The Qantas A380, which returned to service after its engine blew up in 2010, has left the US for the first time since COVID to fly to London and Abu Dhabi.
The aircraft, VH-OQA, was stored at Victorville Desert Cemetery during the pandemic before flying to LAX in September and is now receiving a cabin upgrade in the UAE alongside VH-OQG.
OQA departed LAX for London Heathrow on 17 November before continuing to Abu Dhabi the next day, both as flight QF6023.
Qantas had a fleet of 12 A380s and had previously signaled it would scrap two and upgrade the rest of the fleet if COVID restrictions were eased.
VH-OQF has already been dismantled with speculation that VH-OQE will join the junkyard
VH-OQB, VH-OQD, VH-OQH, VH-OQK and VH-OQJ have returned to active service, but VH-OQC, VH-OQI and VH-OQL remain in the desert.
VH-OQA was involved in what is arguably the most serious safety incident in Australian aviation in November 2010 when its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine exploded shortly after take-off, causing a major fire.
Despite significant structural and systemic damage, Captain de Crespigny and his flight deck colleagues – Qanta’s first A380, named after Australian aviation legend Nancy-Bird Walton – managed to return to Singapore’s Changi Airport for a safe landing.
No passengers or crew were injured.
The double-decker superjumbo underwent extensive repairs that took 16 months and cost US$139 million before finally returning to service in April 2012.
Investigators determined that the failure resulted from a fatigue crack in an oil feed tube in the plane’s number two engine. This resulted in an internal oil leak and fire, with the turbine disc eventually bursting through the engine case.
Australian Aviation reported last year how hero-captain Crespigny quietly retired during COVID-19.
He said he made the decision to end his 45-year career after being “down and in limbo” following the airline’s decision to halt international flight and store its A380s in Victorville Cemetery in the desert be.
Captain de Crespigny was made a member of the Order of Australia almost exactly 10 years ago after returning the crashed plane to Changi Airport in Singapore and helping save the lives of 440 passengers and 29 crew on board.
Speaking to Traveller, Captain de Crespigny said: “COVID-19 has ended my 45-year professional aviation career.
“I loved flying the remarkable A380, walking the aisles and meeting the passionate passengers who loved and supported us.
“I will miss the teams in the cockpit and cabin who worked together to solve problems, from inclement weather and plane cancellations to helping passengers in physical and emotional distress.
“I don’t think the current situation will improve until borders are opened, a vaccine is developed that allows for high-density seating, and public confidence in their travel destinations is restored.”