1/4 Of Qantas’ Airbus A380 Fleet Is Currently Out Of Action

Right now, one-quarter of the Qantas A380 fleet is out of action. That’s not great news for the flying kangaroo, as peak season in the southern hemisphere approaches. At one point yesterday, it was a third of the fleet, but the last one has just taken off. Here’s where they all are.

Qantas A380
Several of Qantas’ A380s are not in service. Photo: Qantas

One A380 is stuck in Singapore

Qantas’ A380 registered VH-OQF was doing the two-leg hop from London to Sydney via Singapore when it ran into trouble. Arriving from London as QF2, the Airbus was due to depart from Changi just after 7pm on the 24th of November. However, mechanical problems with the plane meant it never took off, although strangely Flight Radar shows it as estimated to depart at 19:35… 19:35 on what day, we ask?

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It’s been three days now, and OQF is still on the ground in Singapore. Although the passengers will have been moved on by now, they weren’t very happy with Qantas’ handling of the situation at the time.

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Qantas seemed a bit unsure of what was going on themselves for a while, with some tweets suggesting that the thought the plane was on its way. However, they eventually realized that the aircraft was on the ground and issued a confirmation of the cancellation to all their passengers.


We presume that all passengers have now made their way to Sydney safely. However, the same cannot be said for OQF. It is still shown as being on the ground in Singapore awaiting repair. Insiders report that the number two engine will not start.

VH-OQF
VH-OQF is still in Singapore now. Photo: Flight Radar 24

Two are having maintenance

As well as poor old OQF in Singapore, two more A380s are out of action but for different reasons. VH-OQJ is sunning itself in Abu Dhabi right now, and has been there since early October. It is thought that the aircraft is having a heavy maintenance check.

VH-OQJ
VH-OQJ is having heavy maintenance in the Middle East. Photo: Mark Harkin via Flickr

If this is a D check, which would be likely given the amount of time it’s been in the Middle East already, it’s an extensive overhaul process. Performed every six years, it involves taking the entire aircraft apart and then putting it back together again. It will be costing Qantas millions and usually takes up to six weeks, but will effectively be like a new plane when it comes back.

The last A380 on the ground is VH-OQH. This aircraft has been in Dresden since the 22nd October, awaiting its fit out with the amazing new A380 cabin. This is likely to take four to five weeks, so we should see this aircraft back in action soon.

qantas-airbus-a380
Business class on the refurbished Qantas A380. Photo: Qantas.

It was almost one-third of the fleet

As well as the reduced capacity from these troubled A380s, Qantas had an additional issue over in the USA. VH-OQK, the first of the refurbished Qantas A380s, had arrived from Sydney as flight QF11 on the 25th of November at a little after 06:00. It was scheduled to head back to Sydney later in the day as QF12. The scheduled time of departure was 22:30, but several hours later the passengers were still waiting to board the aircraft.


Reports suggest that this was an electrical generation fault with the aircraft, causing an overnight delay for the passengers. Qantas only put it down to a ‘mechanical problem’ without further clarification.


However, it now appears that OQK is back in service, as Flight Radar is showing it as having left Los Angeles for Australia within the last couple of hours. However, it is now operating as flight QF94, an LA to Melbourne flight. It’s unclear whether the stranded passengers from QF12 have been accommodated on this flight or some other one.

With any luck, these stranded jumbos will be back in the skies very soon.

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Bryce

This is a graphic illustration of what Tim Clarke (Emirates) said at the Dubai air show, namely that apart from Emirates (and also possibly Singapore Airlines), no other A380 operator had taken sufficient numbers of the airframe to operate it efficiently enough.

Doron Kabilio

Alternatively, it’s a high maintenance aircraft and without a National Sovereign Fund that is able to over supply seat capacity, it’s not reliable or durable enough for regular carriers.

Bryce

“…it’s not reliable or durable enough for regular carriers.”
Just like the MAX, you mean?

Mike

I think he means THE max……

VHAQ

And now QF is probably regretting the decision to cancel the a380…

Chris

Yes, if only they had bought more of these aircraft that consistently suffer from mechanical issues. If something’s broken, buy more of it, hey?

Mark Thompson

I will never fly on the deathtrap Airbus aircraft – who names their planes bus anyway?

Chris

What an adorable comment considering the state of Boeing at the moment.

Bryce

Well, a US Senator publicly referred to the MAX as a “flying coffin” during the recent Senate hearings. I never heard that label being applied to planes from any other manufacturer 😉
Also, the Dreamliner was referred to as the Dreadliner during the battery fire issues…and the label is still sometimes used today, with reference to the cramped seating in economy.

Dennis

I personally love the A380. Well as a passenger anyway – and that’s all that should matter!

Tom Boon

You and me both!

Farhan Nazar

This and the plan job cuts has really put me in doubt about Qantas……

Chris

Then perhaps you ought to have a look at Qantas’ finances right now, laughing all the way to the bank.

mallthus

Have to say that this highlights three issues related to the A380. 1-They seem to have no better and likely worse operational reliability than other long haul wide body aircraft. 2-When they are out of commission, the operation impact is greater for the operating airline, given how many passengers they can potentially carry. 3-Given that most carriers only operate a handful of these beasts, nobody except Emirates has spare capacity. Perhaps an operator like Hi Fly could finally make a go of the A380 not to replace 787s, but to step in for airlines like Qantas and BA when their… Read more »

jon

Should have gone with the 747-800i instead of the 380.

Hydne joiff

Why am I not surprised ? Give it to the Aussies, they will invariably screw it up. After all, though they are sitting on a vast piece of land, they are useless dry, arid land which is useless.
A modern third world country used to be run by the British exiles and prisoners.

Nick J Sydney

Great aircraft and forms the backbone of my trips to the US and UK (unless on Cathay and a B777 …bring extra ear plugs on those). When it goes wrong then its a problem for sure as QF would not have a spare one lying around in London, DFW, LAX or Singapore. Same issue for all operators except Emirates.

Tom

Probably it’s best to take the A380 out for maintenance and even though it’s very shocking. We don’t know what could happen if the plane got issues while flying from Singapore down to Sydney. I would agree safety is more important, but try to send a replacement plane like a 787 Dreamliner or A330 to Singapore.

Phixer

“If this is a D check, which would be likely given the amount of time it’s been in the Middle East already, it’s an extensive overhaul process. Performed every six years, it involves taking the entire aircraft apart and then putting it back together again. It will be costing Qantas millions and usually takes up to six weeks, but will effectively be like a new plane when it comes back.”
Oh, really? When was the last time anyone saw reference to a D [or C] Check in the Maintenance Planning Document?

Denis Coghlan

There is none!

The huge advantage the A380 has is the MPD which eliminates the traditional A, B, C and D checks in favour of continuous maintenance on a 12 year base maintenance schedule, thus allowing the A380 to turn around quickly and operate up to 16 hours per day.

Therefore a more serious issue no one’s talking about.

Bisse

QF12 LAX to SYD on 5th December was also cancelled due to mechanical problems. We were on the tarmac for 2.5 hours before decision to cancel flight was made. On disembarkation all crew promptly left for their hotels, leaving 400 passangers stranded. Reading this article, I think we are lucky to be alive.