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Qantas A380 that survived explosion flies to Abu Dhabi

written by Adam Thorn | November 20, 2022

Andrew Campbell shot this image of VH-OQA at Qantas’ maintenance hangar at LAX

The Qantas A380 that returned to service after its engine exploded in 2010 has left the US for the first time since COVID-19 to fly to London and Abu Dhabi.

The aircraft, VH-OQA — Qantas’ first A380 and named after Australian aviation legend Nancy-Bird Walton — was stored in the Victorville desert ‘boneyard’ during the pandemic before flying to LAX in September. It now joins VH-OQG in receiving a cabin upgrade in the United Arab Emirates.

OQA departed LAX for London Heathrow on 17 November, before flying onwards to Abu Dhabi the next day, both as flight QF6023.

Qantas had a fleet of 12 A380s and earlier signalled it would scrap two and upgrade the rest of the fleet when pandemic restrictions eased.

VH-OQF has already been dismantled, with speculation that it will be joined on the scrapheap by VH-OQE.


VH-OQB, VH-OQD, VH-OQH, VH-OQK and VH-OQJ have returned to active operations, but VH-OQC, VH-OQI and VH-OQL remain in the desert.

VH-OQA was involved in arguably Australian Aviation’s most serious-ever safety incident in November 2010 when its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine exploded shortly after it took off, causing a major fire.

Despite significant structural and systems damage, Captain de Crespigny and his colleagues in the flight deck managed to return to Singapore Changi Airport for a safe landing.

No passengers or crew were injured.

The double-decker superjumbo underwent significant repairs that took 16 months to complete and cost $139 million before it eventually returned to service in April 2012.

Investigators found the failure was due to a fatigue crack in an oil feed-pipe in the number two engine of the aircraft. This led to an internal oil leak and fire, with the turbine disc eventually bursting through the engine casing.

Australian Aviation reported last year how Captain Crespigny quietly retired during COVID-19.

He said he took the decision to end his 45-year career after being “stood down and in limbo” following the airline’s decision to stop flying internationally and store its A380s in the Victorville desert boneyard.

Captain de Crespigny was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia after returning the stricken plane to Singapore Changi Airport and helping to save the lives of 440 passengers and 29 crew members on board almost exactly 10 years ago.

Speaking to Traveller, Captain de Crespigny said, “COVID-19 has terminated my 45-year professional flying career.

“I loved flying the remarkable A380 and walking the aisles, meeting the passionate passengers who loved and supported us.

“I’ll miss the teams in the cockpit and cabin that together solved problems from bad weather and aircraft failures through to helping passengers in physical and emotional distress.

“I think the current situation will not improve until borders open, a vaccine is developed permitting high-density seating, and the public’s trust in their destinations are restored.”

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Comments (7)

  • I am so pleased to read that Nancy-Bird Walton returns with dignity to the skies.

    The ties that have with her, her crews and passengers will never be broken. I do miss you all.

    May all who fly with her continue to have good winds, smooth travels, clear skies, quiet sleep and safe landings.

  • I rather suspect that VH-OQA will eventually end up as a display at the entrance to the new Western Sydney Airport, similar to theA380 at the entrance to London Heathrow.

    If this is the case it would be a fitting end to the aircraft, but in the meantime, it can still have 4-5 years of service with Qantas in the air.

    Thus VH-OQE may not end up on the scrap heap.

  • Arthur birch


    Can I ask what is more important a loss of life at anytime in a flight or the writers following comment’s

    VH-OQA was involved in arguably Australian Aviation’s most serious-ever safety incident in November 2010 when its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine exploded shortly after it took off, causing a major fire.

    Which states , “arguably… the most serious ever incident…”

    When will someone acknowledge the 124 planes that have very crashed with a loss of 39 crews lives and 66 passengers lives in their 102 year history…
    Arthur birch

  • Chris Fox


    This is rubbish reporting. You have become like the mainstream media. Reporting on a movement of an aircraft and linking it to an event that happened years ago.

  • David Palmer


    Unfortunately no recognition given to the remarkable engineers at Airbus who designed the A380 to withstand such an event and allowed the aircraft to return to Singapore.
    A real pity that…

  • David Olley


    What a pity Capt de Crespigny had to end his Career in such a way, and Qantas should have made alternative arrangements, but of course we don’t know the full story.

  • Neil Ferguson


    Without any opposition, this man, at the very least should have been Australian of the year after his remarkable feat and bravery. His nomination should have been far in front of some other recipients, some of them are unheard of and somewhat embarrassments .

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