After a 593 day absence, a Qantas A380 glided back into Sydney on Tuesday. The jet’s arrival precedes the A380s reintroduction into service at Qantas early next year. The first of ten A380s returning to service at Qantas, VH-OQB Hudson Fysh flew in nonstop from Germany.
After 10,000 plus miles, VH-OQB lands in Sydney
After earlier flying from California to Germany to undergo scheduled maintenance for new landing gear, VH-OQB departed Dresden at 10:21 on Monday. The A380 took 18 hours and 49 minutes to fly the 10,014 mile (16,116 kilometer) sector down to Sydney. The plane touched down to a big welcome at 15:10 on Tuesday.
Piloting the plane back home was Captain Paul Grant, First Officer Barry Doe, First Officer David Thiess. and Second Officer Fiona Diamond.
VH-OQB will be used to train up pilots and crew in preparation for the A380s return to scheduled flying from March 27, 2022. There is some speculation locally the plane may operate the odd scenic flights before then.
Rumors the A380 might make the occasional surprise appearance on selected scheduled domestic services are probably just that. Among other issues, Qantas’ domestic gates at their domestic terminals are not set up to handle an A380.
Exciting update from the flight deck of #QF6023 –
'HI HONEY, I'M HOME!
QF6023 IN AUSTRALIAN AIRSPACE AND TRACKING WELL.
CAN'T WAIT TO OVERFLY THE HARBOUR ON OUR APPROACH.
LOOK TO THE SKIES AND GIVE US A WAVE AROUND 3PM.
FROM FLYING FYSH CREW'
— Qantas (@Qantas) November 9, 2021
A long flight after a long rest
After departing Dresden on Monday, the A380 skirted the fringes of the Baltic, flying northeast towards Estonia. There it settled onto a more easterly tracking and made the long flight over Russia before turning towards Mongolia.
From there, the jet tracked south, passing over Hong Kong and shooting down the South China Sea, past the Philippines, over the top of Ambon, and crossing the northern Australia coastline at Darwin.
After that, VH-OQB followed a familiar route over Katherine, the southwest corner of Queensland, and approached Sydney from the west. In typical Qantas fashion, it was no straightforward landing into their home port. The plane circled the metropolitan area, including overflying Sydney Harbour.
A380 pilots drop their part-time gigs and get back into the cockpit
Once on the ground, the A380 was towed into a hangar and greeted by a crowd of Qantas employees and invited guests.
“Literally six months ago, we didn’t think they’d be back until the earliest at the end of 2023. That’s how much things have moved in Australia,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce after the plane’s arrival. “We now have the confidence to put these aircraft back in the air earlier than we planned.”
No one was more pleased to see the A380 back in the air than the pilots. Like nearly all Qantas international employees, they went onto extended periods of leave and took jobs elsewhere.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Second Officer Fiona Diamond after landing, surrounded by her young sons and listing her fill-in gigs. “I’ve been working in the local school canteen. I’ve been working for Thermomix. I’ve been working for a friend in his electrical business.”
“I went out driving a header and was harvesting for three to four months,” said David Thiess. The man in charge of the flight, Captain Paul Grant, worked as a house painter and a courier while not flying.
Qantas plans to have all its international employees back at work by the end of the year, and the return of the A380 is a significant symbolic moment ahead of that.
The airline is already back flying to Los Angeles and London and will add further destinations and frequencies over the coming months. A second A380 is expected to arrive later this year ahead of A380 passenger services resuming in March.