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Video: Qantas A380 lands at LAX to complete first post-COVID service

written by Adam Thorn | January 13, 2022

This is the moment one of Qantas’ A380s completed its first commercial service since the start of the pandemic when it landed in LAX on Tuesday.

YouTube user Airplane Channel took this up close, high-resolution footage showing VH-OQB landing in Los Angeles at 4:39pm local time after a 14-hour flight.

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It marked OQB’s first passenger flight since 23 March 2020 – 659 days previously. You can watch the video, in full, below.

It comes after Qantas announced last month it would dramatically fast-track the return of its first superjumbo to passenger service from April to January, in order to ease staffing pressures due to COVID-19 isolation orders.

VH-OQB – formally named Hudson Fysh after one of the Qantas founders – returned to Australia from overseas in November, after being stored at Qantas’ purpose-built A380 hangar at LAX since the early days of the pandemic.

Since returning home, Hudson Fysh has undergone extensive maintenance checks, which included the replacement of all 22 wheels and 16 brakes, as well as all of the emergency equipment on board.

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Then, since early January, OQB has been regularly performing short flights over Sydney, as both the aircraft and its crew are brought back online. On Monday alone, one day before the A380 takes off as QF11, VH-OQB performed six check flights, each being around 45 minutes in duration.

In the last seven days, the four-engine jet has completed 28 flights.

“After being maintained in storage for almost two years, this first A380 returned to Australia in early November and has since undergone extensive operational maintenance checks,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

“In addition to many hours spent in the airline’s simulators, crew have completed a number of refresher training flights before the aircraft enters service.”

VH-OQB was initially scheduled to see a cabin refurbishment prior to its return to passenger service, however, crew scheduling chaos in light of the current Omicron COVID-19 outbreak, partnered with Queensland’s harsh quarantine rules, meant that OQB’s return had to be expedited, with no time to spruce up the interior.

Meanwhile, a second Qantas A380, VH-OQD touched down in Sydney on Monday, after spending 674 days in storage at LAX, ahead of a planned return to service.

VH-OQD took off from LAX just before 9pm local time on Saturday, 8 January, taking to the skies for a total of 14 hours and 18 minutes, en route to Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport, where it landed at 6:11am on Monday, 10 January.

It marks the first time that OQD has touched down on Australian soil since it performed its last passenger flight to London and was ferried from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi for maintenance on 7 March 2020.

Notably, OQD has already received its interior refurbishment, with updated business class suites and increased capacity for premium economy passengers.

This all comes after Australian Aviation predicted back in August that VH-OQB could well be the first A380 to return to service, despite not yet seeing a cabin update, 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 in early November, finally confirming our suspicions.

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