Qantas now has six of its A380s back in active operations after its latest returned days before Christmas.
VH-OQG, named after Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s co-pilot Charles Ulm, is now flying from Sydney to London, LA and Singapore.
The Flying Kangaroo grounded its entire fleet of 12 A380s during the pandemic, with most sent to the Victorville desert boneyard.
The business has been slowly returning them to active service, though plans to permanently scrap two.
VH-OQB, VH-OQD, VH-OQH, VH-OQK, VH-OQJ and now VH-OQG have returned to active operations, but VH-OQC and VH-OQI remain in the desert.
VH-OQL and VH-OQA are currently in Abu Dhabi, where they are receiving a cabin upgrade.
VH-OQF has already been dismantled, with speculation that it will be joined on the scrap heap by VH-OQE.
It comes after two unscheduled landings were made in the past few weeks by Qantas A380s travelling from Sydney to London.
The first made an emergency landing in Baku when a sensor light alerted pilots to the possibility of smoke in the cargo hold days before Christmas.
The aircraft turned around above Tbilisi, Georgia, before touching down in Azerbaijan.
Investigations later revealed no evidence of smoke, meaning the incident was due to a fault with the sensor and a false alarm.
Qantas dispatched a recovery flight, which landed in the British capital on Christmas Day.
The grounded aircraft, VH-OQH, was later deemed safe to fly and returned to commercial service days later.
Last week, a second aircraft then made an unscheduled landing in Athens overnight after a passenger was taken “critically unwell” onboard and reportedly received CPR.
The aircraft, VH-OQJ, departed Sydney for London via Singapore at 5:54pm on 2 January and was due to arrive in the British capital at 6:15am the next day, local time, before being diverted to the Greek capital.
VH-OQA, Qantas’ first A380, was involved in arguably Australian aviation’s most serious-ever safety incident, when its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine exploded shortly after it took off, causing a major fire in November 2010.
Despite significant structural and systems damage, Captain Richard de Crespigny and his colleagues in the flight deck — Qantas’ first A380 named after Australian aviation legend Nancy-Bird Walton — managed to return to Singapore Changi Airport for a safe landing.
No passengers or crew were injured.
Investigators later 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.
VH-OQA underwent significant repairs after the incident that took 16 months to complete and cost $139 million before it eventually returned to service in April 2012.
Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, recently used the incident to reject calls for airlines to have just one pilot in the cockpit of its aircraft.
“We had five amazing pilots in the cockpit, and without that, I don’t think that aircraft would have landed safely,” he said in a new interview. “We know that, and we’re very conscious of it.”