Saturday, April 21, 2012

US$144m repair bill for Qantas A380 in engine mishap

SINGAPORE : Qantas has chalked up its biggest repair bill yet of US$144 million, after it took 18 months repairing the damaged A380 aircraft that suffered a mid-air engine explosion after taking off from Singapore.

Despite safety and reliability concerns following the incident, the carrier is confident that its reputation remains intact.

The incident on 4 November 2010 was described as one of the most serious for the world's largest passenger plane since its debut in 2007.

Shortly after flying out of Singapore, the Nancy-Bird Walton aircraft made an emergency landing after scattering debris over Batam island in Indonesia.

Following the incident, Qantas had grounded all its A380 planes for more than three weeks.

This had cost the airline about US$240 million for the down time.

Alan Milne, head of integrated operations centre at Qantas, said: "The number 2 engine had an engine failure. Unfortunately, some part of the failure resulted in some parts being liberated from the engine, which caused further damage to the aircraft.

"It was a very complicated repair. There were three major areas of the wing that had to be repaired and they had to be done individually and they could not do those together and that resulted in the timelines being as it was."

At a media briefing, technical experts from both Qantas and Airbus highlighted the repair procedures and new design specifications for the restored plane.

Part of the repair agreement is that the aircraft would not weigh more than it previously did.

And despite other technical hiccups like cracks found in other A380 , Airbus has dismissed these safety concerns.

In February, Singapore Airlines found examples of recently-identified wing cracks in all six of the Airbus A380s on which it carried out mandatory inspections.

Didier Lux, executive vice president for customer services at Airbus, said: "The old one had this engine problem which is now completely solved on the fleets worldwide and we should not have that problem anymore."

The plane has also been put through a testing schedule usually reserved for brand new aircraft, including a test flight exceeding four hours.

After 18 months of repairs and four replaced engines, the plane is finally ready to take to the skies. And it will make its first commercial flight from Sydney to Hong Kong on April 28.

The Nancy-Bird Walton's return to service will raise Qantas' active fleet to 12.

- CNA/ms

View the original article here

Source From Channel News Asia

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