Qantas said Tuesday it will resume A380 flights from Australia to Los Angeles this weekend after a more than two-month stoppage because of engine problems.
The flights to the U.S. West Coast have been grounded since an engine on one of the airline’s superjumbo jets disintegrated shortly after the plane took off from Singapore on Nov. 4, 2010. Flights to Singapore and London were reinstated in late November.
Qantas said it was satisfied with the safety of the A380 engines following extensive engineering analysis and consultation with engine makers Rolls Royce, as well as Australian and European regulators.
“We are now confident that we can begin flying the A380 to and from Los Angeles without any conditions on the use of maximum engine thrust,” CEO Alan Joyce said in the statement.
The first flight, QF93 from Melbourne, will depart Sunday.
Qantas Airways grounded all six of its A380s for 19 days after the disintegration of the Rolls—Royce Trent 900 engine. Other airlines that use that type of engine also suspended some services while checks were carried out.
Preliminary reports said an oil leak caused a fire in the giant high—tech engine.
While Qantas resumed A380 flights on the other route that it uses the superjumbo -- from Australia to London via Singapore -- the company delayed the Los Angeles flights for more testing.
The direct flights between Los Angeles and Australia’s two largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne are among the longest nonstop commercial flights in the world at up to 15 hours. The A380s must carry more fuel than on other flights to make the journey.
That means the planes are heavier when they take off, and need more thrust from the A380’s four engines. The airline wanted to ensure the extra thrust did not put unsafe stresses on the engines.
Joyce said Qantas would continue the progressive reintroduction of A380 flights, increasing the frequency of the services to London and Los Angeles in February and beyond as new planes join the fleet.
“Our A380 engine inspection process continues as we gradually restore the aircraft to our international network,” Joyce said.
The decision on returning Qantas’ A380s to the U.S. routes -- among the most lucrative for Qantas -- comes as officials show signs of confidence that the problem that caused the blowout has been fixed.
In late December, the European air safety regulator increased the number of flights that can be made by a Trent 900 engine before it must be inspected for signs of the type of problem that occurred on the Qantas plane.
Qantas has launched legal action in Australia to sue Rolls—Royce over losses from the incident.