Qantas is to keep its fleet of six Airbus A380 superjumbos grounded as engine safety checks continue to be carried out.

The Australian airline has extended the period the double decker aircraft remain out of operation after an engine explosion a week ago as one of the aircraft en route between London and Sydney following a stop-over in Singapore. 

This came after the European Aviation Safety Authority issued an Airworthiness Directive for all Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. The airline has put a contingency schedule in place to cover international flights while the A380s remain out of service.

“Qantas’ A380 aircraft will not return to service until there is complete certainty that the fleet can operate safely,” a statement said today.

“Qantas’ ongoing inspection programme is fully compliant with this directive,” the airline said.

“The specific checks mandated by the directive were already being carried out by Qantas in conjunction with Rolls-Royce. Qantas is continuing an intensive inspections on all Rolls-Royce engines in its A380 fleet and engineers have removed three engines to undertake further examination.

“Engineers have been investigating the engines in detail and how their components and design perform under operational conditions, as opposed to the original out-of-factory expectations,” the carrier said.

Qantas said the revised schedule across its international network was designed to ensure “minimum disruption” to passengers following the grounding of the A380s.

“The new forward schedule enables Qantas to accommodate customers on services across its entire international network over the coming weeks, regardless of when A380 aircraft re-enter service,” the airline said.

“While Qantas is committed to bringing its A380s back into service as soon as possible, this contingency schedule has been designed to provide certainty for customers planning to travel in the near future.”

Boeing 747s have been replaced by A330s on the Sydney to Narita route and A330s have been replaced by B767s on Perth to Singapore services.

Boeing 747s have also been replaced by A330s on the Sydney to Hong Kong route.

These changes will enable Qantas to operate 747s on long-haul international services previously operated by the A380, according to the airline.

“Minor changes” have been made to aircraft operating certain domestic services in Australia in order to provide alternate capacity on the international network.

The group has a fleet of more than 250 aircraft across domestic and international operations and all Qantas aircraft are being utilised “to minimise schedule disruptions”.
Qantas said it operated 505 of 512 scheduled services across its international network in the period November 5-11 period.