to begin the necessary preparations to get the aircraft and staff ready for flight.
It will be the first of 10 A380s to be returned to Qantas’ fleet, with the remaining two superjumbos to see an early retirement.
Australian Aviation predicted back in August that VH-OQB could well be the first A380 to return to service, due to the fact that it was one of just two of Qantas’ superjumbos that were grounded at a purpose-built A380 hangar at LAX, rather than stored at the Victorville “boneyard” in the California desert.
At that time, VH-OQB had just been ferried from LAX to a facility in Dresden in order to undergo a scheduled landing gear update ahead of a planned refurbishment. Hudson Fysh has remained in storage at Dresden Airport since.
“After arriving, OQB will enter Hangar 96 where it will spend the next few weeks undergoing additional checks and maintenance by our Sydney engineers,” Qantas said in a staff memo.
“We’re expecting the aircraft to be available for ground and crew refresher training from mid-December and will have a cabin refurbishment before its return to service.”
Qantas recently revealed that at least one of its A380s would return to home soil before the end of the year, in order to get the aircraft and its staff prepared and retrained ahead of its return to service.
The announcement came after Qantas fast-tracked the superjumbos’ return to service not once, but twice.
The Flying Kangaroo had initially intended to keep its 12 A380s mothballed in the California desert until late 2023, in light of Australia’s fast-paced vaccination rollout, the airline later announced it would bring five of the 12 back by mid-2022.
This timeline was later again pushed up, with Hudson Fysh now planned to return to regularly scheduled passenger service on routes connecting Sydney-LA as early as April 2022.
Qantas said this second fast-track decision was made in light of the fact that demand for international travel, particularly on its Sydney-LA and Sydney-London routes had exceeded expectations.
While the return of VH-OQB is very welcome, it’s also bittersweet. Qantas is set to soon retire two of its A380s early, despite earlier predictions stating all 12 will come back into service.
It marks the beginning of the end of Qantas’ iconic A380 fleet, following the decided end of the Airbus A380 program, as Airbus nears delivery of its last-ever A380 to Emirates.
In light of the news, Australian Aviation looked back on the history of the airline’s A380 fleet, and gives readers the chance to guess which superjumbos are destined to be grounded for life.
More than half of all votes cast in the poll across all 12 aircraft went to VH-OQA, with readers believing Nancy-Bird Walton could enjoy an early retirement, perhaps at the HARS Aviation Museum, or Qantas Founders Museum.
Other top contenders for early retirement included VH-OQH and VH-OQF.